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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/
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  • 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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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Yoga is very effective for the body as well as the mind. No wonder Tirumalai Krishnamacharya lived for 101 long years

  • Aparna Gupta

    Yoga is a practice which is followed all over the world. This was the reason behind his long life.

  • Dhiraj Kumar Pandey

    organisations doing “good work” like Yoga guru’s http://www.yogabhawnamission dot com/One-week-Yoga-Tourism.html

Next Story

Diesel Exhaust Converted Into Ink by Indian Innovators To Battle Air Pollution

Supervised by young engineers, workers at the start-up company Chakr Innovation in New Delhi cut and weld sheets of metal to make devices that will capture black plumes of smoke from diesel generators and convert it into ink.

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representational image. VOA

Supervised by young engineers, workers at the start-up company Chakr Innovation in New Delhi cut and weld sheets of metal to make devices that will capture black plumes of smoke from diesel generators and convert it into ink.

In a cabin, young engineers pore over drawings and hunch over computers as they explore more applications of the technology that they hope will aid progress in cleaning up the Indian capital’s toxic air – among the world’s dirtiest.

While the millions of cars that ply Delhi’s streets are usually blamed for the city’s deadly air pollution, another big culprit is the massive diesel generators used by industries and buildings to light up homes and offices during outages when power from the grid switches off – a frequent occurrence in summer. Installed in backyards and basements, they stay away from the public eye.

“Although vehicular emissions are the show stoppers, they are the ones which get the media attention, the silent polluters are the diesel generators,” says Arpit Dhupar, one of the three engineers who co-founded the start up.

The idea that this polluting smoke needs attention struck Dhupar three years ago as he sipped a glass of sugarcane juice at a roadside vendor and saw a wall blackened with the fumes of a diesel generator he was using.

It jolted him into joining with two others who co-founded the start-up to find a solution. Dhupar had experienced first hand the deadly impact of this pollution as he developed respiratory problems growing up in Delhi.

An Indian girls holds a banner during a protest against air pollution in New Delhi, India, Nov. 6, 2016.
An Indian girls holds a banner during a protest against air pollution in New Delhi, India, Nov. 6, 2016.

A new business

As the city’s dirty air becomes a serious health hazard for many citizens, it has turned into both a calling and a business opportunity for entrepreneurs looking at ways to improve air quality.

According to estimates, vehicles contribute 22 percent of the deadly PM 2.5 emissions in Delhi, while the share of diesel generators is about 15 percent. These emissions settle deep into the lungs, causing a host of respiratory problems.

After over two years of research and development, Chakr has begun selling devices to tap the diesel exhaust. They have been installed in 50 places, include public sector and private companies.

The technology involves cooling the exhaust in a “heat exchanger” where the tiny soot particles come together. These are then funneled into another chamber that captures 70 to 90 percent of the particulate matter. The carbon is isolated and converted into ink.

Among their first clients was one of the city’s top law firms, Jyoti Sagar Associates, which is housed in a building in Delhi’s business hub Gurgaon.

Making a contribution to minimizing the carbon footprint is a subject that is close to Sagar’s heart – his 32-year-old daughter has long suffered from the harmful effects of Delhi’s toxic air.

Motorists drive surrounded by smog, in New Delhi, India, Nov. 8, 2017.
Motorists drive surrounded by smog, in New Delhi, India, Nov. 8, 2017.

“This appealed to us straightaway, the technology is very impactful but is beautifully simple,” says Sagar. Since it could be retrofitted, it did not disrupt the day-to-day activities at the buzzing office. “Let’s be responsible. Let’s at least not leave behind a larger footprint of carbon. And if we can afford to control it, why not, it’s good for all,” he says.

At Chakr Innovation, cups, diaries and paper bags printed with the ink made from the exhaust serve as constant reminders of the amount of carbon emissions that would have escaped into the atmosphere.

There has been a lot of focus on improving Delhi’s air by reducing vehicular pollution and making more stringent norms for manufacturers, but the same has not happened for diesel generators. Although there are efforts to penalize businesses that dirty the atmosphere, this often prompts them to find ways to get around the norms.

Also Read: Exposure to Traffic-Related Pollution Poses Threat of Asthma in Kids

Tushar Mathur who joined the start up after working for ten years in the corporate sector feels converting smoke into ink is a viable solution. “Here is a technology which is completely sustainable, a win-win between businesses and environment,” says Mathur. (VOA)