Hello, I am Yogacharya Gowrishankarananda the Acharya & founder of the Atmalaya® Ashram, Atmalaya® Meditation Program, and the Yoga Sadhana Foundation. This Blog is established to post various activities of the Ashram & its students. Through this Blog we will allow comments and questions to occur as well as offer advice for Spiritual Sadhana.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Brighu Rishi Yoga Paramparai

Yoga is a Sanskrit word meaning union, however like many Sanskrit words it means far more than our simple translation. Yoga refers to the ultimate goal of life, mans highest most worthy dream, union with God. This union is more than an intellectual understanding it is the actual achievement of being one with God; the universal, almighty, cosmic consciousness of love. Yoga is a union of our very selves as love with the source of love, with the one who never stops loving…God…our true Self! Yoga believes in the essential unity of everything in existence and non-existence. It is this universality that leads us to accept all of creation as our divine teachers, parents, children, brothers, sisters, and friends until ultimately we accept all as our “Self”. The path of universal consciousness as Self consciousness is the aim of Yoga Sadhana and is facilitated through centuries old traditional Yoga teachings, practices, and techniques, that foster energy, consciousness, love, compassion, stewardship, devotion, nurturance, and acceptance towards our bodies, minds, emotions, families, communities, environments, nations, and planets.

Classical Ashtanga Yoga refers to the eight limbed (ashta = eight, anga = limb) Raja Yoga path of Sage Patanjali and should not be confused with the modern “Power Yoga” of Pattabhi Jois. The practices and techniques facilitated by the Atmalaya Ashram and its Acharya, Yogacharya Gowrishankarananda espouses “Gitananda Rishiculture Ashtanga Yoga”. This “Rishi Yoga” which is the classical Ashtanga Yoga that the ancient Rishis embraced as a way of life has been most recently handed down to us through the 7000 year old Classical Yoga teachings of the Bengali Tantric lineage of Yogamaharishi Dr. Swami Gitananda Giri of the Brighu Rishi and Agasthya Rishi Paramparai’s one of only a few unbroken lineages still in existence.

In India Yogamaharishi Dr. Swami Gitananda Giri Guru Maharaj has been widely honored as the father of modern Yoga Science with over 135 centers in over 30 countries around the world, yet this Classical form of Yoga is virtually unknown in North America. While many Yoga students today practice a specific type of Yoga, ie Hatha, Kundalini, Jnana, Kriya, ect …Rishi Yoga espouses many practices specific to the predisposition of the student. Traditionally Yoga was taught as a complete way of life incorporating all aspects of Yoga with many of its practices into students lives at appropriate times. By slowly integrating the Yogic practices of Seva, Asanas, Kriyas, Prakriyas, Pranayamas, Yamas and Niyamas, Mudras, Mantra, Japa - Ajapa, and Dharana and Dhyana (Meditation), we revitalize, maximize, and balance our own energy. This system of Yoga integrates the inner and outer practices of Yoga to balance the inner and outer aspects of our lives.

Through Yoga we use the body to transcend the body, we use the senses to transcend the senses, and we use the mind to transcend the mind, intellect, and emotions. Sincere students of Yoga should utilize and practice a combination of many techniques to dissolve their blocks to advancement and move them forward on the evolutionary path. Yoga, is a state of being and a path to attaining that state. It is one of the oldest, most practical, and most complete systems of exercise in the world. While Yoga is a system of exercise it is also a complete systematic path to attaining Self mastery and cosmic consciousness. The focus of this system of yoga is to evolve consciously and gain mastery over our lives. As living examples of Dharma (Right-use-ness) the ancient Rishis espoused Yogic living which is a lifestyle in harmony with nature and at-one-ment with the universe. By maintaining a consistent Sadhana (disciplined spiritual practice) we can maximize our energy, eliminate our “DIS-EASES” and live happy, healthy and holy lives, for that truly is our birthright!

North Indian Brighu Tantric Lineage (6800 years)
Brighu Rishi
(a long line of adepts)
Swami Purnananda
Swami Vivedishananda
Swami Kanakananada (Ram Gopal Mujamdar)
Swami Gitananda
Smt Yogacharini Yogamani Pudavai Kalaimamani Meenakshi Devi Bhavanani (Senior Acharya)
Yogacharya Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani (Mahant)
Yogacharya Gowrishankarananda

South Indian Saiva Siddhanta Lineage (8800 years)
Sri Agasthya Rishi
A Long Line Of Saiva Siddhanta Adepts
Sri Aruna NathGiri
Sri Kambliswamigal
Sri Ambalavana Swamigal
Sri Manika Swamigal
Sri Shanmugan Swamigal
Sri Velu Swamigal
Sri Subramaniya Swamigal
Sri Shankara Giri Swamigal
Sri Gitananda Giri Swamigal
Smt Yogacharini Yogamani Pudavai Kalaimamani Meenakshi Devi Bhavanani (Senior Acharya)
Yogacharya Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani (Mahant)
Yogacharya Gowrishankarananda
Yogashiromani Yogamaharishi Dr. Swami Gitananda Giri

Swamiji was the Governor-General for Yoga (1992-1995) in the World development Parliament (Vishwa UnnayanSamsad) founded by Baghwan Viashnacharya Krishna Kisore Das with headquarters in West Bengal, India.World Yoga Conference held at the Asian Village, New Delhi in December 1986. The Vishwa Unnayan Samsad at New Delhi honoured him in 1992 with the title Father of Modern Yoga Science.
Yogamaharishi Dr Swami Gitananda Giri Guru Maharaj was born on July 24, 1907, in Maharajganj, Bihar,northern India,to an Irish mother and a Sindhi father. His father, Sukraj Bhavanani, was a High court Advocate in thePatna High Court and an extensive landowner. His mother Leelavathi was converted to Hinduism throughthe Arya Samaj rites. The Yogamaharishi received hisearly schooling at home from his mother. Tragically,his mother died when he was but eight years of age.When he was 12, his Guru, the great Siddha and Tantric Master, Yogamaharishi Swami Kanakananda Brighu, (Ram Gopal Majumdhar AKA the sleepless saint of Paramahansa Yoganandas Autobiography of a Yogi) entered his life. For six years, hestudied in the Guru Kula of his Master, imbibing not only the traditional education, but also the greatmystic sciences of Yoga, Tantra and Yantra. Swamiji often remarked that everything he taught and preached and knew about Yoga, he learned only from his Masterduring that intensive training. When he was sixteen years of age, his Guru sent him to England to study medicine. After receiving his medical degree, he entered the British Royal Navy to serve as a doctor on board several ships during World War II. He was injured during the war, and used the time recuperating to further his medical education. He migrated toCanada and set up his practice there, also establishing Yoga schools and centres wherever he lived. Pujya Swamiji was one of the pioneers to introduce Yoga to the Western mind in the early 1950s. He was also instrumental in hosting many visiting YogaGurus and Swamijis at his centre in Vancouver. In addition to his busy medical practice, he traveled widely lecturing and teaching. He worked several years for the US Atomic Energy Commission in the United States and also took up assignments for the World Health Organisation in South America. He returned to settle permanently in India in 1967 and established his Ananda Ashram in Pondicherry. He set up the Ananda Ashram in Lawspet, Pondicherry in 1972. In 1975 Srila Shri Shankaragiri Swamigal appointed Dr Swami Gitananda Giri as Madathiapathy of Sri Kambali Swamy Madam in 1975, which was then a dilapidated Samadhi site of around five acres in Thattanchavady near the Lawspet Ashram. Yogamaharishi Dr Swami Gitananda Giri undertook the renovation of the ancient Samadhi site with great enthusiasm and built what was acclaimed as the Shanti Niketan of South India and An ideal Guru Kula on the Madam lands. Thus Swamiji who was the representative of the North Indian Brighu lineage alsobecame a representative of the Saiva Siddantha Yoga Tradition of South India. The lineage of Kambaliswamy is said to go back to the Rishi Agasthya himself.Gurus of the Kambaliswamy Madam tradition include Srila Sri Kambaliswamigal, Srila Sri Ambalavana Swamigal, Srila Sri Manikka Swamigal, Srila SriShanmuga Swamigal, Srila Sri Velu Swamigal, Srila Sri Subramaniya Swamigal, Srila Sri Shankaragiri Swamigal, Srila Shri Gitananda Giri Swamigal and at present by Yogacharya Dr Ananda Balayogi Giri.In his day Srila Shri Kambliswamigal, a Digambari Siddha, was termed The King of Ashtanga Yoga over the Whole Earth, we are thus indebted to him for transmitting the pure essences of Ashtanga Yoga through an unbroken line of living teachers. He obtained his Samadhi 126 years ago (from Dec 1999) in the Tamil year Sri Mugha on the Amavasai day of Marghazhi month after living 504 years . Every year without fail there have been grand Guru Pujas performed on this day by the successors to this line of the Paramparai.

Dr. Swami Gitananda was often called The Father of Modern Scientific Yoga. He was also acclaimed as one of the five leading exponents of Ashtanga Yoga in the twentieth century and one of the pioneers in making Yoga understandable to the Western mind. His total command over the English language and his wide worldly experience gave him a unique and cosmopolitan approach. This made the ancient wisdom accessible to those conditioned by the twentieth century, materialistic life style. Pujya Swamiji propagated this body of Yogic knowledge, which he termed “RISHICULTURE ASHTANGA YOGA” as per the recommendation of this Guru Swami Kanakananda Brighu. Pujya Swamiji became an active fighter for Hindu rights and leader of the Hindu community in addition to his many other numerous duties. He served as vice president of the All India Association of Maths and Ashrams under the president ship of Sri Jayendra Saraswathi Swamigal the present Shankaracharya of the Kanchi Kamakoti Petam. From 1968 until his Samadhi on December 29, 1993. He also edited from 1970, an international English monthly Yoga journal YOGA LIFE. He wrote twenty-five books on the subjects of Yoga and made ten world tours and morethan twenty All India tours. He was the Chief Guest for innumerable Yoga, Medical and Scientific Conferences, Seminars and meetings held all over Indiaand was in great demand as a speaker because of his immense and charismatic vitality. Known as the Lion of Pondicherry he was a great example of an ancient YogaRishi (Seer).

Manifesting a constant river of Siddhis and Riddhis Swamijis students were often amazed at how light he was for a large man and the fact that he never left footprints in the sand. Swamijis knowledge of everything due to his access to the Akashic records combined with his tough love made him the archetypical guru to his students. His true benevolence was related to empowering his students through the propagation of Yoga practices and the Yogic lifestyle of the ancient Rishis. Majestic in bearing and manner, with luxurious flowing beard and hair, and a magnificent, booming, powerful voice, Swamijis dynamic personality captured the hearts of people wherever he went. Pujya Swamiji was Patron and President of hundreds of Yoga and scientific organizations world wide. Notably he was Patron of the Indian Academy of Yoga with headquarters at the famous Banaras Hindu University. This is an organization of eminent Yogis, professional men, scientists and doctors interested in Yoga. He was President of Vishwa Yoga Samaj, a world wideorganization of Yogis, and Vice President of the All India Association of Madathiapathis. He was also the Governor-General for Yoga (1992-1995) in the World Development Parliament (Vishwa Unnayan Samsad) with headquarters in West Bengal, India. He trained tens of thousands of students in Rishiculture Ashtanga (Gitananda) Yoga. His students have established more than 135 centres of Yoga in 30 countries around the world. He received many honors in his lifetime. He was chosen by the Ministry of Health, Government of India, New Delhi, as a Governing Body Member of the prestigious Central Council for Research in Yoga and Naturopathy in March 1986and he held this post till his Mahasamadhi in 1993. He was awarded YOGA SHIROMANI by the then President of India Sri Zail Singh at the World Yoga Conference held at the Asian Village, New Delhi in December 1986. The Vishwa Unnayan Samsad at New Delhi honoured him in 1992 with the title Father of Modern Yoga Science. Pujya Swamiji had himself organised five World Conferences in Pondicherry, attended by hundreds of professional persons and Yogis from all over the world. He sponsored the First Ever International Yoga Asana Competition in Pondicherry in 1989. Since that time an International Yoga Competition has been held each year in various places in South America, India and Europe. He was one of the driving forces behind Yoga Sports. In this regard he is considered the Founding Father of the Yoga Sport Movement. Due to his inspiration and support, the Government of Pondicherry instituted an annual International Yoga Festival from January 1993 in Pondicherry, which features lectures by eminent speakers, Yoga Asana Competitions, and Yogic cultural programmes etc. Due to his influence, the Government of Pondicherry has also instituted Yoga teaching in all Government schools from 1997. Pujya Swamiji collaborated with many films makers in making educational films on Yoga, including the famous film MUDRA by Rajiv Mehrotra. He also was the guiding spirit behind the immensely popular television series YOGA FOR YOUTH, directed by Yogacharini Meenakshi Devi Bhavanani which has been broadcast for several years from 1989 over Doordarshan, Indias national television network. Swamiji was a great scientist and researcher and presented more than thirty papers on his scientific research into Yoga at various conferences throughout India. He collaborated with scientists from leading institutes throughout the country including AIIMS in New Delhi, NIMHANS in Bangalore, DIPAS (Indian Defense Institute) in New Delhi and JIPMER in Pondicherry.

Yogamaharishi Dr. Swami Gitananda Giri founded three institutions in Pondicherry, India to propagate the teachings of Rishiculture Ashtanga (Gitananda) Yoga. His ten of thousands of students worldwide have established more than 135 Centres of Rishi Culture Ashtanga (Gitananda) Yoga in thirty countries. All these centres propagate the classical Ashtanga Yoga taught to the Yogamaharishi by his own Guru Yogamaharishi Swami Kanakananda Brighu. Swami Kanakananda (Ram Gopal Mujumdhar) belonged to a Paramparai that traced their lineage back to the great Rishi Brighu. Swami Vivedishananda and Swami Purnanada Brighu (the 16th century Tantric mystic and poet made famous for his tantric texts by sir John Woodroof AKA Arthur Avalon) were the Guru and Paramguru of Swami Kanakananda. This classical Yoga System, passed down through generations of Bengali Tantric Gurus, was given a modern and scientific shape and expression through the medical background and cosmopolitan experience of Yogamaharishi Dr. Swami Gitananda Giri. It was his medical and scientific background combined with his thourough traditional training in the Gurukula of his Yoga Master the Mahant of the Brighu order, Srila Sri Kanakananda also known as the Sleepless Saint, that produced a modern mind set grounded in traditional thought and values. Today Rishiculture ”Gitananda” Ashtanga Yoga is alive and flourishing under the direction of his chief disciple and the Ashram Acharya, Kalaimamani Yogacharini Meenakshi Devi Bhavanani and Yogacharya Dr. Ananda BalayogiBhavanani, his son and successor who is also a medical doctor.
Yogamaharishi Dr Swami Gitananda Giri Guru Maharaj attained his Mahasamadhi consciously on the auspicious time of Arudra Darshan on Wednesday, December 29, 1993 at 2.20 a.m., that time of year when the normally fierce Rudra Shiva may be viewed in his most benevolent aspect light rain fell. He was placed into Samadhi called the Ananda Mandala by his son and successor, Yogacharya Dr Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani with all honors due to a Madathiapathy of his status in Sri Kambaliswamy Madam at Thattanchavady, Pondicherry on noon Thursday, December 30, 1993. As the top of his Samadhi was seaed tight, a light rain again fell. A lingam was specially carved from the stone from the holy mountain of Arunachala at Thiruvannamalai and was installed on his Samadhi for his Moksha Deepam on 11th January 1994 which on that year was also the 120th Arudhana for the great Yoga Siddha Srila Shri Kambliswamigal His Samadhi has become a famous pilgrimage place for all those seekingthe blessings of this great modern Yogamaharishi, who embodied so well the spirit of the ancient Hindu sages in a modern twentieth century body and mind. Yogamaharishi Dr Swami Gitananda Giri, a great Bhakta and devotee of his Paramparai Guru Srila Shri Kambliswamigal, left is body in the most auspicious year of Sri Mugha. In the Tamil calendar, every 60 years the names of the years repeat themselves and it was 1993 that was the year of Sri Mugha. This was also the name of the year in which Srila Shri Kambliswamigal took Samadhi. Hence this year was an especially auspicious year for all devotees in every sense, thus Yogamaharishi Dr Swami Gitananda Giri Guru Maharaj joined with his Guru at the most perfect and opportune moment. Swamiji entered his body on a full moon day on Guru purnima (Ved Vyasa Purnima). He also left his body on a full moon day of the most auspicious month of the year, Margazhi (Dec-Jan).
The Following is excerpt is from Swami Anandakapila Saraswati who describes here his experience with Yogamaharishi Dr. Swami Gitananda Giri.
“One night I wandered into a lecture hall for an advertised function by a Swami I had never heard of. The lecturer turned out to be the most charismatic person I had ever met and was to become my first Guru. What really shocked me is that the 'Swami' began his lecture with some Sanskrit and a Mantra - perfectly normal for Swami's, as I later discovered - but this was different!
The glass of water on the speaker's podium began to vibrate within seconds of Swami Gitananda's chant. I watched transfixed, rather like a hypnotized rabbit caught in car lights, as the tumbler trembled and bubbles began to rise in the water! Any moment I expected an explosion - shades of Caruso! The good Swami did not notice this event and finished the Mantric invocation just as I anticipated the goblet shattering in a wet shower of fragments. He went on nonchalantly as if nothing had occurred and indeed I believe he didn't even notice. The container of liquid settled down and became as free of agitation as a meditating Yogi!
Many years later I was to visit my beloved Swamiji in South India just months before his transition (1993). After Yogamaharishi Dr. Swami Gitananda Giri's Mahasamadhi, his wife, Meenakshi Devi, wrote in a memorial volume:
"On Sundays when we performed the elaborate Guru Pujas for the Samadhi Lingam of Sri Kambliswamigal, the brass flower plate I was holding would shake with the immense vibrations produced by Poojya Swamiji's Mantras."
Dr. Swami Gitananda Giri had the most magical command of psychic mantra and he could produce phenomena by chanting Sanskrit that I have never witnessed anywhere in the world. I was very fortunate to have him as my Guru when I was young and he was in his forties. When he was much older he seldom demonstrated his power with mantra.
He would induce profound psychic states in members of the Satsang group through chanting Shakti mantras. One of the most spectacular events I witnessed occurred about 1957 at the Yoga Jivana Center in Vancouver, Canada. Swamijii had a lovely German disciple he named Rajinda and one night at Satsang he chanted some special mantras with the result that Rajinda went deeply into trance and her body became so rigid that Swamiji picked her up by one hand under her neck while her feet stayed on the floor. He released his hold on the back of her neck when her body was raised about forty-five degrees off the floor and she appeared to remain suspended by the feet, oscillating a few degrees back and forth with every intonation he made. This defiance of gravity went on for several more minutes before he lowered her to the floor.
The shock of witnessing such things and being in his presence when he chose to demonstrate such power is hardly comprehensible or even imaginable, to those who have not experienced it. I stopped trying to communicate the magic of such moments because most Westerners dismiss such an account as a lie at worst, or an illusion, at best Swamiji had little tolerance for those who, in a less "politically correct" time, would qualify as 'cretins' (now diplomatically termed "Iodine Challenged!" as the director of Ananda Ashram, Yogacharini Meenakshi Devi Bhavanani, would say.) He was still capable of mischievously demonstrating right up to the early 1980s. In a New Age World besoughted with 'channelling' the following account by an American disciple of his, Yogacharya Raju Dev, who studied at the Pondicherry Indian Ashram with him in the 1980s is amusing. But one evening stands out in my mind above all others. We had a student in the Ashram at the time who fancied herself a psychic and had made a reputation in her home city for being able to lead people into past life experiences. Swamijii, who of course had no tolerance for this kind of psychological hucksterism, decided that enough was enough and announced one afternoon that the evening Satsangha would be devoted to a "Yogic Séance" where we would explore the past lives of some of the Ashram members. As his first volunteer he brought a young American girl up to the front of the room and after chanting several mantras started asking her if she could remember anything of her former life as a Chinese fighter pilot being shot down in a dogfight with the Japanese over the East China Sea. When she said she couldn't, the voice of someone, certainly not Swamiji, suddenly erupted from his body in fluent Mandarin. It was so startling it sent chills up my spine and a young student sitting next to me was so frightened she couldn't stop shaking until much later in the evening!"
Extracted from the Memorial Volume: "Tribute To A Great Guru" 1995, published by ICYER, Kottakuppam, Tamil Nadu, India
The understatement of my life would be to say, "Swamiji taught me a few things about Shakti Mantras". The first time I mastered an anesthetic mantra and skewered myself he gazed at me for a moment and muttered: "I knew you could do it! You have all the qualifications: no sense - no pain!" Swamiji's ultimate message for me is summed up by his comment:"To destroy is easy. To create, to construct is heroic. There is only one secret in this Universe. And that is…..THERE IS NO SECRET!."”

I Would Like To Offer My Deepest Respect And Obeisance To
The Brighu Rishi and Agasthya Rishi Paramparai Of
Yogashiromani Yogamaharishi Dr. Swami Gitananda Giri,
Yogacharini Yogamani Pudavai Kalaimamani Smt. Meenakshi Devi Bhavanani,
Yogacharya Dr. Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani
Of The The International Center For Yoga Education And Research At
Ananda Ashram, Pondicherry India.
It Is Because Of Their “Profound Interest” That We Are Empowered
To Offer These Profound And Powerful Teachings
We Are Simply The Offspring Of Their Divine Unconditional Love.

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Gitananada Rishiculture Ashtanga Yoga
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