Thursday, July 9, 2009

Bishnu Ghosh

Almost 60 years ago, a brilliant yoga master and physical culturist named Bishnu Charan Ghosh saw a loud-mouthed six year old kid named Bikram showing off yoga postures to a friend at the gym.  Bishnu Ghosh took Bikram under his wing for the next twenty years and taught him Hatha Yoga, making him into a 13 year old All-India Yoga Asana Champion and a record-breaking weight lifter.  When an 18 year old Bikram had his knee crushed in a weight lifting accident, the doctors told him he would never walk again and wanted to amputate the leg, but he limped back to Bishnu instead, and his guru healed him in six months.  This incident - you could call it a miracle, even - inspired Bikram to become a yoga teacher and heal other sick and injured people.

In his book, "Bikram Yoga," Bikram tells this story:

"In February 1970 I left India and went to Japan, for what was supposed to be six months, to take care of some things there for my guru.  I didn't want to go - I was a king in Bombay!  But when your guru tells you to do something, you have to do it.  That's it.  You have no choice.  As I was about to get on the plane at Calcutta Airport, my guru took my hand and told me something, in English, which he never spoke.  "Promise me you will complete my incomplete job," he said.  He meant bringing yoga to the rest of the world, to the West and America.  And I replied, "Yes, I promise.  I will."  Forty years later I'm here in the United States, still performing my Karma Yoga by fixing Broken bodies and screw-loose brains.

"When Bishnu Ghosh bound me in that oath, I had no way of knowing it would be the last time we spoke.  Soon thereafter my guru talked to all his family and friends, gave them his blessings, and said that he would soon take his rest.  he then performed mahasamadhi, withdrawing his Spirit from his body and leaving this Earth at the age of 67.

"Looking back, I can't help feeling sad, mostly because I miss him every second of every day with every ounce of my heart.  But I'm also sad because I forgot to ask him how long I am supposed to continue teaching Hatha Yoga to fulfill my Karma Yoga!  Do I have to keep doing this for my entire life?  With no guru to answer me, I have to conclude that the answer is yes.  To which I say, "No problem!"

And there it is: the genesis of Bikram Yoga as we know it today.  Even just last week, as Bikram talked about the opening of new schools, the beginning of the franchise plan, the development of the teacher trainings, his main message was simply, "With your help, I am carrying out my guru's incomplete job."

Bishnu Ghosh passed on July 9th, almost 40 years ago, so this is the day when we recognize his life.  There is more information on him HERE.

Thank you, Bishnu, for the great work that you did in your lifetime, and for the setting in motion the wheels within wheels that would change all of our worlds...


2 comments:

hannahjustbreathe said...

I completely respect why Bikram studios around the world close today.

But... Well... I kind of missed my yoga. Big time. And I can't help but wonder: wouldn't it be more of a celebration/honor to Bishnu Ghost to practice our yoga today?? Just a passing thought...

thedancingj said...

That's what they did last year, and the proceeds from the day went to the Bishnu Ghosh foundation. I thought that was so nice!!! But it's Bikram's call.

I actually went to class with a favorite teacher who owns another studio and teaches a class that is the polar opposite of Bikram's. Change of pace! I usually really like him, but he let me down a bit this time... which was fine... cause it made me excited to go BACK to Bikram the next day!