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History of Yoga Korunta (Ashtanga Yoga)

Travelling in the North of India to spread the science of Yoga for the treatment of various ailments, Sri T. Krishnamacharya – thanks to the patronage of the Maharajah of Mysore (well known for his philanthropy and spiritual faith) – discovered by chance, in the 1930s, in the university Library of Calcutta, an ancient manuscript written on palm leaves and entitled “Yoga Korunta”. The author, a sage of ancient times, called himself “Vanama”. Composed between 500 and 1500 BC, the document was excellently preserved. Also a specialist in ancient Sanskrit, Sri T. Krishnamacharya understood from the turn of certain phrases that it was part of a much older oral tradition (between 3000 and 4000 years BC).

Sri T. Krishnamacharya

Sri T. Krishnamacharya

Following this discovery, Sri T. Krishnamacharya, who taught a different method of yoga, altered his teaching for the third time. He asked Sri K. Pattabhi Jois to devote himself exclusively to this method of original Yoga, called Yoga Korunta, and to pass it on.

From 1937 onwards, Pattabhi taught Yoga Korunta in Mysore, India.

Only in the late 1960s, André Van Lysebeth, the first teacher of European yoga, spends three months to study Yoga in India with Pattabhi.

André speaks of him and the quality of his training and popularizes him by publishing laudatory articles in the paper « YOGA » which he edits.

La "REVUE YOGA"

La “REVUE YOGA”

Around 1973, Americans participate in the demonstration of yoga by Manju (Pattabhi’s son) in the ashram of Gitānanda (near Pondicherry). Thus Norman Allen became a pupil of Pattabhi or Guruji, as his disciples call him, later Nancy Gilgoff and David Williams came.

Pattabhi chose to use the term “Ashtanga” for his school in reference to one of the six points of view of orthodox Indian philosophy, i.e. Yoga. The other points of view are: Nyāya, Vaisheshika, Sāṃkhya, Mîmâmsâ, Vedānta.

The bible of Yoga, written by Patañjali, is “The Yoga Sūtra” (a kind of synthesis of all the preceding knowledge).

In the second chapter of this book, at verse (YS II-29) the foundations of the practice of yoga are being explained, the definition of which is “aṣṭāṅga yoga”. Thus, all the spiritual techniques referring to this book can be called aṣṭāṅga yoga.

This way the name of “Yoga Korunta” was changed to “Ashtanga Yoga”. Actually, the institute of Pattabhi was called “Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute of Mysore”, which made the American students think that he taught a kind of Yoga called “Ashtanga Yoga”.

In 1975, Nancy Gilgoff and David Williams invited Guruji and his son Manju, who thus set off on their first voyage to America in order to teach yoga. Manju stayed in the United States. This practice of Yoga spread rapidly throughout America from California, extending up to Hawaii, under the name of Ashtanga Yoga.

Les livrets de JB Rishi sur l'Ashtanga Yoga

In Europe, the first teachers to spread this method were called Jean-Pierre Radhu (Belgium), Gabriel Plessis (Paris, Rouen – 1972). With the permission of Guruji, Jean Bernard Rishi in Paris (France 1975) published leaflets on the sun salutations of Mysore and the standing postures (photos of Pattabhi in black and white). Having taught Ashtanga Yoga for several years, they all changed their methods of different reasons. Later, Jean Claude Garnier (France, Belgium – 1978) and Serge Fonteneau (France, Château Renauld) embraced the teachings of Pattabhi and have made it their business to disseminate them.

Today, this traditional form of Yoga, mainly known under the name of Ashtanga Yoga, is one of the most practiced worldwide.

Sharath Rangaswamy, the grandson of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, teaches the Ashtanga Yoga he has learnt from his grandfather.

 

For further reading :

  • Yoga Mala – Sri K. Pattabhi Jois (paperback)
  • Ashtanga Yoga – John Scott (Le courrier du livre).
  • Ashtanga Yoga – Le Guide Pratique: Un Guide Illustré Destiné à une Pratique Personnelle, Première et Deuxième… de David Swenson

Sri K. Pattabhi Jois has learned, developed, and taught others Ashtanga Yoga

Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, was born on July 26, 1915, a day of the full moon, in a small village near Somnathpur in Karnataka in South India. He died on May 18, 2009, at the age of 94.

His father, Krishna Pattabhi Jois, was a well-known astrologer in the service of the Maharajah of Mysore.

After his primary and secondary schooling in 1930 he began studying Sanskrit and Vedic philosophy at the Maharaja Sanskrit College in Mysore. In 1937, he graduated, he immediately went into teaching Sanskrit at the University of Mysore and continued until 1973. He spent another three years teaching at the Ayur Vedic College, and he then retired.

He began studying Yoga in 1927, when he was 12 years old. He then lived with his parents in a small village near Hassan “Kowshek” (Karnataka). During the first three years, he undertook a journey back and forth every day to visit his Guru Sri T. Krishnamacharya, who lived in Mysore at that time (a distance of some 35 km). He received the teaching of his master for 25 years (from 1927 to 1952). Krishnamacharya asked him to transmit a method of original Yoga, called Yoga Korunta (known today as Ashtanga Yoga). Sri K. Pattabhi Jois taught Yoga in India from 1937, then later in the U.S.A and Europe. He received students from around the world to study this wonderful method of Yoga.

He was the founder-director of the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute in Mysore in 1942. In 1946, he founded the Institute for Research on Ashtanga Yoga, where he experimented and developed the healing powers of Yoga. He was appointed Honorary Professor of Yoga at the Indian Government Medical College in Mysore, from 1976 to 1978.

Shri K. Pattabhi Jois was married with the delicious Savitramma, known as her diminutive Amma). She left us far too early in December 1997. She always wore a smile, offered comfort or had a blessing on her lips and she prepared an absolutely delicious coffee.

What is less well known is that she had also studied and practiced Yoga and sacred Shri T. Krishnamacharya texts. This is where she met Guruji. She was 14 when she was married, a marriage of love which was very rare at the time. They had three children, two boys and a girl (their eldest son Ramesh died in an accident on the Kaveri dam).

Manju Jois

Manju Jois

Manju, their son, teaches Yoga at Emanitas in California – U.S.A. Saraswati, their daughter still lives in Mysore, she is married to a professor and also teaches yoga.

andrevanlysebeth

In 1964, André Van Lysbeth, the first European, came to study the Korunta Yoga at the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute in Mysore with Guruji. André spoke about him and made him known through an article he published in the early review of the time “YOGA”, which he edited.

Around 1972, Sri Pattabhi Jois received the first Americans after the “meeting” with Manju at the Gitananda ashram near Pondicherry (160 km south of Madras). The practice of Ashtanga Yoga spread in America from California, and extended later to Hawaii. In 1975, Guruji and Manju on their first tour spread the word about the practice of yoga. Since then, the practice of Ashtanga Yoga has spread worldwide.

 

Guruji passed on to the other side of existence on 18 May 2009 at 2:30pm in the afternoon (local Mysore time).   Guruji had taught continuously for 63 years this wonderful method that he had learned from his Guru Sri T. Krishnamacharya in 1927.

Chidambaram flowers

Om Loka Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti Om (Om, may all beings achieve peace and harmony, Om Shanti).

 

Today, his grandson Sharath Rangaswamy, the son of Sarasvati, is Director of the Institute. He was born in 1971. He is transmitting the Ashtanga Yoga he learned from his grandfather. Sharath is married to Shruthi and he is the happy father of two children, a charming little girl called Shradda (Dedication), and a son Sambhav (connected to the being or Manifestation of being).

 

The new Yoga course room “Yogashala” can be found :

  • Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute
235, 8th Cross
2nd Main, 3rd Stage
Gokulam, Mysore 570 002
Karnataka, India