He’s in his sixties, you’d never guess the way he rides those massive 6-footers with such ease,  he’s beenat it for atleast 50 years, he’s American and he’s called Swami Bhakti Gaurava Narasingha. Ok, so his real name is Jack Hebner (for some reason reminds you of Hugh Hefner, but no, that’s not who I’m talking about).

The original Surfing Swami

I don’t expect you to have heard about him, I’d be dammed if you’ve seen someone surfing around these parts of the world. 6100 kms of coastline on the Indian mainland; scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, even jet skiing, but surfing?! It was even more obscure in the 1970’s when Hebner first came to India, as a hippie in search of spirituality; now that’s something we’re known for. At that point in time, he was probably the only person surfing here.

So what brought him back (Equipped with surfing equipment):

The worst part about surfing is that good surf spots get too crowded. In India, it was just him and the nice waves, sometimes world class 20-foot waves during the monsoon season.

He finally set up his surfing ashram in 2004.

They call themselves the Surfing Swamis and operate from the small village of Mulki, around 30kms north of Mangalore. The motto “Surf for the Spirit”. Hebner believes that surfing connects you to your inner and higher self, it’s a primeval attachment to the rhythm of the ocean where all life began. A sort of pranayam that taps into the infinite energy of the water.

He defies the quintessential bad-boy surfer image as a self-fashioned monk, devout disciple of Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, of ISKON fame. He’s severed all ties with the organization since the guru’s death, and aims on building his cult around self-sufficiency. In addition to renting rooms (and boards) to surfers, Hebner’s monks do web design work contracted through a San Francisco company called Alian Design, and they run a Bangalore-based art gallery and a local bottled water company.

Surfing is for everyone !

The Vision

To popularize surfing across the sub-continent (which seems counter-productive to his discovery of surfing here)

To introduce surfing alongside India’s ancient monuments such as the Shore Temple at Mamallapuram. The original Surfing Swami hopes to introduce the world to its last undiscovered breaks.

Why you should go?

  • 1.Surfing obviously. They have trained surfing instructors and professional equipment which is not that easily accessible
  • 2.You can also go
    • - Kayaking
    • - Wakeboarding
    • - Jetsking to islands formed by volcanic eruptions a zillion years ago
    • - Snorkeling and check up on what the fish and some other really strange looking creatures are doing Spot dolphins, rays and sea turtles
  • 3. You can try out the whole surf-spirit connect. If it’s not your thing, cool. But if it does work out for you, even better right!
  • 4. They organize surf camps at India’s beautiful and remote, unspoiled and untouched surfing locations - Andaman and Nicobar Islands to the southeast near Indonesia, or the Lakshadweep Islands to the southwest toward the Maldives
  • 5. They empower the locals to be custodians of the environment and not to pollute the rivers, mountains, forests and the ocean, respect the environment as a manifestation of the Supreme

Why you shouldn’t go?

Cuz you don’t get any alcohol or meat (*&%$#@! I know). But you should probably stop being a spoiled city brat and still go. I know I definitely want to (Hint to boss: Leave request coming up).

Surfing for the soul….what say ??


As the newest member of the content team, Shivangi Rajendran comes from the world of professional dancing. With a passion for travel and a flair for writing, the Masters in Mass Communication is just an added advantage. A gypsy at heart, she doesn’t believe in planning and is always ready to pack her bags and leave.

Shivangi – who has written posts on WAH Blog.