Decades of Service by Swami Satchidananda:
Yoga, Holistic Health, Peace and Interfaith Visionary and Innovator
Born 1914 Dec 22
K. Ramaswami (Ramu) was born in Chettipalayam, near Coimbatore, in South India. His father, Sri Kalyanasundaram, was a landowner, village leader, Tamil scholar, and acclaimed poet. His mother, Srimati Velammai, was a devout woman who prayed to conceive a child endowed with divine virtues and found her prayers answered.
From the time he was a child, he showed great spiritual sensitivity and an inclination towards difficult yogic practices.
At age 10, Ramu delivered a short talk on Ahimsa at the 5-day conference in Perur at the Sad Vidhya Sanmarga Sangam of Sandalinga Swamigal Mutt, which attracted thousands of people including distinguished lecturers and swamis. The lecture was well received and Ramu was invited to speak annually for as long as he lived in the area. While enrolled in the government elementary school, he excelled at scientific subjects: electronics, chemistry and physics. He demonstrated compassion for the “untouchable” laborers and secretly stole across class lines to help them.
1928-29: Agricultural Student
He rounded out his education at the Agricultural College. One month before graduation, he left, saying to the dean, “I’ve completed my studies and there are no further courses I’m interested in taking….I have no reason to stay here just to receive your certificate.”
1923 Automobile Importer
He imported automobiles and motorcycles for his uncle’s growing business in Coimbatore, India’s first improters of British cars.
Pioneered work with engines that used alternative fuels and folding bicyles. Was the first in his family to travel abroad to another country. He visited Ceylon for business and made various religious excursions to places of religious pilgimage–the shrines of Kataragama, Munuswarm and to Adam’s Peak. He left the automobile business for the cinematographic field as a producer and distributor, traveling to remote villages to promote and project films.
He was asked to manage the Perur Temple of Lord Nataraja, supervising temple finances, organizing its festivals, taking on the managing of and leasing of teple lands and overseeing maintenance. At age 23, Ramu was still a bachelor when most men were married and having children. At the prodding of his family, he took a lovely woman as his wife. She passed on suddenly after 5 years and the care of their two small children was left to his parents.
During World War II, he worked briefly as an engineer in a government owned munitions factor and quit despite threats of arrest. He became interested in the study and practice of Hatha Yoga.
Makes pilgrimage to Badrinath and Kedarnath, India. Traveled widely in India, studying with various yoga masters until finally finding his own satguru, Sri Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh.
1949: Receives initiation into Holy Order of Sannyas (monkhood) from His Holiness Sri Swami Sivananda, Divine Life Society, India.
1950 – Title of “Yogiraj” (King of Yogis) bestowed upon Sri Gurudev by H. H. Sri Swami Sivananda.
1951: All-India Tour–under Master Sivananada’s direction, Swami Satchidananda began extensive lecture tours throughout India and eventually was sent to Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) to establish a new branch of the Divine Life Society. During his 13 years of service in Sri Lanka to Divine Life Society, he founded Satchidananda Thapovanam (Kandy). While there, his ecumenical vision of religion began to grow and take concrete shape. He declared that Guru Purnima should serve as “All Prophets Day,” teaching that “Truth is one, paths are many,” and that all the world’s major religions are equally valid means to the understanding the highest spiritual Truth.
1958-May 15 to August 11: Pilgimage to Mt Kailash in the Sacred Hamalyas of Tibet
1958 May 15 – Aug 8: Makes pilgrimage to Mt. Kailash in Tibet on foot
1958 Aug 16 – September 29: Completes pilgrimage to Amarnath Cave
First lecture tour of Hong Kong and Malaysia.
Beginning the late 1950s, when Swami Satchidananda became their Guru, the Harilela family of Hong Kong–leading business moguls–consulted with and invited him to bless their new business ventures.
Lecture tour of Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Japan.
1966 Appears in Conrad Rooks’ film, Chappaqua
1966 Founds Integral Yoga Institute, one of the first Yoga centers in New York City.
First meeting and beginning of collaboration with H. H. the Dalai Lama.
Receives Martin Buber Award, for outstanding service to humanity.
Co-founded the Center for Spiritual Studies along with Brother David Steindl-Rast, Rabbi Joseph Gelberman, and Eido Tai Shimano. Received United States resident’s visa as “Minister of Divine Words.”
1969 - Carnegie Hall
1969 – Jan 31 Standing room only Carnegie Hall lecture.
1969 - Woodstock
1969 – Aug 15 Opened the Woodstock Music and Peace Festival and leads first mass kirtan in U.S.
1969: Founds first ashram in NYC at 500 West End Ave in Apartment 5a and 5B. Later, 4 other apartments in the building are occupied by yogis.
1969 Founds Integral Yoga Magazine
1969: Founds first Yoga magazine in America:
1969: Conducts a three-day seminar at St. Augustine Convent, Quebec City, Canada. First time Catholic nuns receive mantras Interviewed on the Mike Douglas Show.
Alice Coltrane meets Swami Satchidananda; records two albums inspired by his teachings (Journey in Satchidananda, 1970; World Galaxy, 1972) and travels with him in India and Sri Lanka in late 1970 – 1971.
1970: Carole King meets Swami Satchidananda and she becomes an Integral Yoga teacher; she writes “You Light Up My Life” in his honor.
1970: Gives talks at Horizon House Drug Rehabilitation Center in New York City. Speaks at the opening of Phoenix House, drug rehabilitation center (Hart Island, New York).
1970: Gives talk at Young and Rubicam Advertising Agency, New York City.
1970: Speaks at the Union Square Environmental Action Day program with Mayor Lindsay on the first Earth Day in New York City.
1970: Lectures to students and faculty members of the Department of Psychology at Montclair State College, New Jersey.
1970: Attends opening session of the World Youth Assembly at the invitation of the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations.
1970: Meets with Secretary General U Thant at United Nations in New York City.
October 15, 1970: A beautiful brownstone building on West 13th Street in historic Greenwich Village was dedicated as the New York Integral Yoga Institute. Both an ashram and a teaching center, it became a beacon for spiritual seekers from all over New York City and is the place where thousands of people experienced Yoga for the first time.
1971: Gives talk to inmates at the Lorton Federal Penitentiary, Washington, DC
1972 Yoga meets fashion: Teaches Yoga poses to supermodel Verushka, photographed by Richard Avedon for Vogue magazine.
1972: Participates in Earth Day at the United Nations, New York City.
1972: Gives talk at Danbury Prison, from which regular Yoga program began in the prison.
March 1972: Opens Integral Yoga Natural Food store, the first vegetarian health food store in New York City. For a long time, it was the only place in the city where they could purchase exclusively vegetarian products– consistent with the principles of purity and nonviolence that are at the heart of Yoga.
1972: Speaks to the prisoners at Lorton Federal Penitentiary; speaks to prisoners at Danbury Federal Prison, Connecticut.
1972: Speaks at Whole Earth Day Festival at the University of California, Davis, California; leads silent meditation.
1972: Addresses a group of graduating trainees at the National Institute for Community Drugs Program in Toronto, Canada. 1972: Dean Ornish meets and begins studying with Swami Satchidananda, who encourages him to enter medical school. Dr. Ornish’s later work in reversing heart disease through lifestyle changes is based on Integral Yoga.
1972: Conducts 3-day Integral Yoga workshop at the American Academy of Psythotherapists convention and gives lectures on Yoga psyhchology to students and faculty members of various universities.
1972: Conducts 3-day Integral Yoga workshop at the convention of the American Academy of Psychotherapists.
1972: Speaks at Adelphi College Drug Prevention Training Program.
1972 Yogaville - West
Most of the people who were part of the first Yogaville – West in Siegler Springs, Lake County, CA, on the steps in front of the dining hall: Donald Boyce, Miriam Gopi Weinstein, Mary Sue Redding, Joe Jeeva Abbate, Brian Berman, Santoshi, Stephen Bacon, Krishan Prem Kearny Buskirk, Ramanan Schultz, Ranjani, Veena Nancy Nichols, Sudharman Tom Kennedy, Leela Elizabeth Mueller Marcum, Deborah Goldman, Gerry Sackett, Daya Tobin, Hari Hassin, Radha Bonnie McChristy, John Demers, Shree Diane Hassin, David Vijay Hassin, Stephen Claydon, Steve Clayton and Casey Hayden.
1973 - Yoga for the City
1973: PBS (Channel 13, New York) airs “Swami Satchidananda, Yoga for the City”
1973: “Swami Satchidananda” LP released by Columbia Records, which is first major label to release talks and kirtan by a Yoga Master.
1973: Teaches Yoga and meditation during a 5-day conference on “Doing Prayer” at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, which was attended by 200 Catholic monks and nuns who serve as teachers to other members of the clergy.
1973: Speaks to the students and faculty of Fordham University, Bronx, New York on “Yoga and Christianity.”
1973: Gives talk at Palmer Chiropractic College (est. 1897) in Davenport, Iowa
1973: Participates in biofeedback and meditation experiment at Duke University, North Carolina.
1973: Gives talks at the Morris County Prison in New Jersey; Lectures at Soledad Prison and Tracey Prison, near San Francisco, California.
1974: Lecture at the Gestalt Therapy Institute, Los Angeles, California.
1974: Talk at Morris County Prison, New Jersey.
1975: Establishes first Integral Yoga Teacher Training and certification program. Integral Yoga is one of the founding members of the Yoga Alliance.
1975: Gives talk at “How to Deal with Pain” Symposium at the Florida Technological University, Orlando, Florida.
Swami Satchidananda with doctors Barbara & Gordon Latto, board members of World Vegetarian Congress, 1975.
1975: Gives talk at the World Vegetarian Congress, sponsored by the International Vegetarian Union in Orono, Maine.
1975: Gives talk at Soledad Prison, California.
1975: Opens Integral Health Services, Pomfret, Connecticut, one of the first holistic health/Yoga therapy centers in America; Prevention magazine carries feature article about this.
1976: Becomes a US citizen
1976: Gives a talk at the High School of Fashion Industries in New York City.
1977: Lectures to the American Medical Students’ Association conference, Chicago, Illinois.
1977: Lectures at the Johns Hopkins Medical School, Baltimore, Maryland.
1977: Lectures at the National Institute of Health (NIH), Washington, D.C. to 600 doctors, nurses, technicians, and guests. This lecture inspired a successful Yoga program at NIH for patients and staff.
1977: Opens the Integral Yoga School (Connecticut), the first state accredited elementary school to include Yoga curriculum.
1977: Lectures at the Baylor School of Medicine, Houston, Texas and conducts Yoga retreat for heart-disease patients, Woodlands Inn, Texas in conjunction with early research planning by Dr. Dean Ornish.
1977: Addresses Mandala Wholistic Health Society Conference, San Diego California on his approach to holistic health and leads a one-day workshop in “Integral Health,” the methods that he has his health center follow.
1978: Gives a talk on, “The Spine and Nervous System from the Eastern Point of View,“ to chiropractic and naturopathic students, at the National College of Natural Medicine (est. 1956), Portland, Oregon
1978: Lectures at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 1978: Guest speaker at first conference of newly established American Holistic Medicine Association
1978: Meets with Dr. Lewis Thomas, President of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer and Dr. Dean Ornish concerning Dr. Ornish’s research involving the use of Yoga, meditation and vegetarian diet. Swami Satchidananda was Dr. Ornish’s primary consultant in designing this project.
1978: Meets with representatives from Pillsbury Company who invite him to help Pillsbury develop and implement a nutrition policy
1979: Opens the Nambassa Community Festival, Waihi, New Zealand (New Zealand’s “Woodstock” music festival attended by 60,000 people)
1978 Midday Live Television Interview with Swami Satchidananda
1979 Founds Satchidananda Ashram - Yogaville
1979 Founded Satchidananda Ashram-Yogaville, an hour outside of Charlottesville, VA. Today Yogaville serves as the world-wide headquarters of the Integral Yoga Institute and is the home to over 200 community members, as well as the spiritual home to countless others.
1979: Travels to Athens, Greece at the invitation of Dr. Demetre Goudas, President of the Cultural Center of Athens, in order to organize drug rehabilitation and interfaith programs for the Greek government
Appointed Honorary Fellow of World Thanksgiving by the Center for World Thanksgiving, Dallas, Texas.
Guest speaker at the Unity in Diversity Interfaith Symposium, Seattle, Washington.
Special guest speaker for a conference on Nuclear Disarmament at Stanford University.
Appointed as Advisor of the Hartley Film Foundation, Connecticut.
Appointed to the Honorary Council of Patron Members of the Universal Temple, France.
Guest speaker at the International Religious Assembly for the United Nations Special Session on Disarmament.
Speaks at the International Religious Convocation at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York City.
Named Patron of the United States Center of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.
Joins Sri C. Subramaniam, (former finance minister of India) and Professor John Kenneth Galbraith of Harvard University for panel discussion, Columbia University, New York City.
Speaks at annual “Earth Mass” at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City.
Governor of Tamil Nadu, Sri S.L. Kahurana, confers honorary title “Perarul Perumunivar” (Grace-filled Great Sage).
Interview on All India Radio.
Dedicates the Blue Mountain Natural Foods Store (later renamed the Integral Yoga Natural Foods Store), Charlottesville, Virginia.
Public lecture at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, sponsored by the Society for Human Potential.
Keynote speaker at the World Conference of Religions for Peace, Montreal, Canada. Meets with San Francisco Mayor Diane Feinstein as part of a Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan delegation.
Guest speaker at 10th Italian Yoga Federation Conference, Tuscany, Italy.
Audience with His Holiness Pope John Paul II.
Appointed to the Advisory Board for the United Nations Committee of the Lumbini Project.
Celebrant at the second annual Pentecost Ecumenical Service at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City.
Receives honorary doctorate from the New Seminary, New York City.
Guest speaker at Vishwa Hindu Parishad conference at Madison Square Garden (New York) and numerous other VHP conferences.
Joins H. H. the Dalai Lama at the Spiritual Summit VI, sponsored by Temple of Understanding and United Nations.
Invited as “citizen diplomat” on 2 peace missions to Russia.
Appointed to Advisory Board for the Center for International Dialogue. Joins Cardinal Arinze for Thanksgiving Square Foundation program commemorating the 20th anniversary of Nostra Aetate.
Guest speaker at World Academy of Yoga, London, England, sponsored by the British Wheel of Yoga.
Named International Patron of the Global Cooperation for a Better World.
Guest speaker at Yoga Research Society conferences. Serves as chaplain for Soviet-American Citizens’ Summit, Washington, D.C.
Guest speaker, Global Conference of Spiritual and Parliamentary Leaders on Human Survival, organized by the Global Forum, Oxford, England. Founds Fine Arts Society, Yogaville.
Begins annual summer Indian dance camp taught by Padmarani Rasiah-Cantu and the V. P. Dhananjayans.
Guest speaker at several Unity in Yoga Conferences. Appointed to Board of Advisors.
1980: Ordains Integral Yoga Ministers, the first Yoga and interfaith ministers in the US
1981: Co-founds, with Rabbi Joseph Gelberman, the first interfaith seminary (New York City) in the US
1982: Speaks at the International Religious Assembly for the United Nations Special Session on Disarmament sponsored by the Temple of Understanding and gave the opening talk on “The Cause of War and the Way to Peace.”
1982: Joins Sri C. Subramaniam, the former finance minister of India, and Professor John Kenneth Galbraith of Harvard University for a panel discussion at Columbia University, New York City.
Several world tours; numerous international and U.S. tours.
Guest speaker at the 6th International Yoga Teachers Association Convention, Kyoto, Japan.
Appointed Advisory Board Member for the World Monastic Council, New York.
1985 Dedicates the LOTUS Lake, a constructed pond that would encircle the LOTUS.
1986 LOTUS built and dedicated.
World tour; numerous international and U.S. tours.
Dedicates Nataraja Shrine, Yogaville with Dr. Karan Singh, Sri Sivaya Subramuniya, Mrs. Juliet Hollister, and Ambassador of Nepal.
Presides over the Second Annual South American Yoga Teacher’s Congress, Argentina.
Guest speaker at A.R.E Conference, Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Joins interfaith delegation during “Thanksgiving Day Proclamation” with President Bush, Washington, DC.
Attends dedication of “Swami Satchidananda Gastroentology Division,” Kovai Hospital, India.
Guest Speaker at Dr. Dean Ornish’s Preventive Medical Research Institute, San Francisco.
Interview by National Geographic Education Films.
Guest Speaker at Pentagon Meditation Club, Washington, D.C.
Guest speaker at “World Vision 2000,” Maryland.
Guest speaker at the 1993 “Parliament of the Worlds Religions,” Chicago.
Guest Speaker at Medical Center Hours, University Of Virginia Medical School, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Receives highest honor “Honorary Patron” from Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan International.
Guest Speaker with Mrs. Coretta Scott King, at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Symposium, New York.
Honored during “Feel the Spirit, Heal the World,”
Swami Satchidananda’s 80th birthday celebrations.
Named 1994 “Hindu of the Year” by Hinduism Today.
Receives Rotary Club’s Paul Harris Award.
Receives “Juliet Hollister Award” at United Nations.
Inspires founding of “Lotus Vision Research Trust,” India (charitable eye care services).
Founds Satchidananda Jothi Nikethan, India (residential school).
Attends 1999 Golden Jubilee celebrations in India and USA (50th anniversary of monkhood).
Attends “Interreligious Friendship Group” meetings with the Dalai Lama and with President Carter at the Carter Center.
Guest speaker at Whole Life Expo, Atlanta.
Participates in interfaith service prior to opening of the 54th Session of the General Assembly organized by the Interfaith Center of New York with Secretary General and Mrs. Kofi Annan.
Guest speaker at “Masters of Meditation” conference, New York.
Lecture tours of Caribbean Islands.
Inspires founding of Integral Ear Insititute, India (charitable ear care services).
Guest speaker at International Jain Conference, New Jersey.
Swami Satchidananda received the U Thant Award in 2002. Presented at the Interfaith Center of New York by Sri Chinmoy and hosted by the Very Rev. James P. Morton. Other award recipients include H. H. the Dalai Lama, Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, Archibishop Desmond Tutu, among other luminaries.
Gives keynote address for “World Congress on Global Vision and Strategies for Peace, Nonviolence and Harmony,” India.
2002 Aug 19: Attains Mahasamadhi.
Integral Yoga Celebrates the 100th birth anniversary of Sri Swami Satchidananda.
Service in Satchidananda offers 100 “Good Deeds” (charity and social service) around the world
Swami Satchidananda Centennial Stamp released in South India
The Museum at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, on the site of the historic 1969 Woodstock Festival, honors the 100th Birth Anniversary of “The Woodstock Guru” with a special exhibit.
Honored as an “interfaith visionary,” posthumously given the James Parks Morton Interfaith Award on June 4th 2014
Interfaith Kirtan for World Peace
A historic coming together of devotional chants and sacred music from a variety of global faiths occured in the the sacred space of the world’s largest Gothic Cathedral. Musical guests include: Krishna Das, GuruGanesha Singh, Kirtan Rabbi, Mandala, the PS41 Songbirds Choir, Tibetan Gongs with Grand Gongmaster Don Conreaux, and Islamic Call to Prayer.