Jaggi Vasudev is an Indian Yogi, author as well as a public speaker. Jaggi Vasudev is popular for his speeches at well-known forums, conferences, and platforms. He is also the founder of the Isha Foundation that has worked on various campaigns across India.
Table of Biography
Jaggi Vasudev was born on 3 September 1957 and is currently 63 years old. He is also generally referred to as Sadhguru and his full name is Jagadish. He is originally from Mysore, Karnataka, India. Vasudev comes from a Telugu speaking family/ Similarly, he is the youngest of four children. He had an elder brother and two elder sisters.
Further, Vasudev’s mother was a housewife whereas his father an ophthalmologist with Indian Railways. Due to the nature of his father’s job, his family often moved to places. Though his father’s and sibling’s names are not available, his mother’s name is Susheela Vasudev.
Jaggi Vasudev completed his schooling at Demonstration School, Mysore, and Mahajana Pre-University College. Later, he attended the University of Mysore. From there, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English in the year 1973. Moreover, although his parents insisted that he pursue a post-graduate course, Vasudev refused it and instead took to business.
Additionally, Vasudev was an active, curious, and intelligent child. He developed an early love for nature and adventure. As a little boy, Vasudev often ventured into the nearby jungles and spend hours there. He observed the wildlife and caught snakes. Then Vasudev became acquainted with Malladihalli Sri Raghavendra Swamiji. Swamiji is a prominent yoga teacher and they met when Vasudev was 11 years old. Swamiji taught him a set of simple yoga asanas and Vasudev regularly practiced them without even a single day’s break.
At the age of 25, on 23 September 1982, Vasudev rode up to the Chamundi Hill and sat on a rock. There, he had a spiritual experience. After six weeks of this experience, Vasudev left his business to his friend and traveled extensively. It was in an effort to gain insight into his mystical experience. After about a year of meditation and travel, Vasudev decided to teach yoga to share his inner experience.
Then in 1983, Jaggi conducted his first yoga class with seven participants in Mysore. Over time, he also began conducting yoga classes across Karnataka and Hyderabad. For this, he traveled on his motorcycle, subsisting on the produce of his poultry farm rental. He also donated the collections received from yoga class participants to a local charity on the last day of the class.
Career and Professional Life
Jaggi Vasudev is an Indian yogi and author of over 50 books written in English, Tamil, Hindi, Kannada, and Telugu. He is also the founder of the Isha Foundation, which has been involved in various activities in the field of spirituality, education, and the environment. This organization has been subject to a mixed reception from the public.
Books and Public Engagement
Jaggi Vasudev is the author of several books. His Inner Engineering: A Yogi’s Guide to Joy was in The New York Times Best Seller List in the “Health”, “Religion, Spirituality and Faith”, and “Advice, How-To & Miscellaneous” categories. He is also the author of Mystic’s Musings and Death: An Inside Story among many other books.
Vasudev is a frequent public speaker. Many prestigious forums and conferences across the globe invite him. Such forums and conferences include the United Nation’s Millennium World Peace Summit, the House of Lords, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the International Institute for Management Development. Vasudev has also spoken at the annual World Economic Forum in 2007, 2017, and 2020.
Isha Foundation is located on the foothills of the Velliangiri Mountains. It is forty kilometers from the city of Coimbatore in the state of Tamil Nadu, South India. Jaggi Vasudev established the foundation as a non-profit organization in 1992. The foundation’s social initiatives have been awarded the Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puraskar.
After that, Vasudev also established the ashram and began conducting yoga programs on the premises of the newly established Isha Yoga Center in 1994. This included a course for the Indian Hockey team in 1996 and then in 1997, he began conducting classes in the United States. Later in 1998, Vasudev conducted the classed for life-term prisoners in Tamil Nadu prisons.
“Inner Engineering”, the flagship program that introduces people to simple Yoga practices and the Shambhavi Mahamudra corporate leadership forms a core audience of these programs. This program views depression as the result of a false widespread belief about an ability to change the world according to one’s desires. It offers to teach the technology of mental well-being to help one acclimatize with unavoidable work rigors.
Furthermore, Isha Foundation was established near Coimbatore and this organization became very popular over the years. At present, it offers yoga programs not only in India but also in other countries like the United States, England, Lebanon, Singapore, Canada, Malaysia, Uganda, China, Nepal, and Australia.
Moreover, the Isha Foundation is also involved in various social and community development activities. In the year 2003, the foundation established Action For Rural Rejuvenation (ARR). It is a multi-phased program aimed towards improving the overall health and quality of life of the rural poor. It also aims to benefit 70 million people in 54,000 villages across Tamil Nadu, South India.
Similarly, the foundation also established Project Green Hands (PGH). It is a grassroots ecological initiative in Tamil Nadu that started in 2004. The project aims to plant 114 million trees throughout Tamil Nadu as soon as possible and increase the forest cover in the state to 33 percent.
Adiyogi Shiva Statue
Vasudev designed the 112-feet-tall and 500 tonnes (490 long tons; 550 short tons) Shiva statue. It was then built by the Isha Foundation to inspire and promote yoga. Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi inaugurated the statue. Moreover, Guinness World Records recognizes it as the “Largest Bust Sculpture”.
However, even though this is a part of the Incredible India campaign, the Tamil Nadu government has since claimed the entire construction as illegal. It is because no approval was granted for the construction of the statue. Additionally, Comptroller and Auditor General’s report further states that the construction has flagrantly violated the rules of biodiversity zones.
The Rally for Rivers campaign
Another project initiated by Vasudev that received a controversial response is the Rally for Rivers campaign. It ran from September to October 2017. This campaign intended to rejuvenate India’s depleting rivers by growing large forests along their banks. Vasudev promoted this campaign all over the country and it also received support from a broad range of celebrities and the urban populace.
However, environmentalists have criticized this campaign for lacking in scientific basis and shifting the spotlight away from real concerns. An acclaimed water conservationist, Rajendra Singh, alleges that the campaign is motivated by the goal of money and fame.
The Cauvery Calling project aims to support farmers in planting an estimated 2.4 billion trees through agroforestry. This would cover one-third of the Cauvery basin with trees. This project has received acclaim from politicians and members of the movie industry.
However, environmentalists and public intellectuals claim that this program presents a simplistic view of river conservation, sidesteps social issues, and has the potential to harm tributaries and wildlife habitats.
In the Karnataka High Court, a Public Interest Litigation was filed questioning the legality of the fundraising practices for the initiative. It also questioned the usage of government-owned land for a private purpose without any supporting study. Further, in January 2020, the High Court ruled that the Foundation needed to disclose details of its fundraising practices relating to the initiative.
Jaggi Vasudev received the Padma Vibhushan in 2017. It is the second-highest civilian award from the Government of India. He received the honor in recognition of his contribution to the field of spirituality. Moreover, Jaggi Vasudev stood 92nd in The Indian Express’ list of 100 most powerful Indians, in 2012 and then stood 40th in India Today’s list of 50 most powerful Indians, in 2019.
Jaggi Vasudev’s wife was Vijayakumari, also called Vijji. This was Vijayakumari’s second marriage. Prior to marrying Vasudev, she worked in a bank. They had a daughter named Radhe. Sadly, Vasudev’s wife passed away in 1997. At that time, Vijayakumari’s father alleged that Vasudev had murdered her.
Vasudev termed this incident as “Mahasamadhi” and claimed that his wife had told him about it nine months prior to her death. The police investigation gave him a clean chit. Additionally, Vasudev’s daughter, Radhe Jaggi, is a trained Bharatanatyam dancer. Radhe married a Chennai-based classical vocalist named Sandeep Narayan in the year 2014. They had their wedding at Vasudev’s Coimbatore ashram and many Indian celebrities attended their ceremony.
Vasudev is a part of several scandals. The earliest of them all is at the time of his wife’s demise. In October 1997, someone filed a complaint in Bangalore Police Station. This complaint accused him of dowry harassment to his wife. His father-in-law also accused him of killing his wife.
Later, a petition was filed at the district collectorate in Tamil Nadu. It was to get help to save two adult women abducted and imprisoned in Vasudev’s Isha Yoga Center. Moreover, environmentalists and many political leaders claimed that the Isha Yoga Center is situated on the forest land and encroaching the elephant corridor at Velliangiri Hills in the Western Ghats. They claim that this leads to environmental damage and the death of the elephants.
Jaggi Vasudev’s height is approximately 5’8″ and weighs around 70 kgs. His signature facial feature is his gray hair and a long beard.
Social Media and Net worth
Talking about Jaggi Vasudev’s social media presence, he is popular as Sadhguru in all media platforms. He joined Twitter in August 2009 and so far has 2.7 million followers. Similarly, on his Facebook page, he has collected 6.1 million followers. He also has 4 million Instagram followers with 3100 posts as of April 2020. Moreover, he also has a self-titled Youtube channel with 4.73 million subscribers.
Moving on, Vasudev’s Isha Foundation has an estimated net worth of around Rs. 18 crores ($2.5 million). Moreover, his foundation also has assets worth Rs 116 crore ($16 million).