Prabhuji, David Har-Zion
David, Ben Yosef, Har-Zion, who writes under the pen name Prabhuji, is an artist, writer, painter, composer, and avadhūta mystic. He is the only disciple of H.H. Avadhūta Śrī Brahmānanda Bābājī Mahārāja, who in July 2014 conferred on him the title of ācārya and appointed him as the bona fide representative of his lineage or paramparā. He has chosen to retire from society and lead the life of a hermit. He spends his days in solitude, praying, studying, writing, painting, and meditating in silence and contemplation.
He was born in Santiago, the capital of the Republic of Chile, on March 21, 1958. When he was eight years old, he had a mystical experience that sparked his search for the Truth, or the ultimate reality. For more than fifty years, he has dedicated himself to the deep exploration and practice of various religions and spiritual paths. He has devoted his life to deepening the early transformative experience that marked the beginning of his process of involution.
Prabhuji is a recognized authority on Eastern wisdom. He is known for his erudition in the Vaidika and Tāntrika aspects of Hinduism and in all the branches of yoga (jñāna, karma, bhakti, haṭha, rāja, kuṇḍalinī, tantra, mantra, and so on). He has an inclusive attitude toward all religions and he deeply knows Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Taoism, etc.
For Prabhuji, awakening at the level of consciousness, or the transcendence of the egoic phenomenon, is the next step in humanity’s evolution. He believes that the essence of religion is the knowledge of oneself. His syncretic vision speaks of the recognition of consciousness.
His spiritual search led him to study with many different masters of various traditions and to travel far from his native Chile, to places as distant as Israel, India, and the USA. Among his teachers, there are important spiritual personalities of the stature of Paraṁ-pūjya Avadhūta Yogacharya Śrī Brahmānanda Bābājī Mahārāja, Paraṁ-pūjya Swami Dayananda Sarasvatī, Swami Viṣṇu Devānanda Sarasvatī, Swami Jyotirmayānanda Sarasvatī, Swami Swahananda of the Ramakrishna Mission, and Swami Viditātmānanda of the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam.
He studied the path of bhakti yoga in depth with Narahari Dāsa Bābājī of Vrindavan, Sant Keśava dāsa, Atulānanda Mahārāja, Paramadvaiti Mahārāja, Jagajīvana Das, Tamāla Kṛṣṇa Gosvāmī, Bhagavān dāsa Mahārāja, and Kīrtanānanda Swami.
The wisdom of Tantra was awakened in Prabhuji by Mātājī Rīnā Śarmā in India.
His profound studies, his masters’ blessings, his research into the sacred scriptures, and his vast teaching experience have earned him international recognition in the field of religion and spirituality.
Several authorities of prestigious religious and spiritual institutions from India have honored Prabhuji with various titles and diplomas. The Bhaktivedānta title was conferred on him by H.H. B.A. Paramadvaiti Mahārāja, a disciple of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda and the founder of Vrinda. The Yogācārya title was given to him by H.H. Swami Viṣṇu Devānanda, a disciple of H.H. Swami Śivānanda Sarasvatī and the founder of the Sivananda Organization, as well as by the Paramanand Institute of Yoga Sciences and Research of Indore, India, the International Yoga Federation, the Indian Association of Yoga, and the Shri Shankarananda Yogashram of Mysore, India. The sannyāsa order was conferred on him by H.H. Swami Jyotirmayānanda Sarasvatī, the founder of the Yoga Research Foundation, by H.H. B.A. Paramadvaiti Mahārāja, and by H.H. Bhaktivedānta Atulānanda Ācārya, both disciples of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda. Finally, in 2011, he renounced the sannyāsa order to be initiated into the highly elevated avadhūta bābājī order directly by his master, Paraṁ-pūjya Avadhūta Śrī Brahmānanda Bābājī Mahārāja.
Prabhuji spent more than forty years studying hatha yoga with prestigious masters in the field of classical and traditional yoga, such as H.H. Bapuji, H.H. Swami Viṣṇu Devānanda Sarasvatī (1927–1993), H.H. Swami Jyotirmayānanda Sarasvatī, H.H. Swami Satchidananda Sarasvatī, H.H. Swami Vignanananda Sarasvatī, and Śrī Madana-mohana.
He attended several systematic hatha yoga teacher training courses at various prestigious institutions until he achieved the master ācārya level. He graduated from Sivananda Yoga Vedanta, Ananda Ashram, Yoga Research Foundation, Integral Yoga Academy, Patanjala Yoga Kendra, Ma Yoga Shakti International Mission, Prana Yoga Organization, Rishikesh Yoga Peeth, Swami Sivananda Yoga Research Center, and Swami Sivananda Yogasana Research Center.
Prabhuji is a member of the Indian Association of Yoga, Yoga Alliance ERYT 500 and YACEP, International Association of Yoga Therapists, and International Yoga Federation. In 2014, the International Yoga Federation honored him with the position of Honorary Member of the World Yoga Council.
During his many years of teaching in different countries, he has trained thousands of people of various nationalities, cultures, and professions interested in yogic methodology and personal development. He has taught countless courses, seminars, and retreats and has personally trained a large number of guides, instructors, teachers, and masters of hatha yoga, many of whom have opened successful centers in several different countries.
His interest in the complex anatomy of the human body led him to study chiropractic at the prestigious Institute of Health of the Back and Extremities in Tel Aviv, Israel. In 1993, he received his diploma from Dr. Sheinerman, the founder and director of the institute. Later, he earned a massage therapist diploma at the Academy of Western Galilee. The knowledge acquired in this field deepened his understanding of hatha yoga and contributed to the creation of his own method.
Prabhuji Yoga is the result of efforts to improve his own practice and teaching process. It is a system based solely on the teachings of his gurus and the sacred scriptures. Prabhuji has systematized different traditional yoga techniques to create a methodology suitable for the Western public. Prabhuji Yoga aims at the experience of our true nature. It promotes balance, health, and flexibility through proper diet, cleansing techniques, preparations (āyojanas), sequences (vinyāsas), postures (asanas), breathing exercises (prāṇayama), relaxation (śavāsana), meditation (dhyāna), as well as locks (bandhas) and seals (mudras) to direct and empower prana.
Since his childhood and throughout his life, Prabhuji has been an enthusiastic admirer, student, and practitioner of the classic karate-do. From the age of 13, he studied different styles in Chile, such as kenpo and kung-fu, but specialized in Shotokan in the most traditional Japanese style. He received the rank of black belt (third dan) from Shihan Kenneth Funakoshi (ninth dan). He also learned from Sensei Takahashi (seventh dan) and practiced Shorin Ryu style with Sensei Enrique Daniel Welcher (seventh dan), who granted him the black belt (second dan) rank. Through karate-do, he obtained additional knowledge about the physics of motion. Prabhuji is a member of the Funakoshi’s Shotokan Karate Association.
He grew up in an artistic environment. His father, the renowned Chilean painter Yosef Har-Zion, motivated him from an early age to devote himself to art. Thus, Prabhuji’s love for painting was developed from a young age. His abstract works reflect the depths of the spirit.
A detailed investigation into his Jewish roots led him to discover that his father’s last name, Montecinos, had originally been Har-Zion. The impact of this finding motivated him to hebraize his name at the age of 21 from José Luis Montecinos Lazcano to David Har-Zion. He has maintained his interest in the study and practice of Judaism throughout his life. One of his greatest inspirations was Rabbi Shalom Dov Lifshitz TZLB, who guided him in his Torah studies. Prabhuji studied Talmud with Rabbi Raphael Rapaport Shlit”a (Ponovich), Chassidism with Rabbi Israel Lifshitz Shlit”a, and delved into the Torah with Rabbi Daniel Sandler Shlit”a. Prabhuji is a great devotee of Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu TZLB, whom he had the blessing to meet in person through Rabbi Shalom Dov Lifshitz TZLB.
The Prabhuji Mission was founded in 2003 with the aim of preserving his vision and literary work.
For fifteen years (1995–2010), Prabhuji accepted a few monastic disciples who expressly requested to be initiated. In 2010, he stopped accepting monastic disciples, followers, devotees, or visitors. Currently, he only guides a small number of serious disciples who have decided to stay with their master.
Prabhuji has studied and practiced a wide variety of religions and spiritual paths throughout his life. From the beginning, he considered it important that his disciples expand their religious perspectives beyond their own cultures. For this purpose, he spent years personally guiding them through different theologies and traditions. This enriched them with the wisdom and holy scriptures of Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Shamanism, and many other religions.
His most advanced disciples (Ma Ramananda, Ma Durgananda, Ma Omkarananda, and Ma Muktananda) founded the virtual Prabhuji Institute where they share teachings they have received directly from their master on different paths.
In 2011, the Prabhuji Ashram (monastery) was founded in the Catskills Mountains in upstate New York, USA. The Prabhuji Ashram is the headquarters of the Prabhuji Mission and the residence of the monastic disciples. The ashram organizes humanitarian projects such as the “Prabhuji Food Distribution Program” and “Prabhuji Toy Distribution Program.” Prabhuji operates various humanitarian projects due to his experience that “to serve the part is to serve the Whole.”
In January 2012, Prabhuji’s health forced him to officially renounce public life and stop managing the mission. Since then, he has lived in solitude, completely away from the public, writing and absorbed in contemplation. He shares his experience and wisdom in books and filmed talks.
Prabhuji is a respected member of the American Philosophical Association, the American Association of Philosophy Teachers, the American Association of University Professors, the Southwestern Philosophical Society, the Authors Guild Professional Organization for Writers, the National Writers Union, PEN America, the International Writers Association, the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors, and the National Writers Association.
Prabhuji’s vast literary contribution includes books in Hebrew, such as Yoga: Experiencing your Presence, The Classical Hatha Yoga, and a commentary on the Yoga Sūtra of Patañjali; as well as in Spanish and English, including Yoga: Union with Reality, Tantra: Liberation in the World, Kundalini Yoga: The Power is in you, What is, as it is, Bhakti-Yoga: The Path of Love, Experimenting with the Truth, Advaita Vedanta: Be the Self, and Spiritual Stories in addition to commentaries on sacred scriptures such as the Nārada Bhakti Sūtra, Īśāvāsya Upanishad, Bhagavad Gita, Bhāgavata Purāṇa, and others.