February 9, 2009
Robert Walter has partnered with a professional writer to complete his memoir, "Son of a Swami – a life of lies."
Check back soon for details and book ordering information.
obert Walter was 12 when he discovered that his real father was his mother's guru, the renowned Indian yogi Swami Rama - not his alcoholic dad, Arne Walter. Swami Rama had contributed enormously to yoga's surging popularity in the United States when he became the first Indian yogi to demonstrate in scientific experiments that he could control his brain waves, skin temperature, and heartbeat. His feats were celebrated in magazines and newspapers across the country, winning him many devoted followers, including Robert's mother, Shirley Walter.
Robert hoped he'd finally found the strong, wise, and loving father he'd always yearned for. But he quickly realized that he was the guru's dirty little secret: Swamis are Indian monks who take vows of celibacy, and Robert was living proof that "His Holiness Swami Rama" was not the otherworldly saint his followers worshipped. Swami Rama warned Robert not to disclose their relationship, saying that if he did, the Himalayan International Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy - the guru's rapidly growing and lucrative organization - would be destroyed, and someone would assassinate him. But he also promised that if Robert kept his paternity secret, he would inherit the institute one day.
In Son of a Swami: A Life of Lies, Robert explores his painful quest for a bond with his father, and Shirley recounts her attempts to reconcile her guru's inspirational teachings with his exploitative behavior. As Robert becomes caught in a web of lies and false promises, he struggles to understand his father - and himself. Seeking to overcome his own addictions, he confronts the questions that have plagued him since he was 12: Is he the son of a sex addict, a yogi with extraordinary powers, or both? Shirley explores how she became one of Swami Rama's earliest supporters and one of his sexual victims. She also details the price she paid for extricating herself from the Himalayan Institute, and examines the ways she failed to understand her son's need for a truthful reckoning - until now.
Along the way, mother and son expose Swami Rama's double life as a revered guru with millions of admirers, and an accomplished con artist who had sex with dozens of his disciples and lived lavishly at his students' expense. The Walters describe the cult-like workings of the Himalayan Institute and its leaders' ongoing attempts to demonize Swami Rama's victims as deluded, vengeful liars. They also expose the people and organizations that continue to defend and profit by their connection to Swami Rama, even after his death.
This unique double memoir will shed new light on the lure of religious cults, the ways in which they enforce conformity, and the myriad temptations awaiting Eastern spiritual leaders who come to the West. Son of a Swami will be of great interest to Indians, as well as the millions of Westerners who have studied yoga or followed an Eastern guru. It also will fascinate anyone interested in cults, sexual abuse by religious authorities, or vividly written memoir.