The great Yogiraj Yogananda Puri, known lovingly known as Raghupati Yogi, was the teacher responsible for preparing Nithyananda’s body and mind for enlightenment through the Nithya Yoga system. Nithyananda was under Raghupati Yogi’s care and guidance from the age of three to thirteen in Tiruvannamalai, his birth town.
Raghupati Yogi taught yoga to Nithyananda in the sacred precincts of Arunachaleshwara Temple itself. His daily lessons were held in a hall filled with approximately 21 stone-pillars known as kritika mandapam. Raghupati Yogi would teach the young Nithyananda a variety of rigorous, traditional yogic practices such as asana, pranayama, dhyana and mudra. Raghupati Yogi used to ask Nithyananda to go into deep meditation, set an intention and climb the hall pillars. Nithyananda recalls, “He used to make me climb up and down using only one hand. He used to tie the other hand behind my back! I never understood why Raghupati Yogi made me do such a practice; I did not think it had anything to do with yoga. But it was here that Raghupati Yogi taught me the deepest truths of yoga.”
Raghupati Yogi delivered the core teachings of Patanjali to Nithyananda: “The mind creates the body.” Raghupati Yogi would say, ‘With whatever intention you make your body active, that intention, that experience gets deeply recorded into your muscle memory.” Nithyananda explains further, “By putting me in deep silence and then moving my body intensely to climb the pillars, the experience of that silence was inserted into my muscle memory and there after, that silence started radiating through my body.”
It was only after his enlightenment that Nithyananda understood that he had received his training and initiation into the Science of Yoga and other spiritual matters from a yogi who had experienced the consciousness of Patanjali, the great sage who compiled the Yoga Sutras and who is considered the Father of Yoga.
In his first Yoga Spurana Program in Vancouver, BC Canada, during the YOGAM Tour in 2009, Nithyananda said, “I feel I have too much to talk about, too much to share, because I myself am a yogi. From a very young age, the first path I started travelling was the path of yoga. Now, everything I do, the shadow, smell and presence of yoga is always there.”