The great, perhaps the greatest living yoga master, B.K.S. Iyengar died today in Pune, India, at the delightfully advanced age of 95. There will be many public tributes and even more private tributes as his innumerable devoted students honor his legacy. In memoriam, we offer Iyengar in his own words, from his classic work, The Tree of Yoga:
“Death is unimportant to a yogi; he does not mind when he is going to die. What happens after death is immaterial to him. He is only concerned with life—with how he can use his life for the betterment of humanity. Having undergone various types of pain in his life and having acquired a certain mastery over pain, he develops compassion to help society and maintains himself in purity and holiness. The yogi has no interest beyond that.
“An average individual believes in refinement, in becoming finer and finer. He is like an artist who wants to improve the quality of his life and to be better than he is. The yogi, too, knows that he has to refine himself more and more. He accepts death happily and believes in rebirth as he strives to be finer and finer in his way of thinking and acting. When seeds are sown, the plants come up, and when the plants are mature they give new seeds to sow for the next crop and the next harvest. Thus the yogi develops the quality of his life so that a good seed may emerge, and his next life may bring the harvest of spiritual fragrance.”