|AHYMSIN newsletter, Issue - September 2011|
From Simple Forest Monk to World Traveler
by Daniel Hertz
Swami Hariharananda Bharati called himself a “Simple Forest Monk.” He grew up in Toli, the same village as his great uncle, Swami Rama. They were 15 years apart in age and never lived in Toli at the same time. But that didn’t stop Swami Hari from pursuing Swami Rama for 45 years. Over the course of that time he was turned down nine times by Swami Rama to accept him as a student. Then one night, without warning, Swami Rama showed up in the middle of the night in Tarkeshwar, the holy Shiva Shrine in the Himalayas, to initiate Swami Hari as a monk in the Himalayan Tradition.
I first met Swami Hari in 1998, at the Sadhana Mandir Ashram in Rishikesh. This was my first trip to India. Swami Hari had just come down from Tarkeshwar after 12 years of intensive meditation practice. His health forced him to retreat from Tarkeshwar’s elevation and harsh winters. This proved to be a gift for the rest of the world who had a chance to meet him. Eventually Swami Hari left India and traveled to Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, to receive medical treatment. Over the 8 summers he traveled, he kept branching out farther and farther until he had “brothers and sisters” all over the world. Swami Veda supported him in the beginning of this process and introduced him to many of the Tradition’s Centers.
Through donations he received, eventually Swami Hari built what he called the Swami Rama Institute of Vocational Education and Research, Malethi (SRIVERM). It is located in the same general area as both Toli and Tarkeshwar. In fact, when standing on the balcony of the guest house at SRIVERM, you can look through the stunningly beautiful valley and see Tarkeshwar. It became a multi-million dollar project which serves the remote mountain communities in the area. Currently there is a school for grades K-8 and expanding a grade each year, a vocational school which trains men and women in plumbing, electricity, computers, sewing, and more, an herbal garden, and most recently has been certified as a College of Education training facility. The potential of this project is enormous.
When Swami Hari passed away 3 years ago, the fundraising for SRIVERM slowed down by quite a bit, but the expenses remained. To help with the fundraising, I wrote a book of essays called Swami Hari: I am a simple forest monk, which chronicles the 10 year period of time I knew Swami Hari. All book profits go directly to SRIVERM. It can be purchased on Amazon.com at this link: http://www.amazon.com/Swami-Hari-simple-forest-monk/dp/1456505874/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1314755572&sr=8-1.
The book is now also available in India at the two Ashrams in Rishikesh and HIHT in Jolly Grant. Also, visit us on Facebook. Any questions can be directed to SimpleForestMonk@gmail.com. Thanks for your support.
For more about SRIVERM and Swami Hari: I am a simple forest monk, please visit the website https://sites.google.com/site/iamasimpleforestmonk/home
After having met Swami Hariharananda Bharati, Daniel spent extended periods of time in India together with Swami Hari, as well as serving as his personal assistant during Swami Hari's travels in the United States. He is internationally certified as a yoga and meditation instructor (RYT 500) and has been giving yoga and meditation classes in the United States, India, and Panama since 1995. He is a regular contributing writer for the Himalayan Path Yoga Journal. He is also Nationally Certified (BCIAC) as a Biofeedback Practitioner and has been offering Biofeedback sessions at The Meditation Center in Minneapolis since 2006; please see http://www.themeditationcenter.org/jnana/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4&Itemid=4. He has an MS Degree in Counseling and is a long-time Teacher and Counselor in the Minneapolis Public Schools.
SRIVERM (Swami Rama Institute of Vocational Education & Research, Malethi) is a non-profit educational institute serving poor Himalayan communities with primary education for children, adult vocational education, and agricultural outreach services for the local farming community.