3 September 1957
Mysore, Mysore State, India
|Alma mater||University of Mysore (BA)|
(m. 1984; died 1997)
|Honors||Padma Vibhushan (2017)|
Indira Gandhi Paryavaran Puraskar
Sadhguru (born Jagadish Vasudev, 3 September 1957) is the founder and head of the Isha Foundation, based in Coimbatore, India. The foundation, established in 1992, operates an ashram and yoga centre that carries out educational and spiritual activities. Sadhguru has been teaching yoga since 1982. He is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Inner Engineering: A Yogi's Guide to Joy and Karma: A Yogi's Guide to Crafting Your Destiny, and a frequent speaker at international forums.
Sadhguru also advocates for protecting the environment against climate change, leading many initiatives like Project GreenHands (PGH), Rally for Rivers, Cauvery Calling, and the Journey to Save Soil. In 2017, he received the Padma Vibhushan, India's second-highest civilian award, for his contributions to spirituality and humanitarian services. Also in 2017, Sadhguru unveiled the Adiyogi Shiva statue, the world's largest bust, in Coimbatore, India.
Jagadish Vasudev, commonly referred to as Jaggi, was born into a Telugu family on 3 September 1957, in Mysore, Mysore State (now in Karnataka, India). He was the youngest of five children to Susheela Vasudev (mother) and B.V. Vasudev (father). His father was an ophthalmologist at the Mysuru Railway Hospital and his mother a homemaker.
Vasudev married his wife, Vijikumari, in 1984. In 1990, Vijikumari and Jaggi had their only child, Radhe. Vijikumari died on 23 January 1997. Radhe trained in Bharatanatyam at the Kalakshetra Foundation in Chennai. She married Indian classical vocalist Sandeep Narayan in 2014.
After completing his formal education, Vasudev was uninterested in post-secondary schooling. One year later, however, he enrolled at the University of Mysore, where he studied English literature. While studying literature, Vasudev received second rank. Although his parents wanted him to continue his education with postgraduate studies, Vasudev disagreed and began a career in business.
After graduating from the University of Mysore, Vasudev went on to build his first business, a poultry farm, in Mysore. Vasudev explained that his motivation to start a poultry farm was driven by the serenity it yielded in the hours he was not working. The business required minimal attention throughout the day, so Vasudev was able pursue other interests during his time off, like writing poetry. The business grew profitable, but his family repeatedly criticized and opposed his decision to work with poultry. This led Vasudev to enter the construction industry with a company named Buildaids. He started the company in partnership with a friend, who was a civil engineer. Though Vasudev had no formal engineering training, he used the experience gained from building his poultry farm in his new endeavour.
In 1983, he taught his first yoga class, in Mysore. He began travelling across Karnataka and Hyderabad on his motorcycle, conducting his style of yoga classes, known as Sahaja Sthiti Yoga, subsisting on the income from his poultry farm rental and donating the funds received from his students.
Although Vasudev was not brought up in a spiritual household, he recollects one of his first spiritual experiences occurring after he turned 25. On 23 September 1982, he drove up Chamundi Hill, and as he sat on a stone, Vasudev had his first spiritual experience. He explained that, "All my life I had thought, this is me...But now the air I was breathing, the rock on which I was sitting, the atmosphere around me — everything had become me." After about six days, Vasudev had another similar experience at home. Six weeks later, he left his businesses and travelled extensively, in an effort to seek insight into his spiritual experiences. After about a year of meditation and travel, he decided to teach yoga to share his inner experience.
In his earlier years, Vasudev had a love for driving motorcycles. One of his favourite places to drive was the Chamundi Hills in Mysore, though he sometimes drove much further, including to Nepal. Vasudev advocates vegetarianism but whilst traveling if there is no vegetarian food available, he will eat seafood. He practices the Sun Salutation for 40 minutes a day.
In 1992, Sadhguru established the Isha Foundation as a platform for his spiritual, environmental, and educational activities. In 1993, he began searching for a location to establish an ashram to cater to the growing interest in his yoga classes. In 1994, he purchased land near the Velliangiri mountains in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, and inaugurated the Isha Yoga Center. Since establishing the Isha Foundation, he remains its head. The foundation's activities are run mostly by volunteers. The organisation offers yoga programmes, known as Isha Yoga. The foundation aims to improve the quality of education in rural India through an initiative called Isha Vidhya.
Through the Isha Foundation, Sadhguru has launched several projects and campaigns focused on environmental conservation and protection, including Project GreenHands (PGH), Rally for Rivers, Cauvery Calling, and Save Soil. Sadhguru established PGH to address water and soil issues in Tamil Nadu through reforestation efforts. Launched in July 2019, the "Cauvery Calling" campaign focused on planting trees along the Cauvery river's 0.65-mile wide area to replenish water levels in the river and the groundwater table. In 2017, Sadhguru launched "Rally for Rivers", a campaign intended to build widespread support for river revitalization efforts across India, similar to the "Cauvery Calling" campaign. In 2022, Sadhguru completed a 100-day motorcycle journey from London to India to bring attention to his "Journey to Save Soil" campaign, which focuses on raising awareness about soil degradation issues and the benefits of using organic matter in farming.
In May 2022, he addressed the leaders of 195 countries at the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification to speak about "Journey to Save Soil". Both Trevor Noah, host of The Daily Show, and podcast host Joe Rogan, have invited Sadhguru to discuss this movement. On World Environment Day 2022, Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, attended an event with Sadhguru to discuss efforts to improve soil health.
The UN FAO has stated that "90% of the Earth's precious topsoil is likely to be at risk by 2050". However, views have been divided on whether the "Save Soil" campaign is addressing this issue. Maria Helena Semedo, deputy director-general of FAO, opined that "Organic [farming] may not be the only solution but it's the single best [option] I can think of." Meanwhile, one environmental watchdog has characterized Sadhguru's approach as "greenwashing".
Speeches and writings
Sadhguru is a frequent public speaker who has been invited to address many prestigious forums and conferences across the globe, such as the United Nations' Millennium World Peace Summit, the British House of Lords, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the International Institute for Management Development. He has also spoken at the annual World Economic Forum in 2007, 2017 and 2020.
In 2017, Sadhguru was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the second-highest civilian award from the Government of India, in recognition of his contribution to the field of spirituality and humanitarian services. The same year, Sadhguru unveiled the Adiyogi Shiva statue, built by the Isha Foundation, in Coimbatore, standing at 34 metres (112 feet) tall. This was declared as the world's largest bust by the Guinness World Records.
When Ayushmann Khurrana asked him how to choose the "correct political stance", Sadhguru responded by saying that he does not subscribe to a political party, and others should not either. He stated that, "party membership should be cancelled because this is becoming a tribe." Accordingly, he encourages individuals to vote for a given party after evaluating their performance in office to "see who makes more sense". However, his views are occasionally perceived as Hindu nationalist and thus close to the Bharatiya Janata Party. In 2019 he referred to a Muslim student in London as a "Taliban," for which he apologized after heavy criticism. After recognizing the failure in the "government's communication" of the 2019 Citizenship Amendment Act in India, Sadhguru spoke in support of the act.
Relation to science
Although India approved the ratification of the international Minamata Convention on Mercury to ban its usage, Sadhguru advocates the use of mercury in the context of traditional Indian medicine such as Siddha medicine. He has addressed questions about the use of mercury by stating that individuals who have not studied and mastered the ancient practices of Siddha medicine should not consume such substances. However he was criticized for putting statements about toxicity into perspective.
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