Visit by Yogacharya Shri B.K.S. Iyengar
to Omkarananda Patanjala Yoga
Kendra on 3rd January 2011
It is the end of December 2010 in Rishikesh, the streets and
businesses are quiet, tourism is down . . . yet the Iyengar Yoga
Centre at Omkarananda Ganga Sadan is full to capacity as usual.
“Listen everyone,” Usha is smiling and can hardly conceal her
happiness. “Guruji is coming to Haridwar on the 2nd of January.
He has been invited to attend an International Conference on
Yoga for Health and Social Transformation. It is to be hosted by
Yogrishi Swami Ramdev Maharaj at the University of Patanjali. Mr
Iyengar will be the honoured guest.”
We all start talking.
“Listen, listen to me. I have talked to Prof. Ram Kumar Sharma
at the University and I have been given special permission to
attend with my students. This is a great privilege to see
“Who would like to come?”
Fifty hands immediately go up.
In self-practice over the next few days Usha updates us on the
program she is planning and tells us that she has been in
contact with Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute
(R.I.M.Y.I) in Pune, and has asked if it might be possible for
Guruji, time permitting, to come to the Yoga Centre at
Omkarananda Ganga Sadan on the morning of the 3rd January before
returning to Pune. He has agreed.
His last visit to Rishikesh was more than seventeen years ago so
this will be a very important occasion for the Yoga Centre, Usha
and her students.
begins and our Saturday class on New Years day is changed from
6:00 pm to 9:00am. This will give us enough time to prepare the
yoga hall for Mr. Iyengar’s visit. A welcoming banner is made,
carpets are laid down, the stage is covered and Sage Patanjali
is beautifully decorated with flower garlands. Mahalia will bake
fresh cookies, Marie Christine will be in charge of making
Guruji’s favourite coffee, Eyal and Martin assign us all tasks
and Vinod Barthwal the Manager and Shailendra the Assistant
Manager of Omkarananda Ganga Sadan make sure everything is in
place and perfect by the end of the day.
morning on the 2nd of January more than fifty people board the
bus at 9:00 am to make our way to Jolly Grant Airport near Dehra
Dun. We have with us the most beautiful flower malas, red roses,
petals and a priest from Omkarananda Ashram who will welcome
Guruji by chanting the Purusha Suktam as he steps out of the
There are more than seventy of us there to greet Mr. Iyengar . .
. students from twenty different countries around the world . .
. Brazil, United Kingdom, Israel, Ireland, Japan, Switzerland,
France, Korea, Germany, China, Canada, Russia, Columbia, India,
U.S.A., Taiwan, Spain, Argentina and the Netherlands. Col. D.L.
Sachdeva, the Principle of Omkarananda Saraswati Nilayam has
accompanied Usha today. Swati Chanchani, one of Mr. Iyengar’s
senior teachers, her son and a small group of her students from
Yog Ganga in Rajpur and also a group of students representing
Rudra Dev’s yoga centre join us there for the welcoming.
Guruji is not expecting such a large crowd and immediately shows
his delight when he walks out of the airport doors. The priest
begins chanting and Rudra’s students join in quickly offering
flowers. Usha then steps forward and places a beautiful shawl
around Mr. Iyengar’s neck. She appears filled with light and
love for her teacher. Guruji then graciously moves very slowly
through our group to receive the malas around his neck and the
single roses from each student. He pauses where he can thanking
us and smiling. He is weighed down with flowers and affection.
His son-in-law Shri Parthasarty is accompanying Mr. Iyengar and
guides him to the awaiting car that has been sent by Swami
Ramdev. The vehicle is quickly covered in more roses and he
again pauses for a few moments placing his palms together in
Upon Arrival at Patanjali Yog Peeth (Haridwar) we are issued
guest passes and through the generosity of Professor Sharma we
are ushered to reserved seats at the front of the auditorium.
Swami Ramdev greets all his guests on the stage and then there
is lightening of lamp on stage followed by introductions,
formalities and an overview of the four day gathering.
Mr Iyengar is then invited to address the audience and is given
a standing ovation by all his students. He speaks easily for
more than twenty five minutes and begins by telling us about his
early life, his poor health as a child, his relationship with
his brother-in-law T. Krishnamacharya of Mysore, his study of
yoga and the far reaching effects it was to have on the world.
He also speaks in detail about the importance of Patanjali´s
Sutras. (See a full transcript of his speech
At 8:30 pm we are invited to have dinner and Usha and some of
her students join Mr. Iyengar, Swami Ramdev, Swami Chidananda
Saraswati of Paramartha Niketan and some of the other delegates
in their small dining room for a meal.
It was a great day and not to be forgotten by any of us.
Iyengar Returns to Omkarananda Ganga Sadan
Monday, January 3, 2011
The police are controlling the traffic between Sivananda Arch
and the entrance to Omkarananda Ganga Sadan in readiness for
Guruji’s arrival in a few minutes.
is now the turn of the Iyengar Yoga Centre at Omkarananda Ganga
Sadan to host B.K.S. Iyengar, a legendary figure in the world of
yoga and named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most
influential people in the world in 2004 for his contribution to
The entrance reception area is filled with flowers and photos of
Guruji and everyone is in place lining his pathway from the car
to the entrance of the yoga hall. As Mr. Iyengar enters the
building, the Priests are there to greet him and perform Purna
Kumbha (welcoming prayer). The chanting begins and the students
can hardly maintain their silence for more than a few minutes
before bursting into applause. Once again, we drop red rose
petals on the floor as he walks past us all. He is smiling and
making eye contact with everyone as he walks towards the yoga
hall. Inside the room Swami Vishveshwarananda, President of
Omkarananda Ashram Himalayas, Kumari Somashekhari, General
Secretary of Omkarananda Ashram Himalayas, and Swami
Narasimhulu, Trustee of Omkarananda Ashram Himalayas, are there
to welcome their honoured guest. Guruji is then led to the
beautiful statue of Sage Patanjali to perform a Pushpanjali
(offering of flower), as Siddhartha Krishna chants the
invocation to Patanjali and we all join in.
With the formalities completed Guruji moves to the stage and
takes his place. He appears relaxed and happy as he does Namaste
to us all and informally begins to talk asking us about what it
means to be a Sadhaka, he asks us to see and find out what we
see with the mind and with intelligence and tells us the body
acts and the Self observes. He spoke of Union . . . Self to
skin, skin to Self. . . . (See a full transcript of his speech
Swami Vishveshwarananda concludes the gathering with some very
joyful and affectionate words, thanking Guruji for coming today
and remarking on one of Guruji’s earlier comments that ‘we are
the ocean.’ “Guruji . . . if we are the ocean, then you are the
Ganga,” he said.
Guruji is then invited for some refreshments in the reception
area where Marie Christine was waiting to serve our guests
coffee and cookies. Kumari Somashekhari chatted with Mr. Iyengar
and expressed the Ashram's heart felt gratitude to Guruji for
helping Usha in her road to recovery.
Guruji left the building to rousing cheers, applause and calls
from the students. “We love you Guruji.”