TKV Desikachar talks on Śraddhā in the light of the Yoga Sūtra
at the KYM and responds to questions.
“Śraddhā is essential for progress,
whether in Yoga or any other endeavour.
It is a feeling that cannot be expressed or intellectually discussed.
It, however, is a feeling that is not always uncovered in every person.
When absent or weak,
it is evident through the lack of stability and focus in a person.
Where present and strong,
it is evident through the commitment, perseverance
and enthusiasm the person exhibits.
For such a person, life is meaningful.”
The means by which certain qualitative changes in the mind are brought about is called Sādhanā. There is also the possibility that certain individuals may develop such a mind without effort. That is, the qualities are inherent in that individual and mature on their own to manifest one day in the form of some extraordinary capacities. However, such persons are few. For the rest of us, the same changes are possible but it is a question of time and practice. The end result is the same, it is only the time taken to achieve it that will differ.
YOGA SŪTRA ON STRESS
– An Interview with TKV Desikachar by AV Balasubramanian and Paul Harvey
The Yoga Sūtra presents the potentials of the human mind, the means to its refinement, control and clarity and the obstacles that can come in the way of one’s progress. An understanding of stress in the light of the Yoga Sūtra is presented in the interview below.
In addition to covering the many techniques in Yoga to help persons under stress, TKV Desikachar constantly emphasises the importance of the attitude to our actions. He singles out the cultivation of the twin qualities of Śraddhā and Īśvara Praṇidhānā as the only sure means for being free from stress permanently.
What is the Indian tradition’s view on stress?
In the Indian tradition, stress would be the situation where a person exhibits the Udvega, attitudes or behavior which take over a person and control him. The origin of the Udvega lies in the Ṣad Ūrmi, the six enemies. These six are:
- Kāma: desire
- Krodha: anger
- Lobha: possessiveness, greed
- Moha: darkness; though not actually dark it is as if darkness exists because the person is so sure of himself and his opinions that he is unable to see.
- Mada: arrogance, the refusal to accept or give in.
- Mātsarya: jealousy, to resent the success of others and to be happy at their failures.
Religiousness in Yoga
Lectures on Theory and Practice
Chapter by Chapter Study Guide Compilation
‘Religiousness in Yoga: Lectures on Theory and Practice’, by the University Press of America, is a transcript of recordings of a one month Yoga Programme in Colgate University in 1976, published in 1980.
Unlike the later redacted edition, re-published in 1995 as the ‘Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice’, it captures the evolution of the retreat with the days lectures and Q & A dialogues as they alternated between ‘lectures on the principles and purposes of Yoga and discussions related to the practice of Yoga with special reference to the postures and the breathing techniques’.
TKV Desikachar, in his forward to the original version wrote:
“These lectures and discussions, printed words put before persons I might never meet,
are but reflections of that deeper result that grew out of a living face-to-face encounter.
Coming to learn of Yoga only through reading leaves much to be desired.
Yet, something worthwhile about Yoga might be shared through the medium of the printed word.”
Over the past five years a study guide to Religiousness in Yoga has been posted in a chapter by chapter progression. Each chapter was supported with added textual verse and word cross-references. The chapter posts were preceded with illustrative quotes reflecting the content of that particular lecture or discussion. All were offered to support a deeper linking with the teachings within these lectures and Q & A sessions.
All in all it has been a longish project, nevertheless one within which it has been for me, as if listening to him speaking. He had such a knack of saying something that could go ‘straight to press’. Though here my thanks also goes to the editors, especially the late Mary Louise Skelton and their efforts and priorities in preserving the essence of Desikachar’s style. This direct transmission, nurtured from within the ancient succession of oral teachers, is seemingly a dying flame within the embers of India’s old school traditions.
“This past weekend, sixteen of TKV Desikachar’s long term students from around the world met and spent time together in the South of France.
We reflected on what we each personally received from our teacher through our individual lessons in Chennai over many years.
Within this context certain questions arose that we would like to share as an offering.
– How is the Spirit of Yoga transmitted?
– What are the conditions that make this transmission possible?
– How can all of us support the continuity of this transmission?
We will continue to meet and work together to sustain
the spirit of TKV Desikachar’s teaching as we have understood it.”
– Ste Cécile les Vignes, June 24th 2018
Chase Bossart; Bernard Bouanchaud; Johanna Bouanchaud; Barbara Brian;
Malek Daouk; Paul Harvey; Hoda Khoury; Hellfried Krusche;
Gill Lloyd; François Lorin; Laurence Maman; Marina Margherita;
Frans Moors; Martyn Neal; Simone Tempelhof-Moors; Dolphi Wertenbaker
Today commemorates TKV Desikachar‘s eightieth birthday, the second to have passed since his death in August 2016. This day, coincidentally, also sees me travelling to the South of France for a 3 day gathering of most of his long term pupils from around the world.
Curiously this meeting comes to pass exactly twenty years after the last such meeting in June 1998 where some 16 students from 8 countries gathered in London with Desikachar to explore, as he put it:
“How to respect this tradition and at the same time, to live and teach in the present situation?”
This time again sees some 16 students gathering from 8 countries, though obviously the occasion of meeting without Desikachar’s physical presence will be strange. Yet I feel it will also offer an unique opportunity to salute that which links us and to reconnect with old friends and reaffirm where we find ourselves within the Yoga world today. Such as what is the future of our past within the spirit of Viniyoga?
This day, August the 8th marks TKV Desikachar’s passing one year ago.
Two posts from this time are shown below.
To honour his memory one year later, this article from the Darśanam Journal is offered.
Questions on T Krishnamacharya – Answered by TKV Desikachar
“Though familiar with some well known details of his early life, the students of the Mandiram were keen to know more about their teacher, T. Krishnamacharya. T.K.V. Desikachar answers a wide range of questions giving us details that were not known before. It covers his views on subjects as diverse as his early orthodoxy, Mahatma Gandhi, the qualities he respected, his diet and entertainment.”
Śīrṣāsana as a Viparīta Karaṇī Mudrā
This day, for so long TKV Desikachar‘s birthday, is the first since his death last August.
In memorium is the article below:
“In the scheme of Haṭha Yoga where the harnessing and channelising of one’s life energy is the goal, the Viparīta Karaṇī Mudrā occupies a special place.
A person’s full potential is realised when this energy moves to the top of the head.
There are various techniques that the ancient seers had formalised to remove the obstacles in the path of this energy and to aid its movement.
All these techniques culminated the Viparīta Karaṇī Mudrā, the principle of inversion,
one form of which is Śīrṣāsana.
TKV Desikachar explains this concept starting with the most basic requirements of the practice and moving step by step through the various techniques, all of which are used in Śīrṣāsana.”
Introduction to the Yoga Makaranda by TKV Desikachar
Extract from the issue of KYM Darśanam published in November 1993,
it was written by TKV Desikachar as an introduction to a serialisation of the Yoga Makaranda
which ran over 10 issues of the magazine until February 1996.
“I would like to bring to the notice some important aspects of this book to help understand the context in which it was written and to avoid misinterpretation.
It is with profound sadness and a great personal sense of loss,
that I offer the news that TKV Desikachar has died this Sunday evening at 9.15pm London time on Sunday August 7th or 2.45am Monday August 8th Madras time.
With my prayers and deep condolences to his wife Menaka and family for the loss of the light and clarity he offered to all who had the privilege to have contact with him and his teachings.
Reflections by Paul around TKV Desikachar following his passing on August 8th 2016……..
As I sit within this time of passing and remembrance……
We have lost a fine teacher and a Yoga master……
“My father never acknowledged that he discovered anything
even when I have seen that it was he who discovered.
He has discovered postures but he would say
that it was his teacher who taught him.
Rarely has he said that it was his “original” work.
At the same time, I have seen him – because I am his son also –
composing some verses and correcting those verses for
the Chandas (Metre) and all that and finally saying –
this is what Nathamuni is saying and this is what my teacher says!
I tend to think that the Nathamuni’s Yoga Rahasya that he taught us
is quite likely to be a combination of his own commentary
and the lessons he received though he would not accept it.”
– ‘The Study of Yoga Rahasya‘ – Extract from an Interview with TKV Desikachar in KYM Darśanam, a publication from Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram vol 1 no 1 Feb 1991.
“In the Indian tradition, a Śāstra is always studied under a teacher.
It is the teacher who gives the text life and meaning
by presenting it in a manner that the student can relate to and apply in his life.
The Bhagavad Gītā offers help to those in trouble.
How its teachings can be related to our lives and taken advantage of,
is explained by TKV Desikachar in his introduction and answers to his students.”
– Originally published by the KYM Darśanam May 1995
Question: What were his favourite foods?
Response: You might be surprised that he relished good food. He was from Andhra and so, relished food that was hot and spicy. He was very fond of sweets and would eat them in great quantities. With all this he would always have ghee. Ghee formed a very important part of his diet and whatever the food, it would be accompanied with large quantities of ghee.
Of course, he was also doing Āsana for three to four hours daily in addition to his Prāṇāyāma. His practice was extremely rigorous and that may account for his being able to handle these large quantities of spicy and sweet foods.”
Picture I took whilst studying and living in Madras through 1980,
of TKV Desikachar then aged 42 at a concert at the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram.
To his left is his mother Namagiriamma, T Krishnamacharya’s wife and BKS Iyengar’s sister, aged 68.
To his right is his eldest son Bushan aged 10.
Beyond him is Raghu Ananthanarayanan, a senior teacher at that time at the KYM.
Whilst living and studying in Chennai through 1980 Desikachar gave me a video of an Indian TV programme about the work of the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram in the field of Yoga and Health. In 2012 I had the video cassette digitalised and offered it as a dropbox downloadable format for students personal collections.
From here it seemed to have made its way to YouTube as a view or embed only film, so am offering it here as a resource for all in both a viewable and embedable format, as well as an easily downloadable video.
A talk by TKV Desikachar in Nantes, France April 1995
In today’s world, the authority of tradition, religious institutions or elders is questioned and not accepted unless proven to the satisfaction of the individual.
However, when a person turns to someone or something with an attitude of respect and with the conviction that through this some thing good will happen, extraordinary results are achieved. This is especially so in moments of crisis.
TKV Desikachar, here presents an understanding of faith that the modern mind can accept and more important, that the modern mind needs.
This talk was given at Nantes, France in April 1995 when he visited Europe for a series of lectures and workshops there.
“I am very pleased that the subject of faith in the modern world has attracted so much interest. I would like to develop this idea in the following way. In the Indian tradition, even today, near the beginning of the 21st century, faith is very alive and is even taken for granted. In India, anywhere in India, people still believe in temples and teachers.
FAITH IN THE MODERN WORLD a talk by TKV Desikachar in Nantes, France April 1995
I am very pleased that the subject of faith in the modern world has attracted so much interest. I would like to develop this idea in the following way. In the Indian tradition, even today, near the beginning of the 21st century, faith is very alive and is even taken for granted. In India, anywhere in India, people still believe in temples and teachers. Further, in our families there is enormous respect for the parents. Even though we are exposed, more than ever, to the West, this faith continues. It is an amazing situation because on the one hand, we have learnt to question many things, and on the other, we continue to live as in the past. Our traditions are alive, our masters respected and revered and our temples, churches and mosques full. It is almost like our country has not changed at all. But this is in India and India is only a small part of this great world.
Excerpts from an essay by T Krishnamacharya Downloadable as a PDF.
Summarised and translated from the Saṃskṛta essay of T Krishnamacharya composed in January 1981, by TKV Desikachar and Sujaya Sridhar.
Originally published in KYM Darśanam February 1991.
YOGA AND THE 21st CENTURY
TKV Desikachar was in Narbonne, in the South of France, for a symposium on “Yoga and the XXIst Century” during May 1999. The purpose of the symposium was to consider the role of yoga for the coming century in the three fields of Health, Psychology and Spirituality.
The following interview is an introductory presentation.
This five day gathering, convened in June 1993 with a worldwide gathering of personal students of TKV Desikachar, was a personal exploration, facilitated by Desikachar around the theme: ‘Meditation – Some Concerns’. It 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 many of the Yogalebrities of the day.
This group picture was taken outside of Mary Louise Skeltonn’s newly completed Gurukulam 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.