Yogrishi Vishvketu (Vishva-ji) is known for his infectious laughter and stories. His holistic approach brings forward ancient wisdom for a modern age incorporating asana, pranayama, mantra, meditation and yogic wisdom in every class. His deepest aim is to inspire people to connect to their true nature, which is fearless, expansive, joyful and playful.
A yogi at heart, Vishva-ji has studied and practiced Yoga in the Himalayas since the age of 8 and holds a PhD in Yoga Philosophy. He offers Yoga Alliance-registered 100-, 200- and 300-hour Yoga Teacher Trainings at Anand Prakash Yoga Ashram in Rishikesh, India, where he lives half of the year, and teaches at workshops and conferences internationally.
Vishva-ji continues his father’s legacy of charitable works in local communities.
In 2007, he co-founded Anand Prakash Yoga Ashram Trust in Rishikesh, India, a hub for the Akhanda Yoga family that offers education and yoga scholarships, weekly and full moon food and clothing offerings.
In 2013, Vishva-ji founded Sansar Gyaan Pathshala, a free school for over 250 underserved children in rural Uttar Pradesh. The school is supported by the Canadian charity Helping Hands for India. Raised himself in a small agricultural village, Vishva-ji regularly visits the school and inspires the children to grow in this world, being true to themselves.
“Believe in yourself and walk proudly on your own path.” –Yogrishi Vishvketu
Yogrishi Vishvketu teaches annual and bi-annual Yoga retreats:
“Yoga is not a workout, it is a work in.” –Yogrishi Vishvketu
Vishva-ji has taught for many years on a number of international Yoga and Ayurveda conferences:
Yogrishi Vishvketu grew up in a simple farmhouse in the sugar cane fields – a quiet and contemplative child from the beginning. At six, his mother tells us, he ran away from home, making a beeline to a Shiva temple where his uncle Mahavir Swami was performing austere Tapasya. When he arrived, 15 kilometres away from his home, Vishva-ji told his uncle that he wanted to wear the orange clothes of a Swami. “You’re too young yet,” he was told. He was given one rupee and some sweets, and brought back to his parents. But, Mahavir Swami did teach him to do likt japa (repeated writing of mantras) ‘Ram Ram’.
His mother soon discovered, to her dismay, a mountain of notebooks all filled only with the mantra ‘Ram’. When Vishva-ji came to know that his maternal uncle, Yogiraj, was running a gurukul in Kanvashram in the jungle, he began to pester his parents, asking to go to the gurukul. At the age of 8, his mother, Sureshvati, made him a challenge, “If you can keep your clothes clean and neat in a box, and wash and fold them yourself for one month, I will send you to the gurukul”. And so, shortly thereafter he was enrolled.
Vishva-ji’s formal yoga journey began with the long days at Gurukul Mahavidyale Kanvashram learning meditation, chanting, Vedic fire puja, Sanskrit, yoga, sports and other school subjects as well. Yogiraj, also an Ayurvedic doctor, brought a wealth of knowledge about Ayurvedic living, and provided a truly holistic traditional education. Students assisted in the Ayurvedic pharmacy, learned to pick herbs in the jungle, helped to assess ailments and prescribe Ayurvedic remedies.
Kanvashram was an ideal place to absorb ancient healing and consciousness-raising traditions. The gurukul had many regular visiting yogis, such as Baba Hari Nam and Swami Yogananda, both of whom became influential teachers to Vishva-ji.
By the age of 17, Yogrishi Vishvketu was adept at Indian wrestling, Yoga and Agni Hotra (Fire Ritual), and began teaching yoga to students from Delhi at the gurukul’s summer camps, until he went off to Hariyana Agricultural University’s renowned Sports College to study Yoga and sport.
It was there he met Baba Prem Nath, the young ascetic from Rajasthan who used to dry his six-foot dreadlocks by dangling them from the second story of an ashram near the university. “While at Sports College, Baba Prem Nath anchored me in the knowledge that my inquiry into Yoga was not only of the physical body.” In the traditional guru style, Yogrishi Vishvketu knew Baba Prem Nath only for a few years before he disappeared. During that time he was initiated with the name Vishvketu meaning ‘world bridge or world flag’. His final prophecy for his disciple nearing graduation from his university was, “You will not get a job from anyone; you will create jobs for others”. At 22, this was a bit of a shock, but now Vishva-ji looks back with immense gratitude for the teacher who knew and guided him so well.
Yogrishi Vishvketu went on to an MA and PhD in Yoga Philosophy at Gurukul Kangri, the University of Haridwar. He then moved to the reknown Yoga Niketan Ashram in Rishikesh. During this time he sought advanced teachings in pranayama and kriyas from Yogi Nath, while teaching and inspiring students from around the world to live the yogic life with joy and dedication. He moved to Canada in 2001, and began to teach, sharing a passion for yoga and his fun-loving nature.
A core group of students from his Yoga Niketan days were there to support him and his vision including Chétana Jessica Torrens and Prem Robin Campbell from Canada, Piero (Pranav) Casanova from Italy and Vishwajeet Chatterji from America. Later, many other early Akhanda teachers assisted in foundational ways, such as Celeste (Radhika) Needham and Erin (Divya) Elting, from Canada, and Etsuko (Eesha) Ito from Japan.
From his years living in sadhana and intensive Gayatri mantra anustana in Rishikesh, Yogrishi Vishvketu was already carrying the view of Vasudhev Kutumbhakkam – the whole world is one family. As a new immigrant in Canada, Vishva-ji began to teach in government offices in Ottawa, Canada’s capital. Soon there were yoga classes taught by the “yogi who laughs” in Transport Canada, the Public Service Commission, Immigration Canada, Natural Resources Canada, and the National Research Council.
In October 2003, he released an instructional DVD entitled Moving into Bliss with Yoga, presenting a holistic and balanced sequence of asana and pranayama techniques in a harmonious and meditative flow set to classical Indian music. He went on to offer a North Indian yoga perspective through his teaching and demonstrations at the Yoga Show and Conference in Toronto and around the globe.
Yogrishi Vishvketu met Baba Prem Nath while at Hariyana Agricultural University in 1993. Vishva-ji remembers: “Baba Prem Nath’s energy was immediate and so wide open and I felt something shift in my consciousness upon meeting him.” He taught about the major sources of pran: the breath, the food we ingest, the environment we occupy, connection with the higher self through meditation, the practice of unconditional love, the individual’s flow of creativity, and devotional practices. He used to say, “your pran is like different colours of paint and you are the painter. Whatever you want the paintings in your life to be, you can create with this life energy”. Baba Prem Nath gave Vishva-ji the name Vishvketu meaning ‘world bridge or world flag’
A peer of Swami Sivananda, and founder of Yoga Niketan ashram, neighbouring the Sivananda Forest Academy, Swami Yogeshwarananda was a Raj Yogi, very much involved in the inquiry into the subtle body and cosmology through meditation and Samadhi. His chakra and other drawings are hung in the halls of Yoga Niketan ashram to this day. As a young man, he took initiation from a wandering teacher in the Himalayas, Avadhuta Swami Atmananda, and began his deep meditations. His teachings have been compiled in several books, most notably perhaps Science of the Soul.
Vishva: “I remember as a boy seeing Baba Hari Nam at my gurukul sitting in meditation since 3 am, his spine stalk straight even at 80. In my 20s, I realized the wealth of knowledge he had about Nad Yog, Ayurveda and its remedies. Shortly before his death at 105, we were searching to see him again, and found him staying at the home of a fabric merchant in a small village reached through dusty roads filled with potholes and lumbering sugar-cane filled bullock carts. He had been brought there at 105 to heal the merchant’s son. We spoke together and mediated together. It was the only time I remember him looking even slightly world-weary. And yet, still in service and simplicity at 105! By his example, Baba Hari Nam taught incredible humility, discipline, and commitment to the Yogic and Ayurvedic arts of healing, community and self-realization.