H.H. Swami Rama of the Himalayas (1925-1996)
A disciple of the Himalayan adept, Sri Bengali Baba, Swami Rama (1925-1996) was born and raised in the legendary Himalayan mountain caves where countless generations of yogis have been trained and initiated into the deepest mysteries of yoga. Throughout his childhood and adolescence he lived and travelled with many saints and yogis. At the young age of 24 years he succeeded the great spiritual leader Dr. Kurtkoti as Shankaracharya of Karvirpitham.
He renounced the dignity and prestige of this high office to return to the Himalayas to intensify his meditative practices. After completing an intense, eleven-month meditation practice in isolation, he emerged with the determination to serve humanity, particularly to bring the teachings of the East to the West, and directed his life toward the unification of science and spirituality. He began his synthesis of eastern and western traditions with his research work at the Menninger Foundation in the United States and helped to revolutionize scientific thinking about the relationship between body and mind.
He founded the Himalayan International Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy with branches throughout the world, and the Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust, a 350 million dollar health and rural development project located near Dehradun in Garhwal, designed to serve this region’s population of millions of people in great medical, economic and social need. From a small outpatient clinic started in 1989, the Trust has grown into a huge medical city that incorporates an ultra modern SOD-bed hospital, medical college, school of nursing, Rural Development Institute and holistic centre.
Through his life and teachings, Swami Rama sought to combine the ancient teachings of the East with modern approaches of the West. He was a great yogi, scientist, philosopher, humanitarian, and mystic poet, all rolled into one. Having reached the heights of spiritual enlightenment, he always strove with seemingly endless energy to attain perfection in his actions in the external world. His life and teachings are the inspiration behind AHYMSIN and Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama (SRSG).
Swami Veda Bharati (1933-2015)
Mahamandaleshwar Sri Swami Veda Bharati (1933- July 14, 2015), former President of Sadhana Mandir Trust, was a rare Sanskrit scholar of our time, unsurpassed in his profound depth of knowledge, philosophy and practice of Meditation. He was born in a Sanskrit-speaking family and raised in the centuries old Vedic tradition. He taught the Patañjali’s Yoga-sūtras for the first time at the early age of 9 and the Vedas from age 11. Having never attended any school, he received his M.A. from the University of London and a D.Litt. from the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands.
From 1952-1967, he spread the Yogic and Vedic teachings in many parts of the world, including Africa and the West Indies. In 1969, he received the highest initiations into the mysteries of Meditation from his Guru Swami Rama of the Himalayas who linked him to the sacred lineage of the Himalayan Yogis. Thereafter he established and guided Meditation groups and centers in all parts of the world. He had access to 17 languages and taught Meditation in all of the major languages of the world and to followers of all religions.
In continuation with the oral tradition of the living lineage of the Himalayan Sages, Swami Veda taught: “योगः समाधिः | yogaḥ samādhiḥ | Yoga = samadhi | Yoga [is] samadhi”. He proposed that the entire yoga science must be studied and practiced on the basis of this definition of yoga. All other definitions are subservient to it. He revealed the authentic teachings of Classical Yoga through his 1500 page commentaries on the (first two chapters) Yoga-Sutras. This commentary has been hailed among scholars and practitioners both as the most authentic and authoritative. He has recorded more than 3,500 hours of courses on all aspects of meditation, its texts, and philosophical systems apart from teaching the ancient texts like the Vedas, Upanishads, and the Bhagavad Gita in an experiential context for meditation. Following on the footsteps of his Guru, he maintained a keen interest in the scientific studies of yoga mediation and subjected himself to a number of researches in the field of Neurophysiology of the Meditative states.
Swami Veda Bharati emphasized the universality of yoga as a science, which transcends chronological time, geographical boundaries, religious discrimination, and manmade sectarianism. Although he always liked to keep a low profile, he was well known for his teaching in different communities and cultures all over the world and for his expertise in instructing students in accordance with their own religion-philosophical background. During his lifetime, he participated in numerous interfaith dialogues, activities, and conferences with an aim of improving understanding among various religions. He found the experience of meditation to be the common ground among all religions. Prepared on the occasion of the United Nations 2000 World Peace Summit of Leaders in Religion and Spirituality, his short work, “Unifying Streams in Religions,” provides a fresh perspective for bringing the different faiths closer together.
In 2002, he founded Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama in Rishikesh, which houses the headquarters of the Association of Himalayan Yoga Meditation Societies International (AHYMSIN) and serves as the centre for his global network among nearly 100 groups in 26 different countries; spreading the teachings of the Himalayan Tradition. We can best repay his extra-ordinary efforts by availing ourselves of the fruits of his experiential teachings to further our own yogic practice for our own enlightenment and the welfare of all.
Swami Ritavan Bharati
Present Ashram Pramukha and Spiritual Guide:
Swami Ritavan Bharati has lived a life dedicated to serving Swami Rama and Swami Veda Bharati since 1970. After having been initiated at the age of 20, he transited through all the three Ashrams of Vedic life (Brahmacharya, Grihastha, and Vanaprastha) under the direct guidance of Swami Rama and Swami Veda Bharati. He was then initiated into Sanyasa in 2007.
He holds master’s degrees in Management, Education, Holistic Philosophy, and Eastern Studies. A highly experienced yoga meditation practitioner, he has conducted and guided numerous silence and meditation retreats throughout the world and has been instrumental in guiding the international Himalayan Yoga Tradition – Teacher Training Program (HYT-TTP). He is also a Mantra Initiator within the Tradition of the Himalayan Masters. Swami Veda Bharati chose Swami Ritavan Bharati as his successor; as the Ashram Pramukha and Spiritual Guide of SRSG and the AHYMSIN community, before he took Mahasamadhi in 2015.
A man of few words, his primary focus is on the inner life.