Devotional practitioner, translator, author, speaker and musician, Shyamdas (1953-2013) brought India's ancient Vedic literature and medieval devotional renaissance to life in the West. An accomplished practitioner-scholar and guide to the 16th century philosopher Vallabhacharya’s Pushtimarga tradition, Shyamdas published more than 15 books on Bhakti Yoga and the Path of Grace. Shyamdasji’s overflowing good mood and ability to relate to every individual and situation with bhāva (divine, good mood) made him an instant best friend to so many. His profound contributions live on in their hearts, and in his audio and written publications.
After being called to India in a dream encounter with the famous Vrindavan saint Neem Karoli Baba, in 1972 Shyamdas travelled to India and took up residence in the sacred city of Vrindavan. Soon thereafter he began to receive bhakti teachings from his guru of the grace filled path, Shri Prathameshji. Shyamdasji’s was truly addicted to satsang—association with fellow truth seekers. He regularly led kirtan and satsang programs at yoga studios and retreat centers in America, Canada, and Europe. Of late he was a central figure in the burgeoning kirtan festival movement, headlining at events like Omega Institute’s Ecstatic Chant Weekends and the regional Bhakti Fests.
Shyamdasji’s love and commitment to the sacred region of Braj and its inhabitants inspired him to dedicate his time, resources, and connections to various charitable works, including environmental cleanup efforts in Braj, cow protection, architectural restorations, direct support to schools, musicians, and temples, and of course, feeding people. The Shyamdas Foundation established in his honor supports charitable works, devotional projects and musical studies, in the spirit of Shyamdasji’s amazing life and legacy.
“Jai Shri Krishna…What a lila! To my entire family as well as to my circle of satsang friends and teachers: it was an honor to have been a part of it. Know that the soul is eternal and plays onwards, always reaching for the Beloved.”
—from the Last Will and Testament of Shyamdas
The Shyamdas Foundation is a non-profit organization committed to the charitable purpose of preserving and advancing the legacy of Shyamdas, who dedicated his life to the music, literature, and people of Braj, a sacred region of North India. The foundation aims to preserve, publish and distribute his writings, translations and music. As Shyamdas was a talented and prolific linguist, the foundation will continue his legacy by advancing the study of Indian languages, including Sanskrit, Hindi, Gujarati and Brajbhasha, classical Indian and temple music, yoga, and Indian religions and spiritual practices. Lastly, the foundation works on environmental issues, such as reforestation, in the Braj region.
Shri Harirayaji (1590-1711) composed this series of Sanskrit letters sometime in the 17th century and mailed them to his younger brother, Gopeshwarji. When his wife suddenly passed away, Shri Gopeshwarji was plunged into grief and became unable to focus his mind on his Beloved’s worship. As he reviewed and wholeheartedly embraced the teachings found in Harirayaji’s letters, Gopeshwarji’s grief was sundered. He decided to compose a commentary on his brother’s Sanskrit letters in the vernacular Brajbhasha—a mystic, poetic language still spoken today in Braj and considered to be Lord Krishna’s own mother tongue. The 41 Letters cover a vast array of spiritual subjects, but recurring themes are how to live a devotional lifestyle that will transform our lives and consciousness towards God, how to live the lila of life, the play of reality with consciousness, and also how to make the necessary adjustments to the various situations that arise in the course of the embodied soul’s personal journey.
This English edition of the Shikshapatra is the fruit of Shyamdasji’s lifelong engagement with sacred literature and is the last fully completed translation he has left us with. It includes the most extensive and personal introduction of any of his books. Your purchase of this volume is a full contribution to the Shyamdas Foundation established by his family. The Foundation aims to preserve the legacy of Shyamdasji’s life and works through charitable donations in India and sacred music, literature, and environmental projects dear to his heart.
This and other sacred texts translated by Shyamdas are available now at sacredwoods.net
Hari OM…Beloved friends and loved ones of Shyamdasji and bhaktas and kirtan lovers. Our priceless friend Shyamdasji left this world last night. He spent his remaining hours, as usual, in satsang and bliss with a group of dear friends. On this night in particular they were reading Shri Vallabhacarya’s teaching “Krsnashraya” and reflecting deeply on and repeating the refrain, “Krsna eva gatir mama…Krishna is my refuge and destination.” He has arrived at his final refuge and destination now.
Though nothing can replace this loss for us, he left us with so much, so many teachings, reflections, and memories, and most of all, the example to live a divinely inspired life, in constant search for bhava and in appreciation for one another. He loves us all very much and would love nothing more than for us to continue our own journey towards eternal bliss and appreciation for satsang and kirtan of all kinds.
To support one another as Shyamdasji’s loved ones grieving around the globe, please feel free to share any inspirations, memories, or special ways you are commemorating Shyamdasji’s ecstatic lifetime and his return to the divine abode, by posting comments here (To comment, click on the title above, “In loving devotional memory”