Sunday, 1 February 2015

Anthony's Nudge - February 2015 Newsletter from Srivatsa Ramaswami

From cold, very cold  New Jersey, warm Greetings! I am now trying to complete arrangements for teaching assignments for 2015. Firstly On Feruary 26th I will be giving a talk at Princeton University under the Yoga Master's Lecture Series  program. In March I am planning to travel to Mexico City to teach at Twamevayoga and another studio between 13th and 23rd. In May I will be travelling to UK (Harmony Yoga) to teach a certificate course in Vinyasakrama in London and then teach Bhagavatgita in Wells between May 10 to 28 . In early June( 12-19) I plan to go to Austin Texas (East Side Yoga) to teach mainly Yoga sutra and chant for a week and between 26th and 30 to Breathe at Los Gatos in California. From July 19 to Aug 23 ( 5 weeks) I will be teaching the 200 hr Teacher Training program at Loyola Marymount Uuniversity, Los Angeles. California. In September I should be going to Chicago Yoga Center for weeklong programs. I may also do some programs in Sanfransisco, Spain and Canada. I am also interested in just one 200 Teacher Training Program in india if it would be possible.
For more details please visit my website
www.vinyasakrama.com/Events

Anthony's Nudge
Anthony Hall is a well known blogger, practitioner, teacher, author and researcher of Yoga especially Sri Krishnamacharya's legacy. I reproduce his message I got soon after I had the Vairagya article published in my Jan 2015 Newsletter and then my observations.

Dear Ramaswami
I wanted to bring to your attention two comments in a blog post by Guy Donahaye, who authored with Eddie Stern the ' Guruji' book on Pattabhi Jois. http://yogamindmedicine.blogspot.jp/2015/01/vijnana-science-of-ashtanga-yoga-in.html I'm not expecting a personal response to these but just thought they might be something you may feel like addressing some time in the future.
Guy writes
"Krishnamacharya was a highly religious man, a member of the vaisnavara faith. He believed that in this age of Kali Yuga, the way to realization was only accessible through bhakti – religious devotion. He did not believe that people today were suited to the stages of non-attachment required for the higher levels of Patanjali Yoga."
He later writes
"I believe it was one of Krishnamacharya’s great achievements to re-integrate two paths of yoga which had apparently split off from each other – Patanjali Yoga and Hatha Yoga. But beyond this, the father of modern yoga leaves us with a meagre philosophical or spiritual legacy. Neither he nor his disciples – Guruji and BKS Iyengar put yoga on the map beyond its expression as asana and pranayama."
I wondered to what degree you might agree or disagree with either or both of these statements and might be attempted to address them directly or indirectly in future fb post or newsletter.
I notice that AG Mohan has listed works by Krishnamacharya (http://krishnamacharya.net/works) unfortunately few if any of the articles have been released ( are any in English I wonder) which perhaps gives the impression that Krishnamacharya was not contributing to Yoga Philosophy but concerned mainly with asana in his teaching despite both you, Mohan and Desikachar mentioning often that Krishnamacharya taught extended classes on Upanishad, Samkhya, the Gita ( i notice you'll be teaching 10 days on the Gina in the UK, such a shame I'm in Japan now) as well as Patanjali.
Regarding Guy's second comment above, i wondered if perhaps some time in the future you might address Krishnamacharya's relationship to Hatha yoga pradipka, it seems quite ambiguous at times, he seems to favour Yogayajnavalkya and is at times critical of HYP. Yoga survived for centuries without HYP, how important a text should we consider it i wonder, is it perhaps a distraction from Patanjali's teaching.
I hope you and your family are well
best wishes
Anthony
Mind Medicine: Vijnana - The Science of Ashtanga Yoga in the Kali Yuga
yogamindmedicine.blogspot.com

************
Sometime in the late 70s I guess, Krihnamacharya Yoga Mandiram was started. As I had mentioned earlier I was one of the three founder trustees, the other two being Sri Desikachar himaself, the Managing Trustee and Sri Kuppuswamy, Desikachar's classmate. We all contributed some money for the corpus fund. I think Sri Krishnamacharya also gifted some money from his savings.
Sri Desikachar started, I think, a 2 year yoga program at the Mandiram and I was one of the first teachers, but it was for a very short period. I was also involved in the creation of the syllabus, some legal leg work for creating the trust. During the initial stgae one of Desikachar's friends asked Desikachar to write a series of articles for an almost a century year old Indian English magazine called Indian Review. He was very busy at that time and with the consent of his father he asked me if I could write the articles on behalf of the Krishnmacharya Yoga Mandiram. I started writing the articles. I would write in long hand. It would be given to Desikachar who after reading it would read it to his father at a time convenient to both of them. This arrangement worked well as both lived in the same house. If there were any suggestion of my Guru, Desikachar would convey it to me. I was the trustee for a few months only, so the articles bore my name as the trustee for the first few issues . First two issues I wrote about the Yoga Sutras and then decided to write about my Guru at the instance of the Editor of the magazine. I had known nothing at all, about my Guru, about his past-- where and what he studied and other details. Desikachar talked to his reluctant father and gave me some informaation. Based on that I wrote the article. The magazine published it under the caption "About Sri T Krishnamacharya, My Guru". It also contained a beautiful black and white photo of my Guru in Padmasana with straight body (rijukaya) head slightly bent and the palms together in perfect anjali mudra.

Well this article was read to him and so I may say that the information contained in it would be correct. In it I wrote as follows
" ....As a boy Sri Krishnamacharya's teacher was his father Srinivasa Tatacharya. a priest and a religious teacher who gave his son a thoroughly traditional education and had begun instructing him in the elements of yoga when his untimely passing away interrupted his deep study unfortunately. At the age of twelve therefore Sri Krishna made his way to Mysore City and there joined Mysore Maharaja Sanskrit College . At the same time he took up the study of Sanskrit grammar (Vyakarana)and logic (nyaya) under Krishna Brahmatantra , the Swami of Parakala Mutt and the Guru of the Maharaja.
After five years of study he wended his way to Kashi and continued his studies under the great scholars,Vamacharya Bhattacharya,Ganganatha Jha, and other well known scholar teachers of Indian philosophy in the early years of the century. In the next 15 years Krishnamacharya was awarded several degrees, including Samkhya Yoga Siromani, Mimamsa Tirtha, Nyayacharya, Vedanta Vageesa, , Nyaya Ratna and Veda Kesari from Universities as Kashi Hindu University, Allahabad, Calcutta, Baroda and Darbhanga Universities. "
These titles when translated sound very nice. Samkhya siromani would be crest-jewel of Samkhya. Mimamsa Tirta wuld be Master of Mimamsa philosophy. Nyayacharya would be The masterguide of Nyaya philosophy, Vedanta Vageesa would be Lord of exposition of Vedanta philosophy, Nyayaratna would be jewel of Nyaya philosophy, Veda Kesari would be Lion of the Vedas. I have heard that he was an excellent debator== in different languages especially Sanskrit-- of Vedic philosophies and equally highly respected religious expert.
My complete article referred to, can be accessed --thanks to my good friend, a senior student of Sri Desikacharar and a well known yoga teacher, Paul Harvey.
Page 1 of 5
http://www.yogastudies.org/wp-content/uploads/S_Ramaswami_About_TK.pdf

In the same article I had written about his Yoga studies which is well known. He taught not only asanas to his students and many people came to him to study the various texts. In fact after teaching me a wide range of asanas follwing the vinyasakrama consisting of hundreds of vinyasas built around scores of asanas he went on to teach several of the ancient texts he deemed necessary to teach us. Most people know of Krishnamacharya only as an asana exponent . Some even seem to suggest that his yoga system of vinyasas appear to be borrowed from western gymnastics. Unfortunately very little is known about his wide range of teachings and contributions. When I first started teaching in the West I was appalled by the complete lack of information about the comprehensiveness of his teachings and not restricted to  just asanas. It is still the impressions of long term yoga practitioners even of the Krishnamacharya lineage

I studied for over several years many of the spiritual texts with him. He taught in considerable detail the Yoga Sutras, word by word, sutra by sutra with and without the commentary of Vyasa. He taught the Samkhya Karika with Gaudapada's commentary, Samkhya is an excellent sibling philosophy which helps to understad the Yoga Sutras even better as several ideas in Yoga sutra that are taken for granted are succintly put across in Samkhya. He also taught several upanishad vidyas. He taught in detail upanishads like Prasna, Katha, Kena, Mundaka, Mandukya, Taittiriya, Kausitaki Brahmana, Svetaswara upanishads and several important vidyas from Brahadaranyaka and Chandogya. He taught the complete Bhagavad Gita. In fact he used to teach the Gita through public lectures every Saturday for many years and many attended his talks on Gita. After his passing away one day a young lady came with a box of audio cassetes. She told me that her father had attended Sri Krishnamacharya's lectures privately and her father had the Gita lectures taped. They were in Tamil and she asked me if I could transcribe it and translate into English. Unfortunately I found that it would take a lot of time so I did not undertake to do it. He also taught the Brahma sutras and several Vaishnava and Visishtadvaita texts. Perhaps there is no one else who excelled both in Hatayoga , especially the asanas on one hand and the Indian/vaidic philosophy on the other as eloquently as he did.

In my last newsletter I wrote about Vairagya, something the Sutras insist upon as a prime requirements for yogis. Patanjali however talks about two levels of vairagya, para the higher and apara the lower. In fact traditionally the apara vairagya itself has four steps whcih I had explained in that article on Vairagya. So Vairagya is a processs one develops over a time and starting from where the yogi is to begin with. Sri Krishnamacharya's view or rather advise would be to develop Vairagya gradually. Many people without the discipline try to practice extreme form of vairagya and tend to fail miserably. In Kali yoga there are more distractions and may we say temptations than the previous times which makes it more difficult to practice Vairagya. Even in the last 50 to 100 years there have come about many more distractions from the outside world, like TV, movies,smartphones, more luxuries, office work, loosening parental control. Further there is the peer pressure. When nobody around us seems to practice vairagya it becomes more difficult to practice vairagya, there are no role models as it used to be in olden days or in the previous yuga. Krishnamacharya would advise moderation in all enjoyments whether it be food or others.  He would say that one of the most alluring forms of vairagya is practising celibacy glorified in olden texts and by several religious systems including Hinduism. Sri Krishnamacharya would say that people who take the vow of sanyasa when young , without proper preparation and commit to life long celibacy, soon find that they are not upto the mark and are seen transgressing their vow of celibacy. It is common knowledge that many young men and women in many religions take to celbacy and not an inconsequential number of them bring disrepute to the asrama of celibacy, Brahmacharya. This kind of extreme vairagya Sri Krishnamacharya was against which is consistent wih the traits of his Vaishnavism. Control and not self abnegation is the rule. In Kaliyuga according to him extreme form of vairagya may not be possible for the majority of yogis even though there are glorious exceptions. In Kaliyuga he would advise striking a balance between complete celiacy on one hand and philandering on the other and would advise people to live a life of healthy control respecting the institution of marriage. This moderation would extend to all aspects of life, food (tapas) , wealth accumulation(aparigraha) . Even a Bhakti yogi has to develop and maintain tremendous Self Control and Vairagya.

In this context it may not be out of place to quote the following from Bhartruhari. It concludes that vairagya leads to fearlessness.

bhoge roga bhayam, kule chuti bhayam, vitte nrupaalaath bhayam
maane dainya bhayam, bale ripu bhayam, rupe jataayaa bhayam
shaastre vaadi bhayam, gune khala bhayam, kaaye krutaantaat bhayam
srvam vastu bhayaanvitam, bhuvu nrunaanaam vairagyamevaabhayam

In enjoyment is the fear of disease. in high living is the fear of nosedive, in wealth is the fear from hostile rulers, in honor is the fear of humiliation, in power is the fear of enemies, in beauty is the ear of old age, in knowledge is the fear of arguments, in virtue is the fear of jealousy, in the body is the fear of death. Everything on this earth is fraught with fear: he alone is is fearless who has given up everything.---Saint-king-poet Raja Bhartruhari in Vairagya satakam

(King Bhartruhari is believed to have written books each of 100 verses (sataka), on three disparate subjects, one on Niti (justice), one on Sringara (love), and another on Vairagya ( dispassion). He also is credited with writing a commentary of Patanjali's monumental work, Mahabhashya on Sanskrit grammar. Bhartruhari was a great just King so he could write a book of Justice. He loved his queen passionately and so wrote a book on Sringara (love). Later when he accidentally discovered that his wife was unfaithful, he became heartbroken and became a sanyasin/ renunciate and wrote the book on Vairagya.
Sri Krishnamacharya taught Yoga Sutras, Hatayogapradipika, Yoga Yagnyavalkya and other lesser known hatayoga texts like suta samhita, siva samhita, gherunda samhita and a few others with equal facility. However he held the Yoga sutras as the 'bible' of Yoga. Most of the hatayoga texts especially Yoga Yagnyavalkya fall inline with the yogs sutras but some procedures- some hatayoga procedures in other hatayoga texts- create a conflict in the mind of the yogi vis a vis the Sutras. Hatayogapradipika has some procedures that appear glaringly obnoxious to the Rajayogi, like Vajroli and some exaggerated claims according to my Guru. So he would ask the students to be watchful and eschew those practices that violate the basic tenets of Rajayoga.I thought he found both Hatayoga pradipika and Yogayagyaavalkya very useful in their own way. The yoga sutra does not explain many aspects of the yogasadhana like asanas pranayama in as much detail as the other hatayoga texts. YS if it starts explaining every aspect of yoga including the hundreds of asanas and pranayama it would have  become very voluminous and so Patanjali leaves it to other texts. "anuktam anyato grahyam" If something is not explained in one text it should be obtained from other complimentary texts-- that is the rule. And sutras aim at brevity.
He had a booming voice and was a master of Vedic chanting. He taught me to chant the entire Taittiriya Kataka, Taittiriya Aranyaka and Taittiriya Upanishad in all about 15 chapters of the vedas. Because of the excellent training he gave I was able to record for a recording company in India more than 30 titles which are still marketed by the recording company. The cds and downloads are available
http://www.sangeethamusic.com/search-by-key.php?keywords=Srivatsa+Ramaswami&type=Artiste_album&go=Search

Ofcourse Krishnamacharya was a Bhakti Yogi of the Vaishnava denomination but it did not prevent him from assimilating other forms of yoga including Hatayoga and Rajayoga. In fact Patanjali himself was a great Bhakti Yogi, an outstanding devotee of Lord Siva, due to Whose grace he wrote three texts of grammar, ayurveda and yoga. Adisesha whose avatara Patanjali was, himself acted as the couch on whom Mahavishnu would be resting. Patanjali's Yogasutra gives sufficient importance to bhakti by referring to “isvarapranidhana' on three occasions applicable to three levels of yogis. He also talks about meditating on one's favorite deity for mental peace (yeta abhimata dhyanat va). Adisankara antogonized several Bhaktiyogis with his assertion that God's creation, the universe, is just an illusion. Even Adisankara who was in the forefront of yoga of wisdom (jnana Yoga) is credited with reviving the bhakti stream of worship of six different forms—worship of Ganesa, Kumara, Sakti, Vishnu, Siva and the Sun. In India Hata yogis form a miniscule portion of yogis. People who have some discipline and orthodox by and large follow some form of Bhakti. Most followed yoga in India is Bhakti Yoga. You may want to read the story of Patanjali from my earlier newsletter
https://groups.google.com/forum/?hl=en#!topic/vinyasa-krama-announce/YqxNphZ4Txg
and my book “Yoga for the Three stages of life”

Sri Krishnamacharya left a great legacy of yoga and other spiritual and religious practices for adaptation to different individual requirements. I am still in awe with his depth and reach. He left a great hatayoga and a spiritual/philosophical legacy--though he did not leave behind much writings. He was Yogi par excellence rolling bhakti, jnana, hata and Raja yogas into a grand harmonious yoga system.
.
 Srivatsa Ramaswami


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A Reminder

from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi This blog included.

"So, as I said, Kalamas: 'Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering" — then you should abandon them.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

"Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them. Buddha - Kalama Sutta
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