Yogacharya Guruji | Founder of Iyengar Yoga
Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar, affectionately known as Guruji, hails from the quaint village of Bellur in Karnataka’s Kolar district, India. His remarkable journey began at a tender age when, at five, his family moved to Bangalore in search of a better life. Tragically, at the age of eight, his father passed away, leaving them in dire poverty.
At the age of 15, Iyengar found refuge in his eldest sister’s home and became a student of his brother-in-law, Sri. Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, the Director of the renowned Shriyogashala at the Jagan Mohan palace in Mysore. This pivotal association transformed the trajectory of his life, and together with fellow students, he tirelessly demonstrated yoga to promote its practice in Karnataka.
In 1937, Krishnamacharya entrusted Iyengar, then just 18, with the mission of spreading yoga teachings in Pune. This marked the beginning of Guruji’s extraordinary journey, a journey that would ultimately earn him the endearing title of “Guruji” from millions of devoted yoga students.
Before Guruji’s teachings gained prominence, yoga was a niche practice often subject to ridicule. However, through his brilliance and unwavering dedication, yoga centers began to flourish worldwide, and a dedicated cadre of teachers emerged.
Today, the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Institute in Pune welcomes thousands of students from across the globe, eager to study Guruji’s unique yoga concepts.
Awards and Achievement
The turning point that catapulted B. K. S. Iyengar from a relatively unknown Indian yoga teacher to a globally revered Yoga Guru occurred in 1952, during a chance encounter with the renowned violinist Yehudi Menuhin in Bombay.
Menuhin, fatigued from his demanding concert schedule, initially hesitated to meet with B. K. S. Iyengar. However, Guruji, with his intuitive understanding of Menuhin’s state of mind, convinced him to assume the corpse pose. In this profoundly relaxing posture, Menuhin drifted into peaceful slumber. This brief encounter blossomed into a lifelong friendship.
Menuhin extended invitations to B. K. S. Iyengar, first to Delhi and later to his residence in Gstaad, Switzerland. Through Menuhin, Guruji had the privilege of meeting dignitaries like Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s Prime Minister at the time, and his daughter Smt. Indira Gandhi.
In Switzerland, B. K. S. Iyengar shared his wisdom with luminaries such as Aldous and Julius Huxley, along with a host of talented musicians, philosophers, writers, and artists. In a touching gesture, at the conclusion of his 1954 visit, Menuhin presented Guruji with a watch engraved, “to my best Violin teacher.”
The global recognition of Iyengar’s yoga method soared following the publication of his seminal book, “Light On Yoga” (George Allen and Unwin, London 1966). This literary masterpiece was hailed as an instant classic by critics, a rare feat for any book. Notably, the English edition of “Light on Yoga” has sold over 800,000 copies and is now available in 18 languages.
Explore the remarkable journey of B. K. S. Iyengar, a journey enriched by chance encounters, deep friendships, and the timeless wisdom of yoga.