It seems like only yesterday. As early as my graduation from public school, I yearned for and romanticized about an
archeologist or anthropologist’s life—traveling to timeless lands, discovering forgotten civilizations, living
sacred knowledge. Then, almost forty years ago, an undying love and respect for the remnants of an ancient culture—a
culture that people now call ‘Vedic’—entered my heart after a lecture at my university. The speaker was
Yogi Shyam (now Swami Shyam). Little did I know then of what I know now: My dreams were about to come true, but in an unforeseen
Hearing Sanskrit and about Yoga intoxicated me with a wish to change my major. I swiftly discovered that my university,
a fine institution, offered neither Sanskrit and Yoga philosophy, nor other new interests that crowded my mind. So, like many
of my generation, I dropped out and roamed for seven years in a flourishing subculture that was enthralled by eastern mysticism
and populated by diverse editions of the guru, India’s most famous export
during the late sixties and early seventies.
Dissatisfied with trendy gurus and cults by inherent disposition, the archeologist in me dug deeper until I met K.L.
Mantri in 1973. When he proved himself adept at everything I wanted and needed to know back then, I begged him to teach me.
He, in turn, showed an interest in my desire to know, and he graciously made time to train me. Together we embarked on an
uninterrupted one-on-one journey. He was the mentor; I was the student.
We thus reenacted the core of Vedic culture. Because that culture remains founded on the bedrock of word of mouth
transmission of sacred traditions from a living teacher to a student over many years of personal relations, we kept at it
continuously for more than fifteen intensive years. We were family and more. Along the way, I adapted to his ways of Indian
English, exotic food, eccentric but divinely inspired behaviors, miraculous skill, incomprehensible paradoxes, and above all,
genuine knowledge embedded in a teacher’s heart.
Although he welcomed me into his culture and taught me much about it, he never asked me to be Indian or Hindu. He
always encouraged me to understand the universal essence of what he taught me, to not confuse it with the trappings that clothe
that essence within the boundaries of modern India’s grand cultures. Practical
by nature, he undertook to first teach me Jyotish (very loosely "Vedic astrology") as a career. Throughout our journey and
afterwards, he trained me in other ancient, sacred traditions as well. I realize now that no amount of book-learning approximates
the value of prolonged direct instruction from a skilled teacher, whose genuine living knowledge derives from his or her teacher,
going back in an unbroken line for untold generations.
I strive to honor what he taught me by teaching it to others in a way that mimics the tried-and-true manner of relaying
the essence of India's ancient sacred lore. The content and style of those teachings I adapt by necessity to the needs
of modern Western students without compromising essence. Whatever others consider worthy in me flows from my mentor and from
my other teachers to you.
If you relish traveling to timeless lands, if you revel in discovering forgotten civilizations, if you rejoice in
living sacred knowledge, if you yearn for the mysteries of genuine Jyotish and kindred subjects, we have a lot in common.
Our dreams come true.