This year’s field of candidates for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize will be vast. Among them all, one stands head and shoulders above the rest: BKS Iyengar. Why would this 95 year old man be such a worthy candidate? He has dedicated his life studying and teaching yoga according to Patanjali’s yoga sutras and adapting them to modern life. As a result, yoga has sprouted outside of India not only in the West, but in the most unlikely of places: Iran, The West Bank of Israel, and Yemen.
Iyengar has defied the odds for the sake of propagating yoga to the world. He was born a sickly child with malaria and TB and was extremely impoverished. He took up yoga from his brother in a law, Sanskrit Scholar Krishnamacharya. His teachings were very harsh, but Iyengar was able to withstand them. He took the teachings further, and refined them using available bricks and other tools as “props.”
He went through years of poverty, but was steadfast in his yoga practice. In 1966, he published Light on Yoga which has become an essential text for modern yoga. He has also developed a system of teaching yoga that is safe and accessible for all levels of students. His teaching program remains the most rigorous, taking a candidate up to 4 years to be fully certified through a series of peer reviewed assessments. This is his contribution to glean the best and most serious teachers from those who are casual in their approach to the subject.
Because of these high standards, Iyengar’s yoga system has brought peace and health to thousands worldwide. One of his most famous students, Father Joe Pareira, is using Iyengar’s system to treat substance abuse. He has also adapted his poses for medical purposes. There are numerous studies emerging from medical journals about how Iyengar Yoga is helping with a host of ailments that the medical community only treats superficially.
Philanthropically, Iyengar has donated a portion of his wealth to help build schools and provide clean water for his hometown of Bellur, India. His trust has built a special high school for girls, so they do not have to travel to a faraway neighboring town for their education.
At 95 years old, Iyengar still practices yoga more than 2 hours daily at his home and institute in Pune India. He can still do an uninterrupted headstand for 30 minutes! His daily practice is a testament to what is possible for the aged.
No Indian has ever won the Nobel Peace Prize (not Gandhi, not Mother Theresa). It is about time the world has properly recognized this country’s contribution to world peace. There is no greater representative of peace than BKS Iyengar.
Below is a link to petition BKS Iyengar to receive the Nobel Peace Prize: