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After Radio Bulgaria’s quiz

Peter Deunov’s paneurhythmy is a philosophy and a dance of joy

Paneurhythmy at the 7 lakes of Rila
Photo: EPA/BGNES

Who introduced the practice of paneurhythmy which aims to attain inner balance and harmony, and which has spread across the globe? This is the question we asked you in Radio Bulgaria’s latest quiz. And the answers show that our multilingual readers and listeners know a lot about the present and the past of the country.   
As it turned out, the users of Radio Bulgaria’s websites in Bulgarian and in Greek are the most well-informed, with 92% and 80%, respectively choosing the correct answer to the question: paneurhythmy was created by Peter Deunov. Out of our French-speaking users, 78% gave the correct answer. Readers in Turkish and Albanian seem unsure, with an almost equal number of votes for Peter Deunov and St. John of Rila. However, on the whole, Peter Deunov is a figure known well enough by our readership.

Who is Peter Deunov? 

They call him “the Master” or Beinsa Douno. He was born in 1864 in the village of Hadarcha near Varna. Peter Deunov graduated from secondary school in the town of Svishtov, and then left for USA where he studied theology and medicine at Boston University. After returning to Bulgaria, together with like-minded friends, Peter Deunov founded a society called the White Brotherhood – a religious and esoteric teaching that grew to be vastly popular around the world. Deunov authored thousands of philosophical lectures, as well as 150 musical works. But he is best known in the world as the man who created a dance called paneurhythmy. 


It is a complex system of gymnastic exercises to music, or dance which aims to harmonize the human soul and body with nature. The etymology of the word can loosely be described as meaning “a true expression of cosmic rhythm that is innate to nature”, so the dance is based on the movement of the celestial bodies, and combines 28 flowing steps and movements to the sound of music and text. Deunev’s followers wear white, dance in pairs in a circle, following the rhythm of the melody. The music is mostly violin, perceived as the instrument that resembles the human voice most. 

Peter Deunov believed that paneurhythmy affected our mental and physical condition


He believed it improves mobility and breathing, strengthens muscles and normalizes blood pressure. The dance also affects the mental state, he says, because it is performed at sunrise, and close to nature, the movements are flowing, relaxing and to the accompaniment of elevating music. Thus, the dancers gradually shed all stress, clear their minds, their memory improves.

Peter Deunov recommended that paneurhythmy be performed out in the open in spring and summer 


This is the time, he said, when the energies of nature were at their most powerful, and the clean air and the light were free to enter the body to re-energize it. 
The most massive and spectacular performance of this ritual takes place every year on 19 August. 


On this day, thousands from all over the world, inspired by Peter Deunov and his philosophy, gather in the region of the lakes of Rila to welcome the so-called solar new year. They dance in a circle, performing all of the 28 paneurhythmy movements. Deunov’s followers believe that the dawn on this day is magical, and the Rila lakes are a place of special energies. By dancing paneurhythmy they derive spiritual and physical energy to last them over the next 12 months. 
People in Sofia seek out what is known as the Garden of the Master in Sofia’s Iztok district, where, in 1944, Peter Deunov was laid to rest. They say the place has a special, peaceful kind of quality. 

Peter Deunov's grave in Solfia's Iztok residential area
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Photos: EPA/BGNES, archive, https://petardanov.com/

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