Siddhaswarupananda Meets His Guru

Siddhaswarupananda appeared in this world in 1948 as Chris Butler. His spiritual quest began in his teens, and he quickly realized the impersonal Brahman aspect of the Absolute Truth (nirvakalpa samadhi). He then dedicated himself to helping others achieve that same realization by founding the Haiku Meditation Center in Hawaii, U.S.A. By the time he was only 20 years old, he was widely recognized throughout the Hawaiian Islands and the West Coast of America as a self-realized yogi and master of the astanga and kundalini yoga systems.

Within a short time, Siddhaswarupananda came in contact with A.C. Bhakivedanta Swami. Although Siddhaswarupananda was already enlightened and a knower of the impersonal or “white light” feature of the Original Cause (Brahman realization), the teachings of Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami drew him beyond the “white light” to the personal aspect of the Original Cause. Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami accepted him as a disciple and gave him the name Siddhaswarupananda.

In 1970, Siddhaswarupananda offered himself and all his possessions at the feet of his guru, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami. Exhibiting freedom from attachment, he voluntarily gave up his properties, wealth, and position as an honored teacher with hundreds of followers to become a humble servant of his spiritual master—doing everything from washing floors and washing the dishes of his fellow monks to sleeping on a cement floor.

Soon after his initiation, he was urged by his guru to pass on to others what he had learned and understood. Taking his guru’s instruction as his life and soul, Siddhaswarupananda traveled penniless to the Hawaiian island of Kauai, where by God’s grace he opened a yoga ashram in the countryside with no running water or electricity. Gradually, after a number of years, many yoga practitioners all around the world became Siddhaswarupananda’s students (as a humble disciple, he did not initiate these students, but rather always sent students to Bhaktivedanta to be initiated). After the disappearance from this world of his Gurudev in 1977, Siddhaswarupananda took the role of diksha (initiating) guru and began to initiate disciples. Today he has a worldwide following of tens of thousands of individuals who attempt to apply the teachings of yoga in their daily lives.

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was the strongest proponent of bhakti yoga. Five hundred years ago, the great Chaitanya Mahaprabhu gave the following instruction: “By My command, be guru [spiritual teacher] and save the people from their suffering.”

Because the word “guru” means teacher, it is often used to refer to teachers of all kinds—be they teachers of music, ayurvedic medicine, cooking, etc. The title “Jagad Guru” is normally used to refer to yoga masters who have disciples all around the world from different places, nationalities, faiths, etc. However, in the deepest sense, “Jagad Guru” means a yoga master whose teachings are relevant to and can be applied in the personal lives of every person—regardless of their ethnicity, nationality, or sect.

“Guru” means servant; “guru” does not mean master. “Jagad Guru” refers to a person who sees himself as a servant of all mankind, not a particular race, religion, or nation.

Because Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda presents ancient yoga and Vedic wisdom in a down to earth, scientific, and philosophical manner rather than dogmatically and fanatically, countless people who were previously skeptics now find a genuine spirituality that has real application in their modern lives. While uncompromising in his presentation of bona fide yoga teachings, Jagad Guru is also a master of innovation and thus deals with different people in different ways, according to time, place, and circumstance.

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