(August 10, 1943 – June 9, 2021)
We are transient… Everything and everyone lives dies, each in his own time.
On June 09, 2021 it was the time for Suman Jī…
GENESIS OF A YOGA LIFE
From early childhood he was a seeker and an enquirer, not satisfied with the ready-made answers and certainties presented to him. He was no follower and was destined for more.
When we (the Mertens brothers – the Muni brothers) started to offer our Yoga classes to a wide audience in 1968, we did not want to simply teach some practices and techniques (āsana and prāṇāyāma) superficially. We set out with the intention of hopefully guiding one white raven in a hundred disciples on the path of spiritual experience. That first year, I visited every interested person at home for an interview before enrolling them, looking for that possible 1 in 100. I visited Suman at home and had a conversation from 7 pm until midnight with him. I immediately realised that he might be one of the white ravens. He was no. 14 of a list of thousands after him. Since then I have guided and stimulated Suman in his growth process over the years.
He was given the name of Suman, meaning ‘flower’ or ‘blossom’ or possibly ‘charming, friendly’ in 1973 by Mahārāj Jī (Swāmī Yogeswarānanda) at his initiation into Guru Dikṣā. He became one of our foremost teachers, a task he performed with dedication and commitment right up until his death.
In 1976, along with some others, including Rāma and Sītā, on our recommendation he was awarded the diploma of Hatha and Rājā Yogācārya from Mahārāj Jī. In that same year he started as a teacher at our Yoga Academy (Shri Yogeshwarananda Yoga Mahavidyalaya vzw), where he gradually developed into a very beloved and inspiring, supportive force.
SUMAN AS A HUMAN BEING
Suman Jī was an introverted man, gentle and sensitive, with a non-violent disposition and he acted from inner goodness. He was a Yogin. Astrologically he was a lion, which allowed this silent man to be seen and heard without any effort. He was a perfectionist and at the same time he was sometimes naive and gullible…
In the 1980s and 1990s he sometimes got carried away with the suggestive manipulation of some swāmīs, who later turned out to only be after power and money (not all is gold that glitters and caution is advised). I warned him about this, leaving him free to come to his own understanding. At one point he was completely under the control of a manipulative female swāmī and I told him he had more Yoga in his little finger than she had in her whole being…Her influence wreaked havoc on his pure mind and it took him years to recover. Among other things, she performed an exorcism on two of our students, who subsequently needed psychological and psychiatric help, and one of them later committed suicide. He eventually came out of it stronger and it gave him a stable maturity for the rest of his life.
I knew Suman for 53 years and worked closely with him. He was my right arm in our Yoga teachings and a very welcome friend in my life. His untimely passing weighs heavily on me.
On January 15, he suffered a brain haemorrhage. From then on his agony of hospitals, rehabilitation centres and a residential care centre began. No sinecure in Corona times! Not even for his wife Pratibhā and son Jehudi. It was not entirely unexpected either, since in 2019, he had two severe TIAs in quick succession, which was a serious warning…
SUMAN IN THE YOGA FEDERATION
During his working life as a chemical engineer he had a busy and demanding life and only after his early retirement did he take on other tasks. He effectively became treasurer of our associations and he was involved in the evolving legislation on non-profit organisations. Later he became vice-chairman of our Yoga Academy in Mechelen. He also became a member of the governing board of the Yoga Federation after 2000.
After the resignation of Roeland Fauconnier as chairman, Suman was elected. He accepted the position on the condition that he delegate tasks and that the Yoga Federation become ‘Yoga’ again…And he did that perfectly. After he took office, the numbers of those present at our weekends went up spectacularly, increasing threefold. He restructured the organisation into specialised groups with specific tasks and responsibilities, steering the ship in safe and calm waters for over 15 years…He was a wise and calm moderator, loved and cherished by all.
SUMAN IN THE EUROPEAN YOGA UNION
As Chairman of the Yoga Federation, he also served on the board of directors of the EUY. Because of his qualities, he was quickly approached for all kinds of other positions. For example, he was a member of the diploma committee, he was Chairman of the Education Committee for years and he was a bit tricked into becoming Secretary General, which he didn’t really want to do. In the name EUY the U(nion) and Y(oga) were missing…He also successfully accomplished this task, even though he was fighting a losing battle. I warned him not to give in to all kinds of pressure groups and to impose Yoga, to which he replied he was using me as a secret weapon…
GOODBYE SUMAN JI
Suman is no longer… at least not in physical, perceptible form among us anymore. But for those who loved him, he is buried in their hearts, the only true and precious burial place.
‘Never was there a time when I was not and you were not of these rulers over men; nor shall any of us hereafter ever cease to be.’ Bhagavad Gita, Chap. 2, verse 12
I’m glad Suman was in my life and for those who loved him the pain will be with us for a long time to come. But the pain will wear off and disappear and the memory of a good person will remain…
Atma Muni / Lucien Mertens