Ram Dass first went to India in 1967 when he was still Dr. Richard Alpert, an already eminent Harvard psychologist and psychedelic pioneer with Dr. Timothy Leary. In India, he met his guru, Neem Karoli Baba, who gave Ram Dass his name, which means “servant of God.” Everything changed then – his intense dharmic life started, and he became a pivotal influence on a culture that has reverberated with the words “Be Here Now” ever since. Ram Dass’s spirit has been a guiding light for three generations.
Through the auspices of Center for Spiritual Studies, Director Sridhar Silberfein brought Ram Dass over to Maui in 2004 to host a retreat. When recognizing a notable difference in Ram Dass’ well-being, it was decided he would stay on the island to maintain good health. After securing a home, assistants, doctors, therapist, and making sure Ram Dass was well taken care of financially, the Love, Serve Remember Foundation was created to replace Center for Spiritual Studies in 2009. Simultaneously Bhakti Fest was created and founded by Sridhar—from a vision he had on the stage at the Woodstock Festival standing along side Swami Satchidananda. Looking out at the field of humanity of 500,000 wild Americans, Sridhar said to Swamiji, “wouldn’t it be wonderful to be casting our eyes on the same amount of people chanting the Hari-nam (the names of the Divine)?” Forty years later, the stage was set and this envisioning came to fruition through the workings of Bhakti Fest.
Today, you can find one-of-a-kind reunions of these two longtime friends at the special screening of Ram Dass interviews in the Workshop hall of all Bhakti Festivals. Listen in as they discuss current events, life experiences, and all things devotional.
Since Bhakti Fest’s inception, Ram Dass has made an annual appearance through exclusive interviews with founder, Sridhar Silberfein, who travels to Maui each year and films their conversations. Known for their humor, inspiration, and unmasked devotional attitude, these videos have been a highlight of the festival for the past six years. Transcribed for print and edited by Amy V. Dewhurst, author of Heartbreak Yoga, with a forward by notable kirtan artist Krishna Das, these conversations are presented in ways that are relatable to the Western yogi, no matter their level of practice or experience with yoga and Eastern spirituality. Known to never shy away from controversy, Sridhar approaches sensitive topics with ease and candor-from the spiritual significance of psychedelics to contemplating one’s own death. Always poised, Ram Dass handles each hard-to-touch-area with grace and wisdom. This is the rebellious yet affectionate Ram Dass who shocked many in the 60s but inspired generations to a higher way of thinking, and ultimately being. You’ll laugh; you’ll cry; you’ll be inspired to buy a ticket for Bhakti Fest-the only place in the world that consistently provides a space for the exploration of this level of consciousness and devotion.