- Ajapa Yoga Foundation
- (est. 1974)The Ajapa Yoga Foundation was established in 1974 by followers of Guru Janardan Paramahansa (1888–1980). It promotes ajapa, a breathing and medita-tion technique not widely known but practiced for centuries by RISHIs (spiritual adepts) in India. Prac-titioners believe that it is the pure and original YOGA and not a derivative of any prior teaching.The primary teaching of the foundation is that humans see themselves as living in a world of suffering and desire because they have lost their true sense of self. Through the practice of ajapa yoga, they can realize their true identity. Today, five ashrams are maintained in India, Bangladesh, and California.The modern teaching traces back to the 1860s, when Swami Purnananda Paramahansa (1834–1928) learned the ancient technique from Matang Rishi at Siddhashrama, a remote Tibetan mon-astery. After five years of training, Purnananda returned to Bengal and established ashrams with the purpose of reintroducing ajapa.Upon Purananda’s death, leadership passed to Swami Bhumananda Paramahansa (1873–1958), who was in turn succeeded by his disciple, Guru Janardan. In the 1960s Janardan organized the World Conference on Scientific Yoga in New Delhi, where he made the acquaintance of many Westerners. He then toured Europe and North America and established ashrams and centers in Hamburg, Montreal, New York, and California. In 1966, Janardan found a baby on the bank of the Ganges River in India, named him Guru Prasad (b. 1966), and raised him to be his successor as a living master of ajapa yoga. Guru Prasad assumed leadership of the ashrams and foundation at age 14 and continues to teach practitioners and to maintain the ashrams and centers.Further reading: Mitchell Radow, Search for Peace (New York: Ajapa Yoga Foundation, 1983); Swami Shrad-dhanand, trans., Tattwa Katha: A Tale of Truth, Parts I and II (New York: Ajapa Yoga Foundation, 1976–79).
Encyclopedia of Hinduism. A. Jones and James D. Ryan. 2007.