Sri Swami Satchidananda

East-West Diplomat

East-West Diplomat

Over the years, Swami Satchidananda was a frequent guest speaker and advisor to Indian communities around the world. In the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean islands, he became a principle advisor to Indian communities in planning their temples and cultural centers, often suggesting that Jains, Hindus, and Sikhs combine their funds to build one facility that could be shared by all. He transplanted examples of his beloved heritage to Satchidananda Ashram—Yogaville through the Fine Arts Society, the Lord Nataraja Shrine, and various aspects of the Ashram. Thus, in his gentle, gracious manner, Sri Gurudev was able to impart the value and richness of his spiritual tradition and make it accessible to the Westerner.

Swami Satchidananda also served as a friend and counselor to Indian children growing up in Western cultures. Through his Fine Arts Society, Sri Gurudev was able to give these children direct experience with the richness of Indian culture through music and dance classes. Since 1988, he founded the Bharata Natyam Summer Camp, and invited the renowned V. P. and Shanta Dhananjayan to be its permanent instructors. Through the camp, the children learned Bharata Natyam, the ancient Indian dance form, as well as traditional chanting and forms of worship. They also spent many informal evenings asking Sri Gurudev questions. As they shared their cares with him, he deepened their respect for their own heritage and encouraged them to feel that they belong to both the East and the West.

Throughout the years, Sri Gurudev and the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan (the Institute of Indian Culture) had extensive connections. They shared one another’s dedication to human welfare, a philosophy of education, Hindu values, and world peace. In 1994, Swami Satchidananda was presented with the Bhavan’s highest distinction of “Honorary Patron,” in recognition of his role in recognition of Swami Satchidananda’s role in sharing the ancient wisdom of Yoga with the West, his service to the Non-Resident Indian (NRI) community, and his efforts to foster a a deeper understanding of Indian culture.

Swami Satchidananda puts his hand on a giant globe“Swami Satchidananda was verily an ocean of love. Love flowed out of him in an endless, ceaseless stream. His love moved out not merely to human beings, but to all God’s creation. He loved every grain of sand, every drop of water, every ray of sunshine. And his love was unconditional. I bow down to him and seek his blessings.”

—Dada J. P. Vaswani
Sadhu Vaswani Mission

“How blessed the world is to have seen such a One, and we rejoice that he himself had such a long and noble life, working right to the very end in promoting peace and uplifting humanity as only he could.”

—Paramacharya Palaniswami
Editor-in-chief, Hinduism Today[


In response to a further need for expansion, a new facility for the Coimbatore Integral Yoga Institute® was procured in 1996. From the terraced rooftop, one sees the temple of Maruda Malai from the distance. This is where Swami Satchidananda’s great uncle, Kuttiappa, experienced the blessings of Lord Muruga. Swami Satchidananda’s birthplace, the village of Chettipalayam, lies fifteen kilometers to the south. Also south and a bit to the west of Coimbatore is Perur Temple, where Swami Satchidananda served as temple manager for some time. Situated as it is, amidst the landscape of Swami Satchidananda’s childhood and in the devotional ambiance of the Tamil people, the Coimbatore Integral Yoga Institute has flourished.

In December 2002, at which the keynote speaker was devotee and renowned actor Sri Rajni Kant, more than 15,000 attended the festivities. The teaching staff now includes 20 people, and on a typical day, more than 100 students attend classes.

The Coimbatore Integral Yoga Institute also sponsors social service projects such as medical checkups, Yoga classes for orphaned children, and tree planting. Two of the children who attend Satchidananda Jothi Nikethan are on full scholarship, sponsored by several of Swami Satchidananda’s American disciples. Every three months, the Coimbatore Integral Yoga Institute, along with the J K Periaswamy Trust, runs a residential, Dean Ornish-based program for heart patients.

The Coimbatore Integral Yoga Institute also organizes pilgrimages to South Indian temples and ashrams for both Western and Indian devotees. Some of these temples are more than two thousand years old, with mantra recitation going on for many hours each day. Experiencing the Shakti (spiritual energy and vibrations) in these temples is always a high point of our India tours.

In its own humble way, the Coimbatore Integral Yoga Institute is a meeting place for two cultures. Western devotees gain new insight into Swami Satchidananda’s teachings, and for many it is also very healing. As one visitor wrote, “I brought my soul home to rest for a while.”