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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 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, Jagad Guru 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, which means “one’s spiritual form which is full of bliss.”
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.
Teaching on Behalf of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was the strongest proponent of bhakti yoga, and He wanted to distribute it 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 from this world of his Gurudev 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.
The literal translation of “Jagad Guru” is “universal teacher” or “teacher of the whole world,” as distinct from the teacher of a particular sect, religion, race, or nationality. “Guru” as a noun means “spiritual teacher.” Used as an adjective, it means “heavy” or “weighty,” as in “one who is heavy with spiritual knowledge and wisdom.” This title was given to him by perceptive students of the truth, who perceived him to be a very special teacher qualified to teach not just the followers of a particular group, but all mankind. Additionally, “guru” means servant; “guru” does not mean master. If someone is declared to be “Jagad Guru,” that means such a person is actually rendering service to all of humankind. Guru is not a position one can be promoted to, but rather is a consciousness of knowing one’s spiritual identity and fully acting on that truth.