“Contrary to popular belief,
contemporary postural yoga is not ancient.”
Bishnu Ghosh was a yogic physical culturist, initially trained by his brother, Yogananda, at his Ranchi School for Boys.
“During his early years in America Yogananda taught a version of yogic “muscle control” heavily influenced by New Thought and European body-building. He had “discovered” this method of “muscle recharging through will power” in 1916 and tested it on students at his school in Ranchi. These students thereafter performed prodigious “feats of strength and endurance.”
(Yoga Body – Mark Singleton)
Ghosh’s system begins with Sūryannamaskār.
“The creator of the modern Suryanamaskar (salutations to the sun)
system, Pratinidhi Pant, the Rajah of Aundh, was a devoted
bodybuilder and practitioner of the Sandow Method.”
(Yoga Body – Mark Singleton)
Popularized by his fellow bodybuilders in the 1900’s, “Sūryannamaskār, was not considered a part of yoga at the time. It was in addition to “yoga” for medical gymnastics and body-conditioning on the one hand, and state of the art weights and other European bodybuilding techniques on the other.” (Yoga Body – Mark Singleton)
In law school, Ghosh’s physical education professor transformed his body and restored his health, furthering his interest in yogic physical culture. Ghosh’s own unique system of yogic physical culture includes muscle control methods he learned and enhanced from a famous Burmese body builder.
In 1926, he and his college friend, Sen Gupta, who also trained with Professor Thakurta, established Ghosh’s Gymnasium for muscle development and control. In 1930, they published Barbell Exercises & Muscle Control, and trained troupes of students to perform, touring around India and the world, marketing yoga, live. His ‘star student’, Buddha Bose, demonstrated during his lectures in India, Japan and the United States.
Bishnu practiced law for a short while before devoting all of his time to yogic physical culture. Although his teachings were secular and solely for health and fitness, Bishnu and Buddha Bose were initiated into Kriya Yoga together by Yogananda. Buddha established the Yoga Cure Institute in Calcutta, the first of its kind. Bishnu added a community clinic to Ghosh’s College.
A wealthy Indian philanthropist was so impressed with Bishnu’s work he purchased land and built a large gymnasium for him in Ballygani. A tourist from Japan was so inspired by his performance that he founded a center in Japan where his daughter still teaches.
Bishnu and his students, who were known throughout India, traveled to the United States and Europe to demonstrate the power of yoga. His students appeared regularly on That’s Incredible, a US television program. He lectured at Columbia University with his star student, Buddha Bose, who demonstrated the postures. He was also a judge in the Mr. Universe competition in London.
Bishnu had a son, Bishwanath, and two daughters, Abha and Karuna, who runs his center in Japan. Bishwanath, one of his best students, took his own troupes on tour to Japan and won a gold cup in competition. Since his passing a few years ago Bishnu’s granddaughter has been running the centre in Calcutta.
Bishnu passed away unexpectedly on 9 July 1970, but his legacy lives on.
“Bishnu worked devotedly to teach physical culture to the common man of India. His dedication fired the enthusiasm of India’s youth: he attracted a large following and left a heritage that still lives today.”
Sananda Lal Ghosh, author –
Mejda: The Family & Early Life of Paramahansa Yogananda
“What is desirable in body culture is the harmonious development of power over the voluntary action of muscles and the involuntary processes of health, lungs, stomach and other organs and important glands. This is what gives health, and is the
scientific principle underlying the Yoga exercises.”