Himalayan Yoga Meditation Tradition
“There is one thing unique to our tradition. It links itself to an unbroken lineage of sages even beyond Shankara” – Swami Rama in Living with the Himalayan Masters.
The Himalayan Mountains have been the home of sages for millennia. These great sages have lived and passed on knowledge of the yogic teachings to disciples who then became masters passing on the teachings in an unbroken lineage since the Vedic period. Twelve hundred years ago Shankaracharya organized his teaching into five centers of the Himalayan Tradition. As one of those five, our tradition is the Bharati lineage.
Bha means “the light of knowledge,” rati means “a lover who is absorbed in it,” thus; Bharati indicates one, who as a lover of knowledge, becomes totally absorbed in its light. The methods and philosophies of the Himalayan Tradition have withstood the test of time. Generation upon generation have followed this path and a huge reserve of knowledge has been built.
The student can study the writings of the Tradition and read about the experiences of the great masters of the past for him or herself. The Himalayan Tradition is not a tradition where a teacher proclaims himself a guru and students are expected to believe whatever he says, rather, the teachings come from the Tradition and the student can look to the Tradition to support and make sense of what the teacher says. The initial purpose of the tradition is to awaken the divine flame within each human being and the goal is for each student to become a master of the Tradition in coming to know his or her true Self. It is the task of the teacher, through the Grace of the Guru to selflessly help his disciples on the way of highest enlightenment. Passing on of knowledge is done experientially through the transmission of a pulsation of energy.
The Himalayan Tradition of Yoga Meditation combines the wisdom of Patañjali’s Yoga-sutras, the philosophy and practices of the Tantras, and the specific oral instructions and initiatory experiences, passed on by a long line of saints and Yoga masters whose names may or may not be known. The Tradition is not an intellectual combining of three unrelated elements, but a unified system in which all the parts are integrally linked.
The principal tenets and practices of all known systems of meditation are included in the Himalayan Tradition and, for the most part, these systems have arisen out of it. For example: Vipassana emphasizes breath awareness and Transcendental Meditation concentrates on repetition of the mantra, whereas most Hatha practitioners pay attention mainly to posture. The Himalayan meditator, however, learns to sit in the correct posture, relax fully, practice correct breathing, and then combine breath-awareness with the mantra.
When one reaches the end of the practices prescribed in any one part of the Himalayan system, continuity is to be found in the system as a whole. This statement may be explained this way: rare is the disciple who can master all of the components of the Himalayan system, but s/he may master one or two aspects and be sent out to teach. S/he will draw students who are at the level of development where they can benefit from the portion of the system s/he has to offer. In this way various schools of meditation have branched off from the central one. When students have reached the ultimate end of the methods taught in any one particular subsystem, their next steps will be in other aspects of the Himalayan system. This is termed the divergence and convergence of the meditational systems.
The Himalayan Tradition of Yoga Meditation is distinguished in that it
- is the first meditative tradition,
- is the most comprehensive, integral and all-inclusive,
- has given birth to the major meditative traditions of the world and has continued to enrich them all,
- does not require adherence to a belief system but experientially helps verify metaphysical reality,
- has an unbroken lineage whose continuity is ensured through transmission of shakti in meditative and initiatory states.
“A particular school might teach concentration on light, or on sound, or use some other technique. A teacher of the Himalayan Tradition of Yoga Meditation is trained in all the possible methods of meditation. Where a particular school may describe a specific method for everyone, a yogi thoroughly trained in the tradition prescribes
- One of many methods,
- To a certain depth,
- For a certain length of time,
- For a specific personality type,
- At a certain stage of the person’s development.”
– Pandit Usharbudh Arya (later Swami Veda Bharati), Superconscious Meditation
A qualified preceptor in the Himalayan tradition fulfills at least the following requirements. S/he should:
- have the knowledge of the major yoga texts;
- have practised, and been initiated into, all the major paths of yoga such as mantra-yoga, kundalini-yoga, shri-vidya and so forth, with proficiency in some and familiarity with the others
- be able to see the association between the Himalayan Tradition and other paths, such as those of the Sufis, the Tao, Ch’an, Zen, thera-vada, Tibetan, Christian and others – together with their basic texts and historical backgrounds.
- be able to assess the personality type to which a given student should be designated so that the student can be:
- led on a complementary path (bhakti, jnana, etc.),
- assigned the proper mantra, or chakra concentration, and
- given progressively appropriate practices.
- have at least a certain degree of the power of transmission.
Transmission. This is the central point of the Himalayan tradition. From times immemorial the tradition has been passed on experientially in an unbroken chain of master disciple relationships. A meditation guide in this tradition must have at least some degree of the power of transmission, to transfer shakti to those being taught. S/he should be able to create a common mind-field when leading a class or a group in meditation and be able to induce a meditative state by her/his mere presence and voice. One may do so only up to the degree to which s/he is qualified and authorized. One cannot advise a concentration on, for example, the heart chakra unless one can trigger the experience of the energy configurations there at least to some degree. Advanced preceptors teach meditation through such a transmission, while using their voices to gently guide their students into a meditative state.
Swami Rama of the Himalayas has presented this tradition in its scientific format in his lectures and writings and has initiated the disciples to continue a certain degree of transmission.
Himalayan Tradition has the following orientation:
- One absolute without a second is our philosophy.
- Serving humanity through selflessness is an expression of love, which one should follow through mind, action and speech.
- The yoga system of Patañjali is a preliminary step accepted by us for the higher practices in our tradition, but philosophically we follow the Advaita system of one Absolute without a second.
- Meditation is systematized by stilling the body, having serene breath, and controlling the mind. Breath awareness, control of the autonomic system, and learning to discipline primitive urges are practiced.
- We teach the middle path to students in general, and those who are prepared for higher steps of learning have the opportunity to learn advanced practices. This helps people in general in their daily lives to live in the world and yet remain above. Our method, for the convenience of Western students, is called Superconscious Meditation. I am only a messenger delivering the wisdom of the Himalayan sages of this tradition, and whatever spontaneously comes from the centre of intuition, that I teach. I never prepare my lectures or speeches, for I was told by my master not to do so.
- We do not believe in conversion, changing cultural habits, or introducing any God in particular. We respect all religions equally, loving all and excluding none. Neither do we oppose any temple, mosque, or church, nor do we believe in building homes for God while ignoring human being. Our firm belief is that ever human being is a living institution or a temple.
- Our members are all over the world, and for the sake of communication we also believe in education. Our graduate school imparts the knowledge by the sages, thereby fulfilling the inner need of intellectuals.
- We practice vegetarianism. We teach a nutritional diet that is healthy and good for longevity, but at the same time we are not rigid and do not force students to become vegetarians.
- We respect the institution of the family and stress the education of children by introducing a self-training program and not by forcing our beliefs, faiths, and way of life on them.
- Our trained teachers systematically impart all aspects of yoga relating to body, breath, mind and individual soul. Awareness within and without is the key, and the methods of expansion are carefully introduced to the students.
- To serve humanity we believe in examining, verifying, and coming to certain conclusions regarding the yoga practices, including relaxation and meditation.
- Our experiments are documented and published for benefit of humanity.
- We believe in universal brotherhood, loving all and excluding none.
- We strictly abstain from politics and from opposing any religion.
- Of great importance is the practice of non-violence with mind, action and speech.
– Swami Rama, Living with the Himalayan Masters
- Living with the Himalayan Masters by Swami Rama
- Night Birds by Swami Veda Bharati
- Audio Talks: The Guru-Disciple Relationship by Swami Veda Bharati