MYSORE: Renowned Yoga exponent K. Pattabhi Jois (94) passed away in the city on Monday after a prolonged illness. He popularised Ashtanga Yoga and was instrumental in making Mysore an internationally renowned centre to teach Yoga. His disciples included pop star Madonna, rock icon Sting and Hollywood actor Gwyneth Paltrow.
Born in 1915 at Koushika in Hassan district, Pattabhi Jois studied Yoga under the renowned T. Krishnamacharya from 1927 to 1945. He then enrolled in the Sanskrit Maha Pathashala at Mysore and learnt Sahitya Veda and Advaita Vedanta from 1930 to 1936.
Pattabhi Jois was introduced to Yoga when he was 12 years old when he witnessed a demonstration in school. He left Hassan for Mysore to meet T. Krishnamacharya and became his disciple.
Pattabhi Jois studied Yogic texts such as Pathanjali Yoga Darshana, Hatayoga Pradeepika, Suta Samhita, Yoga Yajnavalka and the Upanishads and went on to establish the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute where thousands of students from around the world received training in various forms of Yoga. He caught the attention of the then Majaraja Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar who persuaded him to teach Yoga and extended him an invitation to join the Maharaja’s Sanskrit College. At his invitation, Pattabhi Jois joined the college and taught in the Department of Yoga between 1937 and 1973. He was also the Honorary Professor of Yoga at the Government College of Indian Medicine from 1976 to 1978.
Guruji, as he was reverentially addressed, was honoured with the title of Yogasana Visharada by Jagadguru Shankaracharya of Puri in 1945. Among his many books, Yoga Mala in Kannada is reckoned to be the last word on the subject and has been translated and published by major publishing houses.
In 1986, the Karnataka Government conferred him with the Pathanjali Gold Medal and in 2002 he was conferred the title of Shastra Nidhi by Veda Shasthra Poshini Sabha.
As the news of his death spread, a large number of his disciples, followers and admirers arrived to pay their last respects. Veteran photojournalist T.S. Satyan, who knew Pattabhi Jois personally, described him as a cultural icon steeped in knowledge and best representing classical Mysore.