- Rudrananda, Swami
- (1928–1973)American teacher of Shaivism and Siddha YogaSwami Rudrananda, a Brooklyn-born disciple of the Shaivite GURU NITYANANDA, was a popular spiritual teacher in the United States.Born Albert Rudolph in Brooklyn, New York, Swami Rudrananda grew up in the Depression era without a father. He relates that as a child he dem-onstrated psychic gifts and could go into trance and tell fortunes. At the age of six he saw two Tibetan lamas materialize and prophesy that the spiritual gifts they were implanting in him would be realized at age 31. As a young adult, he owned and operated an Oriental art shop in New York City.In 1958 at age 30, Albert traveled to India to find a spiritual teacher. There he met his guru, Swami NITYANANDA, at Ganeshpuri, near Bombay (Mumbai). The meeting with Nityananda was to change the course of his life. Nityananda was a mahasiddha, always in a state of bliss and trance, who did not write or found any organization. His teachings were his direct transmission of spiritual force, and his utterances given in a profoundly immersed state were recorded by his pupils. Nityananda transmitted the creative life force or SHAKTI directly to disciples. Through this trans-mission or shaktipat, the power of kundalini was aroused in the disciple, who could experience an identity with the divine.Albert had many extraordinary experiences with Nityananda, who even after his death appeared to Rudi and transmitted Shakti to him. However, it was Swami MUKTANANDA, one of the primary dis-ciples of Nityananda, who initiated him into SAN-NYAS in 1966 and gave him the name Rudrananda (affectionately shortened to Rudi). Rudi was Muk-tananda’s first Western disciple, and it was Rudi who took Muktananda to the United States. In 1971 Rudi broke with Muktananda, who wanted him to turn over his ASHRAMS and students.Rudi’s practice, as was that of Nityananda and Muktananda, was in essence Shaivite, although he did not focus on the philosophical aspects. Instead he was concerned to extract the content from the container. His entire teaching was centered on providing spiritual nourishment to his students, to insist that they develop a real practice so that they could create their own internal spiritual mechanism and connection to higher spiritual forces. Rudi was known for assuming his student’s KARMA or spiritual tension, a negative energy that prohibits spiritual growth. This appropriation of others’ karma he called spiritual cannibalism (the title of his autobiography). Rudi was said to have removed cancer from one disciple by taking on that person’s karma.In 1973 Rudi died in the crash of a small plane, en route to a lecture.Rudi taught from his own center in New York City and opened his first ashram in the United States in Big Indian, New York. Eventually nine Rudrananda, Swami 369 JRudrananda Ashrams were established in seven states. He directly initiated several persons to become teachers in his practice, including Swami Khecaranatha, Swami CHETANANANDA, and Stuart Perrin.Further reading: Rudi, Spiritual Cannibalism (Wood-stock, N.Y.: The Overlook Press, 1978); J. Mann, ed., Behind the Cosmic Curtain: The Further Writings of Swami Rudrananda (Arlington, Mass.: Neolog, 1984); J. Mann, Rudi: 14 Years with My Teacher (Cambridge, Mass.: Rudra Press, 1987).
Encyclopedia of Hinduism. A. Jones and James D. Ryan. 2007.