Ahymsin Newsletter: Yoga is Samadhi

Interview with Swami Ritavan Bharati

Swami Ritavan Bharati is the Ashram Pramukh and successor of Swami Veda Bharati as per Swami Veda’s will. Questions for this interview came from Carolyn Hodges.  Answers are from Swami Ritavan Bharati.

Question: Would you talk a little bit about your special relationship with Swami Veda?

First, Silence, the language that says-it-all. Then, tears of gratitude, knowing this saintly being, this bodhi-sattva returned, and I was simply able to be present and attend to his needs, becoming a servant of the servant of Gurudev-seva.

Hearing and recording his talks was a blessing for many lifetimes. The inspiration in the manner and way he lived life, is a model for many more lifetimes. His deep understanding, his undiminishing commitment, his deep experience of meditation are the fragrant petals of hope I will carry for many more lifetimes. Yes, he was (and is): Mother, Father, Guru, Teacher, Friend, Companion, Guide par exultance. He remains the same, and more in his spirited presence, his subtle vision that guides each day of my life. He is closer than breath, and more alive than a heart-beat.

His words resonate in my mind, his love gushes through my heart, his appearance in each flower, leaf around me. His lessons remain to be learned in each challenge, in the resistances, the doubts, the fatigue, the worry arising each day. But when I lie in bed at night, before sleep and upon waking, he pulls me back to his bosom to feed me with grace. How to explain such a relationship is very difficult in words, allow me to go back into silence.

Question: Please share a little of your spiritual journey. How did you meet Swami Rama and Swami Veda? What are some of the milestones over your last almost fifty years in the Himalayan Tradition?

Swami Rama's life is a reminder for each of us, “…have a burning desire to know, to seek, to experience - the source of life, the meaning of life.” And, throughout Swami Veda's life, we all have witnessed such a Life-journey take many forms, in many places. In my journey, I was fortunate and blessed to find these two par-excellence life-guides, and return to the relationship of guru-disciple from the previous life. To return to the path of sadhana, spiritual disciplines to know samadhi, to aspire for moksha; and in that freedom as paramahamsa, to live with elegance and love, just as these luminaries of wisdom.

Such journeys cannot be reduced to words; for each is a lived story of loss and gain, weaving a tapestry called “life.”  Each stage of dharma, each of the purusharthas (4 ashramas) unfolded with all the attachments and pains, gains and sufferings, all the spectrum of desires - filled and unfulfilled. Yet, a common thread, a riverbed of purpose, recalled in ageless teachings: “This life is one of sadhana with abhyasa (practice), and vairagya (nirvana).”

From that awakening as a re-birth at the age of 20-years: that baptism of light, that solar-flare of initiation, the following decades unfolded as Guru-seva:

The first decade as a brahmacharya: reading, studying, listening, and learning to serve. Much of this decade was spent as an ashramite at The Meditation Center under Dr. Arya’s direct tutorage, as well as frequent trips to Chicago to be with Swami Rama.

The second decade as a grihasta: After our Vedic Wedding by Dr. Arya, we assisted at The Meditation Center, and then departed for Honesdale – the Himalayan Institute. Along with completing the Eastern Studies Program, we worked and participated actively in the ashram community, where our three children, among the other faculty’s children, were known as “Baba’s Kids”.

The third decade as vanaprastha: Returning to Minneapolis to teach and manage The Meditation Center; the children departed for college, and my travels to the two ashrams in India became more frequent.
The forth decade as sanyasin: Returning to the monk’s life at The Meditation Center, devoted fully to teaching and serving the Lineage by guiding students around the globe and spending more time at SRSG in Rishikesh.

And, now the fifth and onward decades of service - seva, the ultimate love of life in the Oneness with All Life, as we all have experienced through our two illustrious models: Gurudev-Swami Rama, and our saintly Beloved-Swami Veda.

As many tears poured forth as did mantras from this dharma-megha, this cloud of yearning. Knowing intimately only these two luminaries of the Tradition, nothing more was needed. They reminded me again and again, becoming a billionaire in this life was easy, just remember God's name in each of the millions of moments, God's bank-vault continually opened as a single stream of bountiful awareness. Mantra(s) have been my constant companion. And, now upon entering Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama we are all reminded of those blessed words from Gurudeva to contemplate: “Serve, Love, Remember.”

May the entire global AHYMSIN community remember a favored mantra from our Beloved Swamiji:

Saumya-pleasant minded, so that "Every Person may feel Loved."
“saumya, saumya-tarashesha
saumya-bhyas tvate sundaree
para-paranam parama
tvameva parameshvare”

Question: How will we accomplish the mission of making available the teachings of Himalayan Tradition as taught by Swami Rama for future generations?

Following the example of our Beloved Swamiji - Be the generator of enlightenment for others. Begin with the Sankalpa, “I will seek enlightenment in this very life." When this is our sole ambition, or the soul's ambition, others will know your fragrance as the refreshing scent, the flavorful taste, the quenching thirst, the loving embrace, by which young and old-alike will be attracted, drawn to help, to serve, to learn, to model, to receive, to give. This was the way of the dharma-rulers, the virtuous guides, the saintly teachers, the sage-like parents who lived what they taught, exemplified what they expected others to model.

Therefore, Swami Veda has said, “Counselor, do not give advice - console; teacher, do not lecture – inspire; parent, do not demand or command - be a model, and live by example.”  May we aspire for such generosity of the spirit for the benefit of humanity.

Yours in loving service,

Swami Ritavan Bharati





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