Muktananda, Swami
(1908–1982)
   Shaivite guru
   Swami Muktananda was an influential teacher who formulated the Siddha Yoga philosophy and helped spread it around the world.
   Muktananda (his birth name was Krishna) was born on May 16, 1908, into a prosperous farming family. His father was the headman of a village near Mangalore in Karnataka state. His mother, deeply pious, had prayed for the birth of a son, and from his earliest years she provided him with a strong religious foundation. While still in his teens he had several encounters with the wandering spiritual adept, Bhagawan NITYANANDA, who would later become his GURU. At the age of 15 Krishna decided to dedicate his life to attaining a direct experience of God and adopted one of the traditional Indian paths to that experience, that of a wandering SADHU, mendicant.
   In the early 1920s, shortly after his travels began, Krishna went to Hubli in northern Kar-nataka, to the ASHRAM of Siddharudha Swami, a renowned VIRASHAIVA yogi. In Siddharudha’s ashram, he studied VEDANTA, took vows of san-nyas (renunciation), and received the name Muk-tananda (the bliss of freedom). In 1930, a year after Siddharudha’s passing, Swami Muktananda began an extended period of wandering.
   Muktananda once said that he walked across India three times. He traveled mostly on foot, carrying only a water bowl and staff as he moved from one teacher to the next. During this time he studied all of the major texts of the Hindu scrip-tural canon; he became adept at HATHA YOGA and AYURVEDIC medicine, and he met scores of holy beings. He became a renowned teacher in his own right, and still he kept searching.
   In his spiritual autobiography, Play of Con-sciousness, Muktananda calls August 15, 1947, Swami Muktananda (1908–1982), Shaivite teacher, scholar, and founder of Siddha Yoga Dham (© SYDA Foundation) “the most auspicious of all auspicious days”, it was the day that Bhagawan Nityananda, by then living in Ganeshpuri, gave him shaktipata DIKSHA, spiritual initiation. This was followed by nine years of intense meditation under Nityananda’s direction, until the guru declared that Muk-tananda was “one with BRAHMAN.” In 1956 Bhaga-wan Nityananda installed Muktananda in a tiny ashram just down the road from his own. That spot, where Swami Muktananda’s tomb and shrine now stand, remains the heart of what has become an international center for spiritual learning and the Siddha Yoga “mother” ashram, Gurudev Sid-dha Peeth.
   Shortly before Nityananda’s death in 1961, he made Swami Muktananda his spiritual successor. After his guru’s passing, Muktananda began for-malizing Nityananda’s teachings, which he called the Siddha Yoga path. Siddha Yoga is the way of an enlightened, or SIDDHA, master; the practice is to follow the master’s guidance and teachings with the aid of the master’s enlivening grace. For all siddha yogis, the path begins as it did for Muktananda, with shaktipata diksha, spiritual ini-tiation. The goal is permanent dwelling in a real-ization of the divinity that exists within and as everything. Muktananda’s emblematic teaching, one that he repeated again and again through-out the two decades of his teaching mission, is “Meditate on your own Self. Worship your Self. Respect your Self. God lives within you as you.” By the capitalized s of Self, he emphasized that he was referring not to one’s individual ego but to an expanded identification of the Self with supreme consciousness.
   Baba Muktananda, as he became known, trav-eled throughout India and completed three world tours, initiating and guiding students of Siddha Yoga meditation. He created the Siddha Yoga Shaktipat Intensive as the ideal environment for spiritual awakening. He founded ashrams around the world, established the SYDA Foundation to manage the Siddha Yoga mission, and created the canon of Siddha Yoga philosophy through his own writings and his synthesis of the teachings of VEDANTA, KASHMIRI SHAIVISM, and the writings of the BHAKTI poet-saints.
   In 1982, Muktananda named his disciple Swami CHIDVILASANANDA to carry the Siddha Yoga lineage forward. The ceremony that announced and enacted this transmission was held publicly in Gurudev Siddha Peeth in May 1982. On Octo-ber 2, 1982, on the full Moon night of Sharad-purnima, Baba Muktananda left his body (took mahasamadhi).
   “Baba Muktananda’s shakti [energy] is sat [being],” Guru Chidvilasananda has said. “It was experienced strongly in the past; it is powerfully with us now; and it will continue to be so in the future. His shakti awakens an ever-new life in all those it touches.” Through his teachings, his ash-rams, and the exemplary story of his own spiri-tual life related in Play of Consciousness, people continue to receive transmission of energy and spiritual awakening, which are the basis of his spiritual mission.
   One of the first American disciples to receive shaktipat from Muktananda was Albert Rudolph (1928–73), who became Swami RUDRANANDA, a teacher of Shaivism in the United States. Later, Franklin Jones became a disciple of Muktananda and returned to the United States to become a spiritual teacher called Bubba Free John (now ADI DA SAMRAJ).
   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); Swami Muktananda, from the Finite to the Infinite, 2d ed. (South Fallsburg, N.Y.: SYDA Foundation, 1994); ———, Play of Consciousness: A Spiritual Autobiography (South Fallsburg, N.Y.: SYDA Foundation, 2000); [Prat-ibha Trivedi] Amma, Swami Muktananda Paramahansa (Ganeshpuri: Shree Gurudev Ashram, 1971).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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