072. Radhanath Swami

In 1970, at the age of only nineteen, Radhanath Swami left his home in America seeking adventure and spiritual knowledge. After trekking across Europe for months, he reached his long hoped for destination: India. After living there for many years as a sadhu or wandering monk, he returned to America in order to share the sacred knowledge and wisdom he had learned from the many holy men and women he had met there. It was an extraordinary choice, given what he had survived to get there: a journey filled with bizarre characters, mystical experiences, and dangerous adventures. The story is recounted in his recently published memoir The Journey Home (San Rafael, CA: Mandala Publishing, 2009). Reviewers have called Radhanath’s saga “at once an engaging yarn, a love story, and the evocation of a transcendent paradise in all its savagery, solitude, and splendor.”

Radhanath Swami emerged from his years of travel wanting to explain for others the beauty and rewards of a life devoted to God, and therein lay a dilemma. His many followers and friends describe him as completely selfless and consequently unwilling to take credit for his work, and restless when a spotlight is focused on him. By choosing as his guru A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (1896-1977), the spiritual leader who compassionately spread the wisdom and culture of bhakti all over the world, Radhanath Swami cast his fate to the wind, cut his matted locks, and entered back into society.

More than a symbolic gesture, these were first steps toward an active, engaged form of devotion. This contemporary strain of the Bhakti or devotional yoga tradition maintains that people who become aware of their spiritual identity share an imperative to reduce suffering in the world—a truth slowly revealed to him in the years prior to his formal initiation by other famous spiritual teachers he had met including the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Ananda Mayi Ma, Swami Satcidananda, and many more who make their appearances in The Journey Home.

In spite of his constant global travels over many years, Radhanath Swami established his spiritual headquarters at Radha Gopinath Ashram in Chowpatty, Mumbai. For the past twenty years he has guided the community development and has initiated a number of acclaimed social action programs including Midday Meal, which feeds more than 260,000 plates of nutritious vegetarian food to indigent children daily; missionary hospitals and eye camps; eco-friendly farms, schools and ashrams; and a number of emergency relief programs throughout India.

“He sees life as a continuous blessing of God’s grace,” one follower says, “and yet he never loses his humanness. His accessibility leaves people feeling that, with a little sincere effort, they too will find the path to inner peace and God realization.


Interview recorded 6/6/2011

Video and audio below. Audio also available as a Podcast.

51 thoughts on “072. Radhanath Swami

  1. To Heat Seeker:

    You said:

    > First off, I don’t agree that non-dual Reality is
    > some void which cannot be realised.

    I’m not saying it can’t be realized. I’m saying that the non-dual Absolute is undifferentiated and the duality or the Relative IS differentiated.

    > It does not mean there is no physical body.

    When your physical body is gone in “Knowing”, what kind of body do you think you will have? Are you saying that having a body can be non-dual? If so, how about everyone else who “has a body” that is non-dual? More than One isn’t non-dual.

    Please explain. Thanks.

  2. HS… as has been repeatedly addressed by Rick and several interviewees… the popular non-duality of the day… as the non-changing aspect of Reality is not THE non-duality of Total Life… it is only one aspect … and although it looks like non-duality … it still is duality … proof … you still are rude & disrespectful to others… which you consider other than your non-dual-self…

    and so you come here… start preaching your POV… with rudeness & disrespect to others POVs… and this you claim as your vision which will supersede the traditions that have been the life of eternal universal truths… for eons…

    the arrogance of western ego-mind… which has brought mankind to the brink of extinction… and now wants to highjack advaitic truths of Vedanta… and proclaim superiority…

    and many half-baked-non-duality teachers are still living in a dream … ignoring the other aspect of total life … the ever changing relativity of forms… whose life sustenance is guaranteed only … via love compassion & embracing all as part of One Life… including all animals & all of mother nature… and living in harmony… with respect sensitivity & worship…

    it may already be too late to avert the course of humanity’s extinction… but perhaps … a few vedic yogis in Himalayan caves will survive… and will be the Adam & Eve of a new age… when Mother Earth recovers…

    i disagree with your vision HS… even as i namaste to the Love present deep within the silence of your heart… which may or may not yet blossom in this lifetime… i challenge you HS… to name one western teacher who has evolved beyond Paramahansa Yogananda…
    “Only spiritual consciousness — realization of God’s presence in oneself and in every other living being — can save the world. I see no chance for peace without it. Begin with yourself. ” ~ Paramahansa Yogananda

    PS ~ one extreme is the never-changing aspect… the other is ever changing… and somehow mysteriously miraculously both are ONE LIFE… which some call God or LOVE… only awakening to this LOVE can save humanity now… and interviewees like Radhanath, Matt Kahn, Mooji, Burt Harding, Jan, Joi Sharp, Timothy Conway, Igor, and others … have addressed these points… to one degree or another… which can be cognized only by opened hearts…

  3. Truly a beautiful interview, very rich….Many thanks Rick and Radhanath Swami…..

  4. anatol,

    I’m happy that I have found another lover of Paramahansa Yogananda!

    Swami Radhanath is a beautiful soul, don’t you think!?

    With Love,


  5. To Anatol:

    Thank you for your informative comments.

    You wrote:

    > HS… as has been repeatedly addressed by Rick > and several interviewees… the popular
    > non-duality of the day… as the non-changing > aspect of Reality is not THE non-duality of Total
    > Life… it is only one aspect … and although it
    > looks like non-duality … it still is duality … proof
    > … you still are rude & disrespectful to others…
    > which you consider other than your
    > non-dual-self…

    Here are two quotes from a great saint which illustrate your point:

    “When Bhagwan (God) becomes manifest in the aspect of sakara (having form), at the same moment He is certainly in the shapeless aspect too. By the sakara (having form), the nirakara (formless) is successfully perceived – if not then who and what nirakara is, cannot be known.

    “In a similar way Paramatma ( another word for God) also becomes saguna (endowed with qualities) from being nirguna (without qualities).

    “This speech, that saguna does not come from nirguna, is altogether unacceptable. The way of the group of those who believe in non-duality (nirguna) alone spreads more wickedness, because these people do not accept the manifest form of Bhagwan and suppose that the nirakara cannot see or hear. So they do their mind’s desires; they have no concern for what is wicked and what is sacred.”
    ~~ Shri Shankaracharya Brahmananda Saraswati UpadeshAmrita kaNa 88 of 108

    “Appreciate all the world as ones own family be influenced by the pleasing ‘atmavatsarvabhuteshu’ (Treat everyone as if they were yourself).

    “This whole world is really the gross body of Paramatma (God); understand that you remain free from envy, malice etc and everyone can be a fortunate soul and work for the complete spiritual knowledge.”
    ~ Shri Shankaracahrya Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, ‘Amrita-Kana’ (100 Droplets of Nectar)

    You also wrote:

    “it may already be too late to avert the course of
    > humanity’s extinction… but perhaps … a few
    > vedic yogis in Himalayan caves will survive… and > will be the Adam & Eve of a new age… when
    > Mother Earth recovers…”

    I have every confidence that we are rapidly headed toward a very rare an unprecedented golden era that involves the *direct* participation of the grand Divinely guided hierarchy.

    At this point in time it’s important to be able to discern with one’s heart the pack of lies and fearmongering that characterizes the media and to look very carefully at other reliable sources of information. Look carefully on the Internet for the truth of what’s really beginning to take place with Mother Earth and all of her inhabitants. Your innate intuition will guide you. You are not alone. You have a massive crowd of collective consciousness, *not only in this physical world* who are very much aware of your concerns and who are seeing to it that we are moving into a glorious transformation.

    Best to you Anatol,

  6. John i appreciate all your comments… please check out my FB… https://www.facebook.com/amarnath.zin.anatol … with all the positive aspects of spirituality and i even offer some very simple solutions to turn everything around… plant gardens in every yard, solar panels on every roof top, huge GREEN residential community centers… no eating animals… etc…

    so… i am not predicting gloom and doom… but realistically… while it’s ok to have the most positive outlook… it will be God’s Grace that will determine the outcome.. based on humanity’s actions… and as Tolle said… should extinction happen… Life continues… and i say… every soul will go according to just deserts… there seem to be innumerable other planets in the cosmos… and many spiritual teachers tell us … “earth is not our real home” …

    and YES swami Radhanath is a very beautiful soul… who i believe lives the whole of life… my thanks to others for their positive comments… Rick & the interviewees deserve no less for their labor of love… freely given…

  7. To Anatol:

    Oh! What a beautiful and inspiring Facebook page you have! That lovely Amma video led me to the another video of her called “In God’s Name.” It is so moving, it brought me to tears.

    Thank you for sharing your Facebook page.

    Wishing you well, Anatol

  8. Anatol:
    If observation and prediction upset you, then so be it.
    I speak of broad strokes here.
    Overarching patterns.
    It is my sense of things to come, though I now for fact I’m not alone in this notion.
    You mention Yogananda; if there is a more advanced soul.
    Some say he was not self-realized.
    I have no comment one way or the other.
    But I can ask you, how do you know for sure?
    How can u really know anything about his state?
    As far as the West, it is clear that you have considerable disdain.
    But one can have as much for the poverty,death,castes,wild superstitions,illiteracy,rampant corruption and bribery,etc etc
    The new age/spiritual love affair with India, is largely misplaced and of a time long ago.
    Of course there is plenty that is authentic there.
    But as I said, I see the next phase taking root in the West, and then spreading.
    Not because I am pro-west.
    In fact, I share many concerns that you hold.
    I simply feel it to be so.
    I also didn’t want to say that everything that comes before this evolutionary spiritual shift, is wrong or misguided or ineffectual or the like.
    I just feel that all of it will naturally fall away once this shift takes solid hold on earth.

  9. I just watched this again. Was deeply moved . Radanath is such a fine example of years of sincere and deep sadhana. A gentle soul with humor. While the idea that sadhana is needed to wake us is speculation, I believe sadhana refines the manner of the man. What a beauty.
    Also I believe the Bakti thing can be a most powerful call to advaita. Since nobody can possibly do anything for enlightenment by any physical means, purely by the nature of the beast, Love and devotion to the truth, in a most sincere burning, however, stikes me as an open prayer or an expression of love to my very self from same self. (you know; sober up boy!). It then falls to grace which I think is all there is.

  10. Something seems amiss here. Don’t know what, but missing the mark regarding transparency. I’m adding this comment for confirmation for others who perceive the same thing. Projection is possible, but sometimes things are simply as they seem.

  11. Dear Rick,
    Thank you for many great interviews, many of which I’ve enjoyed. But after researching Swami Radhanath, I’m really curious why he was so important to interview on BATGAP. There is a very well documented criminal guru system in ISKCON which he is associated with, and a landslide of corroborated evidence by ISKCON members that he was involved on some level with a murder which took place at New Vrindavan and which he technically should be in jail for. And that at very least, he covered up sexual activity, some of which involved pedophilia. And there are many other serious issues that are impossible to ignore if one looks into it, which is very easy to do on Google. If you felt he still had some redeeming value as an interview, then why not question him about his past with ISKON in the interview? Truth, after all is the whole point of spirituality. And anyone who was authentic would embrace an opportunity to say the truth. There seems to be issues about his truthfulness in his book as I’m in no way involved in ISKCON and I do not know Richard. But I would really like to know why you wanted to interview him and if you had researched him beforehand? I ask because it’s too easy on this path to sugar coat everything and project spiritual power on to people who actually are very lost individuals. best….

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