Prabhuji, David Har-Zion
David, Ben Yosef, Har-Zion, who writes under the pen name Prabhuji, is a writer, painter, and avadhūta mystic. In 2011, he chose 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.
Prabhuji acknowledges the contribution of two holy spiritual masters to his spiritual evolution: H.D.G. Bhaktikavi Atulānanda Ācārya Swami Mahārāja, disciple of H.D.G. A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda, and H.D.G. Avadhūta Śrī Brahmānanda Bābājī Mahārāja, disciple of H.D.G. Avadhūta Śrī Mastarāma Bābājī Mahārāja.
He was born on March 21, 1958 in Santiago, the capital of the Republic of Chile. 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 explore and practice 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. For Prabhuji, awakening at the level of consciousness, or the transcendence of the egoic phenomenon, is the next step in humanity’s evolution. He considers that the essence of every religion is self-knowledge. His syncretic vision speaks of the recognition of consciousness.
His spiritual search led him to study with different masters of various traditions and to travel far from his native Chile, to places as distant as Israel, India, and the USA. He studied Hebrew and Sanskrit to deepen his understanding of the holy scriptures.
It was in 1976 that he met H.D.G. Bhaktikavi Atulānanda Ācārya Swami. Gurudeva Atulānanda taught him the path of Kṛṣṇa devotion, or bhakti yoga. Years later, he was officially accepted as a disciple of him and received the first initiation and the brāhmaṇa initiation. Finally, he was initiated by him into the sacred renounced order called sanyāsa within the line of disciplic succession Brahma Gauḍīya Saṁpradāya.
In 1996, in Rishikesh, India, he met H.D.G. Avadhūta Śrī Brahmānanda Bābājī Mahārāja with whom he studied deeply Advaita Vedānta and meditation. Guru Mahārāja formally initiated him as disciple and guided him in the first steps in the sacred path of avadhūta.
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, and so on.
Among his teachers, there are important spiritual and religious personalities of the stature of H.H. Swami Dayananda Sarasvatī, H.H. Swami Viṣṇu Devānanda Sarasvatī, H.H. Swami Jyotirmayānanda Sarasvatī, H.H. Swami Swahananda of the Ramakrishna Mission, and H.H. Swami Viditātmānanda of the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam.
In Vrindavan, he studied the path of bhakti yoga in depth with H.H. Narahari Dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja, disciple of H.H. Nityananda Dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja of Vrindavan.
He also studied with some prominent disciples of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda, among others H.H. Atulānanda Ācārya Swami, H.H. Paramadvaiti Mahārāja, H.H. Jagajīvana Dāsa, H.H. Tamāla Kṛṣṇa Gosvāmī, H.H. Bhagavān Dāsa Mahārāja, and H.H. Kīrtanānanda Swami. The wisdom of Tantra was awakened in Prabhuji by H.G. 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 title Kṛṣṇa Bhakta was conferred on him by H.H. Swami Viṣṇu Devānanda, a disciple of H.H. Swami Śivānanda Sarasvatī and the founder of the Sivananda Organization. The Bhaktivedānta title was conferred on him by H.H. B.A. Paramadvaiti Mahārāja, the founder of Vrinda. The Yogācārya title was given to him by H.H. Swami Viṣṇu Devānanda, 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. On March 21, 2021, he received the respectable title Śrī Śrī Rādhā Śyam Sunder Pāda-Padma Bhakta Śiromaṇi directly from H.H. Satyanārāyaṇa Dāsa Bābājī Mahant of the Chatu Vaiṣṇava Saṁpradāya. This title was conferred on him by the honorable Jiva Institute in Vrindavan, India.
The sannyāsa order was conferred on him by H.H. Swami Jyotirmayānanda Sarasvatī, the founder of the Yoga Research Foundation, by H.H. Kīrtanānanda Swami, by H.H. B.A. Paramadvaiti Mahārāja, and by H.H. Bhaktivedānta Atulānanda Ācārya. Finally, in 2011, he renounced the sannyāsa order to be initiated into the highly elevated avadhūta bābājī order directly by his Guru Mahārāja, His Holiness Śrī Brahmānanda Bābājī Mahārāja, with which he became part of an ancient disciplic line of avadhūtas. A few months before leaving the body, his spiritual master appointed him as Master Ācārya, empowering him to continue the millennial avadhūtas paramparā, or line of disciplic succession. With this appointment, Prabhuji is the official representative of the line of this disciplic succession for the present generation.
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.
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 prāṇa.
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 delved into Buddhism and gained 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 paintings reflect the depths of the spirit.
From his earliest childhood, he has experienced a special attraction for and curiosity about postal stamps, postcards, mailboxes, postal transportation systems, and in general, about all mail-related activities. During his life, he has devoted himself to study philately and has taken every opportunity to visit post offices in different cities and countries. Finally, this interest and passion transformed him into a professional philatelist, a stamps distributor authorized by the American Philatelic Society, and a member of the following societies: Royal Philatelic Society London, American Philatelic Society, United States Stamp Society, Great Britain Philatelic Society, National Philatelic Society UK, Society of Israel Philatelists, Society for Hungarian Philately, and American Stamp Dealers Association. Basing on his knowledge of philately and his extensive wisdom in theology and oriental philosophy, he created the Meditative Philately or Philatelic Yoga.
For many years he lived in Israel, where he deepened his studies in both the Hebrew language and Judaism. One of his greatest inspirations was Rabbi Shalom Dov Lifshitz ZT”L, 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 ZT”L, whom he had the blessing to meet in person through Rabbi Shalom Dov Lifshitz ZT”L.
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.
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.