Swami Rudrananda (Rudi)

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Fast Facts
Albert Rudolph.jpg
Other Names and Nicknames: 
Birthname: Albert Rudolph, Rudi
Spiritual Teacher
Kundalini Yoga, Shaktipat, Sidha Yoga, Dashanami Sampradaya (Sarasvati branch)
Main Countries of Activity: 
Date of Birth: 
January 24, 1928
Place of Birth: 
Brooklyn, NYC, NY, USA
In His/Her Body ("alive"): 
Date Left His/Her Body: 
February 21, 1973
Descendant Gurus: 
Other Related Gurus: 
Pak Subuh, Shankaracharya of Puri


Swami Rudrananda (Rudi) was a spiritual teacher and master of Kundalini Yoga.

He was highly influenced by the works of Gurdjieff and Pak Subuh but met his root guru, Swami Bhagawan Nityananda, in 1960. After Nityananda’s passing, he spent 13 years studying with Swami Muktananda who he brought to the West in the early 1970′s. Shortly thereafter Rudi broke with Swami Muktananda.

He was born to a Jewish family in Brooklyn, New York. His father abandoned the family when he was young.

His first spiritual experience occurred at age 6 in a park. Two Tibetan Buddhist lamas appeared out of nowhere and stood before him. They told him they represented the heads of the "Red Hat" and "Yellow Hat" sects, 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 began his first job at age 12 in a handbag factory, due to a labor shortage during World War II. To supplement his income, he searched through neighborhood rubbish bins to find items to sell. His next job was at a textile company when he was 16 years old, where he worked for the next two years.

He joined the army at the age of 18 and for more than a year, served as an instructor for the government, teaching at the University of Washington in Seattle. After being discharged, he returned to his job at the textile company in New York.

He claimed that at the age of 20, he experienced a deep spiritual awakening.

He said that once walking in Greenwich Village in NY, 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 sculptures he had collected.

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

During that time, he was studying the works of Gurdjieff and was highly influenced by them.

In early 1959, Rudi declared himself a spiritual teacher and began teaching students individually in his store. Rudi’s method was to sit opposite a student and gaze intently into their eyes for perhaps five to ten minutes, said to allow him to transmit shaktipat energy.

In 1960, Rudi began to hold classes in his apartment, which consisted of an open-eyed meditation where he transmitted shaktipat energy in a group setting, followed by a lecture. Occasionally after classes, Rudi would invite the students up to his living room to play poker, or he would take them to dinner in Chinatown.

In the same year, he met his root guru, Swami Bhagawan Nityananda.

In 1961, Rudi met Swami Venkatesananda in India, and they became lifelong friends.

In 1962, after Bhagawan Nityananda's death, Rudi became a student of Swami Muktananda in India. In 1966, he traveled to Ganeshpuri with the intention of obtaining the title of "Swami" from Muktananda. Muktananda did not want to give Rudi the title and so Rudi spoke with Chakrapani Ullal, a Vedic astrologer, about the situation. Chakrapani Ullal agreed with Rudi and persuaded Muktananda to give him the title, 'Swami Rudrananda', thereby initiating him into the Sarasvati branch of the Dashanami Sampradaya, established by Shankara in the 8th century. In 1971, Rudi dissolved his affiliation with Muktananda.

In 1964, Franklin Jones, who later became the controversial guru Adi Da, became a close student. For two years, Rudi's influence on Jones was pervasive. Jones eventually traveled to India to meet Swami Muktananda, who encouraged Jones to abandon his studies with Rudi and study with himself directly, which Jones did. Later, after joining the Church of Scientology, Jones severed all contact with Rudi, though they spoke again years later.

In 1968, Rudi began searching for a location to establish an ashram. After a few months, he discovered a small Borscht Belt resort in the town of Big Indian, New York. He purchased and named it Shree Gurudev Rudrananda Yoga Ashram. He traveled there on weekends, giving classes and supervising the restoration of the property by his students.

In 1970, Rudi arranged for Muktananda to visit the United States for the first time. Muktananda arrived with his entourage on Labor Day weekend in New York, and traveled with Rudi to Big Indian to stay for two months. Rudi later escorted Muktananda on tour to Texas and California.

In September 1972, Rudi traveled to India with four of his students. While in India, they visited Swami Chidananda at the Divine Life Society in Rishikesh.

By the end of 1972, Rudi had established fourteen ashrams in the US, and three in Europe.

In early 1973, he published 'Spiritual Cannibalism', his only book.

On February 21, 1973, Rudi died in a small plane crash in the Catskills. The three other occupants walked away with only minor injuries. He was dictating a journal entry, and his last words were, "...a deeper sense of surrender".


Rudi taught an eclectic blend of techniques he called 'Kundalini Yoga' (though with no formal relation to the Indian tradition by that name). 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".

He developed several spiritual exercises with physical components, which he describes in detail in his book 'Spiritual Cannibalism'. They include exercises for releasing negative energy, cultivating gratitude, sitting with deceased persons, and double breathing for drawing in cosmic energy.



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Books & Media

Recommended Books: 
Cover image

Rudi: Spiritual Cannibalism

by Swami Rudrananda


A unique effort to help those willing to fulfill their divine potential reach their goal. Beloved Swami Rudrananda outlines the concept of spiritual work, describes his life of disciplined yoga practices, puts into perspective the relationship of human beings to one another, and explores our basic need to grow--and the role played by the guru in fostering this development.