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.
My understanding from my discussions over the years with TKV Desikachar regarding the context and content of Yoga Makaranda, is that when teaching youngsters the length of the breath was minimised to a relatively short fixed length and use of Kumbhaka was limited to a few seconds Antar Kumbhaka and Bahya Kumbhaka.
Whilst living in Madras from 1979-1981 I was at an event in Chennai in June 1980 where BKS Iyengar was invited to give a Yoga lecture and Āsana demonstration in a tribute to his Guru T Krishnamacharya.
Krishnamacharya consented to attend as the guest of honour and I was able to take a number of personal photos during this event, including Mr Iyengar demonstrating Āsana.
This particular picture shows T Krishnamacharya and BKS Iyengar sitting together during the salutary addresses.
This one is for aficionados of T Krishnamacharya’s personal and ancestral Sampradāya or Vaiṣṇavite tradition of Viśiṣṭādvaita, as well as interest in research into the lives of his forebears, in this case Śrī Yāmunācārya.
‘Did Yāmunācarya visit Kashmir’, is an article by V Varadachari first published in The Journal of Oriental Research Madras in 1992.
This possibility was also discussed by the renowned scholar and practitioner of Kashmir Shivaism, Mark Dyczkowski, in his book ‘The Doctrine of Vibration’ on Page 2 and expanded regarding Yāmunācarya and Kashmir in the footnotes on page 221.
All in all this serves to remind us of the eminent lineage and potent ancestry that fed Krishnamacharya’s lifelong relationship with the teachings of his forebears Śrī Nāthamuni and Yāmunācārya.
As well as his dedication to other important Viśiṣṭādvaita teachers within his Sampradāya, such as TKV Desikachar’s fourteenth century namesake Veṅkaṭanātha Deśika. Veṅkaṭanātha Deśika was an eminent Śrī Vaiṣnava Guru, a poet, devotee, philosopher and master-teacher.
Krishnamacharya named his son TKV Desikachar with the Tirumalai and Krishna relating to the village of origin and immediate family title and Veṅkaṭanātha Deśikachar after Veṅkaṭanātha Deśika, hence TKV Desikachar.
A collation of articles by Srivatsa Ramaswami around the teachings of
T Krishnamacharya published in the ‘Indian Review’ circa 1979-1981.
List of Articles and Indications of Content:
Downloadable film ‘100 Years of Beatitude’ digitalised from a video of a 1989 documentary honouring Śrī T Krishnamacharya at the time of his centennial celebrations.
The research and commentary for the film was by Sarah Dars, who also contributed several articles to the special December 1989 edition of the Viniyoga Journal on Krishnamacharya’s life.
The introduction to one of her articles, entitled ‘At the Foot of the Mountain’ read:
“Yogin, Āyurveda physician, teacher of the Mahārājah , master of Mīmāmsā, Nyāya, Sāṃkhya,…..
It is impossible to come to the end of the long list of areas in which Krishnamacharya excelled, as he was also an astrologer, multi lingual , Saṃskṛta scholar, poet, musician………
A totally exceptional person, wreathed in legend, to whom one listens as if seated at the foot of the mountain…”
Amongst my various meetings with Krishnamacharya I remember attending public lectures and the phrase ‘to whom one listens as if seated at the foot of the mountain’ captures the spirit of his understanding of Yoga.
A selection of Āsana from the book Yogāsanagalu by written by T Krishnamacharya in 1941. The third edition, published in 1972, contained Āsana demonstration pictures of Krishnamacharya then aged 84. Featured in this post are further examples of Seated Āsana, click to enlarge image or view as a slide show:
A short clip extracted from a video of T Krishnamacharya practising as part of his Yoga Cikitsā or Yoga therapeutics when recovering from a hip fracture from a fall in 1984 when aged 96. Apologies for the quality, the original cassette is a bit flakey.
In 2000 TKV Desikachar presented teachings around the evolution of T Krishnamacharya’s Yoga teaching.
The above summary is available as a Downloadable PDF.
Released on the occasion of the Pāduka Pratiṣṭhā of Sri T Krishnamacharya on 15th March 1991 by the KYM.
Srivatsa Ramaswami (born 1939 in Madras, Tamil Nadu, India) was a student of Shri T Krishnamacharya and studied under him for 33 years, from 1955 until 1988 shortly before Krishnamacharya’s passing.
He is Krishnamacharya’s longest-standing student outside of Krishnamacharya’s immediate family.
Нe currently lives and teaches in the U.S.
This picture shows BKS Iyengar demonstrating Āsana at an event in Chennai in June 1980 where he was invited to give a Yoga lecture and Āsana demonstration in a tribute to his Guru T Krishnamacharya. I remember he introduced his presentation with the words “I am an artist and I am going to show you my art”.
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.
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.
A link to a Newsletter from Yogakshemam, the website of TK Sribashyam the son of TK Krishnamacharya and younger brother of TKV Desikachar. Scrolling down this particular newsletter, the first from January 2000, will reveal interesting anecdotal stories from some of Krishnamacharya’s children, grandchildren, relatives, students and even a recipe for almond milk.
Rāmānuja, was a disciple of Śrī Yāmunācarya. Śrī Yāmunācarya, composer of texts such as the Gītārtha Saṃgraha, Siddhi Traya and Stotra Ratna, was the grandson of the 9th century sage Śrī Nāthamuni and a forebear of T Krishnamacharya.
Krishnamacharya’s personal devotional philosophy and practices were grounded in the teachings that arose from these great sages and evolved into what became known as Viśiṣṭādvaita or qualified non-dualism (One of the three primary schools of Vedānta).
“Rāmānuja agrees with the Advaitin that the scripture teaches the non-twoness (Advaita) of reality.
But, he denies the Advaitan’s conclusion that this oneness is attributeless, pure being or consciousness and that plurality with regard to soul and material world is falsely imposed on this one Being due to ignorance.”
Rāmānuja on the Yoga – Dr. Robert C Lester 1976.