This month I’ll be writing a number of posts about the book: Carried by a Promise by Swami Radhananda. I’m fortunate enough to have been offered a review copy, and right now I’m about four paragraphs in and enjoying it immensely.
For me there’s a personal connection to this story, even if it’s several times removed. Swami Radhananda’s guru is Swami Radha, and her guru is Swami Sivananda. Another student of Swami Sivananda was Paramahansa Satyananda, who is my guru’s guru. So we are of the same root lineage.
Additionally, I’ve always felt very connected to Swami Sivananda through reading books by and about him and through his photos.
This was the first photo of Swami Sivananda I ever saw on a wall at my guru’s house when he lived in Australia:
It’s hard to explain, but I feel that I know him even though he died before I was born. Then when I first read Swami Radha’s book [Diary of a Woman's Search], I found it very compelling – in part due to her relationship to Swami Sivananda and also because I had an intense healing experience mid-read, lying on my couch in a tiny apartment in Melbourne.
I’ve re-read Swami Radha’s book many times, always gaining some new insight I could relate to. I’ve since given it to someone else that I felt really needed it, but I’ll buy it again some day as it’s one of those books that lives in my heart.
Given all the above, Swami Radhananda’s story is of great interest to me. Once again we have the story of a western woman on an intense spiritual journey – and there really aren’t enough of these stories – which is odd when you consider that the western-world yoga scene is primarily dominated by women.
For much of 2010 the yoga blogosphere was on fire about what “real” yoga is, who’s doing it and who isn’t, the uber-commercialisation of yoga as a brand and so on. In stark contrast, what Swami Radha and Swami Radhananda are writing about are very personal and real stories about their yoga practice. About the transformation of their lives through yoga – and we’re not just talking about who can do what poses.
So far from what I’ve read of Carried by a Promise, it is rich in honesty and self-reflection. I am impressed by the number of questions Swami Radhananda managed to come up with as she struggled with her burgeoning spiritual life at the same time as her marriage was disintegrating, while she worked to raise her kids and pay a mortgage without an income from her husband.
My first impressions are that she was both vulnerable and fierce in the pursuit of her studies. Her words are like honey, and they remind me of everything that’s happened in my own life since I first met my guru in 1998. I feel like I’m reading the diary of someone I know and it invokes that same sense of “home” I get when among my kula and with my guru.
Suffice to say I am looking forward to wading in deeper!
So hang tight, and I’ll be posting my reflections from the book in the next little while. In the meantime you might enjoy checking out Swami Radhananda’s website, which includes video clips of her reading parts of the book.
Finally, you can read a review by Roseanne at It’s all yoga, baby – she’s already read the book and her account has me very excited and curious!