It is difficult to find someone from the West that both understands and can elegantly express the theory behind an Eastern mystical tradition. It is even more difficult to find a modern mystic. In Swami Tripurari we have both: a traditional mystic who can articulate the teachings of an ancient spiritual tradition. A compelling speaker, to hear him and be in his presence is itself a spiritual experience.
Swami Tripurari met his initiating guru, Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, in the spring of 1972. He relates that he felt as though he had met a long-lost friend, as Srila Prabhupada blessed him with his all-knowing glance. Over the years of service that followed, Srila Prabhupada showered him with affection and repeatedly expressed his appreciation for his selfless service and ability to inspire others. In 1974 Srila Prabhupada instructed him in a widely circulated letter, “So you organize freely. You are the incarnation of book distribution. Take the leadership and do the needful.” Accordingly, Swami Tripurari has set an example of one who is independently thoughtful and capable of making an insightful literary contribution to the world. In 1975 Swami Tripurari was initiated by Srila Prabhupada into the renounced order of sannyasa.
Shortly before Srila Prabhupada’s departure from the world, he suggested that, should the need arise, his students could receive further instruction from his Godbrother Srila B. R. Sridhara Deva Goswami. Swami Tripurari was at the feet of Srila Prabhupada when he spoke these prophetic words, implanting them in Swami’s heart. However, it was not until several years later in the midst of the confusion that followed Srila Prabhupada’s departure that they blossomed into the directive that would so deeply affect the course of Swami Tripurari’s spiritual pursuit.
Swami Tripurari expresses his experience of hearing from and serving Srila Sridhara Maharaja thus: “With the setting of the sun of the manifest pastimes of our beloved preceptor, Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the world became dark. Then suddenly in the shadows of the night the reflected light of the moonlike discourse of Srila B. R. Sridhara Deva Goswami flooded the path with new light and dynamic insight that illumined the inner landscape, leading me to the soul of Srila Prabhupada and Gaudiya Vaisnavism.” The association and instructions of Srila B. R. Sridhara Deva Goswami profoundly affected Swami and under his inspired guidance, Swami began initiating his own students in 1985.
Today Swami Tripurari describes himself as the combined mercy of these two saints, Srila Prabhupada and Srila Sridhara Maharaja. He divides his time between his three sustainable communities: Saragrahi, a150-acre yoga retreat and monastery in the foothills of Western North Carolina, Madhuvan, a 150-acre yoga retreat and monastery in the tropical jungle of Costa Rica, and Audarya, a ridgetop monastery in the redwood forest of northern California. He also travels throughout the world sharing his spiritual realization. Swami Tripurari is the author of a dozen books and a columnist for HuffingtonPost.com and The Harmonist. Swami Tripurari also publishes answers to the numerous questions he receives over the Internet in his Sanga email newsletter.
Among the books Swami Tripurari has published are a study of Jiva Gosvami’s Tattva Sandharba and of Sri Caitanya’s Siksastakam. Swami Tripurari has also published Bhagavad-gita: Its Feeling and Philosophy and Gopala-tapani Upanisad. Swami Tripurari’s Aesthetic Vedanta was nominated for the Grawemeyer Award. Klaus K. Klostermaier of the University of Manitoba made the nomination. He wrote that “Aesthetic Vedanta’s beautiful and sensitive language will make the classic rasa-lila accessible to students of spirituality who have no specific background in Indian religions and philosophies. Its reverential approach makes it a religious classic in its own right.” Yoga Journal opined that the book illuminates “the profundity and practicality of the path of devotion.” Huston Smith wrote about his book Rasa: “This is perhaps the most helpful exposition of the bhakti tradition that has come my way. Thank you for writing it.” His book Form of Beauty was nominated for the Benjamin Franklin Award. Swami Tripurari’s edition of Bhagavad-gita was reviewed in Yoga Journal, where Phil Catalfo called it “a kind of postgraduate course in the cultural, metaphysical, and spiritual teachings inherent in the Bhagavad-gita.” McGill University’s Arvind Sharma, a noted expert on Hinduism and Bhagavad-gita, lauded this edition’s “hints of originality, rather than mere novelty” in the Journal of Vaishnava Studies.
Dynamic in its scope, bold, and uncompromising, Swami Tripurari’s outreach is grounded in deep realization that has the power to turn wayward hearts homeward. In spite of his lofty realizations, Swami Tripurari is readily accessible and unassuming. Wearing in his own words a “small halo,” the extent of his inner life is perhaps experienced more by his affection for others than anything else.