My Yoga Yatra

Sannyasi Ishwarprem

My mother's death gave a new direction to my life. She was quite well, yet, on my annual visit, she embraced me and wept uncontrollably, which was unusual. While consoling her, I said, “Now you should think of Him and none else. And when the call comes, you should go smiling.”

The next day, my eldest sister and I went to visit a Kali Mandir situated on the top of a mountain. The following morning we started our return journey on foot. When we had travelled about half the distance, we saw a relative coming from the opposite direction. He informed us that our mother was no longer alive. Her call had come early in the morning. It was Ekadasi day. I was shocked when I saw the clearly visible, smiling expression on my dead mother's face. I wept like a child for many days. I was totally broken and badly depressed. During this depression, I became aware that I was repeating something within, silently.

I happened to meet a sannyasin who gave me a copy of Yoga as a gift, and I soon sent the subscription to BSY, Munger. The first issue came with a photograph of Paramahamsaji on the front cover. Just a look at that photograph revealed our relationship. He was my guru.

Six months later, on Guru Poornima day, I was standing before Paramahamsaji to receive mantra diksha. I had no knowledge of any mantra nor was I practising japa using a mantra, until that moment. Paramahamsaji asked me, “What mantra are you using for japa?” My reply was spontaneous and from deep within. He said, “That is your mantra.” I repeated the mantra thrice after him and he put a tulsi mala around my neck. My whole being vibrated. I felt light, as if walking on air. I was wonderstruck when, after a while, I realised that this was what I had been repeating, silently, during the depression after my mother's death.

Travelling to the ashram in Munger was always an experience. We would go direct to Varanasi where a dip in the holy Ganga and darshan of Lord Viswanath were a blessing. I came to the ashram alone in February 1984 and then in August with my wife, daughter and son to do a Teacher Training Course. We had come to learn the yoga practices for ourselves, having no plans or desire to teach yoga to others. But we were advised of the necessity and importance of this and returned home, fully motivated, to teach yoga to others.

We started teaching yoga to beginners and named it the Satyananda yoga class. The Thapar Group company in which I was working allowed us to use the their auditorium, with all facilities. Soon our class became a company supported activity, quite popular among workers, clerks, supervisors, officers, senior managers, ladies and people from the town. News of the class was passed on by the students and newspapers. People started looking to us as 'yoga family.'

In 1987 I was selected for a Kailash Mansarovar yatra. I walked the entire trekking distance of about three hundred kilometres, which includes the Kailash and Mansarovar parikrama. Dolma Pass, in the Kailash parikrama, is at a height of 22,000 feet and every few metres we had to stop and rest, standing up. Even the sturdiest yaks gasp for breath while climbing up to the Dolma Pass. Similarly, taking a dip in the icy cold waters of the Mansarovar, even in the afternoon on a clear day, needs lots of courage and faith.

I had made a sankalpa before on the Kailash Mansarovar yatra. Satyananda Yogadarshan Kendra was created and registered as a Public Charitable Trust in July 1991, to fulfil that sankalpa. This institution joined the BSY family on the day Swami Niranjanananda conceded to our request to be the chief patron. In the middle of 1994, after thirty-two years of service I became totally disinterested in my job and finally, on 1st March 1995, from a manager I became a common man. This man is now free to continue his yoga yatra with increased speed, as a servant of his guru.