The Science of Identity Foundation

  • What is SIF’s purpose?

    The Science of Identity Foundation is an educational organization set up for the purpose of spreading the ancient yoga teachings as taught through the Brahma Madhva Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition and lineage.

    Part of the system of yoga is the practice of karma yoga whereby a person finds fulfillment through service to others. The teaching and work of the Science of Identity Foundation is the humble attempt of Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa, along with his disciples, students, and friends, to offer service to others by disseminating yoga wisdom to as many people as possible.

    The Science of Identity Foundation assists individuals who want to know the truth of their identity (their true essence and their relationship to the physical body, the mind, etc.) to realize the actual purpose of their life and where actual happiness is found.

  • Who founded SIF?

    The Science of Identity Foundation was established in 1977 by Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa.

    Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa is a disciple of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in the disciplic succession (parampara) known as Brahma Madhva Gaudiya Sampradaya. Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda is the founder of the Science of Identity Foundation and 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 for over 45 years.

  • What does SIF teach?

    SIF teaches many practices and branches of yoga including yoga exercise, breathing, relaxation, yoga philosophy, yoga lifestyle, karma yoga, bhakti yoga, and more. SIF makes these ancient teachings available to modern audiences through television, internet, books and audio and video recordings, as well as in our centers and community settings.

    The path of self-discovery is an individual one. It is not a team effort. As such, every one of us will have our own unique level of understanding or realization of truth as we individually progress along this path. The goal of the Science of Identity Foundation is to support individuals on their personal path rather than providing a sense of belonging to a group or organization. You don’t need to join or convert to anything. Anyone—regardless of occupation, race, gender, age, religion, and so on—can add the yoga processes and techniques to their life and thus gradually increase their spiritual understanding, happiness, inner peace, and realization of life’s purpose.

  • What programs does SIF offer?

    The Science of Identity Foundation teaches many practices and branches of yoga including yoga exercise, breathing, relaxation, yoga philosophy, yoga lifestyle, karma yoga, and bhakti yoga, with a focus on meditation, kirtan, and yoga wisdom. By adding these practices and principles to your life you can attain greater physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing.

    Applying these processes can help you gain insights, understand your true identity and purpose for existence, and awaken and cultivate the inherent wisdom and spiritual love lying dormant within your heart.

    The practice of kirtan is the chanting of Transcendental Sound, often accompanied by musical instruments, singing, and dancing. Kirtan is effective at relieving stress, worries, and anxiety, while simultaneously awakening and cultivating the innate wisdom, happiness, and spiritual love lying dormant within you.

    In addition to kirtan, SIF teaches other forms of meditation including japa meditation, the quiet personal chanting of Transcendental Sound on beads; deep peace meditation; a form of breath meditation accompanied by Transcendental Sound; and other meditation practices to help you on the path of self-realization.

    Our yoga wisdom lectures, classes, and courses offer a practical, yet profound truths that provide answers to the essential questions on the path of self-realization. By applying yoga wisdom to your life, you will identify the ultimate cause of unhappiness, stress, anger, or fear you may experience and learn how to find actual relief.

    We welcome inquiries regarding our classes, workshops, kirtans, retreats, and other programs.

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  • Where do SIF’s teachings originate from?

    This yoga wisdom is being passed down through an unbroken line of self-realized yoga spiritual masters known as the Brahma Madhva Gaudiya Sampradaya whose teachings are known as Vaisnava Hinduism, or more specifically, Gaudiya Vaisnavism. The primary yoga scriptures of this disciplic succession are the Bhagavad-gita, Srimad Bhagavatam, and Shri Chaitanya Charitamrita.

    Lord Chaitanya appeared in this line of teachers some 500 years ago and inaugurated the kirtan movement (the singing and chanting of transcendental sound) as the supreme method of meditation and recommended process for self-realization in the modern age. Lord Chaitanya widely shared a yoga process that anyone can apply to their life, allowing them to awaken and cultivate their innate wisdom and spiritual love.

    In recent times, prominent teachers coming in the line of Lord Chaitanya include: Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur (1838–1914), Srila Gaurakishora Dasa Babaji (1838–1915), Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur (1874–1937), and Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad (1896–1977), who introduced this yoga wisdom to the Western world. Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa (1948- ), a disciple of Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad, established the Science of Identity Foundation in an effort to pass on this yoga wisdom.

    Through this unbroken chain of self-realized yoga spiritual masters the treasure of yoga wisdom is being offered to everyone regardless of race, nationality, ethnicity, gender, age, or religion.

  • How are the teachings of SIF connected to Vaishnava Hinduism?

    The goal of Vaishnava Hinduism is to achieve self-realization and to live life based on that self-realization. It is not something that one joins, but rather it is a path with particular practices that one follows.

    Vaishnava Hinduism should not be equated to a “religion” like Christianity, Islam, etc that one can join, convert to, or quit. The very essence of Vaishnava Hinduism is the principle of self-realization; and self-realization means understanding that ultimately one is not the physical body, the mind, nor any designation that one may apply to oneself.

    In the yoga system, the seeker of the truth inquires from a person who is actually self-realized or enlightened in order to be taught and guided by that teacher. To be considered a bona fide teacher, one must be in a recognized disciplic succession (called parampara meaning “one after another”). In this way, the spiritual teachings and practices are handed down from spiritual master to his disciples, and then those disciples in turn pass it down to their disciples, and so on. It has been this way for thousands of years. Often, each disciple who achieves self-realization will start his own mission to carry on the teachings and traditions he received from his guru. Consequently, from one founding guru or acharya in a particular disciplic line who taught hundreds of years ago, we may see today thousands of individual missions and ashrams representing his teachings.

    The lineages do not represent the continuation of a large institution which grows and expands through time as we see in most world religions, but rather, is a continuation of teachings through individual self-realized teachers.

    Therefore, there are often countless branches within a particular tradition or school of thought. These branches are not breakaways or “splinter groups,” rather they are all part of the same tree.

    Thus, the Hindu Vaishnava system is, by its very nature, very decentralized and diverse.

Science of Identity/Yoga

  • What is the science of identity?

    Question: What is the science of identity?

    Jagad Guru: The science of identity is the science of yoga, the science of self-realization or self-discovery. By following the practices and principles taught by the Science of Identity Foundation, you can achieve the pinnacle or goal of yoga and attain inner peace and deep happiness and purpose in life.

  • What is the goal of yoga?

    Question: What is the goal of yoga?

    Jagad Guru: Many believe yoga is simply a form of physical exercise, but actually, yoga is a world view, a lens through which we see everything, and a complete lifestyle. The goal of all yoga practices is to lead one to a correct understanding of one's identity and purpose for existence—and apply that understanding in one’s life. Unlike religion, in which an individual may believe or not believe in something (regardless of its truth or untruth), the process of yoga is one that allows a person to experience direct perception of the absolute truth. In other words, it is a science, and as a science it is a quest to understand or know the truth as it is—regardless of whether the yoga practitioner wants to believe that truth or not. True understanding of the nature of things and their actual relationships is known as self-realization. Acting on the basis of that self-realization is known as wisdom. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras state:

    “Incorrect knowledge formed about something, which is not based on its true nature, is called false understanding (misconception).”

    Various yoga processes, including asanas, pranayama, meditation, etc., are meant to remove such misconceptions. According to Patanjali:

    “The sources of correct understanding are direct perception, inference, and the words (written or spoken) of self-realized authorities.”

  • How does the science of yoga or yoga wisdom apply to my life?

    Question: How does the science of yoga or yoga wisdom apply to my life?

    Jagad Guru: Yoga’s ancient wisdom provides practical answers to personal and social issues such as racism, sectarianism, hatred and conflict, how to have a peaceful, progressive society, fear of death, the causes of crime, etc. With an understanding of the yoga view of the self, the yoga practitioner understands that no matter how much sensual pleasure people have, no matter how much they consume, they always want more. This endless personal craving manifests as ever increasing material consumption and subsequent frustration. On the other hand, for a person who cultivates wisdom or true knowledge, the results are inner peace, satisfaction, patience, respect for others, freedom from duplicity, compassion, joyfulness, remembrance of one’s spiritual identity, freedom from the fear of death, freedom from anxiety and depression, amongst others.

  • Is yoga a religion?

    Question: Is yoga a religion?

    Jagad Guru: Yoga is not a religion, rather yoga is a process of self-discovery, a process of uncovering or clearing away what’s keeping us from understanding our true identity and value. It’s a process that one follows to clear the cobwebs of the mind, intelligence, and heart so that he can see and understand himself, others, and the world clearly, as they are.

    The truth of our identity is intrinsic and inseparable from us. Realizing one’s true identity is therefore not a matter of artificially changing one’s dress or memorizing a new dogma which is common in religions. The path of yoga is a personal journey that you yourself must follow to uncover your true identity through direct experience and perception. In that sense, yoga is a science, not a religion. It’s not something you join or quit; it’s not something you just believe. It’s a process. Those who are self-realized are those who have themselves gone through this process of uncovering the true nature of things.

    Yoga is a process; it includes tools, values and virtues, which one must apply in one’s personal life to achieve optimum physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. One cannot “join” a process—one can only apply it.

    Through the process of yoga meditation and cultivation of wisdom, one comes to understand that essential aspect of oneself which never changes. This is self-realization. Helping individuals realize their true, unchanging identity is the goal of the Science of Identity Foundation.

Guru & Disciple

  • What is the meaning of the word “guru”?

    The Sanskrit word “guru” means spiritual teacher; however it is also often used to refer to teachers of all kinds—whether it’s teachers of music, Ayurvedic medicine, cooking, etc.

    “Guru” as an adjective means “heavy or weighty” as in “one who is heavy with spiritual knowledge and wisdom.” Additionally, “guru” means servant; “guru” does not mean master.

    On the spiritual platform, the word “guru” refers to a state of heart and mind, rather than a particular position or post. As we are all spirit souls, eternal parts and parcels of God, the essence of the yoga teachings is that each of us should become guru - one who is self-realized and living a life of bhakti: loving service to God and all living beings.

    The great Vedic/yogic scripture Chaitanya Charitamrita states, “By My command, be guru and save the people from their suffering.”

    It’s very important to understand that actual gurus never see themselves as the dominator or master of anyone. They never teach that they have become God, or realized they are God, or try in any way to take the place of God in people’s lives. In fact the exact opposite is true: the guru knows only God can truly make a person happy and that God will guide a person and relate to them from within their heart, giving them the love and satisfaction that will truly fulfill them. So guru is one who is always teaching people to turn to God within themselves and take shelter of Him.

    A guru is someone who is so filled with bhakti or love for the Supreme or Original Cause—and therefore love or compassion for all living beings, who are part and parcel of the Original Cause—that they see themselves as the servant of everyone, dedicating their lives to helping every living being find true happiness.

    Because a guru has realized the truth that happiness comes from rendering selfless service, they may accept the service of students or disciples in order to teach them what he or she has learned from their own guru. This is their service. The important thing to understand is that a real guru finds happiness in serving, not in being served.

  • What is the nature of the relationship between a guru and their disciple?

    From ancient times until today, the art and science of yoga has been handed down from guru (teacher) to disciple (in Sanskrit shishya or chela). Disciples in turn hand down what they have learned to their disciples. Every guru is also simultaneously a disciple not only of his immediate guru, but also of all the preceding gurus in his line of teachers. In this way, the yoga/Hindu Vaishnava culture has been handed down from time immemorial.

    Acceptance of a guru or teacher is not undertaken lightly by the serious yoga aspirant. The serious seeker of yoga truth seeks out a guru or yoga teacher, understands and considers what the guru is teaching, checks the guru’s teachings against the yoga scriptures, and against what the previous yoga teachers have taught. The bona fide guru will themselves have been a disciple of a guru. Additionally, the serious aspirant looks to see whether the students and disciples of the guru are manifesting the fruits of yoga knowledge. In other words, the yoga aspirant should not blindly accept anyone as guru; rather they must seek confirmation that the guru is in fact bona fide.

    In the ancient yoga culture and tradition, the guru-disciple relationship is considered to be natural and necessary; similarly a person without a guru is considered to be like a boat without a rudder.