Self-Realization through Yoga Meditation of the Yoga Sutras, the contemplative insight of Advaita Vedanta, and the intense devotion of Samaya Sri Vidya Tantra

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Book Reviews

Book Suggestions below: People often ask me for book suggestions related to Yoga meditation, so I've listed below some that I personally know about and feel are useful. There are also links to some authors whose work I find clear and authoritative, as well as several search links by topic. I hope you find these recommendations useful. 

Click on the links below or scroll down.

By Swami Rama 

Meditation and Its Practice 
The Art of Joyful Living 
Path of Fire and Light, Volume 2 

Living with the Himalayan Masters 
Perennial Psychology of the Bhagavad Gita 
Enlightenment Without God 

A Call to Humanity 
Choosing a Path 
Creative Use of Emotions 
Freedom from the Bondage of Karma 
Inspired Thoughts of Swami Rama 
Lectures on Yoga 
Life Here and Hereafter 
Love and Family Life 
Love Whispers 
Path of Fire and Light, Volume 1 
A Practical Guide to Holistic Health 
Science of Breath 
Book of Wisdom   

New Publications from India 

Hatha Yoga 

Hatha Yoga Pradipika (Mukti) 
Hatha Yoga Pradipika (Akers) 
Philosophy of Hatha Yoga 
Anatomy of Hatha Yoga 

Authors (search links)

Georg Feuerstein 
David Frawley 
Swami Ajaya 
Swami Prabhavananda 
Swami Rama 
Swami Vivekananda 
Ken Wilber 

Yoga Sutras (by Author) 

Swami Prabhavananda 
Swami Vivekananda
Swami Hariharananda Aranya 
Rama Prasada 
Georg Feuerstein 
Swami Satchitananda 
Pandit Usharbudh Arya  


Advaita Vedanta
Crest Jewel of Discrimination
The Upanishads 


Introduction to Tantra 
Path to Ecstasy 
Auspicious Wisdom 
Shakti Sadhana 

Other Recommended Books 

Autobiography of a Yogi 
No Boundary 
Play of Consciousness 
The Yoga Tradition  

Topics (search links)

Transpersonal Psychology  
Yoga Meditation 
Yoga Sutras  


Cultural Creatives 


Books by Swami Rama

Integration of Yoga, Vedanta, and Tantra: The tradition of the Himalayan sages is a source out of which many spiritual practices have emerged, and which have subsequently taken on individual identities as spiritual paths. The teachings of Swami Rama are a practical integration of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Advaita Vedanta, and Samaya (purely internal) Tantra. These encompass the teachings of the tradition of the Himalayan sages. His presentation of these ancient teachings is so straightforward as to be accessible to all people. (See the article, Yoga, Vedanta, and Tantra.)

Practical, clear, and deep: One thing that all of Swami Rama's books have in common is that they focus on the practical, and at the same time provide the depth of yogic theory. While I admit my bias, since he is my teacher, I truly mean this, that his presentation is practical and clear. It is common for someone to start reading his books and then tell me, in their own surprise, how extremely useful, understandable, and thorough they find his teachings. 

A complete study: There are many books by Swami Rama, and if you enjoy the first few, you might eventually like to have a complete library (if you find the first one or two useful).  However, there are three books that, together, form a complete study, containing essentially all of the principles. I have used these three books a great deal for teaching classes. They are: 

  1. Meditation and Its Practice  

  2. The Art of Joyful Living 

  3. Path of Fire and Light: Volume II 

Three recommendations: If you are wondering where to start in all of the Swami Rama books, getting copies of these three would be a good choice:

1. Meditation and Its Practice (original ISBN 0893891304)
A solid foundation for the practice of Yoga meditation. It is superb for the beginner, including instructions on preparation, sitting postures, breathing practices, and meditation itself. The chapters on mind and the chapter introducing a program for progress in Yoga meditation are profound, even for the more experienced meditator, and yet practical in describing the advanced stages of meditation. Unfortunately, this book has been significantly altered in a posthumous revision. The link here is to the original book, which can be purchased in the used book market.

2. The Art of Joyful Living (original ISBN 0893891177)
The first time I saw this book, I was put off by the title and a quick glance through the pages. It looked like just another pop psychology book. Wow, was I wrong. This book puts the wisdom of the ancient sages in wonderfully usable language. Another thing nice about this book is that the editor did a minimal amount of editing. Most of the language is in its original form, as if he is speaking to the reader, and speaks clearly of a voice of direct experience. Unfortunately, this book has been significantly altered in a posthumous revision. The link here is to the original book, which can be purchased in the used book market.

3. Path of Fire and Light: Volume II 
This book is Volume 2 of the series. Volume 1 is great and has many advanced practices. However, they are so difficult that he wrote Volume 2, which is subtitled "A Practical Companion to Volume 1." This book breaks down the path to enlightenment in eight clearly described steps. It also has great explanations of how to work with your mind, how to do internal dialogue, and how to work with energy and chakras. It gives detailed descriptions of Yoga Nidra, yogic sleep. 

More Books by Swami Rama

Each of the following will give added perspective on the teachings. Sometimes it can seem that we need more and more new information when, in fact, what we really need is to hear a similar message over and over, said in different ways. The Swami Rama books below will give you that diversity. 

Living With the Himalayan Masters    
This is a great book for everybody. It has over 100 different stories about travels around India and encounters with many sages.  If there were ever a book to which the word "inspiring" applies, this is it. I have met many people who started their journey of Yoga meditation because of reading this book. 
Perennial Psychology of the Bhagavad Gita    
Bhagavad Gita means "Song of the Lord" and is a very well known text, actually part of an epic poem, in which Krishna instructs Arjuna on the paths of Yoga. There are many commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita, each with its own focus. 
Swami Rama writes in the Introduction that, "Profound psychological insights are intertwined in the Bhagavad Gita with the philosophical concepts, so the task undertaken here is to separate the psychological principles and to explain their practical application.... Without the help of psychology -- knowing, analyzing, and learning to use our inner potentials -- we cannot fulfill the goal of human life: Self-realization."
Enlightenment Without God (Mandukya...    
The title can seem somewhat offensive. However, this is not anti-God, but rather is emphasizing the need to do self-enquiry to experience the Self. It is said that the entire wisdom of the East is in the Vedas, that the Upanishads is the distillation of that wisdom, and that of the over 100 known Upanishads, the most profound is the Mandukya Upanishad, the subject of this short book. The topic is the mantra AUM, and is summarized in 12 verses. Swami Rama's commentary is nothing short of awesome. Individual sentences will call out to you as you repeatedly refer back to this book over time. The text is out of print and you may have to locate a used copy. 
Lectures on Yoga     
Describes the eight rungs of Classical Yoga, from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The eight rungs are thoroughly described in separate chapters.  Originally published in India in the early 1960's, the book was later revised and republished. The book has been posthumously revised once again and re-titled The Royal Path: Practical Lessons on Yoga.
A Call to Humanity        
Subtitled "Revolutionary Thoughts on the Direction for Spiritual and Social Reform in Our Time." Discussions on spiritual practices in the context of our modern culture. An inspiration on being in the world. The book has been posthumously revised and given the new title of Spirituality
Choosing a Path     
A superb book for comparing and integrating the paths of Yoga. Includes chapters on Jnana, Bhakti, Karma, Raja, Laya, and Kundalini Yoga. There is also a chapter on Preparation for Choosing a Path, which serves as a clear foundation for all of the paths. 
Creative Use of Emotion     
As the name implies, the book deals with the use of emotions in the spiritual journey and in daily life. Many practical insights. The book is co-authored with Swami Ajaya, an American psychologist. 
More books by Swami Ajaya
Freedom from the Bondage of Karma     
An excellent, short book that gives really succinct and practical explanations of the process of forming and removing karma. 
Inspired Thoughts of Swami Rama     
A collection of published lectures transcripts and articles spanning a decade, from the 1970's to the early 1980's. Some really useful insights. 
Life Here and Hereafter: Kathopanishad     
Based on the Katha Upanishad, a story where the student Natchiketas means Yama, who symbolizes the one who knows the secret of life, death, and eternal being. Swami Rama describes the key principles of Vedanta in this book. 
Love and Family Life     
A beautiful description of living spiritual life in the midst of family life. Many couples have told me that they find this book to be an important part of their planning their family lives. 
Love Whispers     
Poetry of Swami Rama from his private diaries, in which he is writing of his love for the mother aspect of the Universe, of God. 
Path of Fire and Light: Advanced...     
This is the original (Volume 1) Path of Fire and Light, subtitled Advanced Practices of Yoga. It is an excellent resource, describing many advanced breathing practices. The chapters on the construction of the subtle body are very useful. 
Path of Fire and Light: Volume II 
This book is Volume 2 of the series. Volume 1 is great and has many advanced practices. However, they are so difficult that he wrote Volume 2, which is subtitled "A Practical Companion to Volume 1." This book breaks down the path to enlightenment in eight clearly described steps. It also has great explanations of how to work with your mind, how to do internal dialogue, and how to work with energy and chakras. It gives detailed descriptions of Yoga Nidra, yogic sleep.
A Practical Guide to Holistic Health     
This edition is a posthumous revision of a beautiful text that emphasizes the key of spiritual practices, particularly Yoga meditation in the process of attaining physical, mental, and spiritual health. It is really a very good book, especially if one reads carefully and follows the suggestions. 
Science of Breath    
By Swami Rama, Alan Hymes, and Rudolph Ballentine. A very good book for understanding the mechanics of breath, and gaining practical "how to" explanations.
Book of Wisdom     
Subtitled Wisdom of the Ancient Sages. Commentary and discussion of the Isha Upanishad, said to be the first of the Upanishads that is normally taught. In this text, Swami Rama comments on the Upanishad verse by verse, with practical wisdom. 
  New Publications from India    
Several other books by Swami Rama are available that have been published through the Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust in India. The link above is to the HIHT website page on publication. The books include Sacred Journey, Sadhana, Yoga the Sacred Science, and A Personal Philosophy of Life. 

These are each superb books and would be worth the difficulty in ordering (There is no "Add to Cart" style of ordering available). The web page gives you instructions on how to order and an email address to make contact.  


Yoga Sutras
 (Be sure to see the Yoga Sutras at

A foundation: In the tradition of the Himalayan sages, the Yoga Sutras is a foundation for training the mind. Philosophically the tradition follows Advaita Vedanta, the belief in one absolute Reality without a second. In the practices, internal Tantra guides one to the heights of direct experience. (See the article, Yoga, Vedanta, and Tantra.)

Have several copies: The Yoga Sutras can seem like an impossible study because of not quite knowing how to open the door. There are many commentaries, and we don't know which one to study. It is important to understand that there is no such thing as the perfect Yoga Sutra commentary. The key to learning is to have several, high quality translations and commentaries, and then to have a strategy for how to use them. Also, the tradition is actually an oral tradition, and it is the oral teachings that ultimately bring life to the teachings, along with practice of Yoga meditation. 

Recommendations: If you are just beginning your study of the Yoga Sutras, I recommend that you purchase one or both of the books by Swami Prabhavananda and Swami Vivekananda. Also there is the bound version of my translation, which is available through

How to Know God : The Yoga Aphorisms of..., Swami Prabhavananda. This is one of the shortest, most easy to read commentaries on the Yoga Sutras. From the perspective of Swami Prabhavananda, knowing yourself at the deepest level is the process of knowing God, hence the title.  
Raja-Yoga, Swami Vivekananda. The book is divided into two parts. Part 1 gives excellent explanations of Yoga philosophy and practice. Part 2 lists the Yoga Sutras. "Raja Yoga" is another name for Yoga as described by Patanjali. It means "Royal Yoga," as it contains the other Yogas. 
Yoga Sutras Interpretive Translation, Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati. This is an interpretive translation of the Yoga Sutra, expanding the number of English words, so as to allow the practical instructions to be clearer. For example, sutra 1.2 defines Yoga with some 25 English words, rather than only 4 Sanskrit words. The practices of the Yoga Sutras are extremely practical, though it can seem quite complicated when trying to sort through the language. By providing expanded, interpretive translations, the practical meaning of the suggestions more easily comes through. The individual transliterated Sanskrit words also have a large number of English translations, so as to give a more thorough understanding.

More Yoga Sutras Recommendations

Each of the Yoga Sutras commentaries listed below adds depth to your understanding of the Yoga Sutras. By using one of the first two (above) as a sort of index, when you are looking at a specific Sutra, you can then open a few of the following texts to expand your understanding of that specific Sutra. 

The point is that you will want to have several different commentaries to which you can refer. Go through the shorter texts, find a Sutra that intrigues you in your current study time, and then look around in the other commentaries relating to that Sutra. That, along with sincere practice of Yoga meditation will bring insights. 

Additional commentaries are at this link: Yoga Sutras.
Yoga Philosophy of Patanjali, Swami Hariharananda Aranya (rendered into English by P.N. Mukerji). This is possibly the most authoritative and authentic English translation and commentary of the Yoga Sutras. If you were to have only one commentary on the Yoga Sutras, this would be a superb choice. It is thorough and speaks from the perspective of one who is doing the practices, not just writing a scholarly commentary. I do not know the exact dates of Swami Hariharananda Aranya, but he must have left the body at least 50 years ago (someone has emailed that he thinks it is 1869-1947).  
Patanjali's Yoga Sutras (hardback) / Patanjali's Yoga Sutras (paperback) Rama Prasada (with commentaries of Vyasa and Vachaspati Misra). If there was competition with the text of Swami Hariharananda Aranya for the overall most useful commentary and translation of the Yoga Sutras, this would be it. Vyasa and Vachaspati Misra are most respected commentators. This text also contains the Sanskrit, including translations of the individual words of the Sutras. I often find myself reaching for this text when I want to get into the heart of individual words or principles. 
Unadorned Thread of Yoga, Salvatore Zambito. This is a compilation of 12 different translations. It is a large format book with each sutra on the left-hand page, including word for word translation along with Devanagri and transliterated Sanskrit. On the right-hand page are the 12 translations. The translations are from Pandit Usharbudh Arya, Alice Bailey, Manilal Nabhubai Dvivedi, Georg Feuerstein, Vyaas Houston, Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati, Swami Prabhavananda, Swami Purohit, Swami Satchidananda, Alistair Shearer, I. K. Taimini, and Swami Vivekananda.
The Yoga-Sutra of Patanjali : A New..., Georg Feuerstein. Excellent writing from the perspective of a Western yogi and scholar. He has gone to great length to make the individual Sanskrit words and phrases accessible. Highly recommended as a companion text to all of those above.  
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Swami Satchitananda. Simple, straightforward explanations. This is a commentary you will want to have with you when you want to remember that this is really not so complicated. Swami Satchitananda founded Yogaville in Virginia, USA.  
Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Usharbudh Arya (Now Swami Veda). In this scholarly commentary some 12 commentaries from different authors are compared and contrasted. The text deals only with the chapter one of the four chapters of the Yoga Sutras, but it will give you an idea of how minutely the scholars can review the Sanskrit, and how diverse are their scholarly opinions. 


In the tradition of the Himalayan sages, the Yoga Sutras is a foundation for training the mind. Philosophically the tradition follows Advaita Vedanta, the belief in one absolute Reality without a second. In the practices, internal Tantra guides one to the heights of direct experience. 

As noted above in the Yoga Sutras section, the tradition of the Himalayan sages philosophically practices Advaita Vedanta, the belief in one absolute Reality without a second. The books listed below will give you a foothold in these philosophies, and will allow you to see if these philosophies and practices appeal to you.
Advaita Vedanta : A Philosophical..., Eliot Deutsch. A relatively short book that does an excellent job of describing the theory of Advaita (non-dual) Vedanta. It explains Vedanta concepts directly, rather than following along the verses of some ancient text, as is often done. 
More books on Vedanta.
Shankara's Crest Jewel of Discrimination, Swami Prabhavananda (translator). Adi Shankaracharya of the 12th century wrote a great deal about Vedanta, some of which can be difficult reading. The Crest Jewel of Discrimination (Vivekachudamini) describes the philosophy and practice of Vedanta through the story of a teacher teaching his student, and is in very accessible language. This translation is in easy to read language. You may read it at a surface level and enjoy it, and also find profoundly deep wisdom here. Highly recommended. 
More books by Swami Prabhavananda.
The Upanishads : Breath of the Eternal, Swami Prabhavananda and Frederick Manchester (translators). It is said that the wisdom of the East is contained in the Vedas, and that if you squeeze out the juice of wisdom from the Vedas, this is contained in the Upanishads. This translation is in very easy to read, straightforward language. It has no commentary, so the book is short. It does not cover all of the major Upanishads, but it will give you a very good introduction. 
More books on the Upanishads
Vedantic Meditation: Lighting the Flame of Awareness ,  David Frawley. This book is very practical and "down to earth". Dr. Frawley does a superb job of explaining meditation in Vedanta and Yoga in a traditional way that speaks to us as modern, English speaking readers. I highly recommend it, along with the three books just above.

Introduction to Tantra Sastra, Sir John Woodroffe (Arthur Avalon). A modern classic and thorough description of the practice of Tantra. This book is of the "required reading" category for one who is serious about authentic Tantra. (Currently out of print, so you'll need to buy a used copy.)
Tantric Yoga and the Wisdom Goddesses, David Frawley. Superb overview of that many approaches to Tantra. Highly recommended.
Tantra: The Path of Ecstasy, Georg Feuerstein. Excellent overviews of authentic schools of Tantra. If you were to buy only one book on Tantra by a current author, this would be the one. 157062304X 
Auspicious Wisdom, Douglas Renfrew Brooks. Excellent text on Sri Vidya, said to be the highest of the Tantras. 
Shakti Sadhana: Steps to Samadhi, Pandit Rajmani Tigunait. Introduction by Swami Rama. Inspiring and practical translation of the ancient text, Tripura Rahasya, on the esoteric aspects of Tantra. 0893891401

Other Books
Autobiography of a Yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda. Paramahansa Yogananda has had a major impact on YogaVedanta in the West, and founded the Self-Realization Fellowship. He passed in 1952. This book is a superb story about his many experiences and encounters with other yogis as well. Very inspiring and, like Living with the Himalayan Masters, has been a starting point for many modern seekers. It's sort of essential reading on the path of Yoga meditation. When first meeting a person with interest in Yoga, one of the first, and most common questions is, "Have you read Autobiography of a Yogi?" 
More books by Paramahansa Yogananda
No Boundary : Eastern and Western..., Ken Wilber. A very solid primer on integrating spiritual traditions with psychology, from the perspective of the levels of consciousness. Highly recommended. Ken Wilber is one of the leading voices today.  
More books by Ken Wilber.
Play of Consciousness : A Spiritual..., Swami Muktananda. Gives a detailed account of his inner journey through the levels of consciousness. I know of no book that compares with his descriptions. While we each might experience the individual layers of consciousness somewhat differently from one another, his descriptions will give you a clear idea of where you are going.  
More books by Swami Muktananda.
The Yoga Tradition: History, Religion,..., Georg Feuerstein. For those who want a thorough review of the roots of authentic Yoga traditions, this book is second to none. 
More books by Georg Feuerstein.

Hatha Yoga
Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Swami Muktibodhananda Saraswati (translation and commentary). The Hatha Yoga Pradipika is a classic text by Swatmarama, outlining authentic Hatha Yoga as the spiritual discipline that Hatha Yoga is meant to be. This translation is a well known version, and important to have in your library if you practice Hatha Yoga.  
The Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Brian Dana Akers (translator). While it is lacking in commentary or discussion, the fact that it is only 128 pages suggests that it might be a useful companion to the 642 page translation and commentary of Swami Muktibodhananda (above). 
Philosophy of Hatha Yoga, Pandit Usharbudh Arya. Written by a brilliant scholar, this book gives great guidance about how the underlying principles of Hatha Yoga integrate with the greater whole of Yoga science, specifically that of Raja Yoga. 
Anatomy of Hatha Yoga, H. David Coulter. Few words are needed to describe this book as the most authoritative, as it stands alone in describing the relationship between Hatha Yoga and physiology. It is essential for any serious student of Hatha Yoga. The author further describes the book on his website


Following are the results of searches for several topics that may be of interest. These searches will bring you to many titles. 


Following are links to books by several authors whose work I respect. There are many titles here, and I have not read them all. However, the writings of these authors are generally quite useful and accessible. 

Georg Feuerstein: A widely recognized scholar and author in Yoga science and philosophy. He lives in California, where he founded the Yoga Research and Education Center. 

David Frawley: One of the most respected Western scholars in the fields of Yoga and Vedanta, as well as Ayurveda. His center is in New Mexico. 

Swami Ajaya: A student of Swami Rama and clinical psychologist. Has co-authored a few books, and has written a couple very good books integrating Eastern wisdom and modern psychology. These are out of print, but are well worth locating. 

Swami Prabhavananda: From the lineage of Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda. Founded the Vedanta Society of Southern California. Taught in US from 1923 until passing in 1976. His English translations and writings are excellent and easy to read. 

Swami Rama: With my admitted bias towards my own teacher, Swami Rama has presented the wisdom of the ancient sages of the Himalayas in extremely simple language, so that all can benefit, and yet has done so without compromising depth and quality. 

Swami Vivekananda: The first of the Swamis to go to America, arriving in 1893, and leaving the body in 1902. A student of Ramakrishna, and founder of Ramakrishna Math and Mission. His works are very useful and accessible to the modern English reader. 

Ken Wilber: One of the most wise and prolific authors of our time in the area of integrating Eastern wisdom and Western psychology, in the emerging field of Transpersonal Psycholgoy.

Miscellaneous Books

Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World. Very useful book that might be inspiring to many people who are venturing into the path of Yoga and spirituality and are feeling out of alignment with the majority of the culture around you. While this book on cultural change is written in the context of the American culture, it also relates to most people in the world who are seeking personal and worldly change.  



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This site is devoted to presenting the ancient Self-Realization path of the Tradition of the Himalayan masters in simple, understandable and beneficial ways, while not compromising quality or depth. The goal of our sadhana or practices is the highest Joy that comes from the Realization in direct experience of the center of consciousness, the Self, the Atman or Purusha, which is one and the same with the Absolute Reality. This Self-Realization comes through Yoga meditation of the Yoga Sutras, the contemplative insight of Advaita Vedanta, and the intense devotion of Samaya Sri Vidya Tantra, the three of which complement one another like fingers on a hand. We employ the classical approaches of Raja, Jnana, Karma, and Bhakti Yoga, as well as Hatha, Kriya, Kundalini, Laya, Mantra, Nada, Siddha, and Tantra Yoga. Meditation, contemplation, mantra and prayer finally converge into a unified force directed towards the final stage, piercing the pearl of wisdom called bindu, leading to the Absolute.











Yoga Nidra Meditation CD by Swami Jnaneshvara
Yoga Nidra CD
Swami Jnaneshvara