Jaggi Vasudev

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Jaggi Vasudev
Sadhguru-Jaggi-Vasudev.jpg
Religion Hinduism
Founder of Isha Foundation
Philosophy Yoga
Personal
Nationality Indian
Born (1957-09-03) 3 September 1957 (age 60)
Mysore, Karnataka, India
Spouse Vijaykumari
Children Radhe (daughter)
Literary works Inner Engineering, Adiyogi: The Source of Yoga, Mystic's Musings and many
Honors Padma Vibhushan , Indira Gandhi Paryavaran Puraskar

Jaggi Vasudev (born 3 September 1957), commonly known as Sadhguru, is an Indian yogi, poet and mystic.[1] He founded the Isha Foundation, a non-profit organization which offers Yoga programs around the world[2] and is involved in social outreach[3], education[4] and environmental initiatives[5][6].

He was conferred the Padma Vibhushan award by the Government of India on 13 April 2017 in recognition of his contribution towards spirituality.[7]

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Born in Mysore, Karnataka to Susheela and Dr. Vasudev, Jagadish was the youngest of four children – two boys and two girls. His father was an ophthalmologist with the Indian Railways and as a result, the family moved frequently. At the age of 12, he came in contact with Malladihalli Sri Raghavendra Swamiji who taught him a set of simple yoga asanas, the practice of which he regularly maintained.[8] He states that "without a single day's break, this simple yoga that was taught to me kept happening and led to a much deeper experience later."[9]:39

After his schooling at Demonstration School, Mysore in 1973, he graduated from the University of Mysore with a bachelor's degree in English literature.[10] During his college years, he developed an interest in travel and motorcycles. A frequent haunt of his and his friends was the Chamundi Hill near Mysore, where they often gathered and went for nocturnal drives. He also traveled to various places in the country on his motorcycle.[11] This experience made him resolve "to earn some quick money," and just ride off to travel the world. In order to make money, he started several successful businesses after graduation, including a poultry farm, a brickworks and a construction business.

Spiritual experience[edit]

At the age of 25 on 23 September 1982,[12] he rode up Chamundi Hill and sat on a rock, where he claims to have had a spiritual experience. He describes his experience as follows:

Till that moment in my life I always thought this is me and that's somebody else and something else. But for the first time I did not know which is me and which is not me. Suddenly, what was me was just all over the place. The very rock on which I was sitting, the air that I breathe, the very atmosphere around me, I had just exploded into everything. That sounds like utter insanity. This, I thought it lasted for ten to fifteen minutes but when I came back to my normal consciousness, it was about four-and-a-half-hours I was sitting there, fully conscious, eyes open, but time had just flipped.[13]:04:04

Six weeks after this experience, he left his business to his friend and travelled extensively in an effort to gain insight into his mystical experience. After about a year of meditation and travel, he decided to teach yoga to share his inner experience.[12]

In 1983, he conducted his first yoga class with seven participants in Mysore. Over time, he began conducting yoga classes across Karnataka and Hyderabad traveling from class to class on his motorcycle. He lived off the produce of his poultry farm rental and refused payment for the classes. A usual practice of his was to donate the collections received from participants to a local charity on the last day of the class.[12] These initial programs were the basic format on which the Isha Yoga classes were later built.

Spiritual activities[edit]

Dhyanalinga[edit]

In 1994, Jaggi Vasudev conducted the first program in the premises of the newly established Isha Yoga Center, during which he described the Dhyanalinga. The Dhyanalinga is a yogic temple and a space for meditation, the consecration of which, Jaggi Vasudev stated was his life's mission entrusted to him by his guru.[12] In 1996, the stone edifice of the linga was ordered and arrived at the ashram. After three years of work, the Dhyanalinga was completed on 23 June 1999[14] and opened to the public on 23 November.[15]


The Dhyanalinga offers a meditative space that does not ascribe to any particular faith or belief system.[16] A 76-foot dome, constructed using bricks and stabilised mud mortar without steel or concrete,[17] covers the sanctum sanctorum. The lingam is 13 feet and 9 inches in height and made of black granite. The Sarva Dharma Sthamba, located at the front entrance, functions as an icon of singularity, with the sculptural reliefs and symbols of Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Jainism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Buddhism, and Shinto inscribed as a universal welcome.[18]

Yoga programs and few other consecrations[edit]

Jaggi Vasudev conducting the Inner Engineering Program at the Bombay Stock Exchange, Mumbai.

After the establishment of the ashram, Jaggi Vasudev began conducting regular yoga programs at the Isha Yoga Center, including a course for the Indian Hockey team in 1996.[19][20] In 1997, he began conducting classes in the United States[21][22] and in 1998, he began conducting yoga classes for life-term prisoners in Tamil Nadu prisons.[23] From 2011, he began conducting programs with large-scale participation of up to 10,000 and 15,000 participants at once. These large-scale programs have been attended by over 75,000 people in total.[24][25]

The programs are offered under the umbrella of Isha Yoga. The word Isha means "the formless divine".[26] Isha yoga's flagship program is 'Inner Engineering', which introduces people to meditation and pranayam and the Shambhavi Mahamudra.[27] He also conducts yoga classes for corporate leadership to introduce them to what he calls "inclusive economics", which he says introduces a sense of compassion and inclusiveness into today's economic scenario.[28][29]

He also regularly conducts Mahasathsangs in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Here he gives talks, teaches meditation, and holds question and answer sessions with the audience. These Mahasathsangs are also used as platforms to encourage tree-planting activities as well.[30] He also takes spiritual aspirants on annual yatras to Mount Kailash and the Himalayas. The Kailash Yatra led by him is among the largest groups to make the trip to Kailash, with 514 pilgrims attending the journey in 2010.[31][32]

Jaggi Vasudev organises all-night Mahashivarathri celebrations every year at the Isha Yoga Center. It's estimated that these celebrations were attended by as many as 800,000 people in 2013.[33][34][35] The night includes music, dance, and guided meditation. In 2013, performers included Carnatic singer Aruna Sairam, dancer Anita Ratnam, and the band The Raghu Dixit Project.[35]

In March 2005, construction of the Isha Institute of Inner-sciences (III) in McMinnville, Tennessee, USA was begun and was completed 6 months later. Jaggi Vasudev had decided to establish III as a Center for spiritual growth in the Western Hemisphere. On 7 November 2008, he consecrated the Mahima Hall, a 39,000 square foot, free-standing meditation hall at the III. Mahima Hall is the largest meditation hall in the Western Hemisphere.[36] On 30 January 2010, he consecrated the Linga Bhairavi, a representation of the feminine aspects of the divine at the Isha Yoga Center.[9]

Isha Foundation[edit]

Saplings being readied for transportation at a PGH nursery.

Jaggi Vasudev established the Isha Foundation, a non religious, non-profit organisation entirely run by volunteers. Isha Yoga Center near Coimbatore was founded in 1993, and hosts a series of programs to heighten self-awareness through Yoga. The foundation works in tandem with International bodies like the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.[37]

Action for Rural Rejuvenation[edit]

Action for Rural Rejuvenation (ARR) is an initiative of the Isha Foundation that aims to improve the overall health and quality of life of the rural poor. ARR was established in 2003 and seeks to benefit 70 million people in 54,000 villages across South India. As of 2010, ARR has reached over 4,200 villages and a population of over 7 million people.[38][39] He has also been involved with agricultural and farmers' associations to work towards resolving issues faced by Indian farmers.[40]

Isha Vidhya[edit]

Isha Vidhya, is Isha Foundation's educational initiative, which aims to raise the level of education and improve literacy in rural India. There are seven schools in operation which educate around 7,000 students.[41] The foundation has also "adopted" 512 government schools to reach out to students from financially constrained backgrounds, and aims to adopt up to 3,000 schools.[42][43]

In 2006, the Foundation entered the Guinness Book of World Records by planting 8,52,587 saplings in 6,284 locations across Tamil Nadu in one day.[44]

Project GreenHands[edit]

He is also the founder of Project GreenHands (PGH), a grassroots ecological initiative which was awarded the Indira Gandhi Paryavaran Puraskar, by the Government of India in June 2010.[45] PGH aims to increase the green cover in Tamil Nadu by 10% and has successfully overseen the planting of more than 27 million trees by over 2 million volunteers.[46] In an interview with National Geographic Green magazine, he explained the impetus which led him to establish Project GreenHands: "In the year 1998, certain experts [...] made a prediction, by 2025, 60% of Tamil Nadu will be a desert. [...] I decided to drive across Tamil Nadu and see for myself if this is true. [...] I realized they were completely wrong because it wouldn't go to 2025, it would happen much faster according to me. [...] So from '98 to 2003, 2004, I went about planting trees in people's minds. And since 2004, we [have been] transplanting those trees back to the ground."[47]

Rally for Rivers[edit]

Rally for Rivers was a campaign launched by the Isha Foundation in 2017 to revive the dying rivers of India[48]. At the start of the campaign from Isha Yoga Centre on 3rd September 2017, Sadhguru addressed a gathering of more than 10,000 people and said that water is one of the most fundamental requirements for life[49]. Jaggi Vasudev led a convoy across sixteen of the most affected states throughout September to spread awareness among citizens about the condition of rivers and the need for a long-term policy[49][50], which contains afforestation of river banks as a major point[51][52]. Garnering support from citizens was aimed at motivating the Central and State governments of India to work in concurrence and set a national policy for protecting rivers[53][54]. A policy document[55], drafted by the Isha Foundation in collaboration with scientists and lawmakers[56][57], contained steps for rejuvenating the ecology, agriculture and economy in the rivers and their basins[53][52]. The rally culminated in New Delhi on 2nd October 2017 in the presence of the Vice-President of India[58] Mr.Muppavarapu Venkaiah Naidu. Jaggi Vasudev submitted the draft policy recommendation to the Prime Minister of India the next day[59].

TVS Motor Company gave a Mercedes AMG G63 SUV[60] while Anand Mahindra gave twenty Mahindra XUV500 SUVs[61], for thirty days as a sign of support for the rally.[53][56] The environmental impact of 33 tonnes[62][63] carbon dioxide emission from the vehicles over the month-long rally, although insignificant in comparison with India's 2003-2004 monthly road-transport emission of 20.3 million tonnes[56], had faced criticism[62][64]. The criticism has been countered by Sadhguru in an interview[65], where he says,

"The vehicle I am driving - is it legal? It is? Mercedes openly advertises it. It is a legal vehicle cleared by Government of India. It is Euro 5 emission standard, it is the highest emission standard on the planet. If I have broken the law, ban the vehicle. I will drop it here and take something else and drive".

Subsequently, Isha Foundation stated that the total carbon dioxide emission from the rally will be cleared out by 2,500 trees over the one month rally period[63], as opposed to earlier criticism that it will take eight lakh trees to reverse the damage[62].

Participation in global and economic forums[edit]

KV Kamath, who was present at the Isha Insight program.

Jaggi Vasudev spoke at the United Nations Millennium World Peace Summit in 2000,[66] the World Economic Forum in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.[67][68]On 24 June 2013, he conducted a multi-religious session titled, "Interfaith Deliberations on the Universality of Religions" at the Isha Yoga Center, which was attended by representatives of various religions, and coincided with the fourteenth anniversary celebrations of the Dhyanalinga.[69][70]

In 2012, he was voted among the hundred most powerful Indians for his contribution in the field of environmental protection and for encouraging public participation in ecological issues.[71] He was also a participant in the 2006 documentary film ONE: The Movie. He has been involved in one-on-one interactions as part of the "In Conversations With the Mystic."[72]

In 2012, he initiated the Isha Insight program, which focuses on helping small and medium businesses scale up their business activities. The program was conducted by Ram Charan with KV Kamath, Grandhi Mallikarjuna Rao, Shankar Annaswamy, Vellayan Subbiah and Pramod Chaudhari also active in the program.[73] In an interview with Forbes magazine, speaking about the motivation behind setting up the program, he said, "While speaking at economic summits and to leaders in India and outside, I have noticed that the most serious issue people have is a lack of insight into what they are doing, or what they could do. That's how we ended up creating this programme called Insight."[74]


Controversy[edit]

Death of his wife[edit]

Vijji, Jaggi Vasudev's wife, died on 23 January 1997, during the period of the Dhyanalinga consecration. In his book "Mystic's Musings", he says that this was an example of Mahasamadhi, where a person attains moksha. That particular day, according to him, was an auspicious day for such an event.

On January 23rd, this cluster of planets centered on the first degree of Aquarius, joined by the Sun with the Full Moon opposite them all. This pattern may also be seen as a symbolic representation of the long heralded 'dawning of the Age of Aquarius'. It is also the thaipoosam, a day that many sages of the past had chosen for their own Mahasamadhi.[75]

Vijji was intimately involved in the process. Jaggi Vasudev says,

Vijji had decided that once the linga was complete, she would leave her body. She announced that she would leave on a particular full moon day, and she started working towards that. I tried to talk to her, “It’s not necessary now, wait for some time.” But she said, “Right now, my life is perfect, inside of me and outside of me. This is the time for me. I don’t know if another time like this will come for me.[76]

A controversy broke out 8 months later when a complaint was filed with the police regarding the death.[9] Allegations made included murder and dowry harassment, according to the book "Jaggi Vasudev - More Than a Life", which also states that some Tamil media outlets also made accusations. The book also states that these complaints were withdrawn in a short while. Besides the book "More Than a Life", this episode is briefly chronicled in an interview Jaggi Vasudev gave to Tehelka magazine, where he says,

“Is an FIR filed? No. Have they arrested me? No. Have they interrogated me? No,” he responds. “Why would they not arrest me if there was some substance?” He says a case was filed eight months after his wife died, and the media went ballistic because a powerful banker who disliked him funded the campaign. According to him, despite this and the resulting political pressure, the DSP refused to arrest him because there was no case — they’d spoken to people at the ashram. He adds that she’d announced to many that she was planning to leave her body and there were witnesses when it happened. What surprised him was that she left a month before her announced date.[77]

Adiyogi Statue[edit]

Jaggi Vasudev designed the 112-foot statue of Adiyogi, which is located at the Isha Yoga Center. The statue depicts the first yogi. It was inaugurated on Mahashivaratri, 24 February 2017, by the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi.[78] 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 Isha Foundation using 20,000 individual iron plates supplied by Steel Authority of India[79] and weighs around 500 tonnes (490 long tons; 550 short tons). The Adiyogi Shiva Statue has been recognized as the "Largest Bust Sculpture" by Guinness World Records.[80] A consecrated Shivalinga called "Yogeshwar Linga" is placed in front of the Adiyogi Shiva statue.[81]

Jaggi Vasudev notes that the statue is for inspiring people to take up yoga. The Ministry of Tourism, Government of India has included the consecration of the statue in its official Incredible India campaign as a destination.[82]

The construction of the statue drew criticism from various environmental groups and local tribal bodies for being carried out without required permissions on environmentally fragile wetlands. The matter has been in the courts since 2012 without a clear verdict so far[83][84]. But Isha Foundation denied all the allegations[85][86] and said[83]:

“Isha Foundation has not grabbed any forest land as was being alleged. Forest officials have surveyed the area and inspected the entire area. They are in the process of submitting a report to the Madras high court, clearly stating this. The forest officials are also pointing out to the presence of fruit bearing trees, some over 30 years old, in the region to prove that it was not forest land, but agricultural land"

Sadhguru has "dismissed" the allegations in an interview with CNN-News18[87].

Publications[edit]

Jaggi Vasudev is the author of several books, including Inner Engineering: A Yogi's Guide to Joy which became best seller of The Washington Post and the New York Times. The book tour in North America included 17 cities, and the launch events were attended by an estimated 26,000 people.[88][89] The Huffington Post review describes the books as "full of practical tools to begin one's self-transformation journey."[90]

English[edit]

Tamil[edit]

Hindi[edit]

Kannada[edit]

Telugu[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  91. ^ "Adiyogi: The Source of Yoga" by Jaggi Vasudev, Harper Elements

External links[edit]