MY SPIRITUAL TEACHER Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda

(I have had requests to write more about my spiritual teacher and my relationship with him so I have added more to this post on November 2016, and again on April 2021 — Chaitanya das)

Blog 3. Photo 9

Blog 3. Photo 10

These days it’s sometimes seen as ‘uncool’ to talk about a guru, or a spiritual teacher.

For many the word ‘guru’ evokes the unfortunate idea of a relationship where there is lack of individual thought, of giving up one’s own free will.  I’d like to dispel that emphatically as far as my spiritual teacher is concerned!

‘Guru’ as an adjective means ‘heavy or weighty’ as in ‘One who is heavy with spiritual knowledge and wisdom.’ ‘Guru’ also means spiritual master or one who has dovetailed his body, his mind, his intelligence, and his will with the will of God.  In other words, guru means one who is the loving servant of God and the well-wisher of others — not the master of other people.

There are times that I refer to Jagad Guru as my spiritual master, however it’s very important to understand that a bona fide guru never sees himself as the controller or master of anyone. There are so many definitions of the word ‘master’ but the one I am referring to is “One who masters a particular field of endeavor”, in this case, spiritual endeavor.

Rather than as a master of anyone a genuine spiritual master or teacher dedicates his life to helping everyone find true happiness. He is therefore the loving servant of the Supreme, the servant of his spiritual teacher, the servant of his students, and the well-wisher and servant of everyone! 

He never teaches that he is God nor tries to take the place of God in people’s lives. He is someone who is filled with bhakti or love for the Supreme — and therefore filled with love and compassion for all living beings who he understands are all parts and parcels of the Supreme.

If I’m honest with myself, I had very little attraction for any spiritual process when I first met Siddhaswarupananda over 40 years ago, but he challenged me to think carefully about spirituality. Not only to think, but check what he was telling me and what we talked about.

He encouraged me to check with acknowledged scriptures such as the Bhagavad Gita, and Lord Jesus’ teachings in the New Testament, and to check with the Lord within, to see if what he, Siddhaswarupananda, was saying, what the scriptures where saying, and what I felt in my heart were the same.

We should not be afraid to take advice of a spiritual nature from someone who has credentials, and Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda has impeccable spiritual credentials, and is in such an authoritative spiritual lineage!



This lineage of teachers is recorded as going back thousands of years. Timeless Vedic knowledge has been passed down from spiritual teacher to student who, when fully self-realized, becomes a spiritual teacher and passes that knowledge down to his students etc.

So when I look at Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa I see behind him all these saintly Vaishnava giants and the vast body of knowledge they represent.

(For more information on this lineage please see )

Usually we have no hesitation looking for a mentor on all variety of subjects – the sciences, the arts etc. – acknowledging someone else’s expertise.  It is even more important to find someone who knows and understands the subject of spiritual identity and to learn from them.

So my/our spiritual teacher Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda is a person today who has learned from, and speaks for, all these previous acharyas or teachers. ‘Acharya’ means someone who is qualified as a spiritual teacher and teaches by his impeccable example.

Jagad Guru himself always rejects attempts to create a personality cult around him, simply seeing himself as the humble messenger of his spiritual teacher and all the previous saintly acharyas. Such humility and desire to serve and please God is the heart of an acharya. In fact Siddhaswarupananda is an extremely private person who shuns the public limelight and media attention that many yoga teachers dream and strive for.

Over the years of spiritual guidance from my dear friend, I have never felt the need to join any ‘religious’ organization. I’ve owned my own business for most of this life but I am now retired and dealing with advanced prostate cancer.

I am happily married with 6 children, and 8 grandchildren, and have had not that much physical contact with my spiritual mentor. But in key moments through my life he has been there (not necessarily always in person but via his teachings) when I needed guidance, when I needed help to deal with life’s dilemmas’. Any wisdom I can impart comes from him.

Additional Information added Nov 2016:

Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa was born Kris Butler in 1948 and spent most of his early life in Hawaii. There is information here about his early life and how he came into contact with his gurudev (spiritual teacher), Srila A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad.

Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa and his gurudev A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami in the early 1970's
Jagad Guru and his Gurudev – early 1970’s

I want to write here a little about my experiences with Jagad Guru and how he has helped me over the years.

In the 1970’s, Siddhaswarupananda traveled extensively, helping to carry out his gurudev’s mission of showing people how to re-kindle a personal relationship with God, Krishna, by practicing mantra meditation and kirtan yoga.

North America, India, Australia, New Zealand, The Philippines, Japan, and Brazil were some of the countries he spent time in the 1970’s.  He organized speaking venues large and small, all the time making friends wherever he went, and directing them to Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad, who he describes as his life and soul.

I first met Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda on one of his visits to Australia in late 1972. It was through a seemingly random series of decisions and events that I ended up in Byron Bay, New South Wales in Australia in December 1972.  If just one of those decisions or events was different I would not have met Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda.

It was in Byron Bay, on vacation from University with two friends, and  Siddhaswarupananda just happened to be there recuperating from traveling in Asia. He befriended us and for some weeks we held fireside chants on the beach, just a small group of half a dozen people (you probably can’t light fires on the beach there today!).

Later on, before he left Byron Bay and Australia, we hired the local scout hall and put up hand drawn posters around town advertising the event. This was the first public speaking event for Jagad Guru in Australia. About 25-30 people came to experience kirtan yoga and hear Siddhaswarupananda speak. Afterwards we served tea and biscuits (cookies).

Byron Bay Scout Hall built 1938 – It’s still there today

Siddhaswarupananda always showed unconditional friendship towards me and all others he met.  That quality of exuding friendship, wanting nothing in return, was something I had never come across before.  Most relationships are conditional, built on give and take, so to come across someone who cared for me, wanting nothing in return was intriguing. While not being initially attracted to meditation, I thought if this person was the end result of this process then I needed to look at this kirtan yoga meditation more carefully.

In 1977 Siddhaswarupananda’s beloved guru (spiritual teacher) left this world.  It was only after this that he started formally accepting disciples.

Many people refer to Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa as ‘Jagad Guru’. This is a term that is applied to a yoga teacher who has students and disciples worldwide. More importantly it means what he is passing down from the line of Vaishnava acharyas can be applied to every single person, regardless of race, age, culture, religion, political affiliation, etc.

I kept in touch with Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa, and over many years he patiently encouraged me to develop my love for God, until I finally asked him if he would formally accept me as his disciple in 1985, thirteen years after first meeting him.

1985 poster for an Australian lecture tour by Jagad Guru
1985 poster for an Australian lecture tour by Jagad Guru

My spiritual teacher Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa sees himself as the humble servant of God and simply wants to help others love God just as his spiritual teacher helped him love God, and his spiritual teacher before him.

He could never be described as stereotypical, either as a person or how he delivers this message. Though rooted in the ancient Vedas, the message is made relevant to today’s world, and delivered with both humor and wisdom.

Today Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa is just as energetic and focused as ever, working on new ways to spread the teachings of love for God.

I am far from perfect by any means, but I am a much better person for coming into contact with Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa and his teachings.

He has taught me how I can live in this world but not be of this world.  I have never felt the need to join any group, or change my life radically by giving up family and friends (in fact throughout my life I’m forever making new friends!). The message Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda passes on is simple; we will only be truly happy, truly satisfied, when we are tasting love for God.

Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda c.2017

Looking back now, all the best experiences in my life are tied to what I have learnt from him; when I first experienced the power and the beauty of the chanting and singing of God’s names  (it wasn’t immediate – it just happened one day);  when I first realized and experienced I am not my body;  when I first realized I was not alone in the world no matter if I was in a desert or in the middle of a busy city; when I first experienced I am not afraid of anything in this world, or afraid of leaving it.

Over the years he has been my spiritual anchor.

While I have some time left in this world, I’m hoping to be able to keep writing and share my life with others.

Thank you and Namaste. (= I acknowledge the Lord within you!)
Chaitanya das

For more about Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda visit:


Below are some links to Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa leading some different kirtan meditations:

Madana Mohana Murari…Haribol, Haribol, Haribol!
One of my favorite meditation chants, relaxing to the max!

Sacred & Deeply Meditative Chant by Jagad Guru Srila Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa; Madana Mohana Murari Haribol!

Gopala Govinda Rama Madana Mohana

Upbeat Jaya Radha Shyam!

……………..AND 8hrs of beautiful kirtans

36 thoughts on “MY SPIRITUAL TEACHER Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda

  1. Thank you Chaitanya das for a truly moving and enlightening blog and video. Is it possible to hear more about your family and how they have coped with all this.

    1. Thank you Rob, yes in future posts I hope to talk about that. For now I just wanted to get the site up and functioning…heaps more to come……that is if the Lord’s willing……nice to hear from you.

  2. Absolutely beautiful, truly uplifting and many thanks for sharing your life and your greatest treasure. Namaste

  3. This is a truely wonderful blog and video! Thanks you so much Chaitanya Das.
    I see everyday working in a hospital the fear, hopelessness and loneliness experienced by so many people faced with death. I hope to be able to somehow share this with them.

  4. Thank you Chaitanya das for sharing your spiritual journey with us in a such an inspiring & uplifting way. Best wishes and Namaste

  5. Many thanks to YOU Chaitanya das for sharing your life’s Journey with us, the warmth grace and love of Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa shines through you and your family. Thank you for living this truth and being an example to others how to live in this world with a heart overflowing with love and gratitude even with pending Death stares you in the face…Thank you for teaching us how to die gracefully.

    Radha dasi & Gopal das from The Bhakti Yoga Shack

  6. Incredibly beautiful video…thank you so much. As my body is turning 68 yrs old..your blog and video really hits home.
    You are a kindred spirit!

  7. I clicked on the link in your writing that lead to info about your teachers early life, and found it fascinating. He was only 20 years old when he met his teacher. Amazingly wise at an early age. I didn’t understand some of the terminology in the link, but it was refreshingly honest. Thank you for your interesting blog.

  8. Namaste Chaitanya das, mahalo (=Hawaiian for thankyou very much) for your amazing video, I especially laughed loud when your wife swiped her hands across her throat (the universal sign for death..). You were both laughing, enjoying each other’s company, and laughing at death, no fear!!, Also JivaNanda dasi did not look like she was freaking out thinking I’m losing my life’s shelter, protector, bread winner,. But then you wave goodbye to all and walk hand in hand towards the light of Krishna in the sunset of your life. I hope I can be as fortunate as you, take care my dear friend. Bsd.

  9. You’ve beautifully communicated the inspiration that comes from finding, both inwardly and externally, a truly great soul on our stumbling journey thru’ this short life. Thank you for taking the time when you are so often struggling with your health

  10. Glorifying your Spiritual Teacher before leaving this world is a fitting tribute by a person in eternal gratitude. Namaste

  11. Thank you Chaitanya Das. What a wonderful way for people to discover spiritual life, a bona-fide spiritual teacher and how to cope with leaving their bodies (death).
    There is just so much to gain here….

  12. Namaste mate, thank you for sharing and reminding me how fortunate we are to have such an incredible opportunity to be come a student / disciple of such a wonderful bonafide Spiritual Teacher. Haribol always

    1. Namaste Brother, we must catch up sometime. thank you for reading this post. Can I encourage you to subscribe to the blog? Subscription box is at the right of the home page.

  13. I have reread your post on Jagad Guru 4 times now. You have created a beautiful picture of your friend Jagad Guru, and how by meeting him – your life is so full of real goodness, the real stuff you can hold onto in your heart. Wow! I loved the “spiritual anchor” , that got me thinking !! I loved all the pictures too. Look forward to next one. I would like to hear more about what Jagad Guru taught you on life and how to live a good one. Cause it sounds like you have a good life indeed. All the best. Lola (my grandkids call me this ☺️) .

  14. This is my take away of the day..
    “He has taught me how I can live in this world but not be of this world. I have never felt the need to join any group, or change my life radically by giving up family and friends (in fact throughout my life I’m forever making new friends!). The message Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda passes on is simple; we will only be truly happy, truly satisfied, when we are tasting love for God.”

    Thank you for sharing your story about Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda ..

  15. Thank-you for posting Chaitanya das. I would like to learn more about the path and talk more about your experiences with it. I have recently found out about this Krishna path and feel a connection. It was great to read the article.

  16. I’ve heard talks but I don’t find any news about Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda is it possible to know if he is still in good health and if he still take disciples ?
    Thank you 🙂

    1. Hi Nicholas, thank you very much for your questions. I do not know the details of Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda’s health, but as far as I know he is well. He still accepts students who want to know more about spiritual life, and if you’d like to know more about this please email me direct, Namaste and all the best, Chaitanya das

  17. Namaste Chaitanya das, this was truly touching and inspiring to read. Thank you so much for sharing your personal story, I can not thank you enough. Respects, Candace

  18. I am so happy you are sharing these very helpful, life changing moments. I , too met Siddhaswarup in 1971, and have ever since been reflecting on the enormity of what he was freely giving me. No charge ‼️Love the Supreme❤️ Thank you, dear friend, Caitanya das🙏

    1. Haribol Chaitanya das, I have read this often and find different pockets of wisdom in it each time. It is heart-warming to learn more about Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa. Thank you for sharing your personal relationship. I enjoyed reading about the Byron Bay Scout Hall and the unconditional friendship. Your description of not feeling alone and having a ‘spiritual anchor’ really resonated with me. Thank you Namaste Melissa

  19. It’s with amazement that I read the definition of Guru in Jagad Guru’s own words. It’s very humbling and pushes me to concentrate on my spiritual journey to do better. Every time I read anything that is said by Guruji, I feel at peace. Thank you very much for sharing this wonderful information.

  20. I love his show ‘Jagad Guru Speaks’, when it was aired on television, when I was in the Philippines in the 1980″s and I still missed it. At least I am very interested with Jagad Guru’s teachings about spiritual life and love for God, regardless of our race, religious faith, age, and gender. Thank You for sharing your story and thoughts. Haribol!

    1. Thanks Patrick. If you don’t know you can search The Science of Identity on Youtube and there are quite a few of his video talks there. Thanks for writing, much appreciated!

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