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Tirumalai Krishnamacharya: India’s First modern Yoga Guru was also a Scholar and Healer

He is responsible for the preaching of yoga in today’s times

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Yoga pose by Krishnmacharya source-http://krishanamcharysaoriginalashtanga.blogspot.in/
  • Tirumalai’s lineage has been traced back to Nammazhwar, one of the greatest of Vaishnavite saints
  • In his lifetime of 101 years, he trained BKS Iyengar, Indra Devi and Pattabhi Jois
  • He remains an authoritative reference point for anyone interested in fields such as yoga and philosophy

India has gifted the world with the power of Yoga. Now, it has become so popular due to the benefits attached to it that people are bending and stretching all over the world and mats are rolling out everywhere. But, not many are aware of the man who made Yoga popular in India. Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, the man who was a Scholar and Ayurvedic healer but most importantly, he was India’s first modern Yoga Guru.

Born on November 18, 1888, in Muchukundapura, the Chitradurga District of Karnataka to Tirumalai Srinivasa Tatachary (his father) and Ranganayakamma (his mother) who were devout Shri Vaishnavas. What is more interesting that, his lineage has been traced to Nammazhwar, one of the greatest of Vaishnavite saints.

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At the age of six, Krishnamacharya had his sacred thread ceremony performed. He was then taught Vedas, Sanskrit grammar, the Amarakosha and other ancient texts. When he was 12 years old, he went to Parakala Mutt in Mysore where he gained his education at the Mysore Patasala.

Tirumalai Krishnamacharya. Image source: alchetron.com
Tirumalai Krishnamacharya. Image source: alchetron.com

As the legend goes, at the age of sixteen, he had a dream, Krishnamacharya travelled to the town of Alvar Tirunagari in Tamil Nadu. On his arrival in the town, he seemed to have slipped into a trance. In this trance, he was taught “Yoga Rahasya”, the famous treatise on yoga by three sages. After coming out of this trance, he was able to recite the treatise from memory alone.

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At eighteen years of age, Krishnamacharya went to Banaras. Under the guidance of Brahmasri Shiva Kumara Shastri, he learnt rare aspects of Sanskrit grammar. In Banaras, he continued his quest of gaining knowledge and learnt various branches of philosophy such as– Nyaya, Tarka, Mimamsa, Vaiseshika and so on.

Over the next decade, he learnt these systems exclusively in Banaras. He even went to areas of Bihar and Bengal to meet scholars and learned men and gain training in their guidance.

On the insistence of his one teacher, Krishnamacharya travelled to the Manasarovar in the Himalayas. There, he learnt Yoga, Yoga Sutras, therapy and Yoga practice from Shri Ramamohana Brahmachari. After seven years of training, he returned back to Banaras.

In 1926, Maharaja of Mysore, Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar had come to the holy city for a visit. On gaining knowledge of young Krishnamacharya, the king invited him to teach him and his family yoga in Mysore.

He accepted the offer and shifted to Mysore. Krishnamacharya married and became the personal yoga trainer of the Maharaja. He taught many dignitaries, the elite and foreigners as well. The king started a yogashala in the Jaganmohan Palace. Krishnamacharya looked after its administration for nearly 2 decades.

Mysore Yogashala source- www.elevatedretreat.com
Mysore Yogashala. Image source- www.elevatedretreat.com

During the reign of Maharaja Nalwadi, Krishnamacharya wrote “Yoga Makaranda”, a two-volume encyclopaedia on yoga in 1934. All the principles of modern yoga can be traced back to these encyclopaedias.

However, after the death of Maharaja Nalwadi and due to political instability in the country owing to the fight for independence, the yogashala was closed. Krishnamacharya took up the post of a lecturer in Vivekananda College in Madras and spent the rest of his life there with his family.

In his lifetime of 101 years, he trained many students, including  BKS Iyengar, Indra Devi and Pattabhi Jois. He never taught the individual students in the same way. He believed that Yoga should be adapted to the individual, never the individual to Yoga.

Not much recognition has come his way. Still, he remains an authoritative reference point for anyone interested in fields such as yoga and philosophy. Krishnamacharya has left behind a legacy for all the future generations to follow.

-prepared by Devika Todi, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: devika_todi

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Indulge in Yoga for a healthy and a good respiratory system

This article gives information on Yoga which is a very beneficial hack for having a good respiratory system

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Yoga good for healthy and respiratory body.
Yoga good for healthy and respiratory body. IANS
  • Akshar explains the benefits of Yoga
  • Yoga being the ultimatum for a good respiratory system

-by Akshar

Smog, the choking threat which has landed the national capital in a pollution emergency, has been the cause of many respiratory problems in children and adults. When your daily commute feels like living on the edge, what are your other outdoor activities supposed to feel like?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it is dangerous to breathe when there is too much smog. Smog contains ozone particles, and elevated ozone levels can have a variety of negative effects on your lungs.

While it is advised to stay indoors when the air is toxic outside, a more practical solution would be to establish a habit of cleansing your respiratory organs through Yoga.

If Yoga has been shown to improve the quality of life of lung cancer patients, it could definitely do wonders against other respiratory issues. Here are a few asanas you could try to give you relief from chest congestion, respiratory flues and discomfort in breathing.

* Pranayama: This has proved beneficial for those suffering with bronchitis or lung congestion.

How to do it:

1. While performing pranayama one should make sure that his or her back is straight and should concentrate on the breathing.

2. Sahaj Pranayama, which is also called easy breathing, involves breathing a few times deeply.

3. Inhale through the nostrils for five counts and hold the breath for 10 counts.

4. Exhale through the mouth for 10 counts; this has to be repeated 10-12 times.

* Adho Mukha Svanasana: This posture strengthens the chest muscles and expands the lung region, increasing its capacity.

How to do it:

1. From table top position, tuck your toes, straighten your legs and lift your hips towards the ceiling.

2. Adjust your hands forward a bit, if necessary, and spread your fingers.

3. Keep your spine long, and your head and neck in line with your spine. Hold for one minute.

* Bhujangasana: This asana opens up the heart and lungs and gives them a good stretch.

How to do it:

1. Lie on your stomach; engage your back muscles in lifting your head and upper torso.

2. Align your elbows underneath your shoulders for support.

3. Open your chest and relax your shoulders away from your ears.

4. Look straight ahead and hold for one minute.

* Sukhasana: This heavy breathing seated position relieves yourself from stress, anxiety and exhaustion.

How to do it:

1. Sit erect, with the feet stretched out towards the front.

2. Now cross the legs in such a way that the knees are wide, shins are crossed, and each foot is placed under the knee. Knees must be bent, and legs should be tucked into the torso.

3. Feet must be relaxed, and the outer edges must rest on the floor while the inner edges must arch on the shins. Look down on your legs, must see a triangle formed by shins that are crossed and both the thighs.

4. Back must be balanced in such a way that the tailbone and the pubic bone are at equal distance from the floor.

5. Place the palms stacked up in your lap. Or you can also lay them on the knees palms up or palms down.

6. Elongate the tailbone, and firm up the shoulders. But make sure the lower back is not arched in such a way that it pokes the lower ribs forward.

* Marjari Asana: This involves deep breathing, which in turn expands the lungs and boosts blood circulation.

How to do it:

1. Begin with Adhomukhi Swanasana

2. Lean forward and place your knees down on your mat

3. Inhale, look up and relax

4. Inhale as you drop your knees

5. While navigating back, shift the body weight from the knees to palms and feet.

(Akshar is founder and course director of Bengaluru’s Akshar Yog. The views expressed are personal. He can be contacted at akshar@aksharyoga.com) (IANS)

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Bhai Boolchand-the Indian who launched trade with Ghana

The first Indian to arrive in the Gold Coast (Ghana's colonial name) in 1890 , Bhai Boolchand launched trade in India with Ghana

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Ghanian flag, Bhai Boolchand launched trade in India with Ghana.
Ghanian flag, Bhai Boolchand launched trade in India with Ghana. pixelbay
  • Bhai Boolchand, the anonymous Indian, is credited with starting trade between Ghana and India
  • The year was 1890.

Not much is known about him, but it has now emerged that trade relations between Ghana and Indiawere started by Bhai Boolchand, the first Indian to arrive in the Gold Coast — Ghana’s colonial name — in 1890. That’s some 67 years before the British colonial government granted the country independence, research by the Indian Association of Ghana has found.

“As far as our records show, Bhai Boolchand (of the Bhaiband Sindhworki trading community), landed on the shores of the Gold Coast in western Africa in 1890. Nearly twenty years later, in 1919, the first Sindhi company was established by two brothers — Tarachand Jasoomal Daswani and Metharam Jasoomal Daswani,” the Indian Association said.

The duo opened a store — Metharam Jassomal Brothers — in the then capital city of Cape Coast in 1919.

“Their business flourished and branches were opened in Accra and Kumasi. A few years later, the two brothers separated and whilst Bhai Metharam Jasoomal continued the business as Metharam Brothers, Tarachand Jasoomal operated his business as Bombay Bazaar. These were the first two Indian companies that were established in the Gold Coast,” the Association said.

Boolchand’s arrival, therefore, pre-dates the historical links between the two countries that were always thought to have started between Ghana’s first President, Kwame Nkruman, and India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Boolchand can thus be described as the one who paved the way for the arrival of other members of the Sindhi community, initially as traders and shopkeepers.

The Indian Association said more of this group arrived in the 1950s and 1960s, with a few venturing into manufacturing industries such as garments, plastics, textiles, insecticides, electronics, pharmaceuticals and optical goods.

The Association said two more Indian firms were established under the names of Lilaram Thanwardas and Mahtani Brothers in the 1920s. This trend continued in the 1930s and 1940s with the creation of several more Indian companies like T. Chandirams, Punjabi Brothers, Wassiamal Brothers, Hariram Brothers, K. Chellaram & Sons, G. Motiram, D.P. Motwani, G. Dayaram, V. Lokumal, and Glamour Stores.

Glamour Stores, which was stared by Ramchand Khubchandani who arrived in Ghana in 1929, has grown — after changing its name to Melcom Group — to become the largest retailing business in the country. The Melcom Group, headed by Ramchand’s son Bhagwan Khubchandani, is now in its 60th year and about 40 stores all over the country.

Ramchand and his brother later went into garment manufacturing in 1955 and once employed over 1,200 Ghanaians. They later opened the first Indian restaurant, Maharaja, in Ghana. Bhagwan followed in his father’s footsteps and in 1989 established the Melcom Group with his sons-in-law, Mahesh Melwani and Ramesh Sadhwani.

Another Indian-owned company that has survived through the years is the Mohanani Group, which is currently in its 51st year. At the first-ever Ghana Expatriate Business Awards, the Ministry of Trade and Industries recognised the work of one of the thriving Indian-owned B5 Plus Steel Company and awarded it the Best Expatriate Company in the metal and steel category.

As these companies brought in new expatriate staff, some left their employers to venture out on their own — resulting in more companies opening up.

“After 1947, the Gold Coast attracted the attention of some Indian multinational companies, and big names like Chanrai, Bhojsons, K.A.J. Chotirmal, Dalamals and A.D. Gulab opened branches in Ghana,” the Association said.

“The employment of Ghanaians by these founding companies also helped to lessen the burden of unemployment in the country. This amply demonstrates the level of commitment India has in the developmental agenda of Ghana,” it said.

Indians are not only investing in the manufacturing and commercial sectors of the country; they are also investing in the financial sector. Bank of Baroda, one of India’s biggest and most reputable banks, recently established a branch in Ghana and hopefully it will expand its operations in other parts of the country very soon. (IANS)

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Beatles, Apple, Facebook knew India more than Indians

Famous non-Indian celebrities know more about India and its past

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The Beatles once visited India to know more bout its past and culture.
The Beatles once visited India to know more bout its past and culture. Wikipedia

-By Salil Gewali

Facebook’s Chairman Mark Zuckerberg had dropped a bombshell on the “secularists” in India during PM Modi’s visit to his campus in California. It’s all about the Facebook connection with India. Initially, it was never a bed of roses for what is now a household name “FACEBOOK” across the world. This world-famous ‘social networking service company’ had its own share of bad times. Revealing for the first time in the meeting at the Facebook office upbeat Zuckerberg told PM Narendra Modi that Steve Jobs, the founder Chairman of Apple, had advised him to visit a certain temple in India for blessings. The revelation may have caused heartburn to many. More so in India where so-called secular and snooty folks have long acquired a proclivity to look down upon their own culture, religion, and values while being appreciative of any bizarre customs and styles of the West. Yes, heeding the advice of his mentor Steve Jobs the depressed Mark had visited the temple and toured around India for nearly a month.

Facebook's CEO tells about India.
Facebook’s CEO tells about India. wikipedia

Well, the American techno-wizard Steve Jobs had himself spent over six months in India in 1974. He was here in quest of the higher meaning of life and spiritual solace. As understood, from early age Steve was quite haunted by a good deal of unanswered questions. Of course, his encounter with a book “Be Here Now” by Richard Alpert, a Harvard Professor, had opened up a gateway to the spiritualism of the East. This book had also introduced him to a mystic Yogi ‘Neem Karoli Baba’. That later inspired Steve to set out the journey for the East. As soon as Steve and his friend Daniel Kottke arrived India they directly went to meet the Guru in Kainchi Dham Ashram in Nainital. But to their disappointment, they found the Baba had already passed away some months earlier. Nevertheless, the urge to dive deeper into the spiritualism did not die away. They shaved their heads and put on Indian clothes and undertook an extensive meditation and yogic practices.

The most significant impact that had made upon Steve’s life was a book “Autobiography of a Yogi”by Paramhansa Yogananda. It is on record that he would read this book too frequently, at least once every year until his death, 2011. This book had given him the practical insight into what exactly this world is about and how a layman can prepare himself to realize the Supreme knowledge. The first-hand account of a Yogi with empirical approaches to know oneself this book by Yogananda is a smash hit manual now among the seekers of the Eastern spiritualism.

Yes, by dint of hard work, intuition and innovation Steve stood out as one of the most successful techno-tycoons of the modern times. As much known, Jobs was hardly possessed by the luxury of riches and materialistic vanity. He just regarded his entrepreneurship as a tool to awaken his dormant potentialities. The chairman of Salesforce.com and famous philanthropist Marc Benioff says with conviction — “If you want to understand Steve, it’s a good idea to dig into ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’.” It is this book which Steve’s family had given to all the guests as a last gift at his memorial service.

Here we can’t afford to ignore the Beatle’s fascination for INDIA as well. The band members that were basking in the opulence of materialistic riches and glory visited India (Rishikesh) in search of inner peace. They met with Sri Maharshi Mahesh Yogi and learnt from him Transcendental meditation (TM) who laid bare methods to feel true bliss within. Sri Maharshi is a big name in the West having a huge following that includes celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, David Lynch, Russell Brand, Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Aniston, Modern physicist Dr. John Hagelin, to name a few. The Beatle’s Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr often assist a Hollywood Director/actor David Lynch to organize the Transcendental meditation under ‘David Lynch Foundation’ across USA and the European countries. George Harrison later took refuge in Bhakti Yoga. The founder of ISKCON Srila Prabhupada showed him the pathway to the Supreme Consciousness.

What basically pulls the rational westerners to India is less known to Indians themselves. It’s shamefully paradoxical. From early 19th Century, the philosophical literary treasure troves and Yoga of India found more admirers in the foreign lands than at home. Indeed, the philosophy of the “laws of karma” and the presence of all-power-divinity within every being and everywhere — which any human being can realize irrespective of one’s caste, creed, nationality, and color, has intensely stirred the greatest of the great minds of the West. The ancient texts hold out a whole bunch of keys to unlock oneself and know his/her relationship with the Supreme Being which in fact seems very reasonable to the West. Further, the complex studies of world-view by Modern scientists are gradually arriving at the same conclusion what the ancient sages of India expounded over five thousands year back that ‘creation and creator are ONE’. Interconnection, inter-relation and interdependence among every individual particle/object, living or non-living, in the infinite universe — which is the fundamental tenets of the Eastern philosophy, provided a new light of wisdom to the the modern physicists like Schrödinger, Heisenberg, Julius Oppenheimer, Brain David Josephson, David Bohm, John Stewart Bell et al.

Well, Indian’s contribution to the western academia is immeasurable — though deliberately undermined or less discussed in India itself. It’s very worthwhile to recall a famous proclamation by our western master whom we hold in the highest esteem. TS Eliot, one of the most celebrated poets of the 20th century, asserts: “Indian philosophers’ subtleties make most of the great European philosophers look like schoolboys”.

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’. Twitter @SGewali.