About this site

By Mahamandaleshwar Swami Shankarananda

Bhagavan Nityananda


Bhagavan Nityananda, the sage of Ganeshpuri, was a yogi of the highest attainment and initiated thousands by the direct transmission of spiritual energy. He is my spiritual grandfather and this website is offered as a garland at his feet.

Great beings

In 1970, I met the American yogi, Ram Dass, at a dinner party. He regaled me with stories of the great beings he had met and learned from in India. It was a revelation to me that enlightened masters could exist even in the modern age. I felt convinced that if I could find one and accept him or her as my teacher I would be able to overcome the spiritual malaise that I suffered as a day-to-day reality. Later that year I set off in search of such a one.

Every tradition has its great beings. Christianity has Jesus and the saints; Islam, Mohammed and the Sufi masters; Judaism, Moses and the Hassidic and Kabbalistic masters; Buddhism, the Buddha and the great monks and lamas. But it was India, with its extensive culture of gurus and disciples, that called me. By the unseen blessings of the Siddhas, I came to the feet of Baba Muktananda of Ganeshpuri. He was the greatest soul I had ever met. I did my sadhana under his tutelage for 12 extraordinary years. Once during a conversation with me he pointed to a picture of his guru, Bhagavan Nityananda, and said, 'Always remember, the Shakti, the energy of our lineage, comes from him'. The impact these words had on me at the time has deepened over the years.

Kundalini: the spiritual power of Bhagavan Nityananda

In Bhagavan Nityananda we see the perfect image of detachment and inner absorption. He manifests divine love and universal embrace. He is the picture of fearlessness and luminous wisdom. Simply to contemplate his physical image is to be put in touch with the experience of God.

The specialty of Bhagavan’s yoga is shaktipat, the awakening of the kundalini energy that lies dormant in every person. The gurus of this lineage awaken the kundalini energy by look, touch, word or thought. Once this energy is awakened by one of the Siddha gurus and the grace of Bhagavan Nityananda, a seeker evolves rapidly, ultimately attaining permanent repose in the Self.

Bhagavan died physically in 1961, but for his devotees and the Ganeshpuri villagers, his spiritual power is completely present and available even now. Indeed, his samadhi shrine, his place of burial, is a perpetual dynamo, a cauldron of Shakti. In 2007 and 2009 I took large groups of devotees on retreat to Ganeshpuri. Sitting there, I could feel the dynamic power of Bhagavan Nityananda uncoiling itself, overcoming obstacles and blocks and readying itself for another expansive movement. New insight dawned. This website is an expression of that new vision.

This website and the lineage, an integral point of view

Several of the branches of our tradition hold widely differing views, views that sometimes clash with each other. In this website, we’ve endeavored to take an integral perspective, one that can include everyone, with their disparate viewpoints, while recognising the common source from which their teachings and their Shakti flow.

Two steps need to be taken to arrive at this integral vision. The first step is to place Bhagavan Nityananda at the centre, realising that everything flows from him. The second step is to include everyone in his extended spiritual family. It is precisely these two steps that this website undertakes. Thus, we offer a list of all the spiritual teachers who have descended from Bhagavan Nityananda.

Listing everyone, we give a truer picture of Bhagavan Nityananda’s influence and greatness which, in fact, cannot be measured by any external standard. We include teachers from a wide range of backgrounds: Indian and Western, formal initiates and non-initiates. Undoubtedly, our real interest is in what the Tibetan master, Thinley Norbu Rinpoche, calls 'essence lineage'. Essence lineage is 'church invisible', the inner essence of a tradition, which we call the Shakti.

Of course, different observers will assess the essence lineage differently. This website leaves such distinctions for the reader to work out and confines itself to listing every teacher. In worldly life we often hear of clubs or associations praised for their exclusivity. A yogic tradition is different. Here, our goal is not to be critical, but to be generous. In Baba Muktananda’s words, this website welcomes all with love and respect. It is an inclusive club, not an exclusive one.

The legacy of Bhagavan Nityananda

Jesus said, 'By their fruits you will know them'. To discover the real heritage of Bhagavan Nityananda we have searched for his yogic fruits: spiritual teachers, yogis, ashrams and centres that have been directly or indirectly inspired by him. With great ease, we have created a list of over 100 teachers. It is reported that the Buddha had 500 realised disciples. It would not be surprising if a being as powerful as Bhagavan Nityananda had many illumined heirs.

We have arranged the teachers according to a number of categories. Some are gurus, some are swamis, some are transformational teachers and corporate teachers. Here and there we categorise them one way or another, but these categories are not meant to be taken dogmatically. The categories are not a measurement of the attainment of the various individuals, but simply a useful way to look at the wide variety of fruits that have fallen from this tree. In this tradition the highest attainment is available to all, whether he or she is a swami or a householder.

This lineage produced enlightened beings in earlier generations, and it continues to produce them today. Though each person’s realisation is uniquely their own, the realisers of the Nityananda tradition have a quality that is characteristic of the great Shakti-based lineages. Their enlightenment is based on the recognition of the Self within, and on the freedom that arises from being centred beyond the mind. But it is also centred in love, seeing the Divine in others. Its core is the transmission of Shakti, and while it may make a devotional affirmation of the world, it is ultimately non-dual. The realisers of the Nityananda tradition blend love, wisdom and Shakti in a matchless dynamic.

To my dear guru-brothers and sisters: let there be love between us all

My dear friends, our lineage makes a great and unique contribution. It brings the Divine within reach of everyone. The gurus of our lineage have awakened the kundalini shakti of thousands of seekers. They have offered us a direct path to God, and also given us the experience of the Self.

It can’t be denied that there have been political difficulties, misunderstandings and differences in our tradition over the years. Unfortunately, this is also true in many other spiritual lineages. Just as karmic tendencies have to be overcome in sadhana, so too the karmic elements that have affected our lineage as a whole need to be transcended. It is within our power to end partisanship if we want to. These karmic difficulties don’t change the fact that in truth we are one family. This website is offered in that spirit.

Let Bhagavan Nityananda inspire us to remember the Self, do our spiritual practice and honour the great beings of all traditions.

Let us take refuge at his lotus feet. His great heart includes everyone and gives a spiritual home to all.

Let us remember Bhagavan Nityananda, the great yogi of Ganeshpuri, and also his accomplished offspring. In this divine presence spirit triumphs.

A note to our visitors

A lot of research has gone into this website. Nonetheless, there are probably gaps that someone might be able to fill.

We have tried to give an objective and balanced account of each yogi. Some we know better than others, and in some cases information has been hard to obtain. Informed readers should contact us via this website about any omissions or additions.

The Nityananda website team

Quote from the Chidakash Gita