The Making of a Master
Gurudeva's personal narrative of how he was trained for this life's mission
Considering Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami's astounding impact on the Hindu world and on the hearts and minds of each person he touched leaves no doubt that he was a great and unusual soul who incarnated to do this work. "Born for the job," he would often say about himself and his monastic order. What's more, he enjoyed every minute of the journey. In 1970 he spoke candidly of the early training, realizations and experiences that prepared him for his historicaccomplishments. Fortunately, those talks were recorded. Here is a transcript of those narratives, followed by autobiographical insights given in 1999.
The first mystical experience that I can remember was as a baby, lying in my crib. All of a sudden, I was conscious of a tall, full-grown man standing over me in a serene pale yellow robe. Then I became fully conscious of being this full-grown man looking down upon this little baby. Then I was conscious as the baby again, looking up into the face of this great soul. I realized that the tall man in the pale yellow robe was the body of my soul. I realized that as I continued maturing spiritually, the soul body would finally fully inhabit the physical body. This finally happened in a tremendous spiritual experience in Denver, Colorado, in 1956. After that experience, I founded what is now Himalayan Academy.
Conquering Worry: The second mystical experience I remember occurred at about six years of age. I lived with my family in a chalet at Fallen Leaf Lake, near Lake Tahoe, California. In the winter time we had to cross over the land in sleds and snowmobiles (automobiles with skis on the front) in order to go from our home to the town to purchase food and pick up mail.
Quite often the snowmobile would become stuck in the snow. This might delay us an hour or two as my father worked to release it so that we could proceed. Children listened to the radio in those days, just as they watch television nowadays. And I, too, had my own favorite programs. Each time we went to the village, on the way home I observed my thinking faculty being disturbed and worried for fear that we would not arrive home in time for me to listen to my favorite radio program. I hated to miss the sequence of the programs, such as Captain Midnight,the Lone Ranger and Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy.
This was the first time I became aware in the area of the mind that always worries. There I was, though, and I didn't like it. I clearly remember mentally talking to myself and saying, "You are all right right now. We haven't gotten stuck in the snow yet! Have we?" At that early age of six years, I actually saw awareness coming out of the area of the mind that always worries and entering a total consciousness of here and now. Then awareness would leave the now and go into the past, and I would begin to think, "Four days ago we were delayed in the snow for about an hour and my father had a very difficult time digging out the snowmobile." I saw my awareness travel into the past. Then I would repeat even more firmly to myself, "I am all right, right now. We are not delayed yet." And again, I actually saw awareness travel right back to the present moment. This became one of my hobbies. The totality of the power of the eternity of the moment began to become stronger and stronger within me from that time onward, until whenever anything came along in the mind substance, I was able to handle it. All this and even more unfolded to me at that early age in such a beautiful and simple way.
"I Want to Dance!" A fewyears after I experienced the eternity of the moment, my parents began to go into transition in the reincarnation processes. First, my mother died. A few years later my father went into transition, too. Relatives started to ask me at that time, "What do you want to do when you grow up?" That was a new question to me, because I hadn't thought about it. I didn't really want to do anything. I was just growing up and realizing all the time that I am "All right, right now."
About the age of ten or eleven, I became aware of what I wanted to do when I grew up. "I want to dance," I said. This came from deep within me. Music always moved the inner energy of the inner body and finally the muscles moved and the body would begin to dance.
Dance, incidentally, in Hinduism, is considered the highest form of expression. That is why dance was used for worship in temples of ancient cultures. Through the esoteric forms of dance, you become acquainted with the movements of the currents of the physical body, the emotional body and the body of the soul. The meditating dancer, inspired by music, finds the inner currents moving first, and lastly the physical body. This releases his awareness into inner, superconscious realms of the mind in a smooth, rapid and systematic way.
I started my life in the dance as the dance, and being the dance. A friend of my mother and of my father, who became my first catalyst on the path of enlightenment, was a marvelous dancer. She was a medical student at the Stanford University in Palo Alto who became interested in pre-classic dance forms, the Pavane, the Gavotte and many others. In India she became so enthralled with the Indian forms of dance, the Bharata Natyam, Manipuri and Kathakali schoolsÑthat she was invited by the Maharaja of Mysore to live in his palace and study the dance, as well as yoga and the mystical teachings and practices of India. She stayed in India for five years in the early 1920s.
Along with the study of the pre-classic dance forms, I was taught how to walk, how to sit, how to stand, how to exercise the physical body, how to move the body in the ways of the West, and how to move the body in the ways of the East. Thus, I was brought up in Hinduism first through culture, music, art, drama, dance and all the protocols of Indian life.
I was taught the beginning fundamentals of concentration which precede meditation, how to pinpoint awareness on a given object for a given length of time. My catalyst was a strict taskmaster, to be sure. I think I was a good student, because I was very, very interested. I visited her and studied the dance with her other students twice a week. For four years, every summer at her beautiful chalet on the shores of Fallen Leaf Lake near Lake Tahoe, Istudied more intensely. It was there I learned the worship of LordSiva Nataraja. At the beginning of my teens, this was very important to me, and it led me into the Vedanta philosophy, which I pursued through listening to lectures of Indian swamis at the Vedanta Society in San Francisco and in reading books. I was most inspired by the life of Swami Vivekananda and his four small volumes: Raja Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga and Inspired Talks. I was especially impressed by his masterful poem, "The Song of the Sannyasin."
Later I was trained to be a teacher by this first catalyst, trained to teach other students in the very same way. This happened when I was about twelve years of age. The students I taught were between the ages of six and eight.
Finally, after I had absorbed everything I had to learn with my first catalyst, she introduced me to my second catalyst. My second catalyst was also well acquainted with various forms of mysticism, occultism and meditation. She taught me exactly how one leaves the physical body after putting the body to sleep. I learned of the astral body and how to work with and develop the experience of leaving the physical body in the astral body, while totally aware of the happening, turn around, look back at the physical body, see the silver cord which connects it to the astral body, and to travel astrally. This catalyst taught me how the inner energies of the seven chakras function as the physical body moves and is inspired through the different types of music. She gave me a tremendous training and exercise in the free form movement of the dance, in which one experiences no inhibitions of any kind. This was extremely good for me, at the age of fourteen and fifteen, because it controlled and transmuted the energies of the emotional area.
Soon I started studying with the San Francisco Ballet Company and finally became their lead dancer.
My second catalyst patiently taught me how to center the whole being of the physical body, the emotional body and the spiritual body so that the inner light began to appear. With this catalyst, in Berkeley, California, I had my first inner light experience.
I studied with my second catalyst twice a week during these two most wonderful years. Never asking many questions, I just obeyed what was told to me to the very best of my ability. I was taught this at a very early age: not to ask any questions. I was told one must absorb inner teachings. One has to become aware of where the teacher is within himself and look at what he is saying from that perspective. This is the way that the student learns to absorb inner teachings. Then they awaken within him and he compliments them with his own inner knowing. My second catalyst also taught me how to see into the akasha and view great, actinic, inner-plane beings.
My third catalyst was wonderful and patient. She taught me the psychology of the vibratory rates of color and how to read an aura, understand the meaning of each color and combination of color within the aura and how to equate them with the moods and emotions and thinking faculty of the person. She taught me a method of character delineation in the understanding of human nature, the way people think, the way they act, and the inner, subconscious motivation.
She told me about the guru and said that one day I would meet my guru.
But before I met my guru I would have to have realized the Self. She told me that I would find my guru on the island of Sri Lanka and that I must go there and study and that this was my next step. At that time, I was meditating two hours every day, right by the clock, just sitting there without moving, going in and in and in, trying to fathom the intricacies of what I had been learning and the purity and simplicity of the Self.
In the second year of training I was intricately taught to understand the actions and reactions of people, how they moved, how they thought, how they acted. I was taught to be so observant with the powers of concentration that I would actually know by the movement of the mind or physical body of someone all about their inner attitudes and how they lived at home.
During the third year of training, I was taught how to test students inwardly and outwardly to determine if they were mystically inclined or just intellectually interested in the teaching. Then we went on into the study of thought forms and the feeling and meaning of various thought forms in meditation which one would see through his inner faculty. I began to know what a person was thinking about and his motivation for flowing awareness into that area of the mind where that collective thought substance occurred.
My third catalyst also advanced me through the study of great beings who live in the inner areas of the mind, beings so developed in their nerve system that they no longer need the use of the physical body to function and communicate with humans. Similarly, I studied great beings who have physical bodies but function deep in meditation, helping those who meditate as a kind of spiritual mission, as a father and mother would oversee the emotional and physical maturation of their children.
Finally, the day arrived for me to go to the island of Sri Lanka and meet my fourth catalyst on the path. I was delighted. I was going to find my guru. I was going to realize the Self. At twenty years of age, I took the first ship to leave for India after the Second World War and celebrated my twenty-first birthday days before going ashore and walking through the grand Gateway to India in Mumbai. Traveling by train to Chennai and then to Sri Lanka was a remarkable and remarkably hot experience.
Sri Lanka, 1947: I was happy and awed to meet my fourth catalyst on the island of Sri Lanka. I studied with him for one year and a half. He attained enlightenment in a cave in Thailand by sitting in the morning, eyes fixed upon the sun, following the sun across the heavens until it set at night. He practiced under his guru this most difficult sadhana. Then one night in a cave, the cave turned to brilliant light, and a great being appeared to him, giving him his mission and instructions for his service to the world.
"In looking back over my life's experiences, all a sum total now, I see the warp and the woof of a woven pattern of dancing, living and merging in the Divine."
My fourth catalyst taught me how to use the willpower, how to get things done in the material world. He was a real father to me. I needed this at twenty-one years of age. I wanted to meditate, but he wanted me to work to help the village people in reconstructing the rural areas. He would tell me to do many different things that I had to work out from within myself, such asseeing that a new village bridge was put up that had been washed out in a flood, bringing into another village modern saws and carpentry equipment to replace the old tools used in building furniture.
To do this, I had to take a survey of all the carpenters using handsaws in a certain area in Sri Lanka. I went around to all of the villages with a little notebook, writing down names and addresses and the types of saws that they had, for my assignment was to see that they all would eventually be provided with electric saws.
One assignment like this after another was given to me. This wonderful fourth catalyst of mine worked on the philosophy that you do what you're told, and if you're given an assignment to do, you don't come back with excuses. You go right ahead and finish that assignment.
My practice of being obedient really came in handy with my fourth catalyst. He challenged me. I had to work it out within myself. I was sensitive and couldn't stand being scolded. He was quick to point things out. This was good for me. I didn't ask questions. I did the very best that I could to help the villagers in Sri Lanka to a better way of life.
Every once in a while I dropped the remark, "I want to go into a cave and meditate. I want to realize the Self." He said, "Plenty of time for that. You can go into a cave and meditate after you have finished the next two or three assignments. Anyway, the cave is inside of you." I reminded him from time to time, "You know, I came to Sri Lanka to find my guru." I deeply felt that if I could get away from doing external things and go into a cave, I really could realize the Self. In fact, I was sure of it. If he would just give me a little time off. But would he? No.
I must confess, I rebelled a little. The rebellion externalized my awareness. It was more difficult to do the assignments that he wanted me to do. I was happy to learn this because I conquered this rebellion within a week and never allowed it to occur again. The biggest enemy on the path is a rebellious nature. I settled down to obey him exactly and directly. I was a very positive person at that time, and remain so today.
I can hear him now. "There's plenty of time for you to meditate. What you have to do next is to go get a school started for Buddhist children in a village where they will not be educated if we don't start a school for them." He sent me to a Buddhist temple. I lived with the priests and talked with them. The school they had was literally falling apart. There wereno teachers. The children did not attend anymore. I didn't know what to do, though, to get a school started. I never had done anything like this. So, I just sat there, day after day, meditated, ate what they had to feed me, and slept.
My catalyst came to visit me a few days later and said, "You're doing just the right thing. You're sitting there in meditation. They'll see you in meditation. This will impress them, and the priests will begin to take interest in you. The children will see you, too." And they did.
Each day as I meditated, more and more children would gather around me at the temple. Then the children from other neighboring villages came to watch me meditate. They stood so quietly. In the meantime, my teacher was talking quietly with the priests, day after day, and telling them the need for education, that they had to get busy and do something about it. Soon all of the children who were watching me started attending the classes that the priests started holding for them, and soon they acquired the habit of coming each day to learn from the priests. A school was started. The priests were happy. The children were happy. My teacher was pleased. I was happy, and I was sent off to my next experience on the path.
I visited and lived in many Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka. I was received by the monks there. I saw how they lived, saw how they dressed, and that influenced in a very strict way the monastic protocols that we later put into action in our own monastic order.
The Caves of Jalani, 1949: One day my training was completed. My teacher flew off to attend a religious conference in Switzerland. I was alone in Ceylon. I thought about the cave again. One of my close Muslim friends took me to the caves of Jalani, Kurugala Balandha, Sri Lanka, where I met my fifth catalyst on the path of enlightenment.
This catalyst was a Muslim mystic called Mustan, a very wonderful man. They say he never took a bath, but he smelled as sweet as a flower. He was so old; he was so pure. We had a wonderful meeting. When he saw me he said, "I had a dream about you." Then Mustan pulled a little notebook out of his pocket. He said, "I wrote it down here where I write down all of my dreams." I said to him, through my friend who translated from Arabic into English, "I had a dream about you, too," and I had written it down. I had been under a training at that time to write down all my dreams. He said, "My dream was during the last full moon." We compared dates. We had both written down the same dream at the same time about our meeting together on the inner planes at night while we slept.
He began giving to me a most wonderful and profound training concerning the use of the third eye. He explained and projected with his mind force the intricate use, development and unfoldment of the faculties of the third eye. He lived in a little cave with a little door on it. One had to walk many steps up the side of a hill to get to it. I lived in a nearby mosque at the foot of the path to his cave.
At night he would take me out and meditate with me on wind-swept hills where yogis used to meditate hundreds of years ago. He'd make me sit so straight and for a long time. The wind would be blowing against my body. It would be cold. There, in the dead of night, he would say through my translator, "Did you see this? Did you see that? Are you seeing what I'm seeing?" He shared all of this with me. I learned some extremely valuable things about the use of the third eye and the psychic unfoldment of it through the faculties of the soul, which, in later life, has become an extremely useful and valuable tool in my work today. I really appreciated Mustan, my fifth catalyst on the path.
A muslim saint named Abdul Cadar Duster Jalani lived, meditated and had a school of mysticism there hundreds of years ago. These caves were on top of a mountain some distance from where we lived in the mosque. When penetrating deep into the cave, one sees light in the crevice down in the center of the mountain. In the mysticism of Islam, this is thought to be a direct route to the inner planes, to Mecca. The caves themselves are situated on a cliff that drops three hundred feet to where a jungle lies below. From the caves, wild elephants are seen in the jungle quite easily from time to time. I was taken there by my friend and had a series of meditations there. It was at this time that I realized that this was my cave in which I would one day realize the Self.
I was told by my teachers along the way that I had to get the foundation and the understanding of the various inner and outer areas of the mind in order to have a foundation strong enough to sustain the reaction to the realization of the Self. Each catalyst up to this point had helped me and introduced me in one way or another to my next teacher. This was not planned. I did not look for another teacher. I expected each teacher to be my last one. In fact, I didn't even think about it. It happened in a nice, natural sequence of events.
"Everything in the world and everything in the mindis as it should be in a perfect state of evolution. Superconsciously, we can clearly see this through the eyes of our soul."
Each teacher had his part in developing the memory faculties, one-pointedness, concentration, stimulating the meditation faculties, the willpower and the cognitive faculties, teaching me to see everything from an inner perspective and looking at the world as if one were the center of the universe.
There was just one thing lacking, howeverÑand I had to do it myself the ultimate goal, the realization of the Self. It was with joy and burning desire that I approached the caves of Jalani. I had absolutely nothingwith me. I had given all of my money to the villagers along the way. I didn't take any food. I had given all of my clothing away, everything. I just went there to be alone.
I said to myself. "I am going to fast until I find this realization that I so want and have wanted for such a long time." I started to fast. The Mustan wasn't there. He had gone away on a pilgrimage. No one was there. There were no pilgrims. I was left alone. I went up and into the cave. I started to meditate. I went in and in and in and in and then in and in again, and finally I went in and in until awareness became totally aware of itself, and into the control of the breath until the breath breathed no more, and then into the Self, Parasiva.
I came out again into the mind. Villagers had seen me on the cliffs from the villages three hundred feet below. They thought I was some sort of holy man and brought food and all sorts of nice things. We had a big feast. I was hungry. They had come all the way up from the valley. They were so kind. I returned to Colombo, the major city of Sri Lanka, hundreds of miles away, with a Muslim man who also had come on a pilgrimage from some foreign country. He taught me a wonderful chant along the way. I never saw my fifth catalyst on the path again. He taught me everything I needed to know to complete my training for the realization of the Self during my first series of meetings with him. It was intense. It was strong.
Back in Colombo, Entering Hinduism: Returning back to the city, nothing looked the same anymore. I was in another dimension. Everything was different. I had lost something: the desire for the realization of the Self. I felt complete. I felt alone.
One night, just before sleep, I saw before me a vision of a tremendous peacock tail, open and framing the screen before my eyes. In Hindu mysticism, Lord Murugan rides through the akasha on a peacock. This is the way He travels in the inner area of the mind.
The next morning I met the sixth catalyst on the path, my next profound teacher, Kandiah Chettiar. He was the one who was to take me to my guru, but I needed preparation first. He gave it to me. He took me deep into Hinduism. Up to this point I had studied yoga and had a fine exposure to Buddhism in Sri Lanka, but had not been made aware of orthodox Hinduism. He brought me into Hinduism from a deep, inner-plane perspective, teaching me the mysticism and then the ritual. I began meeting the Hindu Gods, the Deities, inside the innerareas of the superconscious mind, and learning how to relate to them. They were kind to me.
"Theenlightened being sees beyond duality and knows the oneness of all. He is the illumined one, filled with light, filled with love."
Hinduism is a combination, a collection, of all the teachings and practices of thousands of rishis, gurus, philosophers, mystics and teachers throughout many centuries. Within it are innumerable systems, practices and teachings. If you were to go into them fully, you would find them more complicated than the most complex computer of today. And yet, after my realization of the Self God, Hinduism was as simple as kindergarten to me. Hinduism unfolded from the depths of my being. I had found my religion.
I was happy to find a complete culture that accepted the monistic advaita of Vedanta and yet cherished and practiced the many other dimensions of life, celebrated festivals, valued the great yoga called bhakti, honored those who performed sadhanas, understood the way of kundalini yoga, knew the mysteries of penance, including rolling around the temple in the hot noonday sun, and lost itselfÑor should I say found itself?Ñin the chambers of the hallowed temples where darshan was sought out and the Gods were seen and felt as real beings when invoked by the magical priests to enter the temple at the height of the ceremony.
My sixth catalyst on the path introduced me to the exoteric worship done within the Hindu temple. He told me why they ring the bells and blow the horns and beat the drums. He explained intricately the role of the priests and what they do, why they wear the holy ash, called vibhuti, on their forehead, arms and chest. All the whys and hows were explained to me. I saw it all from an inner perspective. I became so sensitive to the vibratory rate of the astrological configurations of stars and the power that they effected upon the Earth during certain times of the year that I was able to tell my catalyst exactly what Hindu Deity would be worshiped at a temple and the very day that particular service would be conducted. I would tell my catalyst, "Come on, we have to go to the temple really fast. The Lord Ganesha is being worshiped today." This enthralled my catalyst, of course.
One day I said to him, "I want to become a Hindu. I feel like I am a Hindu already because that has been my training from a very young age up to this point, but how can you arrange it officially? Will you take me to a very pure priest?" And he said, "Just wait," for he was the one who was destined to take me to my guru.
Occasionally I would ask him, "Please take me to a priest who has Self Realization." He'd say, "There are no priests in our temples who have the realization of God of which you speak." But I'd say, "I feel deep within me that you are somehow going to work it out so I can become a Hindu." I had no idea in those days of teaching everything I had been learning, or of being a guru myself. I was in the full bloom of my realization. I was going within, coming out into the external area of the mind and then going back within. The core of the within, the Self God, was home base to me. I had a good start in life. I had reached my goal. I was reaping the benefits of all of the good foundation work of concentration, meditation and contemplation that had been given to me at an early age. I was perfectly content, at peace, in my inner life.
One day, my teacher invited me to his home in the northern part of Sri Lanka. It was the first time I had been in an orthodox Hindu home. I was so at home there. It was wonderful. The northern part of Sri Lanka is quite different from the southern, like being in a different country. The religion is Hindu. In southern Sri Lanka, Buddhism is the religion practiced.
We visited fine temples of the area, the Ganesan temple, the Nallur Kandasamy Temple and many others, taking our time. And all the while I was absorbing the inner atmosphere and being blessed by the Gods themselves as electric vibrations would come forth from the temple and flow through my body. I felt wonderful. It was wonderful. I was there. I was expecting to become a Hindu, the peak experience of my life.
Very carefully my teacher began telling me about a "madman" in the area, a guru who was so unpredictable that people were afraid of him. He explained the nature of this man and how to approach him, and the work that he was doing in the area. I was told about how he attained Self Realization and ran for twenty miles on the power of it, he had worked for it for so long. He was so happy that he had finally achieved this great goal at forty years of age. I would be patient, and the subject would always come around to the guru of the area, Yogaswami. In this way, I learned of him and of his teaching. One day, I was invited to go with my teacher to Yogaswami.
Jnanaguru Yoganathan, affectionately known by the people of the area as Yogaswami, was a magnificent man. No one approached him unless they were in the right mood. Some were literally afraid of him. When within the radius of him, onecould feel the atmosphere scintillating. One felt electricity in the atmosphere. Devotees would prepare themselves on the inside so everything was all right before visiting this guru. Just to take him a little bit of fruit, they would sometimes prepare themselves for three or four days. If asked when they would be seeing the guru, they would say, "Well, I'm not quite ready yet to see Yogaswami today Émaybe tomorrow." Or, "I will go on a very auspicious day." This was because they didn't want him to look through them and point out something that they saw in themselves that they thought he might see. He always knew when people were coming to him before they arrived.
My meeting with him was unusual because I was introduced, and he said, "Come on in and sit down." Everybody else prostrated before him. In the Orient, devotees prostrate in front of a guru, placing the entire body face down on the floor. He said to me, "You come in and sit down. You don't have to do that. You and I are one." Then he started asking me the deepest of philosophical questions. I must have given the right answer each time; he seemed very pleased. As soon as he had asked the question, without hesitation I spoke the answer. Then he gave me the name I hold today, Subramuniya. He was my guru, my master. Subra means "the light than emanates out from the central source." It just emanates out. Muni means a silent teacher, and ya means restraint. Subramuniya means a self-restrained soul who remains silent or speaks out from intuition, one who speaks out from the inner sky.
He showed me the book he had on Patanjali's yoga aphorisms. I had studied Patanjali, too. We had just a wonderful, deep and inner meeting. He treated me more like a brother. This did not surprise me, though, because I was so far within and not in the consciousness of being surprised, but it surprised everybody else. He made me eat food with him, and we parted. Before leaving, I mentioned to my guru that I had established an ashram in nearby Alaveddy and would like to have his blessings. He said, "Fine, good, it will one day become a three-story building, and you are going around the world, and you will feed thousands of people. You are going to build palaces." And he began giving me many different kinds of instructions, such as "You will return to America, and you will roar. And when you come back here, nothing will be gained and nothing will be lost." He said, "Now you go and teach the realizations that you have had." I was used to being told what to do by my six teachers on the path, so I was happy to have this positive instruction. After I left my guru's presence, everyone started relating to me differently.
On the second visit with my guru, we had a beautiful time together, just meditating and enjoying a beautiful flow. Many people came and he had grape juice made for me. On the third visit, we had a beautiful conversation about the path. Then, as I was leaving his ashram and he was seeing me out, he gave me the hardest slap on the back that I had ever felt from anybody. With all his might he reached out and cracked me on the spine between the shoulder blades. It was tremendous. I would have fallen on my face if I had not been so tall. Some of the Hindu devotees were startled, too, because that is one of the most powerful ordination initiations ever given. After this initiation, he gave me some powerful instructions.
There are four ways that a guru will initiate or ordain. One is through talking, a very mild way. Another is by a look, and another is through thought. The most powerful initiation is through touch combined with the actual inner power, for through this contact, with intent, he begins to feed and transmit all of his inner knowing and inner power to the disciple. In this way, Yogaswami gave to me all his knowledge of how to be a guru. It later began to unfold within me from him, then from his guru and then from his guru's guru. This is how the spiritual power in a line of gurus is transferred and increased.
I followed his instructions and returned to the United States and settled down to unfolding more and more. Until his death, he communicated with me, year after year, through Kandiah Chettiar. Upon returning to the US, the first thing I did was to change my name legally to my new Saivite Hindu name. The judge took it in stride and quickly granted the request. I had been given instructions that I was not to do any teaching until I became thirty years of age. Until then I was to observe, have experiences and learn. It was made quite clear to me that when I was thirty my students would start to come, so I waited. It happened just that way. After my thirtieth birthday, my students began to come.
This is how Himalayan Academy started in the United States in 1957. Right after my ordination with Yogaswami, the book Cognizantability began to unfold from within me. Later the inspired talk The Self God was given to the first group of students, setting the pace of advaita philosophy for the West. The Master Course was issued, and I began doing my part as a helper on the path.
Yogaswami passed from his physical body in March, 1964. After this happened, I began receiving letters from Ceylon saying, "You have to come back now, because we need you as the guru here," indicating that I was his successor. I felt that my mission was in the West. After several years, however, I decided to go back to Sri Lanka. I always follow my inner direction when it comes, and this came in that same vibration as my first meeting with my guruÑslowly and when all conditions were right. This was how the first India Odyssey Travel/Study program formed in 1969. It was because of my desire to return to Sri Lanka. Sixty-five students traveled with me.
In 1957, Yogaswami went around announcing to everybody in Jaffna that I was dead, and he had everyone believing it. It was actually the last of the external self that died at that time, the last of the astral body, for I was beginning to speak out the news of the Self within man.
Great masters like Yogaswami and his guru, Chellappan, work on the inner realms now, helping my students and monks actively and dynamically in their meditations and unfoldment. You might even see them in your dreams. Many students have experienced this. The devotees in Sri Lanka now see me in their dreams, and I see them. These are the times when we go into inner planes together and experience in the psyche, the body of the soul. Aspirants on the path learn and study on these inner planes. The path of the mystic is two-thirds within and only one-third on the outside area of the mind. The quieter the mystic becomes on the outside, the more active he is in working in inner realms with either his students or others.
On the path, I was fortunate enough, just through evolution, to be exposed to and receive some of this training. It has brought me to where I am today, watching the patterns repeat themselves time and time again as my students come through their inner unfoldment under my watchful eye. To have the feeling of being in one place, and that everything is happening around you, like a maypoleÑthis is how I feel these days. I watch the cycles of life as they flow one into another. The physical-plane cycles flow into the astral-plane cycles which flow into the superconscious-plane cycles and back to the physical-plane cycles again as men and women unfold on the path. This state is what I call "doing nothing." Just watching, watching, watching.
An Amazing Life, Well Done
Once in a great while on this Earth there arises a soul who, by living his tradition rightly and wholly, perfects his path and becomes a light to the world. Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami (1927-2001) was such a being, a shining example of awakening and wisdom, a leader recognized worldwide as one of Hinduism's foremost ministers. As a youth, he began his training in classical Eastern and Western dance and in the disciplines of yoga, becoming the premier danseur of the San Francisco Ballet by age 19. Renouncing the world at the height of his career, he traveled to India and Sri Lanka in quest of Absolute Truth. In the caves of Jalani in1949, he fasted and meditated until he burst into enlightenment. Soon after, he met his satguru, Sage Yogaswami, who gave him the name Subramuniya, initiated him into the holy orders of sannyasa and ordained him into his lineage with a tremendous slap on the back, saying, "This sound will be heard in America! Now go 'round the world and roar like a lion. You will build palaces (temples) and feed thousands." While in Sri Lanka, he founded his Saiva Siddhanta Church, the world's first Hindu church, the core of his multifaceted organization. In late1949he sailed back to America and embarked on seven years of ardent, solitary yoga and meditation which brought forth faculties of clairvoyance and clairaudience, culminating in Cognizantability, a collection of profound aphorisms and commentary on the states of mind and esoteric laws of life. In1957Gurudeva founded Himalayan Academy, and opened America's first Hindu temple, in San Francisco. He formed his monastic order in1960. In Switzerland,1968, he revealed Shum, a mystical language of meditation that names and maps inner areas of consciousness. From1967to1983he led fifteen Innersearch pilgrimages, guiding hundreds of devotees to the world's sacred temples and illumined sages. In1970Gurudeva established his world headquarters and monastery-temple on Kauai, northernmost of the Hawaiian islands. Beginning in the1970s and continuing to2001, he gave blessings to dozens of groups to build temples in North America, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and elsewhere, gifting Deity images to 36 temples to begin the worship. His drive to establish Hindu worship in the West was based on his revelatory mystic visions of the Gods not as symbolic depictions but as real beings who guide and protect mankind, who can be contacted most effectively through temple worship. In1973, after establishing Kadavul Temple, he clairvoyantly read from inner-plane libraries to bringforth Lemurian Scrolls and other esoteric writings to guide his monastic order and revive the centrality of celibacy and transmutation. In1975he conceived the San Marga Iraivan Temple on Kauai as the first all-granite temple established outside of India. In1977he intensified requirements for his Western devotees to sever all prior religious, philosophical loyalties, legalize their Hindu name and formally enter Hinduism through the name-giving rite. In1979he published Holy Orders of Sannyas, defining the ideals, vows and aspirations of Hindu monasticism in unprecedented clarity. In1979he founded HINDUISM TODAY, and in the early '80s, after his world tours, focused his magazine on uniting all Hindus, regardless of nationality or sect, and inspiring and educating seekers everywhere. That same year, he produced the first edition of his Hindu catechism. His international Hindu renaissance tours in the1980s brought him face to face with hundreds of thousands of Hindus, most notably in Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia and Mauritius, to whom he spread a powerful message of courage and pride of heritage. In the early '80s he established the antiquity and legitimacy of monistic Saiva Siddhanta at international conferences among pundits who insisted that Siddhanta is solely pluralistic. In1985Gurudeva adopted Apple's Macintosh-based publishing technology to supercharge his prolific outreach through scriptures, books, pamphlets, art, lessons and later through CDs andthe world's foremost Hindu websites. In1986he founded a branch monastery in Mauritius, whose government had invited him there to revive a languishing Hindu faith. That same year,1986New Delhi'sWorld Religious Parliament named him one of five modern-day Jagadacharyas, world teachers, for his international efforts in promoting a Hindu renaissance. Also in1986he created Pancha Ganapati, a five-day Hindu festival celebrated around the time of Christmas. In1987he published God's Money to explain tithing and how it is practiced by members of his Hindu church.1989saw the culmination of numerous books and pamphlets that later became part of the Master Course trilogy. In1990in Bangalore, he ceremoniously chipped the first stone of Iraivan temple and established a small village to carve it by hand over the next fifteen years. In1991he produced the Nandinatha Sutras, 365 aphorisms that outline the entire gamut of virtuous Hindu living. In1994Gurudeva founded Hindu Heritage Endowment, now a multi-million-dollar public service trust that establishes and maintains permanent sources of income for Hindu institutions worldwide. In1995he published the final edition of Saiva Dharma Sastras, drawing on aspects of the American church system to make hisorganization socially viable and structurally effective. Therein he finalized patterns for the future, including the extended family structure for his missions, and designated as his successors three of his senior monastics: Acharya Bodhinatha, followed by Acharya Palaniswami and then Acharya Ceyonswami. From1977to2001Gurudeva nurtured a staunchly Hindu, highly disciplined, global fellowship of family initiates, monastics and students, training them to follow the sadhana marga, the path of yogic striving and personal transformation, and to assist him in his global mission. With this competent team and a sophisticated infrastructure, his Church nurtures its membership and local missions on five continents and serves, personally and through publications and the Internet, the community of Hindus of all sects. Gurudeva proclaimed this as a Jaffna-Tamil-based organization which branched out from the Sri Subramuniya Ashram in Alaveddy to meet the needs of the growing Hindu diaspora of this century. It gently oversees some 40 temples worldwide. In1995, in Delhi, the World Religious Parliament bestowed on him the title Dharmachakra for his remarkable publications. TheGlobal Forum of Spiritual and Parliamentary Leaders for Human Survival chose him as a Hindu representative at its unique conferences. Thus, at Oxford in1988, Moscow in1990and Rio de Janeiro in1992, he joined religious, political and scientific leaders from all countries to discuss the future of human life on this planet. At Chicago's historic centenaryParliament of the World's Religions in September,1993, he was elected one of three Hindus to the Presidents' Assembly, a core group of 25 men and women voicing the needs of world faiths. Especially in the early90s he campaigned for fair treatment of temple priests, namely the same respect enjoyed by the clergy of other religions. From1996onward, Gurudeva was a key member of Vision Kauai 2020, a group of inspirers (including the Mayor, county council, business and education leaders) that meets to fashion the island's future based on spiritual values. In1997he responded to President Clinton's call for religious opinions on the ethics of human cloning. The same year, he spearheaded the 125th anniversary of Satguru Yogaswami and his golden icon's pilgrimage around the world, ending in Sri Lanka. During these final years he worked daily in the morning hours in refining the Shum language as his choicest gift to his monastic order. In1998Gurudeva began an ardent campaign for the right of children to not be beaten by their parents or their teachers, and helping parents raise children with love through Positive Discipline classes taught by his family devotees as their primary community service. In2000he published How to Become a Hindu, showing the way for seekers to formally enter the faith, confuting the notion that "You must be born a Hindu to be a Hindu." On August 25,2000, he received the prestigious United Nations U Thant Peace Award in New York (previously bestowed on the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Mikhail Gorbachev, Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa). He addressed 1,200 spiritual leaders gathered for the UN Millennium Peace Summit, with the message, ÒFor peace in the world, stop the war in the home.Ó Upon his return to Kauai, 350 citizens and county and state officials gathered to herald his accomplishments on the island and beyond. In November, 2000, he launched Hindu Press International (HPI) a free daily news summary for breaking news sent via e-mail and posted on the web. In 1999, 2000 and 2001 he conducted three Innersearch journeys, consecrating new temples in Alaska, Trinidad and Denmark. In 2001 he completed his golden legacy, the 3,000-page Master Course trilogy of Dancing, Living and Merging with SivaÑpeerless volumes of daily lessons on Hindu philosophy, culture and yoga, respectively. For over five decades, Subramuniyaswami taught Hinduism to Hindus and seekers from all faiths. Known as one of the strictest gurus in the world, he was the 162nd successor of the Nandinatha Kailasa lineage and satguru of Kauai Aadheenam, his 458-acre temple-monastery complex on the Garden Island of Kauai. From this verdant Polynesian ashram on a river bank near the foot of an extinct volcano, his monastics continue to promote the dharma together through Saiva Siddhanta Church, Himalayan Academy and Hindu Heritage Endowment, perpetuating the mission given to Gurudeva by his satguru and which Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami, his chosen successor, now carries forth. Gurudeva assured them, ÒWhen I am gone from this world I will be working with you on the inside 24 hours a day.Ó GurudevaÕs greatest siddhi, to which thousands of devotees will testify, was his incredible power to inspire others toward God, to change their lives in ways that are otherwise impossible, to be a light on their path, a mother and father and friend to all who drew near. He personified the pure, blissful soul nature they sought and sensed as the center of themselves.
Radiant Reflections Shared in 1999
Years and years ago, over 30, we came to Kauai and finally never left. I chose Kauai, the world's most remote land mass, because I wanted to be close to my devotees in the East (Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, India and Mauritius) and close to my devotees in the West (Australia, Fiji, North America and Europe), while at the same time cloistered from the world at large. Yes, our inner life is more important than our outer life. If we were in San Francisco, New York, Singapore or New Delhi, we could not do this same work as a contemplative order of meditators and teachers, outreaching primarily through publications and the Internet. Kauai is a spiritual place, a vortex of healing energies emanating from its sacred Mt. Waialeale, pristine air and ocean.
His order of monks: It has been a blessing to have been able to raise two generations of spiritual leaders, my monks, who have made a difference and are continuing to make a difference in today's worldÑa difference that is lasting because a new paradigm has evolved, that of establishing the traditional culture of the Far East in the West. Yes, the best of the East and the best of the West have come together on the famed Garden Island of Kauai.
Peace at home: Entering into the world of religious and political fervor when invited to international conferences as a spiritual representative over the past 20 years made a deep impression upon my mind. It seems that so little is understood by the leaders of religions and nations. Because of the conflict, in-fighting, there is no time for them to reflect. This has led to the rule at our peaceful ashram that disharmony must be settled before sleep, never carried into the next day, a discipline all my monks follow.
Iraivan, being a kaivalya temple, giving the boon of freedom from past burdens, will welcome all who are on the path to perfection, giving up hurt and suppressed memories that keep them hurting, giving up worldly longing and redirecting their desire to higher realms, throwing down the personal ego as not important to inner life. Why protect it through argument, justification and dominance? Let it go so that the soul may soar in the glory of its naturalness. This is surrender to the Divine.
Iraivan Temple: As I look into the future, I see Iraivan, fully completed, as a center where devotees will come to find the center of themselves. We will preserve it and maintain it so that it is the way Rishikesh used to be, a proper, pure, quiet place where devotees can go within themselves through the practice of yoga. There are very few such places left on the Earth now. Kauai's Hindu Monastery is one of them. I see Iraivan as a yoga citadel, a place of pilgrimage for the devout, sincere and dedicated. I see Iraivan as India's message to the world on visitors' day, when Hindus and non-Hindus alike come to admire the great artistry of the silpi stone carving tradition. I see Iraivan as a fulfillment of our lineage, our scriptures and our monastery. This is a place where you do not have to invoke God, for God is here, for this is where heaven meets the Earth. So, come to our aloha island soon. Isle be seeing you.
The mission: When I decided to launch HINDUISM TODAY in 1979, my thinking was: to make Saivism strong, we have to make all the other three main denominations strong. Because our philosophy is being devoted to Siva in everyone, we support every Hindu sect equally. Our strength is in having oneness with all the Hindus around the world, even though our philosophical, doctrinal and cultural approaches may differ somewhat. This is for the benefit of the overall Hindu renaissance, which is gaining in power as the century turns, for as each becomes strong, that strength benefits the overall body of Hinduism, giving pride, stability and courage to proceed with confidence. This is Hindu solidarity, one of our heartfelt commitments. The other is monistic theismÑAdvaita IshvaravadaÑof Saiva Siddhanta.
Now that uniting all the Hindus is being accomplished through HINDUISM TODAY, at the simultaneous turn of the century and the millennium, new challenges are to be faced. The experiences and accomplishments of the past are the foundation for the accomplishments of the future. Having lived this long in this life, and having had many, many lives preceding it, especially at this time on our planet, when controversy, distrust and intrigue are marketable commodities, I can truly say, I would not have wanted to miss this birth for anything. It has been a fun time, but it would not have been without home base, the Self, as you shall discover and come to know and love and become as you read in my wonderful book, Merging with Siva."
The Grand Guru of Sri Lanka
His bold command: "Know thy Self by thyself!"
Sage Yogaswami, the great soul who initiated Gurudeva, was the satguru of Sri Lanka for half a century. His very name came to mean wisdom, mystery, spiritual power and knowledge of the timeless, formless, spaceless Self within, Parasiva. He was one of those rare souls, like the rishis of yore, living in the infinity of Truth within all things, which he called Siva. He met his own guru amid a festival crowd outside Nallur temple in 1905. A disheveled sadhu, Sage Chellappan, shook the bars from within the chariot shed, shouting at him fiercely, "Hey! Who are you?" Yogaswami was transfixed. "There is not one wrong thing!" "It is as it is! Who knows? Grasp the meaning of these words," the guru roared. Suddenly everything vanished in a sea of light. For Yogaswami, the world was renounced in that instant. After Chellappan's death in 1915, Yogaswami undertook five years of intense austerity, moving about Jaffna and the entire island on foot. Later, people of all walks of life, all nations and paths, came for his darshan and blessings. Decades passed and he came to be Illathusiddhar, the Perfected One of sea-girt Illangai. After years of meditation under an olive tree, he was persuaded to inhabit a small hut in Colombuthurai made by loving devotees. Here it was his habit to wake early and, in the pre-dawn darkness, light camphor in worship of the holy sandals of his guru. Once the sun rose, he would stride through the countryside, walking many miles each day. He continued this regimen into his nineties. Yogaswami lived from 1872 to 1964, revered equally by Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims. Devotees continue to honor him with padapuja, worship of the master's feet, which contain the fullness of his enlightenment and hold the promise of our own spiritual freedom. Yogaswami articulated his teachings in hundreds of poems and songs, called Natchintanai, "good thoughts," urging seekers to follow dharma, serve selflessly and realize God within. Four great sayings, or mahavakyas, capsulize his message: Sarvam Sivam seyal, "Siva is doing it all;" Thanai ari, "Know thy Self by thyself;" Sarvam Sivamayam, "All is Siva;" and Summa iru, "Be still."
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