I’m working on the book review for Guruji: A Portrait of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois Through the Eyes of His Students. I cannot put it down. It has gotten me excited about the practice again, and about all of the possibilities of yoga. And it makes me even more grateful for my time with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. I cannot possibly give it a higher recommendation.
That said, I did find a couple of small factual errors. They are not the fault of the editors, but are contained within the context of the interviews. Here they are, with corrections:
One interviewee (DW) says that one of Guruji’s first foreign students was Indra Devi in the 1930s. If I’m not mistaken, she was Sri Krishnamacharya’s student.
Someone else mentions that Sri Ramakrishna was a drunk. That is not correct. From what I understand, Sri Ramakrishna was a saint who often went into a state of Samadhi. One of his favorite disciples, the great Bengali dramatist Girish Ghosh, would often visit him while drunk, and/or drink in his presence. This would often put Sri Ramakrishna into an ecstatic state, and he would begin to dance and mimic Girish's actions. Read more about the fascinating story of Sri Ramakrishna and Girish Ghosh here.
One of my favorite interviewees is French student Brigitte Deroses – one of a handful in the book who seems to believe that Samadhi or self-realization is possible for us, in this very lifetime (I was actually chided at a workshop with a famous American Ashtanga teacher for suggesting that concentration leads to meditation, which leads to Samadhi – the ultimate goal. [The way I learned it, concentration equals 12 seconds of focusing on a single object; 12 concentrations equal one meditation; and 12 meditations equal Samadhi]. Apparently I got it wrong, and was corrected: concentration makes it possible to direct our single-pointed attention wherever we need it in our lives. Period).
Anyway, here is the quote from Brigitte, who seems to have a wonderfully devotional nature:
“I would like to say that Guruji has completely changed my life. He brought peace into my life when, at the time I met him, It was total chaos because I had a sick child and I thought life was just not possible. Now nothing has changed, my daughter is still sick and there are many difficulties and I bear it not without difficulty, but not as a burden. He took away the burden from me, he took away something that was heavy, that was weighing on me, and he made me light again. I thank him every day.”
I agree wholeheartedly; since starting ashtanga in 1997, I have not put my fist through a wall or window or windshield or kicked down a door. Not once.
And I used to do it all the time.
And then, once I learned about the rules of karma and reincarnation from Sri Dharma Mittra and really started to believe them, I stopped feeling like I had been singled out for abuse my whole life. I felt like there was a reason for everything that had happened to me - and I stopped taking it personally. A huge weight was lifted, and the anger really began to go. The amount of relief I felt is indescribable (although I have to keep reminding myself about these rules over and over again; as Dharma says, "The secret to success in yoga is constant practice." Or, as Pattabhi Jois says, "Do your practice and all is coming." In other words, you can't just stop and slack off - or it all goes to hell again. You have to keep at it, every day).
So.....How has yoga changed *your* life?