Vishnu Devananda, Swami (1927-1993)

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Vishnu Devananda, Swami (1927-1993)

Disciple of the late Swami Sivananda, teacher of hatha yoga, and founder-president of the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers, with branches in Canada, the United States, and Europe. He was born Swamy Kuttan Nair, on December 31, 1927, in Kerala, India. He became a school teacher at the age of 17, then later joined the Indian Army in which he served for two years. By chance he read a pamphlet by Swami Sivananda which emphasized the importance of studying the Hindu scripture Bhagavad-Gita. He did so and felt a strong impulse to visit the Sivananda Ashram. In 1946, while on army leave, he went to Rishikesh and became a disciple of Sivananda's. He decided to leave his family and become a renunciate. He was initiated, settled at the ashram, and became the professor of hatha yoga at the affiliated Yoga Vedanta Forest Academy.

At the suggestion of his guru, he undertook a tour of India, demonstrating hatha yoga asanas (positions) and training many hundreds of individuals. In 1957, he undertook a world tour, spending two years traveling throughout the U.S. and eventually settling in Canada, where he founded a Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center. Of the several students of Sivanada operating in North America, he is the one recognized by the Divine Life Society, the Sivananda organization in India.

He became the first yoga instructor to obtain a pilot's license and flew a private "peace plane" decorated by artist Peter Max to such disturbed areas of the world as Northern Ireland, West Pakistan and the Suez Canal, dropping peace leaflets. He established yoga centers in twenty-five communities, including a large yoga camp in Quebec, Canada, and another in the Bahamas. He also founded True World Order, an organization dedicated to yoga harmony, health, peace, and vegetarianism. International headquarters of the Sivananda Yoga Ashram is at 673 8th Ave., Val Morin, PQ, Canada J0T 2R0.

Swami Sivananda died of kidney failure in 1993.


Vishnu Devananda, Swami. The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga. Julian Press, 1960.

. Meditation and Mantras. New York: OM Lotus Publishing, 1978.

. The Sivananda Upanishad. New York: OM Lotus Publishing, 1987.