≡ Menu

Could BKS Iyengar Win the Nobel Peace Prize?

in World News


Could B.K.S. Iyengar win the Nobel Peace Prize? He should, says a novelist and correspondent for Bloomberg’s World View in New Delhi as well as the B.K.S. Iyengar Yoga National Association of the United States who have initiated a worldwide effort to nominate him. But what does yoga have to do with peace, anyway?

According to Chandrahas Choudhury, who wrote the Bloomberg article, it’s time for an Indian to win the Nobel Peace Prize (Mahatma Gandhi’s surprising omission has been widely criticized) and he thinks it deservedly belongs to Iyengar, who turned 95 just last month and is considered one of the founders of what we know today as modern yoga. And yoga, (overly simplified) as finding inner peace as a means to finding peace outside, is the gist of a lot of Iyengar (and yoga/Patanjali’s) teachings and is the basis for Choudhury’s case for Guruji’s nomination.

“Is there an Indian today who deserves it?” Choudhury asks. “There certainly is,” Choudhury continues, “and it’s curious that his claim on it has apparently never been taken with the seriousness it merits, when one might say he hasn’t just advanced the cause of peace in the world, but considerably enlarged its meaning”

Citing 1989’s Nobel Peace Prize winner the Dalai Lama who said, “World peace must develop from inner peace,” a strong case could be made for Mr. Iyengar who, for many decades, has had a major influence on spreading the practice of yoga and promoting people’s physical ease with his therapeutic method of asana, as well as cerebral enlightenment through interpretations of yogic philosophy which have reached millions across the world via his books such as Light on Yoga and Light on Life: The Yoga Journey to Wholeness, Inner Peace, and Ultimate Freedom. He’s also made recent trips to China in the past two years (not exactly a hot bed for yoga, though it’s growing) opening up an Iyengar Institute of Hong Kong.

The question is, how does all of this translate to the Norwegian Nobel Committee? One of those Nordic folks has to do yoga, right? Though maybe it’s hot yoga. We digress.

A novelist from New Delhi surely isn’t the only person who believes B.K.S. Iyengar deserves the nomination. The Iyengar Yoga National Association of the United States (IYNAUS) launched a worldwide campaign last November encouraging members to help in the nomination.

Via a newsletter Board President Janet Lilly wrote:

We are pleased to announce that a world wide effort is underway to nominate Shri B.K.S. Iyengar for a Nobel Prize to recognize his tremendous contributions. His lifelong example of integrity, practice, teaching, and writing exemplifies a man worthy and deserving for consideration of the Noble Prize for Peace. His tireless effort to unravel the ancient Indian art of Yoga and interpret it into practical application has brought inner peace and health to humankind around the globe.

They have since taken to spreading the word online and sharing videos and “examples of the powerful nature and effect of Iyengar Yoga” so that nominators can have more resources to review before the deadline of February 1, 2014.

We can’t say for sure if those efforts will be fruitful, but then again, it’s not about whether you win or lose, it’s how you many youtube comments you have! Oh, we kid. Best of luck to all the worthy nominees.

“Before peace between the nations, we have to find peace inside that small nation which is our own being.” – B.K.S. Iyengar, Sparks of Divinity

UPDATE: There is now an online petition calling for signatures to help nominate Mr. Iyengar.


image still from Sadhaka a documentary film on Iyengar.

11 comments… add one
  • Guru Iyengar is the best and known master and has achieved a great deal in bringing Yoga to the world. Millions of people have benefited from his yoga for even the late Pandit Ravi Shankar, Jiddu Krishnamurthy and many more who has benefitted from his Yoga He deserves a Nobel Peace Prize.

  • Namaste Jones

    While a great proponent of yoga and the loved and admired trainer of many, many teachers, I quite simply still feel he does not deserve the Nobel Peace Prize. Asanas do NOT create world peace. Peaceful people create peace. People who bring peace to people create peace. Many non yogis fit this bill as well as some yogis.

    • S.

      Well Namaste Jones, if Iyengar isn’t worthy in your opinion, I suppose you feel it should go more deserving, like say Vladimir Putin. Next time you see someone using a yoga block, just remember Iyengar’s influence on modern yoga. How many people have done yoga because of him who wouldn’t have even touched the subject without his steadfast practice? Think of all the peace it has brought to those people.

    • sylvia

      such a pity for you to have such opinion on Mr.iyengar. you surely dont know who he is and what his contribution is. you should think first before you speak. even before becoming iyengar yoga practitioner, i had known that he is a great man. i salute him greatly and look forward to meeting him in person. he deserves the nobel and may he get it.

  • Namaste Jones

    This idea of giving Mr. Iyengar the Nobel Prize I think is more about validating his followers and the practice they have learned from him, than actually giving him an award for his service. It’s a way of making themselves great by extension, by making him great.

    And if teaching yoga is the only requirement for a Nobel Peace Prize, would folks include teachers like Bikram, John Friend, Satchitananda, Muktananda, etc., who have inspired many to do good works?

    Don’t get me wrong. Yoga is great stuff and Mr. I is a great proponent of the practice and spiritual discipline. I practice asana and 2x daily medtitation. However, when it comes to peace making, I would rather have the darshan of a great saint such as the late Nelson Mandela, than Mr. I any day. I just don’t think there is any comparison.

    • Bartle Samson

      Um, Bikram has inspired people to do good works? John Friend? Please, you are deluded

  • S.

    Bikram? John Friend? That speaks volumes about who you value as being worthy of a Nobel Prize. And last time I checked, the prize went to Mandela back in 1993. Does that make you think no one else is worthy of getting the prize? Sounds like you are a little jealous that your people are not being considered.

    • Namaste Jones

      I think you missed my point. I am neither a fan of Bikram or John Friend. I was making the point that many, many folks have learned from or graduated from their teachings while said Bikram, et. al., live and lead very controversial lives. While I am not one to judge anyone’s soul, I think it could be said they are largely considered unethical. However, the sheer number of their followers, just like with Iyengar and other teachers, does not alone constitute qualifications for being a peace maker. If you want to go that route, how about the millions who learned Transcendental Meditation while Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was alive. Or David Lynch who is continuing his vision to get veterans, children at risk, etc. to learn about the light that is inside themselves. I’d like to see Dr. Herbert Benson get the prize for his continuing ground breaking research into the Relaxation Response. Scientific proof that meditation, yoga, prayer, mindfulness, etc. has physiological benefits right down to the genetic level.

      Peace brothers and sisters. “It’s all in your mind, ya’ know”.

  • Semper Fi

    Regardless of some posters’ views, here is a link to nominate Mr. Iyengar for the Nobel Peace prize.


Leave a Comment