By Devi Ma
Mahamandaleshwar Swami Shankarananda Saraswati (Swamiji or Guruji) is an American-born Guru in the lineage of Bhagavan Nityananda of Ganeshpuri. Bhagavan Nityananda practiced and taught Raja Yoga, his great disciple, Baba Muktananda (Swamiji’s Guru), taught Siddha Yoga, and Swamiji teaches Shiva Yoga. These great Gurus carry the energy of one of the most powerful mystical traditions of India. They are noted for their ability to awaken and guide the kundalini energy of seekers by means of Shaktipat, the transmission of God’s grace.
Originally from New York, Swamiji is the son of artist Herbert (“Herb”) Kruckman (1904–1998) and school teacher Selma (1908–1998). A gifted student, he was a Pulitzer scholar at Columbia University, New York, where he played on Columbia’s US Champion intercollegiate chess team, earning the title of US Chess Master. After graduation he taught Shakespeare and English Literature at Indiana University.
Before his spiritual awakening, Swamiji had many natural gifts: a sense of humour that cut through tension like butter, a playful disposition, a genuine love of people, a heart as generous as the ocean, and great intelligence. However, it was, and still is, his devotion to his Guru, that truly enlivens him.
In the late 60s a dramatic series of events inspired him to look for the purpose and meaning of life. He met the spiritual teacher, Baba Ram Dass, (formerly Richard Alpert) who impacted his life so dramatically that he quit his promising academic career and set off to India in search of a realised Guru. In India Swamiji met his Guru, Baba Muktananda, and did sadhana under him for over 12 years. Baba went on to empower Swamiji to run Ashrams, hold Intensives and give Shaktipat.
Swamiji has been guiding students for over 40 years with warmth, humour and depth. He is regarded as an authority on meditation, Self-inquiry and Kashmir Shaivism (a philosophy of Consciousness). A prolific writer, he is the best-selling author of Happy For No Good Reason, a beginner’s guide to meditation, and one of the first introductory books on Kashmir Shaivism, Consciousness Is Everything, as well as numerous other books.
Swamiji also has contributed to the unfolding of yoga in the West through a dynamic form of Self-inquiry called the Shiva Process. It is a practical and easy methodology that improves communication, relationships and creativity. It also teaches a way to uplift any situation we may find ourselves in.
In 1996 Swamiji founded, along with Ma Devi Saraswati (who’s blog you can read here), The Ashram in Mount Eliza, near Melbourne, where he is now based. He has frequently toured interstate and internationally, and has trained many teachers to participate in his work.
In an official ceremony held in India in 2010, Swamiji received the prestigious Hindu title of Mahamandaleshwar. Meaning ‘great teacher’, this is a rare honour, particularly for Westerners and was in recognition of his contributions to the spiritual community.
This blog will serve as a resource for reading about Swamiji, his teachings and the Philosophy of Consciousness, and will include blog posts written by his devotees as well as Swamiji himself.