Pictured: B. K. S. Iyengar, the founder of Iyengar Yoga and Swami Venkatesananda (right). Many may not realize that Swami Venkatesananda practiced Hatha Yoga daily for most of his life, and had a keen interest in it.
NB: Our senior director Swami Shantimurti Saraswati spent time with both of these great yogis.
Swami Venkatesananda was born in South India in 1921 to a Brahmin family. He learned Sanskrit at an early age from his uncle and grandfather and used to love to take part in religious observances. He was not only scholarly but full of fun (a trait which endeared him in later life when, as a Swami, he travelled in the West, illustrating the everyday concepts we live by with his humorous stories.)
At the age of fourteen he discovered a book by Swami Sivananda in a bookshop. He was so impressed that he wrote to Swami Sivananda asking if he could join him in his ashram. Swami Sivananda told him to finish his education and then come to Rishikesh.
On leaving school, he studied shorthand and typing, coming first in the examination. After working for the Madras Corporation, he obtained the position of Private Secretary to the Minister of War in Calcutta; most suitably, as a member of the diplomatic core. In this capacity one day he was asked to escort some V.I.P.s to Haridwar and Rishikesh. He visited Sivananda Ashram and was told that Swami Sivananda was resting and he wouldn’t be able to meet him. Shortly after, Sivananda unexpectedly came out. He looked at Parthasarathy and said, “So. You have come,” and asked him to stay at the ashram.
So after fulfilling his work commitments for a year, he returned to Rishikesh to stay. Sivananda put him to work in various departments of the ashram’s kitchen, temple, office, and typing, the press etc. After that he became the private secretary to Swami Sivananda, typing his books, answering letters and generally helping in his day to day activities. Later he travelled the world to spread the message of his master, Swami Sivananda.
For more information about the late Swami Venktesananda, visit his website.