Swami Rama (1925-1996) is the founder of the Himalayan Institute. Born in Northern India, he was raised from early childhood by the Himalayan sage, Bengali Baba. Under the guidance of his master, he traveled from monastery to monastery and studied with a variety of Himalayan saints and sages, including his grandmaster who was living in a remote region of Tibet. In addition to this intense spiritual training, Swami Rama received higher education in both India and Europe. From 1949 to 1952, he held the prestigious position of Shankaracharya of Karvirpitham in South India. Thereafter, he returned to his master to receive further training at his cave monastery, and finally in 1969, came to the United States where he founded the Himalayan Institute. His best known work, Living With the Himalayan Masters, reveals the many facets of this singular adept and demonstrates his embodiment of the living tradition of the East.
An old story of creation narrates that after the heavens, all the stars, the earth, the air, the waters, the sky, and all the creatures on land and in the sea were made, God created humankind. When the first human awoke and became conscious of worldly life for the first time, he looked around at the lakes and rivers, the mountains and forests, at the leaping fish, the flying birds, and the great herds of animals. He was silent. He looked then at God. He was silent. When he had taken in everything around him, including the Lord himself, the first human on earth looked finally at himself and said, “Who am I?”
This first human did not look at the animals or the stars and say, “What are they?” He did not ask, “Where am I?” He did not even ask of God, “Who are you?” His first words, his first wondering thoughts and first curiosity were to know his own identity.
That is the question that drives all human beings. Everything a human being does and wants involves that question. People want happiness and peace. Instinctively they know that the acquisition of happiness and peace rests with the question, “Who am I?”
To consciously realize this as the question of life is the first big step on a sacred journey. The next big step is to find the answer.
- Swami Rama from Sacred Journey, Living Purposefully and Dying Gracefully by Swami Rama. Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust. 2002. Pages 117 – 118.
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