Swami Vishnu was born in Kerala, South India, in 1927. As a young boy he exhibited his strong will and determination towards life. In his teenage years without much financial resources for a university education, he joined the army. It was by accident that a piece of paper about the yoga guru Swami Sivananda got his attention.
(Credit: Sivananda Ashram – Swami Sivananda)
A pamphlet from Swami Sivananda which began by saying: “An ounce of practice is better than tons of theory” inspired Swami Vishnu to meet with him personally. The practicality and inherent power of these simple words lead Swami Vishnu to travel across India during a 36-hour leave to meet Swami Sivananda in the far north of India in Rishsikesh in the Himalayas. On his second visit, Swami Sivananda invited the young man to remain at the Ashram to study and practice Yoga and with no hesitation Swami Vishnu accepted the offer.
Becoming the World Teacher
(Credit: Sivananda Ashram – Swami Vishnu Devananda)
After years of rigorous Hatha-Yoga practice and Karma yoga (selfless service), his master Swami Sivananda was convinced that Swami Vishnu was the chosen one to bring the message of peace , health and wellness to the world. With Swami Sivananda’s blessing, Swami Vishnu traveled to the West and spread his teachings for the benefit of humanity. Swami Vishnu’s limitless energy, knowledge and profound inspiration for peace, harmony and well-being has captured the imagination of tens of thousands of people around the world.
The Flying Swami
(Credit: Sivananda Ashram – Swamiji on the Peace Plane)
Political instability and global conflict mobilised Swami Vishnu’s plan for a peace flight. In 1971, Swami Vishnu flew a twin-engine Piper Apache plane painted by artist Peter Max from Boston to Belfast in Northern Ireland showering flowers and peace flyers. Later, the same year he flew over the Suez Canal from Israel to Egypt and continued to fly over Pakistan and India. In September 1983 Swami Vishnu flew over the Berlin Wall from West to East and landed an ultralight glider in an East Berlin field. He held a Global Village Peace Festival alongside the Berlin Wall in which he walked across hot coals to demonstrate strength of mind. After his flight in West Berlin he said in a statement that “The only hope for peace is when we recognise the unity of mankind”.
He had neither passport nor visa, nor did he have permission of the authorities for his flight in a red and yellow Quicksilver ultralight aircraft. When asked why travel without a passport he said “Birds fly from country to country without recognising state borders and without passports and visas”.
International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center
Swami Vishnu founded the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres, a global organization with its head quarters in Val-Morin, Quebec, Canada. It has 20 yoga centres, 9 ashrams and several affiliated centres across the world.
(Sivananda Ashram, Val-Morin, Quebec, Canada – Peace plane museum)
The true spirit and values of the organization are upheld through its relentless and tireless service to humanity as a whole.