SriDhananjai Bikram: "I am the serenest!"
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Tue, 30 Apr 96 20:47:36 -0700
Subject: SriDhananjai Bikram: "I am the serenest!"
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Forwarded-by: Jeff Ort
MONK GLOATS OVER YOGA CHAMPIONSHIP
'I am the serenest!' he says
LHASA, TIBET-Employing the brash style that first brought him to
prominence, SriDhananjai Bikram won the fifth annual International Yogi
Competition yesterday with a world-record point total of 873.6.
"I am the serenest!" Bikram shouted to the estimated crowd of 20,000
yoga fans, vigorously pumping his fists. "No one is serener than Sri
Dhananjai Bikram-I am the greatest monk of all time!"
Bikram averaged 1.89 breaths a minute during the two-hour competition,
nearly .3 fewer than his nearest competitor, second-place finisher and
two-time champion Sri Salil "The Hammer" Gupta.
The heavily favored Gupta was upset after the loss. "I should be able
to beat that guy with one lung tied," Gupta said. "I'm beside myself
right now, and I don't mean trans-bodily."
Bikram got off to a fast start at the Lhasa meet, which like most major
competitions, is a six-event affair. In the first event, he attained total
consciousness (TC) in just 2 minutes, 34 seconds, and set the tone for the
rest of the meet by repeatedly shouting, "I'm blissful! You blissful?! I'm
blissful!" to the other yogis.
Bikram, 33, burst onto the international yoga scene with a gold-mandala
performance at the 1994 Bhutan Invitational. At that competition he
premiered his aggressive style, at one point in the flexibility event
sticking his middle toes out at the other yogis. While no prohibition exists
against such behavior, according to Yoga League Commissioner Swami
Prabhupada, such behavior is generally considered "unBuddhalike."
"I don't care what the critics say," Bikram said. "Sri Bikram is just
gonnago out there and do Sri Bikram's own yoga thing."
Before the Bhutan meet, Bikram had never placed better than fourth.
Many said he had forsaken rigorous training for the celebrity status
accorded by his Bhutan win, endorsing Nike's new line of prayer mats and
supposedly dating the Hindu goddess Shakti. But his performance this week
will regain for him the number one computer ranking and earn him new
respect, as well as for his coach Mahananda Vasti, the controversial guru
some have called Bikram's "guru."
"My special training diet for Bikram of one super-charged, carbo-loaded
grain of rice per day was essential to his win," Vasti said.
The defeated Gupta denied that Bikram's taunting was a factor in his
inability to attain TC. "I just wasn't myself today," Gupta commented.
"I wasn't any self today. I was an egoless particle of the universal
In the second event, flexibility, Bikram maintained the lead by
supporting himself on his index fingers for the entire 15 minutes while
touching the back of his skull to his lower spine. The feat was matched by
Gupta, who first used the position at the 1990 Tokyo Zen-Off.
"That's my meditative position of spiritual ecstasy, not his," remarked
Gupta. "He stole my thunder."
Bikram denied the charge, saying, "Gupta's been talking like that ever
since he was a 3rd century Egyptian slave-owner."
Nevertheless, a strong showing by Gupta in the third event, the shotput,
placed him within a lotus petal of the lead at the competition's halfway
But event number four, the contemplation of unanswerable riddles known
as koans, proved the key to victory for Bikram.
The koan had long been thought the weak point of his spiritual arsenal,
but his response to today's riddle-"Show me the face you had before you were
born"-was reportedly "extremely illuminative," according to Commissioner
While koan answers are kept secret from the public for fear of exposing
the uninitiated multitudes to the terror of universal truth, insiders claim
his answer had Prabhupada and the two other judges "highly enlightened."
With the event victory, Bikram built himself a nearly insurmountable
lead, one he sustained through the yak-milk churn and breathing events to
come away with the upset victory.
© 1996 Peter Langston