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Isha Foundation

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Isha Foundation
Founded1992; 28 years ago (1992)
FounderSadhguru Jaggi Vasudev
TypeNon-Profit Organization
FocusYoga, social upliftment, ecological conservation
Area served
India, Lebanon, United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore
MethodYoga programs, meditation, tree planting, Rural upliftment
Key people
Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev

Isha Foundation is a non-profit, spiritual organisation founded in 1992 near Coimbatore, India, by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev.[1] It hosts the Isha Yoga Centre, which offers yoga programs under the name of Isha Yoga. The foundation is run entirely by volunteers and it has over 9 million volunteers.[2][3][failed verification]

The word isha means "the formless divine".[4][unreliable source?][5]

Isha Yoga

Sadhguru conducting an Inner Engineering class at BSE Mumbai.

The Yoga Centre, founded at Isha Foundation in 1994,[6] offers yoga programmes under the name Isha Yoga. This customised system of yoga[5] combines postural yoga with chanting, breathing (prāṇāyāma),[5] and meditation.[7] Isha Yoga does not belong to a lineage (paramparā), and its practitioners believe it to be based on the founding guru's unique insight.[7]

Yoga classes conducted for business leaders are intended to "introduce a sense of compassion and inclusiveness" to economics.[8][9]

A yoga course for the Indian national hockey team was conducted in 1996.[10] Isha Foundation began conducting yoga programs in the United States in 1997[11][12] and, in 1998, yoga classes for life-term prisoners in Tamil Nadu prisons were initiated.[13]


The foundation regularly organises gatherings (sathsangs) with Sadhguru in the Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, where he delivers discourses, leads meditations, and conducts question-answer sessions with the attendees.[14] It also organises annual pilgrimages (yatras) to Mount Kailash and the Himalayas. The Kailash pilgrimage led by Sadhguru is among the largest groups to visit Kailash, with 514 pilgrims making the journey in 2010.[15][16]

The centre also hosts an annual, seven-day-long music and dance festival which culminates in the all-night celebration of Maha Shivaratri, a major Hindu festival honouring Shiva.[17]

Social and environmental initiatives

Project GreenHands

Saplings being readied for transportation at a PGH nursery.

Project GreenHands (PGH) was established in 2004 as an environmental organisation. Its activity is largely focused on Tamil Nadu. The organisation received the Indira Gandhi Paryavaran Puraskar, the Government of India's environmental award in 2010.[2] The organisation's activities include agroforestry, plant nurseries in schools,[18] and tree-planting in urban centres such as Tiruchirappalli[19] and Tiruppur.[20]

Action for Rural Rejuvenation

Action for Rural Rejuvenation (ARR) is a health and community-oriented program focusing on rural Tamil Nadu. It was established in 2003, and as of 2010, operated in 4,200 villages with a population of seven million.[21][22]

Isha Vidhya

Isha Vidhya, an education initiative, aims to raise the level of education and literacy in rural India by providing quality English-language-based, computer-aided education for rural children. There are seven Isha Vidhya Schools in operation which educate around 3000 students.[23]

Isha Home School premises.

Rally for Rivers

Rally for Rivers is a campaign launched by Isha Foundation in 2017 to tackle the scarcity of water across rivers in India and instill awareness about protecting rivers.[24][unreliable source?] Sadhguru launched the campaign on 3 September from Isha Yoga Centre, Coimbatore.[25] The campaign included a month-long, nationwide campaign.[26] On 3 October, a river revitalisation draft proposal was presented by Sadhguru to Narendra Modi.[27] Six states signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) with Isha Foundation to plant trees along river banks. These states are Karnataka, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Maharashtra and Gujarat.[28][29][30][31][32][33][unreliable source?] The Niti Aayog and the Ministry of Water Resources have constituted committees to study the draft policy proposal.[32][34] Under the flag name of Rally for rivers, Cauvery calling campaign is being organised which would last for over a decade. this project mainly focuses on river Kaveri. In November, at a conference in Germany, the executive director of the United Nations Environmental Program, Erik Solheim discussed Rally for Rivers with Sadhguru, and how environmental programs around the world can emulate its success.[35]

Rally for Rivers has been criticised by environmentalist who allege that it was trying to solve a complex problem with a "shallow solution".[36]

Cauvery Calling

The Cauvery Calling project aims to support farmers in planting an estimated 2.4 billion trees through agroforestry, thereby covering one third of Cauvery basin with trees, as a means of conserving it.

The project has received acclaim from politicians and members of the movie industry, yet environmentalists and public intellectuals have alleged that the program presents a simplistic view of river conservation, sidestepping social issues and ignoring the potential harm to tributaries and wildlife habitats.[37][38][39]

A public interest litigation has also been filed in the Karnataka High Court questioning the legality of the fundraising practices for the initiative, and the usage of government owned land for a private purpose without supporting study.[40][41][42][43] In January 2020, the High Court ruled that the Foundation needed to disclose details of its fundraising practices relating to the initiative.[44]


Isha Foundation's headquarters are located in an ashram built on the foothills of the Velliangiri Mountains, adjacent to the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve,[17] some forty kilometres from the city of Coimbatore in the state of Tamil Nadu, South India.[45]

Adiyogi Shiva statue

Adiyogi Shiva statue, located at Isha Foundation's ashram near Coimbatore, India.

Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev designed the 112-foot Adiyogi Shiva statue, which is located at the Isha Yoga Centre. It was inaugurated on Mahashivaratri, 24 February 2017, by the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi.[46] The Adiyogi statue depicts Shiva as the first yogi or Adiyogi, and first Guru or Adi Guru, who offered yoga to humanity. The statue was built by the Isha Foundation using 20,000 individual iron plates supplied by the Steel Authority of India[47] and weighs around 500 tonnes (490 long tons; 550 short tons). The Adiyogi Shiva Statue has been recognised as the "Largest Bust Sculpture" by Guinness World Records.[48] A consecrated Shivalinga called "Yogeshwar Linga" is placed in front of the Adiyogi Shiva statue.[49]

Controversies and reception

The foundation's construction activities at Isha Yoga Centre in Coimbatore are alleged to have violated rules and regulations on several occasions.[50][51][52][53][54]

In 2016, allegations were made that Isha Yoga Centre was holding people captive. A couple claimed that their two adult daughters were being held captive at the centre.[55][56] The Foundation denied the allegation and released a statement by the two women asserting that it was their free will to stay at Isha.[57] The case was dismissed in court.[58] Another woman alleged that her adult son was being held captive at Isha Yoga Centre.[59][60][56]


  1. ^ "The most powerful Indians in 2009: 80–84". Indian Express. 9 March 2009. Archived from the original on 28 January 2011. Retrieved 25 January 2011.
  2. ^ a b Award for Project Green Hands Archived 2011-05-21 at the Wayback Machine, The Hindu, 8 June 2010, retrieved on 8 June 2010
  3. ^ "'Special Consultative Status' for Isha Foundation". The Hindu. 12 September 2007. Archived from the original on 8 November 2012. Retrieved 23 January 2011.
  4. ^ "Jaggi Vasudev – Exploring the unlimited". Life Positive. Archived from the original on 5 May 2011. Retrieved 25 January 2011.
  5. ^ a b c Goutham, Shruti (20 January 2011). "In pursuit of peace of mind". Daily News and Analysis. Bangalore. Archived from the original on 30 March 2012. Retrieved 25 January 2011.
  6. ^ Gobalakrishnan 2019, p. 38
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  11. ^ Hamburg, Jay (15 October 1997). "Yoga guru touts peace, not religion" (PDF). The Tennessean. pp. 1B–2B. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 March 2020.
  12. ^ "It doesn't take a guru to know which way the stress flows". Dayton Daily News. 17 March 1998.
  13. ^ "Yoga Brings 'Freedom' to Prisoners". The Hindu. 16 February 1999.
  14. ^ "Isha's Green Salem goes on stream". The Hindu. 14 December 2010. Archived from the original on 30 November 2011. Retrieved 25 January 2011.
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  16. ^ "Mansarovar is beyond words". Daily News and Analysis. 1 September 2010. Archived from the original on 30 March 2012. Retrieved 25 January 2011.
  17. ^ a b Hudson & Hudson 2017, p. 2
  18. ^ "Isha's Green School Movement kicks-off in Kanchi dist". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  19. ^ Reporter, Staff (4 October 2010). "Green Tiruchi Movement seeks to rectify ailing environment". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  20. ^ "Stalin inaugurates Green Tirupur Movement". The Hindu. 25 August 2009. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  21. ^ "Isha Foundation launches Centre-funded project". The Hindu. 13 October 2010. Archived from the original on 16 October 2010. Retrieved 30 October 2010.
  22. ^ "Jaggi Vasudev in city on May 7". The Times of India. 21 April 2010. Retrieved 30 October 2010.
  23. ^ "LIC gives grant to Isha". The Hindu. 7 April 2010. Archived from the original on 10 April 2010. Retrieved 2 February 2010.
  24. ^ "Rally for Rivers". Addieu. 8 September 2017. Archived from the original on 5 October 2017. Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  25. ^ Times of India. "Isha Foundation launches 'Rally for Rivers' campaign in city". Archived from the original on 8 September 2017.
  26. ^ "Go green for rivers: Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev". Deccan Chronicle. 13 September 2017. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  27. ^ "Indian economy not ready for a startup epidemic: Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev". Live Mint. 28 November 2017. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  28. ^ "Karnataka, Isha Foundation join hands to plant 25 crore saplings along riverbeds". Times of India. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  29. ^ "River conservation: Maharashtra to organize tree plantation conclave for awareness". Times of India. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  30. ^ "People, govt should join hands to save dying rivers, says Sadhguru". Tribune India. 29 September 2017. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  31. ^ Singh, Bikash (18 December 2017). "Assam government inks MOU with Isha Foundation". Economic Times. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  32. ^ a b "Niti Aayog CEO-led group to study Isha Foundation's proposals". Times of India. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  33. ^ "It is our responsibility to hold rainfall and allow it to flow 365 days: Sadhguru". The Hitavada. Archived from the original on 22 December 2017. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  34. ^ "PMO asks NITI Aayog to examine Isha Foundation's river revival plan". DNA India. 12 December 2017. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  35. ^ "Rally for Rivers discussed at Global Landscapes Forum". Outlook India. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  36. ^ "Indians are incapable of being fanatics". gulfnews.com. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
  37. ^ "Cauvery Calling: NGOs urge Leonardo DiCaprio to withdraw support". The Hindu. Special Correspondent. 25 September 2019. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 7 October 2019.CS1 maint: others (link)
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  39. ^ "N Ram questions Jaggi Vasudev's Cauvery Calling, asks why it shifts goal posts". The News Minute. Retrieved 2 January 2020.
  40. ^ Plumber, Mustafa (18 September 2019). "Karnataka High Court Issues Notice On PIL Challenging Fund Collection For 'Cauvery Calling' Project". www.livelaw.in. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
  41. ^ "PIL filed against Cauvery Calling campaign". Deccan Chronicle. 14 September 2019. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
  42. ^ "PIL to cap cash collection for 'Cauvery Calling' project". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
  43. ^ "HC notice to State on plea to examine Isha Foundation's 'Cauvery Calling' project". The Hindu. Special Correspondent. 18 September 2019. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 7 October 2019.CS1 maint: others (link)
  44. ^ "Disclose details of money collected under 'Cauvery Calling': HC to Isha Foundation". The New Indian Express. 8 January 2020. Retrieved 25 February 2020.
  45. ^ Berghella 2018, p. 69
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  48. ^ "Largest bust (sculpture)". Guinness World Records.
  49. ^ "Yogeshwar: A Heartless Yogi". Isha Foundation. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
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  52. ^ Antony, Kathelene (12 July 2018). "CAG slams forest dept for Isha Foundation 'encroachments'". Deccan Chronicle. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
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  54. ^ "Row over land given to Isha foundation". Deccan Chronicle. 19 April 2015. Retrieved 1 January 2020.
  55. ^ "Jaggi Vasudev's Isha Yoga Centre accused by retired professor of holding his daughter captive". Firstpost. 2 August 2016. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  56. ^ a b Aug 8, Pratiksha Ramkumar | TNN | Updated; 2016; Ist, 20:25. "My son is being held captive in Isha Yoga Centre, woman says | Coimbatore News - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 5 October 2019.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
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  58. ^ "Isha Foundation gets reprieve as Madras HC dismisses plea centre is holding two women captive". Firstpost. 12 August 2016. Retrieved 10 March 2020.
  59. ^ "'Jaggi Vasudev's Isha Yoga centre has brainwashed my son'". mid-day. 9 August 2016. Retrieved 5 October 2019.
  60. ^ "Isha Foundation is holding my 32-year-old son hostage, claims another parent". The News Minute. 8 August 2016. Retrieved 5 October 2019.


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