From John Schumacher On the Passing of Mr. Iyengar
Thursday, August 21st, 2014
My teacher, mentor, friend, and inspiration, B.K.S. Iyengar, died today, Aug. 20, 2014 at age 95. He wasn’t just my teacher, mentor, friend, and inspiration; he was that to all his pupils, direct and indirect; he was that to the worldwide yoga community; he was that to mankind. The world has lost a truly remarkable, profound, transformational, and unique individual.
Guruji’s teachings and the force of his personality changed yoga as it is practiced and taught today and helped instigate the explosion of yoga worldwide. In light of his immense influence on yoga and in recognition of his role in yoga’s acceptance and popularity, Time magazine in 2004 included Mr. Iyengar among the 100 most powerful and influential people in the world. We – you and I, Unity Woods, the yoga world, and the world at large – will miss him tremendously. And though the light of his personality has gone out, the light of teachings will survive, thrive, and guide teachers and students of yoga for many years to come.
In this time of grief and remembrance, it would be good to put Guruji’s passing in perspective through his own words: “The sadhaka (seeker, practitioner, student) perceives that there is no difference between life and death, that they are simply two sides of the same coin. He understands that the current of self, the life-force, active while he is alive, merges with the universe when he leaves his body at death…….In realizing the oneness of life and death there is an end to ignorance in the aspirant, and he lives forever in the flow of tranquility.” Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, II: 9.
And: “Discover what does not die, and the illusion of death is unmasked. That is the conquest of death. That is why I did not cry for my wife, in spite of all my pain, for I will not cry for an illusion.” Light On Life
And finally: “I am old, and death inevitably approaches. But both birth and death are beyond the will of the human being. They are not my domain. I do not think about it. The complexity of the life of the mind comes to an end at death, with all its sadness and happiness. If one is already free from that complexity, death comes naturally and smoothly. If you live holistically at every moment, as yoga teaches, even though the ego is annihilated, I will not say, ‘Die before you die.’ I would rather say, ‘Live before you die, so that death is also a lively celebration.’” Light On Life
So we mourn and celebrate and do what Guruji always taught and what he would want us to do: practice with intensity and devotion and love of yoga.