Yoga – An Idea of Excellence!

Who am I to teach Yoga? Who is a qualified teacher? What makes me a qualified and dignified teacher? And, is there a point of perfection, which remains perfect forever – and is this the perfection… which certifies and qualifies me as a qualified teacher?

It upsets me to notice imperfection in many people. None of them are so qualified, and unique, and methodical to be considered as teachers. When does the teaching actually begin, and when and who decides, the teacher should begin teaching, and who names the person as the ‘teacher’?

The minute I am upset, when people start controlling others, begin deciding for themselves, then it means neither, am I perfect, nor am I liberated and free enough to disallow decisions controlling my perceptions, and senses, which get drawn by their magnetic afflictions, allusions, to step out into the world, and constantly project the “attack-defense” mechanism, to protect myself. Am I really teaching, or am I protecting myself, from being neglected, from  the fear of entering a state of withdrawal, where the entire world has begun to forget me, which finally might push me into a state of where I may remain unrecognized, and unappreciated forever?

I haven’t “Taught”, yet! That is the truth… and I have only learned – step 1, step 2, step-3 of Yoga, which is just one school of thought…. one particular  instruction… and how many hours does the mind waste on observing the perfection of body alone, and in this observation, what kind of attachment do we develop… which blocks us from understanding the neutral consciousness? The minute I admire a wonderful yogi, and want to become like him or her, am I not imitating an imitation of Yoga?

Who am I to teach Yoga? Who is a qualified teacher? What makes me a qualified and dignified teacher? And, is there a point of perfection, which remains perfect forever – and is this the perfection… which certifies and qualifies me as a qualified teacher?

The idea to excel, and constantly fighting against the fear of failure, bad performance, wrong knowledge, is another way of fighting for right knowledge. Is there a right knowledge… and is there wrong knowledge? The knowledge of any science can be right, as well as wrong, and the knowledge of being a teacher, applies the same – could be right, could be wrong!

The teacher cannot happen in me, until I haven’t arrived at the eternal moment which blossoms and flows spontaneously… which means.. there is one point in the entire lifespan.. which isn’t controlled by time, space, idea, fear…. insecurity, pride.. jealousy, arrogance, and a cribbing sense to “DO”, to “EXCEL”, which are also simply nothing but ideas. No person is qualified… to do or be anything. Even Gauthama Siddhartha, was not a qualified teacher. He never excelled in anything, and he never carried this zeal, passion, and enthusiasm to teach and accumulate students…!

The moment the teacher is born, the teacher happens… it is the death of the student. The whole opportunism faces death, and the teacher keeps on teaching himself, herself! No sooner, the person has realized he or she has not become a teacher, there are no lessons to learn, which means there is nothing to impart, decide, begin and establish, then there is nothing right or wrong to feel or question about, decide and act!

A tribute to my beloved Guru…..Father Jois – 1

It was on the 6th of January 2003. I was just about to complete my participation in a theatre production by the Madras Players of Chennai. It was a play written by the renowned author Mohan Narayanan called, “Ashwaha”. I was already feeling restless in Chennai and had a great passion for yoga and I wanted to be under a Guru, who could train me under the ancient system of training – the Gurukul, which was once upon a time, a “way of life” in India. After spending a year in the Bihar School of Yoga in Munger, which is in the state of Bihar, I had collected a lot of information about how vast the knowledge of yoga was and the various traditions existed in this limitless field with their respective Gurus. 

Among one of them was a tradition started by T.Krishnamacharya who was a great yogi himself. He had students with the likes of Shri K.Pattabhi Jois, B.K.S. Iyengar and T.K.V.Desikachar, his son and Jiddu Krishnamurti. I had met a few students in the yoga school from New Zealand and U.S.A. who were already practicing Ashtanga Yoga which inspired me to research further. I read a few books, and also spoke to a couple of more people, and they all had great praise for Father Jois…..that’s what they call him with love.

I called him on the 6th of January and the phone was ringing for a while and I didn’t know who would answer it. But to my surprise Guruji answered! He spoke in a very feeble voice, and asked me something in Kannada. I reacted, “Sir, I don’t understand Kannada, can you please speak in English?” He repeated his question in, English, “Who is speaking?”. I gave my introduction after which informed me the dates of registration were on the 11th, 12th and 13th of January, while the classes were beginning on the 16th of January (2003).

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I asked again, “Can I come on the 20th of January?” He replied sweetly, “No problem”. I continued to clear my doubt regarding course fees to which he was patient enough to extend his valuable time and I realised it was well within my budget which my father could afford to pay. I was so excited I was looking forward to seeing him and starting my lessons.

I finished my production commitments in Chennai and departed for Mysore on the 19th of January. I boarded a train in the morning for Bangalore and reached around 1:30 p.m. and had to board another passenger for Mysore, two and a half hours from the capital city of, Karnataka. I was not only excited but also worried about finding a reasonable accommodation…. and wondering what my meeting with him, would be like. I had a feeling, we were sensing and mentally communicating already. The imparting had commenced! A lot of questions and thoughts were running randomly across my head while I continued to enjoy the lush green fields and rivers. Especially, when you travel by this route one gets to notice farmers ploughing and picking crops, and the nature carved rock structures and also the small mountains and cliffs are just captivating. 

I reached Mysore in the evening, and I immediately looked for a room in a lodge right next to Parakkal Mutt and the night rest was long. The next morning, after a nice shower, I got myself readied for a meeting with Guruji. I reached his old home, (they call it old shala) which I wasn’t aware he had vacated long back and moved to a new and bigger place which was now the original institution.. The old home is much smaller,  which is where he had started teaching. He was a simple Sanskrit scholar making two ends meet and teaching yoga to the locals, until one day an, American knocked his door – doorway to his glory! 

I was waiting at the door step when his driver invited me to have a seat. He said, Guruji was upstairs and would be coming in a few minutes. A soon as I noticed him, I just stood up with respect and he gave me a stern look and asked me again something in Kannada which I couldn’t understand. I reminded him of our phone conversation we had and then he immediately recalled that I was from Chennai. He was silent for a few minutes, and as he was about to leave for the day putting on his sandals, he said, “Come on, Thursday”. That’s it. It was done. I said, “okay” and immediately started looking for an accommodation. I found one just about two kilometres away from his home – which was satisfying. They were a wonderful family.

I started my first day of practice on a, Thursday, 24th of January and I was enjoying every bit of my experience with him. He just behaved exactly word to word, as described in the book, “From here to nirvana” by Anne Cushman and Jerry Jones. I rang the bell which never worked properly, but still it managed to ring audible enough. I think it was more with the switch than the bell. He came and opened the door and looked at me and exclaimed, “Yeah, come”. Then he asked me to follow him upstairs and offered me a seat beside him, and requested me to enter the details in the register, pay the registration fee and the monthly course fee.

He then spoke in his usual ways, ‘You go down and wait.’, which I did! Within a few minutes, I could hear his hands gripping for support, against the concrete wall of the staircase and his slow footsteps. There was nobody except me and I was all alone that day. It wasn’t like the Bihar school of Yoga anymore, where we could practice yoga wearing anything. His strict orders were to remove my shirt and wear shorts, for easy stretching and mobility.

Everyday, same smile - three years of compassion!
Everyday, same smile – three years of compassion!

to be contd…