Swami Muktananda (1908–1982) began the life of a sadhu, a wandering mendicant in search of spiritual fulfillment, at an unusually early age. Though as a young man Swami Muktananda gained recognition for his yogic attainments, he often said that his spiritual journey didn’t truly begin until he received shaktipat, spiritual initiation, from the great saint Bhagavan Nityananda. It was then that Swami Muktananda’s spiritual energy, Kundalini Shakti, was awakened, and he was drawn into profound states of meditation. Nine years later he attained the state of God-realization.
In the 1970s, on his Guru's behalf, Swami Muktananda—who by then was known by the endearing name of Baba—brought the venerable tradition of his master’s lineage to the West, giving the previously little-known shaktipat initiation to untold thousands of spiritual seekers. Baba Muktananda established Gurudev Siddha Peeth as a public trust in India to administer the work there, and founded the SYDA Foundation in the United States to administer the global work of Siddha Yoga meditation.
Before Baba took mahasamadhi in 1982, he wrote many books and established more than six hundred meditation centers and a number of ashrams around the world. In May 1982, he appointed two successors, Swami Chidvilasananda and her brother, Swami Nityananda. Three years later, in November 1985, Swami Nityananda resigned from the Guru’s role. Swami Chidvilasananda, who is affectionately known as Gurumayi, became the sole head of the Siddha Yoga lineage.