From her earliest years, Rohini Ralby sought to understand the bottom line of existence, and cultivated the discipline to work toward that goal. Her teachers at Washington University in St. Louis, especially Annelise Mertz and Leslie Laskey, stripped her of her superficial notions about dance, art, and architecture. Graduate school took her to the San Francisco Bay Area for a Master’s degree in dance at Mills College. The search for her movement, her authentic expression, led her to Tai Chi Chuan, which she studied intensively in Berkeley with T. R. Chung, a student of the great master Kuo Lien Ying.
After graduate school, Rohini returned to her hometown of Boston and opened a successful Tai Chi Chuan school in Cambridge. She also studied Chinese language and earned a degree in acupuncture. Every year she spent a month in California studying with Chung. On one visit, as soon as she walked in the door he told her, “You’re finished here. Go to him.”
“Him” was Swami Muktananda. Rohini spent eight years with Muktananda, affectionately known as Baba, and he became her Guru. She was determined to work only with him, so she made sure that she could be with him most of the time during those eight years. She was in charge of security for the ashram in Ganeshpuri, India, she stood with him in the ashram courtyard, and she was his appointments secretary for most of his second world tour.
Where Rohini mainly learned the practice was behind Baba’s house in Ganeshpuri. For years, every day after lunch, her job was to stand by Baba’s back stair. He would come out and sit on the steps. She would stand a few feet away, ostensibly to protect his privacy but really to learn from him. In these daily one-on-one sessions, Baba taught her the essence of spiritual practice.
After Baba left his body in 1982, Rohini returned to America. For the past three decades, she has quietly worked as a spiritual teacher, passing on the internal practice taught to her by Muktananda. She also teaches exegetical classes in texts such as the Yoga Sutras, the Siva Sutras, the Upanishads, the Bhagavadgita, the Pratyabhijnahrdayam, the Vijnanabhairava Tantra, the Bhakti Sutras, and the Philokalia. For each text, students examine and reflect on different translations and commentaries, but above all they are led to experience directly what lies behind each reading.
In 2012 Rohini wrote Walking Home with Baba: The Heart of Spiritual Practice, published by Bancroft Press. It has been successful with readers and practitioners around the world, and has been recognized and included in many major research libraries, including those of Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Stanford, Washington University in St. Louis, and others.
Everything Rohini teaches she owes to Baba. Through all the years, he has been with her.