Swami Satchidananda in Switzerland in 1987
C. K. Ramaswamy Gounder
22 December 1914
|Died||19 August 2002 (aged 87)|
Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
|Nationality||Indian, then American citizenship in 1976, granted to him as "Minister of Divine Words"|
|Honors||U Thant Peace Award, B'nai B'rith Antidefamation League Award and many more.|
Satchidananda Saraswati (22 December 1914 – 19 August 2002), born as C. K. Ramaswamy Gounder and known as Swami Satchidananda, was an Indian religious teacher, spiritual master and yoga adept, who gained fame and following in the West. He was the author of philosophical and spiritual books. He had a core of founding disciples who compiled and requested of Satchidananda Saraswati updated traditional handbooks of yoga such as the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and the Bhagavad Gita for modern readers.
The international school Satchidananda Jothi Niketan is located in Mettupalyam, Tamil Nadu.
Satchidananda was born in a Kongu Vellalar family in 1914 in Chettipalayam, a small village in Coimbatore, near Podanur in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, and was named C. K. Ramaswamy Gounder. His parents affectionately called him Ramu. He was Perur Temple manager early in his life.
He remained a vegetarian all his life, and wrote a book called The Healthy Vegetarian. After study at agricultural college, he worked in a family business which imported motorcycles. At the age of 23 he became a manager at India's National Electric Works. He married and had two sons. He briefly served with the Indian defense forces and is a WW2 veteran who saw combat. His wife died five years after their marriage. Ramaswamy's children remained with his mother Sri Vellamai, and he embarked on the life of an ascetic yogi, for many years practising and mastering classical yoga. Apostle of Peace, his later biography, includes many details updated in the 1990s.
After the sudden death of his wife, Ramaswamy travelled throughout India, meditating at holy shrines and studying with revered spiritual teachers. For years, Ramaswamy searched for real sages, saints, and spiritual masters. Eventually, he was initiated into pre-sannyasa in the Ramakrishna Thapovanam and given the name Sambasiva Chaitanya. While at the ashram, his job was to care for orphaned young boys. During this period, he also studied along with the renowned Ramana Maharshi. He eventually left the ashram when he could not bear the suffering of Sri Ramana's arm cancer and treatment procedures. Ramana Maharshi died shortly after his departure. He then travelled to Rishikesh, a holy town in the foothills of the Himalayas, located on the banks of the Ganges River. There, he discovered his guru, Sivananda Saraswati, founder of the Divine Life Society and a former physician, who ordained him into the holy order of sannyasa in 1949 and gave him the name Satchidananda Saraswati.
The name Saccidānanda or Satchidananda (Sanskrit: सच्चिदानंद) is a compound of three Sanskrit words, Sat (सत्), Cit (चित्), and Ānanda (आनंद), meaning essence, consciousness, and bliss, respectively. The expression is used in yoga and other schools of Indian philosophy to describe the nature of Brahman as experienced by a fully liberated yogi. Saccidānanda may be understood as the energetic state of non-duality, a manifestation of our spiritually natural, primordial, and authentic state which is comparable in quality to that of deity.
During the late 1950s and into the 1960s, Satchidananda headed (jointly with another Sivananda disciple, Satchidananda Saraswati Mataji) the Kandy Thapovanam, one of Sivananda's ashrams situated in the hill country of Sri Lanka. Here, Satchidananda taught yoga, conceived and implemented innovative interfaith approaches to traditional Hindu festivals and modernised the ancient mode of living that renunciates had followed for many years. For instance, Satchidanda drove a car (to teach throughout Sri Lanka), wore a watch (to be on time), and actively engaged the questions of seekers. These modernisations were ridiculed by certain individuals in the orthodoxy but he felt them to be necessary natural extensions and serving tools for betterment in his spiritual yogic work.
Time in America
After serving his guru for many years, in 1966 he visited New York City at the request of the artist Peter Max. Soon after his initial visit Satchidananda formally moved to the United States, and eventually became a citizen. From his new home he spread his teachings of yoga, selfless service, ecumenism and enlightenment.
Satchidananda came to public attention as the opening speaker at the Woodstock music arts and peace festival in 1969, after he was called in as an emergency measure. Over the years he wrote numerous books and gave hundreds of lectures. He also ordained a number of western disciples into the order of sannyasa. He was the founder of the Integral Yoga Institute and Yogaville in America, and Spiritual Guru of major Hollywood actors and western musicians. In 1986 he opened the Light of Truth Universal Shrine (LOTUS) at Yogaville in Buckingham County, Virginia.
On 19 August 2002, Satchidananda Saraswati died after speaking at a peace conference in Chennai. His funeral took place in Buckingham, Virginia on 22 August at Chidambaram, a designated shrine for contemplation facing the ecumenical shrine to the Light, LOTUS (LOTUS.org) which Satchidananda Saraswati considered the most important part of all his life's work: A place to honour the universality of all faiths, through the symbol of light which is shared by all cultures in the world.
Integral Yoga origins
Satchidananda characterised Integral Yoga as "...a flexible combination of specific methods to develop every aspect of the individual: physical, intellectual, and spiritual. It is a scientific system which integrates the various branches of Yoga to bring about a complete and harmonious development of the entire person.
Integral Yoga was trademarked to keep the teachings consistent as the popularity of yoga increased exponentially in the West and to have duly trained instructors imparting the teachings of the Satchidananda Saraswati lineage. Sivananda Saraswati, the Master of Satchidananda Saraswati, was founder of the global Divine Life Society and known worldwide as Sri Swami Sivananda Saraswati: a trained physician who wrote books on all aspects of yoga in English for the first time in history, thereby paving the way for a modern Western audience and the current vigorous practice of yoga around the world.
Integral Yoga believes:
The goal and the birthright of all individuals is to realize the spiritual unity behind the diversity throughout creation and to live harmoniously as members of "one universal family". This goal is achieved by the maintaining of our natural condition as:
- a body of optimal health and strength,
- senses under total control,
- a mind well disciplined, clear, and calm,
- an intellect as sharp as a razor,
- a will as strong and pliable as steel,
- a heart full of unconditional love and compassion,
- an ego as pure as crystal, and
- a life filled with supreme peace, joy and bliss.
- Alice Coltrane, who titled her 1971 album Journey in Satchidananda
- Rivers Cuomo
- Laura Dern
- John Fahey, who dedicated his 1973 album Fare Forward Voyagers (Soldier's Choice) to "my guru, Swami Satchidananda." Fahey later said that "Probably the primary reason I got involved with them was that I fell in love with Swami Satchidananda's secretary Shanti Norris. So I was doing benefits for them, hoping to score points with her, and along the way I learned a lot of hatha yoga."
- Jeff Goldblum
- Carole King, who donated 600 acres of land to the Yogaville ashram.
- Sally Kirkland
- Diane Ladd
- Peter Max
- Dean Ornish
- Scott Shaw
- Paul Winter
- Paul Horn
- Gerald Blitz, founder of Club Med
- Sri Swami Satchidananda, The Healthy Vegetarian, Integral Yoga Publications, third edition, 1994, p. 115.
- Martin, Douglas (21 August 2002). "Swami Satchidananda, Woodstock's Guru, Dies at 87". New York Times.
- Swami Satchidananda: His Biography, Straight Arrow Books, First Edition, 1970.
- Attendance at Woodstock Archived 23 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine
- Martin, Douglas (21 August 2002). "Swami Satchidananda, Woodstock's Guru, Dies at 87". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 May 2016.
- Trademark history 1
- Trademark history 2
- Livingstone, Josephine (3 February 2019). "Alice Coltrane | Journey in Satchidananda". Pitchforlk. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
- Grigoriadis, Vanessa. "Rivers Cuomo: Weezer's Invisible Man". RollingStone. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
his childhood, which was spent on ashrams – first at the Zen Center in upstate New York and, after his father left the family when he was five (he eventually settled in Germany for a while as a suffragan bishop in a Pentecostal church), at “Woodstock guru” Swami Satchidananda’s Yogaville commune in Connecticut. Everyone was a vegetarian, and no one raised his voice or cursed. Cuomo didn’t like it much.
- Woo, Elaine (25 August 2002). "Swami Satchidananda, 87; Yoga Master and Guru Preached and Practiced a Life of Spiritual Unity". Los Angeles Times.
Among his disciples are singer-composer Carole King, who donated 600 acres to his Virginia ashram; jazz pianist Alice Coltrane; and actresses Diane Ladd, Laura Dern and Sally Kirkland. Another adherent is Dr. Dean Ornish, the best-selling author,
- "The Fahey Files - John Fahey - Notes on the Songs -Fare Forward Voyagers". www.johnfahey.com. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
- Martin, Douglas (21 August 2002). "Swami Satchidananda, Woodstock's Guru, Dies at 87". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
- Baker, Donald P. (21 July 1986). "Swami Dedicates $2 Million Temple in Va". The Washington Post.
Among well-known devotees who participated in the weekend dedication were pop artist Peter Max, who has illustrated several of the swami's books, composer-singer Carole King, jazz musicians Paul Winter and Paul Horn, and Gerald Blitz, founder of the Club Med resorts.
- "Love Yoga? Thank Peter Max". Park West Gallery. 29 March 2017. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
- Kolata, Gina. "SCIENTIST AT WORK: Dean Ornish; A Promoter of Programs To Foster Heart Health". Retrieved 21 August 2018.
- "Be Positive". Scott Shaw. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
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