She Built a Shady Guru’s YouTube Army. Now She’s His Fiercest Critic—But Who Will Believe Her?

That’s why it was such a shock to the Nithyananda community when in September 2019, she published videos and Facebook posts alleging children at the ashram’s school had been abused. According to former Nithyananda disciples interviewed by Gizmodo, kids at the school were trained to perform demonstrations of supposed “spiritual powers,” like reading through a blindfold, the diagnosis of medical ailments through something called “bodyscanning,” and a kind of clairvoyance known as “Akashic reading.”

In a video, which now has more than 490,000 views, Landry alleged that kids from the school told her tearfully how they’d learned to fake these “powers,” since they were forced to beat each other raw, denied sleep and food, or locked in rooms for long periods if they couldn’t convincingly “manifest” supernatural feats. Landry also alleges the group is a dangerous cult, she herself was “brainwashed,” and in later videos, alleges she endured sexual exploitation and other abuses in service to Nithyananda. Gizmodo reached out to the Nithyananda organization several times requesting an interview with the guru or a representative, and sent a detailed list of questions regarding Landry’s allegations to two of the group’s official contact email addresses, but did not receive a response.

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