His holiness Swami Shri Kripalvananda, affectionately known as Bapuji (dear father), was one of the world’s greatest masters of Kundalini Yoga. For the last thirty years of his life, he devoted over 10 hours a day to the practice of Kundalini Yoga meditation. For 22 of those years he practiced total silence, speaking only on rare public occasions. Kripalvananda means “Blissful giver of grace.” He expressed this grace as a compassionate saint, scholar, musician and poet.
Swami Kripalvananda was born on January 13, 1913 in Gujarat, India. His whole life was an expression of his burning desire for God-realization (Samadhi). For nearly 40 years he was a pilgrim on the path of yoga. When not in meditation, he wrote commentaries on yogic scriptures based on his personal experiences of the higher practices of yoga. Swami Kripalvananda established three major ashrams in India. He is also the spiritual inspiration behind the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health located in Lenox, Massachusetts.
In 1977, despite the rigorous demands of his yoga practice (Sadhana), Bapuji stunned his followers by accepting an invitation from his disciple, Amrit Desai, to visit America. Bapuji arrived in America in May of 1977. Originally, it was expected he would only stay a few months, but miraculously he was able to extend his visit to four and a quarter years. During most of his time in America, Bapuji lived at the original Kripalu Yoga Ashram in Sumneytown, Pennsylvania. He lived in a small cottage given the name, Muktidham or “Abode of Liberation.” Here in Muktidham Bapuji did his ten hour a day Kundalini yoga practice and reached the highest stages of yoga, Nirvikalpa Samadhi, the thought-free, formless state of ultimate union — the final stage of yoga.
In 1981, Bapuji’s health began to deteriorate and he wished to return to India. On September 27, 1981, Bapuji gave his farewell speech to his followers in America. Swami Shri Kripalvananda peacefully left his body (Maha Samadhi) on December 29, 1981. His Maha Samadhi shrine is in Malav, Gujarat, India. Muktidham in Sumneytown is still available to this day for meditation and spiritual gatherings.