Blog post by Aditya Jayaram
Tambrahms have become noticed as a community on account of their excellence in whichever field they entered – be it music, science and technology or civic service.This was on account of a deep foundation in spiritual practices which increased their focus, concentration and awareness.Whilst most of these practices revolved around the Nityakarmas (Nitya = daily + karma = activity) such as Sandhyavandanam, there were those who went beyond, into the esoteric with tapas, dhyana and yoga. One such stalwart was Yogacharya Sundaram of Bangalore (1901 to 1994), one of the pioneers of modern yoga.
Yogacharya Sundaram was born into a poor TamBrahm family which migrated to Bangalore from Madurai around 1910. A sickly child, he was taught asanas by a Maharashtrian lady, soon mastering it. He began teaching Yoga as a physical fitness stream in the early 1920’s, writing the world first English manual on Yoga in 1926 at age 25. Soon, he graduated to using Yoga for therapy, curing people of illnesses using a combination of yogasana and diet. He wrote extensively in Tamil, English and Sanskrit, regularly contributing articles on yoga in the Tamil weekly Ananda Vikatan.
He met his Guru Shri. Ananda Giri when he was in his 40’s and this changed his life, moving him from a materialistic to a deeply spiritual life. He soon became a favourite of his Guru and this was on account of his ability to stay in meditation for many hours with no break. In fact, another disciple asked the Guru what was so special of Sundaram’s dhyana, and the Guru asked the disciple to try and break Sundaram’s meditation. The disciple placed a rock on Sundaram’s head, shouted in his ear and in general tried to break his concentration to no avail.
A blog on the Yoga philosophies and practice of Shri Yogacharya Sundaram details the amazing contribution to Yogasana by him and his family – http://asana-therapy.blogspot.in/2016/05/dedication-to-great-yogacharya-sundaram.html