When the Bihar School of Yoga was founded in 1964, Swamiji didn't think about how many disciples would come to him for sannyasa training, nor what a big print press he would need. At that time he had very few disciples, so he just began building as he could on a small property. The main hall, a few rooms, a small toilet block and an outside kitchen for roti-dhal were more than ample.
In 1968 Swamiji made his first world tour and since then, he and his sannyasin disciples have made many more, conducting innumerable yoga seminars wherever there were enough interested people to sponsor them. Even when Swamiji stays in the ashram, hardly a week goes by that he isn't invited to conduct or inaugurate yoga programmes and seminars throughout India.
So Swami Satyananda Saraswati and his system of integral kriya yoga are becoming well known both at home and abroad. Disciples, students and visitors are coming to BSY in a steadily increasing stream from all over India and every part of the world. They come from many different backgrounds, for many different reasons: sannyasa training, yoga teachers' training, a short course in kriya yoga, a health cure, or just for a visit to meet Swamiji. But what they don't realize before coming is that BSY has no room for them at all. The ashram is still the same size as it was when Swamiji started it with limited resources fourteen years ago. But now many more people have come, and it is so crowded that even Swamiji himself has no place. He shares a tiny living quarter with his close disciples, among whom are two five year old swamis. His room is no longer large enough for satsang with all the inmates or for him to meet with outside visitors who come from miles around to have his advice and darshan. So people who wish to see him are often kept waiting or asked to come back another time.
The inmates are in training so it doesn't matter where they sleep or if they have a place to sleep at all, but visitors - especially those used to air-conditioned homes, spring mattresses, private baths, hot water and nice food - often find it very difficult to adjust. Their first nights in an overcrowded room, on a hard bed, with the train going past right outside the window and loud cinema music filling the air, is often more of a nightmare than a wish fulfilling dream.
The problem of space is so acute that the sannyasins, many of whom were previously used to all the conveniences and comforts that modern life can offer, are now sleeping in corridors, around stairwells, in every office and section; some on wooden beds, some on the floor. Many sleep outside all year round, even in the winter and monsoon seasons. Nobody has a place to call his own or even to keep his belongings. Of course this is all right for sannyasins. They don't possess much more than two dhotis. They don't even have tooth powder to clean their teeth, and must use ash instead.
Sometimes visitors are shocked at the condition of the sannyasins' dhotis, especially the press workers. They are so torn and black with oil and ink that even a mad person or a shudra would not wear them. But the sannyasins receive only two dhotis per year and no soap, so they have to make do.
Spartan meals are served twice a day. The food is often burnt and never enough. The outside fireplace and even the size of the cooking vessels are no longer sufficient to provide enough dahlia (bulgar wheat) for all the inmates and visitors in the long food line. And only those who can gulp down their food in three minutes flat will be on time for seconds. The rest will be too late, for the food will be finished. Work, not food, is the main source of energy and pleasure here.
The small toilet block which was built fourteen years ago to be used by ten people is now used by one hundred. It is an old-fashioned system and every two to three months all the toilets get blocked and ooze filth for days until the pipe is dug up and replaced.
And then there is the long-standing problem we have during the rainy season with the Ganges River whose banks are very near to the ashram. Nearly every year she comes herself to bless us in the form of floods. The last two years she poured in until the whole ashram was waist deep in her water. Then everything had to be shifted to the second floor of the press. All the almirahs from the office together with all the wheat, dry stores and cooking facilities from the kitchen and no less than fifty people were packed into two stairwells and corridors over the press with nothing to do but sit and wait for the water to recede.
As a solution to all these difficulties we have been trying to acquire a large property nearby. The new site has been chosen and steps have been taken, but the procedures are going very slowly. Therefore to ease the situation just a little in the meantime, we have added two new rooms over our expanding press, which at present has totally outgrown its building. It has become impossible to walk through any section without stepping on somebody or disturbing their work in some way. But still we smile and hope for a bigger press with more machines and more work space some day. Presently the demand for ashram publications is so overwhelming that each reprint and new edition is sold out practically as soon as it leaves the press. Swamis are working eighteen hours a day to put out more books, but the demand keeps increasing. So despite all our efforts to keep ahead of it, we are always behind.
Over the years BSY has amassed a very large collection of books donated by various trusts, institutions and private people. This includes thousands of volumes on every subject related to spiritual evolution and yoga, ancient and valuable texts as well as the newest scientific research and discoveries. But we have no library to keep them in and at present not even a room where we can sit to read and write. Every available space is taken up by more urgent requirements. Therefore our research and literary work have been laid aside until further resources permit our long envisioned research library to be constructed.
Another thing we badly need is a place where ladies can stay. At present during the rainy season everybody shifts to the hall and sleeps together on the floor. This arrangement is not only difficult but unacceptable for many ladies.
We have so many plans and projects for the future when we will be able to expand on a large property. This is definitely going to happen but it will be a while yet. Although there are many people, we know, waiting to come, we really cannot invite them until more suitable accommodations are available. In the meanwhile we ask everyone to be patient, for the time is not far off when more people will be able to live and work here.