'I am the serenest!' he says
HIDDEN ARTICLE #1
- MONK GLOATS OVER YOGA CHAMPIONSHIP
LHASA, TIBET - Employing the brash style that first brought him
to prominence, SriDhananjai Bikram won the fifth annual
International Yogi Competition yesterday with a world-record
point total of 873.6.
"I am the serenest!" Bikram shouted to the estimated crowd of
20,000 yoga fans, vigorously pumping his fists. "No one is
serener than Sri Dhananjai Bikram - I am the greatest monk of all
Bikram averaged 1.89 breaths a minute during the two-hour
competition, nearly .3 fewer than his nearest competitor, second-
place finisher and two-time champion Sri Salil "The Hammer"
The heavily favored Gupta was upset after the loss. "I should be
able to beat that guy with one lung tied," Gupta said. "I'm
beside myself right now, and I don't mean trans-bodily."
Bikram got off to a fast start at the Lhasa meet, which like
most major competitions, is a six-event affair. In the first
event, he attained total consciousness (TC) in just 2 minutes, 34
seconds, and set the tone for the rest of the meet by repeatedly
shouting, "I'm blissful! You blissful?! I'm blissful!" to the
Bikram, 33, burst onto the international yoga scene with a gold-
mandala performance at the 1994 Bhutan Invitational. At that
competition he premiered his aggressive style, at one point in
the flexibility event sticking his middle toes out at the other
yogis. While no prohibition exists against such behavior,
according to Yoga League Commissioner Swami Prabhupada, such
behavior is generally considered "unBuddhalike."
"I don't care what the critics say," Bikram said. "Sri Bikram is
just gonna go out there and do Sri Bikram's own yoga thing."
Before the Bhutan meet, Bikram had never placed better than
fourth. Many said he had forsaken rigorous training for the
celebrity status accorded by his Bhutan win, endorsing Nike's new
line of prayer mats and supposedly dating the Hindu goddess
Shakti. But his performance this week will regain for him the
number one computer ranking and earn him new respect, as well as
for his coach Mahananda Vasti, the controversial guru some have
called Bikram's "guru."
"My special training diet for Bikram of one super-charged,
carbo-loaded grain of rice per day was essential to his win,"
The defeated Gupta denied that Bikram's taunting was a factor in
his inability to attain TC. "I just wasn't myself today," Gupta
commented. "I wasn't any self to day. I was an egoless particle
of the universal no-soul."
In the second event, flexibility, Bikram maintained the lead by
supporting himself on his index fingers for the entire 15 minutes
while touching the back of his skull to his lower spine. The feat
was matched by Gupta, who first used the position at the 1990
"That's my meditative position of spiritual ecstasy, not his,"
remarked Gupta. "He stole my thunder."
Bikram denied the charge, saying, "Gupta's been talking like
that ever since he was a 3rd century Egyptian slave-owner."
Nevertheless, a strong showing by Gupta in the third event, the
shotput, placed him within a lotus petal of the lead at the
competition's halfway point.
But event number four, the contemplation of unanswerable riddles
known as koans, proved the key to victory for Bikram.
The koan had long been thought the weak point of his spiritual
arsenal, but his response to today's riddle - "Show me the face
you had before you were born" - was reportedly "extremely
illuminative," according to Commissioner Prabhupada.
While koan answers are kept secret from the public for fear of
exposing the uninitiated multitudes to the terror of universal
truth, insiders claim his answer had Prabhupada and the two other
judges "highly enlightened."
With the event victory, Bikram built himself a nearly
insurmountable lead, one he sustained through the yak-milk churn
and breathing events to come away with the upset victory.
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