Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The end of the circle - Guruji BKS Iyengar passes away

Its been nearly two years since I wrote a post. So much has changed for me and my practice. I have been off practice since last year as I developed pinched nerves in my cervical spine and had a disc replacement surgery in April. I was asked to be off yoga classes till September, but had made plans to start practice at  Abhay's studio in Pune on August 20th, the day I arrived in Pune.

But that plan was not meant to be.  Last week there was news of Guruji being admitted to a Pune hospital with a weakening heart.  Late last night after  I landed in Mumbai the news became grim. He was in critical condition with kidney and heart failure. During the drive to Pune I spoke to my teacher Nuvana, who too happened to be in Mumbai. We were both praying for Guruji, but we were obviously concerned. I arrived inPune at 2 am and checked into my hotel. I was restless and something wasn't feeling right,  I couldn't sleep, so I spent the next two hours browsing the web, looking for any news on Guruji. And then I felt it!  but didn't want to believe the inevitable and feel asleep.

I was woken up by a text message from Nuvana at 8 am. Guruji had passed away at 3:15 am. I was disheveled. This was not planned. Then the sadness hit and the regrets started!  How I wish I had met him for one last time and had him sign my books, or  that interview which I had asked for  years ago for the blog, but never had the courage to ask .. or that trip I wanted to make just to see him as my neck issues worsened.. or missing his 95th birthday celebrations last year....

I delayed, I postponed, I procrastinated;  and then to arrive in India about the same time as the circle of life for guruji completed.  There couldn't be a worse or better time to be there. It was just the time to be there, and I feel fortunate I was there to be part of his last journey out of his yoga institute. All my yoga friends  I had planned to meet on this trip, everyone was there to be with him.  I cannot describe how I felt, because I just felt this indescribable feeling in wee hours of the morning and it was not jet lag. I am sure everyone connected to him, his family and students, all felt it.  Even though they didn't want him to go, we all hoped to see him alive for his 100th birthday and all believed that nothing could go wrong with this man even at ninety five, we all collectively felt that it was time for him to go.

I made two darshans (visits) hastily in the room where his lifeless body lay, in his final shavasana., covered in flowers, incense burning and close family members chanting prayers. I could see the energy and glow gone from his face in the lifeless body, as he had merged with his soul and left us. I took some video and pictures outside, as we all stood there for hours quiet and silent till his body was moved to the place of pyre to chants of Narayana.  Those were tearful moments, as many memories and thoughts gushed through me, not just of Guruji, but my parents and grandparents who passed and their last moments and the funerals. It was too much at the end.  As the family prepared for the pyre to be lit, I was just overcome with heat and emotion - this was time for his family, his relatives, I couldn't bare to see through the rest.  The legend, our revered Guruji BKS Iyengar, the yoga master, had already left for his next life and perhaps a new yoga master was already change our lives once again!

With heartiest condolences to the Iyengar family,

Nitin Rai (the yogi)

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