"Stay linked to the Lineage of the Himalayan Masters, and reduce your ego,' urged Swami Veda Bharati a group of nearly a hundred yoga and meditation teachers at a recent intensive teacher training seminar on the campus of St. Olaf College in Minnesota. They have come from as far as England, Singapore, Malaysia, Burkina Faso in Africa, India, Trinidad, Canada and all parts of the United States to study for two weeks with Swami Veda Bharati, a disciple of Swami Rama of the Himalayas.
Swami Veda started lecturing at the age of 9, and by the time he was 13, he addressed crowds of thousands of people in India. He has lectured all aspects of the science and philosophy of yoga and meditation for 53 years. He has written a number of books, among them the most authentic commentary on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and is a much esteemed meditation master and spiritual guide.
Talking about the current practice of yoga in the United States and Europe, Swami Veda has this to say: 'Yoga is becoming Americanized, and that is a tragedy. People have commercialized yoga and are exploiting its rich treasures for personal benefit. With a million dollars for advertising, these people promote themselves as great yogis. What a joke! And they forget about the tradition, about their debt to their teachers and the guru lineage. This is like a great, dark cloud over yoga.'
'And the situation is the same with Ayurveda, the ancient 'science of life.' The spiritual roots of this knowledge and science are ignored and only its health and healing aspects are being exploited nowadays as an 'alternative healthcare system.' But without its spiritual side, also these attempts will fail and in a few decades will be forgotten.'
'And that is my calling ... to make sure that the Lineage is not forgotten, that those who teach and practice yoga remain aware of the initiatory guru lineage - the parampara - and always stay linked to it. Otherwise, the teaching is not authentic and will not be effective. From the ancient rishis and yogis, this sacred knowledge and science has come down to us in a long, long line of direct transmission from teacher to student, from an accomplished master to a deserving disciple - generation after generation, for thousands and thousands of years.'
And he continues: 'Our task is to preserve this link to the Perennial into the future generations...to preserve the teachings of the Himalayan Tradition exactly in the same way that it was taught to us by our gurudev, Swami Rama of the Himalayas.'
'Forget about advanced practices. Go back to the basics -- that is the advanced practice! Take 30 minutes to do the 'sun salutation' and see the result. Be keenly aware of the subtle flow of the prana, of your breathing, and watch your mind. Relax the parts of the body that are not involved in the posture. You will be amazed at the result!
Attain mastery of practice. Mastery of a practice means that you are able to access its full depths at any time, anywhere, instantly. That's mastery! Strive for that.'
'Twenty-three of you have an incorrect sitting posture: your necks are not straight,' says swamiji, as he surveys the class preparing for the evening's guided meditation. His normally loving gaze becomes stern. 'Now it is 24,' he says a couple of minutes later. But he is not joking, he is very serious. 'Work on your foundation. To make progress in meditation, you need to have a firm posture, like a rock. If your posture is unstable, it means you are emotionally unbalanced, your mind is distracted. Purify yourself. Purify your emotions. Do the 'nadi-shodhanam' practice. And you will make progress.'
A master can transfer all his knowledge to a fully prepared and deserving disciple in one single, silent night. And they don't even have to be in the same room. 'All my knowledge I have received from my master, Swami Rama of the Himalayas,' recalls Swami Veda. "One night, Swami Rama was meditating in his cottage, and I in mine, and he passed on some of his vast knowledge to me. In one single, silent night. Afterwards, he came over. 'Any questions?", he asked. 'No questions, swamiji,' was all I said. Such is the power of an accomplished master. Such is the power of the lineage. Keep going to this source, again and again. Never, for one moment forget the guru lineage.'
'Refine your practice, make it sacred and make it secret. Before teaching, establish the link with the Lineage. Always remember: it is not you who teaches. It is the guru lineage that teaches through you. You are only an instrument. That's all. If you are aware of your class, you cannot teach meditation. And surrender all your work to the Lineage. Reduce your ego, make yourself small. Then, you will succeed.'
What are Swami Vedas plans for the near future? This is what he has to say: 'In Rishikesh, in the foothills of the Himalayas, we are preparing to build an Ashram for training new generations of swamis. Not the next generation. The next generations. The present generation is fine, all of you are well established on the spiritual path. I am not concerned about you. But we have to prepare the next two generations of swamis, to lay the foundations to make sure that the teachings of Swami Rama will continue in their pure form, exactly as he taught us. That is the most important project ahead, my ultimate project before I can withdraw to do my sadhana for my own enlightenment.'
'The Perennial wisdom and knowledge of the guru lineage will always be there. Two thousand years from now, the main religions of today will be forgotten, just as the immensely popular religions of the past are all gone today, without a trace. New prophets will appear and bring a message better suited to the new civilizations and the new cultures of tomorrow. But the perennial tradition, the tradition of the Himalayan Masters, will still be there, continuing to guide the humanity as the ever-lasting, ever-pure, ever-true fountain of spirituality,' concluded Swami Veda.