21st June is the anniversary of Śrī TKV Desikachar’s birth. It is his compassionate transmission of the yoga teachings that inspires and guides TSYP.
This year it also happens to be summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and International Yoga Day.
Desikachar, “Sir” to his many admirers, used the idea of the Sun as a bhāvana, a way to carry us towards something better, in many practices he offered students. In the KYM’s booklet entitled “TKV Desikachar, a tribute”, there is a lovely picture of Sir teaching a sun meditation practice.
As a symbol or idea, the Sun can have multiple meanings. One meaning is to shed light on and dissolve our ignorance, thus leading us to wisdom.
Desikachar’s book The Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice more or less starts by introducing us to the yoga concept of the kleśas, the afflictions or obstacles that stop the mind from realising the nature of the true self. Principal among the kleśas is ignorance, avidyā, which is the main, often unnoticed, driver of the difficulties we encounter daily, moment to moment. The antidote to the kleśas is yoga sādhana: yoga practice, which, when applied appropriately, can reduce avidyā and so lead to a greater sense of understanding, peace, wisdom etc.
Weakening the kleśas’ grip on us is one of the main results of practising kriyā yoga (Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali, II.2).
The Taittiriya Aranyaka (2.11.1-8), looking back to Rigveda 3.62.10, refers to the Sun as Savitṛ (the one who inspires) with these words:
tat savitur vareṇyaṃ | bhargo devasya dhīmahi | dhiyo yo naḥ pracodayāt
In English this means something like:
We focus our minds on the lovely glory of the Sun, Savitṛ, so that Savitṛ may inspire our meditations.
Where one person might pray for fame, another might contemplate how it might be to be free from the desire (rāga) for fame. Someone might demand: “How can I get rid of that wasp’s nest?” A practitioner of yoga might ask: “How can I be rid of my fear (dveṣa) of wasps?” An individual might worry: “How can I save my beloved?” We might sit in meditation and be helped along by the illuminating light of the Sun, consider: “How can I learn not to fear (abhiniveśa) the death of my best beloved?”
May the Best in you illuminate your Heart
May your Heart light up your Life
May your Life brighten your World
May your World ignite the best in You
Michael Wegerer, yoga practitioner and teacher