Foundation in the Tradition of the Himalayan Masters As taught by Shri Swami Rama of the Himalayas
Updated: Sep 9, 2022
The below is from a talk by Panditji Dabral at a teachers intensive with Swami Veda, November 1999.
Shri Swami Rama of the Himalayas, the founder of the Himalayan Institute and the custodian of this Himalayan Parampara, this Himalayan Tradition, was very specific about the teachings he has brought to us. He was so particular that he taught from the scriptures and kept the authenticity of the teaching. If you read his teachings, his books or have attended seminars, he was extremely specific about how this teaching should be spread around the world. We are here because we want to spread the teaching in the Himalayan Tradition. In order to be a teacher and a spiritual guide, there are things we must know, that we must follow. Swami Veda has spoken in great detail that yoga has become just a technique-oriented system. We focus so much on this technique and that technique that we have almost forgotten the life in yoga. We have almost forgotten the spirituality in yoga science. When we speak of yoga science, it is not just yoga alone. It has other components within the science. Yoga is a vast science that covers everything one needs to know. Yoga combines, joins all in one. We can elevate ourselves to that level, where we understand clearly, and where we see ourselves in that one bindu, in one form. That is yoga, the goal, the Parampara, that Swami Veda has in his mind. He wants to teach us that yoga is not merely technique-oriented. It has something in it, and we need to learn, we need to pay attention. We need to follow and apply that life which is yoga. Otherwise, yoga science is a dead science. It doesn't have prana in it. In order to bring the prana, there are decorums, there are rules we need to know. Swami Veda used a word, specifically, being a "disciple." We misunderstand that word. It is not just that we think we want to and we become the disciples. I am a disciple of what? We need to have a clear understanding before we begin to teach. What is it that we are teaching? When I teach, who I am and where is this teaching coming from? One has to really understand this Parampara, this Tradition, before you begin. I am sure within these 5 days we will have clear understanding, not only intellectually but also at the level of experience. We will experience this spirituality, this prana, this life, that Swamiji has spoken about, that Swami Veda is teaching. We can make our life according with this experience and live by those principles. We all are students of the Parampara. I am a not a student of Swami Veda or a student of Swami Rama. We all are students of this unbroken Parampara, this Himalayan Tradition. The yoga science, this Parampara, is Himalayan. All the techniques you have heard and you know, they all are taken from the Himalayan Parampara. The Himalayan Parampara is like a tree. All other techniques and systems are like branches and leaves of that main tree. We are here toexperience and follow those techniques, that prana in our life, and then be of service within the tradition. I recall two stories from the Upanishads. One comes from Katha Upanishad and one comes from Shvetashvatara Upanishad. In the Katha Upanishad, Nachiketa comes to Yamaraja, the King of Death, asking him to teach the mystery of life and death. Yamaraja taught him and then asks, "What did I teach? Please repeat." So Nachiketa, the perfect student, narrates exactly back to Yamaraja the way Yamaraja taught him, the way Yamaraja described the techniques. He was extremely happy with Nachiketa and gives him a pearl necklace. When Yamaraja gives him the necklace, he says, "Nachiketa, today, by giving this necklace, I shrankam-ekam, I am connecting you to a tradition. I am linking you to a tradition." That is the core of that Upanishad. That is the prana of that Upanishad . You may receive, but if you are not linked with the Tradition, then you are not part of the Tradition. The teaching will not flow, it will be just a technique that you have learned from books or lectures. You will not be a medium that the teaching is flowing through you. That, we have to understand. One other story comes to my mind. There was a boy, Satyakama Jabali. He goes to a teacher to learn the great science, the Upanishads, the Vedas. He asks the teacher humbly, "Would you please teach me the Vedas and the Upanishads?" The rishi accepts him as a student and says, "From tomorrow morning, the teaching will begin." The next morning comes, and the teacher tells him, "Take my cows to the jungle; take care of the cows and do not come back until they are double. If you take ten cows, when they become twenty, then come back." Imagine if that was you what would you have thought, what would you have done. I bet you anything, the first thought will come, you probably will refuse, or think I didn't come for the cows, I came for some teaching. That is the teaching that we must understand. You may write a letter to Swami Veda, or to Swamiji when he was in body. If you did not receive an answer, it does not mean that he is not guiding you or not teaching you. It does not mean that he is ignoring you. Satyakama goes to the forest, to the jungle, takes care of the cows that his Guru, his Teacher, has given to him, with so much love, commitment and devotion. He did not have any second thought. He said, "What my Guru wants me to do, I must do." For twelve years Satyakama was in the jungle, taking care of the cows. In twelve years they were double. He came back with the entire knowledge. He knew everything. Even though he was not with his teacher, the teaching was going on in a different form. That is what we need to know in order to be a guide, in order to be a medium. First of all, we need to know we are students of the Himalayan tradition. Swami Rama of the Himalayas always taught about the inner Guru, about the Parampara, about the Tradition. He always said, "I am not the Guru; I am not the Guru that you think." Guru is somebody else. Parampara is the Guru. We must not lean, not identify ourselves that he or she is my Guru. There is only one Guru and that is Parampara itself, the Tradition itself. We are teaching on behalf of the Himalayan Parampara, the Himalayan Tradition. Why? Why are you teaching? I would like to ask you a few questions. You do not have to answer me, but answer to yourself. Contemplate honestly why exactly you are here. Why are you teaching? What is the purpose of the teaching that you are teaching, or you want to teach in future? The scriptures, Upanishads, talk about three kinds of debts that one has to pay otherwise you have to pay. Otherwise, you are not free from the entire cycle. Among the three, there is a debt called Guru debt, Guru rena. Rena means debt. When you are taught something, when you have linked yourself to a tradition, then it's our most necessary dharma that we pay the debts otherwise the teaching will not blossom, the teaching will not flourish, not flow. We must learn this principle of flowing. It is not me, it is not you that is teaching. The teaching is coming from the Source. That Source has made you a medium and it is flowing from there. We all are just a medium in front of a student. In order to pay the Guru's debts, we have to spread the teaching in the form of a service. If a teaching is given in the form of a service, then it elevates us. It does something within that cannot be learned from books or anywhere else. Yamaraja, the King of Death, says, "O Nachiketa, this question that you have asked, the mystery of life and death, it cannot be learned by listening to the lectures, by reading. It is an experiential knowledge that can only be received through the Guru." The very powerful words, very favorite words of mine also have been repeatedly written in the scriptures. Guru mukhad-avagantavya: 'The teaching comes from the mouth of the Guru.' Not from the book. Not from anywhere else. And we must know this very teaching only from their mouth. That's what the entire Upanishad is all about, sitting at the feet of the Guru. That does not mean that you have to be physically present there. These are the principles that we have to really sit down and contemplate within ourselves and make it very clear, so that when we teach there is no conflict. There are no two opinions: Am I a student of so-and-so? Why am I teaching? Am I teaching to make money? Or am I teaching to gain some name or fame or for what reason am I teaching? This is a service to the Guru Lineage. If it is a service to the Guru Lineage, then I don't claim anything in return. I just serve, and that is all. I surrender to the teacher; I surrender to the Lineage. Here I am; I am so grateful. That is why we must pray before we teach. In the Himalayan Tradition of Swamiji, we first of all should not teach what we do not practice. In order to teach something that you would like to teach, you must practice. The word “teach” is a very powerful word. Before you begin, you invoke the presence of the Guru, which is that force, Hiranya-garba, that "may I become the medium," so that the ego does not get in the way when you teach. Then we must pray to invoke the presence of harmony between the teacher and the Guru. They are two different words. We cannot be Guru. Gurus are great yogis, the Self-realized ones. We could be the teacher. The Guru actually transfers the teaching in us, in all of us. In order to have the teaching transferred, we have to be adhikari. So we invoke with the Prayer of Harmony: may there be harmony between teacher and Guru, teacher and student. Harmony means there is no conflict in two minds, there is no conflict in relationship and there is no conflict in teaching. If I am sitting here and I have a conflict, why I am doing it; the teaching will not flow. Teaching will not penetrate anybody. Nothing will happen. Teaching is a service. It is sacred work. It is not daily work and it is not a job. We have to have a certain kind of attitude toward the teaching because it is sacred work and secret work, at the same time. It is secret work because you are teaching and something else is happening in you. You are elevating yourself, just by teaching. That's why it is secret. It works in many, many levels. Wherever you teach, I would ask you to observe the sacredness of this place. That's why we do not bring any kind of shoes, out of respect for this seat, for this shrine to which we pay our homage. This is not just a seat that Swami Veda sits. It is a seat that is sacred, and secret. I make an appeal to everybody to please join the morning prayers as well as evening prayers. That is not a duty, it is a dharma that in the Himalayan Tradition, the Parampara, is based on these prayers. They are the foundation. I still remember the day when Swamiji called an emergency meeting in Honesdale. He was very mad at all the residents because people would go to the prayers once in awhile or they will miss. He said, "Tell me whether you people want to do prayers or not?" The prayers are not just for formality, something you have to come and do. Whenever there is a prayer, we must attend with the attitude that it is an invocation. It is your sadhana, it is your prayer to the lineage. It makes you adhikari, just by doing the prayer, doing the dedication. He was so specific about morning and evening prayers. Everybody must join morning and evening prayers and be there on time. As I was saying, we are not the Guru. We have not experienced the entire teaching. We haven't become Self-realized. We are the medium. Somebody else is teaching from there. I am just here. We are here to just pay our debts in the form of Guru rena in the form of giving the service to the lineage. Swami Veda specifically used the word of being a "disciple," meaning we must have some kind of discipline. The word disciple comes from discipline and says something about your adhikari. Am I following some discipline as I teach? Am I under the decorum that is given to me? We do not become a disciple just by saying, "I am a disciple." The disciple has to carry the discipline in him or in her because without discipline we cannot teach. That's one thing. After we finish the teaching, we must dedicate, we must surrender all that we have taught to the Parampara by saying to ourselves, "I am so grateful that this teaching of this session happened through me." Then you are not bound by the karma. This is one of the forms of being free from the binding of karma when we teach. Swami Rama of the Himalayas had a vision. Swami Veda is carrying that vision and wants all of us to understand the entire principle of teaching and the authenticity of this yoga Tradition. He always has said that we must learn some of the authentic scriptures, not just read translations and commentaries. If you read the commentaries, read the authentic commentaries on the scriptures. That is missing these days, everywhere, not just only in the West but in India also. We are reading the commentary of a commentary of a commentary and we do not know what the original text of yoga says. In order to be a teacher we must know the sutras also, because when we read the translation or commentary of a sutra, that does not carry exactly the same meaning as the original word carries because the words are kind-of the mantras; they have power. The Yoga-sutras says, "Now yoga discipline" or "Yoga begins." When we repeat "Atha Yoganu Shasanam," that has more impact on our mind than just saying "Now yoga begins." Being a guide is not an easy job. Swami Veda has written about 'what is the teacher'. He says you never should have a conflict when you teach. If you have a conflict, then you never show that you have a conflict. Be clear with yourself what you are teaching and do not show or do not have any conflict within you and within the teaching. We need to hear his teaching carefully and contemplate upon ourselves and follow the teaching, such as before you come in the morning, be very silent, try not to talk. When the prayers are done, then silently get up. When we teach to others, we must follow all those teachings before we want to deliver any message to anybody. We have to experience what exactly happens. Otherwise you will not be able to answer the questions that are asked to you. Experiential knowledge is entirely different than the knowledge that comes out of books. Make sure we are within the decorum of the Himalayan Tradition. We are all linked. Once you are linked, you are a part of it. They take care of us, provided you are within the Parampara, you are following the decorum; you are not going outside the boundary. We have to be extremely careful to follow this decorum when we teach. If we do not follow the decorums of the Parampara, then we have no right to be in the Parampara. Be clear in your mind, why you are in this Himalayan Parampara. If an answer comes yes or no, whatever, go further in contemplation. Being a guide is a path of contemplation so that there is no conflict within. There are many teacher-training programs available. One thing we must always remember that we have linked ourselves to the Himalayan Tradition and are students of the Tradition. We are serving the entire Tradition, not a particular form. Whoever is within the Tradition, we are serving but that particular form does not become the Tradition. It is a Parampara which has been there for thousands of years. If you have that in your mind, then other things will follow. What that Parampara tells me, how they teach, what are the principles, what they tell me to do - am I within them? If not, why not? If yes, how do I be always within it so that I am always a medium. Being adhikari is not a one-time event. You have to renew all the time, you have to check yourself, am I still adhikari? Then the teaching can flow through you always, all the time.
Reflect and answer the following questions in your journal about your present relationship with the lineage. You will be asked to refer to these and again comment as you proceed through each level. 1. Why am I personally interested in the Himalayan Yoga Tradition (HYT)? 2. What does it mean to be a student within the HYT? 3. Why do I want to teach within the HYT? 4. What does it mean to be a teacher within the HYT?