On Friday, October 29th, 2010, Radhanath Swami spoke at Kula Yoga, a popular yoga studio in Tribeca, New York. Regularly featured in the best of issues of Time Out NY and NY Magazine, Kula is known as a studio for serious practitioners. Kula’s director, Schuyler Grant, was recently singled out by the NY Times as the go-to teacher in NY for an advanced level yoga practice.
The evening was hosted by resident teacher and renowned New York yogi Raghunath Cappo. Every year he leads a group of yoga students to India, and the first place they land is the Radha Gopinath Ashram in Mumbai, founded by Radhanath Swami. He relates the experience thus: “Strangely enough, as crazy as Bombay can be, the phenomenon we see when we go there is that no one wants to leave. It happens because peoples’ hearts actually change. I know in our yoga practice we might start out because our mind is filled with anxiety or maybe my butt is a little flabby and I want to do some yoga or maybe I’m not so strong or I have a bad back and I want to do some yoga. But there is one problem. I can be very fit, I can even have a calm mind, yet unless the heart is touched it is useless. We see this even in this world. If we’re very famous, beautiful, and wealthy – what good are those things if our heart is very hard?”
He explained how one with an open heart gives light wherever they go and leaves a legacy. “The jiva or the spirit is actually born to give. So what I chose to do is find people whose hearts are very open. So I stumbled upon this man one day named Radhanath Swami; he’s touched and radically changed my heart. Because of it, I feel incredibly safe in this world. In this world we get stuff and we lose stuff, isn’t it?
“We’re right now, today, either getting something or losing something. I can’t take shelter of the material world. Its like going to a real estate agent and saying, “I want to buy a house made of sand near the beach…you got anything?” It’s a bad investment. That is the material world…it is bound to crumble. That’s why we go inside. We want to find some peace separate than the roller coaster of up and down in the material world.”
He concluded by describing the Journey Home: “It’s an incredible book that I almost didn’t believe to be real…until I met his best friend [Gary] about 10 years ago and he told the exact same story, but from his point of view.”
Radhanath Swami opened his talk by mentioning that that very same Gary’s brother was in fact in attendance that evening. Next he had this to say about his journey: “If we really put ourselves on the line in foreign, even dangerous lands, then extraordinary and unbelievable things unfold in front of you. Life changing experiences, and that’s what it was like hitchhiking across the Middle East.”
He described his crossing into India, donning the robes of a sadhu, and some of his realizations while meditating on a rock in the Ganges.