The happiness of Swami Krishnadevananda

This month I’ve found myself talking about Swami Krishnadevananda in classes. This name may not be familiar to you and that’s ok.

He was the Director of the London Sivananda Centre and had quite an impact on me. It’s hard to find words to do him justice but I’ll give it a go.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term ‘Swami’, it means teacher. They’ve normally renounced all material possessions in order to devote their lives to spiritual practice. You might think I’m talking about an Indian guy but this is where Swami Krishna was different – and this is often the case in Sivananda circles – he’s a 6ft something bean pole of an American from the Deep South. His age was hard to determine. His hamstrings were immense. He remembered your name, knew what was going on in your life and it felt like he always had time for you.

His laugh. His laugh had you in stitches in satsang. You weren’t laughing at what he was saying, mostly you were laughing at him laughing. His asana classes were normally a giggle too and he knew when to push you, and when to back off. And he rocked the harmonium. He dressed up as Santa at the Christmas parties.

When my mum and dad once came to satsang, he gave them a special welcome and they felt like royalty. I loved him for this.

Anyway, there’s one story that stands out for me.

He told us how he lived all over the US. He went to one city, got a job there and something wasn’t right. He boss sucked, his job sucked. So he moved to another city and the same happened. So he moved again and again.

And you know what? Wherever he lived, the same things came up for him. So he stepped back and started to look at himself. I mean really look at himself. Then he was able to work out what needed to change.

We always think that external things will make us happy: “when I have a job I love… when I live in a great city… when x, y or z happens… then I’ll be happy.” We’re all capable of being happy but as cliched as it sounds, it’s within.

I hope Swamiji is happy. Wherever he is now, I send him love and blessings and when I think of him I can’t help but smile.

Om shanti.

Do you have memories of Swami Krishna? Feel free to share them below.

At the next yin/yang workshop in Harpenden on 15 November I’ll be talking more about happiness.

With Swami Krishna at the Sivananda Ashram, France, 2011
With Swami Krishna at the Sivananda Ashram, France, 2011

10 Replies to “The happiness of Swami Krishnadevananda”

    1. Om Michael, he left the organisation. And in true Sivananda style, no one really knows where he is or what he’s up to.

  1. Dear Clare, I imagine that soon you will be studying
    Sanskrit too! Swa mi, means Swa – self – mi, a person who is supposed to be one with him/her self. Not necessarily a teacher, but, I suppose we can all learn from people like that, if they really are fully that, and not just ordained in cloth!

    In my life, I really question the `new age’ introduction of what is essentially a socially hierarchical formation, of Swamis and brahmacharis, and gurus, into a society, as the American one is, that has striven for social equality. This is not really Vedic culture, its some sort of very weird social stratification, that I hope and pray, does not become a norm, with `special’ people, more deserving of greater respect than others.

    I enjoy your posts, and wish you well on your journey. I hope my thoughts have in no way offended you.

    God Bless you!

  2. He was such an inspiring person!
    I have not met any other swami that has touched my heart as much as he did through his humor and joyful lightness.
    I am so thankful I had him in my TTC which was one of the last ones he was in before he left the organization.
    I’m actually sad I did not decide to do the ATTC in India a few months after which was the last training where he was one of the swamis.
    Wishing him health and happiness wherever he is and thanking him for making learning yoga philosophy and anatomy such a pleasant and fun experience.
    Miss you Swamiji, best wishes in your path and hope our paths cross again to laugh a bit about life 🙂

  3. I posted a link to this post in a Sivananda teachers forum on Facebook. Here are some of the comments people left underneath:

    i loved him

    Thanks for writing this. It bought back some lovely memories of my own with Swamiji. Just not the same without him there!

    This is beautiful , it made me smile. thank you !

    A wonderful human being. He got this ‘being a swami’ just right. Extremely caring, humorous and showed his humanity and vulnerability. It was a sad day when he left the organisation. I loved him xxx

    Thanks for posting. Tears welled up as I read. I miss him dearly

    Thankyou Clare – I think about the influence his teachings have on me often! Miss him terribly – wish him well. Does anybody know what he’s doing or where? x

    I truly miss him!
    Thank you writing beautiful words he is very special swamiji for

    I would like to wish him belated happy birthday (think it was on 1st of November)

    I miss him too, he is a special being, and on the 1st of November it was his birthday. Happy birthday Swamiji and a lot of laughter, OM

    I got so excited on seeing your photo. I was hoping someone had news of him. What a truly kind, caring, and humorous man he is. Our lives were made richer from knowing him. Love and miss you swamiji

  4. Miss you soooo much Swami!!!
    Wish the other swamis were as open as you were and flowed as much as you did.
    It is so hard to get close to most of them and most seem to be more focused on following strict rules than in touching peoples’ hearts (some just repeat what they read over and over but are stuck and do not truly move their audience, except for people who blindly follow rules and enjoy that type of “do what I tell you no questions asked” type of teaching).

    Maybe that’s why you left the Sivananda organization :'(
    You were a breeze of fresh air Swami Krishnadevananda, it would be so good to have news from you.
    You are certainly greatly missed <3 thank you for touching our hearts and lighting the yoga fire in us!

  5. Swami Krishnadevanada was the best!

    He taught me loads about what real yoga was about, and how it improved your life, and it always used to amaze me how you knew if he was in the London Centre or not when you walked through the door just from the feel of the place! That’s the kind of energy he had.

    He did love his “bone bending” asanas ;), and the words “I was looking through a book the other day…” often heralded an attempt in class at some weird and wonderful asana you’d never heard of and was all but impossible, lol, but he’d be the first to laugh with you when you collapsed in aheap on the floor, so it made it all ok.

    One of my favourite memories of him was after a retreat in Devon. I’d helped set up and transport some of the stuff (amazing how, with a smile and an enquiring look he could get you to do stuff eh? Karma yoga was never a chore when Swami Krishnadevananda asked), and on the way back we stopped off at Stonehenge to have a look around. I took one of my favourite photos of him there, and it will always be a memory of him I will cherish.

  6. All I can say is what a special person!!!! Much love and gratitude to him : )

    After one visit to the London Centre (a Yoga open day) Swami krishnadevenanda treated me instantly like an old friend, he mentioned that he felt he had met me before and I felt an uncanny sense of having already met him too. I had never been to the Centre ever … I truly felt a special connection with him from then on.

    He is the reason I did my TTC in 2012, his words that day inspired me and I knew I had to be there.
    Little did I know he would be there when I arrived and he ended up being the asana teacher to our group throughout the whole course. He made us all laugh so much during that month and that is one of his truly precious gifts. His sense of humour is what I cherish the most but he had so many more gifts and knew how to relate to others so well and to make everyone of them feel “at home”. Needless to say that he is an inspirational teacher and human being.

    I heard that he left the Centre in London since but would love to hear from anyone who has news from him or has any of his contact details.

    Thinking about him brings a smile to my day! A million thankyous Swami!

  7. His name is Frank. He’s living in the USA where he’s from. I’d rather not say more. I’m related to him. He left because he had some inheritance and wanted to keep it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.