Sukul, Deva Ram

(fl. 1920s–1940s) teacher of raja yoga in the United States
   Deva Ram Sukul, founder of the Yoga Institute of America, was one of a handful of independent Hindu teachers active in the United States during Satguru Subramuniyaswami (1927–2001), founder of Saiva Siddhanta Church and Hinduism Today (Siva Siddhanta Church, Kapaa, Kauai, Hawaii) the years when the Asian Exclusion Act was in effect (1924–65).
   Little is known of Deva Ram Sukul’s early years, the work of his institute, or even his death. He emerges out of obscurity only as the author of a few books (Yoga and Self-Culture and Yoga Nava-jivan) and as a teacher of the American actress Mae West.
   As director of the Yoga Institute, Sukul had become an acquaintance of the lawyer James A. Timony. At one point in the late 1920s, West became ill in reaction to the stress of several law-suits against her. Timony introduced her to Sukul, who was able to heal her at their first meeting. Sukul subsequently joined her entourage and traveled with her through the next decade. West would later credit him with assisting her in devel-oping a philosophy of life, although she was also interested in astrology and spiritualism.
   In later years, Sukul lectured on raja yoga and taught the GAYATRI MANTRA. He also knew the pioneer San Francisco HATHA YOGA teacher Walt Baptiste (1917–2001) and he taught raja yoga in Baptiste’s center in the 1940s.
   Further reading: Deva Ram Sukul, India and Tibet: Pil-grimage Lessons (New York: Yoga Institute of America, 1941); ———, Yoga and Self-Culture: Higher Laws of Spiritual Dynamics Including Outline of Philosophy of the Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, and the Six Systems of Hindu Philosophy (New York: Yoga Institute of America, 1947); ———, Yoga Navajivan (Path to New Life and Divine Realization): Introduction to Raja Yoga System of Self-Culture as Taught by Deva Ram Sukul (New York: Yoga Institute of America, 1947); Jill Watts, Mae West: An Icon in Black and White (New York: Oxford Univer-sity Press, 2001); Mae West, Mae West on Sex, Health and ESP (London: W. H. Allen, 1975).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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