FAMILIES AGAINST CULT TEACHINGS
The Uma Inder Expose
OF UMA INDER (UMAA)
To restate, our intention at FACT is never to libel or hurt anyone’s reputation. The purpose of our expose is to educate and make aware potential victims of Uma Inder, and also for Ms. Inder to understand the severity of the alleged complaints against her and to take the proper actions. Moreover, please know that all statements made in this expose are according to our opinion at FACT based upon the signed affidavits and evidence we received from ex-students of Uma Inder and through our analysis of this information according to the B.I.T.E. model (developed by cult expert Steven Hassan).
EXPLOITATION AND ABUSE CLAIMS
1) “I had frequent anxiety attacks and suicidal impulses, with frequent horrific, vivid visions of self-harming that felt like the better alternative to continuing ‘the process’ with Uma Inder.”
2) “Like many who have suffered under Uma’s physically and emotionally violent ‘teachings,’ I have experienced symptoms of PTSD for years after exposure to Uma and her abusive cult followers. I too physically and emotionally abused others while I was in the cult, and afterwards, bore sufficient stress in my body that I suffered severe physical, mental, and emotional consequences.”
Moreover, ex-students claim to have been victims of, and/or witnessed, physical attacks and emotional abuse by Uma Inder and by her devoted long-time followers, sanctioned, as one ex-student put it, under the guise of “transparency” to foster intellectual and spiritual development. Below are some of those allegations:
1) “Uma Inder at least twice physically assaulted students on her private SATYA retreat immersion, kicking one girl for failing to address her and tackling and clawing another to the floor.”
2) “Emotional and physical outbursts are sanctioned because they are ‘real,’ and this creates aggression and tension which stifle students’ capacity for critical thinking, while instilling Uma as the center of students’ worlds.”
3) “Inder has spat at students and watched and encouraged as students assaulted one another in retreat immersion settings, systematically encouraging violent and abusive behavior among cult members.”
4) “Uma has assaulted her students who failed to submit fully to her will, both in closed retreat sessions and in numerous personal encounters.” As per the allegations, “She implicitly outsources most of the threat of violence to devoted, long-term students, one of whom has threatened physical violence and murder against students who would ‘harm Uma in any way.”
As stated in the above quote, ex-students also claim to have been threatened for their lives by her ‘bodyguard’ at the behest of Umaa, in an attempt to control and silence potentially outspoken followers and past group members. Some of the allegations are as follows:
1) “We have received death threats for opposing Uma Inder, and we believe we are risking our lives by speaking out.”
2) “I desperately want more information out there about Uma and the group dynamic around her but am very scared for my identity being revealed, especially as I had death threats.”
3) “We have emails by her most brainwashed follower, agent, slave, and sexual abusee in which he makes the death threats…”
4) “Uma Inder described him as a ‘trained killer.’ He threatened to kill me once, and I also saw him threaten to “disintegrate the human form” of another woman, “chop off [the] head” of another, and numerous other threats to kill people in our group.”
Here is an example of one of the documented death threats:
In addition, ex-students allege to have been exploited by Uma Inder, compelled to devote their time and money strictly for Umaa’s benefit, under the guise of it being “all for [them].” These ex-members state, for example, that they worked to organize yoga retreats, take care of her property, and run her herbal company called ‘Aranya’, all for no compensation of any kind in return except for “spending time with [Umaa Inder]” and under the threat of mental and emotional violence if they did not comply in order to stay connected to the group.
We reached out to Uma Inder to get her side of the story, and asked her to answer these questions that were based on the complaints, affidavits and evidence we received:
1) Have you ever had sex with any of your student followers? If so, have any of them contracted a sexually transmitted disease from sexual contact with you?
2) Many former followers have documented extensive abuse by you; physical, verbal, and psychological. What is your justification for this behavior? At what stage in their involvement in the group were group members made aware that this was a standard part of your practice?
3) We understand that you practice “transparency,” and that former members of your group going back years have called it a cult, yet we were informed that you did not disclose this to incoming group members. What is the justification for this omission?
4) Do you dispute that you have grossly violated the majority of Ayurvedic Codes of Conduct and Ethical Practice, as set for by various Ayurvedic governing bodies, including NAMA, the one overseeing North America, where you purportedly were trained? (http://www.ayurvedanama.org/page/ProfessionalEthics)
5) Are you adequately licensed to be practicing Ayurveda? Can you provide documentation?
6) Have you routinely engaged in purportedly Ayurvedic consultations that extended far beyond a typical consultation period and far beyond your professional competence as an Ayurvedic practitioner?
7) We understand you have claimed to have cured yourself of HIV. Is it true that you have cured yourself of HIV? If so, can you provide evidence of this?
8) We understand that your own “spiritual training” by an individual named “[name removed]” involved extensive physical and sexual abuse. Is this accurate?
9) Why were you fired from the School of Sacred Arts?
10) Have you ever broken Indonesian medical practice law?
11) Have you ever broken the Indonesian criminal code?
12) Have you ever broken the U.S. criminal code directly or by proxy?
13) Have you ever committed any form of fraud?
14) Have you implicitly or explicitly encouraged or endorsed your followers to break any laws, either in Indonesia or elsewhere?
15) Have you implicitly or explicitly encouraged your followers to blackmail departing group members to prevent them from speaking out?
16) Have you implicitly or explicitly encouraged your followers to threaten departing group members with death to prevent them from speaking out?
17) Have you attempted to intimidate group members from speaking out against your practices through requiring them to sign NDAs and/or waivers, as well as warning them they will be blackmailed if they speak out?
18) We understand you are aware that a substantial part of departing group members have required severe psychological intervention in order to recover from their experiences with you. Why do you think this is? How do you feel about this?
19) Within your understanding of Indonesian law, is Yoga Barn liable for your actions as your employer at the time?
20) Were you legally employed by Yoga Barn?
21) What percentage of your group members over the last eight years were recruited through Yoga Barn? What percentage of your recruits, regardless of whether they were successfully recruited to the group, came through Yoga Barn?
22) What percentage of group activities occurred at Yoga Barn over the past eight years?
23) Would you be willing to receive a psychological evaluation by a committee of widely respected specialists on narcissistic personality disorder, with the results made public?
We sent the questions directly to Uma Inder via email on April 26th, 2017 and sent a followup email as well. She did not answer any of our questions and instead opted to hire legal counsel in Indonesia we believe in order to avoid answering them. In addition, her legal representation requested the identities of all the victims who contacted our office.
Here was our reply, dated May 23rd, 2017, which stated:
“We are a U.S. 501c3 non-profit organization and not a law enforcement or legal entity, although we do work with these types of agencies and organizations. We have been approved by the U.S. federal government's IRS and Treasury Department agencies to help victims and families of cult exploitation and abuses, to educate and warn the public about high-control / demand cultic groups through our exposure efforts, in addition to other important mission related activities. Please visit our website for more information about our organization.
Unfortunately we cannot disclose to you the identities of the complaint filers against Uma Inder. For obvious reasons our policy is to protect the identities of all victims who submit complaints to our organization, which is of course expected of us by these victims and families. We want to assure you that all highly documented complaints are in our possession.
Please know that we are not anyone's legal representatives; they have their own attorneys, one of whom we believe has been in contact with Yoga Barn already. We have signed affidavits by victims with an overwhelming amount of supporting evidence to substantiate all of the information that we will be publishing in our expose for education and awareness purposes, and as you know we reached out to Umaa over three weeks ago to obtain her side of the allegations against her.
Also, as you requested to know, Tibor Stern is the president and founder of F.A.C.T. We believe this information should be sufficient enough for you and your client. If not, feel free to contact our attorney [contact information removed] for any further information.
At this point we believe it is safe to presume that Uma Inder is avoiding the answering of our questions that were sent to her.”
On June 2nd, 2017, FACT received a letter threatening legal action against our organization, from Uma’s legal team based in Indonesia.
As per the documented allegations received, we believe Uma Inder may have taken advantage of her position of employment at Yoga Barn (one of the most famous Yoga studios in the world), and at other locations as well, to seemingly manipulate and exploit vulnerable students. Many guru teachers of this type take advantage of the trust that is inherent within the student/teacher dynamic in order to brainwash students for control purposes. In our opinion based upon the complaints, Umaa Inder’s recruitment and indoctrination process is perhaps a prime example of how a cult leader operates, by slowly and methodically bringing a recruit deeper into the group using a diverse array of brainwashing and control tactics.
Ex-students stated the following to give insight into Umaa’s alleged methodology:
1) “Uma Inder would initially use “Ayurvedic consultations” at Yoga Barn that went far beyond Ayurveda and far beyond her qualifications as an Ayurvedic practitioner in order to psychologically profile recruits…”
2) “Uma claimed to be “a licensed Ayurvedic practitioner, specializing in self-empowerment.”
3) “Early upon one’s participation in the cult, Umaa Inder will “warn” people away. In fact the warnings are sexy come-hither warnings (such as a “Danger” sign outside of her Yoga Barn class), heavily counter-balanced by promises of “you can have it all”, and various metaphors of enlightenment. This is the early bait in her bait-and-switch so typical of destructive cult leaders.”
4) “Uma Inder publicly claims not to be a guru or accept students while in private she has instructed tithing, and encourages “daksina” (Hindu term for religious offering) amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars in money, land, and free labor. Umaa Inder also claims “the process” of enlightenment she offered would take 12 years, the same length of a formal Tantric initiation. Free labor went towards organizing her yoga teacher training programs, developing and distributing her Ayurvedic product line, Aranya, and fixing, cleaning, and improving her property in Ubud.”
5) “When challenged on her claim that she did “not take students,” she would refer to her extensive group processing sessions (usually conducted in the Yoga Barn bale (and also at other cafes in Ubud or at her home) as simply “making herself available,” or “I’m just having breakfast, I never invited anyone.” However, it seemed that when she wanted new recruits for her cult, she would invite Yoga Barn students to sit with her after yoga class.”
6) “Uma Inder uses the veils of tantra yoga, kundalini, and Ayurveda, of which she is often the follower’s first exposure, to justify abusive behavior and practice classic mind control.”
7) “Lacking any formal spiritual lineage herself, Umaa Inder claims to be ‘united with kundalini’ and have the ability to ‘awaken the kundalini’ of others. When asked for specifics, she claimed that awakening would happen ‘just by being with her,’ that she ‘has no techniques,’ and she ‘is the path’, she ‘is the way’.”
8) “Uma Inder lacks a formal lineage, yet appropriated without attribution dogmas which justified her authority over others, such as the Bihar School’s “Notes on the Guru/Disciple Relationship” and Alain Danielou's “When the Gods Play,” claiming awakening without establishing authority.”
9) “As cult members become more deeply committed, she systematically increases the implicit and explicit requirements to ‘being with her’ to her direct benefit, including free labor, monthly dakshina, implicitly compulsory attendance of her classes at Yoga Barn, and hundreds of hours on her internet forum—all leading toward the possibility of “lockdown” in “inner sanctum.”
10) “Uma Inder systematically broke apart couples, calling relationships outside the cult “based on FalseID,” or other forms of untruth. The less-committed member of the couple would typically be driven out of the cult.”
11) “Uma Inder demands that students ‘quote the Source,’ referring to herself, yet rarely discusses the authorities she pulls from unless it justifies her position of authority. In our view she is wholesale plagiarizing the teachings of others for spiritual fraud and manipulation.”
12) “As followers became more embedded in the group, Umaa Inder’s supposedly finite “process” of 12 years became 24 years, then 48 years, and finally an eternity of “absolute love and devotion” to Umaa Inder. This systematic changing of her sales pitch is hidden from new recruits.”
13) “Uma Inder demands that her followers take “self responsibility” for all consequences in order to avoid personal responsibility or liability for her actions, even as she has admitted to manipulating followers’ minds.”
14) “Cult members are required to divulge every thought, including dreams. Failure to do so is punished. Thus exposed, cult members are more easily controlled.”
15) “Uma Inder demands that her followers sign a waiver and an NDA that fundamentally and extensively misrepresent her activities, for example, by claiming an association with the ‘kundalini awakening process,’ when she is actually practicing classic mind control.”
16) “Language is heavily loaded with insider phrases and terminology, and Uma Inder is a master of the thought-terminating cliché - key parts of mind control.”
17) “Umaa Inder limits the information cult members are exposed to, controlling their consumption of media and requiring that members spend virtually all their free time on her internet forum.”
18) “Private conversations are not allowed. To do so is called “sidelining”, and discovery of private conversations is also met with punishment. Even eye contact with members or non-members outside of the presence of Umaa is also shamed as ‘sidelining,’ and ‘playing with Umaa’s fire.”
19) “Uma Inder encourages cult members to verbally and sometimes physically abuse each other in the name of spiritual practice, calling it ‘transparency,’ ‘dissection,’ or ‘breaking it all down.’ The goal and result is classic cult mind control—breaking down the psyches of her followers with various forms of abuse, generating a sense of self-loathing in followers before creating traumatic attachments to Uma Inder, the group and its teachings.”
20) “Followers were instructed to “serve their [ego] deaths by serving Uma Inder,” and “die into truth,” through service to Umaa. The reward, which Uma Inder kept continually just beyond reach (because she can’t actually offer it), would be acceptance as a disciple, mastery over the kundalini, union with the forces of nature, and implied enlightenment.”
21) “Uma Inder requires “Absolute surrender” for participation in her inner circle. To people already deeply embedded in her inner circle, Inder described being with her thus: “You will feel raped…RAPE you will feel raped…What’s wrong with rape? You have a problem with rape?” She has called her followers “Fucking pussies,” “contaminated vessels,” “You are just a mule - a donkey.”
According to these statements, in our opinion, by slowly bringing students into her group in a way that gradually increases the thought reform, commitment, responsibilities and demands placed upon followers, we believe Umaa Inder may be able to transform students into devoted followers. Her methodical indoctrination process in our opinion seems to incorporate many classic cult thought reform techniques, including ‘group think’, ‘thought stopping’, deception, psychological and identity breakdown, phobia indoctrination and much more, as detailed below in our analysis of the complaints.
ANALYSIS OF THE ALLEGATIONS
ACCORDING TO THE B.I.T.E. MODEL
In our opinion, after our analysis of the allegations received utilizing cult expert Steven Hassan's B.I.T.E. model, we believe Uma Inder appears to be acting as a cult leader that is using many different control methods on her students. The B.I.T.E. model is comprised of four different categories of control:
I. Behavior Control
II. Information Control
III. Thought Control
IV. Emotional Control
This analysis model is based upon the work of Robert J. Lifton, Margaret Singer and other psychologists and cult experts, and is used by many professionals in the field to distinguish between destructive and benign cultic group characteristics. According to this analysis model, the documented allegations against Uma Inder raise numerous red flags in all four categories across the board. The breakdown is as follows, as per our analysis of the complaints:
a. Deliberately withhold information
b. Distort information to make it more acceptable
c. Systematically lie to the cult member
a. Internet, TV, radio, books, articles, newspapers, magazines, other media
b. Critical information
c. Former members
d. Keep members busy so they don’t have time to think and investigate
a. Ensure that information is not freely accessible
b. Control information at different levels and missions within group
c. Allow only leadership to decide who needs to know what and when
a. Report deviant thoughts, feelings and actions to leadership
b. Ensure that individual behavior is monitored by group
a. Adopting the group's ‘map of reality’ as reality
b. Instill black and white thinking
a. Denial, rationalization, justification, wishful thinking
1) “In Umaa Inder’s cult – as in most highly destructive cults – psychological breakdown is seen as a point of pride, and breakdown enhances reliance on group dogma in the midst of depression and pathological mental symptoms. Individuals are taught to see their increasing mental instability as progress towards ego-death, and are taught to inflict abuse on their fellow practitioners, especially when directed to do so by Uma Inder, either implicitly or explicitly.”
2) “As members’ psyches become increasingly ‘dissected’ and ‘broken down,’ dramatic psychological symptoms consistently occur, including but not limited to anxiety, depression, violence, panic attacks, verbal tics and spontaneous sounding, twitching, and repeated thoughts of suicide. As symptoms become more intense and violent, it becomes increasingly hard to relate to friends and family, who ‘wouldn’t understand’ ‘the process’—thus increasing the intensity of the trauma bond between Umaa Inder and members and between members of the group themselves. Members spend up to 16 hours a day in public confessions, accusations, and group processing either in person or on Uma Inder’s internet forum, a Google Group which was seen as an extension of her personal authority. There, followers ‘offer up’ their innermost thoughts, and also offering free labor and money to the group in order to foster this identity and maintain their connection to Uma Inder. Given the extreme time commitment this required, relationships which do not involve Uma Inder or other indoctrinated members fall away or break in the face of the extreme judgment of outsiders which is inculcated by Umaa Inder.”
3) “At this point Uma Inder and the group dogma she has created implicitly and explicitly dictates:
• What to wear
• What to eat
• Who to have conversations with
• Acceptable topics of conversation
• Who to have sex with and when
• What music, movies and internet media are acceptable for consumption
• And work routines, largely in service of Uma Inder and her personal projects
As Umaa Inder represents no tradition, these relations are entirely dependent on Uma Inder’s discretion and subject to change at any time, heightening the anxiety of the members and their dependence on Umaa Inder to make increasingly basic decisions.”
4) “As per allegations from an ex-victim, members were strongly discouraged from speaking of these experiences to others, and increasingly pushed to signing non-disclosure agreements and waivers to shield Uma Inder from personal liability as her abuses continued and expanded. In addition, Umaa Inder’s chief follower, “protector” (per Umaa Inder), and self-proclaimed bodyguard has made frequent death threats to those he or Umaa Inder deems could ‘harm’ Umaa, such as by speaking out against her abuses. For example, one escaping cult member was threatened with decapitation for studying with another spiritual teacher. Another escaping cult member was threatened with “danger” should he return to Bali, for calling the group a cult.”
5) “Umaa Inder threatened that those who broke off the ‘process’ halfway would suffer spiritual death (as a leaving cult member was choosing to be away from God), sexual dysfunction, emotional displacement, and an inability to find community. Umaa Inder has also implicitly threatened to publicize highly personal and painful confessional material that she extracted from her followers in the group internet message board should anyone speak out against her.”
According to alleged victims and from our online research, Umaa Inder is known to teach around the world at festivals, events, yoga retreats and businesses. Here is a partial list of past and current affiliations:
● Yoga Barn - Ubud, Bali
There is no denying the connection between Yoga Barn and Uma Inder since they employed her for years, allowing her to teach classes regularly to Yoga Barn clients. According to the alleged victims of Uma Inder, the owner of Yoga Barn, Meg Pappenheim, received many complaints about Umaa, and it seemed that Ms. Pappenheim had responded accordingly and properly, in our opinion, by firing Uma from Yoga Barn.
Dates: 31st March – 2nd April, 2017
From their website: “The Byron Spirit Festival celebrates the unique character of the Byron Shire, featuring workshops and panels on yoga, music, culture, dance, healing and world music.”
Dates: 8th – 9th of April, 2017
From their website: “In this workshop Uma delivers an immersive introduction that develops within the participants a grounded, working knowledge of key philosophical and therapeutic fundamentals of Ayurvedic self-care principles and practices. The aim of this workshop is to define and contextualize essential teachings of this all-encompassing system in such a way that the attendants of this course may experience – within hours – the physical, mental, emotional and energetic nurturing effects of the greatest gift on earth – Nature’s infinite wisdom.”
Dates: 1st – 8th of July, 2017
From their website: “This week-long festival is located in the beautiful Swedish countryside and has gathered around 1000 people yearly for 20 years. It offers a magnificent program of workshops, concerts, ceremonies and happenings in the fields of dance, yoga, intimacy, meditation, shamanism, sharing, creativity and much more. Nearly 70 inspiring workshop leaders, artists and musicians join us from all over the world to share their passions.”
According to the allegations found within the complaints received against Uma Inder, it is our opinion and belief that Umaa may be acting as a cult leader that seems to severely damage her followers in many ways. We believe Umaa Inder’s recruitment, indoctrination, and control techniques are typical to that of destructive high-control/demand groups (as per our analysis using the B.I.T.E. model). According to the complaints, in our opinion it seems Umaa Inder has no regard for the physical, mental, emotional and financial well-being of her followers. We believe her goal is to psychologically break down students in the name of “transparency” and “enlightenment” for control and exploitation purposes. In our estimation, we believe Umaa Inder may be very dangerous and advise potential students to think twice before becoming a student of this yogi guru.
A final quote from an alleged victim:
“…it is due to these systematic threats and intimidation that Uma Inder has been able to operate for so long without being exposed. These threats require that we protect our identities for the time being. However, we are so concerned about the well-being of current, inactive, former, and possible future cult members that we choose to begin exposing the abuses carried out by Uma Inder.”
We commend all of the brave ex-students for finding the courage to come together and speak out in an effort to warn potential students and stop the alleged manipulation and abuse. If you have any information about Uma Inder and/or her group that you would like to share, please contact us immediately.
Please note: this expose was conducted upon receiving allegations and evidence against Uma Inder by ex-students. The purpose of this expose is to warn, educate, save lives and to protect any potential victims. It is absolutely not intended to slander, libel or harm anyone mentioned in the expose.