Homage to Rudrananda, Captain Kundalini in His Last Year of Life

Rudi as Captain Kundalini in his orange overalls and T-shirt.

Rudi is the only person I ever knew who understood the meaning of TRANSFORMATION. He is gone now, however he lives within me. His many important actions and words remain buried like secret seeds that pop up when I am ready. Rudi was a man that could disappear in a crowd. But at the same time, he was a fountain of spiritual power, of timeless love, and defiant clarity. He had many great teachers, both living and etheric. 

His name Rudrananda was inspired by the Hindu God Rudra, that fierce and stormy aspect of Shiva, the destroyer God. Rudi destroyed ignorance. He did it passionately, patiently, sweetly, and powerfully with every breath and word. I am told that Rudras are eleven in number, unpredictable beacons of power and light created out of Brahmā’s fury. I am eternally grateful to Rudi

Rudi died in a plane crash in the Catskills where the other 3 passengers walked away with minor injuries. Rudi’s was dictating a passage for a spiritual book.
His last words on the tape were: “…a deeper sense of surrender” .

Rudi’s Life

Rudi was born Albert Rudolph. His spiritual name was Swami Rudrananda, and he was the first American to receive the title of Swami. Rudi was an oriental antiques trader in New York City. He was born in 1928 to impoverished Jewish parents in Brooklyn, New York. His father abandoned the family when Rudi was young.

In his autobiography, Rudi tells about his first spiritual experience at age 6 in a park. Two Tibetan Buddhist Lamas appeared out of the air and stood before him. They told him they represented the heads of the “Red Hat” and “Yellow Hat” sects of Tibetan Buddhism, and they were going to place within him the energy and wisdom of Tibetan Buddhism. Several clay jars appeared, which they said they would put inside his solar plexus. The lamas said these jars would stay in him and begin to open at age 31. He would then begin the process of assimilating their contents, and would continue to do so for the rest of his life. Rudi collected oriental art objects, and began to attend meetings of Gurdjieff in New York, which he continued for 5 years.

Rudi wrote that when walking in Greenwich Village, he saw a storefront with a “FOR RENT” sign in the window. It was small and in terrible condition. He reported that he heard a voice whisper, “This is your store, this is your store, this is your store.” He soon opened “Rudi Oriental Arts” in the Seventh Avenue space, with just a few hundred dollars and some of the sculptures he had collected. Early on, Rudi supplemented his income by working evenings at the Village Vanguard nearby. Over the years, Rudi established an international network of Asian art suppliers, collectors, and distributors in several countries. His home on E 10th street was a museum of powerful energy in art.

Rudi joined the Subud organization, studying with its founder, Pak Subuh, and helping to establish the group in New York. In 1958, Rudi met Swami Bharati Krishna Tirtha, Shankaracharya of Puri, during his first visit to the United States. Rudi lived with him and cared for the Shankaracharya in New York for 4 months.

At age 30, Rudi was at a turning point in his life when a friend took him to meet Bhagavan Nityananda at his ashram in Ganeshpuri. Rudi later wrote, “My first meeting, in India in 1958, with the great Indian saint Bhagavan Nityananda was of such depth that it changed the course of my life.” Rudi continued to study with Nityananda, whom he considered his ultimate guru, until his master died in 1961.

In early 1959, Rudi began teaching students. His method was called the “open-eye class”. He would sit opposite a group of students and gaze intently into their eyes for several minutes, while he would transmit the higher energy of shaktipat. Classes were often followed by a lecture. Occasionally after classes, Rudi would invite the students up to his living room, or he would take them to dinner in Chinatown.

Rudi met Sri Bhagwan Nityananda in Ganeshpuri, Maharastra, India in 1960. It was a prophetic meeting for Rudi, in which he received the Kundalini Double Breath Exercise. Rudi describes his meeting with Nityananda in the video below. Nityananda passed away the following year in 1961.


Kundalini Yoga of Rudi

Spiritual Cannibalism, by Swami Rudrananda, Rudra Press, 2001

Rudi taught a meditation techniques called “Kundalini Yoga”. He wrote it was “a yoga which is used to collect energy within yourself and bring through your own chemistry the energy that is in the universe. A human being is only able to do that by internalizing energy and bringing it through their system. A person has all the mysteries of the universe inside.

Rudi’s classes began about 7:30 in the evening in his brownstone home on E. 10th Street. Rudi sat on a raised platform on a stage. His chair was a large mental trunk covered by a bearskin. Incense would be lit next to him and, with the students sitting spread out before him, either in yogic position or on chairs, the class would begin. Sometimes the class would be totally silent. Other times he would speak about some aspect of the Force.

Rudi’s Role as a Teacher

“I give a higher energy directly to you. The first or second time that I open to a new student, a spiritual energy flows from both of us and comes together as in a complete embrace. There is nothing sexual about it. The meeting occurs in another dimension. But it symbolizes the beginning of a real relationship between us. Once this connection is established, you have only to absorb the energy that comes from me like water from a faucet. This is much easier than having to extract energy out of the atmosphere through your own efforts. But it is still work.” 

Kundalini Double Breath Activation from Rudi

Rudi’s Tantric Classes

Toward the end of his life Rudi began a profound practice of Tibetan Tantric Yoga. This had nothing to do with sexuality, except that it embraced all of life. Tantric Yoga was only about the utter expansion of joy and profound acceptance of all human processes in life and death. His Tantric classes used the traditional Tibetan bell, Dorji, and Phurba knife in surprising ways that although they did not touch the skin, they penetrated deeply. The effect of the class on me was profound and wordless total joy and surrender. During those precious moments I felt in myself eons and centuries of pain, tension and misunderstanding dissolve instantaneously. I was infused with a feeling of clarity and total emptiness accompanied by immense joy and wonder.

Rudi’s Final Year

Rudi’s photographer was my friend, Barry Kaplan. Barry noticed that Rudi’s cranium began to change shape. Rudi’s shaved head showed different markings every week. And slowly a new shape of his skull began to show itself. Barry took a series of photos, and you can see a few of his black and white photos here. This is a mystery to me. Was Rudi developing the famous “Buddha Bump” on the top of the head? When the rising energy of Kundalini penetrates the Sahasara chakra at the top of the head, it is said to open the sutures. The lines separating the various cranium bones begin to soften, and energy surges up through the top of the head like a fountain. 

A “Buddha Bump” comes from rising kundalini energy of the pineal gland and the Crown Sahasra chakra at the top of the head.

By 1972, Rudi had established fourteen ashrams in the US, and three in Europe. His Manhattan store held one of the largest Asian art collections in the world. Indeed – it was his warehouse, as all the art coudn’t fit into his store!

In early 1973, Rudi published is book Spiritual Cannibalism, He chose this title to underscore the true spiritual process, which is that of totally consuming and digesting the energy of a teacher. Only then can we rise above the deep tensions and confusions that surround us. 

In the last year of his life, Rudi became more insistent on his students to do their own internal work. He explained that his work was deepening exponentially, and we would have to expand to ascend in our consciousness to stay with him. At one point he announced he felt intuitively he would soon be leaving on a “long trip”. He said he wasn’t sure where it would be, possibly Turkey. In another dream he saw his body exploding in light high the mountains, followed by cascading sparks of light falling on people all over the earth. 

On February 21, 1973, Rudi died in a small plane crash in the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York. The three other occupants of the plane walked away with only minor injuries.






Writings about Rudi:

  1. Homage to Rudi on his Birthday
  2. Rudi’s D Meditation Double Breath Kundalini
  4. What is Meditation? Hints from a few great human beings
  5. White Light Meditation
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudi_(spiritual_teacher)

Books by Rudi

  • Rudrananda, Swami (1973). Spiritual Cannibalism. New York: Links Books. ISBN 0-8256-3005-3. / Cambridge, MA: Rudra Press (1990). ISBN 0-915801-07-8.
  • Rudrananda, Swami (1990). Rudi in His Own Words. Cambridge, MA: Rudra Press. ISBN 0-915801-20-5.
  • Rudrananda, Swami (1994). Entering Infinity. Portland, Oregon: Rudra Press. ISBN 0-915801-41-8.


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