This Blog revolves around the book – MKG – Mahatma Gandhi – Imaging Peace, Truth & Ahimsa and how Learnings from the Mahatma can cause positive change in the 21st century; the book is a pictorial representation of the life and message of the Mahatma, covering major milestones which influenced his philosophy, political awakening and his concept of Ahimsa in a concise illustrative format. An attempt has been made to portray the man behind the Mahatma to provide inspiration to today’s generation.
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MKG book released at the United Nations

1st October 2010 - A special edition of the book – MKG –Imaging Peace Truth and Ahimsa was released by the President of the General Assemble of the United Nations. The release was marked with attendance from Ambassadors from over 50 nations and was the official UN event marking the International Day of Non-Violence.

UN Story Link

The Great Indian Yoga Masters


The journey of my life has been influenced by two factors: visual aspects of life and change. Although born in a Hindu Brahmin family of priests (Yajnik comes from yagna-kari, one who performs ‘Yagnas; or fire worship), a family that has a rigid code of conduct and rituals, it is also a family that has practiced change, a family that has broken the boundaries of caste, community and region through generations. Breaking the mould of arranged marriage within a region to exploring arranged marriages across regions, integrating multiple languages and cultures from around India and the world are only some of the facets of experiencing change.

Personally observing yoga over the last three years, from the islands of Ko phang to the streets of New York, Los Angeles and Frankfurt, meeting people from every continent and hearing them speak about their passion for yoga made me search deep within myself. The rendition of the Gayatri mantra and OM brought back memories of my childhood when, at the age of seven, my brothers and I would chant these mantras before going to bed. The Padmasana reminded me of the seating pose for lunch during festivals. For me it was the reawakening of fundamental principles that were spoken to us and woven in the epics of the Ramayana and Mahabharata throughout our childhood.

The other aspect that I realised was that although the inception of yoga may have deep roots in Hindu mythology and religion, it does not in any way propagate the Hindu religion, it is almost an SOP – standard operation procedure for life. It is a way of life, a rule book for mankind. For me, this book is a start to exploring more on this ancient artform and presenting it to the world.

Compiling and photographing yoga across nine countries has been fascinating. The one thing that stood out was the mammoth following of yoga across the world. Yoga has been adapted to regions and now is a worldwide phenomenon. It may have originated in India 2500 years ago but today it is owned by the world.
Hence I thought it fit that the title of the book display the Dharmachakra Mudra, symbolizing the role of the teacher and also the turning wheel, which is a symbol of yoga’s affinity to change. Over the last three years, tracing yoga and its nine masters has given me a glimpse on how these masters leveraged this quality of yoga to spread its message and promote healthy and spiritual living.

The success of yoga has been its acceptance across the world and this is due to its ability to be adapted to the region, culture, and the period in time. A good example to begin would be Patanjali’s yoga sutras 2500 years ago: that period in time, the legend of transliterating Shiva and his Tandav nritya was possibly the best way to communicate to the people of the region on the advantages of the yogic way of life. Early in the 19th century Yogananda and Sivananda communicated the spiritual aspect of yoga. Yogananda crossed the oceans for enriching the mind in the west through discourses and discussions, while Sivananda crossed the seas to return home and finally set camp in Rishikesh to serve the needy and create a wealth of literature.
Krishnamacharya moved yoga into Grahasta ashram from Vanaprastha and Sanyasa ashrams. As physical activity was more prominent to Grahasta, he emphasised the Hatha aspect of yoga. His three students Jois, Iyengar and his son Desikachar branched into three regions of India and developed practices to suit the need of the hour. Full credit should go to these three master students: their teachings and styles reached the shores of other continents without them leaving the shores of India. While today they travel extensively for their thousands of followers world wide, they continue to have their bases in India.

Bikram Gosh, a young man from Calcutta, changed the way yoga was taught and practiced in the West; he is a master of modern yoga, a man who simplified it to 26 poses in a controlled environment and franchised this ancient art to the world. He is a true master who saw the need and created a simple effective solution that was acceptable to the western region and the time.

In more recent times, I cannot think of a better example of yoga’s ability to adapt to change than when I came across Master Kamal. A fitness yoga sensation in South East Asia, Master Kamal has adopted changes in the medium of communication through TV shows, podcasts, Youtube videos, web and mobile phone downloads. The philosophy of open source software and the free spread of information can be seen all around him.
A special note of thanks to the design, editorial and production team of Visual Quest Books for all the hard work, passion and dedication while putting this book together. I would like to express my gratitude to all the well-wishers, research associates, yoga practitioners and camera support teams in every country around the world for all the support and direction provided. The list of acknowledgments in the book is far too abridged and needs to include the vast number of people who provided direction online, offline and remote. Thanks to all of them for giving me the global view of this unique artform.

It is with honour that I dedicate this book to champions of change in my life: to Rajaram whose name I carry in the title of this book, and to his son, Shivshankar, who believed that the starting point of change is one person, one mind, one idea; and his grandson Kishorkant, my grandfather, a man who taught me to think beyond the boundaries and to his great grandson Vatsal, my father who let me experiment with change early in life, and finally, my two younger brothers, Santosh and Shriman, who have shared the changes with me all their lives.

Equal credit needs to be given to the Shaktis of the family, the wife, the mother, the sister, the daughter through generations: to Hira, Nivedita, Tara, Vaishali, Deepti, Cara and Anita.
Lastly, I would like to thank the most recent generation of our family the three great great great granddaughters of Rajaram: Adya, Anya and Neva. Although the sum total of their ages is less than ten, they provide us with the meaning of creativity, compassion and love in its purest form.

Birad Rajaram Yajnik
India, 1st March 2009


Joseph Deiss, President of the sixty-fifth session of the General Assembly, holds up a limited edition copy of “MKG – Mahatma Gandhi – Imaging Peace, Truth & Ahisma” at an event commemorating the International Day of Non-Violence. The day is observed 2 October for the birthday of non-violence pioneer Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (commonly known as Mahatma Gandhi). Pictured with Mr. Deiss are Hardeep Singh Puri (left), Permanent Representative of India to the UN, and Birad Rajaram Yajnik, the book's author.
01 October 2010 United Nations, New York