One of the greatest adepts, teachers, writers, and humanitarians of the 20th century, 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.
“Yoga teaches the philosophy of integration in life. If you use each finger separately, they have no strength. But if you use them together, they become strong. The pillar of integration in life is vairagya. Whether you believe in God or not, learn this. Vairagya is not escape from the world; it is facing the facts of life. Father and son both know that the day will come when one of them will leave. This is truth! I know the day will come when I will leave and you will leave. One of us will leave forever. Knowing this fact, why do you cry? A great poet said, “Parting is a day of meeting. Parting is a day of festivity. Let us celebrate it.” In some cultures no one mourns or cries when someone dies. They beat drums and sing songs when they take them to the burial ground. For them, death is not something ugly. It is a festivity. Nothing lives with you forever. If you remain sad and continue to think of someone after his death, you may create problems for that person and unconsciously attract the unconscious mind of that person. If you love someone, let him be happy wherever he is. You should be joyous toward the departed ones, not sad. One who dies is never sad; one who survives is sad because he is selfish. Do not be afraid of death. Just as you take rest, death also gives you rest. Fear of death is not good. You will be more fearful if you do not practice vairagya.
The soul who is trying to cross the mire of delusion and go to eternity has two wings – abhyasa and vairagya. Yoga is not possible if you have not learned abhyasa and vairagya. Whether you are on the path of action or the path of renunciation, it does not matter. You can gain Self-realization if you understand the purpose of life and if you are constantly aware of the center within. The Self is the center, the fountainhead. Once you know the real Self, the Self of all, then you will attain freedom from petty-mindedness and you will no longer be able to hate anyone. The real Self, which is the Self of all, includes all and excludes none. Deep within you is the source, the fountainhead that is the Self of all. When you make your mind inward and one-pointed, and fathom those boundaries that you have created for yourself, you will find an all-encompassing love. That love will emanate through your mind, action, and speech.”
- Swami Rama in Samadhi the Highest State of Wisdom: Yoga the Sacred Science pages 198-200