Sri Swami Satchidananda was one of the great Yoga masters to bring the classical Yoga tradition to the West in the 1960s. He taught Yoga postures, meditation, and classical Yoga philosophy. He introduced students to a vegetarian diet and a more compassionate lifestyle—living a life dedicated to selfless service. It is this teaching that inspired Service in Satchidananda.
“The secret of happiness is leading a dedicated life. The first lesson to be learned from Yoga is to lead a dedicated life. Love expresses itself as dedication and service. The most important thing you can do is to dedicate your life in service. Serve all with your heart and soul, with your life. Serve the whole universe. Every minute you should remember that you are here to serve others. If you are dedicated in life, you have eternal joy and peace.” ~Sri Swami Satchidananda
Swami Satchidananda was born on December 22nd in 1914 in South India. From the time he was a little boy, he was deeply spiritual. Even as a young child, his devotion to God was strong, and he viewed people of all castes and faiths with an equal eye, recognizing the same light within every person.
When he lost his young wife, he turned his attention to full time spiritual practice and studying with many great spiritual masters, including Sri Ramana Maharshi and Sri Aurobindo. In 1949, he met his Guru—His Holiness Sri Swami Sivanandaji of the Divine Life Society, Rishikesh. He received initiation into monkhood from his spiritual master and was given the name Swami Satchidananda.
Thus began a new level of dynamic service for Swami Satchidananda. Sri Swami Sivanandaji sent him to serve in various parts of India and Sri Lanka. That led to his service in many other countries, and eventually—at the insistence of his many American students—to his moving to the United States, as well as to the founding of Satchidananda Ashram—Yogaville, Virginia and Integral Yoga Institutes and centers around the world.
The teachings of Swami Satchidananda have now spread into the mainstream and thousands of people teach Yoga. Integral Yoga is the foundation for Dr. Dean Ornish’s landmark work in reversing heart disease, Dr. Michael Lerner’s Commonweal Cancer Help program, Sonia Sumar’s Yoga for the Special Child program, and many more. One of the earliest Yoga teacher training programs was established by the Integral Yoga organization, and Integral Yoga is one of the founders of the Yoga Alliance.
Swami Satchidananda’s message emphasized harmony among people of all races and faiths. His motto was: “Truth is One, Paths are Many.” He believed that we are all one in spirit and once we have found that spirit within ourselves, we will always recognize it in others. Then, we truly have the power to help heal the world. Swami Satchidananda exemplified these teachings. His beautiful message is that we, too, can exemplify them.
Satchidananda Ashram–Yogaville serves as international headquarters for Integral Yoga International. A focal point of Yogaville is the Light Of Truth Universal Shrine (www.lotus.org). This unique interfaith shrine honors the spirit that unites all the world religions, while celebrating their diversity.
Swami Satchidananda dedicated his life to the cause of peace—both individual and universal—and to unity and harmony among all people. Not limited to any one organization, religion or country, Sri Swami Satchidananda received invitations for over fifty years from around the world to speak about the way to peace. He served on the advisory boards numerous Yoga, interfaith, and world peace organizations.
Swami Satchidananda received wide recognition for his public service including, the Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Award, the Juliet Hollister Interfaith Award, and the U Thant Peace Award. On the occasion of his birth centennial in 2014, he was posthumously honored with the James Parks Morton Interfaith Award by the Interfaith Center of New York.
Swami Satchidananda is the author of many books on Yoga and is the subject of the documentary, “Living Yoga: The life and teachings of Swami Satchidananda.” In 2002, he entered Mahasamadhi (a God-realized soul’s final exit from the body). Continuing his inspiration, Integral Yoga centers and teachers around the globe offer classes and training programs in all aspects of Integral Yoga.