Are you a Rogi, a Bogi or a Yogi?

Via Ed & Deb Shapiro
on Feb 22, 2011
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Many years ago, when Ed was training in India, his yoga master suddenly turned to him and asked, “Are you a rogi, a bogi or a yogi?”

Ed was stunned and confused, what is he saying? Isn’t yoga all about love and goodness and happiness? Aren’t yogis people who never say or do anything wrong?

Then his teacher, Paramahamsa Swami Stayananda, explained how a rogi is a rogue or a scoundrel, a bogi is into pleasures and indulging the senses, while a yogi is a seeker of truth. Seemed to Ed like he fitted into at least the latter two categories, but luckily each does not exclude the others. There are yogi’s who are bogi’s, and rogi’s who are aspiring to be yogi’s. For instance, we have taught rogi’s in a prison in England who were expressing their desire to change through practicing yoga and meditation.

Ed’s teacher was unconventional, outrageous and unpredictable. He taught the foundations of classical yoga, but you never knew where he was coming from or what he would say or teach next. He felt that we need to experience life to it’s fullest in order to truly appreciate the spiritual path. So when he asked him, are you a rogi, a bogi or a yogi, Ed knew what he was really asking. Do you yearn for the sensual world or do you long for truth? Are you more concerned about your own welfare or do you really care about others?

A rogi is a rogue, a dishonest and not very nice person. In the ashram where Ed lived the rogi was the troublemaker: someone who would steal milk from the kitchen even though that meant the rest went without; who would use all the hot water in the winter so others had cold showers; who would cause dissension and unnecessary fights and blame everyone else. A rogi always thinks of themselves first, can hurt and prey on other people’s weaknesses; they think nothing of stealing or doing harm.

A bogi–pronounced bhogi–is into sex, drugs, and rock and roll. We all get into this at some point, but a bogi is someone who constantly tries to get satisfaction from everything external. More, give me more, is their mantra. There is nothing particularly wrong with being a bogi, to have desires and enjoy the pleasure of this world is natural, but the desire realm is endless and ultimately unsatisfactory. They are like the hungry ghost in the Tibetan Wheel of Life who has a long but very thin throat and a huge belly. No matter how hard the hungry ghost tries, it can never consume enough to satisfy its hunger.

Ed was raised in the Bronx and lived a typically indulgent life. He won the NYC dance championship, danced on a NYC T.V. show, and became a Latin dance teacher in Miami Beach. He hung out in Studio 54 and Max’s Kansas City where Blonde was a waitress. In other words, he partied heavily and lived the life of a bogi.

Luckily, most people who practice yoga seek a balance between yoga and boga.

A yogi is a person who realizes that all the actions of the rogi and bogi are ultimately fruitless, that all the cravings and indulgences are not really satisfying no matter how hard you try. Then the desire for something more real arises. A yogi is one who lives by their heart, with compassion and kindness, and who delights in the welfare of others.

Sri Swami Satchidananda would say how just one taste of this delight is more beautiful than anything in this world, and that taste is within you. He told the story of the musk deer that lives in India and has a beautiful smell in its anus but searches the forest looking for that smell. Just like most of us who search the world looking for happiness when it is within us all the time.

A rogi or a bogi can become a yogi, each is contained within the other. That is because the true quality of a yogi is not just to be able to stand on our head, but rather to be able to stand on our feet. And this is something every one of us can attain!

Photo by Sean94112 at


About Ed & Deb Shapiro

Ed & Deb Shapiro are the authors of new The Unexpected Power of Mindfulness & Meditation. Deb is the author of Your Body Speaks Your Mind, now in 19 languages. They have six meditation CDs. See more at their website.


11 Responses to “Are you a Rogi, a Bogi or a Yogi?”

  1. Heather says:

    Does that make him a fogi (and old fogie yogi) now?

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Waylon Lewis, Yoga Pradana Karra. Yoga Pradana Karra said: Are you a Rogi, a Bogi or a Yogi? – Aren't yogi's meant to be people who never say or do anything wrong? […]

  3. ed shapiro says:

    You betcha! :-))

  4. elephantjournal says:

    Deb, Ed, I just want to say the obvious: thank you sooo much for supporting and participating in elephant. I don't konw if all our readers know, but most do, that you're among the most popular writers blogging today—anywhere. Your blogs on Oprah, Huff Post, Intent…elsewhere are hugely popular, in the millions. So it means a helluva lot that you're helping me and elephant to get out there a bit more.

    Yours in benefiting others (and waking up ourselves along the way),


  5. ed shapiro says:

    Hi Way – Many thanks for your kind comment. The greatest joy is being able to serve.

    The work you are doing with Elephant is unique & so very very important as it not only brings together the wisdom and compassion of Buddhist teachings & yoga but it says it to all kinds of people. It is just wonderful and outrageous. In the way of wild and crazy wisdom teacher Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. He would have been proud of you!

    BTW – you sure have great people working with you – thank you Lindsey & others.

    In the dharma – much metta, Ed (Jygme Powa)

  6. ed shapiro says:

    as my guru in India said – Unless you have been a bogi it's hard to be a yogi .. first enjoy the world and then transcend it!

    Joy in Yoga, Ed (aka Swami Brahmananda)

  7. Enjoyed this Ed & Deb.

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Bob W.
    Yoga Editor

  8. ed shapiro says:

    Much appreciated Bob

    Happy to be part of the team!


  9. Dan Slanger says:

    "…the desire realm is endless and ultimately unsatisfactory."

    Nonetheless desiring to keep seeing your always inspiring posts. Thanks, you two, for your kind craft.

  10. ed shapiro says:

    Ahhh but such desires my friend Dan are very, very good – acha (very good) :-))

    you are inspiring mate!

    Enjoy the journey

  11. […] idle riff-raff and, with his over-sharp blade of discernment, cut out the rigmarole with which rogi’s and bogi’s daily attempt to burden […]