Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar
(December 14, 1918 – August 20, 2014)
Approximately more than 1,200 students of Iyengar Yoga are gathering in Pune, India to celebrate B.K.S. Iyengar’s (Guruji’s) 100th birthday, to honor his contributions and to pay homage to a great yoga master. It has been almost four years that Guruji left the worldly existence, and we are all blessed that his daughter Geeta Iyengar, his son Prashant Iyengar and his grand-daughter Abhijata Sridhar Iyengar will be sharing this special moment in time with us for the coming two weeks.
The in-person registration began this morning after Geetaji “released” the commemorative shirts for the volunteers before they opened the check-in desk. Along with the inevitable excitement, I also feel the momentousness of this event and sadness of impermanence of human existence. Guruji was much loved by his students and students of his students for myriad reasons.
Guruji was this larger-than-life figure of a yoga master. He had an incredible life story from a sick child of a poor family to one of the 100 most influential people by Time Magaine. He was a family man with joys and sorrows of an ordinary person, and had made Pune his home until his passing. His teaching career was impressive when we look at some of his noted students such as Jiddu Krishnamurti, Yehudi Menuhin, Aldous Huxley or when we focus on the publications that he had authored including “Light on Yoga,” a classical “Bible” of Yoga with more than 3 million copies sold and into more than 17 languages. Guruji was a philanthropist who supported nature conservation and promoted awareness of multiple sclerosis. The project that was particularly dear to Guruji was to give back to his ancestral village of Bellur, Karnataka. He transformed the village with schools, hospitals and a number of charitable programs to improve the standards of living there. Guruji won many awards throughout his life (see HERE ) and there was no shortage of publicity including interviews such as this one with CNN. A long-term student Zubin Zarthoshtimanesh from Mumbai wrote this article released yesterday: “Guruji rose above limitations of health and literacy proving that blocks exist only in the mind. He inspired seekers of yoga-knowledge through the 24 books he authored, his 10,000-plus lecture-demonstrations and his abiding message: ‘Yoga is a light, which once lit, will never be dimmed; the better you practise, the brighter the flame.'”
Guruji has offered a path for me for the past twenty-or-so years. He is as much as this outer physical form of tenacity and wisdom as an inner energetic form of what I experience within. My direct relationship with Guruji was quite limited but yet longlasting. Such a relationship with an “outer guru” has enabled me to search for an inner relationship with the Self, the essential nature. It has also provided a source of stability and strength on this path. At the dawn of the Centenary Intensive, I once more bow at the feet of Guruji for his continuous guidance.