Dr. Mohan Swami, a disciple of Swami Rama, is the President of both the Association of Himalayan Yoga Meditation Societies International (AHYMSIN) and Dhyana Mandiram Trust (DMT). He was appointed to these positions by Swami Veda Bharati.
Questions for this interview came from Carolyn Hodges. Answers are from Dr. Mohan Swami. Note: When Dr. Mohan Swami uses the term “Gurudeva” or “Gurudev” he is referring to Swami Rama. This interview appeared in the September 2015 edition of the AHYMSIN Newsletter.
Dr. Mohan Swami: Thank you for the opportunity to answer the questions for the newsletter. I shall endeavour to do my best.
Question: Would you share with the Ahymsin family a little bit about yourself and also how you came to this tradition?
I have been a seeker from a very early age. Initially I used to read books on the various religions. It led on to reading books on spiritualism and biographies of so many saints, sages and philosophers. Not being satisfied with the answers to my thousands of questions, I became very frustrated and read even more books.
Only in 1990, I was blessed with a copy of Living with the Himalayan Masters. I read the book for the second time the same night and packed my bags to go to Rishikesh to meet the Master. I arrived at Sadhana Mandir at about 2am ,was initiated by Gurudev Swami Rama a few hours later and began the journey abound with joy and love in this Tradition. It has been the journey of my life.
Question: Do you have any Swami Rama or Swami Veda stories you could tell us?
I have hundreds of stories, and there seems to be no end to them. I was introduced to Swami Veda Bharati a few weeks after I was taken in by Gurudev. We have remained very close Gurubhais ever since. Swamiji was such a loving soul. His smile and cheerfulness was the bait that one gets caught in the net so easily. I still remember when Gurudev and Swamiji interacted. It was such a sight to see the Guru and disciple in satsang.
Question: You are a well-respected medical doctor, a successful businessman, the Chancellor of Swami Rama Himalayan University, a philanthropist and humanitarian, the President of Ahymsin and now President of the Dhyana Mandiram Trust as well, just to list some of your accomplishments. Could you tell us a little bit about these elements within your life?
I remember Gurudev chiding me the very first moment he saw me: “Ahh! You ran away from your practice to come here?”
I was surprised that this Guru knew about me. ‘Yes, I have come to renounce.’
“That you shall not for now “, he said. “I have other things for you to do.”
He agreed that I give up medical practice to go into business “for we need to build the hospital and the colleges”. Man decides, but God and Guru dispose. I gave up my practice, ventured into business, and it’s about 20 years now. Gurudev appointed me as a member of the Presidential Board of HIHT along with three others who manage the Trust; Swamiji appointed me to AHYMSIN and DMT. There is so much to be done. It is all about teamwork and the support of all the disciples. Of course, the infinite Grace of God and Guru is paramount.
I met Swamiji a few months before His Mahasamadhi and knew instantly that he was not the same. There was a certain seriousness about the meeting. After the meeting, I walked out very unsure about so many things
Question: You are President of both AHYMSIN since 2007 and now DMT? Could you help us understand what each of these organizations are? What are your roles and responsibilities in each position? How do the two organizations relate to each other?
You can say that I am a reluctant President. I tried convincing Swamiji when he first broached on the subject of leading Ahymsin. I pleaded that time was not in my favour as I had the businesses to manage which preoccupied my schedules. He gave me the reasons for this appointment. The same with DMT when he spoke of this several years ago, but it was as though his command was final.
I was extremely lucky that he appointed Brother Dave Hume to be Founding Vice President of Ahymsin from 2007. He carried the burden of the Presidentship for the full term. And now With Brother Shi Hong, Ahymsin is being managed even without my full presence. Of course, I feel guilty constantly, but Swamiji had plans.
Swamiji had views that Ahymsin will be the link between all the organisations that he helped create globally. Ahymsin was to spread the message and the teachings of the Himalayan Masters according to Swami Rama. Swamiji forged this link through all his disciples worldwide. His excitement of this creation knew no bounds. It took immense effort and he toiled for this to be a success. He did this out of love for his Gurudev. The great scholar in him was put aside to become a master organiser. He planned meticulously till the day Ahymsin was launched.
DMT was formed inevitably to be the Trust of SRSG and his other efforts including Ahymsin. Swami Ritavan Bharati being appointed as his spiritual successor was another important milestone for the continuity of both Ahymsin and SRSG. His appointment to DMT last month was a natural course and becomes pivotal to the foundations of all our organisations.
When Swamiji first discussed Ahymsin, he mentioned one very important statement. “Our Gurudev has placed you with a responsibility in HIHT as a Presidential Board Member. I need you to ensure that Ahymsin and HIHT work cohesively and as one. In years to come, the disciples must all know that there is only one Guru. That is Swami Rama. I need not be remembered. My work is for the Guru. That is important.”
There was some anxiety from both sides, i.e. HIHT and Ahymsin, that why is a Guru Brother being made the President and not Swamiji’s disciple?
Swamiji, in fact, was hopeful that someday, sooner than later, all of Gurudev’s missions in India, USA and all other countries work as one unit. He relentlessly pursued this goal till the end.
His final will and testament reflects truly why this done – Swami Veda Bharati lived for and served his Master Swami Rama , a true disciple to the core.
Question: What are the crucial tasks that need to be addressed now and in this first year after Swami Veda left his body?
Gurudev had a vision. Swamiji had a vision. All of us need to fulfil this whether we were Guru brother or Guru sister or their disciples. For me Swamiji embodied the same message that Gurudev carried to the world. There was no difference. They said it differently yet it was the same meaning. Swamiji added the extra scholarly sanskritised version. Gurudev described it in more simple terms.
I have been working tirelessly for the Lineage since I met Gurudev for the very first time. I believe they had been guiding me again ever since I was born this life time. That is how the Tradition works.
There is much to be done by all of us. But we must know only two points.
Firstly, we need to understand why we came into this Tradition. Why we were accepted into this Tradition. What is our role in this world vis-à-vis the Bharati Tradition.
Secondly, how we are going to help fulfil Swamiji’s vision for Ahymsin.
On the part of the leadership of these organisations, we ought to guide the members and reassure them that though Swamiji has cast his mortal remains, his philosophy is larger than life. The teachings tell us that we should not cling to the physical body of the Master for they are with us all the time.
We have to continue the work entrusted to us by Swamiji. There is no other way. Each one of us needs to ensure that the mission continues uninterrupted. Swamiji had a special interest in the TTP. I believe Swami Ritavan Bharati has similar ideals and love.
The leadership must provide to the disciples what Swamiji gave them with love.
When the Sangha convenes next year, this will be biggest test for the leadership to prove that Swamiji’s mission will continue with the same flow as our very breath.
Question: Would you share your vision for what Ahymsin and SRSG will look like in 10 years? Long term?
This is going to be a very bold answer to a bold question.
My vision is similar to what I saw through the eyes of Swamiji. He wished to see a bigger broader Ahymsin worldwide that carried Gurudev’s and His message.
The books that they published carry so much information. The texts that they translated will be used by many scholars the world over. Swamiji’s wishes to continue some of these works must be done by the leadership.
I am perfectly sure that He would be there in 10 years and more to see that his work is being carried forward with more vigour and zeal. His happiness must become our happiness.
He permeated love and through this love the work that he established will continue for centuries. Long after you and me are gone.
SRSG must become a centre of learning and sadhana for those come to imbibe the teachings of the Tradition. It must bloom to spread the fragrance that Gurudev and Swamiji sowed.
Question: How do we ensure the practices and teachings of meditation in the Himalayan Yoga Tradition as taught by Swami Rama will be available for future generations?
This is why Swamiji initiated the TTP. Through these cohorts of teachers the teachings should be kept alive. SRSG should become the centre to teach and send out thousands of these teachers worldwide who are well versed and well prepared to spread the Teachings. Along with Sadhana Mandir, both these centres should become premier centres of basic as well as advanced teaching programmes. Our tradition is quite unique in more than many ways. The leadership of both centres should plan to conduct courses and seva in cooperation for the betterment of society.
We cannot work in isolation. To become great centres we need to work with the current needs of the existing generation and the future generations.
Question: Could you tell us a little bit about the book you have written and when it will be available? Its title?
I commenced writing the yet untitled book in 2001. It is my experiences with Gurudev. Before I met him physically and beyond. For some good reason I stopped work as I was not ready to publish. I have recommenced work and am currently updating the facts to current.
It ought to be completed and ready for publication and release by November 13th, 2016 only with Gurudev’s Grace.
Question: Is there anything else you would like to share with the Ahymsin international family?
I have written too much. I am normally shy and quiet. And love silence!
My parting statement is that Gurudev and Swamiji are there with you always. You are blessed to be part of the Tradition that was the life of Swami Veda Bharati, Gurudev Swami Rama and before them Our Ancient Lineage and Now…