[Image taken from here]
I just watched this really engaging and insightful video that David Garrigues posted earlier today in honor of Guruji. In the video, David discusses the teacher-student relationship in yoga at some length, in his usual seemingly-off-the-cuff-yet-very-engaging style.
I became a full-time Ashtangi sometime in the middle of 2009, when I met my teacher in Milwaukee. It was also around that point in time that I started referring to Sri K Pattabhi Jois as "Guruji". Which is a rather strange thing to do, in a way, since I never had the chance to meet him; which is also why I had desisted from referring to him as "Guruji" before that point. "Guruji", as we all know, is a term connoting great respect and affection; how can I possibly have any great respect and affection for someone I have never even met?
This is a question that bugged me a lot (actually, it still bugs me a little now, if I allow myself to think about it too much). But in the last couple of years, I have become more and more comfortable with using the term "Guruji". There are a few reasons for this:
(1) Even though I have never met Sri K Pattabhi Jois and established any kind of personal relationship with him, I practice the method established by him and Krishnamacharya everyday to the best of my ability. I believe that through these efforts, I am able to gain some understanding, however modest, of the kind of person he was, and the work that he has done in this world. And since I practice this method everyday, I owe him a great spiritual debt, and it would only be appropriate to express this in some way.
(2) Even though I have never met Sri K Pattabhi Jois, I believe that I have established a powerful connection to him and his legacy by studying with people who have studied with him; people who have shaped, and continue to shape my practice.
(3) Towards the end of his video, David mentions that it is so important to have a teacher that if you don't have a teacher, it is important to invent a teacher in your head, so to speak, and dedicate your practice to him (these aren't his exact words, but I think I'm not too far off). In light of this (and in light of (1) and (2)), I happily dedicate my practice to Sri K Pattabhi Jois, without whom I won't be practicing whatever I'm practicing now.
For these reasons (and probably others which have yet to occur to me), I offer this humble post as a tribute to Guruji. Thank you Guruji, for everything: For the joys, jubilations, pains, struggles, and sweat and tears that this practice has given me.