David Bruce Hughes
Bhakti-sarvabhauma Śrī Gaurahari Dāsānudās Bābājī (aka David Bruce Hughes) is one of the greatest exponents of the Esoteric Teaching, the science of higher consciousness, in the world today. David is a prolific, deeply thoughtful and provocative author, a Vedic astrologer, and an evocative spiritual musician, composer and recording artist, with many books and CDs on themes of devotion and spiritual life. He spent over 30 years at the feet of his exalted guru, studying the esoteric Vedic wisdom in the most sacred places of pilgrimage in India.
He is also a profound spiritual Master Teacher and an engaging presenter who has held audiences all over the world spellbound with his fascinating talks. He combines an inclusive, broad-minded analytical approach to spirituality with the transcendent faith and passionate devotion of the Vedic line. He says, "The direction of my life was set at age three, when I sincerely prayed to the Lord to send me a teacher on the level of Jesus Christ so I could learn how to have a direct personal relationship with Him."
David is very sensitive to the quality of consciousness in the people he works with. He says, “Faith is prerequisite to spiritual advancement. But to develop faith, people need certainty. Many people have lost faith because sectarian religion cannot answer their natural questions about life, love and how to attain real happiness. Before faith can take root, we need deep clarity on spiritual life. This can only come from understanding of the Esoteric Teaching. This transcendental knowledge gives us the certainty we need to recover our faith and make tangible progress toward spiritual enlightenment.”
David was born in Florida and grew up near New York City. His family members were dedicated Episcopalians, very active in the local church ministry. He showed a strong attraction to both spiritual life and music at an early age. He began working with electronics and computers in high school, where he taught himself digital logic and won several science fairs with his innovative projects. After he received perfect 800 scores in 3 of his SAT examinations, MIT offered him a scholarship in Nuclear Physics, but David turned it down to pursue his first love: music.
A talented and largely self-taught musician, David won First-Chair Flute in the All-American High School Band competition in his senior year, and toured the US and Canada with the group. David went on to earn a BA in Musical Composition from Montclair Conservatory, working his way through school by playing jazz gigs and repairing early computers. While at Montclair, David won the gold medal of the prestigious NYU Young Composers' Contest for three years running. This exposure led to a job with New York's Ames Agency as a television commercial and film composer. At Ames, David wrote and produced the award-winning score for Armstrong Tire's 'Tiger Paws' spots, one of the longest-running advertising campaigns in television history.
Not satisfied with commercial success, David moved to New Mexico, where he worked with early digital computers and test systems in research programs at Sandia, Los Alamos National Laboratories and White Sands/Alamogordo Proving Grounds. With the help and advice of senior Los Alamos scientists, he performed a series of groundbreaking laboratory experiments in the silence of the desert, exploring the effects of music and sound on living beings. The results of this work inspired him to study Vedic music and rasa-tattva (the art of transcendental emotions) with Indian maestro Ali Akbar Khan in San Rafael, California. He quickly became expert in Indian raga composition and improvisation, using voice, flute, esraj, sarangi, mrdanga and other exotic instruments.
At this time David made a broad survey of Eastern philosophical and spiritual teachings. Besides reading very widely in the Indian spiritual traditions, he met and studied Vedic teachings with many svamis and yogis teaching on the West Coast. By great good fortune he met his spiritual master, His Divine Grace Abhaya Charanaravindam De, a fully self-realized pure devotee and renunciant, prolific author, profound devotional musician and philosopher in the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya Vaiṣṇava lineage of Bengal, and was inspired to study bhakti-yoga, the profound wisdom path of the Esoteric Teaching of the Vedas, with him.
David became a Vedic monk, accepting formal hari-nama initiation as Dasanudas Brahmacari from Bhaktivedanta Swami in New Orleans in 1974, and ordination as a Vedic brahmana (priest) in Vrndavana, India in 1977. He lived and studied in traditional Vaiṣṇava and Tantric communities in India and various other parts of the world for over 20 years. He learned Sanskrit, deeply studied Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam, performed traditional temple music and dance, and led fire sacrifices and other Vedic ceremonies all over India.
As a philosopher, he specialized in Vedic ontology and the epistemology of Vedanta-sutra, and became a major interpreter of the esoteric devotional scripture Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, assisting his guru by editing the first English translation of the work. He also studied different forms of yoga including hatha-yoga, raja-yoga, tantra-yoga, mantra-yoga and many more. Traveling four times around the world on teaching tours, he received many advanced initiations in esoteric philosophy and practices from important Vedic spiritual teachers.
After David completed preliminary studies in yoga, Sanskrit, Sankhya philosophy, temple worship, devotional music and dance, and Vedic mantras, his guru formally ordained David as a brahmana or Vedic priest. David is one of few Westerners ever to be awarded this eminent Vedic distinction. Because of this uncommon initiation, acknowledging his penetrating knowledge of Vedic spiritual wisdom—unparalleled qualifications for a Westerner—and the personal recommendation of his guru, David was invited to study at a Tantric esoteric school in Nainital, India, in 1979. This school, situated near the source of the Ganges , is not only a fully-functional traditional Tantric community; it also safeguards a comprehensive repository of the Vedic and Tantric literatures. David was thus privileged to study both the complete theory and the esoteric practices of Yoga and Tantra at their source. His attainment in Tantra was recognized by formal initiation into Madhyamika, the most esoteric of all Tibetan Tantric mysteries, under the direction of the Dalai Lama in 1983.
A powerful presenter, during the 70s and 80s David led classes and workshops on Tantra and the Vaiṣṇava way of wisdom in Santa Cruz and Harbin Hot Springs, California; led a week-long Tantra retreat in Waimea, Maui; presented a 3-day workshop on sacred chants in Soho, London; taught Puranic wisdom and Sanskrit in Paris, France; toured and lectured in places as diverse as Alexandria, Greece; Constantinople, Turkey; Hamburg, Germany; Bern, Austria; Belgrade, Yugoslavia; Tehran, Iran and Kabul, Afghanistan; and spoke on bhakti-yoga to substantial audiences all over India, from Mumbai to Kalakata and from Badrinath to Shivarandram.
In 1984-5 David hosted a radio show on transcendental music, Sacred Sounds, on the American Radio Network in Los Angeles. From 1985-1988 He was Co-Chairman of the Music Department at the Mayapura Chandrodaya Gurukula, a traditional Vedic academy in West Bengal, India. He also presented a 10-day international seminar in sacred Vedic music there in 1988. Over the years he appeared on numerous radio and television programs explaining bhakti-yoga, devotional meditation practices and Vedic spiritual philosophy.
In 1985 he wrote Sapta Svarah, his thesis for his Bhakti-vaibhava degree (the Vaiṣṇava equivalent of a Doctor of Divinity) on the correspondence between the esoteric Vedic musical system and the mathematical laws of Quantum Mechanics. He was also instrumental in creating the Usenet forum alt.religion.vaisnava, the first international Internet conference for Vedic bhakti-yogis.
From 1989-1991 David was based on Guam, exploring the roots of traditional South Pacific island cultures such as the Chamorros and Micronesians. He visited traditional native communities in Yap, Palau, Ponape, Majuro and the Solomon Islands, studying these ancient cultures and artifacts to research their forgotten links to the Vedic civilization.
In 1988, during prolonged deep meditation in a Himalayan cave, David received a mystical transmission of the Esoteric Teaching, the confidential meta-knowledge behind all genuine spiritual paths. This revelation, recounted in his book Search for the Absolute Truth, completed his education in the transcendental mysteries of spiritual life, opening to him the secret pathway to complete self-realization.
Over the next decade, David implemented the secret practices of the Esoteric Teaching, completing the process of self-realization begun by his first initiation in 1971. This resulted in a confidential spiritual experience of the highest attainment on Kaua’i in January 2002 during a six-month solitary meditation retreat, successfully completing the quest for the highest degree of self-realization that he had begun more than fifty years before.
David maintained a keen interest in aviation, science, computers and technology throughout his monastic life, keeping up with new developments and finding unique ways to apply technology in spiritual life. In Mumbai, he used computers to pioneer direct-mail fundraising for food relief for the poor, raising over 16 million rupees in less than a year. One of his direct-mail campaigns netted a 42% response! He uses computer technology extensively in his spiritual teaching work, maintaining contact and relationships with a worldwide network of students.
Returning to the US Mainland in 1992, David used his technological expertise to establish a career as a senior technical writer and illustrator, writing and publishing books on advanced computer and software technologies for companies like Apple Computer, Digital Research, Westinghouse, and Hughes Technologies. An early adopter of the Internet, he built Web sites for clients such as Weyerhauser, Georgia-Pacific, Solutia, Equifax, First Data Corporation and many more. At this time he also became aware of the exciting spiritual potential of computers and nanotechnology, and helped found the first Internet forum for discussions on advanced Vedic spiritual topics.
Since returning to the US, David published several books on traditional Vedic philosophy: Sri Visnusahasranama and Sri Nrsimhasahasranama. He also wrote and published original works such as Here Be Wisdom: 108 Aphorisms on Advanced Topics in Spiritual Life, and Search for the Absolute Truth. He issued several solo CDs of Vedic music and chanting: Friend of the Heart, Vipralambha, RagaJazz, Hare Kṛṣṇa Kirtan and companion CDs to Sri Visnusahasranama and Sri Nrsimhasahasranama.
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