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 is the founder of the Science of Identity Foundation and worldwide Chaitanya Missions. He has been teaching the science of yoga to people around the world for over 45 years. Many serious individuals inspired by Jagad Guru have now taken on the role of teachers to assist him in spreading yoga wisdom.
As a long-time proponent of nonsectarianism, 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.
Vaishnavas 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 simply 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 Chris Butler. His spiritual quest began in his teens and he became a master of astanga and kundalini yoga by the time when he was only 20 years old. Later, Jagad Guru came into contact with His Divine Grace A.C. Bhakivedanta Swami. Although Jagad Guru had already realized the impersonal (Brahman) feature of the Original Cause, the teachings of Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami drew him beyond Brahman realization to the personal aspect of the Original Cause.
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 was the strongest proponent of bhakti yoga, and He wanted to distribute 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 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 Siddhaswarupananda 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 now find a 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 in different ways according to time, place, and circumstance.
Jagad Guru has written several important 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, 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 Original Cause and is manifest in the world through shastra (yoga spiritual literature), sadhus (previous saintly gurus), and guru (the yoga spiritual master).
According to Veda and 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 Vedic or yoga system.
The Science of Identity Foundation was established by Jagad Guru in 1977 to offer to the public 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 also make these teachings and practices available to others. To this end, many of them have also started yoga organizations and schools in different countries.