2017-01 Interview with Stephen Siegel of Prayag Center

Rajiv Malhotra begins this unique conversation with Stephen Siegel by saying, “Namaste and Shalom,” because Mr. Siegel- whose life work includes opening a center called Prayag, in which he teaches what can be called Hinduised Judaism- practices both Hindu and Jewish traditions. Though he doesn’t acknowledge either tradition as a “religion” per se, he blends the “technologies” of both Tantra and Kabbala, and has dedicated his life to digging out the commonalities between these two cultures.

In the 1960’s, he received initiation from Swami Rama, though when Swami Rama left the US for India, he moved back to his Jewish roots and pursued teachings instead from Rabbi Zaman Schacter, a “Neo Hasidic” who was raised Orthodox though also sought instruction into Sufism. Siegel spent some years as a vegetarian Hindu, though continued celebrating Jewish holidays, and has gone back and forth between both for years.

In this fascinating and in depth interview, Rajiv Malhotra enquires into his motivations, personal practices, public persona and more, bringing up such issues as the difference between the Hindu understanding of Reincarnation and the Jewish beliefs about it; why Siegel feels opposed to touching a Guru’s feet, the Hindu texts, such as Agamas, which are a treatises on how to live an enlightened life, and the Jewish understanding of their practices, and more.

After listening to this exchange, what’s your take? Please join the discussion; you’re most welcome to comment below.