GURU CHOD HASBAMRER (Thai, ครู ชด หัศบำเรอ) was modern Thailand's pioneer yoga-tantric authority. The family name, Hasbamrer, derives from Sanskrit harshavarman and signifies Royal Khmer ancestry.
He was born at the turn of 20th century in the fifth Rattanakosin reign of King Chulalongkorn near the empire's southerly Andaman Sea. In youth he attended Penang Free School and continued studies in Bombay, India.
Upon graduation from Trinity College, Cambridge, he remained in England and worked as a reporter. He furthered that career in British India. Yet by 1937 Chod was back in Britain where covered stories on the continent too.
A few years later due to imminent war and serious personal health concerns, he withdrew to India and gained ascetic refuge with Swami Sivananda on the banks of the Ganges near Rishikesh. It took him two years to cure his disorders and he stayed three more to master yoga's higher forms.
After the war Chod moved to Bangkok and established himself as a national news editor. He sometimes ran two papers at once while writing internationally for Reuters news agency. He turned his home into a morning yoga centre and drove to the newsroom after lunch.
At the strong healthy age of seventy-five years Chod retired from journalism altogether and founded his celebrated yoga conservatoire. Public demand was often unrelenting but he faced the challenges without complaint. "It's a good occupation for an old man," he said. "I like to be useful."
Students and patrons came from all walks of life though most were of the kingdom's higher social rungs. High-ranking members of the Buddhist clergy similarly sought the guru's counsel. He looked to all with equal vision.
He was furthermore esteemed as the Yogi Raj-Guru who initiated members of the Thai royal family. Chod never made such statements himself, but those around him openly did. It was common knowledge at the time.
Even well into his eighty-eighth year the guru radiated charm and grace. He was typically surrounded by sparkling college girls, stunning air hostesses and breathtaking models, wives of bankers, industrialists, writers, opera singers and foreign diplomats. But road-tattered Western yoginis came as well, aglow from extended travels East having heard along the way of a certain living saint. This is probably what kept him teaching so long.
"But everybody has to die," Chod affirmed, and he certainly gave us all fair warning. True to prediction, near his eighty-eighth birthday he stretched out on the floor and walked right out of there.