- Satchidananda, Swami
- (1914–2002)founder of Integral Yoga Institutes and YogavilleSwami Satchidanada was a great popularizer of yoga both within India and around the world. His interfaith emphasis and his organizational efforts, especially in the United States, continue to bear fruit.Ramaswamy was born on December 22, 1914, to a devout family in Chettipalam, near Coim-batore in Tamil Nadu state. His father, Sri Kalya-nasunderam, was the village’s unofficial headman and his mother, Sri Velammai, entertained the vis-iting poets, musicians, philosophers, and astrolo-gers who frequented the family home. As a youth, Ramaswamy met SADHUS and SANNYASIS (holy men and penitents) in his own home, as he pursued skills in agriculture, mechanics, electronics, and cinematography.At age 28, he began a full-time spiritual quest that included meeting RAMANA Maharshi and Sri AUROBINDO. He became a disciple of Swami SIVANANDA of RISHIKESH and took SANNYAS initia-tion from him in 1949. He taught as a professor of HATHA and raja YOGA at Sivananda’s Vedanta Forest Academy in Rishikesh and made extensive lecture tours throughout the world. He spread the teachings and the organization of Sivananda’s Divine Life Society in many parts of Asia, particu-larly Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, and the Philippines. In 1958 he completed a pilgrimage to Mount KAILASH in Tibet.In 1966, Satchidananda made his first global tour, sponsored by an American devotee. The intended two-day visit to New York extended to five months as he was surrounded by hundreds of students, eager for his teachings and guidance. The Integral Yoga Institutes were founded under his direction, and today there are Integral Yoga Institutes and Centers throughout the world. In 1976, he became a U.S. citizen.Satchidananda has been named patron and adviser to various organizations around the world, including the European Union of National Yoga Federations, the International Association of Yoga Teachers, Unity in Yoga, and the Temple of Understanding. He received many honors for his service, including: the Martin Buber Award for Outstanding Service to Humanity, the Juliet Hol-lister Interfaith Award, the B’nai Brith Anti-Defa-mation League’s Humanitarian Award, the Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Award, and the U Thant Satchidananda, Swami 387 JPeace Award. He was also the recipient of several honorary doctorates and honorary titles.Satchidananda’s teaching centers around the principle “Truth Is One, Paths Are Many.” He sponsored many interfaith symposia, retreats, and worship services around the world. In 1986, he created a center dedicated to the light of all faiths and to world peace, called the Light of Truth Uni-versal Shrine (LOTUS), located at Satchidananda Ashram at Yogaville in Virginia. Yogaville serves as the international headquarters of the Integral Yoga Institutes and Centers.He died on August 19, 2002, in his native Tamil Nadu, South India.Further reading: Sita Wiener, Swami Satchidananda: His Biography (San Francisco: Straight Arrow, 1970).
Encyclopedia of Hinduism. A. Jones and James D. Ryan. 2007.