Sriman T. Krishnamacharya


Yogis and Gurus


Sriman T. Krishnamacharya  (1888 – 1989)


“Teach what is inside you. Not as it applies to you, to yourself, but as it applies to the other.”
– T. Krishnamacharya


Widely acknowledged for being the father of modern postural yoga. However, the credit for the popularity of today’s yoga goes to his foremost students, who were not more than half a dozen in number.

Three of his most prominent students were:

  • His son TKV Desikachar, who researched and elaborated on the practice of ‘Viniyoga’ (meaning; appropriate application).
  • His brother-in-law, BKS Iyengar, the remarkable yoga teacher who became a master in his own right.
  • His pupil Sri K Pattabhi Jois, worldwide renowned for having popularised the practice of ‘Astanga Yoga’ (the eight limbs path)

Krishnamacharya was a scholar, healer, and a yoga teacher; he studied Sanskrit, logic, the six darshan (the six traditional philosophical systems) and Ayurveda.

In addition, he lived at the foot of Mt Kailash (in the Himalayas) for 7 years. Here he studied, Asanas, Pranayama, the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali (the foundational text on yoga practice) and the therapeutic use of yoga.
At the end of his stay, his teacher, [Ramamohana Brahmachari], instructed him to return to his home in Mysore, to lead a household life and teach yoga.

In the words of BKS Iyengar;

  • T. Krishnamacharya was gifted and talented with a very high intellectual calibre, powerful physical prowess and an unfaltering memory.
  • He was a master of Ayurveda; he used to prepare medicine with herbs and oil, such as lehyams and tailam, which were very effective on his patients.
  • He could create Sanskrt stanzas on the spot. He was a kavi – a poet. The instant creation of slokas and stanzas (Shigra-kavita) was in his blood (meaning; it was ingrained in his body).
  • He was an expert in Vastu Sastra – the science of scientific and aesthetic architecture, and Jyotisya Sastra –  the science of astrology.
  • He was a first-class gardener, any seed he would sow and by his magical touch the plant would flourish.
  • The Maharaja de Mysore gave him the recognition of Asthana Vidvan – the intelligentsia of the palace.

Krishnamacharya had a versatile personality, his moods and modes were difficult to comprehend and often unpredictable. It was an enormous task to approach him or to argue with him at his level. He was a hard taskmaster who would not tolerate any compromise or slackness with precision. This high calibre intelligence, scholarly background, fiery eyes, well-built physique and strong personality paradoxically isolated him.

Irony of fate
After following his Gurus´ wish and getting married, (and before a broader recognition of his knowledge and capacity), T. Krishnamacharya got a job on a coffee plantation in Karnataka. He used to dress differently, wearing half pants and half sleeve shirts, socks and shoes a hat on his head and a stick in his hand.
It was unimaginable to see a man dressed in such a manner (meaning; he was dressed like a simple worker) who had studied the Sad-darsanas, with titles like Samkyayoga-Sikhami, Veda-kesari etc…
But destiny had played its trick even on him and he had to work in a coffee plantation.


Bibliography: Astadala Yogamala (V. 1) – BKS Iyengar
Compiled by www.satya-yoga.dk

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