By Kajal Basu June 1997 Ranged behind T.K.V. Desikachar, inheritor of a whole new service industry, yoga therapy could change the logistics of human body-mind-spirit repair forever FATHER FIGUREThe sole access the world has to the Grand Senior—the legend and progenitor—of yoga therapy is through the Grand Junior, his son. You can rest assured that the image T.K.V Desikachar will paint for you of T.Krishnamacharya will be picture perfect and beyond the pale of criticism. One of his foreign students holds that over 90 percent of Desikachar’s teachings are filial to a fault and loyal to his father almost up to the hour of his death in 1989. Even after his death the Gordian knot of duty locks father sand son, teacher and disciple, together.In Desikachar’s scheme of things, the genesis of ‘yoga therapy’ centered on his father is of far greater import than any conceptual originality Desikachar might himself have shown through his long years of rigorous, unflinching apprenticeship. What he teaches today is in turn as much a yoga of temporal therapy as it is of prayer and genuflection to a life-enhancing concept that is eternal. The teachings of the patriarch are like a generic raga pradhan—to be sung or played strictly according to notations, originality limited only to choice of instrument or timbre of voice. In Krishnamacharya’s arch traditional school of hard spiritual knocks, servitude was a sign of neither sin nor weakness but of right fully earned respect. ‘We were,’ Desikachar said in an interview, ‘fifty years apart in age. His education and background were very different from mine, but what I remember most is that he always came to my level in working with me. I am a western-educated person and he was a traditional teacher’. Tirumalai Krishnamacharya was born on November 18, 1888 in a village in Mysore, India. Proud of its pedigree of piety, his family traced its lineage back to the sage Nathamuni, author of Krishnamacharya’s and now Desikachar’s Bible, the Yoga Rahasya. Enrolled at the clean – slate age of 12 years in Mysore’s Brahmatantra Parakala Mutt and taught the thousands of nuances and niceties of the Vedas, he took a parallel course at the Royal College of Mysore. At 18, he sped to Banaras to study Sanskrit, logic and grammar, and returned to Mysore for the finishing touch. Krishnamacharya then went on an extended peregrination for a decade: to North India to study Samkhya, the India’s oldest and most venerated philosophical system and the roots of the yoga; then, in 1916, he traveled to the Himalayas and found his teacher, Ramamohan Brahmachari, who lived near Mansarovar. After seven hard years of learning the logistics of therapy and healing, he descended once again to the south to study ayurveda and the philosophy of nyaya. A Vedic school of logic. He returned to Mysore in 1924 and opened a school of yoga. With the local raja, or king, as his prize pupil and cash cow. For the next 22 years, Krishnamacharya dug in and taught at the school, and wrote his first book, Yoga Makarandam (Secrets of Yoga), at leisure. It was in 1937 that he and his disciple and associate, K. Pattabhi Jois, had their first batch of foreign students. Two years later, his name had spread wide enough for a French medical team to make its way to him, intrigued by yoga’s claim that it could help control heartbeat. It was his incontrovertible data that opened the sluicegates to the West, the hotbed of empiricism and cognitive proof. Yoga began to colonize the West. In time, Krishnamacharya’s native inventiveness made him draw up a template for yoga as therapy or service industry—a function familiar to the West. The foundation of yoga therapy was laid in 1976, when Desikachar and father decided to set up the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram, literally a hospice of alternatives treatment, in Chennai, India. Krishnamacharya died in 1989, a centenarian with all faculties intact and at his beck and call till the last hour, satisfied that his sagacity would live on in his son, his teachings true to the tiniest decimal. It’s a low-key breakaway discipline with a pedigree a half century-long. In line with the kin esthetics of today’s fitness fad, it is referred to as ‘yoga therapy’ and it goes out on a limb promising you good health without precedence: deaden your sciatica, lubricate your spine, re-calibrate your heartbeat, and take the perspiration out of respiration, and, just may be, prettify your pancreas in the bargain (although yoga considers cosmetics for cosmetics’ sake frivolous). Yoga purists wince at the word ‘therapy’, at its seeming absence of spiritual content, at its post-trauma, curative—not preventive—function, as if repairing physical impairment alone is incidental to yoga practice and of questionable justification. This is the kind of rejection that summarily marginalizes from the mainstream even the best of what is uninstitutionalized and alternative. Contrarily, what it did was lead me to ask Indian yoga master T.K.V. Desikachar, practicing head of the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram, a school and sanitarium of yoga therapy in Chennai, India, a question that had been nibbling at my self-esteem for months. It had everything to do with therapy and nothing to do with yoga, but perhaps one could throw some light on the other. I told him that I had quit alcohol six years ago after a decade of unmitigated, addictive, suicidal, marriage- breaking intemperance. Then, through no fault of my own, I went from gutter inebriate to self-righteous ass in nanoseconds and never had to suffer the terrible withdrawal symptoms that accompany going on the wagon. There was, therefore, no exercise of willpower. I could make no claim to grit or glory. Four months ago, I did IT again, this time with cigarettes. An ego-crippling addiction of two decades of chain-smoking over 50 cancer sticks a day went up in a puff of smoke. In both cases, conventional biological wisdom about the frailty of the human anatomy went down the tube. My problem, I told Desikachar, is that I was spiritually bleeding to death, a situation as worthy of therapy as, say, gallstones. I can’t employ this miracle to improve my life because I don’t know how I did it. This is a reasoning paraphrasing of what Desikachar said: ‘So you want to know whether it can be learnt, whether its parameters are logical, whether it can be quantified, whether it has an autonomous and entirely whimsical life of its own.’ Or, I thought, whether I should cease worrying and leave the rudders of my life in its phantom grip. What I do know is that whatever that power is, it is therapy of the highest level of potency and accomplishment, perhaps even an instrument of transcendence. Desikachar smiled and dropped a bomb: he said that his late father T.Krishnamacharya, would have dismissed my ‘problem’ as an exercise of a personal power that did no one but the protagonist alone any good: ‘Therefore, it is not to be trusted.’ The implications were obvious: Desikachar was perforce speaking about this ‘miracle’ from the vantage point of yoga therapy, a discipline of punishing complexity with a bottom line that says that anything of a therapeutic nature has to be open to dissemination and emulation to have any value at all—therapy is, least of all, a selfish, one-off act. On the way to his goal, the student has to empower himself enough to be, if called upon, a teacher and a physician. In a radical inversion of the logistics of most other therapeutic disciplines, yoga therapy calls upon the physician to heal himself first before unleashing himself upon the world. Fortunately, before I could sink to the depths of all spiritual sulks, I found a sort of hazy resolution in the first issue (February 1991) of Darsanam, a yoga magazine since defunct, run by the Mandiram. In the journal, Desikachar had said: ‘… if we are used to something, we can give it up if something else is very important for us.’ Not me—I had given up nothing. As for the role that yoga could play in the process of de-addiction and detoxification, I found an answer: ‘The yoga practice must either change the system or offer a challenge.’ Hope again, but I could see Desikachar’s point. In the unspiritual babble of the rabble, this bargaining is called a tradeoff. ‘As a general policy,’ Desikachar had continued, ‘today, we do not advise people to give up cigarettes or anything, unless it is absolutely clear to us that it is not in the interest of their immediate help…Because if a person can give up something so easily, probably we teachers have no role! If they cannot give up easily, our saying it is not going to be very effective.’ In other words, in my case yoga therapy would not have worked. On the other hand, the yoga therapy gift hamper contains a mega-magnanimity of goodies: ‘There is something in it for everyone,’ says Desikachar. But bring in the financial pragmatism of the real world and things begin to fall apart—one of his Australian students blurts out the this omnibus mantra is sweeping Desikachar towards a financial bust-up: ‘He thinks that frugality and a state of grace are entirely compatible, perhaps even cause and effect.’ Desikachar also believes that yoga therapy is one evolutionary step beyond the conventional guru disciple teaching system. That is precisely how Desikachar studied under his father, only sometimes questioning where all his father’s know-how came from. Even today, he has only part of the answer. ‘In 1964, when my father suggested that I study the Yoga Rahasyaof Nathamuni, I had never heard of Yoga Rahasya or Nathamuni.’ It is this m
Life Positive follows a stringent review publishing mechanism. Every review received undergoes -
Only after we're satisfied about the authenticity of a review is it allowed to go live on our website
All our healers and therapists undergo training and/or certification from authorized bodies before becoming professionals. They have a minimum professional experience of one year
All our healers and therapists are genuinely passionate about doing service. They do their very best to help seekers (patients) live better lives.
All payments made to our healers are secure up to the point wherein if any session is paid for, it will be honoured dutifully and delivered promptly
Every seekers (patients) details will always remain 100% confidential and will never be disclosed