Swami Vishnudevananda spread knowledge of yoga around the world, going from India to the West with 10 rupees in his pocket.
This year marks 60 years of one of the largest international organizations of yoga - "Shivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers". Swami Sivadasananda, the yoga acarya of the organization’s European branch, tells how Swami Sivananda allowed yoga not to Hinduism and women, and Swami Vishnudevananda spread knowledge about yoga all over the world, going from India to the West with 10 rupees in his pocket.
Swami Sivananda (1887-1963) - an outstanding yoga of the 20th century, one of the first discovered the knowledge of yoga throughout the world.
- Made yoga accessible to people of the West. In the era of Swami Sivananda, yoga was part of Indian culture. Yoga books were written in Sanskrit and Indian languages and were not available to people from other countries. Swami Sivananda began writing about classical yoga in English. It was the time of the British occupation, and many criticized him for teaching and writing books in English (including comments on traditional spiritual texts).
In the Swami Sivananda ashram in Rishekek everyone spoke English and foreigners often stopped there before continuing on their way to the Himalayas. Thanks to the guests of the book Swami Sivananda spread throughout the world. The basis of the teachings of Swami Sivananda were the words: "Serve, Love, Give, Purify, Meditate, Realize ..." (Serve, love, give, cleanse, meditate, free yourself). Now these words are written on a memorial Arch in Rishekek (India).
- He taught the integral approach in yoga. Swami Sivananda taught an integral approach to yoga, combining in his teaching the principles of Jnana Yoga (ways of knowledge), Bhakti Yoga (ways of devotion), Karma Yoga (ways of service) and Raja Yoga (ways of developing control over his mind).
- Yoga for women. Another innovation that Swami Sivananda introduced was allowing women to practice yoga. Previously, hatha yoga classes were available only for men. Swami Sivananda was a doctor, he knew well about women's diseases, including those related to hormonal imbalances, and knew that yoga can help. At first, women tried yoga in a sari ...
- Yoga instead of medicine. Swami Sivananda studied in detail the healing possibilities of yoga. He himself was a doctor, I know Ayurveda well, and he taught people to get rid of diseases with the help of yoga. Swami Sivananda devoted several books to how to get rid of many diseases with the help of asanas, pranayama and proper nutrition, including diabetes - one of the most common diseases in India.
- Live simply, think high. Swami Sivananda led a very simple lifestyle. He himself worked in the office, hospital, personally received guests, took care of those who live in the ashram and did not stand out among the rest. During his life, Swami Sivananda has written over 200 books (Higher Bliss, Yoga and the Power of Thought, Conquest of the Mind, and others). At that time, the Guru was taken to wrap himself in cloth and sit on tiger skins, and Swami Sivananda wore a European coat, which was presented to him by one of his students. And I shrugged to the questions of the astonished: "it is convenient in it and I can do more things than in a blanket."
Swami Sivananda (on the left in a coat) watches as Swami Vishnudevananda demonstrates Vrishchikasana (scorpion posture)
Swami Sivananda (right) with his students. Swami Vishnudevananda is on the left.
Caption: Swami Vishnudevananda with the first students at the Ashram in Rishikesh
Swami Sivananda with his students
Swami Sivananda (third from left) and his students in front of the asana class. Swami Vishnudevananda third right
Swami Vishnudevananda, (1927-1993) student of Swami Sivananda, founder of the international organization "Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers"
- Opened 80 centers for 10 rupees
This is not a legend. Indeed, Swami Sivananda sent Swami Vishnudevananda to the West to teach yoga, giving him 10 rupees. Therefore, the opening of the first center took a long time. There were three main stops on the way of Swami Vishnudevananda from India to the West: Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia. Through these countries he got to California. He had a "list of friends" - a list of people who had previously visited the ashram and kept in touch with him. He stopped at the road with them. Swami Vishnudevanla believed more in prana (life energy) than in a bank account. With the help of his own practice, he accumulated a large amount of this energy, and she opened many doors for him. Now in the Centers and Ashrams of Sivananda Yoga there are more than 80 cities in the world, including Moscow, and these 10 rupees are stored in the Sivananda Ashram in Canada in a frame on the wall.
- Swami Vishnudevananda taught yoga for voluntary donation. Swami did not take money for his lessons, he taught for donations. But it was very difficult, especially in America. He paid rent for the hall, and there was never enough money in the donation basket. At that moment, when he was almost bankrupt, he managed to publish the "Complete Illustrated Book on Yoga" - his first book. The fee for the book “literally saved my life,” said Swami Vishnudevananda. In this book, Swami formulated five principles of yoga:
1. Correct exercises (asanas)
2. Proper breathing (pranayama)
3. Proper relaxation (shavasana)
4. Proper nutrition (vegetarianism)
5. Positive thinking and meditation
- Spread the ideas of the World. Swami Vishnudevananda had a vision: the whole world was on fire, people were terrified and they had nowhere to hide. Swami realized that if nothing changes in people, war will overwhelm the earth. He created the True World Order (TWO) organization based on the principle of unity in diversity - we are all different and we can all live together in peace. On his small plane he flew over zones of armed conflict and threw leaflets calling for peace and flowers. Once he flew over the Berlin Wall from the West to the East. He showed that the boundaries are conditional, birds can fly from one end of the earth to the other.
- Developed a comprehensive yoga course - TTC. As part of his World Mission, Swami Vishnudevananda developed the Yoga Teachers Courses (TTC). He said that peace can be established on our planet only if people find this peace within themselves and then bring it to their surroundings. Initially, the courses lasted two months, during which students studied asanas and pranayama, the rules of their teaching, meditation, the basics of philosophy (vedanta), and anatomy. Such an immersion in yoga helped people understand what yoga is and feel the inner peace and tranquility. Modern Courses of Yoga Teachers are built on the same principles, but last only one month. TTC are held more than 50 times a year around the world, including in Poland and Lithuania, where translation into Russian is organized.
- Cured of a nervous breakdown of the Indian ambassador. In 1985, there was a terrorist attack (bombing) on board a plane from India to Canada, all passengers were killed. It was feared that the Indian embassy in Canada could also be in danger, so a 24-hour security guard was assigned to the Kindia ambassador. Due to the heavy atmosphere and constant fear, the ambassador fell into a severe depression, almost never getting out of bed. Swami Vishnudevananda read about this story in a newspaper and invited the ambassador to his Ashram, promising to cure him in 10 days. The embassy agreed only on the condition that the security guards check everything and will be constantly present in the classroom. In the Ashram, Swami Vishnudevananda taught the Ambassador 5 principles of yoga, practiced with him, and after 10 days the Indian ambassador returned to life.
Swami Vishnudevananda holds one of the first demonstration classes of asanas in the West
Later he introduced a "supporting donation" - he called the recommended amount to pay for classes at the rate of covering the costs of the center. The principle of disinterested service is still one of the main centers in Sivananda Yoga - the teachers do not receive a salary, and all the funds received go to the development of the centers.
Swami Vishnudevananad submits his book to the mayor of Los Angeles
"Plane of the World" by Swami Vishnudevananda
Caption: Swami Vishnudevananda conducts the asana class at the Courses of Yoga Teachers (TTC), Nassau, Bahamas
Swami Vishnudevananda conducts an asana class at the Ashram in Canada