Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Guruji and Ashtanga, NY

Above is a link to a wonderful documentary entitled Ashtanga, NY.  It is also available to "watch instantly" on Netflix, or to purchase for your own video library through various sellers, such as here.  It is an incredible video and one well worth watching over and over and thinking about carefully.

The video documents a remarkable teaching visit to New York in September of 2001 from Ashtanga yoga guru Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, respectfully and affectionately known as Guruji by his followers and the world.  He was born on July 26, 1911 and taught yoga uninterruptedly for seventy years, until the age of 91.  More of his story can be found in the book Guruji by two of his longtime students, Eddie Stern and Guy Donahaye.

Watching the documentary gives a powerful lesson in some of the concepts articulated in previous posts, including the most recent previous post.  The force of Guruji's personality, and his benevolent but rigorous teaching style, is powerfully conveyed through the film.  The impact of the yoga on the lives of the practitioners is equally tangible.

Just as powerful as the impact of the yoga, however, is the impact of the chanting of Vedas in the documentary.  Previous posts have explored the vital importance of chanting, including:
If you have not yet watched the documentary, you may want to read those over first and then watch it for the first time.

In above-mentioned book on Guruji by his students, in the preface by Guy Donahaye, we learn that Guruji was a learned student of the Vedas throughout his life, and that "his father was an astrologer and a priest who educated him in traditional Smarta Brahmin ways, in the language of Sanskrit, and in the art of chanting the Vedas" (xvii).

One of the teachings conveyed during the documentary Ashtanga, NY is that one is never too old to begin to practice Ashtanga.  By extension, this can be taken to mean that it is also never too late to begin the study of the other aspects of ancient wisdom that Guruji passed along to his students, such as the practice of the language of Sanskrit, and the art of chanting the Vedas.