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