One of the greatest adepts, teachers, writers, and humanitarians of the 20th century, Swami Rama (1925-1996) is the founder of the Himalayan Institute. Born in Northern India, he was raised from early childhood by the Himalayan sage, Bengali Baba. Under the guidance of his master, he traveled from monastery to monastery and studied with a variety of Himalayan saints and sages, including his grandmaster who was living in a remote region of Tibet. In addition to this intense spiritual training, Swami Rama received higher education in both India and Europe. From 1949 to 1952, he held the prestigious position of Shankaracharya of Karvirpitham in South India. Thereafter, he returned to his master to receive further training at his cave monastery, and finally in 1969, came to the United States where he founded the Himalayan Institute. His best known work, Living With the Himalayan Masters, reveals the many facets of this singular adept and demonstrates his embodiment of the living tradition of the East.
“Some people think that many men and women turn to married life only for the sake of security, motivated by selfishness and the fear of being alone. Actually, the institution of marriage exists for a much higher purpose; it is not simply a biological or emotional convenience. The great sages teach that marriage is more sacred than a mere contract or arrangement in which two people decide to get together and live with each other. Marriage has a goal, and both partners should have a common purpose, regardless of the country from which they come or their cultural, religious, philosophical or historical backgrounds. Everyone seeks happiness in life, but the problem is, how do we achieve a state of genuine happiness in the world, when everything around us in changing constantly? Whatever makes us happy will not last forever. This external world of people and objects is transient and impermanent. So how does a human being achieve a state of enduring happiness?
Most people wait for others to make them happy, and they think that at some specific point they will achieve happiness – when they are married on a child is born or they purchase a home. But none of these joyful events creates lasting happiness. Thus, the mind itself creates suffering, because it harbors expectations that are unrealistic – the only real happiness lies within.
We expect marriage or family life to make us happy, but this institution is not the goal itself, it is only a means to a deeper happiness. If two people share this understanding, then they can enjoy their married life with a sense of contentment, rather than expectation.
The highest aim of life is to possess the deeper happiness that is eternal, undisturbed, and unchanging. To achieve such happiness, human beings need to understand not only themselves, but others as well.
In ancient times men and women did many experiments and finally decided to live together with a certain understanding in the arrangement that we call marriage. In Persian the world for marriage is cushy, which also means “happiness”. In Sanskrit the word for marriage is vivaha, which signifies that two people have decided to tread their paths together and attain the highest state of happiness in this lifetime.
But I have observed that all too often, marriage does not lead to such happiness. Rarely have I seen a genuinely happy couple. Couples often come to see me smiling, and I feel very happy when they affirm their love for one another. The first question I ask them is whether they love each other, and they usually insist that they do, but often after some time passes, I discover that their claims are false. I have tried to understand the root cause of this superficial level of commitment and insincere life, and I have found that the cause lies in their individual selfishness.
When people decide to marry, they need to recognize that up to that point, they have lived alone, which is easy, because a single person can think only of himself or herself. Now, they must learn to live with each other. People who wish to marry should ask themselves, “Do I have the capacity to live intimately with this person? Can I adjust to him or her? Do I have the essential qualities that are needed to live with others – truthfulness, sincerity, faithfulness, tolerance, patience, acceptance, and self-sacrifice? Do I have the qualities that I will need to live peacefully with another person? If not, I must develop them, or I will not succeed in my marriage.”
- Swami Rama in Love and Family Life pages 13-15
Swami Veda Bharati took his Mahasamadhi July 14, 2015. He holds the prestigious title of Mahamandaleshwara in the Swami order of monks. Swami Veda was also the Chancellor of HIHT University, Dehradun, which was established by Master Swami Rama. He authored approximately 18 books on Indian spirituality including a 1500 page comprehensive commentary on two of the four chapters of Patanjali’s Yoga-sutras. Before taking the vows of Swamihood in 1992, Swami Veda Bharati was known as Dr. Usharbudh Arya.
"Driftwood floats at the mercy of every little ripple. A ship, expertly navigated, withstands mountainous waves. Little irritations and small emotions are for driftwood, not for the ships that free will navigates.
If you must be of earth, be the whole planet and not a tiny speck of dust. Be not a spark, but a conflagration; not a pool, but an ocean. If your self is little, a thousand sorrows a day will drown your specks of dust, a thousand little storms will extinguish your flame.
Let your meditation help you grow, help you know your vast, expansive Self, so that neither little sorrows make you weep nor small joys make you dance. Let your mind dance, indeed, but to the Cosmic Tune. Why is your meditation troubled by the small ripples of things of limited consequence when a still mind in meditation will bring you the Infinite?
If you must deal with problems this day, I wish you truly great problems, so you may find great solutions from the ocean of your expansive Self. I wish you an undisturbed mind, balance and equanimity."
- Swami Veda Bharati in The Light of Ten Thousand Suns page 75