Senior Teacher

October 2017 was an interesting month.  It was when we—Monica, Radhika and I—officially formed Bhakti House.  It was Gurudev’s 85th birthday.  It was when I received two amazing awards.

The awards were, in many ways, identical but they also couldn’t be more different.  I learned of one by phone and the other by text and both of them were awarded within minutes of each other.  The phone call, from 5 miles away, told me to go home.  The text, from 3600 miles away, congratulated me for receiving an award.


One of the tenets of yoga is the word Tapas.  It’s often translated as asceticism or austerity.  It also means heat and mental or physical pain.  One sage translated it as “Accepting pain as an aid for purification.”  When I arrived home, I found two of my boys fighting.  One was shutdown and the other was screaming.  The screaming changed directions.  For two hours my son screamed at me for every horrible thing that had ever happen in his life.  Later, I shared my surprise that he hadn’t hit me, the violence and anger flooding out of him was so strong.  He laughed and said, “I wanted to but I didn’t want to break your glasses.”  Throughout the event, I was as peaceful, both inside and out, as a tree resting in the summer sun.

In that peace, I listened to every word my son yelled.  I listened to his pain as it raged on and on until, at last, it was all burned up.  That day, our relationship changed in ways I had never dreamed possible.  In the past, he would flinch when I walked near him (I blame  Morgan Freeman , sort of).  There’s no more flinching and the anger is gone.  That was the first award.

Out of the Blue

As I said, I learned of the second award by text and that text came during the hurricane with my son.  The text read, “Congrats Ramdas!  Senior Amrit Teacher!  So filled with joy for you!  Hope I didn’t blow a surprise.”  That initial text was quickly followed by a flood of texts and messages.  Three days later, I received an email from Kamini, Gurudev’s daughter:

Dear Teachers,

I wanted to extend my personal congratulations to you for receiving the Senior teacher award from Gurudev.  If you did not already receive it, you will shortly be receiving this award in the mail along with an explanation of what the award means.  I just wanted you all to know that I am proud that you are carrying these teachings to the world in the way you are.  Each time I see you, I am struck with the way in which each of you uniquely and beautifully  carries the essence of these teaching into your own communities and to the people you reach.  I am glad you are out there sharing this light in such a powerful way.

You have all my love and blessings for your continued growth and development on the path.  May we together share these teachings and bring peace to the hearts of so many who need it!

Much love,  Kamini

I was still very unsure of the significance of the award.  A few days later, a large envelope arrived from the Amrit Yoga Institute.  In it were the three documents pictured below.

The award reads “In recognition of your dedication and appreciation of your many years of intensive study, teaching and practice of the spiritual principles of the science of yoga.  I hereby confer upon Tyron Ramdas Ormond the distinguished title of Senior Teacher of the Lineage.  May the practice of the shakti-based Integrative Amrit Method empower you to embody consciousness and compassion.  We honor you as an emissary of love and light to the world.  With love and blessings from our sacred lineage of masters, Lord Lakulish • Swami Shri Kripalvanandji • Gurudev Shri Amritji.”  It is signed, “Gurudev Shri Amritji, 16 October 2017.”

The picture of Gurudev and Kamini reads, “‘Being a senior teacher is more than just information—it is who you are.  You are a designated carrier of the essence of the teachings of this lineage.  You embody the heart, the presence, the devotion and the skill to illuminate the light of knowing in others.  May you continue to deepen and embody the voice of your own inner knowing and your connection to this path so that you may lead others back to their Source.’  Kamini”

The final document explains each of the awards.  “The ultimate sacred blessing from, the Guru is that of “Acharya” and “Yoga Acharya.”  The attainment of which is reserved only for a few dedicated, disciplined disciples.

“In 2012 Kamini and Chandrakant received these higher blessings.  Kamini as “Yogeshwari” and Chandrakant as “Yoga Acharya.”  This year when sitting with Gurudev about the awards we recognized a need for a few more stepping stones of appreciation and recognition for our teachers and dedicated spiritual practitioners.

“It was important to more fully define what each category is representative of.  Gurudev, Kamini and Chandrakant were each part of the discussion.  Following that discussion, the progressive levels of recognition are:

DISTINGUISHED SENIOR TEACHER AWARD.  These awardees are the designated representatives for the teachings of the Lineage.  They teach the teachings of the lineage with skill, presence and heart.  They are committed to living the principles of teaching in their everyday life.  They are a leader and example for others not just in how they teach, but in their conduct and interactions with others.

SPIRITUAL PRECEPTOR AWARD.  They are not only a senior teacher, but have dedicated and committed their life to the teachings.  They are a guide and mentor for others as well as teachers in training.  Gurudev feels they fully represent him and the Lineage that he holds.  They have a committed and dedicated sadhana.

ACHARYA.  These awardees demonstrate masterful qualities of leadership and are capable of carrying the teachings to the world-at-large.  They are well versed in scripture so that they recognize and can interpret scripture in relation to the teachings in todays world.  They exude an essence/a presence and an outstanding ability to “transmit” through both words and
energy the core teachings of this lineage.

YOGA ACHARYA. They are a master teacher, charismatic and their life is an embodiment of the teachings.  By way of their teaching and being, energetic transformational shifts are created in others.

“Gurudev felt that by having this progression better understood, it would create an appreciation for those receiving the awards and an incentive for those just starting out.”
Those awarded Senior Teacher this year are:
Indu Heather Eirling
Priti Chanda Klco
Ramdas Tyron Ormond
Hasu Marnie Coulter
Chaitanya John Vosler
Jaya Jennifer Buckland
Chitre Marie Bailey
Renu Diane Zagoria
Spiritual Preceptor:
Nirali Lauren McCrea

So, what does it mean?  It means exactly what you make it out to mean.  What does it mean to me?  Bapuji wrote the following in a letter to Gurudev and it embodies how I see this award:

This kriya I had shown you is for yourself so that your love for yoga will grow and that you would have direct experience of yoga.

I have shown you this kriya so that among these organizations, yours may attain a unique position.  [ . . . . ]  [S]pread it appropriately.

Titles, awards, labels, everything we receive all comes to us so our love will grow and so we may attain a unique position to spread that love appropriately.

Making Sense of It All

The awards are different from each other, that’s easy to see.  One isn’t even something most people would call an award!  I started out by writing that they’re almost identical.  The award only confirms what I already experience and is perfectly expressed in an email Kamini sent me.  I had written to her and Gurudev thanking them for the award and sharing my experience from that night, she wrote in reply:

Dearest Ramdas,

This beautiful exchange between you and your son tells me you have truly embodied the teachings.  I am so pleased and proud that you represent our lineage.  With all my love, Kamini

Time and time again, these teaching and this Lineage has saved my life and saved my family.  Is it any wonder that I have such devotion for Gurudev, Kamini and Chandrakant and all that they have each given me?
Again and Again,
Jai Bhagwan