Prabhuji, David Har-Zion
David, Ben Yosef, Har-Zion, who writes under the pen name Prabhuji, is a writer, a painter, and an avadhūta mystic. He is a recognized authority on Eastern wisdom and an internationally acclaimed master acharya of hatha yoga. Prabhuji is also knowledgeable about all branches of yoga (karma, bhakti, hatha, raja, kundalini, mantra, and jnana), the Vaidika and Tāntrika aspects of Hinduism, and many religions and spiritual paths (Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Taoism, etc.).
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. 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.
Prabhuji is a controversial master because of his liberal attitude toward human sexuality, which is based on his deep knowledge of the ancient Tantric tradition. Moreover, his revolutionary attitude toward the established social order and institutionalized religiosity has divided his readers into detractors and staunch supporters. Through the years, many of his statements and teachings have sparked criticism and controversy within different circles of society and religious orthodoxy.
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 Atulananda Acharya Mahārāja, 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 Paraṁ-pūjya Avadhūta Yogacharya 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 acharya 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 forty 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 (dhyana), 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.
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 took 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.
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.In 2003, the Prabhuji Mission was founded with the aim of preserving his vision, called Transcendental Consciousness, and his literary work.
The Prabhuji Mission was founded in 2003 with the aim of preserving his vision and literary work. With the same aim, in 2006 Prabhuji founded the Prabhuji Institute, a virtual institute where a large part of his video talks can be found. Prabhuji recommends his monastic disciples to seriously study and practice different religions for certain periods of time. In this way, they get to know all the spiritual paths that Prabhuji has studied and practiced in his life. Since 2010, the mission no longer accepts monastic residents.
In 2011, he founded the Prabhuji Ashram, which is his place of residence as well as the headquarters of the Prabhuji Mission. It is a peaceful retreat center located in the Catskill Mountains in New York, USA. It offers an environment of peace and tranquility, ideal to take a break from hectic modern life. Prabhuji Yoga classes and meditation gatherings are regularly held there.
Many visitors spend their vacations at the ashram every year. The Prabhuji Ashram, spread over 47 acres of forest and picturesque creeks, is home to different species of birds. This rural area has clean air and serves as a natural refuge for a wide variety of flora and fauna. The paradisiacal landscape provides ideal conditions for meditation and revitalization. It is a place that promotes harmony and integration between body, mind, and soul. Visitors from different parts of the world come every year to the Prabhuji Ashram in search of peace and tranquility. The Prabhuji Academy of Hatha Yoga also operates there, and disciples offer hatha yoga training under the supervision of the master.
In January 2012, Prabhuji officially renounced public life. He decided to stop managing the mission, spreading his message, and accepting new monastic disciples. In recent years, he lives in solitude in his home, the Prabhuji Ashram. He spends his days completely away from the public, writing in silence and absorbed in contemplation. Surrounded by forests and creeks, he shares his message only with a few pilgrims, sincere seekers, and inquisitive souls who travel from different parts of the world to personally associate with the hermit writer.
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 Sutra 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 Sutra, Īśāvāsya Upanishad, Bhagavad Gita, Bhāgavata Purāṇa, and others.
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 operates various humanitarian projects due to his conviction that “to serve the part is to serve the whole.”