I am a disciple of James Swartz (also known as Ramji), who is a world-renowned Vedanta teacher. Isnpired by his first guru Swami Chinmayananda, Ramji has made it his mission to make the traditional teachings of Vedanta available to English-speaking Westerners in way that is accessible and yet in complete alignment with the traditional teachings of Vedanta. He lives most of the time in USA, but he still keeps a busy schedule all around the world. You will find thousands of Satsangs in his website, as well several of his books and videos. It is indeed a treasure not to be misssed.
James’ guru was Swami Chinmayananda, founder of the worldwide Chinmaya Mission and one of the foremost teachers of Vedanta in the 20th century. Known as the Pope of India, Swami Chinmayananda was one of the first traditional Vedanta teachers to make translations of and commentaries on the scriptures available in English. He is counted amongst the most notable spiritual leaders in India. He was considered as an authority on the ancient Indian scriptures, especially the sacred Bhagwad Gita and the Upanishads. He was the the author of more than 30 books, dedicated to the philosophical belief behind religion. Read this biography on Swami Chinmayananda further to know more about the great leader, his life history, his mission, etc…
Ramji's teaching style has also been profoundly influenced by Swami Dayananda, who is his guru-brother (i.e. both were disciples of Swami Chinmayananda). Swami Dayananda Saraswati is another masterful Vedanta teacher and a scholar in Sanskrit in the tradition of Sankara. He has been teaching Vedanta in India for more than five decades and around the world since 1976. His deep scholarship and assimilation of Vedanta combined with a subtle appreciation of contemporary problems make him to reach both traditional and modern students. Swami Dayananda has also played an instrumental role in making the teachings and scriptures of Vedanta available in English.
After having stayed at the ashram of Chinmayananda for over two years and having “attained” Moksa, Ramji spent some time back in the USA. On a later occasion he met Swamiji and mentioned to him that he would like to stay in the company of a teacher of the Bhakti tradition. Swamiji then, with highest possible esteem and regard directed him to Swami Adhedananda. Ramji often says that Abhedananda was the purest and most luminous soul he ever met. "Swami Abhedananda of Tiruvananthapuram, Kerala is one such greatest Saint of the 20th Century who advocated the “Hare Rama…” Mahamantra as the simplest means to attain liberation. Swamiji strongly believed that spirituality can bring about unity in humanity. He prescribed singing the names of the Lord with Bhakti and singing it aloud on the street shedding away inhibitions . The ‘Koti Archana’ program which involves chanting the “Hare Rama..” Mahamantra a crore times offering flowers (‘archana’) to the Lord by devotees transcending caste or creed is being followed in various parts of India even today."
More recentely another influence of particular note on James Swartz teaching style is Swami Paramarthananda, who studied under both Swami Chinmayananda and Swami Dayananda. He studied in Sandeepany Sadhanalaya of Chinmaya Mission. Took Sanyasa from Swami Dayanandaji. He is devoted to both Masters – Swami Chinmayananda and Swami Dayananda. Later he has started offering advaitha vedanta shastra classes in Chennai. He is a masterful teacher who still lives and teaches in Chennai, India.
Shri Adi Shankaracharya (788-820)
"Shri Adi Shankaracharya or (the first Shankara) with his remarkable reinterpretations of Hindu scriptures, especially on Upanishads or Vedanta, had a profound influence on the growth of Hinduism at a time when chaos, superstition and bigotry was rampant. Shankara advocated the greatness of the Vedas and was the most famous Advaita teacher who restored the Vedic Dharma and Vedanta to its pristine purity and glory."
"Shankaracharya, also known as Bhagavatpada Acharya (the guru at the feet of Lord), apart from refurbishing the scriptures, cleansed the Vedic religious practices of ritualistic excesses and ushered in the core teaching of Vedanta, which is Advaita or non-dualism for the mankind. Shankara restructured various forms of desultory religious practices into acceptable norms and stressed on the ways of worship as laid down in the Vedas."
"His works in Sanskrit discuss the unity of the ātman and Nirguna Brahman "brahman without attributes". He wrote copious commentaries on the Vedic canon (Brahma Sutras, Principal Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita) in support of his thesis. His works elaborate on ideas found in the Upanishads. Shankara's publications criticised the ritually-oriented Mīmāṃsā school of Hinduism. He also explained the key difference between Hinduism and Buddhism, stating that Hinduism asserts "Atman (Soul, Self) exists", while Buddhism asserts that there is "no Soul, no Self".