An Inspiration for all Ages

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

Every disciple has a unique feeling which is individual for his guru. I also have a feeling for my guru. Since early childhood I grew up on his lap, but I have never wanted to see or identify him in the figure of a father, a mother, a relative or even a guru. I have only seen and experienced him as an inspirer who has encouraged us to progress in our lives despite every difficulty and problem. In the future also I wish to continue to see and experience him in this form. In him we see a blend of the fiery brilliance of Parasuramu and the integrated personality of Rama, the wisdom of equanimity of Yoga Vasishtha and the dynamic karma yoga of Bhagavad Gita.

In our history there have been certain persons who have had a higher vision and a higher goal since the time of their birth, and who do not need the help of a particular sadhana in order to reach the spiritual apex. Everything is attained by them with ease. There are certain personalities like Adi Guru Shankaracharya, Ramana Maharshi and many others who had the spiritual spark within them from birth, and who went through life with total ease, keeping one direction, one goal, one aim, as the target. They didn't need any sadhanas; they themselves were the living experience of everything.

The chosen path

In the life of our guru, we see this spark of wisdom, this samskara, which is what motivated him to move through life in one direction, with one aim. The path that was chosen by him was of renunciation, wisdom and selfless service. He stayed with Swami Sivanandji for many years, undergoing training and building the foundation for future achievements. Swami Sivananda Initiated him in the tradition of Paramahamsa Sannyasa, and at that time he also instructed him that first through the medium of selfless service he must purify and prepare the mind.

After serving for twelve years, Sri Swamiji left the stage of ashram life in order to fulfil the mandate of his guru. For nine years he travelled around the Indian subcontinent with the purpose of seeing the direction in which the humanity was moving, according to its thoughts and beliefs, and which steps should be taken to awaken the spiritual spark in humanity.

While travelling he came to Trayambakeshwar, one of the jyotir lingams of Lord Shiva. There he received a clear instruction from Lord Mrityunjaya, that he had to establish an institution to propagate yoga, for yoga would present itself as a powerful world culture and would direct the world events. Swamiji accepted this mandate and came to Munger where he established the Bihar School of Yoga and later developed Ganga Darshan.

Yoga knocks at every door

When we look at the history of Bihar School of Yoga, we can see how Swamiji through his selfless effort, worked for the propagation of yoga from door to door and from shore to shore, to fulfil the physical and psychological need for health, equilibrium, balance and happiness, and at the same time, to make people aware of the spark of the divine self inside.

According to the need of the modern age, he started many scientific investigations, therapeutic investigations, literary investigations, into the science of yoga. The aim and purpose of Swamiji was, along with the teaching and practices of yoga, to provide a path or system whereby people could experience the highest truth through which they would be able to realise the element of spirit within them.

Along with this effort on the social level to provide peace, happiness and contentment in the public at large, he also established another institution by the name of Sivananda Math, which was dedicated to the memory of his own guru, Swami Sivananda. The purpose of Sivananda Math was not to propagate yoga but to promote social service.

The second renunciation

In 1988, when all the branches of the International Yoga Fellowship Movement were well established throughout the world, and be was at the apex of achievement, one night Swamiji suddenly decided. 'Now, I have to leave all this; this was not my aim. This effort was to rid myself of my obligations to my guru, and I have fulfilled them,' Swamiji says, 'I am just a wave in the ocean which rises once, and anything that comes in the way of the wave is carried with it. Now other waves have to rise in this ocean, so that they can also contribute to the development of the human society.'

With this attitude, on 8.8.88, Swamiji left the ashram, which was such a vast establishment, fall of all the comforts- But when he left the ashram, he did not have a single rupee in his jhola. After a lot of requests, as a token of respect, we were able to give him 108 rupees, which he gave to somebody after leaving the ashram gates. He only took two dhotis with him in a jhola. While going he only said, 'Now let me go; let me be free. If you have the capacity, then you develop the work even further. If you do not have the capacity, then let other people carry on with the work according to their capacities.'

After renouncing the ashram and his mission, Sri Swamiji travelled through the various siddha tirthas until finally once again he reached Tryambakeshwar where he had received his first mandate. This time also he received a clear mandate from Lord Mrityunjaya that, 'You are now free from your obligations to the guru. Your work in this world is over, and now you have to concentrate on sadhana.'

Swamiji started to think, 'I have received the mandate, but where do I have to go now, to the caves of the Himalayas or the banks the Ganga river ?' He again received a message, 'Go to my cremation ground.' And since the day Swamiji received this message, he dedicated himself fully to his sadhana at the cremation ground of Lord Mrityunjaya.

The highest sannyasa

There are examples in history of many saints and people with higher vision who have started a work which they have later on handed to their disciples, so that the work does not stop with them, but it continues eternally. They have separated themselves from the aim of the institution and established themselves in universal consciousness. This is what we see in the life of Sri Swamiji also, and this is an example of sannyasa life.

In his last letter he had written to us that, 'For you, I am dead now, and if I am alive, it will be in the light of your spirit. If you want to see me, then try to see me, not with the physical eyes, but with the eyes of the spirit. I do not want that anybody should come to me with their physical or mental problems, because now I am not that person who gives answers. I have removed my robes and I am only a sadhaka. I only have one aim in my sadhana, the experience of higher nature within life and merging with the higher nature. So, for this, let me be free and do not bind me in any way.'

Swamiji has always said that to he a guru is easy, but to be a disciple is very difficult. In his life we see the perfection of discipleship at the highest apex of yoga. He lived like a disciple and followed the mandates of his guru and of God. Therefore, I always consider him as my inspirer.