“If you have learned something really well,
then the way you express it will not be the same way you learned it.”
– T Krishnamacharya
“Mahā Mudrā – the great gesture, is a seated asymmetrical posture combining forward flexion of the trunk with straightening of the back. At the forefront of the boundary between the main types of Āsana and Prāṇāyāma, this Mudrā is the central pillar of his teaching of technique.”
Claude Marachel was a long serving and senior student of TKV Desikachar over 33 years from 1969-2002. This is an extract from Claude talking about what Desikachar told him about his father, Krishnamacharya.
In 1970, TKV Desikachar asked his father and Guru, Śrī T Krishnamacharya ten fundamental questions about Yoga. The following is an extract of one of the questions in the interview, which took place in the Kanada language.
“5A. Why are there so many different methods to hand down the teachings of a master? What are the reasons for this?
This situation comes from the absence of loyalty to only one master. The traditional method of teaching and of handing down the teaching is the Guru Paramparā. For a disciple, it consists of receiving the instructions of a master day after day, until there is enough knowledge. At the end of an assiduous study with the Teacher, the student progressively becomes a teacher himself and he starts teaching other disciples. This continuity, from teacher to student, in the same tradition, constitutes the Guru Paramparā. The high number of present methods is due to interruptions in the traditional system of handing down the teaching. It can also be due to the weakness of certain teachers.
5B. What are the consequences of these different methods?
The lowering of the average level and the weakening of the knowledge of the students of Yoga.
5C. What solutions can be proposed to mitigate this situation?
Nowadays, there is no solution to this problem.”
Photograph of T Krishnamacharya taken by Paul Brunton during his travels in India
whilst staying as a guest of the Maharajah in Mysore, South India.
The practice of Bhakti Dhyānam outlined in the Yoga Sūtra Chapter One
can utilise either Veda Mantra or Tantra Mantra.
The Veda focus is one of external harmony with the forces of nature (Tri Guṇa) and
the Tantra focus is one of internal empowerment within the forces of nature (Tri Guṇa).
“It is necessary to have a competent and accessible teacher.”
– From study notes with TKV Desikachar England 1992
This is a translation of part of the Opening Prayers as taught to TKV Desikachar by T Krishnamacharya and taught by TKV Desikachar to his personal students.
View or Download the Prārthanā Ślokam (Request Prayer) – Dhyānaṃ Ślokam relative to Patañjali.
योगेन चित्तस्य पदेन वाचां मलं शरीरस्य च वैद्यकेन ।
योऽपाकरोत् तं प्रवरं मुनीनां पतञ्जलिं प्राञ्जलिरानतोऽस्मि ॥
yogena cittasya padena vācāṃ malaṃ śarīrasya ca vaidyakena |
yo’pākarot taṃ pravaraṃ munīnāṃ patañjaliṃ prāñjalirānato’smi ||
‘Yoga for the psyche,
grammar for speech and medicine for impurities of the body.
Coming from the lineage of teachers, to Patañjali I salute.’
आबाहु पुरुषाकारं शङ्खचक्रासि धारिणम् ।
सहस्र शिरसं श्वेतं प्रणमामि पतञ्जलिम् ॥
ābāhu puruṣākāraṃ śaṅkhacakrāsi dhāriṇam |
sahasra śirasaṃ śvetaṃ praṇamāmi patañjalim ||
‘Up to the shoulders human form, holding conch, disc, sword.
One thousand heads white to Patañjali I salute.’
श्रीमते अनन्ताय नागराय नमो नमः ॥
śrīmate anantāya nāgarājāya namo namaḥ ||
‘To venerable, eternal serpent king, Nāga, my reverences.’
It was learnt by heart as a Bhāvanam for Dhyānaṃ, to create a meditational mood linked to Patañjali prior to commencing either chanting practice or textual study of the Yoga Sūtra.
View or Download the Prārthanā Ślokam (Request Prayer) – Dhyānaṃ Ślokam for Patañjali with translation.
View or Download the Yoga Sūtra Full Opening Prayers with Chant Notations (without translation)
View or Download the Prārthanā Ślokam (Request Prayer) – Śuklām Opening Verse with Translation
View or Download the Prārthanā Ślokam (Request Prayer) – Gurubhyastad Opening Verse with Translation
Listen or Download the Yoga Sūtra Full Dhyānaṃ Ślokam for Patañjali by TKV Desikachar as a sound file.
The first four verses in the Yoga Sūtra Chapter One are very significant.
If what is offered here interests then proceed.
Also the first four Sūtra summarise the whole thrust of the teaching.
“Although Krishnamacharya came from a strict Indian tradition,
he liberated the restrictions.
He segregated his personal beliefs from his teaching
and his interest in the different texts on Yoga and Vedānta.
Hindus have taken advantage of Yoga,
Brahmin rituals use Yoga breathing,
even if it is only symbolic and they use Mantra.
Krishnamacharya didn’t mix the different teachings,
he didn’t start a class with prayers when he worked with foreigners.”
– From study notes with TKV Desikachar England 1992
TKV Desikachar taught the viniyoga of Yoga,
or application of Yoga according
to state of life, place, time and circumstance
to optimise the student’s potential within
that situation as seen from his
own, forever evolving, innovating and
maturing, developmental teaching thread.
with Paul Harvey in the Cotswolds
Paul was taught Mantra and Vedic Chanting privately within 121 lessons by his teacher TKV Desikachar over 20 years. As well as studying Chanting, he also studied Indian singing through 121 lessons in Chennai within both the traditional Indian Carnatic and Hindustani music systems.
Paul also explored the application of Indian voice work in the West with some of the leading proponents of Indian Rāga singing and movement fusion workshops and Indian Rāga 121 vocal skills lessons.
Originally it was during Pauls continuing visits to study the Arts and Practices of Yoga from 1979 with Desikachar in India that he became exposed to the Art of Mantra, Veda and Yoga Chanting. It was taught by his teacher both as a method of transmission for sacred texts and teachings and as a personalised Sādhana through which one became deeply focused as well as facilitating access to the profundity of an experience of the Sacred.
This experience and the other benefits such as a deepening confidence in the message of the heart, improvements in memory through the teaching and learning processes, confidence and power arising in the sound of our own voice, led Paul in 1985 to begin nearly 20 years of formal study with his teacher.
Yoga Service in Berlin talks with TK Sribhashyam and Srimathi Shubha Mohan Kumar, the youngest son and youngest daughter of Śrī T Krishnamacharya, about their father, vinyāsa and the essence of Yoga.
ĀYURVEDA & YOGA
“All food is medicine, all medicine is food.”
Āyurveda was the one of the first medical systems to realise the crucial importance of the kind of food we eat and to appreciate the interaction between health and disease, disease and food, and food and health. It will be from this point that this article will explore the question of diet by examining the concepts of elements and taste in food.
A group picture from 1993 with a worldwide gathering of students of TKV Desikachar at the newly completed Gurukulam of Mary Louise Skelton in Hamilton, Upstate New York. Mary Louise was originally a student of T Krishnamacharya in 1969 and then TKV Desikachar from 1974 and was one of the main players in the rooting of Desikachars work in the West through her part in the setting up of a one month seminar in Colgate University in 1976 under the theme ‘Religiousness in Yoga’.
The transcript of this course was published in 1980 as ‘Religiousness in Yoga: Lectures on Theory and Practice’ by the University Press of America. Currently available through Amazon US or Amazon UK it remains, still for me to this day in all but appearance, as one of the finest modern expositions on Yoga. Again, for me, still superior to the re-edited version, although many photographs added within a ‘user friendly’ presentation and textual cut down. Personally described to me by Desikachar as ‘old wine in new bottles’ it was published under the title ‘The Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice’ by Inner Traditions.
A bow of gratitude is offered for Mary Lou’s part in the dissemination of the seeds of Krishnamacharya’s teaching through the work of his son in the West.
The five day gathering in June 1993 was a personal exploration, facilitated by Desikachar around the theme: ‘Meditation – Some Concerns’ and still arouses fond memories of our time together even if juxtaposed by my travelling afterwards to New York City with Desikachar teaching at a full on Yoga Journal Convention with over 2000 attendees and the many Yogalebrities of the day.
”Sahavāsam (Dwelling Together)
– What you associate with becomes part of you.”
– TKV Desikachar January 15th 2000