Swami Nithyananda is a spiritual guru and Mahamandaleshwar of Maha Nirvani Akhada. He is also the founder of Nithyananda Dhyanapeetam headquartered in Bengaluru, India.His organization spans 50 countries with 10 million followers worldwide.
He was born with the name Rajasekaran on 1 January 1978 in Thiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu. His date of birth according to the US visa issued to him from the US Consulate in Chennai in 2003, was 13 March 1977. He was the second child of Arunachalam and Lokanayaki. Nithyananda claims to remember his birth: “It was neither dark nor light-filled; an indeterminate color covered planet Earth. Suddenly a bright and brilliant light appeared from a region, which I now see as Southern India. I entered into that light in the form of a brilliant meteor. The very next sight that I perceived with my inner eye was Arunachala, and I knew that I had assumed the body once more; I had entered the womb of my mother. It was a conscious birth. I entered into the body at 11:45 pm. I took a muhurta, which is a period of about 45 minutes in the Hindu system of time measurement, to settle into the body.”
Nithyananda says that when he was around 9 years old he regularly met Arunagiri Yogiswara, an incarnation of Lord Shiva, at his Samadhi within the premises of Arunachala temple at Tiruvannamalai and that they talked for hours day after day. According to Nithyananda, Arunagiri eventually told him, “Dear one, you and I are one. We can never get separated. But the play is over. You will not miss me any longer. We are one” and the form of Arunagiri Yogiswara merged into his body and disappeared.
According to Nithyananda when he was about 12 years old a meditation technique given to him by Annamalai Swamigal resulted in his “awaken to the realization that I was one with the whole of Existence and everything was I!” Nithyananda says that the effects of this experience, that he now calls satori, lasted for about three days and was the beginning of a new phase of spiritual development in his life. He says that it has enabled him to see all around him whenever he wishes.
According to Nityananda, he changed his name from Rajashekar after a mystical experience in which Mahavatar Babaji appeared to him in a darshan and gave him the name Nityananda. Responding to the question, “who called you Paramahamsa?”, (a Sanskrit religio-theological title of honour applied to Hindu spiritual teachers of lofty status who are regarded as having attained enlightenment), Nityananda said “The Mahavatar Babaji in his mystical darshan”.
Nithyananda’s teachings are based on the advaita vedanta, bhakti, yoga, meditation and kriyas. His discourses on Indian scriptures include Shiva Sutras, Jain Sutras Brahma Sutras, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads.
Nithyananda conducts meditation programs spanning 1 to 21-days. His discourses are available through live internet video streaming, through Nithyananda TV and also broadcast by selected television companies.
Nithyananda’s organisation includes a number of “Enlightening Nithyanandam based Spiritual Education” (eNBSE) programs and schools with the stated mission “To create a quantum intelligent civilization based on consciousness, compassion, creativity and confidence in at least 10 million children”.
In December 2010, India Today reported that police planned to conduct an investigation into the wealth of Nithyananda and the ashram. He was alleged to have accumulated ₹1400 million (~ US$ 23 million) in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Nithyananda’s younger brother manages his finances and those of the ashrams outside India as well as the Nithyananda Imports and Exports business. In June 2012, India Today reported that Nithyananda “heads 20 foreign trusts and nine Indian trusts that call themselves charitable institutions and pay no taxes”. It described his website, www.nithyananda.org, as “a full-fledged e-commerce site” and said that the Karnataka Police and district administration are not “willing to put a figure to Nithyananda’s wealth yet”.