Updated: Feb 22, 2022
The phrase "Eat, Pray, Love" originated in an ashram run by a woman named Gurumayi in the early 1990s and is currently the subject of a Julia Roberts movie. So, does Julia Roberts, who used to be a Scientologist but now says she is a Hindu, have her own Scientology?
The phrase "Eat, Pray, Love" originated in an ashram run by a woman named Gurumayi in the early 1990s and is currently the subject of a Julia Roberts movie.
So, does Julia Roberts, who used to be a Scientologist but now says she is a Hindu, have her own Scientology?
Elizabeth Gilbert's swami, whom she met in India for "Eat, Love, Pray," is the 55-year-old Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, whose real name is Malti, in 2010. Gurumayi was not present when Gilbert arrived. She was nowhere to be found. In the early 1990s, she wrote an article about her and her cult-like ashram. In an Upper East Side church basement, she gathered her followers, largely young ladies. Hundreds of them were there. Glassy-eyed, they shook their heads. They were largely upper-middle-class white people who were having relationship issues. Is this something you've heard before?
The New Yorker also covered Gurumayi Chidvilasananda ashram, the young woman who'd taken over Swami Muktananda's sway when she was just a teenager alongside her brother. Their parents, a restaurateur father and mother, had followed him. A civil war broke out between the two sisters, and Gurumayi seized Swami Muktananda's business from her brother as a result of the fighting between them. It's not always easy to find inner serenity.
Many famous people showed up, as is customary. Meg Ryan swore by her. Raul Julia was said to have been a follower. According to rumors, a well-known New York actor and director divorced his beautiful model wife because she had become too close to Gurumayi. New Yorker writers Jerry Brown, John Denver, and Andre Gregory were also mentioned in the story. Diana Ross, Isabella Rossellini, Phylicia Rashad and Don Johnson were also mentioned.
Her SYDA Foundation, about which little is known, is worth millions in real estate assets, making her a true "Slumdog Millionaire." Siddha Yoga, a business disguised as a religion, is also conducted by her. Tax exemption is granted to both groups due to their registration as churches. If you're considering going on a search for Gurumayi right now, it is strongly advise against it. Since then, she has kept the Catskills facility closed to strangers. She put an end to her public relations campaign in order to attract new followers. Everywhere you go, you don't see her. However, she is extremely well-off.
With Gurumayi's help, Gilbert gained a great deal of knowledge. She's monetized her slick spiritual experience. There will be a screening of "Eat, Pray, Love" at the Ziegfeld Theater that night hosted by her.
Marta Szabo is well-versed in Gurumayi's teachings. She had worked for her for over a decade before she was promoted to her current position. "The Guru Looked Good" is the title of Szabo's memoir, which was released before "Eat Pray Love." Szabo had never met Gilbert, and her book was published before the film.
Szabo claims that "Gurumayi is not an enlightened entity." If she is truly aware of it, there is no need for her to tell everyone about her newfound knowledge. "You'd have figured it out," he said.
There is a lot of Gurumayi-related material in Szabo's book and on the internet. She did tell me one strange thing, though: she utilized a type of brainwashing on her disciples in the wake of the New Yorker piece. Szabo recalls that there were "hidden ceremonies." It's a Japanese healing technique called "Reiki," which she "practiced long distance." Secret "meditations" were also held.
She claims that much of it didn't work. Following the publication of the New Yorker article, "a number of people departed." The article documented the struggle over ownership of Gurumayi Chidvilasananda ashram, as well as violence against Gurumayi's brother, who went on to open his own ashram in the neighboring Catskills.