Rama, Swami (1925–1996)
Well-known Indian teacher of yoga, meditation, and holistic
health. At an early age he was ordained as a monk by a great
sage of the Himalayas and later journeyed to numerous
monasteries and caves, studying with many spiritual masters.
Notable teachers he encountered included Mahatma Gandhi,
Rabindranath Tagore, Sri Aurobindo, and Sri Ramana Maharshi.
He studied psychology and philosophy in Varanasi and
Prayas, India, and received a medical degree from Darbhanga
Medical School in 1945. At a later date, he pursued a formal
education at Oxford University, continuing his studies of Western
psychology and philosophy in Germany and Holland for
three years before coming to the United States in 1969. In the
following year, he served as a consultant to the Voluntary Controls
Project of the Research Department of the Menninger
Foundation at Topeka, Kansas. Under scientific controls, he
demonstrated such feats as manipulating his heartbeat at will
to 300 beats per minute (effectively stopping the flow of blood)
for seventeen seconds.
The publication of the results of such tests generated a new
medical interest in body-mind relationships and spurred public
interest in yoga techniques among young adults already involved
in reacting to the steady arrival of new Indian spiritual
teachers.
Swami Rama consistently sought to establish a clear scientific
basis for the practice of yoga and meditation. He published
books and audiotapes for the Himalayan International Institute
of Yoga Science and Philosophy, first located in a Chicago
suburb, which he founded in 1971. The institute later
moved to Honesdale, Pennsylvania, and has a 422-acre campus
in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. Branch
centers have also been established throughout the United
States. The Swami also continued to teach and write from his
centers in India. He is widely respected in the East, where he
held, and later renounced, the office of Shankaracharya, Indian’s
highest spiritual position. His lifetime of contributing to
a reconciliation of scientific and spiritual knowledge brought
him the Martin Buber Award for Service to Humanity in 1977.
As the scientific interest in yoga declined through the 1980s,
Swami Rama lead the Himalayan Institute until his death in
1996. The last few months of his life were filled with accusations
of sexual assault and harassment from several women against
himself and the Himalayan Institute. In 1997, after the Swami
had died, one of the women pressing charges was awarded almost
two million dollars in damages posthumously.
Sources
Boyd, Doug. Swami. New York Random House, 1976.
Rama, Swami. Lectures on Yoga. Arlington Heights, Ill. Himalayan
International Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy,
1978.
———. Living with the Himalayan Masters Spiritual Experiences
of Swami Rama. Edited by Swami Ajaya [Allan Weinstein].
Honesdale, Pa. Himalayan Institute, 1978.
———. A Practical Guide to Holistic Health. Honesdale, Pa.
Himalayan International Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy,
1978.
Rama, Swami, Rudolph, and Swami Ajaya. Yoga and Psychotherapy.
Glenview, Ill. Himalayan Institute, 1976.
Tigunait, Pandir Rajmani. Swami Rama of the Himalayas His
Life and Mission. Honesdale, Pa. Himalayan Institute Press,
1999.

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