Cartwheels in a Sari: A Memoir of Growing Up Cult

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Crown/Archetype, 2010 - Biography & Autobiography - 291 pages
In this colorful, eye-opening memoir, Jayanti Tamm offers an unforgettable glimpse into the hidden world of growing up “cult” in mainstream America. Through Jayanti's fascinating story–the first book to chronicle Sri Chinmoy–she unmasks a leader who convinces thousands of disciples to follow him, scores of nations to dedicate monuments to him, and throngs of celebrities (Sting, Pope John Paul II, Nelson Mandela) to extol him.

When the short, bald man in flowing robes prophesizes Jayanti to be the “Chosen One,” her life is forever entwined with the charismatic guru Sri Chinmoy, who declares himself a living god. A god who performs sit-ups and push-ups in front of thousands as holy ritual, protects himself with a platoon of bodyguards, and bans books, TV, and sex. Jayanti's unusual and increasingly bizarre childhood is spent shuttling between the ashram in Queens, New York, and her family's outpost as “Connecticut missionaries.” On the path to enlightenment decreed by Guru, Jayanti scrubs animal cages in his illegal basement zoo, cheerleads as he weight lifts an elephant in her front yard, and trails him around the world as he pursues celebrities such as Princess Diana and Mother Teresa.

But, when her need for enlightenment is derailed by her need for boys, Jayanti risks losing everything that she has ever known, including the person that she was ordained to be. With tenderness, insight, and humor, Jayanti explores the triumphs and trauma of an insider who longs to be an outsider, her hard-won decision to finally break free, and the unique challenges she confronts as she builds a new life.

From the Hardcover edition.

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User Review  - kivarson - LibraryThing

Having left the cult she was born into while in her mid twenties, Jayanti Tamm is remarkable for: 1. Successfully building a life when she was never taught the most basic skills needed to function in ... Read full review

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User Review  - howifeelaboutbooks -

I've always been fascinated with cults for some reason, and this book definitely helped satisfy some of that curiosity. Jayanti was born into a cult, and because there weren't supposed to be families ... Read full review


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Cartwheels in a Sari

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About the author (2010)

JAYANTI TAMM is an English professor at Ocean County College in New Jersey. Visit her website,

From the Hardcover edition.

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