Trigger alert: The following includes discussion of abuse and betrayal in Satyananda Yoga.

The Background to Case Study 21

“You have to know the past to understand the present”
Carl Sagan (1980)

The History of Mangrove Ashram

Satyananda Yoga was developed in India in the 1960s by Swami Satyananda Saraswati. A Satyananda Yoga Ashram was established at Mangrove Mountain in New South Wales in the early 1970s. Around 1974, Swami Satyananda sent a disciple of his, Swami Akhandananda Saraswati (Akhandananda), to oversee the development of the ashram. Akhandananda and others in authority were sexually and physically abusive to children in the ashram over many years. In 1987 Akhandananda was arrested and charged with child sexual abuse offences and sentenced to two years and four months imprisonment.

The Educational Rebranding

In the early 1990s, many people left the Mangrove ashram and its management was restructured. In 1996 the organisation was incorporated as Satyananda Yoga Academy Limited and began to offer educational and teacher training programmes.​

The Royal Commission

In November 2012 Julia Gillard, former Prime Minister of Australia, announced a Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. A total of 57 public hearings were conducted, including Case Study 21 which inquired into the response of Satyananda Yoga Ashram to allegations of child sexual abuse by the Ashram’s former spiritual leader in the 1970s and 1980s.

The Report of Case Study 21 was published in April 2016. It paints a devastating picture of physical, mental, and sexual abuse of children over many years by Akhandananda and others in positions of authority.​

The Reinvention of Mangrove Ashram

The seemingly idyllic yogic life at Mangrove Mountain came to an abrupt end, following the shocking revelations of Case Study 21. Satyananda Yoga Academy rebranded itself to become the Academy of Yoga Science (AYS) in May 2016, the month after the publication of the Report of Case Study 21. AYS has most recently rebranded to become AYS Wellbeing Foundation.

According to their Annual Information Statement 2020, AYS held over $4m in net assets as at 30 June 2020. The buildings and land previously owned by AYS have all been sold. ​

The National Redress Scheme

The National Redress Scheme was created in response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, for people who have experienced institutional child sexual abuse.


The following list was created for the Facebook group, ‘Satyananda Yoga – Reveal truth’, by Matthew Remski, and is reproduced here with his kind permission.

Royal Commission Transcripts / Exhibits

Support services for sexual abuse survivors 


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Video/TV Report