I'm studying with a man who is arguably one of the greatest yoga teachers on the planet, and the experience has been magic and life-changing for me. The energy in the shala, the culture around it, the teacher himself, the assistants, the sanskrit teacher, everything contributes to a very unique experience.
I don't know where you could possibly go and have a similarly transformative experience, while at the same time being able to live your life, so it becomes part of daily life. It's pure double gratitude.
In terms of the local environment, he's contributing a lot through his fund, he's encouraging his students to give blood, to teach yoga to poor locals for free, and to help out in other ways they can. And he's bringing in a steady stream of people from other parts of the world, who spend a lot of money here on food and housing and other expenses, thus contributing to the local economy.
So given all that, it's been interesting to observe the amount of judgment and criticism lodged at him, especially by the locals. Most of it is centered around the money. He's charging too much. "How much are you paying? 18,500 Rs per month? Really? That's too much! Yoga shouldn't be about the money. Yoga should be free."
Related is the criticism that there are too many people at the shala, with some people practicing in the changing rooms and the lobby during led class - notwithstanding the fact that if he were to lower the price, probably even more students would show up.
I get that 18,500 Rs it's a lot of money for most Indians. A lot! Indians, of course, only pay 8,000 a month, which is still a lot, but a lot less.
But wouldn't it make more sense to be happy that he can attract that kind of money to a place like Mysore, and that he can attract all of those people with money to spend, contributing to a vibrant local economy? It's pretty impressive. Maybe we could learn something from him?
The lesson for me has been that when you are successful and visible, a lot of people are going to have opinions about you. And those opinions have very little to do with you. It's just the way things are. There's always going to be people who judge.