A biography of the fascinating Indra Devi (born Eugenia Peterson), who began life as a displaced Russian and ended it as one of the most important Western Yoga teachers. Devi’s life is incredible. Her ability to reinvent herself, strike out into areas unwelcoming to women, and to touch so many important aspects of post-war “new age” (for want of a better word) culture are just astounding.
Devi was an Theosophist turned pupil of Krishnamurti and one of the first westerns (and certainly the first women) to be present in the early days of Mysore school of Tirumalai Krishnamacharya which became what Westerners think of as “yoga”, and was an early follower of the guru/huckster Sai Baba. Probably more than any other Westerner, she brought this physical form of yoga to America.
She was an incredible women. And this book does a good job of telling her story. But more than just the story of Devi, this is the story of the West’s complicated love affair with all things Indian. In a few hundred pages we get not only Devi’s life story, but capsule summaries of the Theosophist movement, the birth of modern hatha yoga, the rise of Sai Baba and more. If you’re interested in this sort of thing (and who isn’t?) this is a must read.
Recommended for the enthusiast.