Sadhguru’s Early Days of Reaching Out:

The Heat Is On in Hyderabad

Ever since Sadhguru’s experience of enlightenment on Chamundi Hill on 23 September 1982, his life has been dedicated to somehow “rub off” this experience on as many people as possible. He began conducting Isha Yoga programs in an endeavor to help individuals realize their ultimate nature. His intense commitment towards this sometimes landed him in humorous and even grueling situations. Read on as Sadhguru shares a few incidents from his first program in Hyderabad.

Stealing the Limelight…in a Bank

Sadhguru: I especially remember this first class in Hyderabad in 1983. I just landed there without knowing anyone in the city. Someone had told me, “There is one bank manager who may help you.” So I went to meet him. It was a working day, and I waited there for two hours. Then I went into his office. I told him that I had come to give an introduction for a program. He said, “Aha, they have told me. Sit down.” I said, “Okay.”

He went on with his business. Then, when there was a little two-minute break, I stood up. I was dressed in my denims and a faded shirt. Without his permission, in the office of the bank manager, I started my introduction. He looked shocked. I just went on. For fifteen minutes, I gave my introduction. Then someone else came in with a file. I said, “Stop.” So that guy stood there and also listened to the introduction.

Earning Hospitality

After the introduction, I said to the bank manager, “I’ve checked into a hotel, but I can’t stay there because I’m planning a two-month stay. I need to stay in someone’s house.”

He looked me up and down, sizing me up. At that time, I did not understand why, but later I found out it was because he had four girls at home, and I was a young man. He was wondering whether to take me home or not. Then he said, “Okay, come home with me.” I was invited just for dinner. There were his wife and four girls – the oldest one was nineteen and the youngest was nine. At the dinner, I gave one more introduction. Then they said, “Go and bring your bags immediately.”

I checked out of the hotel in the night and moved into their house. I stayed with them for two and a half months at a stretch. The entire family became so much a part of me.

A One-Man Army on the Move

I had my pamphlets, my speakers, my microphone – everything on the motorcycle, going from place to place, giving introductions. Ten people, fifteen people, a hundred people, or five hundred people – the number did not matter. On a particular day, I remember giving 37 introductions.

I gathered participants for a class. At that time, the Isha Yoga class was for 14 days, but I was doing sessions for eight batches concurrently – four in a day on alternate days. So the class was extended to 28 days. I enrolled over 462 people for my first program in Hyderabad.

If I close my eyes, days will pass; so where is the need to get active? But when I started teaching, right from laying the carpet to opening the door to cleaning the place, everything was done by one person. I was a one-man army.

There was an early morning five o'clock session in Chikkadpally, then I did the ten o'clock session in Ameerpet, the afternoon session back in Chikkadpally, and the evening session in Secunderabad. From carpets to microphones and speakers, I had to transport everything on my motorcycle.

The Hyderabad traffic was a total mess. I would normally leave one place by 9:30 a.m. and race like mad to another place. There, the class was on the fourth floor of the building. By the time I had carried all the equipment up four floors, I was drenched with sweat. It was summertime, and once I laid the carpet there, I would be finished, just dripping. I could not go for the class like that. So right there in the classroom, I would change my clothes.

Willing to Kill Yourself for What?

I would walk up and down in the hall and do the program. The microphones would not work most of the time, so I would be speaking at the top of my voice twelve hours a day, nonstop, to the point where in the night, my throat would be bleeding. In that heat, wherever I saw liquid, I would drink it. Halfway through the program, I caught something and started running a high temperature.

There was a big Mahatma Gandhi Hall, where around 4:00 a.m. in the morning, Hatha Yoga programs were going on. I went there early morning, and one man there gave me five minutes to give an introduction. I had to do this before my five o'clock class. I stood there and gave a five-minute introduction, sweating head to toe. That man looked at me. He was also practicing Ayurveda, so I asked him what to do about the temperature.

He told me to do Jala Dhouti, which meant drinking seven glasses of saline water and puking it out. I drank it and puked it out. I did that for four days. I was feeling weak, but I was still running temperature. Then I finished my class, went straight to a doctor and popped some antibiotic.

This temperature enrolled lots of people. I went for a public introductory in a rooftop restaurant of a hotel. About 200 people had gathered there, and I was sweating head to toe because of the temperature. But I continued my introduction, and half the people who were there enrolled for the next classes.

They came because the general thought was, “This man is willing to kill himself for it, so what is this? We don’t know what he is going to teach. But in this condition, he is standing here and speaking clearly, talking sense – we want to come and see what it is.”

Then the classes were all full.