Chidvilasananda, Swami
(Gurumayi)
(1955– )
   Shaivite teacher and head of Siddha Yoga Dham
   Swami Chidvilasananda is a prominent interna-tional teacher, writer, and SIDDHA YOGA master. She was chosen by Swami MUKTANANDA to be succes-sor to his lineage.
   Chidvilasananda was born on June 24, 1955, in a village in Karnataka state, India. Follow-ing the Indian custom, the family GURU, Swami Muktananda, gave her her name—Malti. She met the swami for the first time at age five when she visited his ASHRAM with her parents. That same year Muktananda had a senior disciple take the young child several times to the nearby village of Ganeshpuri for the blessing of his own guru, Bhagawan NITYANANDA, who at that point had only a few months left to live.
   From then on Malti was educated under the guidance of her guru. She lived with her family in Bombay (Mumbai) and spent weekends and school holidays in Muktananda’s ashram, chant-ing scriptural texts, following the disciplines of yoga, and attending to her guru. Even at a young age, Malti possessed a longing to know God, which fueled an intense focus on spiritual prac-tice. When she was 13, Swami Muktananda gave Malti SHAKTIPAT DIKSHA, the spiritual initiation that awakens KUNDALINI energy.
   Beginning in 1969, Malti traveled extensively with Swami Muktananda in India and the West. In 1975, in Oakland, California, Muktananda asked her to become his translator. She was 19 at the time. Her role was to provide English translation during Muktananda’s public lectures, which were sometimes delivered to audiences that numbered in the thousands, and at his private meetings with students, dignitaries, and public officials from East and West. Through her translation, Malti learned to communicate the essence of Swami Muktananda’s teachings. She was also called on by her guru to perform a variety of other duties, including performing administrative duties with the newly formed Siddha Yoga Dham Association (SYDA) Foundation, a global nonprofit orga-nization; teaching courses; giving her own lec-tures on KASHMIRI SHAIVISM, VEDANTA, and other philosophies fundamental to Siddha Yoga prac-tice; assisting with the translation of his books; and handling his correspondence with devotees around the globe.
   In April 1982, when Malti took vows of san-nyas, Muktananda gave her the name Swami Chidvilasananda, “the bliss of the play of con-sciousness.” Then he initiated and installed her Gurumayi Chidvilasananda (b. 1955), a Shaivite teacher and the head of Siddha Yoga Dham (SYDA Foundation) as a Siddha Yoga guru, the direct descendant in his lineage. In the months that followed, in a final act of tutelage, he sent Swami Chidvilasananda to teach, on her own, in India and America. Her personal skill as a teacher and her capacity to fulfill the spiritual demands of the guru’s lineage were thus consolidated and guaranteed. In Octo-ber 1982, Swami Muktananda died (in traditional Hindu terms, the guru “took mahasamadhi”). Since then, as head of this lineage of medi-tation masters, Gurumayi Chidvilasananda has taught Siddha Yoga meditation to students on six continents. Gurumayi’s books, filled with her teachings and poetry, have been translated into 12 languages. She has taken a special interest in making the Siddha Yoga path available to children and young people. Gurumayi’s teachings are dis-seminated by the SYDA Foundation.
   The philanthropic aspect of Gurumayi’s work is expressed through the PRASAD Project. Estab-lished by Gurumayi in 1992, this charitable organi-zation offers aid in seven countries, administering medical, dental, and nutrition assistance as well as community development projects. In 1997, Gurumayi founded the Muktabodha Indological Institute, an educational foundation that preserves endangered elements of India’s scriptural heritage and the oral tradition of the VEDAS.
   As a teacher, Gurumayi directs her students to assume responsibility for making the effort needed to succeed in their spiritual path. She emphasizes the importance of spiritual practice and the neces-sity of integrating the fruits of practice into the fabric of one’s worldly life. She imparts the Siddha Yoga teachings in a way that makes them acces-sible and directly applicable to the challenges and opportunities of modern life. Gurumayi teaches Siddha Yoga students to live in the awareness of the Self so that they can transform their world as well as themselves. And she continues to awaken spiritual energy in her students, through the vehicle of the Siddha Yoga Shaktipat Intensive, a course of study that teaches students a practice and discipline and that introduces them to the transmission of energy from Gurumayi to each of them, the profound spiritual awakening of kundalini SHAKTI (spiritual energy).
   Further reading: Douglas Renfrew Brooks et al., Medi-tation Revolution: A History and Theology of the Siddha Yoga Lineage (South Fallsburg, N.Y.: Agama Press, 1997); Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, Courage and Con-tentment (South Fallsburg, N.Y.: SYDA Foundation, 1999); ———, Kindle My Heart: Wisdom and Inspiration from a Living Master GuruMayi Chidvilasananda, 2 vols. (New York: Prentice Hall, 1989–1991); Swami Shanta-nanda, The Splendor of Recognition: An Exploration of the Pratyabhijna-Hrdayam, a Text on the Ancient Science of the Soul (South Fallsburg, N.Y.: SYDA Foundation, n.d.).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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