Koh Phangan is a small island in southeast Thailand known to tourists for its parties and beautiful beaches. The beauty of the locale also lures visitors in search of relaxation and spiritual awakening. Among the island’s most popular schools is Agama, a yoga community led by Swami Vivekananda Saraswati, whose teachings have attracted thousands of students since opening in 2003.
Only recently have allegations of sexual assault by the Swami come to light, as reported by the Guardian. (Agama and the Swami deny these allegations.) This short documentary is an in-depth look at how the school—led by one charismatic leader—is accused of fostering a culture of abuse and manipulation under the guise of healing and enlightenment. Janja Lalich PhD, a sociologist and specialist in coercive influence, also explains how leaders can assert power in isolated groups.
Executive Producer: Lily Nguyen; Senior Producer: Jennifer Perry; Lead Editor: Eileen Kennedy; Producer: Laura Brickman; Coordinating Producer: Pilar Enseñat; Editor: Joon Chung; Design/Animation: Dan Ashwood; Additional Camera: Matthew Reyes; Additional Editor: Santiago Garcia
Send tips and inquiries to Jennifer Perry, firstname.lastname@example.org.