Self-Realization through Yoga Meditation of the Yoga Sutras, the contemplative insight of Advaita Vedanta, and the intense devotion of Samaya Sri Vidya Tantra

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The Tradition of the Himalayan Masters:
Three Streams of Yoga, Vedanta, and Tantra

Source of the tradition: The systematic practice of Yoga Meditation comes from the ancient cave monasteries of the Himalayas, the source of the mystical Shangrila or Shambala. This lineage of teachers is at least 5,000 years old, though eternal in nature. It includes Swami Rama and his teachers Bengali Baba, who is disciple of Mahavatar Baba, known as Babaji. (See Swami Rama's book, Living with the Himalayan Masters. Life Positive, an Indian holistic living magazine, has published a fascinating article on Mahavatar Baba.) (See also Our Tradition by Swami Rama)

The tradition has no name, and is not affiliated with any of the institutions or religions of the plains of India or other countries surrounding the Himalayas, although individual meditators may personally align themselves with a wide variety of religions or institutions. We may refer to the tradition as "the tradition of the Himalayan masters" or "the Himalayan tradition", but that is for the sake of convenience, and is not a style or brand name as is popular these days.

In our tradition deities are thought of only as symbols, not as realities to be worshipped.

Encompassing all forms of yoga: The tradition of the Himalayan masters encompasses all of the Yogas. Self-Realization comes through Yoga meditation of the Yoga Sutras, the contemplative insight of Advaita Vedanta, and the intense devotion of Samaya Sri Vidya Tantra, the three of which complement one another like fingers on a hand (See: Yoga, Vedanta, Tantra). We employ the classical approaches of Raja, Jnana, Karma, and Bhakti Yoga, as well as Hatha, Kriya, Kundalini, Laya, Mantra, Nada, Siddha, and Tantra Yoga. Together, they guide one directly through the layers (Koshas) of our being to the direct experience of the center of consciousness. Meditation, contemplation, mantra and prayer finally converge into a unified force directed towards the final stage, piercing the pearl of wisdom called bindu, leading to the Absolute (See Bindu).

These methods self-exploration, self-discovery, and self-realization include the following:

  • Yoga Sutras: The ancient, oral yoga system, codified by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras is accepted as a preliminary or foundation step, with yoga resting on the foundation of sankhya philosophy. Yoga meditation systematically discerns pure consciousness from the many false identities, attractions, aversions, and fears.

  • Advaita Vedanta: Philosophically, the Advaita Vedanta system of one absolute Reality without a second is practiced as elucidated in the Upanishads, particularly the Mandukya Upanishad, relating to AUM and the four states of waking, dreaming, sleep, and the fourth state, turiya. Contemplative meditation is a process of inspection within, exploring the levels of manifestation so as to uncover the absolute core of one's being.

  • Sri Vidya: Both Mother and Father principles of the universe are acknowledged, practicing the purely internal form of Tantra to awaken kundalini and experience the highest. Maya (illusion) is seen as the creativity of the Mother principle, and is thus not an obstacle. The inner tantra practices trace all of the inner energies back to their finest source of pure energy.

  • Specific Practices: Include Meditation from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Contemplation from Vedanta, as well Yoga Nidra and Kundalini practices from Tantra.

    See also the articles:
    Bindu: Pinnacle of Yoga, Vedanta and Tantra 
    Yoga, Vedanta and Tantra

Message of the sages: When Swami Rama's teacher sent him to the West to teach, he instructed him, "To get freedom from all fears is the first message of the Himalayan sages. The second message is to be aware of the reality within. Be spontaneous and let yourself become the instrument to teach pure spirituality without any religion and culture." (The key to freedom from fears is in training the mind, such that it does not wander into the distractions that lead to fear.)

Religions and the absolute: While this ancient tradition of yoga meditation has influenced many of the world's religions, the tradition itself is not a religion. All religions are acknowledged as an expression of the one absolute reality, called by many names, including God (The fact that all religions arise from the same source does not mean that they are the same). The individual practitioners of yoga meditation in the Himalayan tradition have personal roots in virtually all of the world's most known religions. It is important to note that there is a distinction between the broader cultural or religious traditions called sampradaya and the specific initiatory lineages or parampara. Our lineage or parampara is neither limited to the region of India nor the religion commonly known as Hinduism, and has initiates from many countries around the world and from a diversity of religious affiliations. (See also the article Philosophy, Not Religion)

Sri Vidya: Swami Rama explains that "the 'first thing that you should do is make full effort to convince yourself, to accept this: 'I am a shrine of the Lord.' First thing. It’s not enough to believe in God. You say, 'I believe in God because I believe in myself. I believe I am a Catholic, I am a Hindu, I am a Buddhist, I am this.' It’s not enough to lead happy life. It’s not enough to make you happy. You all have religions; you all have churches. So what? Still you are suffering. Sometimes I find you suffering more than those who do not have. Because you are not going ahead.

"What actually do you need? You need to go in systematically.... How your body is composed? How is it formed? From here you start going inside. If you have known yourself, you have known the universe. But if you are trying to know the universe, you are lost in bewilderment. You are lost. So you better learn to understand yourself first.

"That vidya which leads you systematically is called Sri Vidya—highest of all vidyas, as mother. And you are fully protected.... You are very close to mother. I’m talking about Divine Mother—the mother in you, the shakti in you, the power in you. Scientists proved that matter is nothing but energy. Matter can be converted into energy, and energy into matter. It’s all energy. But that’s all; nothing beyond that.

"Yoga science has gone to deeper levels explaining that you have shakti within you. And without that shakti, it is not possible for you to survive, it’s not possible for you to act and to function. Any part of yourself—even your brain, your mind, your intellectualization, your convictions, your actions—are not possible without shakti.

"This systematic path, loving path, most glorious, majestic path, is introduced by the teacher when you have enough time. Suppose you say, 'I don’t have time. Swamiji, can you tell me something about Sri Vidya which you do in two minutes time, before I go to my office?' He will laugh at you and say, 'I love you. Okay. Later on when you have time.' So this vidya—there’s a book called Saundarya Lahari—a wave of beauty, a wave of bliss, a wave of wisdom.

"So this mother worship is not the worship of a female deity; it is not.... It’s a systematic leading to the Source of highest consciousness within you, where you find unification with the Brahman, the Absolute One....

"There is one thing very wonderful, and that is you don’t have to be in the temple. You can. A student of Sri Vidya can go to synagogue, temple, church, Shiva temple, Krishna temple, any temple—it doesn’t matter. For him or her, everything is one and the same. It’s not the worship of the woman, mother, it’s not worship of man, father; it’s the worship of Brahman; not even worship of neuter gender. The absolute Truth which is changeless, which is not subject to change, death and decay, that which is limitless, that Infinite for whom we do not have words, which is inexplicable."

Swamis: While the lineage is an ascetic tradition of the Himalayas, and is thousands of years old, some of the sages (though not all) are also initiates of the monastic order of Shankaracharya of the 9th century (much later than the ascetic tradition itself). Swami Rama directly initiated at least seven people as swamis, and five or so other students of Swami Rama have since taken swami initiation through those swamis. (To practice the teachings, one does not have to be a swami.)

Core practices: While the breadth of the teachings is vast, the core practices have been captured in two files that can be downloaded in pdf format. Click here to go to the downloads page, where you will find a booklet that summarizes the teachings of Swami Rama, entitled "Understanding and Practicing the Teachings of Swami Rama" (39 pages), and a paper by Swami Jnaneshvara entitled "The Path" (49 pages), which also summarizes the systematic practices as taught by Swami Rama. The many articles on the website also attempt to capture the spirit of these teachings and practices in simple, straightforward language.

Diversity of links: This tradition of the Himalayan sages is not itself representative of any formal institutions, although individual teachers or students have started various teaching organizations or service institutions from time to time. Thus, a variety of modern teaching centers may link themselves to this ancient lineage of yoga meditation, while none of them are themselves sole representatives (though some may claim this). This can be somewhat confusing to modern seekers who are accustomed to thinking of spiritual lineages as if they can be fit into neat, corporation-like organizational charts.

Holograms and chains: The Himalayan tradition is more like a hologram than a chain. With a chain, one link is sequentially connected to the next link. With a hologram, the whole is contained in each of the parts of the holographic image. While one student may have a specific teacher, and subsequently have his or her own students, the tradition itself is more like a holographic collective consciousness that operates throughout the many. That consciousness may at times be highly concentrated and manifested through, or as one person.

Successor ship: One of the foremost of the modern representatives of the Himalayan tradition is Swami Rama. As have others from the tradition, Swami Rama started several institutions that continue to operate with their independent leadership. However, Swami Rama did not install any individual person as his successor in the lineage, although there have been false claims to that effect. If it were not so sad, it would be utterly humorous the way in which a few of Swami Rama's students have behaved, as if their institutions or ashrams are, themselves, heirs to the tradition of the Himalayan masters. Ironically, Swami Rama himself has written that the tradition itself is not related with the institutions of the plains.

Guru: Guru is not considered to be any person, though the force of guru may operate through a person. Teachers may be respected, but are not objects of worship. "Gu" means "darkness" and "ru" means "light." Guru is the light that dispels the darkness of ignorance. (See the articles Guru and the Light Within and Guru and Divine Grace)

Shaktipat: Along with the sincere efforts of the seeker, obstacles are removed through a bestowing of grace called shaktipat. It is through such direct transmission that the highest teachings are given. Second to that are the oral teachings, while third are written teachings.

External rituals: All of the practices are internal and no rituals are performed (some locations have started doing rituals either after Swami Rama disaffiliated from the organization or after he left his body).

Conversion, culture, and God: There is not a belief in conversion, changing the cultural habits of others, or introducing any face of God in particular.

Serving humanity: Serving humanity through selflessness is an expression of love which one should follow through mind, action, and speech.

Like trying to hold a cloud: Trying to grasp the tradition of the Himalayan masters is like trying to grab a cloud. Try as you will, you cannot quite hold it in your hand, but only in the inner chamber of your heart. It is from that inner place where one is truly guided by the masters.





This site is devoted to presenting the ancient Self-Realization path of the Tradition of the Himalayan masters in simple, understandable and beneficial ways, while not compromising quality or depth. The goal of our sadhana or practices is the highest Joy that comes from the Realization in direct experience of the center of consciousness, the Self, the Atman or Purusha, which is one and the same with the Absolute Reality. This Self-Realization comes through Yoga meditation of the Yoga Sutras, the contemplative insight of Advaita Vedanta, and the intense devotion of Samaya Sri Vidya Tantra, the three of which complement one another like fingers on a hand. We employ the classical approaches of Raja, Jnana, Karma, and Bhakti Yoga, as well as Hatha, Kriya, Kundalini, Laya, Mantra, Nada, Siddha, and Tantra Yoga. Meditation, contemplation, mantra and prayer finally converge into a unified force directed towards the final stage, piercing the pearl of wisdom called bindu, leading to the Absolute.