Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa is a disciple of His Divine Grace Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in the disciplic succession (parampara) known as the Brahma Madhva Gaudiya Sampradaya. Jagad Guru established the Science of Identity Foundation and is the inspiration behind numerous local and worldwide organizations founded by his disciples and students, including Chaitanya Mission. He has been teaching the science of yoga meditation for more than 45 years.
As a long-time proponent of non-sectarianism, Jagad Guru has worked in union with other Vaishnava acharyas (teachers), including Puri Maharaj, Paramadvaiti Maharaj, B.B Tirtha Maharaj, and others to establish the World Vaishnava Association, an umbrella organization composed of more than 30 different Vaishnava missions around the world.
Vaishnava Hindus recognize that despite the various ways and methods that different acharyas teach, the apex of perfect yoga, and the ultimate goal of the human form of life, is the achievement of pure bhakti, or spiritual love. Yoga can be compared to a ladder. The lowest rung is yoga asanas and the highest rung—the culmination and definition of yoga—is perfect spiritual love.
Jagad Guru Meets His Guru
Jagad Guru appeared in this world in 1948 as Kris Butler, and lived in Hawaii from the time he was two years old. His spiritual quest began in his teens and he became a master of astanga and kundalini yoga by the time he was only 20 years old. Later, Jagad Guru came into contact with His Divine Grace Srila A.C. Bhakivedanta Swami. Although Jagad Guru had already realized the impersonal Brahman feature of the Supreme Soul, or Nirvakalpa Samadhi, the teachings of Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami drew him beyond Brahman realization to the personal aspect of the Supreme Soul.
In 1970, Siddhaswarupananda offered himself and all his possessions at the feet of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, begging to be accepted as a disciple. He offered all his properties, wealth, and the position he had as an honored teacher with hundreds of followers to become a humble servant of his spiritual master. Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami accepted him as a disciple and gave him the name Siddhaswarupananda, which means “one’s spiritual form which is full of bliss.”
Teaching on Behalf of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the inaugurator of the kirtan movement and a proponent of bhakti yoga, wanted to distribute bhakti or spiritual love to everyone. Five hundred years ago He gave the instruction, “By My command, be guru [spiritual teacher] and save the people from their suffering.” Thus, Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami passed on this instruction to all of his disciples, and Jagad Guru took this instruction as his life and soul. Jagad Guru traveled penniless to the Hawaiian island of Kauai, where by God’s grace he opened a yoga ashram in the countryside with no running water or electricity. He became a siksha (instructing) guru (teacher) of many, not only in Hawaii, but around the world. As a humble disciple, he always sent his disciples to Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami to be initiated. After the disappearance of his Gurudev from this world in 1977, Jagad Guru took the role of diksha (initiating) guru and began to initiate disciples. Today he has a worldwide following of tens of thousands of individuals who attempt to apply the teachings of yoga in their daily lives.
Because Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa presents ancient yoga and Vedic wisdom in a down to earth, scientific, and philosophical manner, rather than dogmatically and fanatically, countless people who were previously skeptics have found genuine spirituality that has real application in their modern lives. While uncompromising in his presentation of bona fide yoga teachings, Jagad Guru is also a master of innovation and thus deals with different people according to time, place, and circumstance.
Jagad Guru has written several acclaimed books, such as Who Are You? Discovering Your Real Identity and Reincarnation Explained. In addition, he has authored many booklets covering a wide variety of personal and social issues. His television series, Jagad Guru Speaks, has aired internationally for many years.
Organization Founded by Jagad Guru
Perhaps one of the most difficult concepts for the Western mind to comprehend in relation to traditional yoga and Vedic thought is the question of spiritual authority. In the bona fide yoga tradition of Vaishnavism, as with all theology, spiritual authority lies with the Supreme Soul and is manifest in the world through shastra (yoga spiritual literature), sadhus (previous saintly gurus), and guru (the yoga spiritual master).
According to yoga, the perfection of life and of yoga is the achievement of pure bhakti (spiritual love). Yoga is not something one can join or quit, but is rather the eternal truth (sanatana dharma) of our identity. Yoga is an individual (rather than a team) pursuit or endeavor. While the association of like-minded seekers is encouraged, the concept of being “saved” by joining an institution or church is foreign (and alien) to the yoga system.
The Science of Identity Foundation was established by Jagad Guru in 1977 to offer ancient yoga wisdom and techniques that individuals can apply in their own lives to optimize their physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. Many disciples and students of Jagad Guru around the world are doing their best to make these teachings and practices available to others. Many of them have started yoga organizations and schools in different countries.