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Light of Truth Universal Shrine (LOTUS), Yogaville, Buckingham, Virginia

A work made of chromogenic print, from the series "sweet earth: experimental utopias in america".

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  • A work made of chromogenic print, from the series "sweet earth: experimental utopias in america".


April 2004


Joel Sternfeld
American, born 1944

About this artwork


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Photography and Media


Joel Sternfeld


Light of Truth Universal Shrine (LOTUS), Yogaville, Buckingham, Virginia


United States


Made 2004


Chromogenic print, from the series "Sweet Earth: Experimental Utopias in America"


No markings recto or verso Sri Swami Satchidananda was born in South India in 1914. After studying with some of the most important sages of India, he became a monk and a distinguished professor of Hatha and Raga yoga. He had been living and teaching in Sri Lanka when Conrad Rooks, an heir to the Avon fortune, asked him to play a role in a film, Chappaqua (photographer Robert Frank was the cinematographer). Through his role in the film, he met the artist Peter Max, who invited him in 1966 to spend a few days in New York. The Swami and his teachings proved so influential that the Integral Yoga Institute on West 13th Street grew up around him and his unique discipline, which combines six different yogic practices. His students and advocates have included singer Carol King, actors Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum, and designer Donna Karan. In 1969, Sri Satchidananda, then known as Guru Dev, delivered the opening address at the Woodstock festival. In 1976, he became a United States citizen. The Swami’s message derives from the understanding that “Truth is One, Paths are Many,” a belief that all religions lead to the same God. Yogaville was built in 1979 on one thousand acres of land donated to the Integral Yoga Institute by Carol King. The Light of Truth Universal Shrine (LOTUS) contains the All Faiths Hall, which exhibits artifacts and sacred texts from all religions of the world, including the “Secular Faith,” represented by the works of Plato and Shakespeare, the score of The Magic Flute, and the General Theory of Relativity. Allegations of past sexual misconduct plagued the Swami and Yogaville in the 1990s. These charges have never been litigated or proven, and Swami Satchidananda denied all allegations until his death in 1992. Devotees point out that their principal critic had a past conviction for burglary and became a cult fighter after his grandmother received annoying phone calls from Jews for Jesus. From the portfolio, Sweet Earth: Experimental Utopias in America, 1982–2005


26.4 × 33.2 cm (image); 27.9 × 35.5 cm (paper)

Credit Line

Gift of Ralph and Nancy Segall

Reference Number


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