The Woodstock Guru's Centennial

December 16, 2014 11:35 PM

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Of all the iconic images of the 1969 Woodstock festival -- writhing mud-soaked bodies; impassioned performers like Jimi Hendrix; ecstatic faces and strung-out faces -- the one that best captures the era's zeitgeist is that of Swami Satchidananda addressing the multitude. It's a potent symbol of the meeting of East and West that transformed American culture. Forty-five years on, millions of people meditate, chant mantras and stretch on yoga mats, and the late "Woodstock guru" deserves much of the credit. You might want to send him heartfelt a "Namaste" on his birth centennial next week.

On Dec. 22, 1914, the man who became Swami Satchidananda was born C. K. Ramaswamy Gounder. A family man with a successful business in South India, he became a classic wandering ascetic after his wife died tragically young. Several years later, in 1949, he arrived in the holy city of Rishikesh, where...

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