The beginning of the BSY Research Library goes back very far to Swamiji's early years in Rishikesh when he was typing the manuscripts of his own guru. Swami Sivananda was a prolific writer and he wrote extensively. The number of books on yoga which he penned during his life numbered well over 300. Also having been a doctor before his sannyasa, Swami Sivananda definitely had greater scientific knowledge and understanding of yogic practices. In fact he often thought about establishing an international research centre at the ashram in Rishikesh. He envisaged a place fully equipped with all the facilities of modern technology required to do such research, as well as every available book on yoga, tantra and Vedanta. He wanted to establish a centre where people from all parts of the world could come together to study and unveil the mysteries of yoga in all its multifaceted forms. And later they could reveal the science of yoga to the world in a more comprehensive light.
However, the plan which Swami Sivananda had envisaged, was beyond the means of the ashram in those days, and also the level of the disciples and devotees. Therefore, he was never able to actualise it, although he felt that such a centre would be essential for spreading yoga in future generations. Nevertheless, he carefully planted the seed of his master plan during talks and discussions with his chosen disciple, Swami Satyananda Saraswati, whom he felt would one day be able to establish and inspire such a centre.
So, with his guru always in the back of his mind, it is not surprising that when Swamiji started his own mission, and even before that in his parivrajaka days, he began to collect books on yoga. In the beginning he kept the books in Rajnandgaon, which was his first headquarters. It was there that the monthly journals YOGA and YOGA VIDYA were first published between 1963 and 1973 along with Swamiji's earlier books on yoga, at the Yoga Vidya printing press established by Ma Dharmashakti and Swami Satyabratananda.
Later, when Bihar School of Yoga was established in Munger, Swamiji shifted the library there, along with the writing, editing, and eventually the publishing of books. As the number of books for the library grew, he gave his disciples the work of classifying them, but he personally saw each new book before it was entered, and decided whether or not it was useful for the library.
During the Sannyasa Course in 1970 Swamiji opened the library, but only on a working basis. Most of the work involved classification of books, filing and transcription of Swamiji's classes and lectures. A few other swamis who were writing books at that time had access to it. In the following years many important books were compiled and published from the transcriptions of Swamiji's lectures and classes during the Teachers Training Course in 1968 and the Sannyasa Training Course between 1970-73. These included the expanded edition of Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha, Yoga From Shore to Shore, Meditations From the Tantras, Yoga Nidra, Prana Vidya, Asthma, Blood Pressure and Diabetes.
From 1974-76, the Kriya Yoga Postal Sadhana Course was published in a series of monthly magazines. This was so successful that Swamiji decided when it finished to transfer the publication of Yoga and Yoga Vidya journals from Rajnandgaon to Munger. At this time it was necessary to expand the format with more scientific articles on yoga research and therapy to make it suitable for international publication. Thus began a new era in the development and history of the BSY Research Library.
In 1977 Swamiji opened the International Yoga Fellowship Research Co-ordinating Centre, with Dr Swami Shankardevananda Saraswati as Director and Chief Research Co-ordinator. Under this new scheme the library again reopened, this time with the purpose of correlating information from all over the world on all forms and practices of yoga and related subjects.
The work began with a handful of dedicated disciples, some were specialists but most were not, working on various research projects chosen by Swamiji. For many years Swamiji used to see all the writing done in the library, adding criticisms and suggestions. He knew every book in the library, and would often tell us which ones would be most helpful.
At that time, those who were working in the library each became receivers of Swamiji's thoughts and ideas. Night times were especially powerful, for then Swamiji would give himself over completely to the thought and formulation of books and articles being written by his sannyasin disciples. There were many times during this period when the concentration level was so high and the work so absorbing that the swamis would continue writing until late in the night, working by candle if there was no light, surrounded by a variety of flying night bugs.
The books written and published at this time included: The Effects of Yoga on Hypertension, The Practices of Yoga for the Digestive System, Amaroli, Moola Bandha, Sure Ways to Self Realisation, Teachings of Swami Satyananda (Volumes 1&2), Yogic Management of Cardiovascular Diseases, Yoga Nidra (revised edition), and A Systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriya (a compilation of the three year Kriya Yoga Course).
In 1982 the BSY Research Library shifted to Ganga Darshan. Swamiji had often foretold in the earlier days about the great research centre that would one day be erected on top of the hill. The work done there, he said, would rival the ancient University of Nalanda, attracting the most notable scholars, scientists and specialists from all over the world.
In the new ashram the library was given temporary quarters in the kitchen building. Even during this difficult period Swamiji's energies have continued to pour through and the work continues unabated despite the obstacles which have been presented due to the transitory situation. The most recent publications include: Surya Namaskara, Yogic Management of Common Diseases, Swara Yoga, and Nawa Yogini Tantra (revised edition).
Further work in the library is now in progress though a large amount still has to be done in terms of cataloguing, storage and retrieval. In this regard, people who have contact with research centres, libraries or universities, or any computerised data facilities, are invited to correspond and send contributions for the further development of this area of our project.
Because of the specialised nature of this work, the research centre is not open to the general public. This is also to shift the primary emphasis onto experience of yoga rather than the accumulation of intellectual knowledge. This experience will in turn be backed up by textual references, research data and experimental and theoretical work from all over the world.
Over the years the processes at work have clarified themselves into two main channels:
In 1984 the Research Library will shift to its new quarters in the seven storey complex now under construction. One complete floor has been allocated for the library, and one floor for research. The research floor will contain a fully equipped research laboratory by international standards, with the latest facilities including a copper shielded room and data processing equipment.
At this time the library will be extended to over 50,000 books, encompassing yogic literature of all kinds to synthesise modern science and the ancient system of tantra. This literature will cover every area of consciousness expansion, including family life, physical and mental health, education, and many other fields relevant to present day needs. Eventually a systematic revision of ancient texts and tantras will be undertaken so that yoga can be better understood and applied for the fulfilment and evolvement of the individual and the emergence of the new yogic culture.