Prabhuji, His Holiness Avadhuta Yogacharya Ramakrishnananda Babaji Maharaja
Prabhuji is a writer, painter, avadhūta mystic, and the creator of Retroprogressive Yoga. In 2011, he chose to retire from society and lead the life of a hermit. Since then, his days have been spent in solitude, praying, writing, painting, and meditating in silence and contemplation.
Prabhuji is the sole disciple of H.D.G. Avadhūta Śrī Brahmānanda Bābājī Mahārāja, who is himself one of the closest and most intimate disciples of H.D.G. Avadhūta Śrī Mastarāma Bābājī Mahārāja.
Prabhuji was appointed as the successor of the lineage by his guru, who conferred upon him the responsibility of continuing the line of disciplic succession of avadhūtas, or the sacred paramparā, officially designating him as guru and commanding him to serve as the successor Ācārya with the name H.D.G. Avadhūta Bhaktivedānta Yogācārya Ramakrishnananda Bābājī Mahārāja.
Prabhuji’s Hinduism is so broad, universal, and pluralistic that at times, while living up to his title of avadhūta, his lively and fresh teachings transcend the boundaries of all philosophies and religions, even his own. The essence of his syncretic vision, Retroprogressive Yoga, is self-awareness and the recognition of consciousness. For him, awakening at the level of consciousness, or the transcendence of the egoic phenomenon, is the next step in humanity’s evolution.
Prabhuji was born on March 21, 1958, in Santiago, the capital of the Republic of Chile. When he was eight years old, he had a mystical experience that motivated his search for the Truth, or the Ultimate Reality. This transformed his life into an authentic inner and outer pilgrimage. He has completely devoted his life to deepening the early transformative experience that marked the beginning of his process of retroevolution. For more than fifty years, he has dedicated himself to exploring and practicing various religions, philosophies, paths of liberation, and spiritual disciplines. He has absorbed the teachings of great yogis, pastors, rabbis, monks, gurus, and saints whom he personally visited during years of searching. He has lived in many places and traveled the world thirsting for Truth.
Prabhuji is a recognized authority on Eastern wisdom. He is known for his erudition in the Vaidika and Tāntrika aspects of Hinduism and all branches of yoga (jñāna, karma, bhakti, haṭha, rāja, kuṇḍalinī, tantra, mantra, and others). He has an inclusive attitude toward all religions and is intimately familiar with Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Sufism, Taoism, Sikhism, Jainism, Shintoism, Bahaism, and the Mapuche religion, among others. He learned about the Druze religion directly from Salach Abbas and Kamil Shchadi.
His curiosity for Western thought led him to venture into the field of philosophy. He studied with his uncle, Jorge Balazs, philosopher and author of The Golden Deer. He also studied with Jonathan Ramos, a philosopher, historian, researcher, and professor at the Catholic University of Salta. He also studied with Dr. Alejandro Cavallazzi Sánchez.
Prabhuji focused especially on aesthetics, metaphysics, and the philosophy of life, the mind, religion, and being. He holds a doctorate in Vaishnava philosophy from the respected Jiva Institute in Vrindavan, India, and a doctorate in yogic philosophy from the Yoga Samskrutum University.
His profound studies, his masters’ blessings, his research into the sacred scriptures, and his vast teaching experience have earned him international recognition in the field of religion and spirituality.
His spiritual search led him to study with masters of diverse traditions and travel far from his native Chile to places as distant as Israel, India, and the USA. He has studied Hebrew and Sanskrit to deepen his understanding of the holy scriptures.
His father, Yosef Har-Zion, grew up under strict discipline because he was the son of a senior police sergeant. As a reaction to this upbringing, Yosef decided to raise his own children with complete freedom and unconditional love. Prabhuji grew up without any pressure. During his early years, his father showed his son the same love regardless of his successes or failures at school. When Prabhuji decided to drop out of school in the seventh grade to devote himself to his inner quest, his family accepted his decision with deep respect. From the time his son was ten years old, Yosef talked to him about Hebrew spirituality. They engaged in conversations about philosophy and religion for days on end and late into the night. Yosef supported him in whatever he wanted to do in his life and his search for Truth. Prabhuji was the authentic project of freedom and unconditional love of his father.
At an early age and on his own initiative, Prabhuji began to practice Karate and study philosophy and religion on his own. During his adolescence, no one interfered with his decisions. He traveled throughout Chile in search of interesting people to learn from.
In Chile in 1976, Prabhuji met H.D.G Bhaktikavi Atulānanda Ācārya Swami, disciple of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, with whom he began the initial stage of his retroprogressive process. In those days, Atulānanda Swami was a young brahmacārī who held the position of president of the ISKCON temple at Eyzaguirre 2404, Puente Alto, Santiago, Chile. Years later, he gave Prabhuji first initiation and Brahminical initiation. Eventually, he initiated Prabhuji into the sacred order of renunciation called sannyāsa within the Brahma Gauḍīya Saṁpradāya line of disciplic succession. H.D.G Bhaktikavi Atulānanda Ācārya introduced him to Kṛṣṇa and guided him in the wisdom of bhakti yoga, the practice of the māhā-mantra, and the study of the holy scriptures.
Prabhuji wanted to confirm his sannyāsa initiation in an Advaita Vedanta lineage. His sannyāsa-dīkṣā was confirmed by H.H. Swami Jyotirmayānanda Sarasvatī, founder of the Yoga Research Foundation and disciple of H.H. Swami Śivānanda Sarasvatī of Rishikesh.
In 1984, he learned and began to practice Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s Transcendental Meditation technique. In 1988, he took the kriyā-yoga course on Paramahaṁsa Yogananda, and was officially initiated into the technique of kriyā-yoga by the Self-Realization Fellowship.
In 1996, Prabhuji met his guru, H.D.G. Avadhūta Śrī Brahmānanda Bābājī Mahārāja, in Rishikesh, India. Guru Mahārāja, as Prabhuji called him, revealed that his own master, H.D.G. Avadhūta Śrī Mastarāma Bābājī Mahārāja, had told him years before he died that a person would come from the West and request to be his disciple. He commanded him to accept only that person and no one else. When he asked how he would identify this person, Mastarāma Bābājī replied, “You will recognize him by his eyes. You must accept him because he will be the continuation of the lineage.”
From the first moment Guru Mahārāja saw Prabhuji, he recognized him and officially initiated him into the māhā-mantra in Rishikesh, India. The initiation he received marked the end of a quest that began with his mystical experience at the age of eight. It also marked the beginning of the most intense and mature stage of Prabhuji’s retroprogressive process. Under the guidance of Guru Mahārāja, he studied Advaita Vedanta and deepen his meditation.
The enlightened bābājī guided Prabhuji on his first steps toward the sacred level of avadhūta. In March 2011, H.D.G. Avadhūta Śrī Brahmānanda Bābājī Mahārāja ordered Prabhuji, on behalf of his own master, to accept the responsibility of continuing the line of disciplic succession of avadhūtas. With this title, Prabhuji is the official representative of the line of this disciplic succession for the present generation.
Besides his dikṣā-guru, Prabhuji studied with important spiritual and religious personalities, such as H.H. Swami Dayananda Sarasvatī, H.H. Swami Viṣṇu Devānanda Sarasvatī, H.H. Swami Jyotirmayānanda Sarasvatī, H.H. Swami Pratyagbodhānanda, H.H. Swami Swahananda of the Ramakrishna Mission, and H.H. Swami Viditātmānanda of the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam. The wisdom of tantra was awakened in Prabhuji by H.G. Mātājī Rīnā Śarmā in India.
In Vrindavan, he did in-depth studies on the bhakti yoga path with H.H. Narahari Dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja, disciple of H.H. Nityananda Dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja of Vraja.
He also studied with some disciples of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda: H.H. Kapīndra Swami, H.H. Paramadvaiti Mahārāja, H.H. Jagajīvana Dāsa, H.H. Tamāla Kṛṣṇa Gosvāmī, H.H. Bhagavān Dāsa Mahārāja, and H.H. Kīrtanānanda Swami, among others.
Prabhuji has been honored with various titles and diplomas by many leaders of prestigious religious and spiritual institutions in India. He was given the honorable title Kṛṣṇa Bhakta by H.H. Swami Viṣṇu Devānanda (the only title of Bhakti Yoga given by Swami Viṣṇu), disciple of H.H. Swami Śivānanda Sarasvatī and the founder of the Sivananda Organization. He was given the title Bhaktivedānta by H.H. B.A. Paramadvaiti Mahārāja, the founder of Vrinda. He was given the title Yogācārya by H.H. Swami Viṣṇu Devānanda, the Paramanand Institute of Yoga Sciences and Research of Indore, India, the International Yoga Federation, the Indian Association of Yoga, and the Shri Shankarananda Yogashram of Mysore, India. He received the respectable title Śrī Śrī Rādhā Śyam Sunder Pāda-Padma Bhakta Śiromaṇi directly from H.H. Satyanārāyaṇa Dāsa Bābājī Mahant of the Chatu Vaiṣṇava Saṁpradāya.
Prabhuji spent more than forty years studying hatha yoga with prestigious masters in classical and traditional yoga, such as H.H. Bapuji, H.H. Swami Viṣṇu Devānanda Sarasvatī, H.H. Swami Jyotirmayānanda Sarasvatī, H.H. Swami Satchidananda Sarasvatī, H.H. Swami Vignanananda Sarasvatī, and Śrī Madana-mohana.
He attended several systematic hatha yoga teacher training courses at prestigious institutions until he achieved the level of Master Ācārya. He has completed studies at the following institutions: the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta, the Ananda Ashram, the Yoga Research Foundation, the Integral Yoga Academy, the Patanjala Yoga Kendra, the Ma Yoga Shakti International Mission, the Prana Yoga Organization, the Rishikesh Yoga Peeth, the Swami Sivananda Yoga Research Center, and the Swami Sivananda Yogasana Research Center.
Prabhuji is a member of the Indian Association of Yoga, Yoga Alliance ERYT 500 and YACEP, the International Association of Yoga Therapists, and the International Yoga Federation. In 2014, the International Yoga Federation honored him with the position of Honorary Member of the World Yoga Council.
His interest in the complex anatomy of the human body led him to study chiropractic at the prestigious Institute of Health of the Back and Extremities in Tel Aviv, Israel. In 1993, he received a diploma from Dr. Sheinerman, the founder and director of the institute. Later, he earned a massage therapy diploma at the Academy of Western Galilee. The knowledge acquired in this field deepened his understanding of hatha yoga and contributed to the creation of his own method.
“Retroprogressive Hatha Yoga” is the result of Prabhuji’s efforts to improve his own practice and teaching methods. It is a system based especially on the teachings of his gurus and the sacred scriptures. Prabhuji has systematized various traditional yoga techniques to create a methodology suitable for the Western public. The aspiration of Retroprogressive Yoga is for us to experience our true nature. It promotes balance, health, and flexibility through proper diet, cleansing techniques, preparations (āyojanas), sequences (vinyāsas), postures (asanas), breathing exercises (prāṇayama), relaxation (śavāsana), meditation (dhyāna), and exercises with locks (bandhas) and seals (mudras) to direct and empower prāṇa.
Since his childhood and throughout his life, Prabhuji has been an enthusiastic admirer, student, and practitioner of classic karate-do. From the age of 13, he studied different styles in Chile, such as kenpo and kung-fu, but specialized in the most traditional Japanese style of Shotokan. He received the rank of black belt (third dan) from Shihan Kenneth Funakoshi (ninth dan). He also learned from Sensei Takahashi (seventh dan) and practiced Shorin Ryu style with Sensei Enrique Daniel Welcher (seventh dan), who granted him the rank of black belt (second dan). Through karate-do, he delved into Buddhism and gained additional knowledge about the physics of motion. Prabhuji is a member of Funakoshi’s Shotokan Karate Association.
Prabhuji grew up in an artistic environment. His father, the renowned Chilean painter Yosef Har-Zion ZT”L, motivated him to devote himself to art from an early age. Prabhuji’s love for painting was developed from a young age. His abstract paintings reflect the depths of the spirit.
Since he was a young boy, Prabhuji has been especially drawn to postal stamps, postcards, mailboxes, postal transportation systems, and all mail-related activities. He has taken every opportunity to visit post offices in different cities and countries. He has delved into the study of philately, the field of collecting, sorting, and studying postage stamps. This passion led him to become a professional philatelist, a stamp distributor authorized by the American Philatelic Society, and a member of the following societies: the Royal Philatelic Society London, the Royal Philatelic Society of Victoria, the United States Stamp Society, the Great Britain Philatelic Society, the American Philatelic Society, the Society of Israel Philatelists, the Society for Hungarian Philately, the National Philatelic Society UK, the Fort Orange Stamp Club, the American Stamp Dealers Association, the US Philatelic Classics Society, and FILABRAS – Associação dos Filatelistas Brasileiros.
Based on his extensive knowledge of philately, theology, and Eastern philosophy, Prabhuji created “Meditative Philately” or “Philatelic Yoga,” a spiritual practice that uses philately as the basis for practicing attention, concentration, observation, and meditation. Meditative Philately is inspired by the ancient Hindu maṇḍala meditation and it can lead the practitioner to elevated states of consciousness, deep relaxation, and concentration that fosters the recognition of consciousness. Prabhuji wrote his thesis on this new type of yoga, “Meditative Philately,” attracting the interest of the Indian academic community due to its innovative way of connecting meditation with different hobbies and activities. For this thesis, he was honored with a PhD in Yogic Philosophy from Yoga-Samskrutum University.
For many years, Prabhuji lived in Israel for many years, where he furthered his studies of Hebrew and Judaism. One of his main teachers and sources of inspiration was Rabbi Shalom Dov Lifshitz ZT”L, whom he met in 1997. This great saint guided him for several years on the intricate paths of the Torah and Chassidism. The two developed a very intimate relationship. Prabhuji studied the Talmud with Rabbi Raphael Rapaport Shlit”a (Ponovich), Chassidism with Rabbi Israel Lifshitz Shlit”a, and the Torah with Rabbi Daniel Sandler Shlit”a. Prabhuji is a great devotee of Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu ZT”L, who personally blessed him.
Prabhuji visited the USA in 2000 and during his stay in New York, he realized that it was the most appropriate country he had ever visited to found a non-profit religious organization to preserve his teachings and literary work. He was particularly attracted by the pluralism and respectful attitude of the American society toward freedom of religion. He was impressed by the deep respect of both the public and the government for religious minorities. After consulting with his master and requesting his blessings, Prabhuji relocated to the United States in 2001. In 2003, the Prabhuji Mission was born, a Hindu church aimed at preserving Prabhuji’s universal and pluralistic vision of Hinduism and his Retroprogressive Yoga.
Although he did not seek to attract followers, for 15 years (1995–2010), Prabhuji considered the requests of a few people to become monastic disciples. Those who chose to see Prabhuji as their spiritual master voluntarily accepted vows of poverty and life-long dedication to spiritual practice (sadhāna), religious devotion (bhakti), and selfless service (seva). Although Prabhuji no longer accepts new disciples, he continues to guide the small group of monastic disciples of the Ramakrishnananda Monastic Order that he founded.
In 2011, Prabhuji founded the Avadhutashram (monastery) in the Catskills Mountains in upstate New York, USA. The Avadhutashram is the headquarters of the Prabhuji Mission, his hermitage, and the residence of the monastic disciples of the Ramakrishnananda Monastic Order. The ashram organizes humanitarian projects such as the Prabhuji Food Distribution Program and the Prabhuji Toy Distribution Program. Prabhuji operates various humanitarian projects, inspired in his experience that serving the part is serving the Whole.
In January 2012, Prabhuji’s health forced him to officially renounce managing the mission. Since then, he has lived in solitude, completely away from the public, writing and absorbed in contemplation. He shares his experience and wisdom in books and filmed talks. His message does not promote collective spirituality, but individual inner search.
In 2022, Prabhuji founded the Institute of Retroprogressive Yoga. Here, his most senior disciples can systematically share Prabhuji’s teachings and message through video conferences.
Prabhuji is a respected member of the American Philosophical Association, the American Association of Philosophy Teachers, the American Association of University Professors, the Southwestern Philosophical Society, the Authors Guild, the National Writers Union, PEN America, the International Writers Association, the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors, and the National Writers Association.
Prabhuji’s vast literary contribution includes books in Spanish, English, and Hebrew, for example, Kundalini Yoga: The Power is in you, What is, as it is, Bhakti-Yoga: The Path of Love, Tantra: Liberation in the World, Experimenting with the Truth, Advaita Vedanta: Be the Self, commentaries on the Īśāvāsya Upanishad and the Diamond Sūtra.