The Old Guard

Telling the Truth

Recognizing Mahatmas

Yogis with Ego

Spiritual Leaders’ Powers

Old & New Devotees

Silent Teaching

Swamiji Doesn’t Forget

A Yogi’s Dramas

Associations with the Famous

Guru Brothers & Sisters

Gurus, Obedience & Ashrams

Bhava Samadhi

Explaining Swamiji’s
Use of Spiritual Experiences

The book Swamiji recommended

Perspectives on the Mission Today

About this Writer’s Corner


news about Swamiji & devotees




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  Telling the Truth
—  Yogis Don't Spin the Truth

  Recognizing Mahatmas
—  Get to Know Them

  Yogis with Ego 
—  Not Everyone Who Completes Tapas Is without Ego

  Spiritual Leaders’ Powers 
—  Not All that Glitters Is Gold

  Old & New Devotees 
—  Making Way for the New

  Silent Teaching 
—  Swamiji Discouraged Using Words to Teach Meditation or Describe Spiritual Experiences

  Swamiji Doesn’t Forget  —  Remembering His Devotees

  A Yogi’s Dramas  —  The Shiva in Shivabalayogi

  Associations with the Famous  —  If Swamiji is famous, it is because he has done twelve years of tapas

  Guru Brothers & Sisters  —  It Makes Sense Only If You Add It All Up

  Gurus, Obedience & Ashrams  —  A true yogi doesn’t tell others what to do; ashrams are for devotees.

A true yogi doesn’t tell others what to do; ashrams are for devotees.

Listening to some of Shivabalayogi’s early companions, those who helped him travel and conduct public programs around India in the 1960’s, I learned something that we in Seattle also learned three decades later.  Swamiji didn’t give orders.

One early companion explained that he used the training Swamiji had given him to interpret whether others’ instructions or even advice are in line with what Swamiji taught.


“Even Swamiji himself would never have given orders, saying that ‘I am telling you, do this.’  He would always include us in the decision making.  He would always ask us, shall we do this?  Shall we go this way?  Shall we go like this?  Then he would take the consensus, make a decision, and do it.  But [some] people are trying to dictate to people.  That Swamiji has never done.  I don’t think that [dictating] is the [correct] attitude.”

Yes, Swamiji was very strict about his public programs being open to the public, not charging money, and sharing blessed food, as examples, but these are about who he is and how he serves others.  He did not tell other people what to do or think.

Swamiji was clear that his ashrams were for the devotees, not for himself.  When it came to ashrams or organizations, Swamiji went out of his way to consult with devotees and ask them what they wanted.

You can read what Shivabalayogi said about obedience to the guru“The disciple has to follow the instructions of the guru.  At the same time, the guru also should behave according to the desire of the disciple.  Only then they both can go together.  They can both be peaceful and happy.”

On the subject of ashrams, consider Swamiji’s own statement: “I never wanted to build even a single ashram, but the guru [Lord Shiva, the Self] gave instructions to build all the ashrams that you now see coming up in so many places.  They are for my devotees.”

Compare Swamiji’s example with Baba Shivarudrabalayogi’s appeals to obedience and his defense of the Shivabalayogi ashram in Dehradun.  The quotes are taken from the Shivarudrabalayogi website as Baba’s own words:


“A word uttered by the Guru should be a command, even a word given to the Guru should be a promise, a fully committed promise.  A commitment to the Guru should be a priority, foremost.  No amount of reasons can be excuses to back-track on the word given.  No circumstances, situation or reason can be acceptable to refuse a word given to the Guru, which is a commitment made to the Guru.  It amounts to betrayal of the Guru's trust. . . .

“It is a matter to be noticed that when a Guru permits that you can stay in the Ashram and do sadhana for spiritual attainment, after some time you cannot claim that place as yours.”

Does this rule about not claiming someone else’s ashram as your own apply to Baba?  Shivabalayogi permitted Baba to do sadhana (spiritual practice) in the Shivabalayogi ashram in Dehradun.  Having completed that sadhana, Baba has set up his own asana (a spiritual throne, a formal seat where only Baba can sit) in the public meditation hall.  He claims to be the “Spiritual Head” of the ashram.  His website declares:


“The Dehradun Ashram is the spiritual home of Babaji’s inspirational sadhana and Tapas, and the base from which He carries out His Guru’s Mission. . . .  Babaji’s physical presence at the Ashram is today the greatest attraction for sincere spiritual seekers.”

Is Baba defending a Shivabalayogi ashram or a Baba ashram?

True yogis and saints do not command their devotees to obedience, nor do they establish lineages or religions.  That kind of behavior is what Shivabalayogi sharply criticized in spiritual leaders.  Shivabalayogi explained that the idea of claiming a lineage from a yogi (or “carrying out the guru’s mission,” or associating with a yogi to gain fame) is how spiritual leaders start religions.

“All yogis belong to a single line.  They are all the same.  They are all connected together.  It’s not that you have branches or anything like that.  Read the histories of yogis and the histories of the spiritual leaders.  You yourself will understand.”

The following is the complete context of what Swamiji had to say about lineages.  It’s from a tape-recorded conversation with devotees in Santa Fe on July 5, 1991.  D. Jagadish Kumar translated devotees’ questions into Telugu for Swamiji, then Swamiji’s Telugu answer into English.  Ordinarily Swamiji waited for the translation.  The rare occasions when he did not bother to wait for the translation were when the subject matter was very important.  In this exchange, Swamiji never bothered with getting a translation.

Q   What’s the significance of a lineage with gurus?  There’s talk about being from a different lineage.  Like for instance Muktananda, ah Nityananda, and Muktananda, and Gurumayi, they talk about coming from some certain lineage like, we have families and generations . . .

No translation.  Muktananda and Gurumayi are only spiritual leaders.  They’re not yogis.

Q   But within yogis, do they have lineages?  When one yogi dies and another one comes in, is that a part of a lineage . . .

No translationWhat you are asking about and what he has been talking about is different.  You are asking about a spiritual leader and the continuation of his mission right down with another spiritual teacher, and after him another spiritual teacher.  He is not talking about that.  That has no relation with the connection that yogis have.  The yogi himself has nothing to do with the spiritual leaders.  So Nityananda himself will have nothing to do with Muktananda or Gurumayi.

Q   So forget about Muktananda and Gurumayi, OK.  Just yogis, do they have lineages, do they have lines of descent.  Like in another words is there a particular yogi . . .

No translation.   A yogi never starts a religion.

Q   So there is no lineage then?.  Say Narada to Jesus, or Hadiakhan Babaji to Lahiri Mahasaya?

No translationAll the yogis belong to a single line.  They are all the same.  They are all connected together.  It’s not that you have branches or anything like that.  Read the histories of yogis and the histories of the spiritual leaders.  You yourself will understand.