Swami Kaivalyananda Saraswati

Karma yoga is a great practice for all of us. It doesn't matter whether one is a swami or a non-swami, whether one is doing the Certificate Course, the Diploma Course, a Post-Graduate course or any other course. If we dedicate our life to selfless service, we can purify our body, mind and emotions, and evolve spiritually.

Paramahamsaji has said many times that one who lives in the ashram does not need to do sadhana. Sadhana is for those who live at home, with many responsibilities and obligations. But when you live in the ashram, karma yoga should be predominant. If you have a little time then practise some asana, pranayama, mantra japa and so on, but it shouldn't be the whole of your life in the ashram.

Learn to live alone

There is another very important thing which Paramahamsaji always told us. Two years ago, I had the opportunity to go to Rikhia and he repeated it: “If you can learn how to live alone in the ashram, only concerned with your karma yoga and your guru, you will cross the ocean of samsara.” So this is the test – Eka Niranjan! We can never become like Paramahamsaji, but we can at least take one step and do at least one percent of what he does. If we do that much, we will never be unhappy in the ashram. We will always feel blissful, happy, peaceful and contented.

The second thing Paramahamsaji said was, “Do garbar”. Two means mischief. When you have time, you try to find a friend here or there. Something will go wrong. You cannot clap with one hand, with two hands you can. There is sound only if there are two utensils. If there is only one utensil, there is no noise, no quarrelling, no fighting. Who will you fight with if you are all alone, by yourself? That is the secret of living in the ashram and also in the world outside amongst hundreds and thousands of people. If you live by yourself you won't have any problems.

The third thing Paramahamsaji said was, “Teen latpat”, three means entanglement. These are all classical words. If you remember them and apply them in your daily lives, they will never lead you into difficulties. The fourth was, “Char bantadhar”, four means chaos. If you see someone who is happy or contented, the secret is that that person knows how to live by himself or herself and how to follow the guru. He or she has nothing to do with a third person. It may be difficult in the beginning, but if you can achieve it your life will change. It is a mantra siddhi because whatever the guru says is a mantra and a mantra has a power and a force. It can change the direction of your life.

Karma yoga

When Paramahamsaji was living in Rishikesh, there was nothing to eat, no facilities. They had to bring water from the Ganga which was about 1.5 kilometres from where they were constructing the ashram. For bedding, they had only one blanket either to lie down on or to cover the body. If we can do only one percent of what Paramahamsaji did, we can cross the ocean of samsara, the sensorial world. So we should always put the emphasis on karma yoga and do everything with perfection, dedication, love and surrender.

We should also do anything we are asked. When I came to the ashram in 1970 for the three year sannyasa training course, the first thing we were asked to do was to clean the toilets. There were many people who had come for self-realization, self-analysis, spiritual development and evolution, and when they were asked to clean the toilets they became very upset. Many of them left, but those who survived realized that we can clean our utensils!

At that time, Paramahamsaji showed us how to clean the toilets with a piece of cloth and ashes. Nowadays we use a long handled brush and just sweep it around! But during the three years of that sannyasa course, there was no soap for either the body or the toilet. We used Ganga mud for cleaning the body and ashes for the toilets. It was a really great time – working hard cleaning or in the garden or the kitchen, with our whole minds. It was fantastic. But karma yoga is a topic we have to experience rather than talk about.

Early life

I think this life is a continuation of the previous life. From childhood, from the time I was four or five, my parents used to get up between 3 or 4 o'clock and do sadhana and chant some mantras. At 5 o'clock they would go to the temple. One day I decided to go with them. I also used to get up early and for me it was the best time in the whole 24 hours. My parents said, “You have to take a bath before you go to the temple.” So I took a bath and went with them. There was a swami in the temple, a tall figure, and he got up, went into his little room and brought out some special prasad for me. Ah, it was delicious! I was attracted to that swami and the temple. Everyday without fail I would go there, not for God-realization, but because I liked the vibration, the chanting and the light in the early morning. The best thing was the special prasadam the swami always gave me.

It was a habit of my parents to often invite saints and swamis. I used to attend their satsangs. Sometimes there was kirtan which I would attend at night. After some time, there were some spiritual enquiries: “Who is God and where does He live? Who is superior? Who is inferior? Is Rama superior? Is Shiva superior? Who should I worship and where will I find him?” I used to ask these noble persons these questions, and they would tell me, “Until you find your guru you will not learn anything.” So I started searching for my guru.

One day I was very restless. The previous night, my uncle, who was a great tantric, had given me the sadhana of how to get a guru. That sadhana had to be done at night. After doing it I became very restless. I prayed that I would not have to live for even one more day in that house. I was coming nearer to my guru and I felt that something unique was going to happen to prove that.

Finding a guru

That same day Swami Satyananda came to the city and when I saw him, heard him, and met him, I felt very sure that for the rest of my life he was the personality who was going to guide me, without any question, without any doubt. Then I thought, “How can I live near him?” I didn't know that he was going to start the three-year sannyasa training course in 1970. He had enrolled 108 persons and I was one of them. I was so lucky! There were no difficulties leaving the family and home because I was happy. Everything that had happened to me previously had prepared me and so I came to Munger.

I entered through a little gate which at that time was painted green. I can remember the whole thing! Whenever I close my eyes, I can visualize the first time I came to the ashram and entered through that gate. Then I was called in front of him and that was an extraordinary experience. He was not and is not a normal human being. His whole body was shining like a heavenly force. So I started living the life. Every day of the course was special. Every second, every minute, every day, every month, every year – there was not a single moment that was not extraordinary.

I used to be afraid of facing Paramahamsaji. I didn't know why. It was a respectful fear. I always used to sit behind him. One day I was very sick and not getting better. That day, he asked me to sit in front of him and so I did. He looked at me and I looked at him, and that was that. You see, the guru is so great that if you develop faith in him, it becomes a positive force within you. The guru's mind is a mind without confusion, without second thoughts. If we can develop that, then we will experience miracles every day. A miracle means something the ordinary mind can't understand or comprehend. I could see by his look that I was being cured and the next moment I was better. My life has been full of such experiences.

Live in the present

The main teaching I have received from Paramahamsaji is how to live in the present. If we can learn to live in the present, accepting positively what we have today, accepting the people around us, appreciating the items we have, then that is best. We can transcend time and space. We can gain very high experiences if we can enjoy the present moment. That is the main teaching which most people fail because they are thinking of the future and the past, not of the present.

After the course was over, Paramahamsaji asked me three or four times, “Do you want to go to foreign countries to teach yoga?” I said, “No, I am afraid of that bird which flies in the sky. I am happy to be here with you.” I was afraid of going anywhere. The fifth time he said, “You have to go because I know where a disciple can progress, where a disciple can best extinguish his samskaras and how he can evolve. If a disciple has a quality, he should share it with others.”

After Paramahamsaji made that decision, I was very nervous because I had not read any books. Even now I have never read any of his books, maybe a few sentences here and there. I knew that in foreign countries people were well-informed and well-read. If I hadn't even read one book, what could I tell them? That was the greatest source of my fear and nervousness.

On the last day he called me and said, “Are you ready?” I said, “Yes Swamiji,” but my pulse was racing. You know a disciple cannot hide anything from the guru! Neither your thoughts nor your desires, emotions, love and hatred. You are transparent. He can see you through and through. So he knew I was nervous. He said, “Bring your bag. I want to see what you are taking with you.” My bag was full of books because I had thought, “Some day, I will have some time to read them and talk about them.” He did not allow me to take even one book! He said, “Whatever you have is sufficient for you and for them. They don't need books. You don't need books.” He gave me a very special look which entered my unconscious, subconscious, superconscious and every level of consciousness, into the depths of my heart. He said, “I will be with you. Don't worry.” That was such a special moment.

Become an instrument

Then I departed for Colombia. I was there for ten years continuously and there was not a single day when I did not feel his presence. He was with me then and he is with me now. The guru is a cosmic force and when he is with you, you can do fantastic things. You can do things you didn't know you could. You can be like Hanuman. When you become the instrument then nothing is impossible. I used to go to many cities and I never had time to prepare my lectures. Just before starting the lecture, I would close my eyes, remember Paramahamsaji and say, “You are the only person, the only force who can help me because you know that I don't know anything – and if you don't help me, then that is your problem because I am representing you.” Then the force would come. I don't know how I used to say so many things and I don't even remember them.

That was a really nice period. Then I came back to India for thirteen years. After thirteen years at Dhanbad ashram I was again sent back to Colombia for three years and now I am back in Munger.