Saturday, August 21, 2010


That's how I feel about yoga retreats, certain favorite foods, and, of course, the demise of relationships.

It's also how I feel about finishing the book Guruji: A Portrait of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois Through the Eyes of His Students

Now that I've finished the book - which brought Pattabhi Jois back to full, vibrant life for a few weeks - it begins to sink in that his most recent incarnation really has expired.

Of course his teachings stay with me. And I treasure the memories from the five times I studied with him in India, and the six times I studied with him in America (including the last time he taught, in 2008).

But now it feels like he (or his body) really is gone.

Kind of like when you go through your mother's things after she passes; it seems like she's still alive, and may still need them, and you want to talk to her about them.

And then you realize she's not around anymore, and feel rather morose.

* * *

Some things I took away from the book:

-Guruji gave mantra and taught meditation to a handful of students. From what I gleaned, it seems that he gave it to those who were ready/receptive. It seems there weren't very many of them.

-With the exception of Lino (who comes across as a non-native speaker of English and has some GREAT stories that weren't included [such as how/when he realized SKPJ was his guru]), my favorite interviews were with the students who had a devotional nature and "got" what Guruji was doing, using the postures as the vehicle. They seemed to understand things at a higher level, and were able to convey that in the interviews. (NOTE: These were not necessarily the most charismatic or interesting story-tellers).

-From the interviews, it seems that Guruji let people do second series if they were proficient in primary series and could do Supta Kurmasana. It seems that Sharath instituted the stand-up-from-backbend-first rule (which never made a lot of sense to me, since there is very little in primary series to prepare one to do it).

-Of course all of this could be BS. Some of the interviewees contradict themselves - often in the same paragraph. Others tell that which is not true. So, the interviews must be viewed with discrimination.

-What stands out is that Pattabhi Jois was a great Guru. And like all great teachers, what he taught was simple but profound ("Yoga is 99 percent practice, one percent theory." "Do your practice and all is coming." "Think God. Be God."). And he gave each student exactly what they needed - whether they liked it or not. Like all yogis, he was like in pleasure and in pain, in heat and in cold, and with good students and disrespectful ones (like the woman who entered his home during a coffee break and demanded he and Sharath come back to the shala and adjust people); and regarded equally a clod of dirt, a stone, and a piece of gold (actually, he probably preferred the gold - but was not attached to it). May we all live up to his example.

Photo (c) 2004 by Bindi


  1. <<"Some of the interviewees contradict themselves - often in the same paragraph." >>

    Thanks for saying this. When I noted the 'contriadiction', I thought I was missing their point.

    Also, great picture by Bindi.

    Ralph from DeKalb

  2. Ok, you got me, couldn't wait any longer and just ordered the book.
    So he taught mantra meditation, that's what Ramaswami teaches. Interesting. I've been practicing it for the last two months, pretty much on faith (was used to Vipassana), it's only in the last week or so it's started to make sense.

  3. I don't know that he taught mantra meditation. A couple of the people said he gave mantra (usually considered a formal initiation into Guru-disciple relationship) and taught meditation.

  4. The picture is great. You both are so beautiful.

    What I experience is that P. Jois lived a most passionate life. He loved what he did. He loved to teach.

    I feel it, I have missed him.
    I have discovered this wonderful practice and I'm thankful for it.


  5. Ursula,
    You are exactly right. He had a passion for it, and would have done it with the same amount of dedication whether there were two students or 200. It's what he HAD to do.