Bishnu Charan Ghosh, one of the greatest and most influential yoga masters of the past century. Ghosh, was born in Lahore, India in 1903, was a celebrated physical culturist and the first to scientifically document Yoga’s ability to cure chronic physical ailments and heal the body. Beginning in the 1920′s, he developed a school of Yoga that provides a unique blend of spiritual inspiration and a highly disciplined physical regimen. Guru to Bikram Choudhury, below is an account from Bikram’s book, “Bikram Yoga”, that illustrated the bond of guru and student and the path that Bishnu set Bikram on all those years ago.
“In February 1970 I left India and went to Japan, for what was supposed to be six months, to take care of some things there for my guru. I didn’t want to go – I was a king in Bombay! But when your guru tells you to do something, you have to do it. That’s it. You have no choice. As I was about to get on the plane at Calcutta Airport, my guru took my hand and told me something, in English, which he never spoke. “Promise me you will complete my incomplete job,” he said. He meant bringing yoga to the rest of the world, to the West and America. And I replied, “Yes, I promise. I will.” Forty years later I’m here in the United States, still performing my Karma Yoga by fixing Broken bodies and screw-loose brains.
“When Bishnu Ghosh bound me in that oath, I had no way of knowing it would be the last time we spoke. Soon thereafter my guru talked to all his family and friends, gave them his blessings, and said that he would soon take his rest. he then performed mahasamadhi, withdrawing his Spirit from his body and leaving this Earth at the age of 67.
“Looking back, I can’t help feeling sad, mostly because I miss him every second of every day with every ounce of my heart. But I’m also sad because I forgot to ask him how long I am supposed to continue teaching Hatha Yoga to fulfill my Karma Yoga! Do I have to keep doing this for my entire life? With no guru to answer me, I have to conclude that the answer is yes. To which I say, “No problem!”
Bikram Choudhury is the founder of The Bikram Yoga College of India. Born in Calcutta in 1946, Bikram started practicing yoga at the age of four with one of India’s most-renowned physical culturists, Bishnu Ghosh, the younger brother of Paramahansa Yogananda (author of Autobiography of a Yogi and founder of the Self-Realization Fellowship in Los Angeles).
Bikram practiced yoga 4 to 6 hours daily at Ghosh’s College of Physical Education in Calcutta. At age 13 he won the National India Yoga Championship; he remained undefeated for the next three years and retired as the undisputed All-India National Yoga Champion.
At 17, Bikram injured his knee during a weight-lifting accident. Doctors said that he would never walk again. Not accepting their prognosis, Bikram had himself carried back to Bishnu Ghosh’s school. He knew that if anyone could help heal his knee it was his beloved teacher. Six months later, Bikram’s knee had totally recovered. Ghosh was the first to scientifically document yoga’s ability to cure chronic physical ailments and heal the body.
Bikram was asked by Ghosh to start several yoga schools in India to pass on the tradition. The schools were so successful that, at Ghosh’s request, Bikram travelled to Japan to open two yoga schools. In that country, Bikram worked with doctors at the Tokyo University Hospital to prove the medical benefits of his yoga system, including tissue regeneration and healing of chronic ailments. These findings were presented in 1972 at the International Medical Conference in Kyoto.
Bikram arrived in the United States in 1973. Since that time, Bikram has healed thousands of students at his school in Beverly Hills and travelled the world extensively, bringing the benefits of Bikram Yoga to millions of yoga students in Bikram studios worldwide.
Rajashree Choudhury was born in Calcutta, India in 1965. At a very young age she began yoga with the support of her parents. She went on to win the All-India Yoga Championship five years in a row (1979 – 1983).
Rajashree earned a degree in Hatha Yoga Therapy from Mahila Yoga Byam Kendra, Ghosh’s College of Physical Education and Yoga Training Institute.
Over 40 years of experience and focus on yoga and its effect on the physical body and emotional body and how yoga creates balance within; Rajashree is a master in her own right.
An understanding of how yoga impacts the body, effects disease and creates harmony within the body, mind and soul give Rajashree a unique background and enriched way of teaching.
Among her many accomplishments and contributions, Rajashree is the co-founder and Vice President of Bikram Yoga College of India. She developed the highly acclaimed series – Rajashree’s Pregnancy Yoga. Rajashree founded the Labanya Foundation, a world wide women’s welfare charity organization; it’s mission to help women all over the world. She has started the Karma Is Action project which is a yoga based fundraising organization devoted to alleviating the suffering of children with life-threatening illnesses and cleaning up environmental disasters that lead to illness and disease.
In 2003 Rajashree founded the International Yoga Sports Federation. Rajashree is President of the IYSF, with the sole mission of promoting, unifying, and increasing interest in Yoga Asana globally. Yoga as a sport is growing fast throughout the world, and the International Yoga Asana Competition has been very much supported and powered by Rajashree’s vision of bringing Yoga to the Olympics. Rajashree’s personal experience practicing yoga as a child motivates her to share yoga with the younger generations so that yoga can be used to promote a healthier life for the growing population.