Our world lost a broadcasting icon and legend on January 23, 2021: Larry King. He was called “the most remarkable talk-show host on TV ever” by TV Guide and “master of the mike” by Time magazine. But, why would this magazine, focused on Yoga and wellness make mention of Larry King’s passing? One simple answer: King was a great admirer of Swami Satchidananda, the founder of Integral Yoga and this magazine. It was a mutual admiration society, if seemingly an unconventional friendship to the casual onlooker. Many probably wouldn’t know that Swami Satchidananda always stayed informed of current events, watching CNN daily, including King’s CNN show. Many also may not have known that despite King’s avowed agnosticism (some would say atheism), at heart he wanted to believe and continually asked questions of his guests about their faith.
It was in the mid-1980s, after King had gained prominence beginning in 1978 as host of The Larry King Show—an all-night nationwide call-in radio program heard on the Mutual Broadcasting System—that King was introduced to Sri Swamiji. Adam Max (the son of pop artist icon Peter Max) arranged for Sri Swamiji to be interviewed by King on his radio program. King was a deeply compassionate and goodhearted human being. He did pray, though he was always unsure if his prayers were heard. So, when he met Sri Swamiji he was so curious about the Swami’s faith and what he believed and if there really was a God and, well, you can fill in the blank of all the kinds of questions King asked! They spoke for a long time post-show as well, and Sri Swamiji gave King several of his books.
King often spoke of the influence Swami Satchidananda had on him. During interviews over the years on “The Dr. Phil Show” and even after he had retired from CNN and began his own show, he often told guests stories about conversations he had and what he learned from Sri Swamiji. David Kessler (author of several books, with Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, on grief) recently shared a clip of a story King told him about Sri Swamiji. In his autobiography, My Remarkable Journey, King recalled being asked about his most memorable guests. He replied, “Of all my most memorable guests, there have been so many, but I really liked what Swami Satchidananda told me. He made a lot of sense. There was a wonderful peace about him. He was fascinating to listen to. I never forgot that.”
King was an immensely charitable person. In 1988, after quintuple bypass heart surgery, he established the Larry King Cardiac Foundation. He donated one million dollars to George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs for scholarships to students from disadvantaged backgrounds as well as supporting 22 other charities. Larry King will be deeply missed by his family, his friends, the world, and yes, even Integral Yogis. May he rest in peace.
Watch Larry King speak about Swami Satchidananda here or below: