24 Jun Shri Yogendraji – Founder of The Yoga Institute, Santacruz, Mumbai, India
Shri Yogendraji (1897–1989) who was initiated into the path of yoga by Paramhamsa Madhavadasji, saw his life mission as to bring yoga out of forest hermitages and make it freely accessible to the masses – men and women, young and old, sick and healthy, people of all communities, in all parts of the world. Also called the Father of Modern Yoga Renaissance, he showed to the world that a householder can be a Yogi, thus reviving a practice, going back to the Upanisadic period. He trained his young wife, Sita Devi in the yoga way of life and with her support, he went on a crusade to bring yoga to every home. He simplified many of the Yogic techniques and thus is a pioneer in reviving the classical yoga of Patanjali. The Yoga Institute he founded began its activities in a bungalow of Dadabhai Naoroji on the Versova beach in the year 1918 and moved to the present premises in Santacruz (East), Mumbai, in the year 1947.
Both of his sons, Jayadeva and Vijayadeva, and their wives took to the path of yoga. Thus, the Yogendra family came to be known as the yoga family.
Shri Yogendraji started his work in propagation of Yoga under the name Yogananda. The Yoganada who took yoga first to America in 1921 is none other than Shri Yogendraji. His writings are enshrined in the time capsule buried in the U.S. in the year 1940. After his return to India in 1924, he decided to change his name to Yogendraji, as another Yogi had gone to America under the now popular name Yogananda in the year 1923 and made U.S. his home.
Back in India, Shri Yogendraji engaged himself in devising modern methods to impart yoga, initiating research in yoga, particularly in the field of the yoga therapy for various ailments for which he received worldwide recognition. He authored several books on yoga and started the journal, Yoga and Total Health. He had great love for poetry; he translated Tagore’s Gitanjali into Gujarati. Yet, his heart beat for yoga and his love for poetry had to take a back seat.
People all over the world who were concerned with human values found his writings illuminative. Several luminaries in various fields including Nobel laureates started visiting The Yoga Institute. In his own lifetime, Shri Yogendraji had the satisfaction of seeing yoga firmly established as the sure path to health, peace and contentment in the modern world.