Yoga Guru Sri Krishnamacharya
19 Apr

Yoga Guru Sri Krishnamacharya

Yoga is an awareness, a knowing.  Yoga will end in consciousness.

   When the mind is still, for a quarter of an hour or of that of a minute, you will realise that

 yoga is of the nature of infinite awareness & knowing. There is no other object there.”

 - T.Krishnamacharya. (November 18, 1888 – February 28, 1989)


The yoga guru, Sri Tirumala Krishnamacharya, father of modern yoga- is known for his immense contribution in the field of yoga who dedicated his life for the wellbeing of his countrymen and to the world. A guru who firmly believed in Patanjali Yoga Sutras and yoga yajnavalkya. His beliefs reflect in his way of approach and practice. His command over Sanskrit, Gurkha language, knowledge in the vast and varied subject, ancient scriptures, therapeutic aspects of yoga and dedicated efforts in learning as well continuously practising is of immense inspiration. His knowledge in the fields of Ayurveda and healing techniques, command over the subject, spiritual inclination, yoga styles are all unique and suitable for generations to come either. 

A five-foot, 2-inch yoga guru of compassion and wisdom Krishnamacharya Ji, was born on November 18, in the year 1888 in Muchukundapura of Karnataka, South India, to an orthodox Iyengar family to Sri Tirumalai Srinivasa Tatacharya, and Shrimati Ranganayakiamma. Krishnamacharya was the eldest and had five siblings. When he was six yrs, he underwent upanayana. Under the guidance of his father, a well-known teacher of the Vedas the seeds of knowledge and interest in the field of yoga were planted. As a dedicated student, his approach in teaching yoga until his end; reflected the teachings he received from his father and other instructors, i.e. to approached every student as “absolutely unique”. He learned to chant the Vedas and learned Sanskrit from texts such as the Amarakosha. Krishnamacharya learnt asanas and pranayama from his father which he continued practising throughout his life since then. With the demise of his father, their family moved to Mysore. 

 In Mysore, Krishnamacharya began more formal schooling at the Chamaraj Sanskrit College. Krishnamacharya studied Vyakarana, Vedanta, and tarka and passed his Vidvan examination in Mysore. Following the directions he got in his dream, he went in search of knowledge. It happened so that Krishnamacharya could recall when he awoke from the trance, all the verses of this legendary treatise, Yoga Rahasya, a long-lost yogic treatise by Nathamuni who recited it himself to Krishnamacharya. 

 Along with many educational degrees like degrees in philosophy, logic, divinity, philology, and music; Krishnamacharya Ji was also awarded titles such as M?m??s?-th?rtha, M?m??s?-Ratna,  S??khya-yoga-?ikh?ma?i, Ny?y?c?rya, Ved?ntav?g??a, Veda-Kesari and Yog?c?rya to name a few .

 He travelled most of his youth in the pursuit of knowledge in various ancient traditional subjects.,Studies on logic , the six darshanas as well as a working acquaintance with Brahmashri Shivakumar Shastry-renowned grammarians of the age. Learned Mimamsa from Brahmasri Trilinga Rama Shastri and Tarka from Vamacarana Bhattacharya. In 1906, Krishnamacharya left Mysore to attend the university at  Varanasi the then Benares, North Indian centre of traditional learning at the age of eighteen. He studied ved?nta with the new pontiff of Parak?la Math, H. H. Sri Krishna Brahmatantra. In 1914, Krishnamacharya left for Benares to attend classes at Queens College, where he eventually earned some teaching certificates. He received a scholarship to study Ayurveda.  Krishnamacharya Ji receives accolades from Rajah of Dikkanghat for defeating a scholar called Bihari Lal in a debate. His stay in Benares lasted 11 years. Yoga master Sri  Babu Bhagavan Das’s guidance he passed the Samkhya Yoga Examination of Patna.  His in-depth knowledge in yoga asana, pranayama, therapeutic aspects of yoga and specialisation in the yoga sutras of Patanjali is the result of seven and a half years studying the same - during 1919. He was made to memorise the whole of the Yoga Kuruntha in the Gurkha language.  As gurudakshina, his master asked Krishnamacharya to "take a wife, raise children and be a teacher of Yoga". Such was the guru sishya relationship in those days and inspire us to follow such nishkamakarma. Their way of living is a message to follow for an ideal happy life.

 T. Krishnamacharya was married to  Namagiriamma in 1925, B.K.S.Iyengar’s sister. In 1931, due to his lecture on the Upani?ads in Mysore town hall, he earned employment at the palace. Amarn?tha Jh? impressed with Krishnamacharya's knowledge as a scholar and his mastery of yoga, introduced Krishnamacharya to various monarchs. Revered scholar, the guru, is known for his discipline. He slept for six hours and his morning rituals began at 2’oclock in the morning and believed chanting as a means to mental training. His every walk of life reflects ashtanga yoga principles and most contemporary styles of yoga, be it fitness, healing or a spiritual quest. Renowned Indian yoga master, Ayurvedic healer, and scholar who modernised yoga practice and people approached asking him to teach yoga to their children. He chooses students who had faith and dedication in following the method and same if someone approached for treatment. His way of analysing and therapy is personalised and with definite results, trust in him being the basic requirement for treatment. Being a physician of Ayurvedic medicine he “possessed enormous knowledge of nutrition, herbal medicine, the use of oils, and other remedies”. Among the many devoted students, few of his students are; B. K. S. Iyengar, K. Pattabhi Jois, T. K. V. Desikachar, and Indra Devi who dramatically popularised yoga in the West. The yoga guru, a man of virtues always attributed his talents to his guru and ancient texts and called himself a student as he continued "studying, exploring and experimenting" with the practice.  Yogeshwara Ramamohana Brahmachari was one amoung his guru’s.

 The 1920s, Krishnamacharya’s demonstrations stimulated  widespread interest in yoga. Maharaja supported the promotion of yoga and continually sent Krishnamacharya around the country to give lectures and presentations. His yoga instruction reflected both - a spiritual practice and physical healing. He is the guru  who “believed Yoga to be India’s greatest gift to the world.”

• Krishnamacharya’s has  yoga school at the Jaganmohan Palace in Mysore since August 11, 1933

• Western meditation along with the Vedic Yoga techniques was his concept.

• In 1934, Krishnamacharya wrote a book titled Yoga Makaranda, which was published by Mysore University. The book promoted the use of yoga along with western meditative techniques

• Penned a few books and they are :- In 1941- Yogaasanagalu, Yoga Rahasya, and in 1988 Yogavalli as well as several essays and poetic compositions.

• Krishnamacharya would proceed with treatment to a patient only if they had faith in his procedures and also ready to follow all the instructions which are essential for the healing process.

• The onset of treatment; Krishnamacharya, would work with the patient on a diet; creating herbal medicines; yoga postures that would be most beneficial.  Krishnamacharya particularly stressed the importance of combining pranayama with the asanas for the desired goal. He would asses progress every week until he or she was healed.

• From 1952 stayin in Madras, in his sixties, Krishnamacharya accepted a job as a lecturer at Vivekananda College, and viniyoga was then  tailored based on individual abilities of students.

• At the age of 96,  due to hip fracture confined to bed and he treated himself. Most respectful ideal yoga guru; Krishnamacharya died in 1989, at one hundred years of age in Chennai. 

• He believed that the essential thing in life is - Health, longevity and tranquil of mind.

A former student recalls a meditation session, Krishnamacharya instructed students to close their eyes and “think of God. If not God, the sun. If not the sun, your parents.”

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