Revered Mystic Sadhguru Meets the Masses with Shimmering Humor and Inner Guidance


Photos: Damodhara Jammli

By Jawahar Malhotra

HOUSTON:  Sitting on a settee on stage, he was as easy going as a familiar friend, cracking a few jokes, sharing some sharp witticisms and all the while imparting the message of a balanced life “based on all four types of yoga, like a car with four wheels. You can only play with one wheel, like I used to as a child, kicking it around.” The audience giggled. “But that wasn’t going anywhere,” Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev said, his eyes twinkling in merriment.

He went on to explain the four yogas: Karma Yoga dealing with action and service to others; Bhakti Yoga dealing with devotion and emotions; Kriya or Raja Yoga that deals with meditation and Jnana Yoga that deals with knowledge and introspection. “Everyone is a combination of all four,” Sadhguru explained, “and on different days, different elements are dominant”.

He sat there, hands clasped or gesturing, with his well-known visage and carefully cultivated image – long spread-out white beard; bushy white eyebrows; a white turban twisted on his head; white salwar and long tunic, a striped shawl draped over one shoulder, a large watch on his left wrist – and one leg tucked under him, the empty sandal on the floor. The stage was sparse, save for two end tables with flowers in vases and four vertical, self-supporting banners – two on each side – describing the benefits of Yoga.


Sadhguru had come to Houston to spread the message of Yoga, in this year when June 21 was first adopted as the International Yoga Day by the United Nations and celebrated worldwide. That day, a special event was organized by the Indian Consulate and held at the George Brown Convention Center, attended by hundreds from across the Metroplex. The Consulate was also a participating partner in this event and Indian Consul General Parvathaneni Harish spoke briefly to introduce Sadhguru, asking for a “Texas-size” welcome for him. “Sadhguru is a yogi and a mystic … and we will hear something different today from him on yoga,” he said.

Sadhguru was onstage in the Asia Society’s main auditorium to explain the benefits of yoga and used many a humorous anecdote to clarify his point, not bashful to use the s**t word for emphasis. His followers were many in the audience that covered three quarters of the hall and knew of his teachings. In the lobby, devotees had set up a booth for the non-profit Isha Foundation, a spiritual organization based in Coimbatore, India which Sadhguru had established in 1992. Another booth sold his books, CDs and other literature.

Making himself comfortable in his seat, Sadhguru related to his surroundings. “As you sit here in this building, you are in connection with the Cosmos,” he began and then briefly touched on the spiritual experience he had in 1982 (when he was 25) as he sat on a rock that would change him forever. “At that moment I felt that I was all over the place; in the rocks, the air and the atmosphere.” That was the turning point for him to leave his poultry farm, brickworks and construction businesses and travel to meditate. A year later he decided to teach yoga to share this experience.

A short video shown before the talk showed Sadhguru’s busy schedule as he mingled with his followers, teaching and doing humanitarian work for which he is acknowledged worldwide. It also showed him as a solitary man enjoying his passion for riding fast cars, motorcycles, a helicopter and trekking on mountain wildernesses, often in the company of his adoring followers. After his discourse in the Q&A period, Sadhguru described how his Isha Foundation has grown to provide the largest environmental programs in Asia and that there are 520 schools worldwide to teach the concept of Inner Engineering; the largest, a breathtaking 44,000 sf center and retreat 45-minutes north of Chattanooga, Tennessee.

“When your body and mind are misused, they turn against you and then you cannot concentrate on anything else,” he said, adding “You are not happy in your life because your fundamental faculties are not functioning properly.”  He urged people to look inward to the experiences within and how these are projected in their own mind. “Yoga teaches you to take charge of the experience of life instead of being too busy with the psychological drama going on around you,” Sadhguru said, as he concluded his hour-long discourse. “Yoga channels your relationship with the rest of the Universe in a conscious, intuitional and experienced way.”