Chennai’s connection to a US $3B “business”
yogena chittasya padena vAchAM |
malaM sharIrasya cha vaidyakena ||
yoapAkarottaM pravaraM munInAM |
patanjaliM prAnjalirAnatoasmi ||
I bow to the sage Patanjali, who cured the imperfections of the mind through yoga,
the imperfections of speech through grammar and the imperfections of the body through medicine.
This is the prayer that is chanted at the beginning of Yoga classes the world over. It was composed by the famous Sanskrit poet Bhartruhari in praise of Sage Patanjali who codified Ashtanga Yoga (the eight-fold path of Yoga) and made it simple for common folks to practise and benefit therefrom. What has been practised for thousands of years as a physical exercise at the base level and as a life philosophy at the highest level, has not only spread its tentacles far and wide, but true to western orientation towards creating a market for anything under the sun, has also been made into a $3B commercial industry in the US for products and services, with patents and IP to boot.
So, what is Chennai’s connection to this $3B industry? On some flight among the numerous in a month coming into Madras, it is likely that there is at least one non-Indian, who may be making what he/she may characterize as a personal spiritual journey or an exploratory trip to get cured of some physical or mental condition thru Yoga and the place they are headed to in all probability is this. The man who was the source of inspiration for the institution started by his son and who lived to a full 100 years was the famous T. Krishnamacharya, who, while having never set foot outside India himself, yet made waves abroad indirectly thru his nephew B.K.S. Iyengar, whose Iyengar School of Yoga is well-known.
Krishnamacharya’s son, T.K.V. Desikachar, who is himself a popular proponent of Yoga, continues the tradition of his father in taking the holistic message of Yoga to the masses. Yoga and its principles as well as practices don’t belong to any one to claim as their own and hopefully the Indian government will prevail on this issue. Yoga is also universal and is neither restricted in its practice to any class of people nor makes it requisite to belong to a particular faith, while bestowing its benefits equally to anyone practising it diligently. However it needs a good teacher to begin with and is best practised under expert guidance initially. To think that such a Guru lived in this part of the world and left behind his legacy in the form of a world-famous institution devoted to Yoga, right in the heart of this wonderful city, is a source of great pride to every true Chennai-lover.