Not really one for ideas of lineage and parampara myself ( despite the fact my own teacher Ramaswami spent 33 years with Krishnamacharya. In my case, I only spent 5 weeks with Ramaswami, which puts it in perspective somewhat. However, I have spent the last couple of years in close study of Krishnamacharya's own texts, practicing what I find there each morning (continuing the close reading of his texts we had with Ramaswami on his TT at LMU).
Can you get parampara from a text, lineage?
And yet those five weeks with Ramaswami were so inspiring, so much was distilled...
I prefer teacher(s) to guru, I'm not sure I've come across Ramaswami using the term parampara once either in person or in his monthly newsletters and yet he writes a wonderful article here called My studies with Sri Krishnamacharya. Did BKS Iyengar employ the term parampara I wonder and what of lineage. Who is the lineage holder in the Iyengar tradition, the expression makes me cringe a little, more than a little.
How about 'transmission then'?
Nope, I prefer communication however many flowers you may hold up for me to smile enigmatically at.
Guru, Parampara, Lineage, perhaps it's all just part of the fun of our practice ( I do like the term practice and how we use it in Ashtanga as well as in Zen, Vipassana....) but how selective we are in the concepts we choose to employ and pass along, which of course is part of my point, see the update at the end of the post.
I did write this post on John Scott a while back called 'getting it'.
No, it's not that I'm not one for lineage and/or parampara but more that I struggle with the concepts, find them problematic or perhaps I'm just turned off by how they are so often employed to suggest authority, authenticity... I have authority issues clearly, class war and all that).
Note: certainly not suggesting this applies to Tim here, Tim Miller has always struck me as the most humble of teachers.
Update 2: Just come across this from Richard. Don't miss the last ten minutes or so where he talks about lin(e)age as showing up the line where different traditions meet
....but I love a good story me and do like the idea of how teaching spreads, (we posted on Iyengar recently talking about branches of a tree) an was it David Garrigues this week who mentioned that there were fifty or so 'senior' teachers who spent a significant period studying with Pattabhi Jois, I prefer dissemination to parampara, perhaps it amounts to the same thing.
David, in the link above, also refers to Ashtanga as Hatha Yoga, an idea I'm struggling with currently. It strikes me as problematic, take the question of kundalini in Yogayajnavalkya and in Hathayogapradipka, a blockage in Yogayajnavalkya, something to encourage rising in HYP. Krishnamacharya seems to have followed the Yogayajnavalkya model and only dipped into HYP when it suited him, usually for asana descriptions, he would write of this asana approach to an asana coming from Hatha and this from Raja yoga.... he's often critical of HYP ( see the appendix at end of post) so perhaps it's just the presentation of Hatha in those texts he takes issue with, he does mention that Hatha can have a preparatory role for Raja yoga which he seems more interested in.
Yoga students in our Ashtanga tradition ( tradition is another word I take issue with, did you know it can suggest either 80 years or 8000) get encouraged to read the Yoga Sutras, Hatha Yoga Pradipka and the Gita, which then seem to get all muddled up together somehow, not surprising as they originate century's apart and were subject to revisions, bits taken out large chunks added in line with the interests of the time, no wonder there is confusion (in my own head as well as every one else), Post to come on this.
Did Pattabhi Jois take Krishnamacharya's teaching in a more Hatha direction, do his students, what does that say about parampara... although admittedly having spent time with many Hatha yoga students in Russia recently, Ashtanga strikes me as Hatha lite if at all, not necessarily a bad thing). See the update at the end of this post.
But back to Tim and his story...
Tim begins with an outline of the Krishnamacharya myth/legend. I told pretty much the same story in Russia last week before we then went ahead and fondly questioned/explored each element of the myth... Krishnamacharya's dream in which he supposedly received the Yoga Rahasya from his ancestor Nathamuni, the SEVEN phd's, The walk back and forth to the Himalaya's and seven years spent with Ramohan Bramacharya, the stopping the heart story, the Mysore teaching.... Oh and we also questioned/explored, the origins of surynamaskara the sun salutation.
Tim continues the story through Pattabhi Jois meeting Krishnamacharya in Hassan, Norman Allan and David Williams coming to Mysore to study with Pattabhi Jois and then setting up in Encinitas. Bringing Pattabhi Jois to Encinitas, Tim himself coming on the scene, the blossoming of Ashtanga in the US and worldwide....
This all leads Tim into an intro to a song (it's a kirtan' after all) on Krishna
This from Ramaswami this morning
Truth alone exists. Untruth does not exist even as it may appear to, even obscuring Truth. Untruth can never succeed as Truth alone exists . One can find out the truth about oneself and the world any time by right perception (samyak darsana) because Truth always exists unaffected by time (avakasa) and space (akasa). It is in the nature of things that Truth alone will triumph because it alone exists and cannot be destroyed. Satyameva jayate, na anrutam (upanishad)
Now here's a thing. Sri Shribhashyam, Krishnamacharya's third son, writes, in his book Emergence of Yoga, about the inhalation and exhalation as denoting time, as in motion. The Kumbhaka however is the space between these two examples of motion, the kumbhaka is 'non-motion ', there is an absence of time, it's perhaps a taste of eternity. What does Ramaswami quote above, "truth is unaffected by time, it's eternal" The kumbhaka is a moment when we can perhaps taste the eternal, encounter truth.
For Krishnamacharya God was encountered in the kumbhaka, perhaps it's why he included a kumbhaka between almost every inhalation and exhalation and /or every exhalation and inhalation of his asana practice in his 1934 Yoga Makaranda, something I include in my own godless practice each morning. As a Sri Vashnavite Krishnamacharya's goal was unification with God, perhaps that explains his use of kumbhaka.
Kumbhaka is an aspect of practice we don't find in Krishnamacharya's Student Pattabhi Jois' Ashtanga - Parampara? Lineage? Tradition? I'm not being critical of Pattabhi Jois here or even of Ashtanga, just giving an example of something that appears so essential in the teacher - could it be more stressed in the text- being left out, missed or just not passed along to the student).
Let me add that Krishnamacharya was once asked...
"Q: What does the bhakti mean to a person who has no belief in Isvara?
Krishnamacharya: Love is bhakti for them".
Appendix : Krishnamacharya on hatha and Raja yoga from
from Yogacarya Krishnamacharya - The Purnacarya. Edited by Mala Srivatsan
The first biography of Krishnamacharya
This has been sitting at the bottom of my blog for a couple of years now