Swami Rudrananda: His Practice and Teachings



Swami Rudrananda’s practice was Kundalini MahaYoga and the transmission of shaktipat. Rudi called his practice “the work.” He developed a powerful set of meditation and practice techniques, including a unique “open-eyes class” for giving shaktipat. Although he did not study scripture, Rudi’s practice and teachings were a perfect expression of the most sacred of the Tantric Shaivite practices of ancient times.

Kundalini MahaYoga, which some have dated back to 2000 BC, has always been an inner practice carefully passed from teacher to student through oral and energetic transmission. While the focus on inner practice remained, the philosophical aspects as a written tradition emerged in the 7-8th century. 

These inspired writings and commentaries arose from the personal inner experience of committed practitioners, based on their ardent study of the early Tantric practices. The significant philosophical expositions that arose from the practice of Kundalini are Tantric Shaivism and Tantric Buddhism. Both are non-dualistic schools of thought. These practices and traditions blossomed from the hearts of early Tantric masters called Mahasiddhas. The term comes from “maha,” which means great and “siddha” which means perfection of inner awareness and energy. These Mahasiddhas were the preceptors for the earliest spiritual practices. All of them were adepts in the practice of Kundalini.

Rudi and his primary teacher, Bhagavan Nityananda, were modern day Mahasiddhas, and the wellspring of this particular expression of the ancient practice of Kundalini MahaYoga. Throughout history there has been an intrinsic current of spiritual wisdom and energy that has manifested in different ways in many different times and places. Such a current is conceived as preserving an unbroken connection with the divine source of living spiritual energy. The preceptors of that divine energy in the Tantric tradition are the Mahasiddhas. A profound expression of that spiritual energy in this current time and place emerged through Nityananda and Rudrananda.

Rudi was complex and, at the same time, lived in profound simplicity within himself. He was extraordinarily powerful, yet gentle and full of grace and love. He was a person who was unconditionally focused on the dissolution of himself, so that God could emerge. 

There are three essential elements that best describe the whole of Rudi's spiritual practice and teaching:

  • cultivating of a deep inner wish
  • developing of a capacity to work inside to establish
    a flow of energy through the psychic system
  • living in a state of surrender

None of these elements function without the other. They fit into one dynamic. Rudi taught us that they must be brought into our practice and into our lives every day. The discipline that he required of himself and his students was the foundation of his experience and teachings. He made it very clear to us that liberation in this lifetime was our right and was available to anyone who wanted it. He made it clear to us that cultivating the wish transformed our experience and consciousness if we worked with depth over time. That depth is accomplished through opening our hearts, feeling the flow of spiritual energy within and with all of life, and surrendering to God.

Rudi said,“The wish within the human being is the most powerful energy that exists.” 

What would happen if you believed that? What would happen if you nourished that wish within yourself? The wish has that power, because it is consciously connecting to the vital force that creates and sustains the entire universe and exists within all of us. It is the simple capacity to reach in, to find and to cultivate that wish that is the foundation of Rudi’s teaching and practice for spiritual freedom.

In February of 1973, Swami Rudrananda departed from this world in a small plane crash in the Catskills. Remarkably, the other three occupants walked away with only minor injuries. His last words, dictated on the plane moments before it crashed, perfectly express the essence of Rudi and his teaching:

“The last year of my life has prepared me for the understanding that divine consciousness can come only through unconditional surrender. That state is reached by surrendering ourselves and the tensions that bind and restrict us, keeping us from expressing the power of creation that is our true essence. It is God flowing through us and showing us that we are nothing but Him. I want to live as an expression of that higher creative will, and from a deeper sense of surrender.”

Rudi Shrine
Rudi’s samadhi shrine is located at the The Movement Center, Portland, Oregon. The Movement Center (previously known as The Nityananda Institute) is under the spiritual direction of Swami Chetanananda, one of the primary lineage carriers and successors of Rudi’s teachings. Rudi Statue Rudramandir
There is also a beautiful full-size marble statue of Rudi in the main sanctuary of Rudramandir, in Berkeley, California—home of the practice lead by Swami Khecaranatha. For pictures and information about sitting with the statue go to the Retreats and Events page of this website.

Rudi Samadhi Shrine Big Indian, New York

Resting in the Catskill Mountains, with a serene, natural mountain-fed pond in front, this pilgrimage site is a must for Rudi students, old and new. It contains a five-foot seated bronze statue in his likeness, which carries his presence in full display. This is the original site for Rudi’s ashes, chosen by him as his final resting place at his former “country ashram” in Big Indian, New York.

Rudi Shrine 2016    Rudi Statue Shrine    Rudi Statue Shrine Back

Stupa of Intrinsic Transformation Big Indian, New York


Located at the old Gurudev Rudrananda Ashram site, the Stupa was built in 1981 in Rudi’s honor, and also honors his teacher Bhagavan Nityananda, along with Padmasambhava and Shakyamuni Buddha. This is a walk-in Stupa with four doors facing the four directions and honoring the four teachers. A three-foot bronze Rudi Statue is housed inside the Stupa’s niche, facing west and toward his Samadhi Shrine.