June 22, 2024
Inside the Thai Spiritual Haven Run By An Alleged Sexual Abuser

Inside the Thai Spiritual Haven Run By An Alleged Sexual Abuser

Article originally published on Jezebel.com.

Koh Phangan is a small island in southeast Thailand known to tourists for its parties and beautiful beaches. The beauty of the locale also lures visitors in search of relaxation and spiritual awakening. Among the island’s most popular schools is Agama, a yoga community led by Swami Vivekananda Saraswati, whose teachings have attracted thousands of students since opening in 2003.

Only recently have allegations of sexual assault by the Swami come to light, as reported by the Guardian. (Agama and the Swami deny these allegations.) This short documentary is an in-depth look at how the school—led by one charismatic leader—is accused of fostering a culture of abuse and manipulation under the guise of healing and enlightenment. Janja Lalich PhD, a sociologist and specialist in coercive influence, also explains how leaders can assert power in isolated groups.

Executive Producer: Lily Nguyen; Lead Editor: Eileen Kennedy; Senior Producer: Jennifer Perry; Producer: Laura Brickman; Coordinating Producer: Pilar Enseñat; Editor: Joon Chung; Design/Animation: Dan Ashwood; Additional Camera: Matthew Reyes; Additional Editor: Santiago Garcia


Dr. Janja Lalich

Janja Lalich, Ph.D. is a researcher, author, and educator specializing in cults and extremist groups, with a particular focus on charismatic relationships, political and other social movements, ideology and social control, and issues of gender and sexuality.