About Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa (Chris Butler)

Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa (Chris Butler)

Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa is a highly respected yoga guru (teacher) coming in a long line of authentic spiritual masters in the ancient Vedic tradition known as Vaishnavism. He is the founder of the Science of Identity Foundation and has expertly taught students all over the world in the science of yoga. Many disciples and students of Siddhaswarupananda around the world are doing their best to make these teachings and practices available to people in their neighborhoods and communities. As stated by the founder’s organization, Siddhaswarupananda: “The goal is to give yoga to as many people as possible. In order to achieve this, the work must be decentralized. There cannot be just one teacher or guru—there must be many. It is the responsibility of each person who learns the science of yoga, which is the science of identity, to pass that on to others.“.

As a long-time proponent of nonsectarianism, Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda has worked in union with other Vaishnava acharyas (teachers/gurus), including Puri Maharaj, Paramadvaiti Maharaj, Tripurari Maharaj, Tirtha Maharaj, etc., 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 spiritual love (bhakti). 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’s Historical Spiritual Lineage

Siddhaswarupananda comes from the line of yoga spiritual masters known as the Brahma Madhva Gaudiya Sampradaya. This spiritual lineage includes the great sage Srila Vyasadeva, who compiled and wrote down the Vedas some 5000 years ago.

Another yoga luminary in this line was Madhvacharya (1238–1317 AD), who was famous for his opposition to and refutation of the advaitavada teachings of Shankaracharya (788-820 AD) as well as other impersonalist (Mayavadi) schools of thought.

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486–1534 AD) is acknowledged as the foremost proponent of bhakti yoga in more recent history, both within the Brahma Madhva Gaudiya Sampradaya and within the subcontinent of India.

Sri Chaitanya, while profoundly humble, displayed an unparalleled intellect and was accepted as the greatest scholar of His time, gathering about Him a number of extraordinary and highly scholarly disciples. Among them were Sri Ramananda Raya, who was the governor of Madras, and the brothers Rupa Goswami and Sanatan Goswami, who were ministers of the Bengal government under the Muslim regime of Nawab Hussain Shah.

Under the direction of Sri Chaitanya, His followers have given mankind the priceless gift of an enormous library of extraordinary yoga spiritual literature unmatched in the history of the world. It is only within recent decades that these works on Gaudiya Vaishnava yoga by the followers of Sri Chaitanya have risen in prominence and appreciation by scholars in many academic institutions in Europe and America, including Oxford and Harvard.

In more recent times, a number of prominent spiritual teachers appeared within the Brahma Madhva Gaudiya Sampradaya. Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur (1838–1914), renowned as a great yogi, devotee and Vedic scholar, was a high court judge and assistant to the governor of Orissa province under the British Raj. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati (1874–1937) was one of the great Vedic scholars of modern India, and his most famous disciple, Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad (1896–1977), propagated Vaishnavism widely in the Western world. Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda is the humble disciple of this greatest of scholars and devotee in modern times.

Siddhaswarupananda Meets His Guru

Siddhaswarupananda appeared in this world in 1948 as Chris Butler. His spiritual quest began in his teens, and he quickly realized the impersonal Brahman aspect of the Absolute Truth (nirvakalpa samadhi). He then dedicated himself to helping others achieve that same realization by founding the Haiku Meditation Center in Hawaii, U.S.A. By the time he was only 20 years old, he was widely recognized throughout the Hawaiian Islands and the West Coast of America as a self-realized yogi and master of the astanga and kundalini yoga systems.

Within a short time, Siddhaswarupananda came in contact with A.C. Bhakivedanta Swami. Although Jagad Guru was already enlightened and a knower of the impersonal or “white light” feature of the Original Cause (Brahman realization), the teachings of Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami drew him beyond the “white light” to the personal aspect of the Original Cause. Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami accepted him as a disciple and gave him the name Siddhaswarupananda.

In 1970, Siddhaswarupananda offered himself and all his possessions at the feet of his guru, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami. Exhibiting freedom from attachment, he voluntarily gave up his properties, wealth, and position as an honored teacher with hundreds of followers to become a humble servant of his spiritual master—doing everything from washing floors and washing the dishes of his fellow monks to sleeping on a cement floor.

Soon after his initiation, he was urged by his guru to pass on to others what he had learned and understood. Taking his guru’s instruction as his life and soul, Siddhaswarupananda 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. Gradually, after a number of years, many yoga practitioners all around the world became Siddhaswarupananda’s students (as a humble disciple, he did not initiate these students, but rather always sent students to Bhaktivedanta to be initiated). After the disappearance from this world of his Gurudev in 1977, Siddhaswarupananda 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.

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was the strongest proponent of bhakti yoga. Five hundred years ago, the great Chaitanya Mahaprabhu gave the following instruction: “By My command, be guru [spiritual teacher] and save the people from their suffering.“

Because the word “guru” means teacher, it is often used to refer to teachers of all kinds—be they teachers of music, ayurvedic medicine, cooking, etc. The title “Jagad Guru” is normally used to refer to yoga masters who have disciples all around the world from different places, nationalities, faiths, etc. However, in the deepest sense, “Jagad Guru” means a yoga master whose teachings are relevant to and can be applied in the personal lives of every person—regardless of their ethnicity, nationality, or sect.

“Guru“ means servant; “guru“ does not mean master. “Jagad Guru“ refers to a person who sees himself as a servant of all mankind, not a particular race, religion, or nation.

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.

Science of Identity Foundation

The Science of Identity Foundation (SIF) was established by Siddhaswarupananda 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. SIF conducts yoga classes, seminars, and other activities to make these practices and teachings available. Many disciples and students of Siddhaswarupananda around the world are doing their best to make these teachings and practices available to people in their neighborhoods and communities. To this end, many of them teach yoga in their own communities in hospitals, old age homes, fitness clubs, spas, and community centers—some of them have even started their own yoga organizations and schools in different countries.

SIF engages in teaching the following process of yoga as means by which individuals can come to achieve optimum physical, mental, and spiritual well-being:

  • Hatha yoga (asanas), pranayam, bandhas, mudras
  • Yoga meditation
  • Yoga philosophy and view of the self
  • Yoga lifestyle
  • Karma yoga
  • Jnana yoga
  • Bhakti yoga

SIF seeks to provide services to those individuals who are serious about learning yoga practices and philosophy with the intention of applying it in their personal lives. 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. Therefore, with all due respect, individuals who are seeking to find security or happiness through “joining“ a group or team, may find that attending Science of Identity Foundation programs is not for them.

Copyright 2009 Science of Identity Foundation.