The tradition and teaching of Śrī T Krishnamacharya has been perpetuated and developed over recent decades by his son and long time pupil TKV Desikachar.
TKV Desikachar was born on June 21st 1938, in Mysore, Karnataka, the fourth child of Śrī Tirumalai Krishnamacharya and his wife, Shrimati Namagiriammal, sister of BKS Iyengar. As the son of the eminent Śrī Krishnamacharya, Desikachar could not help but be exposed to the richness and depth of Indian culture while growing up. However, in spite of the portent of his namesake, the great sage Vedanta Desika, the young Desikachar was encouraged to seek a modern education.
Accordingly, he completed a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and his early adult life saw him successfully pursuing his career as a civil engineer. Yet the influence of his father’s teaching was still present and able to cause a change of direction in Desikachar’s life.
This happened in 1961, when Desikachar was visiting his parents’ house in Madras on route to northern India. One morning about 6.00am he was awakened by the sound of a foreign woman knocking at the door and demanding to see “the professor”. Before he could take stock of what was happening, Desikachar was astonished to see this Western woman run down the path, and fling her arms around Śrī Krishnamacharya as he emerged from his quarters while exclaiming, “I slept! I slept!”
Despite his Western style education, the young Desikachar was unprepared for the sight of a foreign woman hugging the austere and reverential figure of his South Indian Brahmin father. Witnessing her relief at overcoming her chronic and severe insomnia led Desikachar to appreciate the healing power of Yoga and Krishnamacharya’s extraordinary mastery of its art and application. He determined to find out more about it, and very soon thereafter gave up his engineering pursuits in favour of extensive studies with his father. He continued with his studies for nearly three decades, and went on to co-found an Institute that bears his father’s name.
The Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram was founded in 1976 in Madras with the aim of making available the heritage of Yoga and in later years Vedic Chanting as taught by Śrī Krishnamacharya. TKV Desikachar was one of the founders and a managing trustee of the KYM. It provides assistance to people coming from all over India as well as elsewhere, by means of careful assessment and individualised treatment.
Accordingly, it is recognised by the Health and Family Welfare Department of the Government of Tamil Nadu. The KYM also provides ongoing training and consultation on a number of special projects, including for example, training programmes for teachers of children with learning difficulties. In addition it offers a special two year teacher training diploma course in Yoga studies.
In 1999 due to the tremendous interest in Vedic Chanting a separate unit called Vedavani was established solely to teach Vedic Chanting with specialised teachers in individual and small group situations.
Under Desikachar’s guidance the KYM and Vedavani developed into important teaching and therapeutic healthcare centres receiving students from all over the world as well as India.
From teaching visits to many counties around the world, TKV Desikachar came to be recognized as an authority in Yoga and Vedic Chanting, representing his father’s teachings in prestigious international conventions and conferences. He authorised numerous books based on his lectures and was frequently invited to contribute interviews on Yoga health, psychology and spirituality to Indian newspapers and journals both in English and Tamil.
The year 2006 marked the thirtieth anniversary of Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram. To honour this occasion and acknowledge TKV Desikachar’s outstanding contribution to the world of yoga, a special commemorative book ” TKV Desikachar – A Tribute” was released at London on 31st March 2006. This tribute was made possible through the generous support of students and well-wishers from around the world.
To download the book “TKV Desikachar – A Tribute” as a PDF please click here
With the ascent of TKV Desikachar’s second son into a role of heir apparent, these past ten years have also seen an increasing emphasis in the widespread promoting of the name of Desikachar’s father and teacher Śrī T Krishnamacharya as a Yoga master and prominent background influence in the emergence of Yoga in the West, especially in the field of modern postural Yoga. This coincided with the emergence into the limelight of Desikachar’s second son Kausthub as a world travelling teacher.
This promoting of Śrī T Krishnamacharya’s name and work was formalised with the setting up of the Krishnamacharya Healing and Yoga Foundation (KHYF) on January 1 2006. Formulated by Desikachar’s son, it was an organization originally committed to spreading the holistic yoga teachings of Yogācarya Śrī T Krishnamacharya, but was disbanded in 2013 amidst various allegations emerging into the public media specifically involving Kausthub in September 2012. Reforming KHYF in 2015 he has resumed his world travels following the absence of any formal legal proceedings arising from the original allegations.
These matters also sadly coincided with TKV Desikachar having to increasingly withdraw from teaching and public contact over this past decade due to his deteriorating mental health. This decline led to his passing away on August 8th 2016 at 2.45am Madras time. We can but reflect on the loss of the light and clarity he offered to all who had the privilege to have contact with him and his teachings.
He leaves behind his wife Menaka (b1947) who as a former longtime student teaches Yoga and Vedic Chant, two sons Bushan (b1970) and Kausthub (b1975), a daughter Mekhala (b1978) and four grandchildren.
Reflections by Paul around TKV Desikachar following his passing on August 8th 2016……..