A Transformation of Our Character

I am grateful for this photographic work on yoga. Especially for the opportunity it has offered to learn directly from very spiritually realized human beings. This journey continues to bring me to the feet of many great masters, and Radhanath Swami is one I must introduce.

He came to India as a genuine 19-year-old seeker of truth. His book, “The Journey Home”, shares in detail his amazing journey from suburban Chicago to Europe, across the Middle East, and on to India during the 70s. In time, he realized that unless we really change ourselves, we cannot be a change in the world...that this change required a spiritual transformation.

Radhanath Swami is a Vaishnava sanyassin (a monk in a Krishna-bhakti lineage) and teacher of the devotional path of Bhakti yoga. He also is one of the kindest, gentlest, most compassionate people I’ve had the fortune to spend time with. Honest care and genuine love resonate in his voice, his words, his gestures, in his eyes. His life of service, teaching, and devotion is one of the finest of examples of Bhakti yoga in action.

Through Radhanath Swami’s inspiration and guidance and the social action programs of his Radha Gopinath Ashram in Mumbai, millions of lives are improved and filled with hope. BhaktiVedanta Hospital, is an innovative holistic hospital that works with the entire human condition: body, mind and spirit...to help patients heal and find true wellness.

Govardhan Eco Village is a working organic farm, a center for cow care, a teaching and rural development center, as well as a gurukul (orphanage and school). The cow care program is based on the symbiotic relationship between cow and man. The devotees treat these beautiful animals with great respect and care, and the healthy animals fertilize the soil, help to till in the fields, give their milk and curd, and provide a myriad of other products for human benefit. Their literature says astutely, “Real eco-friendly lifestyle begins when we harmonize our lives with the divine cosmic laws and learn to abstain from activities that are detrimental for development of a peaceful environment within.”

Another project, called “Annamrita” meaning “food as pure as nectar”, feeds 1.2 million vegetarian meals everyday to schoolchildren from 24 kitchen centers across 10 states in India. Simply providing one square meal a day can help to break the vicious cycle of poverty and illiteracy. Being the change.

This is Bhakti yoga, service to others and the divine as the basis of life and a means for inner transformation. Radhanath Swami said to me, “the Sanskrit word for yoga means to reconnect with our eternal essence. And, the purpose of every aspect of yoga is to create a transformation of our character, a transformation of our perception of life, and a transformation of our consciousness. From arrogance to humility, from greed to generosity, from vengeance to forgiveness, from hate to love, from agitation to peace”…laughing, he said, “and ultimately in this world from envy to compassion. For unless those transformations take place, unless we tap into our own spiritual essence, our true nature, there can be no real fulfillment in life.”