Glimpse into the Future

An Interview with Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati, President of Bihar School of Yoga

Ganga Darshan is presently passing through a momentous and historical period of growth and expansion. At every level we can see changes and new developments. The ashram is in transition from a swami orientated ashram to a sadhaka orientated ashram. In Ganga Darshan now the main emphasis will be on preparation of qualified and more than qualified teachers who will be able to meet the challenges of future philosophies. It has been human experience that when a system, science or philosophy reaches a point of growth and development, other ideas come to challenge it. Therefore, as swamis of yogic tradition, it will be our responsibility and duty to develop our understanding and knowledge about yoga and tantra and be able to meet these new challenges.

On yoga research

Investigation of yogic practices in itself will be of great importance in the future. Until now, our understanding of yoga has been very limited. We know about hatha yoga, raja yoga, karma, bhakti, gyana, mantra, laya, kriya, kundalini, etc. but there are still many techniques which need to come out from the hidden sources of tantras and vedantas, of which tattwa shuddhi is an example. It is a practice which not many people knew about, though it is mentioned in Mahanirvana Tantra and Srimad Devi Bhagavatam. It is a yogic practice. So research into that aspect of yoga and bringing to light all of the so far unknown practices would become a major contribution of Ganga Darshan in this yogic panorama.

Apart from this, there will be medical and scientific researches which would require the time and effort of practically every ashramite. It would give them a specific sadhana so that they can grow in their own internal life, and at the same time allow researchers to find out what happens physiologically and psychologically.

I believe books will be a very important part of our work at Ganga Darshan, because they are the most practical method of conveying thoughts from one person to another. The closure of the magazine is not because the research department or library is not set, but it is due to the greatly increased activity at present. Once we are able to resettle into the new environment of Ganga Darshan and once we think ourselves capable of handling other jobs, then we will again have the press and start printing books and magazines. Once the research begins we will have to publish our findings. In January when I first came, Swamiji was saying, 'In 1985 we will be settled into research!'

The division

There is a story which can explain what will be happening here. In the beginning there was one tribe of people, and this tribe got involved in exploration of self and universe, but due to varying and conflicting ideas, they decided to split up, one to investigate one aspect and the other to investigate the other aspect. One tribe evolved a system for realising human potentials, and this system was based on manipulating the external environment, trying to mould or shape nature to fit its own requirements, or to fulfil its own requirements. The other tribe instead of trying to mould nature to suit their need, molded themselves into nature. And instead of changing or manipulating the environment, the senses or this or that, they went inside and tried to discover.

This has actually taken the form of two cultures, what we know as the western culture and the oriental culture. In the oriental culture, practically every idea, every religion or philosophy that has developed has had its base in looking at one's thoughts, trying to change within rather than creating a change outside, regardless of external comforts and needs. Whereas in the western culture, they developed technology to change the environment, so that they could live in that environment, more pleasantly.

America, Canada, Europe have developed tremendously in the technological aspect. I'm sure that they also had many people with great minds who would have thought of looking for something within, but nobody really gave any attention to them, because the majority of people were involved in a totally different trip. On the other hand, India, Japan, China and all these places, developed their own thought; internal technology rather than external.

The merger

So, one aspect of Ganga Darshan will be to combine both, and at the same time, to grow in both of these systems. I know this is something people have missed everywhere. The statement that Swamiji has made about yoga being a mighty power and guiding the course of world events, will start happening from Ganga Darshan if we are able to bring about this combination, with the spirit of internal and external development.

Outside, there is nothing happening in this direction at the moment. I've come to this conclusion because I have always looked at things with a critical eye. Even what we do here, I've looked at with a critical eye. I've also discovered that whether we teach only pawanmuktasana for ten years consistently, or we do karma yoga for twenty years consistently, that is irrelevant. The most important thing is the spirit that carries it through. And this spirit which is developing here, of unity in the midst of diversity, is something I don't think I've seen anywhere else.

So, really I'm thankful to Swamiji for creating this situation in which we are all in, and I'm also grateful to practically everyone, swamis, sadhaks and visitors who come here, because they all act as catalysts unknowingly and they become instruments of this.

So, discovery of yoga, research into physiological, biological and primological effects will happen; research into the medical aspects will happen; research into individual growth will continue, but not of an ancient yoga. It will be a new system of ancient yoga, because we will be able to present it in that way.

On learning

As we go more into the study and research area, new learning opportunities will develop and we will begin to apply yoga in all the various situations of life and also in the day to day activities. I do believe that we will be integrating the various yoga practices into music, arts, dance, crafts and other areas also.

Another aspect of Ganga Darshan will be ashram community living. The ashram will evolve from ashram-ashram to ashram-community, where all the aspects of life will be looked into, studied and applied with yoga practices.

In the course of time, as we become more established in our practices and routine, we will be introducing yoga to children when they reach the age of receptivity between 7 and 14. Right now we are having courses of one month in duration, but in the future we may have a continuous gurukul so that children can come and go when and as they please. But this gurukul will not become an academic school. Here we will try to provide a solid personality structure for their future life.

Whether or not the children will continue their academic education will be their choice. But here, we will try to provide what is not provided in an academic school. They will be developing their own inner strength, freedom, self-awareness, qualities and faculties in a more integral and harmonious way.

In my opinion, whether we like it or not, we will have to go in that direction in the near or far future if we are interested in creating a change in the personality of the society rather than the individual. This change in the personality of the society will have to happen in order to break away from the old patterns of thought and belief.

On sannyasa

I also feel that Ganga Darshan will become a very strong base for sannyasa in its traditional aspect, which allows inner growth. Sannyasa fits in with the inner system where you stop, look, listen and act. You don't dash blindly into something. And of course this system has been the eastern way till now, but it may become the western way in the next fifty years. And karma sannyasa, you know, moulds itself to a system where you are dashing ahead. You take karma sannyasa if you become aware of the dash you are taking. And when you become aware of the dash that you are taking, you automatically stop, look and listen, because it is a blending of two personalities.

I believe that the western personality will have a lot to gain from the eastern personality if they are able to learn how to find satisfaction with the things they have. This is one reason why so many people from outside are turning towards sannyasa as an alternative way of life. Even then it is hard for somebody to surrender totally, because this individuality keeps coming up. Here now people of the eastern personality are trying to become western because they are trying to find the independence that they never had, a total break from the culture of the family and everything. So now, this society is going to become fast paced, whereas western society now will become slow paced. Everyone will stop, look and listen. This changeover will take place in the next generation or so.

When this changeover takes place, both societies or both personalities will find certain gaps and we will have to be ready to fill those gaps. And until one is fully established in one system, then he will not be able to pursue sannyasa life in its original concept for life, real sannyasa. While you are in transition, you will have to choose karma sannyasa, because karma sannyasa is a sannyasa which you get to gain strength in this transition. And maybe karma sannyasa will evolve into full sannyasa after you have established yourself fully within the framework of your own personality.