Swami Satchidananda in Switzerland in 1987
|Nationality||Indian, then American citizenship in 1976, granted to him as "Minister of Divine Words"|
|Born||C. K. Ramaswamy Gounder
22 December 1914
Chettipalayam, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, British India
|Died||19 August 2002
Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
|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 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 later wrote a book called The Healthy Vegetarian. After study at agricultural college, he worked in a family business which imported motorcycles. At 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 the 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, Satchidananda, or Sat-cit-ānanda (Sanskrit: सच्चिदानंद) is a compound of three Sanskrit words, Sat (सत्), Cit (चित्), and Ānanda (आनंद) (the ā is of longer vocal length), 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. Satcidānanda 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 (Satchidananda) 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
- 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
- Scott Shaw
- Paul Winter
- Sri Swami Satchidananda, The Healthy Vegetarian, Integral Yoga Publications, third edition, 1994, p. 115.
- Martin, Douglas (August 21, 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
- "The Fahey Files - John Fahey - Notes on the Songs -Fare Forward Voyagers". www.johnfahey.com. Retrieved 2018-06-04.
- Martin, Douglas (2002-08-21). "Swami Satchidananda, Woodstock's Guru, Dies at 87". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-06-04.
- WOO, ELAINE (2002-08-25). "Swami Satchidananda, 87; Yoga Master and Guru Preached and Practiced a Life of Spiritual Unity". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2018-06-04.