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Agama Yoga founder Swami Vivekananda accused of sexual assault

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The founder of the Koh Phangan based yoga and tantra school Agama, Swami Vivekananda Saraswati, has been accused by multiple women of sexual assault. He claims to be the “brilliant exponent of a unique and modern trend of thinking in Yoga” who “has reached high states of spiritual realisation.”

Agama Yoga is one of the world’s largest yoga training centres. Swami’s teacher is the infamous Romanian yoga guru Gregorian Bivolaru. Bivolaru was sentenced to six years in prison for having sex with an underage girl.

Swami warns those who dare to speak against him that they are under “demonic influence” and face “infernal consequences for many lives to come.” Several of his most senior teachers have also been accused of rape or sexual assault. Former staff have stated Swami says he is paying off the Thai authorities.

Staff at the Koh Phangan facility are reported to have resigned in recent days as the scandal comes to light.

A Pattern of Abuse

When Agama student Kelly Anne (not her real name) met with Swami for her first spiritual consultation she says he sexually assaulted her. She told me that she sought advice from him on anxiety and other issues. His advice was three men a day she said. When she tried to leave he threw himself on her, “Then I got up to go away and he started kissing full on tongue. It was very aggressive. And then he started groping my bum. I was literally dizzy.” This was her very first consultation with Swami.

Kelly Anne did eventually end up being sexual with Swami at one point. However, on one occasion she messaged him before she arrived for a meeting and said, “I don’t want to have sex. I don’t know what I want to talk about.” She made it clear what her intentions were, expecting he would listen. Yet, when she arrived Swami immediately threw himself on her:

“When he opened the front door he instantly stuck his tongue in my mouth and started kissing me. I closed my mouth and started moving my head away. He then proceeded to feel my ass and tried to get his hands inside my shorts to finger me. I pushed his arm away, in a downward movement, with my fist clenched. To this day I don’t know why I didn’t slap him and walk out of the house.

Instead we sat on the sofa and he continued to try and get in my shorts. I remember moving positions several times, to try to get his hands away from that area. In the end, he succeeded and I was lying on the sofa, he had his fingers inside of me. It wasn’t like he was trying to pleasure me, he just had his fingers inside me and continued to chat to me about general things.”

Kelly Anne describes another incident, “I had come over for a yoni massage. Instantly after I got there he was trying to f**k me. Then he went down on me and started to stick it in.” A yoni massage is a sacred healing massage that involves therapeutically touching a woman’s genitals. She said she felt sexually violated.

In contacting the swami about the allegations this reply came back… “Swami is now in the retreat and during this week he is not doing any satsangs, Q&As, office hours or interviews. Also he might not be checking his emails.”

It is understood, according to a source on Koh Phangan who asked not to be named, that the Swami departed the island last night by ferry, allegedly heading to Romania, Europe.

But this response has been posted on the organisation’s Facebook page, printed in full…

We at the Agama Yoga Foundation, wish to respond to the recent allegations made against our school and its members. A couple of weeks ago these issues were brought to our attention and we have begun to investigate. We are seeking outside guidance, as well as working internally with our students, teachers and staff as to what changes and solutions can be made within our school and community.

We are and have always been deeply concerned about the wellbeing of our students and staff, past and present. We want to assure you that we are currently undertaking a major review and overhaul of all our practises and procedures to ensure that everyone who arrives at Agama does so in the knowledge that their safety and emotional well-being is at the core of all our practises.

Considering the severity of these allegations, Swami has taken the decision to step back from all his administrative and teaching responsibilities in order for the situation to be investigated without additional provocation. Following the investigation we will focus on the important tasks of restructuring our internal policies and reflecting on the current situation.

In the context of a spiritual community, responsibility for maintaining a respectful and supportive environment falls on all community members: teachers, students and other members of staff who participate in our yoga and tantra-related activities. Excellence in learning, self-realisation and evolving is fostered by promoting free exchange of ideas, beliefs and opinions, and it necessarily includes discussion of controversial topics and unpopular points of view which may provoke conflict.

At Agama one of our aims is to foster a respectful environment in which the human dignity of everyone is valued, and the diverse perspectives and experiences of all members of the community can flourish. We have faith that with your support and our determination to implement change where needed, that we will move forward and create an even stronger and more loving spiritual community here at Agama.

Read the full story at Medium.com “Women Accuse Agama Yoga Founder Swami Vivekananda Saraswati of Sexual Assault” which was brought to us by Be Scofield.

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid-19 infected Thai actress Ploy criticised for Koh Pha Ngan holiday

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Thai Actress Ploy Chermarn Boonyasak posted her Phangan holiday timeline after Covid-19 diagnosis. (via Instagram)

Covid-19 infected Thai actress Ploy Chermarn Boonyasak has drawn a formal complaint from Koh Pha Ngan’s district chief officer after a careless holiday. The Pha Ngan chief officer met with the police superintendent yesterday to file the complaint after Ploy spent 2 weeks on Koh Samui and Koh Pha Ngan, on holiday from Bangkok.

She did not self-quarantine, as is required from people from high-risk red zones like Bangkok in order to be permitted to enter the Surat Thani province. She and was often seen maskless around the tropical resort islands while out and about sightseeing and while dining out in various restaurants.

Ploy arrived on Koh Pha Ngan on April 26, and, without adhering to the mandatory 2-week self-isolation period, toured the island and neighbouring Koh Samui island. The famous actress tested positive for Covid-19 after her trip when she arrived back in Bangkok and took to her Instagram account to announce it to her fans. She then shared her timeline with the locations she visited during her holiday on Koh Phangan and Koh Samui and the approximate times she was there to help with contact tracing.

According to the Pha Ngan district chief officer, many people who were identified to have eaten at the same restaurants as Ploy have now been tested for Covid-19 with no positive infections diagnosed as of now.

Ploy issued an apology via her social media accounts, saying the Koh Pha Ngan trip was careless. She did stress however that she had been cautious before and during the trip, stated that she experienced no symptoms at any time during her holiday and that she had taken a Covid-19 test before travelling, the results of which were negative.

“I’m really sorry. It was my fault that I decided to travel during the time that it’s not recommended. I admit that I let my guard down.”

Her timeline via Instagram…

  • 11/04 1st Covid examination
  • 12/04 result found Negative (no infection)
  • 13-20 / 04 confined to home
  • 20/04 2nd Covid examination
  • 21/04 Negative result (no infection)
  • 24/04 Third covid examination
  • 25/04 Negative (no infection)
    • Travelled to Samui by Bangkok airway, flight PG 129 (Suvarnabhumi)
    • accommodation at Absolute Sanctuary
    • 16.00 – 17.00 overlap stone.
    • 18.00 -20.00 Visited a friend at Thunya Samui
    • 21.00-21.45 Dinner at Sala Samui Chaweng Beach
  • 26/04 Travelled to Koh Phangan by boat at Maenam Pier at 9.00
    • stayed at Baan Malali, lunch at Koh Raham restaurant, returned to hotel.
    • 15.00 Went to Chalokla Pier.
    • 18.30-21.00 Met friends
  • 27/04 Stayed in hotel until 14.00 ate at Ban Bunphom and returned to the hotel.
  • 28 / 04- 01/05 Stayed at Baan Malali throughout the period of 13.00 moving. [sic]
  • 01/05 checked-in Le Divine Comedie
  • 02/05 Met a friend at the beach next to the accommodation.
  • 03/05 Went out for lunch at a friend’s house. And returned to accommodation.
  • 04-05 / 05 Stayed in and rested and didn’t go out.
  • 06/05 Went out to buy food at Harbor House and buy fruit from the shop next door and came back to the restaurant.
  • 07/05 Didn’t go anywhere.
  • 08/05 Traveled back to Bangkok
    • Took a boat back from Phangan to Samui
    • Bangkok airway flight PG 124 at 9.30
    • 13.00 checked for COVID again
  • 09/05 Found the infection and continued treatment at the Hospitel.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

 

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Koh Samui

Samui tourism official calls for inter-provincial travel ban to flatten the curve prior to July re-opening

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Yavor Punchev for Unsplash

The president of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui says the island is still pinning its hopes on a July 1 re-opening for vaccinated foreign tourists. Ratchaporn Poolsawadee remains optimistic, despite Thailand now battling a third wave of Covid-19, with Samui reporting 50 infections.

He says vaccines are being rolled out out on Samui, although a number of doses have had to be diverted to Covid hotspots elsewhere in the country. Around 30%, or 25,000 people, have already received 2 doses of the vaccine, with very few side-effects reported. However, the pace may slow as a result of some of Samui’s allocation now being sent to other provinces, in an attempt to curb the spread there. Ratchaporn says that once it receives a further supply of vaccine doses, the island has the capacity to administer 25,000 shots over 5 days, at 4 vaccination centres.

“We firmly believe that the vaccination process will be completed by June which will be in time for the re-opening plan.”

Until then, officials in the southern province of Surat Thani and on Samui itself, are strengthening disease prevention measures and travel restrictions. Ratchaporn is calling on the government to impose an inter-provincial travel ban to halt the spread of the virus. He says doing so would be more effective than closing businesses for 14 days, with the possibility of endless extensions.

The Bangkok Post reports that tourism operators are preparing tour programmes for the Samui Sealed Routes, whereby tourists would travel to sealed beach locations at Tham Rang in Angthong National Marine Park, as well as partaking in wellness activities such as yoga, meditation and spa treatments.

Before embarking on a “sealed tour” however, vaccinated foreign tourists would have to remain in their hotel rooms on the day they arrive. On day 2, they would be required to take a Covid test and, if negative, would be allowed leave the room and use other hotel facilities. From day 4, they would be allowed leave the hotel, with another Covid test on day 7. If the result is negative, tourists can travel around the island as well as elsewhere in the country.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

All foreigners eligible for Covid-19 vaccine under Thailand’s vaccination plan, eventually

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Stock photo by Vincent Vega on Flickr

All expats living in Thailand are eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, according to deputy spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Natapanu Nopakun. He says Thailand plans to roll out a “massive vaccination plan” to vaccinate all people who are living in Thailand, including foreign residents.

“All people residing in Thailand, regardless of nationality, are eligible to receive the vaccine under the plan.”

He made the announcement during the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration’s daily briefing today. Natapanu says more information on the vaccination plan for foreigners residing in Thailand will be released at a later date.

Health officials in Phuket and Koh Samui, tourist destinations that have been said to be of “economic significance,” have already been rolling out mass vaccination campaigns in an effort to reach herd immunity and reopen the islands to foreign tourists by July. But the vast majority of foreigners in the country remain confused about exactly how they can go about registering, or when they can expect to be included in Thailand’s vaccine roll out.

An expat who works as an English teacher at a school in Koh Samui says he received both doses of the Chinese-made Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine this month. He says the school helped with the registration process and both doses of Covid-19 vaccine were free.

 

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