Dr. V. S. Rao
November 28, 1918 – February 11, 2007
Dr. Vedula Satyananda Rao was born in Kakaraparru village of West Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh, India, on November 28, 1918. His father’s name was Pandit Rama Sastry and his mother was Subbalaxmi Cherla. Pandit Sastry was a great Sanskrit scholar and had his own Sanskrit training school in his village. Aspiring students from many neighboring villages assembled for training in the Vedas and the scriptures in the school. Dr. Rao had two other brothers and sisters. The family helped Pandit Sastry in the operation of the Sanskrit school.
He was educated in the village school at the elementary and secondary level and finally entered Andhra University for higher education. He furthered his studies in engaging himself in alternative medicine treatment and took a Diploma from University of Chicago through their Distance Education program. He was a master in homeopathy and ran his own clinic in the village. He treated villagers with token support and distributed medicine freely. He was employed as a manager in the Cooperative Rural Bank and supported the family.
In 1938, he won a competition run by his then teacher Prof. Mohan. This enabled to make a trip to Rishikesh to meet Yogi Ramlalji Maharaj. This meeting changed his life. Inspired with full commitment to yoga, he took initiation in yoga in 1943. He was one of the few yogis who were blessed with the privilege of being directly initiated by Ramlalji Maharaj, possibly the last. Later he did studies in human anatomy and yoga therapy at Swami Venkateswar University, Tirupati and earned a Doctor of Yoga Education degree. Meanwhile he had started a yoga journal called “Yoga Sadhan” and ran yoga training centers in his village and the neighboring areas. He was active in yoga conferences and propagation of yoga through camps and clinics.
He married Vardhanamma Narasinghadevara and had a happy family life. He raised five children with his wife and took care of their education and well being. He himself remained actively engaged in yogic education. His wife suffered an untimely death because of a medical complication and Dr. Rao and the family decided to immigrate to the United States to stay near his eldest daughter Mohini, who lived in Chelmsford, MA. They immigrated to the US in 1982 and Dr. Rao lived in the area rest of his life.
While in Chelmsford, he visited the Chelmsford Public Library and helped treat the Librarian from her chronic illness using yoga therapy. Some of the local practitioners in eastern mysticism noticed his work and requested him to conduct yoga classes for the public. Saturday evening classes started in Chelmsford Public Library Carriage House and became popular. The students affectionately called him “Baba” and he reciprocated with affection and love. He also visited Shishubharati School that time and through arrangements with the teachers and organizers, he started Sunday yoga classes in Burlington in 1983. The Chelmsford classes moved to Dracut in 1993 and the Burlington classes moved to Lexington alongwith Shishubharati in 2002.
In the Fall of 1983, the High-Tech Yoga Institute was formalized as a nonprofit organization with the mission of teaching and propagating yoga. Apart from live training sessions, the Institute offered one-on-one private tutorials, home-study sessions by mail and video, and sponsored special lectures and yoga clinics. The Institute was affiliated with the Siddha-Gupha Yogashrama in Samai, India and started offering degrees in yoga in 1987. The official address for the Institute was a condominium unit in Lowell, Mass, where Dr. Rao lived with younger daughter Subba and her family. More than a hundred students have been awarded degrees through rigorous testing in the US and in India. Many have become enthusiastic yoga professionals and have engaged themselves in full-time yoga practice and teaching. Many more have adopted the yogic way of living and are assisting others in propagating the principles of yoga.
Dr. Rao was known for his lucid explanations of yogic concepts and immersion in meditation. He interpreted and translated several principal upanisads and also completed a full commentary on Patanjali yogasutras. His book “The Life Divine” was published in India and was popular in yoga circles. The biography of his guru as a book entitled “Yogeswar Ramlalji Maharaj” was co-authored with his fraternal brother Sri Shyamlal Khanna and is now published in India. His lectures are available in audio tapes and are most valuable to the yoga students. He led excursions with his students to important yoga centers in India and in the US. He personally knew all the important yoga teachers of the world. He was known for his homas and yajnas and created a transformative effect on the participants through his worship service. His blessings in the service brought profound gratitude and reinforced the yogic relationship among the students and the participants.
Dr. Rao took ill and retired from active teaching in 2004. After a brief hospitalization, he became a resident at the rehabilitation home Westford House in Westford, MA. He was a happy resident and the nurses and the physicians at the Center were respectful to his personality and enjoyed his pleasant manners very much. His last annual Gurupurnima celebration was held at the Westford House in July, 2006. The auspicious SriRamanavami celebration honoring the birth anniversary of Ramlalji Maharaj and the Gurupurnima celebrations were held regularly in the Boston area over the years he lived. He carried a special enlightenment on these occasions.
He is survived by three sons: V.R.K.Sastry of Kakinada, India; Rama Vedula of Raynham, Mass, and Suresh Vedula of Natick, Mass; and two daughters: Mohini Sastry of Chelmsford, Mass. and Subba Gollakota of Lowell, Mass. He is blessed with seven grandchildren and three great grandchildren. Most of the members of the family were present when he breathed his last on February 11, 2007.
Dr. Rao lived a full life of family, yoga, service and teaching. He was admired by all for his kindness, affection, love and sincerity. Always clean, he lived a life a purity, prayer and perfection. Though immensely enlightened, he was always an image of humility, humor and deep humanity. His students, family, and friends will remember the noble soul for ever to continue to learn from the eternal teacher.
“Baba”, we miss you!
Peace! Peace! Peace!