A Short History of Yoga
A SHORT HISTORY OF YOGA
Reprinted with permission (source)
HISTORY FOR YOGINS AND YOGINIS
In Yoga, theory and practice, as well as left brain and right brain, go
hand in hand so to speak. Study (svâdhyâya) is in fact an important
aspect of many branches and schools of Yoga. This is another way in
which Yoga’s balanced approach shows itself.
If you want to know where something is going, it is good to know where
it came from. “To be ignorant of what happened before one was born,”
said Cicero pointedly in his Orator, “is to remain ever a child.”
History provides context and meaning, and Yoga is no exception to this
rule. If you are fond of history, you’ll enjoy what follows. Many of the
facts and ideas presented here have not yet found their way into the
textbooks or even into most Yoga books. We put you in touch with the
leading edge of knowledge in this area. If you are not a history buff,
well, perhaps we can tempt you to suspend your preferences for a few
minutes and read on anyway.
THE ORIGIN OF YOGA
Despite more than a century of research, we still don’t know much about
the earliest beginnings of Yoga. We do know, though, that it originated
in India 5,000 or more years ago. Until recently, many Western scholars
thought that Yoga originated much later, maybe around 500 B.C., which is
the time of Gautama the Buddha, the illustrious founder of Buddhism. But
then, in the early 1920s, archeologists surprised the world with the
discovery of the so-called Indus civilization—a culture that we now know
extended over an area of roughly 300,000 square miles (the size of Texas
and Ohio combined). This was in fact the largest civilization in early
antiquity. In the ruins of the big cities of Mohenjo Daro and Harappa,
excavators found depictions engraved on soapstone seals that strongly
resemble yogi-like figures. Many other finds show the amazing continuity
between that civilization and later Hindu society and culture.
There was nothing primitive about what is now called the Indus-Sarasvati
civilization, which is named after two great rivers that once flowed in
Northern India; today only the Indus River flows through Pakistan. That
civilization’s urbane population enjoyed multistory buildings, a sewage
system unparalleled in the ancient world until the Roman empire, a huge
public bath whose walls were water-proofed with bitumen, geometrically
laid out brick roads, and standardized baked bricks for convenient
construction. (We are so used to these technological achievements that
we sometimes forget they had to be invented.) The Indus-Sarasvati people
were a great maritime nation that exported a large variety of goods to
Mesopotamia and other parts of the Middle East and Africa. Although only
a few pieces of art have survived, some of them show exquisite
For a long time, scholars thought that this magnificent civilization was
abruptly destroyed by invaders from the northwest who called themselves
Aryans (ârya meaning “noble” in the Sanskrit language). Some proposed
that these warlike nomads invented Yoga, others credited the Indus
people with its creation. Yet others took Yoga to be the joint creation
of both races.
Nowadays researchers increasingly favor a completely different picture
of ancient Indian history. They are coming to the conclusion that there
never was an Aryan invasion and that the decline of the Indus-Sarasvati
cities was due to dramatic changes in climate. These in turn appear to
have been caused by a major tectonic catastrophe changing the course of
rivers. In particular, it led to the drying up of what was once India’s
largest river, the Sarasvati, along whose banks flourished numerous
towns and villages (some 2500 sites have been identified thus far).
Today the dry river bed runs through the vast Thar Desert. If it were
not for satellite photography, we would not have learned about those
many settlements buried under the sand.
The drying up of the Sarasvati River, which was complete by around 1900
B.C., had far-reaching consequences. Just imagine the waters of the
Mississippi running dry instead of flooding constantly. What havoc this
would cause! The death of the Sarasvati River forced the population to
migrate to more fertile parts of the country, especially east toward the
Ganges (Ganga) River and south into Central India and Tamilnadu.
Why is this important for the history of Yoga, you might ask? The
Sarasvati River happens to be the most celebrated river in the Rig-Veda,
which is the oldest known text in any Indo-European language. It is
composed in an archaic (and difficult) form of Sanskrit and was
transmitted by word of mouth for numerous generations. Sanskrit is the
language in which most Yoga scriptures are written. It is related to
languages like Greek, Latin, French, German, Spanish, and not least
English. You can see this family relationship on the example of the word
yoga itself, which corresponds to zugos, iugum, joug, Joch, yugo, and
yoke in these languages. Sanskrit is like an older brother to the other
Now, if the Sarasvati River dried up around or before 1900 B.C., the
Rig-Veda must be earlier than that benchmark date. If that is so, then
the composers of this collection of hymns must have been contemporaneous
with the people of the Indus civilization, which flourished between
circa 3000-1900 B.C. Indeed, astronomical references in the Rig-Veda
suggest that at least some of its 1,028 hymns were composed in the third
or even fourth millennium B.C.
Thus, the Sanskrit-speaking Aryans, who created the Rig-Veda, did not
come from outside India to destroy the Indus-Sarasvati civilization.
They had been there all along. What, then, was their relationship with
the Indus-Sarasvati people? Here opinions still differ, but there is a
growing understanding that the Aryans and the Indus-Sarasvati people
were one and the same. There is nothing in the Rig-Veda to suggest
In fact, the Rig-Veda and the other archaic Sanskrit texts appear to be
the “missing” literature of the Indus civilization. Conversely, the
archeological artifacts of the Indus valley and adjoining areas give us
the “missing” material base of the early Sanskrit literature—an elegant
solution to a problem that has long vexed researchers.
YOGA AND THE INDUS-SARASVATI CIVILIZATION
This means that Yoga is the product of a mature civilization that was
unparalleled in the ancient world. Think of it! As a Yoga practitioner
you are part of an ancient and honorable stream of tradition, which
makes you a descendant of that civilization at least at the level of the
heart. Many of the inventions credited to Sumer rightfully belong to
what is now known as the Indus-Sarasvati civilization, which evolved out
of a cultural tradition that has reliably been dated back to the seventh
millennium B.C. In turn it gave rise to the great religious and cultural
tradition of Hinduism, but indirectly also to Buddhism and Jainism.
India’s civilization can claim to be the oldest enduring civilization in
the world. Its present-day problems should not blind us to its glorious
past and the lessons we can learn from it. Yoga practitioners in
particular can benefit from India’s protracted experimentation with
life, especially its explorations of the mysteries of the mind. The
Indian civilization has produced great philosophical and spiritual
geniuses who between them have covered every conceivable answer to the
big questions, which are as relevant today as they were thousands of
THE BIG QUESTIONS
Traditional Yoga seeks to provide plausible answers to such profound
questions as, “Who am I?”, “Whence do I come?”, “Whither do I go?,” and
“What must I do?” These are the sorts of questions that, sooner or
later, we all end up asking ourselves. Or at least, we have our own
implicit answers to them, though may not get round to consciously
formulating them. Deep down, we all are philosophers, because we all
need to make sense of our life. Some of us postpone thinking about these
questions, but they don’t ever go away. We quickly learn this when we
lose a loved one or face a serious health crisis.
So, we might as well ponder these questions while we are in good shape.
And don’t think you have to feel morose to do so. Yoga doesn’t champion
dark moods, but it is definitely in favor of awareness in all its forms,
including self-awareness. If we know the stuff we are made of, we can
function a lot better in the world. At the very least, our
self-knowledge will give us the opportunity to make conscious and better
THE HISTORY OF YOGA
I can provide here only the merest thumbnail sketch and, if you wish to
inform yourself more about the long history of Yoga, recommend that you
study my book The Yoga Tradition. This is the most comprehensive
historical overview available anywhere. But be prepared for challenging
reading and a fairly large tome.
The history of Yoga can conveniently be divided into the following four
These categories are like static snapshots of something that is in
actuality in continuous motion—the “march of history.”
Now we are entering somewhat more technical territory, and I will have
to use and explain a number of Sanskrit terms.
The yogic teachings found in the above-mentioned Rig-Veda and the other
three ancient hymnodies are known as Vedic Yoga. The Sanskrit word veda
means “knowledge,” while the Sanskrit term rig (from ric) means
“praise.” Thus the sacred Rig-Veda is the collection of hymns that are
in praise of a higher power. This collection is in fact the fountainhead
of Hinduism, which has around one billion adherents today. You could say
that the Rig-Veda is to Hinduism what the Book of Genesis is to
The other three Vedic hymnodies are the Yajur-Veda (“Knowledge of
Sacrifice”), Sama-Veda (“Knowledge of Chants”), and Atharva-Veda
(“Knowledge of Atharvan”). The first collection contains the sacrificial
formulas used by the Vedic priests. The second text contains the chants
accompanying the sacrifices. The third hymnody is filled with magical
incantations for all occasions but also includes a number of very
powerful philosophical hymns. It is connected with Atharvan, a famous
fire priest who is remembered as having been a master of magical
rituals. These hymnodies can be compared to the various books of the Old
It is clear from what has been said thus far that Vedic Yoga—which could
also be called Archaic Yoga—was intimately connected with the ritual
life of the ancient Indians. It revolved around the idea of sacrifice as
a means of joining the material world with the invisible world of the
spirit. In order to perform the exacting rituals successfully, the
sacrificers had to be able to focus their mind for a prolonged period of
time. Such inner focusing for the sake of transcending the limitations
of the ordinary mind is the root of Yoga.
When successful, the Vedic yogi was graced with a “vision” or experience
of the transcendental reality. A great master of Vedic Yoga was called a
“seer”—in Sanskrit rishi. The Vedic seers were able to see the very
fabric of existence, and their hymns speak of their marvelous
intuitions, which can still inspire us today.
This category covers an extensive period of approximately 2,000 years
until the second century A.D. Preclassical Yoga comes in various forms
and guises. The earliest manifestations were still closely associated
with the Vedic sacrificial culture, as developed in the Brâhmanas and
Âranyakas. The Brâhmanas are Sanskrit texts explaining the Vedic hymns
and the rituals behind them. The Âranyakas are ritual texts specific to
those who chose to live in seclusion in a forest hermitage.
Yoga came into its own with the Upanishads, which are gnostic texts
expounding the hidden teaching about the ultimate unity of all things.
There are over 200 of these scriptures, though only a handful of them
were composed in the period prior to Gautama the Buddha (fifth century
B.C.). These works can be likened to the New Testament, which rests on
the Old Testament but at the same time goes beyond it.
One of the most remarkable Yoga scriptures is the Bhagavad-Gîtâ (“Lord’s
Song”), of which the great social reformer Mahatma Gandhi spoke as
When disappointment stares me in the face and all alone I see not one
ray of light, I go back to the Bhagavad-Gita. I find a verse here and a
verse there and I immediately begin to smile in the midst of
overwhelming tragedies—and my life has been full of external
tragedies—and if they have left no visible, no indelible scar on me, I
owe it all to the teachings of the Bhagavad-Gita. (Young India, 1925,
In its significance, this work of only 700 verses perhaps is to Hindus
what Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is to Christians. Its message, however,
is not to turn the other cheek but to actively oppose evil in the world.
In its present form, the Bhagavad-Gîtâ (Gîtâ for short) was composed
around 500 B.C. and since then has been a daily inspiration to millions
of Hindus. Its central teaching is to the point: To be alive means to be
active and, if we want to avoid difficulties for ourselves and others,
our actions must be benign and also go beyond the grip of the ego. A
simple matter, really, but how difficult to accomplish in daily life!
Preclassical Yoga also comprises the many schools whose teachings can be
found in India’s two great national epics, the Râmâyana and the
Mahâbhârata (in which the Bhagavad-Gîtâ is embedded and which is seven
times the size of the Iliad and Odyssey combined). These various
preclassical schools developed all kinds of techniques for achieving
deep meditation through which yogis and yoginis can transcend the body
and mind and discover their true nature.
This label applies to the eightfold Yoga—also known as Râja-Yoga—taught
by Patanjali in his Yoga-Sûtra. This Sanskrit text is composed of just
under 200 aphoristic statements, which have been commented on over and
over again through the centuries. Sooner or later all serious Yoga
students discover this work and have to grapple with its terse
statements. The word sûtra (which is related to Latin suture) means
literally “thread.” Here it conveys a thread of memory, an aid to
memorization for students eager to retain Patanjali’s knowledge and
The Yoga-Sûtra was probably written some time in the second century A.D.
The earliest available Sanskrit commentary on it is the Yoga-Bhâshya
(“Speech on Yoga”) attributed to Vyâsa. It was authored in the fifth
century A.D. and furnishes fundamental explanations of Patanjali’s often
Beyond a few legends nothing is known about either Patanjali or Vyâsa.
This is a problem with most ancient Yoga adepts and even with many more
recent ones. Often all we have are their teachings, but this is of
course more important than any historical information we could dig up
about their personal lives.
Patanjali, who is by the way often wrongly called the “father of Yoga,”
believed that each individual is a composite of matter (prakriti) and
spirit (purusha). He understood the process of Yoga to bring about their
separation, thereby restoring the spirit in its absolute purity. His
formulation is generally characterized as philosophical dualism. This is
an important point, because most of India’s philosophical systems favor
one or the other kind of nondualism: The countless aspects or forms of
the empirical world are in the last analysis the same “thing”—pure
formless but conscious existence.
This is again a very comprehensive category, which refers to all those
many types and schools of Yoga that have sprung up in the period after
Patanjali’s Yoga-Sûtra and that are independent of this seminal work. In
contrast to classical Yoga, postclassical Yoga affirms the ultimate
unity of everything. This is the core teaching of Vedânta, the
philosophical system based on the teachings of the Upanishads.
In a way, the dualism of classical Yoga can be seen as a brief but
powerful interlude in a stream of nondualist teachings going back to
ancient Vedic times. According to these teachings, you, we, and everyone
or everything else is an aspect or expression of one and the same
reality. In Sanskrit that singular reality is called brahman (meaning
“that which has grown expansive”) or âtman (the transcendental Self as
opposed to the limited ego-self).
A few centuries after Patanjali, the evolution of Yoga took an
interesting turn. Now some great adepts were beginning to probe the
hidden potential of the body. Previous generations of yogis and yoginis
had paid no particular attention to the body. They had been more
interested in contemplation to the point where they could exit the body
consciously. Their goal had been to leave the world behind and merge
with the formless reality, the spirit.
Under the influence of alchemy—the spiritual forerunner of chemistry—the
new breed of Yoga masters created a system of practices designed to
rejuvenate the body and prolong its life. They regarded the body as a
temple of the immortal spirit, not merely as a container to be discarded
at the first opportunity. They even explored through advanced yogic
techniques the possibility of energizing the physical body to such a
degree that its biochemistry is changed and even its basic matter is
reorganized to render it immortal.
This preoccupation of theirs led to the creation of Hatha-Yoga, an
amateur version of which is today widely practiced throughout the world.
It also led to the various branches and schools of Tantra-Yoga, of which
Hatha-Yoga is just one approach.
The history of modern Yoga is widely thought to begin with the
Parliament of Religions held in Chicago in 1893. It was at that congress
that the young Swami Vivekananda—swami (svâmin) means “master”—made a
big and lasting impression on the American public. At the behest of his
teacher, the saintly Ramakrishna, he had found his way to the States
where he didn’t know a soul. Thanks to some well-wishers who recognized
the inner greatness of this adept of Jnâna-Yoga (the Yoga of
discernment), he was invited to the Parliament and ended up being its
most popular diplomat. In the following years, he traveled widely
attracting many students to Yoga and Vedânta. His various books on Yoga
are still useful and enjoyable to read.
Before Swami Vivekananda a few other Yoga masters had crossed the ocean
to visit Europe, but their influence had remained local and ephemeral.
Vivekananda’s immense success opened a sluice gate for other adepts from
India, and the stream of Eastern gurus has not ceased.
After Swami Vivekananda, the most popular teacher in the early years of
the Western Yoga movement was Paramahansa Yogananda, who arrived in
Boston in 1920. Five years later, he established the Self-Realizaton
Fellowship, which still has its headquarters in Los Angeles. Although he
left his body (as yogins call it) in 1952 at the age of fifty-nine, he
continues to have a worldwide following. His Autobiography of a Yogi
makes for fascinating reading, but be prepared to suspend any
materialistic bias you may have! As with some other yogis and Christian
or Muslim saints, after his death Yogananda’s body showed no signs of
decay for a full twenty days.
Of more limited appeal was Swami Rama Tirtha, a former mathematics
teacher who preferred spiritual life to academia and who came to the
United States in 1902 and founded a retreat center on Mount Shasta in
California. He stayed for only two years and drowned in the Ganges (Ganga)
River in 1906 at the young age of thirty-three. Some of his
inspirational talks were gathered into the five volumes of In Woods of
God-Realization, which are still worth dipping into.
In 1919, Yogendra Mastamani arrived in Long Island and for nearly three
years demonstrated to astounded Americans the power and elegance of
Hatha Yoga. Before returning to India, he founded the American branch of
Kaivalyadhama, an Indian organization created by the late Swami
Kuvalayananda, which has contributed greatly to the scientific study of
A very popular figure for several decades after the 1920s was
Ramacharaka, whose books can still be found in used bookstores. What few
readers know, however, is that this Ramacharaka was apparently not an
actual person. The name was the pseudonym of two people—William Walker
Atkinson, who had left his law practice in Chicago to practice Yoga, and
his teacher Baba Bharata.
Paul Brunton, a former journalist and editor, burst on the scene of Yoga
in 1934 with his book A Search in Secret India, which introduced the
great sage Ramana Maharshi to Western seekers. Many more works flowed
from his pen over the following eighteen years, until the publication of
The Spiritual Crisis of Man. Then, in the 1980s, his notebooks were
published posthumously in sixteen volumes—a treasure-trove for serious
Since the early 1930s until his death in 1986, Jiddu Krishnamurti
delighted or perplexed thousands of philosophically minded Westerners
with his eloquent talks. He had been groomed by the Theosophical Society
as the coming world leader but had rejected this mission, which surely
is too big and burdensome for any one person, however great. He
demonstrated the wisdom of Jnana-Yoga (the Yoga of discernment), and
drew large crowds of listeners and readers. Among his close circle of
friends were the likes of Aldous Huxley, Christopher Isherwood, Charles
Chaplin, and Greta Garbo. Bernard Shaw described Krishnamurti as the
most beautiful human being he ever saw.
Yoga, in the form of Hatha-Yoga, entered mainstream America when the
Russian-born yoginî Indra Devi, who has been called the “First Lady of
Yoga,” opened her Yoga studio in Hollywood in 1947. She taught stars
like Gloria Swanson, Jennifer Jones, and Robert Ryan, and trained
hundreds of teachers. Now in her nineties and living in Buenos Aires,
she is still an influential voice for Yoga.
In the 1950s, one of the most prominent Yoga teacher was Selvarajan
Yesudian whose book Sport and Yoga has been translated into fourteen or
so languages, with more than 500,000 copies sold. Today, as we mentioned
before, many athletes have adopted yogic exercises into their training
program because . . . it works. Among them are the Chicago Bulls. Just
picture these champion basket ball players stretching out on extra-long
Yoga mats under the watchful eye of Yoga teacher Paula Kout! In the
early 1950s, Shri Yogendra of the Yoga Institute of Santa Cruz in India,
visited the United States. He pioneered medical research on Yoga as
early as 1918, and his son Jayadev Yogendra is continuing his valuable
work, which demonstrates the efficacy of Yoga as a therapeutic tool.
In 1961, Richard Hittleman brought Hatha-Yoga to American television,
and his book The Twenty-Eight-Day Yoga Plan sold millions of copies. In
the mid-1960s, the Western Yoga movement received a big boost through
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, largely because of his brief association with the
Beatles. He popularized yogic contemplation in the form of
Transcendental Meditation (TM), which still has tens of thousands of
practitioners around the world. TM practitioners also introduced
meditation and Yoga into the corporate world. It, moreover, stimulated
medical research on Yoga at various American universities.
In 1965, the then sixty-nine-year-old Shrila Prabhupada arrived in New
York with a suitcase full of books and $8.00 in his pockets. Six years
later he founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON),
and by the time of his death in 1977, he had created a worldwide
spiritual movement based on Bhakti Yoga (the Yoga of devotion).
Also in the 1960s and 1970s, many swamis trained by the Himalayan master
Swami Sivananda, a former physician who became a doctor of the soul,
opened their schools in Europe and the two Americas. Most of them are
still active today, and among them are Swami Vishnudevananda (author of
the widely read Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga), Swami Satchitananda
(well-known to Woodstock participants), Swami Sivananda Radha (a
woman-swami who pioneered the link between Yoga spirituality and
psychology), Swami Satyananda (about whom we will say more shortly), and
Swami Chidananda (a saintly figure who directed the Sivananda Ashram in
Rishikesh, India). The last-mentioned master’s best known American
student is the gentle Lilias Folan, made famous by her PBS television
series Lilias, Yoga & You, broadcast between 1970 and 1979.
In 1969, Yogi Bhajan caused an uproar among the traditional Sikh
community (an offshoot of Hinduism) when he broke with tradition and
began to teach Kundalini Yoga to his Western students. Today his
Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization—better known as 3HO—has more than 200
centers around the world.
A more controversial but wildly popular guru in the 1970 and 1980s was
Bhagavan Rajneesh (now known as Osho), whose followers constantly made
the headlines for their sexual orgies and other excesses. Rajneesh, a
former philosophy professor, drew his teachings from authentic Yoga
sources, mixed with his own personal experiences. His numerous books
line the shelves of many second-hand bookstores. Rajneesh allowed his
students to act out their repressed fantasies, notably of the sexual
variety, in the hope that this would free them up for the deeper
processes of Yoga. Many of them, however, got trapped in a mystically
tinged hedonism, which proves the common-sense rule that too much of a
good thing can be bad for you. Even though many of his disciples felt
bitterly disappointed by him and the sad events surrounding his
organization in the years immediately preceding his death in 1990, just
as many still regard him as a genuine Yoga master. His life illustrates
that Yoga adepts come in all shapes and sizes and that, to coin a
phrase, one person’s guru is another person’s uru. (The Sanskrit word
uru denotes “empty space.”) Another maxim that applies here is caveat
emptor, “buyer beware.”
Other renowned modern Yoga adepts of Indian origin are Sri Aurobindo
(the father of Integral Yoga), Ramana Maharshi (an unparalleled master
of Jnana-Yoga), Papa Ramdas (who lived and breathed Mantra-Yoga, the
Yoga of transformative sound), Swami Nityananda (a miracle-working
master of Siddha-Yoga), and his disciple Swami Muktananda (a powerful
yogi who put Siddha-Yoga, which is a Tantric Yoga, on the map for
Western seekers). All these teachers are no longer among us.
The great exponent in modern times of Hatha-Yoga was Sri Krishnamacharya,
who died in 1989 at the ripe old age of 101. He practiced and taught the
Viniyoga system of Hatha-Yoga until his last days. His son T. K. V.
Desikachar continues his saintly father’s teachings and taught Yoga,
among others, to the famous Jiddu Krishnamurti. Another well-known
student of Sri Krishnamacharya and a master in his own right is
Desikachar’s uncle B. K. S. Iyengar, who has taught tens of thousands of
students, including the world-famous violinist Jehudi Menuhin.
Mention must also be made of Pattabhi Jois and Indra Devi, both of whom
studied with Krishnamacharya in their early years and have since then
inspired thousands of Westerners.
Of living Yoga masters from India, I can mention Sri Chinmoy and Swami
Satyananda (a Tantra master who established the well-known Bihar School
of Yoga, has authored numerous books, and has disciples around the
world). There are of course many other great Yoga adepts, both well
known and more hidden, who represent Yoga in one form or another, but I
leave it up to you to discover them.
Until modern times, the overwhelming majority of Yoga practitioners have
been men, yogins. But there have also always been great female adepts,
yoginîs. Happily, in recent years, a few woman saints—representing
Bhakti-Yoga (Yoga of devotion)—have come to the West to bring their
gospel of love to open-hearted seekers. Yoga embraces so many diverse
approaches that anyone can find a home in it.
An exceptional woman teacher from India who fits none of the yogic
stereotypes is Meera Ma (“Mother Meera”). She doesn’t teach in words but
communicates in silence through her simple presence. Of all places, she
has made her home in the middle of a quaint German village in the Black
Forest, and every year is attracting thousands of people from all over
Since Yoga is not restricted to Hinduism, we may also mention here the
Dalai Lama, champion of nonviolence and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
He is unquestionably one of the truly great yogis of modern Tibet, who,
above all, demonstrates that the principles of Yoga can fruitfully be
brought not only into a busy daily life but also into the arena of
politics. Today Tibetan Buddhism (which is a form of Tantra-Yoga) is
extremely popular among Westerners, and there are many lamas (spiritual
teacher) who are willing to share with sincere seekers the secrets of
their hitherto well-guarded tradition.
If you are curious about Westerners who have made a name for themselves
as teachers in the modern Yoga movement (understood in the broadest
terms), you may want to consult the encyclopedic work The Book of
Enlightened Masters by Andrew Rawlinson. His book includes both genuine
masters (like the Bulgarian teacher Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov on whom I
have written a book—The Mystery of Light) and a galaxy of would-be
For a comprehensive history of Yoga, see my book The Yoga Tradition,
published by Hohm Press. This dimension of Yoga is also covered in my
800-hour distance-learning course.
This site is devoted to
presenting the ancient Self-Realization path of
the Tradition of the Himalayan masters
in simple, understandable and beneficial ways, while not compromising
quality or depth. The goal of our sadhana or practices is the highest
Joy that comes from the Realization in direct experience of the
center of consciousness, the Self, the Atman or Purusha, which is
one and the same with the Absolute Reality.
This Self-Realization comes through Yoga meditation of the Yoga
Sutras, the contemplative insight of Advaita Vedanta, and the
intense devotion of Samaya Sri Vidya Tantra, the three of which
complement one another like fingers on a hand.
We employ the classical approaches of Raja, Jnana, Karma, and Bhakti
Yoga, as well as Hatha, Kriya, Kundalini, Laya, Mantra, Nada, Siddha,
and Tantra Yoga. Meditation, contemplation, mantra and prayer
finally converge into a unified force directed towards the final
stage, piercing the pearl of wisdom called bindu, leading to the