- Jyoti, Swami Amar
- (1928–2001)Indian guru and ashram founderSwami Amar Jyoti was a humanitarian activist, who founded Jyoti Ashram, Sacred Mountain Ashram, the Desert Ashram, and the Truth Con-sciousness movement. Born in northwest India on May 6, 1928, in a small town close to the banks of the Indus River, Swami Amar Jyoti was named Rama by his parents. As a child he was interested in science, math, writing, cycling, drama, and sports. The partition of India in 1947 interrupted his college education, causing him to transfer to a university in Bombay (Mumbai). Just a few months prior to his graduation he left school in order to obtain the remainder of his education from the world itself. At 19, without money or a destination, he took a train to Cal-cutta (Kolkata).Political tensions and mass violence had bro-ken out in India at the time, and refugees were flooding into West Bengal by the thousands. During this time Rama worked for an aviation company in Calcutta; when offered a partnership in the company, he decided to leave and instead volunteer his services to help the refugees. Dur-ing this time he lived on a railway platform some-where close to the border of India and East Bengal (now Bangladesh). He soon became the leader of the entire volunteer effort, working more than 20 hours per day. A year later, as the inflow of refugees began to subside, Rama moved back to Calcutta. Here he turned down a government position in order to work for the rehabilitation of refugees.Rama chose to live alone on the fringes of Calcutta in an ASHRAM, where he learned classi-cal music, sitar, religious studies, and prayer. In the contemplative atmosphere he began to have visions. His MEDITATION, YOGA, and PUJA practices increased, and soon he knew where his life’s work was leading him. He lived in silence for close to a decade, focused on the goal of God realization. In those years he made many pilgrimages through-out India, but his “awakening” is attributed to the time he spent in a temple village near the source of the GANGES River.In 1958, Rama was initiated into Vidyut San-nyas (lightninglike monasticism) in BADRINATH in the HIMALAYAS and given the name Swami Amar Jyoti (eternal light). Now he was ready to com-municate to the world. He founded his first center, Jyoti Ashram, in Pune, in the state of Maharash-tra close to his mother’s home. In 1961 he was invited to the United States by a devotee; on this trip he gained a degree of popularity. In 1974, he set up the Sacred Mountain Ashram near Boulder, Colorado. A few years later he established the Desert Ashram in Tucson, Arizona, under Truth Consciousness, a nonprofit organization created to disseminate Swami Amar Jyoti’s teachings. He continued to travel and teach until his death on June 13, 2001.Jyoti Ashram is a pilgrimage site. It contains a memorial temple housing the remains of the swami.Further reading: Swami Amar Jyoti, Immortal Light: The Blissful Life and Wisdom of Swami Amar Jyoti (Boulder, Colo.: Truth Consciousness, 2004);———, Spirit of Himalaya: The Story of a Truth Seeker (Boulder, Colo.: Truth Consciousness, 2001).
Encyclopedia of Hinduism. A. Jones and James D. Ryan. 2007.