Saturday, August 23, 2014

Guruji's "Only his body has ended" - by Larissa McGoldrick ( NELIYI representative)

Guruji's passing

‘Only his body has ended’ 

A report from Pune, on the passing of our Guruji, Yogacharya BKS Iyengar
, by Larissa McGoldrick (NELIYI representative) 

In the early hours of the morning of 20th August 2014, BKS Iyengar died at the hospital where he had been for a week. He was in his 96thyear, and we all knew that his health had recently deteriorated and his heart and kidneys were failing. But it still came as a shock.  It seemed impossible that the inevitable had finally happened. That night I had several dreams, where Guruji was dying, and each time I awoke with a start, taking several seconds to remember where I was; other practitioners who were also visiting the Yoga Institute at that time had similar experiences.

When we arrived and started our classes at the beginning of August, for the first few days we could hear chanting coming from the house where the Iyengar family lives. It went on for hours.  The house is only a few paces from the Institute, so the chanting was quite clear and loud.  It had an urgency and emotional quality to it that left me feeling uneasy.  Along with the men’s voices I could hear a woman, who sounded like Geeta, Guruji's eldest daughter.  Later I found out that the family was chanting for Guruji's health, as he was already starting to fade.

During the wet monsoon weeks of early August he came out twice during a rare dry moment after we had finished class.  He sat in his wheelchair and looked at each of us and smiled as we one by one greeted him and paid our respects.  It has taken me years to feel comfortable with the traditional Indian way of greeting a guru, bowing to the ground and touching his feet.  It just isn't in my culture and somehow I always felt a bit insincere to do it, but this time I bowed to him naturally and immediately, without even thinking about it.  He smiled angelically at each of us, looking me right in the eyes, but he appeared frail and tired and I started to fear the worst.  The second time we saw Guruji, I met up with an old friend of his; she and her daughter had invited me for lunch after seeing him, and all the way home they cried.  The woman who makes tea for the household had told her that morning that Guruji told her that he doesn't want to suffer anymore, that he was ready to go.

In mid-August, we heard that he had been admitted to hospital.  At first everyone tried hard to play down the news and we were told that he was fine, just some routine tests etc. But the news in the papers was increasingly dire – heart failing to pump sufficiently, breathing difficulties, kidney failure, and then a couple of failed rounds of dialysis.  Guruji hated hospitals and resisted going, but in the end the family could not manage on their own.  It was to be his first and last hospital visit.

The day after Guruji went into the hospital Abhijata, his grand-daughter, taught the women's Wednesday morning class. It was a great class, so strong and confident and intelligent. We were all quite amazed at the power of her teaching. It seemed like she was coming into her own.  Later, we found out that Guruji had just told her that he had taught her everything, and she had to make it hers now. 
So, when we finally heard about his passing, it was not a surprise, though it was still a big blow.  We got ready and went to the Institute at about 8 a.m.  It was already filled with people, and the shoes left at the gate were starting to spill out onto the pavement.  We were told we could go into the house to view Guruji and pay our last respects.  As I entered the house, I became utterly overcome and started crying helplessly.  In the living room sat Geeta and all her sisters.  I turned to Geeta and told her how sorry I was, through an avalanche of tears.  She looked at me and said, "It's okay, it's going to be okay."  I was struck by how, in her moment of grief, she was taking care of me, a total stranger.  Such generosity and compassion.  We walked through the tiny living room and saw Guruji lying on the floor in the next room, wrapped in cloth, with white paint on his face.  It was so humble and simple.  There was the family priest performing last Hindu rites and Prashant, his son, kneeling at his feet, holding vigil.  He had probably been sitting for hours by then, and it was so touching to see the son sitting at his father’s feet.  He looked grief-stricken, like a bereft young son. We bowed and touched Guruji’s feet and walked out.

We were then told we could go upstairs to the big yoga hall to wait, as the body needed to be dressed for the afterlife, after which we could view it again, and then we would all go to the cremation.  I was continually struck by the difference in this funeral and funerals in the West.  It was so open and generous, everything happening in front of us, and the foreign students invited to everything.  After the body was dressed again, long-time student and teacher Raya came upstairs to tell us that we could now go in again (they were aware of, and helped, us foreign students every step of the way that day) and then there was a second wave of people who wanted to go in.  There was now a continuous flow of dignitary after dignitary, arriving in big cars amidst a police presence, to pay last respects. 

Guruji by this time was covered head to toe with flowers and the body had been turned 180 degrees in the room: toe to head.  There were now many more priests dressed in traditional clothes and chanting loudly in the room, and the atmosphere was tense and electric, the communal grief was overwhelming.  I felt so sad for Geeta and her sisters; the day was very hot and steamy, and we all stood and cried and chanted.  The body was then carried aloft amidst a swirling cloud of incense onto the street outside, where it was loaded onto an ambulance.  We were then invited to go to the cremation ceremony, some distance away.

When we arrived the ceremony had already begun.  The crowd was very large but for a man of Guruji's stature it was very small. This was due to the expedited nature of a Hindu cremation ceremony, where the body is cremated only hours after death.  There was no opportunity for anyone who was not local at that time to attend.  The ceremony took place in a very peaceful large park with tall trees, in a covered area with several other pits of ashes. The chanting kept going, non-stop, as everyone stood around the cremation pit.  Traditionally, only men are allowed into the cremation site but we were told that Geeta had requested a change in the rules, so we were all allowed in.

Many rituals took place that were hard to see, but at one time Prashant held a large container that was spilling out water through two holes, walked around the body three times and then broke the clay vessel on the ground.  The priests passed around large pieces of sandalwood and pressed cow dung patties for us all to touch and mark with our love and devotion, before they were laid on the pyre.  Guruji was then placed on the sandalwood logs and then covered with dung patties. The priests then lit the pyre and continually fed the flames with camphor and bags of ghee that were opened and poured onto the fire.  I was told that these four items – sandalwood, dung, camphor and ghee – are used only for the funeral of a saint. The flames were carefully controlled, and apparently the burning goes on for four hours.  The priests were alternatively solemn, stern, jovial and even joking at times during this process. The whole thing was very serious and ritualistic, yet somehow had also an almost casual feel. There wasn't the solemnity, privacy of the family and formality that I associate with western funerals.

The family left shortly after the cremation, and many of us stayed and talked afterwards.  Besides all the hundreds of students from many different countries (including Indonesia, Russia, Europe, China, Japan, USA, etc.) there were so many friends there, people I have seen in Pune for years.  It was moving to see, for instance, Raju the incense man and Mr Wagh the family jeweller, standing with tears in their eyes.  I felt privileged to speak with Father Joe, one of Guruji's long time students, founder of the Kripa Foundation, the legendary addiction and HIV clinic that finally brought great help to a stigmatized population (I did acupuncture volunteer work at Kripa in 2009 and 2011).

Today I am filled with wonder at being present for such a momentous occasion, and having had the opportunity to say a final goodbye to one of the most innovative and creative minds of our time – our Guruji, who brought the gift of yoga as we know it to the west.  Yesterday, Geeta Iyengar said, so poignantly:

"Only his body has ended.  One person's efforts, from inside out, changed the acceptance of yoga throughout the world.  Nothing was hidden, from the time he began to practise, to his illness and death.  Even last night he was telling Abhijata, 'I have shown you all these things, now realise them for yourself.'  What he has given cannot be encompassed by words.  If a disciple is more developed, then that person will understand.  What can be said in words, is that he was precious to us."


Gratitude &
Courtesy  to :
Larissa McGoldrick
NELIYI


Please do not copy or publish this piece in whole or part without express permission of NELIYI or the author, Larissa McGoldrick, who retains who retains the copyright for this text and accompanying images (c) 2014.
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Wishing Fr. Joe & Kripa Pune a Happy Anniversary- The Inauguration 15 years ago



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B. K. S. Iyengar, Who Helped Bring Yoga to the West, Dies at 95 - News article in " The New York Times"

B. K. S. Iyengar, Who Helped Bring Yoga to the West, Dies at 95
By ELLEN BARRYAUG. 20, 2014

NEW DELHI — B. K. S. Iyengar, who helped introduce the practice of yoga to a Western world awakening to the notion of an inner life, died on Wednesday in the southern Indian city of Pune. He was 95.
The cause was heart failure, said Abhijata Sridhar-Iyengar, his granddaughter.
After surviving tuberculosis, typhoid and malaria as a child, Mr. Iyengar credited yoga with saving his life. He spent his midteens demonstrating “the most impressive and bewildering” positions in the court of the Maharaja of Mysore, he later recalled.
A meeting in 1952 with the violinist Yehudi Menuhin, an early yoga devotee, proved to be a turning point, and Mr. Iyengar began traveling with Mr. Menuhin, eventually opening institutes on six continents.
Among his devotees were the novelist Aldous Huxley, the actress Annette Bening and the designer Donna Karan, as well as a who’s who of prominent Indian figures, including the cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and the Bollywood siren Kareena Kapoor. He famously taught Queen Elisabeth of Belgium, 85 at the time, to stand on her head.
In a 2005 book, “Light on Life,” Mr. Iyengar mused about the vast changes he had seen.
“I set off in yoga 70 years ago when ridicule, rejection and outright condemnation were the lot of a seeker through yoga even in its native land of India,” he wrote. “Indeed, if I had become a sadhu, a mendicant holy man, wandering the great trunk roads of British India, begging bowl in hand, I would have met with less derision and won more respect.”
The news about Mr. Iyengar — or “guru-ji,” as many here called him, using a Sanskrit honorific — rippled through India on Wednesday morning. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter that he was “deeply saddened” by Mr. Iyengar’s death and offered “condolences to his followers all over the world.”
Mr. Iyengar’s practice is characterized by long asanas, oor postures, that require extraordinary will and discipline. A reporter who watched daily practice in 2002, when Mr. Iyengar was 83, said that he held one headstand for six minutes, swiveling his legs to the right and the left, and that when he finished, “his shoulder-length hair was awry, he seemed physically depleted,” but he wore the smile of a gleeful child.
Ms. Sridhar-Iyengar said her grandfather recognized early on that yoga, up until then viewed as a mystical pursuit, “had something for everybody, not just the intellectually or spiritually inclined.”
“He felt satisfied,” she said. “Even at the end, even a few weeks before, he said, ‘I’m satisfied with what I’ve done.’ He took yoga to the world. He knew that.”
Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar was born on Dec. 14, 1918, into a poor family in the southern state of Karnataka. The 11th of 13 children, he was born in the midst of an influenza outbreak. Three of his siblings died before reaching adulthood, and he watched his father, a teacher, die of appendicitis when he was 9 years old. Mr. Iyengar himself contracted tuberculosis, typhoid and malaria; by the time he began studying yoga, at 16, he was painfully frail.
“My arms were thin, my legs were spindly, and my stomach protruded in an ungainly manner,” he wrote. “My head used to hang down, and I had to lift it with great effort.”
His first teacher was his brother-in-law, a Brahmin scholar who had set up a school of yoga at the Jaganmohan Palace, and who sometimes denied his student food if his performance was deemed inadequate. Mr. Iyengar, then a teenager, was the youngest member of the Maharaja of Mysore’s entourage, and was asked to demonstrate his ability to stretch and bend his body for visiting dignitaries and guests.
Mr. Menuhin, who visited India in 1952, heard of his practice and penciled him in for a five-minute meeting, and was so instantly impressed that the session went on for more than three hours. Mr. Iyengar recalled, in an interview with CNN, that “the moment I adjusted him and took him, he said, ‘I’ve never felt this sense of joy, elation.’ ”
The violinist later brought Mr. Iyengar to Switzerland, where he introduced him to other prominent Westerners who became his followers. In his first visit to New York in 1956, Mr. Iyengar said he encountered little interest in yoga. It was not until the next decade that he began to attract crowds.
“We were just coming out of the ’60s change-your-consciousness thing, and many of us were in our heads, and wanting to meditate, and reach Samadhi,” or enlightenment, Patricia Walden, a longtime student of Mr. Iyengar’s, said in an interview in 2000. “Iyengar was, like, ‘Stand on your feet. Feel your feet.’ He was so practical. His famous quote was, ‘How can you know God if you don’t know your big toe?’ ”
Were it not for his celebrity in the West, Mr. Iyengar would hardly have gained a reputation in India, said Latha Satish, who heads a major yoga institute in the southern city of Chennai.
“He was at the right time at the right place; he would not have survived here,” Mr. Satish said. In India, he said, “everybody was interested in Western education; yoga was not so popular.” Mr. Iyengar’s trademark improvisations — like the use of blocks, blankets and straps to assist in holding difficult postures — were adopted “because of the need of students abroad,” he said.
Mr. Iyengar’s survivors include a son, Prashant; five daughters, Geeta, Vinita, Suchita, Sunita and Savitha; five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
Past students recalled Mr. Iyengar as warm and charismatic, but also strict. Elizabeth Kadetsky, who wrote a memoir of the year she spent studying with him, recalled that she was standing on her head in a class when he “took his fingers and shoved them in my upper back, and bellowed, ‘In the headstand, this portion of the back is not straight.’ ”
As his influence spread, she said, he was fiercely competitive with other leading yoga gurus, and would get cranky when asked about their methods.
“He demanded loyalty,” she said. “One had to be 100 percent with him.”
By the time he reached his 80s, Mr. Iyengar had become accustomed to the kind of reception usually reserved for pop stars. As power yoga became a multimillion-dollar industry, he occasionally cringed at the commercialization of the practice, and wondered whether it would survive its own popularity. But the pleasure he took in the practice was unaffected.
At the end of a session in 2002, he lay on his back, knees bent so that his calves were beneath his thighs, arms out to either side, weights holding him down. He lay still for 12 minutes, perfectly immobile except for the twitch of a pinkie. Asked what he was thinking, he replied, “Nothing.”
“I can remain thoughtfully thoughtless,” he said. “It is not an empty mind.”


Nida Najar and Suhasini Raj contributed reporting.
A version of this article appears in print on August 21, 2014, on page B17 of the New York edition with the headline: B. K. S. Iyengar, Who Helped Bring Yoga to the West, Dies at 95. ||

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Keeping Iyengar Yoga alive...An interview of Fr. Joe in " O Heraldo" Newspaper Goa



Keeping Iyengar yoga alive
“ Guruji BKS Iyengar laid down his life for his students. In the course of his 80- year practice and training, he never counted the cost of his own health.
I recall at the age of 93 he attended the China- India Yoga summit from where he brought back 40 students and personally taught them yoga, even though he had stopped actively teaching for the past 15 years. He helped me start Kripafoundation Iyengar Yoga. Because of Guruji, the Kripafoundation Iyengar Yoga in Goa has taken off so beautifully.” Fr Joe Pereira, Kripafoundation iyengar Yoga “ The passing of Guruji has left a great void in our lives. It is only in his loss will that the greatness of his teachings be magnified. His teachings have had a tremendous impact on people worldwide and I am happy to see such a large response to Iyengar Yoga in Goa as well.” Dr raJvi Mehta, iyengar Yoga instructor BKS Iyengar developed his unique technique of Iyengar Yoga. Its detailed approach and systematic methodology is today followed in 80 countries worldwide ‘ i always tell people to live happily and die majestically’ was Guruji BKS Iyengar’s compassionate plea to people who had been afflicted with health problems of every aspect. Experiencing the benefits of yoga as a sickly child, Guruji’s own practice evolved over a period of 80 years.
His technique developed from a simple observation that people understood the principle of comfortable position. His development focused on the reverse – ‘ any position should be made comfortable and in doing so it can alter one’s mind’. “ Developing the concept of minding the body to mind the mind, he took a turn from the earlier mind over body precept,” avers Fr Joe Pereira, whose Kripafoundation Iyengar Yoga is infused with Iyengar’s scientific approach to yoga especially in addiction recovery.
Guruji’s technique led to the unique development of using props like ropes, wooden gadgets and belts, which were devised to get equanimity and give alignment and precision to every posture.
He demonstrated how all eight astangas ( aspects) of yoga are integrated and focuses on the practice of intentionally grouping and linking specific asanas together. Today, his detailed approach and systematic methodology is followed in 80 countries worldwide and administered by dedicated and well- trained students. The author of 20 books, his ‘ Light on Yoga’ ( 1965) has been translated into 20 languages and still sells worldwide.
Appealing to practitioners not only for its efficacy but non- denominational and broad- minded approach, Iyengar Yoga has been proving to be a ‘ healthy practice’ for beginners across any age group. “ Iyengar Yoga is the most simplified and completely codified practice which has been achieved after years of practice. The effect is immediate if you do the right asanas. In this Yoga, a particular ailment is accorded certain asanas to be done in a certain sequence for the desired effect. Each participant is given a protocol of exercises by a senior instructor according to their case. The use of props makes a very big difference. Not all of us are very strong or agile, so props which are used in almost all asanas help even a novice to get into position and get the same therapeutic value as seasoned practitioners,” explains Iyengar Yoga practitioner, Ebrahim Haroon, who has helped to set up Goa’s first Iyengar Yoga centre in Panjim.
TWeeTS @ pATRiCiAANNeALV Patricia Ann Alvares cafe@ herald- goa. com



staying fit....The Iyengar Way.
Patricia Ann Alvares cafe@ herald- goa. com
 BKS Iyengar, one of the founders of the most renowned forms of yoga passed away on August 20. As such, we look into the following of yoga aficionados in Goa. With stress and poor health infringing on the Goan ‘ susegad’ way of life, many have turned to the ancient science of yoga to rein in the goodness of holistic health the words ‘ peaceful’ and ‘ easy- going’ seem to be fast depleting from the Goan vocabulary. Stressed- out on all levels seems more the order of the day. health consequences are inevitable. Could there be a return to the ‘ susegad’ or peaceful way of life? as people look around for alternative medicines, the age old science of yoga seems to have caught their attention.
one clear indication of this fact is that droves of people from all strata of society have been descending upon the recently inaugurated kripafoundation iyengar Yoga centre ( KFiY) at St inez, Panjim. “ our lives are so stressful, we are heading for the inevitable meltdown,” agrees business executive eva miranda, who has chosen yoga to bring back the balance into her life.
For those who seek alternative medicine, like herself, yoga has proved to be the best choice. it is, as so many testify, proving to be the ‘ healthy’ alternative. “ i am just 28 and a mother of one, but i already have some serious health issues. medicines were just counter- effective. Yoga not only gave me an alternative, but a whole new attitude to life,” reveals graphic designer rashmi narvekar.
“ i initially attended the yoga classes at St inez because i had heard so much about Fr Joe and his yoga, but when i actually started practicing, i felt the benefits almost immediately. besides taking care of my back and knee pains, it has brought about a marvellous change in my well being,” avers senior citizen mario Cruz, who found the prop- aided asanas easy to practise.
increasing awareness about yoga’s holistic approach to health has been a major contributing factor. “ What i noticed is that people earlier had no clue about yoga and they only approached it when they had a medical problem. thanks to increasing awareness today, they understand the holistic approach of yoga,” explains longtime iyengar Yoga practitioner, ebrahim haroon, who helped set up the KFiY in Panjim. Finding the right yoga and correct practitioner, he points out, are equally vital to feel the full benefits of it.
TWEETS @ PATRICIAANNEALV “ earlier people approached Yoga only if they had health problems and more often than not they did not feel the benefits of it. now increasing awareness about Yoga and approaching the right practitioners/ trainers to improve the overall quality of one’s life has brought about a change in people’s perspective and approach to it.” ebrahim haroon Quote room “ i had tried different yoga with different teachers, but it never connected.
the broad- minded and non- denominational approach of iyengar Yoga which has a personalised approach has helped me tremendously. With a master Yogi like Fr Joe it has been a great experience.” vivek menezes “ People are looking for alternative medicine and yoga, particularly iyengar Yoga, is a great alternative. With an increasing awareness in Yoga, people have been opting for it. i have benefitted tremendously in attitude health and approach to life.” Joe mathias
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Fr. Joe attends the funeral service of Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar in Pune, Maharashtra, India.








Whilst doing a Iyengar yog workshop at the newly opened Iyengar Yoga Centre in Panjim. Fr Joe senior yoga instructor of Guruji B.K.S. Iyengar got the news at 3.15 am that Guruji had passed away. In honor of His late Guruji, Fr. Joe conducted an early morning class for the students and than rushed to Pune to attend the funeral rites of his beloved Guruji.
As no early flights were available Fr. Joe reached the crematorium as the pyre was lite in time to spend some precious silent moments with the sacred flame of his Guruji. Tears rolling he shared some time consoling many of the loved ones of Guruji's students and shared sometime with Prashantji ( Guruji's son) and later left to be at  the institute to spend some time with Gitaji ( Guruji's daughter).
Fr. Joe shared his condolence on behalf of the Kripa family worldwide and Iyengar students worldwide. One could hear as Fr, Joe shared with Gitaji that Guruji ...Christ like gave his life for his people. Gitaji humbly acknowledge what Fr. Joe shared and said " Yes Fr. Joe ...He gave all that he had for his People"  As we drove back to Mumbai. Fr. Joe shared how he would miss Guruji but bounced back saying ... "My Ida Nadi that's Blessed Mother Teresa and My PINGALA NADI Guruji Iyengar Liveth in me." ( The two channels of spreading spiritual energy through the body).
A wonderful experience to witness a part of Modern Yoga history and also witness the energy levels of the yoga instructors of Late Guruji B.K.S. Iyengar.

Photos
Lloyd D'Souza
Collage & Report
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Monday, August 4, 2014

Fr. Joe speaks to 168 Confirmation Students from the Church of Immaculate Conception, Borivili, Mumbai.


In the heavy torrential rains that lashed Mumbai last week for three days, Fr. Joe went all the to speak to the students of confirmation of IC Church, Borivili. One could see the youth who were going to receive confirmation. which is "A rite of initiation in several Christian denominations, normally carried out through anointing, the laying on of hands, and prayer, for the purpose of bestowing the Gift of the Holy Spirit." . In Christianity, confirmation is seen as the sealing of the covenant created in Holy Baptism. In the Roman Catholic Church, confirmation "renders the bond with the Church more perfect", because, while a baptized person is already a member, "reception of the sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace". wade through the heavy downpour towards the primary school hall where the seminar was held. Surely thinking in their mind of another one of those talks...
However the 168 students were spell bound as Fr. Joe conducted the program so delicately that he touched on each and everyone, not with a power point presentation or  just a one way talk, but included group sessions, personal experiences of two of his young addicts, feed back from the youth and contemplative prayer. This programme was held under the dynamic leadership of the Parish Priest and Spiritual leader Rev. Fr. Barthol Barretto of IC church, and 24 animators that  have worked round the year grooming  these candidates for confirmation. At the end of the programme, one could see the youth going back with much enlightenment on Addictionpromising themselves not to dabble with drugs and also other addictions like pornography and not so good habits in life. 
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