Who Is Sadhguru | Biography & Teachings Of A Modern Day Mystic

Life story, Initiatives, Books, How To Get Involved, & Much More

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One of the most prominent contemporary spiritual voices, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev is loved by millions around the world. An Indian yogi and spiritual leader, his voice is far-reaching to both Western and Eastern audiences.

A familiar sight on the world stage and not just in yoga circles, exactly who is Sadhguru?

Loved by many for his jovial but logical insight, Sadhguru has spoken at many global forums such as primary speaker at the United Nations, a regular at the World Economic Forum, TED events, and a host of economic and leadership expos.

On top of this, he’s no stranger to news interviews, addressing a wide range of environmental and social topics for the BBC, Bloomberg, CNBC, CNNfn and Newsweek International.

Considered an archetypal modern-day yogi, Sadhguru’s presence on the world stage is two part.

Firstly as a humanitarian, with his commentary and activism on social and economic issues. Secondly as a spiritual Indian mystic, with his application of ancient yogic sciences for the spiritual well-being of humankind.

He is also the founder of the Isha Foundation, an international non-profit organization dedicated to the ‘elevation of human consciousness’. He is the author of numerous books on spiritual life and meditation, too.

In this article, we’ll be looking at the following:

Who Is sadhguru – Life & Background

1. Early Life

In Mysore, Karnataka, India in 1957, Sadhguru aka Jagadish ‘Jaggi’ Vasudev was born to B.V. Vasudev, a doctor at the Mysore Railway Hospital, and Susheela Vasudev, a housewife. 

building in mysore india

The youngest of five, he loved nature and liked to spend time in the beautiful Indian forests near his house.

At the age of twelve, he met Malladihalli Sri Raghavendra Swamiji and learned the practice of yoga. He developed an understanding of asanas, but really never showed any spiritual interest at this time of his life.

Sadhguru completed his formal education in Mysore in Karnataka (India) studying English Literature. He developed a love and passion for motorbikes during his college days and used to visit Chamundi Hill near Mysore with his friends for evening drives.

2. Education And Business

After completing his university studies, he tried several businesses like poultry farming and construction. By his mid-twenties, he was a successful businessman and was earning a comfortable living.

The same can be said now of his success, with a high net worth!

Sadhguru net worth as of 2023: estimated $25 million dollars

sadhguru speaking at an event

3. Spiritual Experience And Teaching Yoga

On a fateful day, September 23rd, 1982, Jagadish Vasudev sat meditating on a rock at Chamundi Hill and experienced a spiritual awakening that would change his life forever. 

Driven by an insatiable desire to uncover the secrets of this mystical encounter, he embarked on a year-long journey to different places, delving deeper into a meditative state.

With renewed clarity and purpose, he emerged from this introspective period, compelled to share his life-altering experience with others.

4. Traveling across Karnataka

Following this spiritual experience, he began teaching yoga primarily in southern India, renting his poultry business to a friend.

It all began in 1983, when he held his very first yoga class in Mysore, paving the way for a journey that would see him spreading his yoga teaching and spiritual message across Karnataka and Hyderabad.

Over time, his classes became very popular, with up to 15,000 participants attending each session.

lots of people in a public yoga class

While traveling by motorbike and supporting himself with the earnings from his poultry farm rental, he made the decision to not charge anything for his yoga classes and instead offered them for free.

At the end of each class, he would collect donations from his students and donate them to local charities.

5. Sadhguru’s Wife And Daughter

Sadhguru wife: Vijji (Vijaykumari)

Sadhguru first met his future wife in Mysore, India. They exchanged romantic love letters before finally tying the knot in 1984. Together, they welcomed a daughter named Radhe in 1990, who has since gone on to become a professional Bharatanatyam dancer. 

Sadhguru wife’s job was reportedly working at a financial institution, as well as being a yoga teacher and a volunteer.

Tragically, Kumari passed away in 1997, purportedly achieving mahasamadhi a profound state of meditation in which the practitioner achieves liberation and chooses to leave their physical body behind.

an old picture of sadhguru and his wife

Despite allegations from Kumari’s father that Sadhguru was responsible for her death, charges were ultimately dropped due to lack of evidence.

On the Isha Foundation website, Sadhguru has shared his perspective on his wife’s passing and the complexities of mahasamadhi, offering a thought-provoking exploration of this enigmatic topic.

6. Founding The Isha Yoga Center

In 1992, he established the Isha (“the formless divine”) Foundation which hosts a variety of yoga and meditation programmes.

The ashram and yoga center also arranges spiritual education and regular education, and does a lot of charitable Isha outreach regionally, and globally.

Within the Isha Yoga Center in 1999, he built ‘Dhyanalinga’, a yogic temple of meditation. Sadhguru says that the creation of this historic space was the ‘mission of three lifetimes’.

Just sitting silently for a few minutes within the sphere of Dhyanalinga is enough to make even those unaware of meditation experience a state of deep meditativeness

sadhguru's statue, adiyogi, against a blue circle background

Who Is Sadhguru: His Teachings

He rose to fame through his teachings and public speeches. Originally popular just regionally, he now is immensely popular globally, holding satsangs (group meditations) for up to 300,000 people.

Sadhguru isn’t your average spiritual teacher. He’s not interested in separating faith from reason or spirituality from science. According to him, humans are spiritual beings who happen to interact with the material world, not the other way around. 

And if there’s one thing that we all desire, it’s liberation – the freedom to be who we truly are. Sadhguru doesn’t believe that this liberation through truth is some far-off destination or a matter of philosophical speculation.

He has formed a framework of inner sciences to support revitalization, and mental health.

He thinks it’s a living experience, something we can all tap into right here and now. 

And the best part? Self-realization – that moment of pure clarity where we understand who we truly are – is available to anyone who seeks it.

Sadhguru’s teachings are founded in Hindu and yogic teachings. He teaches that Shiva is the Adiyogi, and Adiyogi was the first yogi, the creator of yoga.

who Is Sadhguru – His Impact

The Isha Foundation

The Isha Foundation hosts a myriad selection of spiritual, educational, environmental, and social initiatives with the goal of creating a conscious planet.

woman with her hands over her heart

The Isha Yoga Center is a stunning complex located at the foothills of Velliangiri on the outskirts of Coimbatore, serving as the global headquarters for the Isha Foundation. 

As a sacred space dedicated to self-transformation, the center provides individuals with the opportunity to devote time to their inner growth. 

One of the unique features of the center is that it offers all four major paths of yoga – kriya (energy), jnana (knowledge), karma (action), and bhakti (devotion), drawing people from all over the world who are seeking a deeper understanding of yoga.

The center’s main objective is to foster inner transformation and establish a state of well-being in individuals.

Sadhguru’s yoga programme here is named as ‘Inner Engineering’ and his direct yogic instruction is on meditation, isha kriya, chit shakti, shambhavi mahamudra, and pranayama.

The institution gained international acclaim and continued to expand after its founding. Nowadays it offers yoga programs in various countries, including Australia, Singapore, China, the US, and India.

As A Speaker

Sadhguru’s is known for his engaging and enigmatic delivery, and so he’s definitely been a popular and thought-provoking presence at many prestigious events.

#1: World Economic Forum

Sadhguru has spoken at the World Economic Forum in 2007, 2017, and 2020. His talks have focused on a variety of topics, including sustainable development, holistic living, and the role of spirituality in leadership. 

sadhguru speaking at world economic forum

#2: United Nations’ Millennium World Peace Summit

In 2000, Sadhguru spoke at the United Nations’ Millennium World Peace Summit, where he emphasized the importance of individual transformation in achieving global peace, which has all the hallmarks of his yogic philosophy and approach.

Environmental And Social Advocacy

Under Sadhguru’s leadership, Isha Foundation has launched various projects and campaigns over the years that focus on environmental conservation and protection.

These include Action for Rural Rejuvenation, Save Soil, Project Green Hands, and Rally for Rivers.

#1: Action For Rural Rejuvenation (2003)

Sadhguru launched “Action for Rural Rejuvenation” to enhance the health and quality of life of poor rural people in India. The initiative has helped over 7 million individuals and 4,000 villages.

#2: Project GreenHands (2004)

Sadhguru’s Project GreenHands was a grassroots ecological initiative promoting reforestation and biodiversity. This campaign saw over 27 million trees in Tamil Nadu, India, by a collective of 2 million volunteers!

#3: Rally For Rivers (2017)

To address the growing water scarcity and pollution of rivers in India, the Isha Foundation launched Rally for Rivers in 2017. A policy aimed at rejuvenating the rivers was drafted and submitted to the Indian Prime Minister after consulting with lawmakers. 

#4: Save Soil (2022)

In 1998, environmental agencies made a prediction that by 2026, 60% of Tamil Nadu in Southern India will become desert land.

soil in a field in india

Sadhguru under the Isha Foundation launched a movement to revitalize not only Tamil Nadu but the globe’s depleting soil, water and agriculture prosperity.

In 2022, Sadhguru embarked on a 100-day journey across Europe and the Middle East on his motorbike to raise awareness about the importance of saving soil from deterioration.

Sadhguru’s Books

Author of multiple New York Times Bestsellers, Sadhguru’s books include:

Other ways you can follow Sadhguru’s work:

Awards And Recognition

Although having stated he does not seek recognition or validation, instead focusing on promoting self-realization and human harmony, Sadhguru has been the recipient of many awards. 

In 2017, he received the Padma Vibhushan award for his contribution towards spirituality. This is India’s second-highest award for civilians! 

In addition, he has been named among the “50 most influential people in India”, by the India Today magazine in 2019.

further Information

If you’d like to dip more into yoga philosophy and it’s gurus, why not check out our other articles:

If you’d like to learn more about Sadhguru and his teaching, he has an extremely popular and accessible YouTube channel:

Photo of author
Born and raised in London, Luke is a passionate writer with a focus on travel, yoga, philosophy, and meditation. As a certified yoga teacher having studied under a swami in Rishikesh, Luke now lives in India pretty much just practising yoga, meditating and writing articles! Luke's life arc has gone from somewhat turbulent to peaceful, and he considers yoga and meditation direct methods to sustain introspective insight to manifest peace and happiness, despite life's challenges. Luke's passion for meditation has led him to complete multiple meditation retreats, where he spent almost 40 days in silence in the last two years. He practices various meditation techniques such as Vipassana, Anapana, and Metta Bhavana, each adding to his knowledge and experience of the true self. Most recently he meditated in Jaipur, India, and before that lived for a short spell in a monastery with forest monks in Northern Thailand. To Luke, yoga is more than just a physical exercise; it's a way of life that helps him cultivate a stronger mind-body connection. As a young man with arthritis, Luke understands the importance of observing and controlling his body, and yoga has been a vital tool in his journey to better health and well-being. The practice of yoga has not only helped him manage his symptoms but has also given him a new perspective on life. Luke's love for yoga and meditation is not limited to a single tradition or practice. He's fascinated by the spiritual teachings of all types of religious philosophy, including Buddhism, Hinduism, and Christianity for their essence and wisdom. His passion for spirituality is what drives him to continue learning and growing, and share his knowledge with other people. Luke in his spare time is an avid chess player, cyclist and record collector. He also has experience with addiction, and so sponsors multiple people from different walks of life in their recovery programmes.

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