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Yoga guru to Menuhin & Sachin

Pune, Aug. 20: B.K.S. Iyengar, who went from being a disease-stricken child to one of the world’s foremost yoga teachers and counted Yehudi Menuhin, Jayaprakash Narayan and Sachin Tendulkar among his disciples, passed away today. He was 95.

Iyengar had been unwell for a few weeks but refused hospitalisation till August 12 when his family admitted him to a private hospital here following renal failure and heart complications.

He had undergone three cycles of dialysis but did not respond to treatment and died at 3.15am today, doctors said. He was cremated this afternoon.

Hundreds thronged the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI), his institute in Pune named after his wife Ramamani who died in 1973.

Iyengar had written many books on yoga and philosophy, including Light on Yoga, Light on Pranayama and Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

Geeta, the eldest of Iyengar’s six children, recalled that her father wasn’t away from yoga even in his last days. “He had said let them (the doctors) do whatever treatment for my external self, I am at peace internally. He was content he had completed the task of spreading awareness about yoga. He would listen to yoga sutras at the hospital too.” Geeta is the director of the yoga institute, which she runs with brother Prashant.

B.K.S. Iyengar — Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar — took his first name from Karnataka’s Bellur where he was born on December 14, 1918. He was introduced to yoga by his guru T. Krishnamacharya at 16. At 18, he was sent to Pune by his guru to teach yoga and spread awareness.

As a child, Iyengar suffered many diseases, including malaria, typhoid and tuberculosis, before he took to yoga. Later, he suffered two heart attacks, in 1996 and 1998, but continued to practise asanas well into his 90s.

Iyengar married Ramamani in 1943. She supported him in teaching and practising yoga based on the tenets of Patanjali Sutra, a treatise of 196 sutras or aphorisms by Sage Patanjali.

Among other big names Iyengar taught were philosopher J. Krishnamurti, writer Aldous Huxley, and cricketers Martin Crowe, Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble.

Iyengar’s meeting with violin maestro Menuhin in 1952 paved the way for the guru to introduce “Iyengar Yoga” in the West.

Iyengar travelled all over the world and first published his teachings in 1966 in the Light on Yoga, which has since been translated into over 18 languages.

Iyengar won several awards, including the Padma Vibhushan, and was once listed by the Time magazine among the 100 most influential people in the world.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi joined the flood of tributes that poured in for the guru. “I am deeply saddened to know about Yogacharya BKS Iyengar’s demise. Generations will remember Shri BKS Iyengar as a fine guru, scholar & a stalwart who brought yoga into the lives of many across the world,” Modi tweeted.