When I was nineteen, I came to my Guru, Swami Sivananda Saraswati. I was very young and very strong, in body as well as in mind. I lived with him for twelve years and during that period I did seva (selfless service) to him. I came to my Guru with a problem. I used to meditate from the time I was eight years old and I could reach a certain point in Dhyana yoga, but beyond that I could not go. That point was shoonya - void. Then some sadhus told me that I must find a Guru. So, in search of such a Guru, I left my people.
I wandered, not to many, but to a few places and came to Rishikesh in the month of March 1943, the 19th, On that morning of March, at 9 o'clock, I met Swami Sivanandaji, my Guru, and I put my difficulties to him. He spoke briefly in a few words. (As you know, Swami Sivananda did not speak very much.) He said, "Stay here, work hard and purify your mind". I did that and I lived there with him. During that period I worked in the ashram in every capacity, from scavenger, to cleaning the latrines, to a mahatmaji giving lectures on Vedanta - I did everything!
However, when I left the ashram again in 1956 on March 19th, I wandered over the whole Indian Subcontinent, not as a sannyasin, not as sadhu, but as a beggar, as a bhikshu (one who lives on alms) because I knew that in geru everyone would respect me, give me recognition, and that I could cheat everybody. So I lived like a beggar, and many times I was kicked. Many times I had to go without food and I seldom got a place to sleep at night, because who is going to shelter a bhikshu, A beggar may be honest but people don't believe in him. A sadhu may be a cheat, but everybody believes in him.
During this period I realised that it was more important for me to teach Yoga than Vedanta. It was more important for me to teach asana and pranayama than the Upanishads and Gita, because I found that people were suffering from mental and physical sickness. That is the reason why I went to Munger and began to think about it, and why I established a small centre on the 19th January, 1964, a few months after Swamiji left his body.
Constantly, I am in touch with his invisible spirit. It is not a joke. It is not just faith, because I do not belong to that category of Swamiji's disciples who have a lot of faith and belief. If the thing is there I believe it; if it is not there, I do not care to. So that constant touch with the invisible spirit is there. I receive very dear guidance- I hear him speaking; I hear him telling me what to do. I hear him telling me what will happen, and that is the reason why, in the last few years I have been able to export Yoga and push through every section. And the work the Bihar School of Yoga, Munger, has done is, (I can say without any pride), historical!
Thousands of yoga teachers throughout the world and all religions pay homage to Yoga. Every section of society pays homage to Yoga. And not only that, Yoga will become a culture, not merely exercise, not only a philosophy- a culture! I am going to work as long as I receive his guidance. The day the guidance does not come, I will stop working, because I am not interested in ashrams or chela (disciples) or money or name. I know that to think of building an ashram or having a chela is another vasana (desire) and I do not want to have that vasana.
The work which is taking place now through the of the Bihar School of Yoga is a direct inspiration of my Guru and it is according to his command and revelation that the work is taking place. I, myself cannot work. I am a man of many limitations. I do not try to conceal my personality and my quality. I am a man of so many limitations and with so many limitations, still I am able to move on. I do not even want to be a good person just to impress people. I am what I am.
It is not important for me to be a good man just to gain your respect, and surely, I do not even want to be a medium of Swamiji's inspiration. I just want to be free and walk through the land, but he has chosen me to work, and on account of this, in spite of so many difficulties in my own mind and personality, I work. Many limes I think of closing everything and going away but the day I think this, the same night I hear the voice: 'Do this!' and 'Do that!'
So now you understand that it is important for a disciple to remain as a disciple. A chela can never become a Guru. There is no such tradition. A chela remains a chela; a Guru remains a Guru. There is no possibility in this. Chelas never get promoted to guru-hood. So all of us must try to be chelas.