How did a Jewish kid in Chicago go on to become one of India’s most renowned spiritual guides? Radhanath Swamis story is so unique it borders on the unbelievable. His autobiography, The Journey Home, recounts an amazing odyssey from a Midwestern suburb through 1960s countercultural exploits, to Mediterranean caves, Himalayan mountains and finally, his life’s purpose of serving the needy. Today, Radhanath Swami travels the world teaching devotional wisdom, spearheads some of India’s most acclaimed social action programs, and develops sustainable spiritual communities.
Radhanath Swami emerged from his years of travel as a seasoned, cave-dwelling ascetic, and therein lay a dilemma. On the one hand, yogis typically avoid society, opting for lives of peace and solitude. On the other hand, Radhanath Swami possessed a fervent desire to share with the world the beauty and rewards of a life dedicated to service. Casting his fate to the wind, Radhanath Swami cut his matted locks and reentered society.
More than a symbolic gesture, these were first steps toward an active, engaged form of devotion, a practice he refers to as spiritual stimulus. A spiritual stimulator” maintains that those who become aware of their spiritual identity share an imperative to reduce suffering in the world—employing all means at hand and stopping at nothing to do so. This truth was slowly revealed to him by teachers he had met including the Dalai Lama and Mother Teresa.
Radhanath Swami has been practicing devotional yoga since 1972, when he adopted the vows of a monk: poverty, celibacy, and abstinence from intoxicants. As a swami, or itinerant teacher, he has no property, no bank account, nor a penny to his name. He eats once a day and sleeps on a mat on the floor. But he has found the one thing so many strive to achieve: the path to inner peace. People who know Radhanath Swami speak of his lightness, simplicity, and sense of humor. Visitors and friends are inspired by his unassuming nature and unwillingness to take credit for the work he inspires.
He is the driving force behind social initiatives such as Midday Meal, a food relief program which feeds 250,000 indigent school children per day. Bhaktivedanta Hospital is a groundbreaking initiative to provide quality healthcare to the underprivileged. It operates clinics for pregnant mothers, campaigns to combat HIV/AIDS, and emergency relief teams to provide support during disasters. Barsana Eye Camp performs 1,000 free cataract operations per year to keep destitute villagers from going blind. To promote rural development, Govardhan Ecovillage is an environmentally sustainable community meant to serve as a working model of localized economy.
He seems to see life as a continuous blessing of God’s grace,” one admirer said, “and yet he never loses his humanness. His accessibility leaves people feeling that, with a little sincere effort, they too will find the path to self-realization.
For more info, please see following websites in connection with His Holiness Radhanath Swami Maharaja.
Short biography from (27 July 2011): www.radhanathswami.com