Welcome to our podcast page, where you can listen to talks by Abbot George Burke (Swami Nirmalananda Giri) about various aspects of practical spiritual life, and remarkable spiritual people he has known. These podcasts will include talks on Original Christianity and Original Yoga, Om Meditation, what is necessary for success in yoga, the connection between Jesus and India, and much more. We hope to add new podcasts on a weekly basis, so visit often!
Podcasts will be listed with the newest ones at the top of the page.
The Big Picture: How to Gain the Vision of God (Reflections on Monastic Life – Part 2)
Most people live in The Little Picture with small ideas and small goals, all short term. But some live in The Big Picture, considering their life as a whole extending through many years, realizing that the small aspects will be forgotten, but the overall character of their life will determine their future beyond this world as well as within it. Learn how this is done.
Reflections on Monastic Life – Part 1
Here Abbot George shares his reflections on monastic life as he approaches the fifty-second anniversary of his taking sannyas. He discusses who should take up monastic life and who should not. To this end he talks about swadharma, which means someone’s own inherent disposition, fundamental nature, or potentiality; inherent state of mind; state of inner being.
Swami Rama of Hardwar (Ram Kunj)
This podcast is about Abbot George’s meetings with the Kashmiri saint Swami Rama of Hardwar. You will learn of:
Swami Rama’s simple outward demeanor but fiery inner nature,
The story of Swami Rama’s teacher,
Swami Rama on Kundalini,
And Swami Ram on Om.
Four First-Class Sadhus
Here Abbot George relates his experiences with four monks he met in India that were definitely of the first class. These were:
The Ganges island swami
His friend in black
The Swami who would not be a pet
And his guru who laughed.
The Healer, the Raja, Neem Karoli Baba, and the Unnamed Master
This podcast highlights meetings with four remarkable saints:
My camera darshan of Neem Karoli Baba;
How I was healed without asking by Swami Krishnananda, a disciple of Holy Mother Sarada Devi;
My acquaintance with HRH Durga Singh, the Raja of Solan (Yogi Bhai), the saintly devotee of Anandamayi Ma;
The Unnamed Master, the yoga adept who hid his abilities behind the mask of ordinariness.
Three Remarkable Indian Saints
In this podcast, Abbot George tells of Swami Vidyananda (Bidyananda), Yogananda’s disciple who was the director of the Yogoda Satsanga school which Yogananda had founded before coming to America. He also tells about Swami Sivananda-Hridayananda (Doctor Mother) who was the eye surgeon turned Sannyasini who was the devoted disciple of Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh. And he tells of “The King’s Daughter in Bengal.”
Memories of Sri Maitri Devi
Sri Maitri Devi had been born in the wealthiest and most influential family in Delhi. Her grandfather was the guru of an entire spiritual community in Agra (home of the Taj Mahal). Her guru, a female saint named Swami Purnananda, told her that she should become a nun and build a beautiful ashram in Delhi. “Many women will desire to live there, but you must only accept girls from the best and most devout families. If their families are not dharmic, refuse their request to live with you.”
The Monk That Challenged Lenin: Yogeshwar Brahmachari
Abbot George first saw Sri Yogeshwar Brahmachari at the birthday celebration of Anandamayi Ma in 1971. He was sitting on the speakers’ platform along with Ma and many spiritual figures of Northern India. While the others looked around and often made some overt response to what was being said over the microphone, Yogeshwarji sat totally unmoving for hours with closed eyes and holding his yoga danda upright without the slightest movement. Quiet and unassuming, he yet stood out in all situations.
Listen to how he went to Russia and challenged Vladimir Lenin, the first despot of the Soviet Union, on his atheistic ideas and the lack of freedom and morality which they produced.
Raihana Tyabji, the Moslem Saint Who Worshipped Krishna
Although Raihana was from a prominent Moslem family and every Friday had a man come to her room in Delhi and recite a chapter from the Koran, which she then kissed in reverence, she was a fervent devotee of Krishna, whose picture she kept on an altar where she could always see it. She had also written a remarkable book in 1924, The Heart of a Gopi, about the early life of Krishna based on her recall of a past life.
Didima (Swami Muktananda Giri), Mother of Anandamayi Ma
This is the remarkable story of Anandamayi Ma’s mother, Srimati Mokshada Sundari Devi Bhattacharya, who became Swami Muktananda Giri but was usually called Didima or Giriji. In this podcast Abbot George tells of his first meeting with her and some of his times with Didima, her background, and the humble and hidden role she played as the mother of one of India’s most famous spiritual figures, Anandamayi Ma.
The Yoga Life 7: Tips for Successful Meditation
In this the seventh podcast on the Yoga Life, Abbot George gives tips for success in meditation.
You will hear about:
• how to deal with inner negativity
• “getting rid of the ego”?
• the importance of keeping your spiritual life inside
• advice about your place of meditation
• the use of holy imagery in your home and meditation place.
The Yoga Life 6: How to Tell if You Are Making Progress in Meditation
This podcast concerns how to gain a greater understanding of spiritual life through study of the Bhagavad Gita, and how to tell if you are making progress in meditation. Abbot George expands on list of seven indications of progress in meditation practice found in Journey to Self-Realization, a collection of talks by Paramhansa Yogananda, at the end of the talk entitled “The True Signs of Progress in Meditation.”
My Reminiscences of Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh
“One time my friend Hari Datta Vasudev was telling me about some of the holy ones he had met during his life. After one account he paused and then looked at me very intently. ‘They are the glory of India!’ he told me. I agree and would like to tell you of the glory of India I encountered, the glory of God revealed in humanity.”
These podcasts recount Abbot George’s time with the great Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh in the early 60’s, beginning with how he first heard about Sivanandaji, and Abbot George’s experiences with him until Sivanandaji’s passing. This series is much more detailed than earlier podcasts about Swami Sivananda.
The Yoga Life 5: The Importance of Vegetarianism for the Yogi
Here Abbot George discusses how the mind, as a mass of vibrating energy, is limited by the constitution or condition of that energy. Some elements lighten the mind, making it fluid and subtle, vibrating at a very high level. It is this latter condition that is needed for attaining the state of liberation–or rather, the state that liberates the spirit from the illusion of bondage and suffering. To attain such liberation the mind must be purified and refined, vegetarian diet being one of the best and strongest means for its purification.
The Yoga Life 4: Niyama, the “Do”s of Yoga
Having finished Yama, the “Don’t”s of Yoga, in the last podcast, we now consider Niyama: the “Dos” of yoga.
• Shaucha: purity, cleanliness
• Santosha: contentment, peacefulness
• Tapas: austerity, practical (i.e., result-producing) spiritual discipline
• Swadhyaya: introspective self-study, spiritual study
• Ishwarapranidhana: offering of one’s life to God
The Yoga Life 3: Asteya, Brahmacharya, and Aparigraha, and the Great Vow
This podcast finishes the consideration of Yama, with its last three elements: asteya, brahmacharya, and aparigraha, and the sidesteps that people will take to avoid a strict adherence to these important principles. Then he considers the “Great Vow” of the Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.”
Asteya is abstinence from stealing, which Vyasa defines as: “the improper appropriation to oneself of others’ things.” He then concludes: “Refusal to do it, in freedom from desire, is non-stealing.” “Brahmacharya is restraint of the sex organ and other senses,” says Vyasa. From this we see that brahmacharya has a twofold nature: control and continence. Vyasa’s definition of Aparigraha is most practical: “Seeing the defects in objects involved in acquiring them, and defending them, and losing them, and being attached to them, and depriving others of them, one does not take them to himself, and that is aparigraha.”
After listing ahimsa, satya, asteya, brahmacharya, and aparigraha, Patanjali continues: “These, not conditioned by class, place, time or occasion, and extending to all stages, constitute the Great Vow” (Yoga Sutra 2:31).
The Yoga Life 2: a Practical Understanding of Harmlessness and Truthfulness
A practical and detailed analysis of the first of the components of Yama: Ahimsa (harmlessness) and Satya (truth), which it is essential for the aspiring yogi to understand.
Ahimsa is not willfully causing any harm or pain whatsoever to any being whatsoever, in any degree whatsoever. Ahimsa includes strict abstinence from any form of injury in act, speech, or thought.
“Satya is said to be speech and thought in conformity with what has been seen or inferred or heard on authority. The speech spoken to convey one’s own experience to others should be not deceitful, nor inaccurate, nor uninformative. It is that uttered for helping all beings. But that uttered to the harm of beings, even if it is what is called truth, when the ultimate aim is merely to injure beings, would not be truth. It would be a wrong.” So says Vyasa.
But these are mere definitions. How is the yogi to apply them in his Yoga Life, in his quest for enlightenment?
Introducing the Yoga Life 1: Laying the Foundations
The beginning of a series on how to lead the Yoga Life. Here Abbot George discusses what is lacking in the yoga practice of many, and why people fail or do not persevere in the path of yoga. Then he outlines the beginning of what the essential steps to success are.
First, what is meant by yoga, and what is the Yoga Life? What are the stages of an individual’s evolution? Then what are the “Foundations of Yoga”: Yama and Niyama?
Yama and Niyama are often called the Ten Commandments of Yoga, but they have nothing to do with the ideas of sin and virtue or good and evil as dictated by some cosmic potentate. Rather they are determined by a thoroughly practical, pragmatic basis: that which strengthens and facilitates our yoga practice should be observed and that which weakens or hinders it should be avoided.
Why We Meditate and the Obstacles We Overcome
Why do we meditate? In this podcast Abbot George discusses the real reason to meditate as contrasted with wrong reasons. Then continuing with Patanjali’s instructions from the Yoga Sutras, he explains the obstacles to spiritual life and their effects.
The obstacles are: Vyadhi: Disease of the body, Styana: Dullness; languor, debility; drooping state, Samshaya: Doubt; suspicion, Pramada: Carelessness; fault; guilt, Alasya: Laziness; idleness; apathy; sloth, Avirati: Hankering after objects; non-dispassion; sensual indulgence; lack of control; non-restraint, Bhranti-darshana: Delusion; erroneous view, Alabdhabhumikatva: Non-achievement of a stage; inability to find a footing, Anavashtitatvani: Unsteadiness; instability of mind; inability to find a footing; mental unsteadiness.
The effects of the obstacles are as follows: Dukha is pain; suffering; misery; sorrow; grief; unhappiness; stress; that which is unsatisfactory. Daurmanasya is despair, depression etc., caused by mental sickness; feeling of wretchedness and miserableness. Angamejayatva is shaking of the body; lack of control over the body. Shvasa-prashvasa is hard breathing; inspiration and expiration.
And the solution is meditation:
For removing these obstacles [there should be] the constant practice of the one principle [the japa and meditation of Om] (Yoga Sutras 1:32)
How to Effectively Meditate on Om
In this important podcast, Abbot George continues the subject of Ishwara, with emphasis on the Sound Form (Vachaka) of Ishwara which brings the yogi to enlightenment: Om.
He also gives hints on how to apply this Supreme Mantra effectively.
Discover more about how to meditate on Om by reading Om Yoga Meditation.
Yoga, God, and Gurus: an Important Perspective
The last podcast about God was philosophical, so in this podcast Abbot George will go into the practical side.
It is the goal of every sentient being to evolve and attain union with God. Evolution takes place naturally as we move up the ladder from birth to birth until the level in reached in which we take charge and engage in the much more rapid process of self-evolution.
Yoga is the means of self-evolution that culminates in conscious and perfect union with God. So we need to consider God in that perspective.
The Yoga Darshan or Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is the prime authority on yoga. Patanjali was a Nath Yogi in the spiritual lineage of Gorakhnath, the greatest yogi in Indian history. Abbot George discusses Patanjali’s words on God and yoga found in the first section, the Samadhi Pada of the Yoga Sutras.
Most importantly, Abbot George talks about the proper understanding of what a guru is and is not.
Plain Talk About God
Abbot George discusses who God is, and what man is, and the importance of making God an immediate reality in our daily lives. Abbot George bases his talk on Paramhansa Yogananda’s valuable book, The Science of Religion. Here Yogananda says:
“We should take religion and God out of the sphere of belief into that of daily life. If we do not emphasize the necessity of God in every aspect of our lives and the need of religion in every minute of our existence, then God and religion drop out of our intimate daily consideration and become only a one-day-in-a-week affair.”
Abbot George illustrates his points with examples drawn from his experiences in India, where the ideal is to live daily in the presence of God.
Beyond Theory and Belief to Actual Experience
In this podcast, Abbot George Burke speaks of the necessity of experience in spiritual life, and the fact that too often mere theory is offered as a substitute.
The talk is from a satsang in which he comments on the preface to Raja Yoga, Swami Vivekananda’s analysis of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. He gives living examples of those who miss the mark, and those who get it right.
Memories of Swami Sivananda
During his first trip to India in 1962 Abbot George Burke was blessed to spend time with the great Swami Sivananda at his ashram in Rishikesh. In this two-part podcast Abbot George shares his memories of this saint with visitors to our ashram.
In the first podcast, Abbot George recalls his first meetings with Swami Sivananda, and the saint’s invitation to dine with him on a lunch of “plain boiled rice.”
Among the many saints that Abbot George met in India, he described Sivananda as “beyond description or classification. He loved and we loved in return.”
In this second podcast Abbot George relates how Sivananda shared this love through his wisdom and humor, and tells Sivananda’s one prescription for successful sadhana.
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