It is believed that Maharishi Patanjali was the avatar of Adi Shesha – the Infinite Cosmic Serpent upon whom Lord Vishnu rests. He is considered to be the compiler of the Yoga Sutras, along with being the author of a commentary on Panini’s Ashtadhyayi, known as Mahabhasya. He is also supposed to be the writer of a work on the ancient Indian medicine system, Ayurveda. Read on this biography further to know more about Maharishi Patanjali and his philosophy.
The life history of Patanjali is full of legends and contradictions. There are no authentic records regarding his birth. As per one legend, he fell (pata) into the hands (anjali) of a woman, thus giving him the name Patanjali.
Patanjali Yoga Sutras
It is said that once, while watching a dance by Lord Shiva, Adi Shesha found it unbearable to support the weight of Lord Vishnu. Amazed at this, he asked Lord Vishnu the reason for the same. Lord Vishnu said that this was because of his harmony with Lord Shiva’s energy state, owing to the practice of Yoga. Realizing the value and benefits of Yoga, Adi Shesha decided to be born amongst humans as ‘Patanjali’, to teach them the great art.
Yoga Sutras are considered to serve as the basis of the yogic techniques. Maharishi Patanjali, “The Father of Yoga”, compiled 195 sutras, which serve as a framework for integrating Yoga into the daily routine and leading an ethical life. The exact date of the compilation of the Yoga Sutras is not known. However, it is believed that they were written somewhere around 200 BC. The core of Patanjali’s teachings lies in the eightfold path of yoga. The path shows the way to live a better life through yoga.
About BKS Iyengar
The full name of BKS Iyengar, one of the most renowned yoga gurus in the whole world, is Belur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar. Popularly known as Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar, he is man who founded the Iyengar Yoga. The guru has been teaching people the art of yoga since the past sixty years and at the same time, is the author of numerous books on yogic practice and philosophy, along with several definitive yoga texts.
His most popular books include ‘Light on Yoga’, ‘Light on Pranayama’ and ‘Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali’. The majority of credit for the introduction of yoga in the west goes to Sri BKS Iyengar only. One can find Iyengar yoga centers even in the remotest corners of the world. Today, the great man is over 80 years old and still stands as strong as ever. With this biography, you will get a brief introduction on BKS Iyengar.
His Life History
Sri B.K.S. Iyengar was born on 14th December 1918 in the Belur district of Karnataka. He faced difficulties in the early stages of life itself. Iyengar was born into a large poor family and immediately after his birth; he fell in the grips of an influenza epidemic that left him totally frail and unhealthy. Then, the poor boy lost his father at the tender age of nine years. Thereafter, he went to live with his brother in Bangalore. Throughout his childhood, BKS Iyengar experienced one illness or the other, including malaria, tuberculosis and typhoid, along with malnutrition.
When he turned fifteen, he went to Mysore to stay with his eldest sister and her husband, a scholar and a yogi, Sri T. Krishnamacharya. Krishnamacharya used to teach yoga to people in his own school, which was situated in the Palace of the Raja of Mysore. It was in this school that Iyengar learnt the basic asana of Yoga, which led to a considerable improvement in his health. In the year 1937, his Guru asked him to go to Pune and teach yoga there. There, he faced great difficulty because of little knowledge of the English language and lack of schooling.
At the same time, B.K.S. Iyengar has little experience or theoretical knowledge in the field of yoga. Still, he decided to first learn by trial and error and then, practice thoroughly to make himself perfect. This period turned out to be another difficult phase in his life, when he survived on a diet of mostly bread or rice and kept practicing for hours at a stretch. With time, the number of students attending his yoga classes began to increase. However, the monetary compensation was still not too great. In 1943, BKS Iyengar got married to Ramamani.
Slowly and gradually, B.K.S. Iyengar gained recognition as a yoga teacher in the Indian subcontinent. However, international recognition still seemed to be a distant task. It was in 1952, when he met violinist Yehudi Menuhin, that he started moving on the road to international appreciation. Menuhin made arrangements for taking Iyengar to countries like London, Switzerland and Paris, where he was supposed to teach yoga to the people. With this, he came into contact with people belonging to different countries and different walks of life.
The fame of BKS Iyengar started growing day by day and he began writing books on yoga. His first book ‘Light on Yoga’ was published in the year 1966 and went on to become one of the international bestsellers. The latest book of BKS Iyengar, ‘Yoga: The path to Holistic Health’ was published in 2001. The guru opened his own institute in Pune, by the name of ‘Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute’, in the memory of his wife. He still stays and, at times, teaches at the institute.
BKS Iyengar officially retired from teaching in the year 1984. However, he continues to take medical as well as yoga classes, at special events. At the same time, he is also actively involved in the promotion of yoga throughout the world. These days, classes are being conduced by his daughter Geeta, his son Prashant and other senior teachers.
Yoga comprises of eight different aspects, namely Yama and Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. Iyengar yoga is a form of yoga, which serves as a way of life to all. It is meant for each and every individual and makes use of props. An individual uses things like wooden gadgets, belts, ropes, etc, to achieve perfection in any asana. Regular practice of ‘Iyengar Yoga’ leads to an integration of the body, the mind as well as the emotions.
The efforts of BKS Iyengar in the filed of Yoga were recognized by the Government of India, which then awarded him with two awards.
- Padma Shree (1991)
- Padma Bhushan (2002)
About Bikram Choudhury
Bikram Choudhury, the founder of Bikram Yoga, is one of the most popular fitness gurus in Hollywood. He is also the founder of the worldwide Yoga College of India. With this biography, you will get to know more about Bikram Choudhary as well as Bikram yoga.
His Life History
Bikram Choudhury was born in the city of Calcutta (now Kolkata), in the year 1946. He was introduced to the technique of yoga at the tender age of four years only. Bikram underwent yoga training under Bishnu Ghosh, one of the most popular physical culturists of that time, at his ‘College of Physical Education’. Bishnu is the younger brother of Paramahansa Yogananda (Author of ‘The Autobiography of a Yogi’ and founder of the Self-Realization Fellowship in Los Angeles).
Bikram practiced yoga rigorously, devoting four to six hours every day towards it. When he was only thirteen years old, he won the National India Yoga Championship and kept claiming the title for the next three years also. Thereafter he retired as the undisputed ‘All-India National Yoga Champion’. At the age of seventeen years, Bikram Choudhury got badly injured in the knee during a weight-lifting accident. Renowned doctors, from as far as Europe, gave up the chances of his ever walking again.
However, having faith in his teacher, Bishnu Ghosh, and his yoga techniques, Bikram went back to his school. Six months later, he experienced total recovery in his knee. Thereafter, Bishnu asked Bikram Choudhary to start a number of Yoga schools in India. Bikram received fantastic response from people and his yoga schools become extremely successful. Then, again at Bishnu’s insistence, Bikram traveled to Japan and opened two yoga schools. Since that time, he has being promoting the curative techniques of Yoga therapy around the world.
Bikram Choudhury introduced a new style of yoga, known as the Bikram Yoga or Hot Yoga. This style is practiced in a room that has been preheated to a temperature of 105 deg F (40.5 deg C) and has a humidity of 50 percent. The training course goes on for nine weeks, during which the temperature is slowly taken to, as high as, 130 deg F. The entire course involves the training of 26 postures and two breathing exercises.
About Ramdev Baba
Baba Ramdev is a renowned Yoga teacher. Through the medium of television, he has taken the art of yoga to each and every household far and wide. He is the host of a program named ‘Divya Yog’ that airs on Aastha TV everyday, at 5 am in the morning. People from different parts of the country watch this program and have started doing yoga from the comforts of their home.
Swami Ramdev was born as Ramkishan Yadav in the Mahendragarh district of Haryana. After studying at school till the eight standard, he joined a yogic monastery (gurukul) in Khanpur village. There, he started learning the techniques of Yoga, along with the Sanskrit language.
After completing his period of study at the Gurukul, Baba Ram Dev renounced the world and entered into Sanyas (monastic living). It was then that he assumed the name of Ramdev. He went to Jind district and joined the Kalva gurukul. There, he started teaching Yoga to the villagers across Haryana. It is believed that some time later, he traveled to the Himalayas, spending a number of years there. Thereafter, he went to Haridwar and till date, the city serves as his base.
Initiation into Ascetic Order
Swami Ramdev was initiated into the ascetic order by Swami Shankerdevji Maharaj. After his initiation, he joined the order of swamis and started studying the ancient Indian scriptures. At the same time, he also practiced intense self-discipline and meditation.
Divya Yoga Mandir Trust
As a promotional vehicle for Yoga, Baba Ram Dev established the Divya Yoga Mandir Trust in 1995. In this project, he was accompanied by Acharya Karamveer and Acharya Balkrishna. The headquarters of the trust are at the Kripalu Bagh Ashram of Haridwar. Baba Ramdev teaches yoga mainly at this ashram.
Baba Ram Dev Yoga
Baba Ramdev teaches Pranayama, a form of Yoga. The program consists of six breathing exercises, practiced in the following sequence…
- Bhastrika Pranayama
- Kapal Bhati Pranayama
- Bahaya Pranayama
- Anulom Vilom Pranayama
- Bhramri Pranayama
- Udgeeth Pranayama
About Bharat Thakur
Bharat Thakur is one of the spiritual masters of India who have received international recognition. The founder of Artistic Yoga, he has numerous meditation workshops to his credit. He also conducts yoga training-sessions for groups and individuals, along with corporate yoga workshops, throughout the world. Bharat Thakur has opened yoga studios or yoga centers in various cities, like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Moscow and Dubai. You can know more about his biography with this article.
His Life History
Bharat’s parents remained childless for many years after their marriage. Distressed, they sought the blessings of Guru Sukhdev Brahmachari. However, the guru kept a precondition that he would keep their eldest child under his care, for a couple of years. They agreed to this and soon after being blessed by the Guru, the wife gave birth to Bharat Thakur, followed by three more children. Guru Sukhdev Brahmachari took Bharat away from his family at the tender age of four.
Both of them went to the Himalayas, where the boy stayed for the next ten years. Guru Sukhdev, a Sufi fakir sent him to learn from different gurus, like Sufi, Buddhist and Hindu. Under these gurus, he learnt as well as mastered Ayurveda, Tantra, Mantra, Sufism, Jainism and Buddhism. Thereafter, Bharat Thakur studied different forms of Yoga, like Hatha Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Karma Yoga and Kundalini Yoga, under Guru Sukhdev.
He also perfected other elements like Pranayama (breathing techniques), Asanas (postures) and Dhyana (meditation). After he came back from the Himalayas, he completed his education. He did his graduation and then his post-graduation in Exercise Physiology and Yoga in Gwalior, from the Lakshmibai National College of Physical Education. Presently, he conducts workshops, group classes as well as private classes in his numerous yoga centers.
Bharat Thakur has written seven books, namely ‘Yoga For All’, ‘Yoga For Stress Relief’, ‘Yoga For Weight Loss’, ‘Yoga For Family’, ‘Yoga for Flat Abs’ and ‘Yoga for Backache Relief’. He is also the composer of a collection of the poetry, “Truth: The Art of The Mystics”.
Bharat Thakur is the founder of a new form of Yoga, known as the Artistic Yoga. It is a unique, experimental and powerful system of yoga, which makes use of ancient yogic techniques like asanas, pranayama, bandhas, kriyas, etc. This form of yoga concentrates on each and every aspect of a human being, right form the physical to the spiritual.
The physical aspect works on flexibility, vigor and stamina. The spiritual aspect, on the other hand, works upon awareness of the body, alertness and meditation. It brings about a complete transformation in a human being and leads to stress relief, weight loss, body toning and gastric relief. Alleviation of backache and an increase in energy level are its other benefits.
About Paramahansa Yogananda
Guru Paramahansa Yogananda was one of the distinguished yogis of India. He was the one responsible for taking the teachings of meditation and Kriya Yoga to the western countries. He was also the author of a very renowned book ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’, which has introduced people time and again to the timeless wisdom of India. Read on to explore the biography of Guru Paramhansa Yogananda further…
One can easily know about the life history of Paramahamsa Yogananda in his book ‘The Autobiography of a Yogi’. He was born as Mukunda Lal Ghosh in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, into a Bengali family. From a very young age, Mukunda demonstrated great awareness about the spiritual realm. His youth was mostly spent in finding a guru (teacher), who could provide him with guidance and correctly direct him towards the path of spirituality.
Meeting Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri
The search of Paramhansa Yogananda came to an end when he met Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri. At that point of time, he was only seventeen years of age. Thereafter, he completed his Intermediate (in Arts) from the Scottish Church College, Calcutta and did his graduation (in religious studies) from the Serampore College, Calcutta University.
Joining the Monastic Swami Order
In 1915, Paramahansa Yogananda formally joined the monastic Swami Order by taking his vows. He, thus, became ‘Swami Yogananda Giri’. Paramhansa started his journey in the world of spirituality by establishing a boy’s school, Dihika, in a remote hamlet of Bengal. The school got relocated to Ranchi a year later and today it is known as Yogoda Satsanga Society of India, the Indian branch of Yogananda’s American organization.
Other Events in the Life of Paramahansa Yogananda
Paramhansa visited USA in 1920 as an Indian delegate, to attend the International Congress of Religious Liberals, being held in Boston. In the same year, he established Self-Realization Fellowship, a vehicle for preaching Yoga and meditation worldwide. He spent the next few years abroad, teaching Yoga and its philosophy. In 1925, he set up the headquarters of the Self-Realization Fellowship in Los Angeles. In 1935, he came to India and established Yogoda Satsanga of India. He also visited Mahatma Gandhi and a number of famous personalities during that time. He went back to USA the next year and it was there that he completed his journey in this world, in the year 1952.
Autobiography of a Yogi
Paramahamsa Yogananda wrote his own life story by the name of ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’, in the year 1946. It served as a major vehicle for the introduction and promotion of meditation and yoga in the western countries. Till date, it has been translated into almost 18 languages and still counts amongst the bestsellers. In the book, Yogananda has tried to explain certain verses and events of the Bible, along with his rendezvous with a number of leading spiritual personalities.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is the creator of the transcendental form of meditation, along with being the leader of the Transcendental Meditation Movement. One of the most renowned spiritual Gurus of India, he is highly influenced by the principles of Adi Shankaracharya. The main aim of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is to promote the use of the Vedic ways in daily life. Read on to explore the biography of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi further…
Maharishi Yogi was born in the year 1911, in Allahabad town (in Uttar Pradesh). After graduating from Allahabad University (in physics), he spent 13 years under the tutelage of Swami Brahmananda Saraswati. During this period, he developed an inclination towards the ancient Vedic Science of consciousness. At the same time, he started practicing intense meditation. He is also credited with making efforts towards the restoration of the thousand-years-old scattered Vedic Literature. He is responsible for organizing it as a complete science of consciousness.
Upgradation from a Student to a Teacher
As per the life history of Maharishi Yogi, he assumed the title “Maharishi” in 1955. From then onwards, began his journey as a teacher of traditional meditation technique, now known as Transcendental Meditation.
Mahesh Yogi Transcendental Meditation
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi aims at developing a society in which there is good all around. The first step that he took towards the fulfillment of his aim was the starting of the Transcendental Meditation Movement. Transcendental Meditation is a mental technique that helps a person in achieving consciousness. It involves the use of a mantra or sound, through which the mind becomes alert, but the body feels relaxed. He has also established a number of foundations to support his movement, one of which is The Spiritual Regeneration Movement, founded in 1957.
The Maharishi Effect
Various studies have been conducted throughout the world to ascertain the effects of Transcendental Meditation. It has been found out that the places where even one percent of the population practiced Transcendental Meditation, the crime rate was found to be declining. This phenomenon, where Transcendental Meditation is seen as being negatively related to crime, violence and other negative forces, is known as the Maharishi Effect.