No biography of this sort could possibly convey the deep love and gratitude that thousands of people carry in their hearts for Swami Veda Bharati.
Usharbudh Arya (who later became Swami Veda Bharati) was born in Dehradun, India, in 1933, and spent most of this life teaching and providing spiritual guidance around the world.
He was raised in the 5000-year-old tradition of Sanskrit-speaking scholar-philosophers of India, and from the age of five, guided by his father, he sat for an hour of meditation daily. By the age of six and a half, all four thousand sutras of Panini's Sanskrit grammar were memorized. By the age of nine, his study of Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads, the six systems of Indian philosophy, the Yoga-sutras of Patanjali, along with Pali (the language in which the Buddha taught) was completed and he began formally teaching.
He formally taught his first course in the Yoga-sutras at the age of nine and, over 50 years later after a lifetime of study and contemplation, authored a comprehensive commentary on the first two chapters of the Yoga-sutras with his Yoga-sutras of Patanjali with the Exposition of Vyasa, Volume I: Samadhi Pada (1986) and Vol. II: Sadhana Pada (2001).
At 14, he was given a crowded reception by the learned Pandits of Haridwar, and successfully debated with the Pandits of Varanasi. At 16, he was a member of an All-India Scholars Council. He started publishing his writings at age 16, and at 17, was the leader of an all-India youth organization.
In 1947, he began his travels to teach in many countries around the world.
From 1947-1952, he toured North India, lecturing in colleges and to crowds of up to 20,000 in many cities. It was his custom for the presiding official to open the Vedas to any page and point his finger to a passage. Swami Veda would then expound on that passage for hours.
From 1952-1953, he toured Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania at the invitation of the Indian communities, and wrote a history of the Indian migration to East Africa.
From 1953-1956, he stayed in England and developed the Hindu Association of Europe and, under the auspices of the London Vegetarian Society and the World Congress of Faiths, lectured widely on India philosophy and culture.
From 1956-1962, he was in Guyana, Surinam and Trinidad, establishing ashrams, bringing education to remote villages, and training cultural leaders in Vedic wisdom. In 1961 he and Lalita Arya were married and were subsequently blessed with three daughters, Sushumna, Stomya, Saumya, and one son, Angiris.
From 1962-1965, he returned to England, where he lectured extensively and helped develop the Hindu Center.
From 1965-1967, despite having no formal schooling, Swami Veda attained the high academic degrees: B.A. Honors (London), M.A. (London) and Dr. Litt. (Holland).
From 1967-1973, after coming to the USA and settling down in Minneapolis with his family, he taught Sanskrit and Indian Religions at the University of Minnesota, where he received the Distinguished Teacher Award in 1972. In that same time period, he made lecture tours to Fiji, Mauritius, East Africa and South India.
On Divali, 1969, in Minneapolis, he met his spiritual master, Swami Rama of the Himalayas, who initiated him into Surya-vijnana-diksha, one of the highest paths of meditative yoga – seldom given outside the Himalayan caves and rarely given to householders.
Swamiji chose to pursue the mission the Guru had given him: “Reducing the pain on earth through the power of meditation.”
In 1970, he founded The Meditation Center in Minneapolis, where over 5000 people have received mantras in the Himalayan Yoga Meditation Tradition.
At some time, he began traveling twice around the globe each year to teach in numerous countries. In all parts of the world, spiritual seekers who came to him were not satisfied with only attending his lectures on yoga and meditation; they would invite him to come back the following year, and in the meantime they would form meditation and study groups under his guidance. Over the years, he established many centers and taught sadhakas in many countries, including the United States and Canada, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, South Korea, India, Mauritius, South Africa, Burkina Faso, Benin, Russia, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Costa Rica, Trinidad & Tobago, Ecuador, Guyana, and Curacao.
In 1981, he was appointed as the head of the Sadhana Mandir, his guru’s seat in Rishikesh at the banks of the Ganges, and before leaving his body in 1996, Swami Rama asked Swami Veda to be the Spiritual Guide of his 200-acre medical city, the Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust (HIHT), in Jolly Grant near Dehradun, India. HIHT provides medical care for thousands of the poor people of Uttarakhand.
In 1983, he and his wife, Lalita Arya, established KHEL (Kindness, Health and Education, Laughter). KHEL’s mission is to provide children with equal opportunity education regardless of ethnicity, caste, religion, gender or sexual orientation, and to support those with leprosy.
With all of the above undertakings, he also maintained a life of giving charitable assistance to the needy in various ways.
On December 4th, 1992, he took the Sanyasa Vows of a renunciate monk and was given the name Swami Veda Bharati, and in1999, he was consecrated to the position of Maha-mandaleshvara in the Niranjani Akhara.
“He is a citizen of all earth, everyone's closest relative to whom anyone may confide anything. He is the kind shower when someone is suffering a drought of love,” Swami Veda Bharati wrote when describing a true sanyasi, and these words describe what he became.
In 1999, he was an invited speaker at the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions in Cape Town, South Africa.
In August of 2000, Swami Veda participated at the Millennium World Peace Summit at the World Council of Religious Leaders at the United Nations where the "Declaration for World Peace” was created. The ideas that he presented in that conference, gave rise to his recent book, What is Right with the World: The Human Urge for Peace (2010).
In January of 2001, Swami Veda and the Dalai Lama collaborated to bring the Hindu and Buddhist communities together at the Kumbha Mela, the largest gathering of people ever seen on the planet in which over 70 million people gathered at the Ganges in Allahabad.
Swami Veda participated in numerous interfaith dialogues, activities, and conferences throughout his public speaking and teaching career and has found the experience of meditation to be the common ground among all religions. Prepared on the occasion of the 2000 World Peace Summit of Leaders in Religion and Spirituality at the United Nations, his short work, "Unifying Streams in Religions," provides a fresh perspective for bringing the different faiths closer together.
In 2001, Swami Veda was the keynote speaker at the International Conference on Yoga and African Tradition in Burkina Faso. From that conference came the book Wanam: Africa & India: A Spiritual Dialogue (2009).
In 2002, he founded Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama (SRSG) in Rishikesh, India.
In 2003 Swami Veda proposed a resolution, “Religion for Preventing Terrorism”, to be adopted by the World Council of Religious Leaders as a recommendation to the Secretary General of the United Nations.
In 2004, he was a delegate to the World Council of Religious Leaders in Israel-Palestine, where he submitted a proposal for UNESCO titled "Education and Parenting for World Peace.” In the same year he was invited to the conference in Barcelona, Spain.
In 2005, Swami Veda oversaw the ecological conference “Diving into Harmony” in Beijing, and toured the ancient Silk Road in China, where he was welcomed as a holy man and scholar by the curators of museums in Zhengzhou, Xian and Dunhuang, because of his capability to decipher and accurately interpret the ancient Buddhist texts, paintings and sculptures which they had in their care.
The entire month of February 2007 was devoted by his students and disciples worldwide to celebrate his 60 years of teaching and lecturing throughout the world. Delegates from all continents gathered at Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama, Rishikesh, to felicitate him in a series of conferences and cultural-philosophical events. At this time the Association of Himalayan Yoga Meditation Societies International (AHYMSIN) was also formed with headquarters at Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama (SRSG) and with centers around the globe.
Following in the footsteps of Swami Rama, Swami Veda maintained a keen interest in the scientific, medical and therapeutic studies of yoga, meditation and the neurophysiology of meditative states. He demonstrated his capability to change his brain wave patterns in various meditation states, as well as to influence external matter. For example, through his concentration, he made a machine that was programmed to produce random number, produce coherent numbers. Such experiments have taken place in laboratories at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (founded by the astronaut Edgar Mitchell) in California and at Bremen University in Germany. In one experiment at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, using concentration, he deflected photon beams in an interferometer (placed in a soundproof Faraday Chamber with a one foot thick steel wall between the machine and the experimenters), statistically the chance of this occurring was a million to one. See the publication Yogi in the Lab. Swami Veda also directed a laboratory at Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama (SRSG) in Rishikesh, India, to study beneficial changes in brain wave patterns during various states of yoga meditation practices.
A poet, a scholar, and a prolific writer with more than 13 books and 30 booklets to his credit, he was also an inspired international speaker who has been interviewed by such broadcasting systems as CNN and the BBC. He also produced approximately 4000 hours of audio recordings on all aspects of spiritual life and philosophy.
His deep personal experience within the tradition of the Himalayan Tradition made him an expert in the practice of meditation. Swami Veda was a recognized master of the Vedas and the Upanishads and cultivated an authoritative knowledge of the religious writings and meditative practices of the world. He knew seventeen languages with different degrees of fluency. His ability to learn languages quickly was demonstrated in Italy, for example, when he learned Italian in one night by using yoga-nidra practice. These things helped enable him to instruct, and to confer mantras to people of different philosophical and religious faiths: Buddhist, Christian, Hebrew, Hindu, Muslims, Sikhs etc. from within their own scriptural and meditative traditions.
He served as Chancellor of HIHT University (now Swami Rama Himalayan University) in Dehradun, India.
On March 10th, 2013, after a lifetime of service to humanity and dedication to the perennial wisdom of the ancient sages, there was a special gathering at Swami Rama’s Sadhaka Grama, and Swami Veda took the vow of silence for five years or more years. On the previous day, Swamiji had given a practice for “your next five years and for the rest of your life” and gifted people with the book Sadhana in Applied Spirituality.
He continued to nurture students through his silence.
Swami Veda Bharati took Mahasamadhi at Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama (SRSG) in Rishikesh, India, on 14th July 2015. By the end of the day, the news had spread to reach initiates and disciples, students and devotees around the world.
“On this auspicious day of 14th July 2015, our beloved Swami Veda Bharati passed from his body... Please keep his intention in your mind – ‘Let every person feel loved,’" Swami Ritavan Bharati, who was named Ashrama Pramukha by Swami Veda, wrote.
Swami Veda continues to inspire and guide sadhakas around the globe.
Every year a Mahasamadhi Anniversary Retreat is held at Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama (SRSG) in honor of him.
Some writings by Swami Veda Bharati can be read online at: https://ahymsin.org/main/swami-veda-bharati/
This is a partial list of the books by Swami Veda (some were published with his pre-sanyasa name Usharbudh Arya) and does not include the booklets, the e-books, and the many audios.
108 Blossoms from Guru Granth Garden
Education and Parenting for Peace
Death, Your Servant: Mahabharata´s Bhishma, Examples from a World Classic
The Human Urge for Peace: What Is Right with the World
Introducing Mahabharata Bhishma
Kundalini: Stirred or Stilled?
Learn to Meditate: First Steps Toward Peace
The Light of Ten Thousand Suns
Mantras: The Sacred Chants
Mantra & Meditation
Meditation: The Art and Science
Meditation and the Art of Dying
The Perfumes from the Valley of Flowers
Philosophy of Hatha Yoga
Sadhana in Applied Spirituality
Sayings: Saying Nothing Says it All
The Song of Silence: Subtleties in Sadhana
Song of the Lord: Gītā in Yoga-vāsiṣṭha : with the Commentary Tātparya-prakāśa of Ananda-bodhendra Saraswati
Subtler Than the Subtle: Upanishad of the White Horse
Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Vol I
Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Vol II
Yogi in the Lab
Wanam: Africa and India, A Spiritual Dialogue
What Is Right with the World