I was studying for a couple of years in the Himalayan Yoga Meditation Tradition before I met the Master, Swami Rama of the Himalayas.
The first time I met him was at the Himalayan Institute in Honesdale, Pennsylvania, which was his headquarters at the time. I was at the Institute to attend a yoga seminar that he was teaching. I'd heard so many stories about him. I knew he was raised in the Himalayan cave monasteries by his Guru, a great adept named Bangali Baba, and came to the West on his Guru’s request. Shortly after arriving in the USA, he underwent scientific tests of his abilities at the Menninger Clinic in Kansas, and demonstrated abilities that were previously thought impossible. He could stop and re-start his heart at will, make different temperatures in different parts of his finger, and put himself into what appeared to be deep sleep at will--but was fully aware of everything that went on in the room when he was supposedly sleeping.
A friend who had been Swami Rama’s student for several years told me about how Swamiji seemed to know what was in people's minds, and I felt very interested, and also a little afraid, of meeting him because of this.
On the day of the seminar, to get to the auditorium, I went down the stairwell in the central area of the building and as I exited the stairs saw a huge man dressed in maroon standing to the side, talking with people. I remember looking up, and up, and up to see his face. He was very tall. I just knew it was Swami Rama, and a wave of anxiety flowed through me. I didn't want to walk past him, which I had to do to get to the auditorium. Instead, I scurried back into the stairwell, climbed up to the next level, went along the hallway to the stairs at the end, and descended to the auditorium floor, thinking that I'd avoid the swami. But it didn't work. As I exited this second stairwell, there he was again!
The anxiety returned. But there was no way around. So, I approached him, stuck out my hand, and nervously said "Hello Swamiji!". He looked at me, but didn’t hold up his right hand to shake mine, and I started to feel embarrassed. Then I noticed that he was gently holding up his left hand, and I put my hand softly in his and he held it.
After that meeting, I took my seat in the crowded room, and soon Swami Rama began his talk. He was a fascinating speaker. There was an energy in the way he spoke, and his face was incredibly expressive. My attention was glued on him for the entire hour and a half of his talk, and I enjoyed every moment. This was the beginning of my experiences with this great meditator.
Over subsequent years, I saw him again once or twice in Honesdale, and then, when I began traveling to India every year, saw him there. He rarely said anything to me. Mostly I watched from a distance.
Yet even from a distance, I remained impressed. One of the swamis actions that impressed me was the huge humanitarian project that he built in Indai. He somehow maneuvered around the Indian bureaucrats, and raised hundreds of millions of dollars from donations from all over the world, and built a vast charitable hospital and medical training complex in Jolly Grant, near the Himalayas, to serve all the extremely poor people who live in that area. I’ve received care in that hospital, and know it is good. In addition to the hospital, there are medical and nursing schools, and a service that goes out to the villages and trains people there to help themselves with basic medical needs.
Swami Rama left his body in 2006. His legacy is carried on by his disciples, including Swami Veda Bharati (see the next article).
For further information on Swami Rama Bharati, see these websites: