Santana, Dharmi 1914-2002
SANTANA, Dharmi 1914-2002
(Sri Swami Satchidananda)
OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born December 22, 1914, in Chettipalayam, India; died of a thoracic aneurysm August 19, 2002, in Madras, India. Religious leader, educator, and author. Santana, better known as Sri Swami Satchidananda, was a highly influential guru in America beginning in the 1960s, and helped to provide some spiritual underpinnings to the turbulent counterculture movement. Born and raised in India, he worked in his father's car import business and as a cameraman. However, when his wife died five years after their marriage, he began a spiritual quest that led him to Swami Sivananda, who became his mentor. Joining the Divine Life Society, he studied raja and hatha yoga and became a professor in those arts at the Yoga Vedanta Forest Academy in the Himalayas. He then journeyed to Sri Lanka, where he opened branches of the Divine Life Society and lectured throughout Malaysia, India, Hong Kong, and Japan during the 1950s and early 1960s. Invited to the United States in 1966 by pop artist Peter Max, he traveled to New York City. In New York Satchidananda broke with Divine Life and established the Integral Yoga Institute (now called Integral Yoga International), an organization that seeks to unify the various disciplines of yoga and to teach it to others. While in New York he gained many loyal adherents, including such celebrities as Carole King, George Harrison, and Mia Farrow. Indian culture, spiritualism, and music were popular among many in the United States during the 1960s, a fact that was demonstrated when the guru was invited to open the Woodstock Festival in 1969 with his blessing; he became known thereafter as the "Woodstock Guru." Continuing his work, Satchidananda founded Yogaville-West in California and Yogaville-East in Connecticut, and in 1986 he founded a temple in Virginia called the Light of Truth Universal Shrine (LOTUS). He is also credited with having an influence on modern medicine through his advocacy of diet, exercise, and meditation for better health. He was the author of several books on religion, philosophy, and yoga, including Integral Yoga Hatha (1970), Living Yoga: The Value of Yoga in Today's Life (1977), Peace Is within Our Reach (1985), The Living Gita: The Complete Bhagavad Gita: A Commentary for Modern Readers (1988), and Heart to Heart: Sure Success in Married Life (1999).
OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:
Religious Leaders of America, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1999.
Los Angeles Times, August 25, 2002, p. B19.
New York Times, August 21, 2002, p. C17.
Times (London, England), August 28, 2002.
Washington Post, August 24, 2002, p. B7.