What does BYB expect of students on completion of their course?
Your purpose in coming here is to learn yoga. You may believe that yoga is good for the body or the mind or for earning money and providing an employment opportunity. You may want to develop your personal skills as a yoga teacher and believe you should only concern yourself with that aspect. Bihar Yoga Bharati is an institute where yoga is taught, that's all. You have to improve your aspirations through yoga. Therefore, whatever your aspirations are, make sure you are committed, dedicated and devoted to learning yoga. As an institute, this is the expectation of BYB.
There is another dimension, which is the spirit behind BYB. The spirit is the sankalpa of many generations, starting with Swami Sivananda, our paramguru, our grandfather guru. He had a mission and a vision. The mission was to introduce people to the divine life, which is at the opposite end of the spectrum to material life. We all live in the material world with a material mentality. We all have aspirations and desires, no matter how ridiculous or sublime they may be. But the definite aim of all our desires and aspirations in material life is to achieve fulfilment, satisfaction, happiness or joy in whatever type of life we lead.
Swami Sivananda said that material life is only one end of the spectrum; the other is divine life. The journey of a human being, the evolution of human consciousness, is from the material to the divine, the transcendental. In order to experience completeness or wholeness in life, it is necessary to live healthily and happily in both the material world as well as the spiritual. Just as a bird cannot fly with only one wing, similarly, it is important for a human being who wishes to express wholeness, completeness and fulfilment, the final achievement in human life, to find harmony and balance in both material and spiritual life. Only then can we be truly fulfilled, happy, secure and joyous. This was the mission and the vision of Swami Sivananda.
Our father guru, Swami Satyananda, also had a mission and a vision. The mission was to propagate yoga. He had certain experiences and realizations about human nature, the human mind, the direction that human society is taking and the aim of life. He found that the best practical and philosophical undertaking that a person could have was yoga. Religions provide philosophical guidelines, but the training, teaching and wisdom needed to convert that philosophy into practice, into a process which can lead towards fulfilment and wholeness, was lacking. Yoga provided a practical method by which one can attain certain basic disciplines in life in order to experience the wholeness of human personality.
Swami Satyananda made his mission the propagation of yoga due to his understanding of human nature and also due to the mandate of his guru. He had the vision that with the practice of yoga one can develop understanding. Understanding is the greatest human quality. If there is any human quality we can define as the link between the transcendental and the mundane, it is not kindness, compassion or love, it is not being good and doing good, it is only understanding.
This understanding plays many different roles. It can be practical and material, spiritual and philosophical, or intellectual, rational and intuitive. Understanding means that we know the reality in terms of cause and effect, right and wrong, good and bad, positive and negative. This knowledge is understanding. It is not intellectual knowledge, but understanding and living the knowledge. To develop understanding is the greatest human endeavour and effort. To awaken this faculty of understanding through the practices of yoga was the vision of Swami Satyananda.
BYB is guided by these visions. Not only BYB, but the entire yoga movement established by Swami Satyananda aims at only one point, one idea, one belief, one understanding. If you take it personally, begin to understand yourself, to adjust and adapt, to live in accordance with the principles of dharma. Think in a dharmic, uplifting, enriching and positive way. This is understanding.
If you take it socially, live according to those principles which make you a light in society. Why live like an ordinary insect who cares for nothing but personal gratification and fulfilment? God has given us a very powerful tool, which is the quality of discriminative intelligence, viveka buddhi. You may call it a blessing, grace, benediction, kripa. No other life form has buddhi, the ability to discriminate between right and wrong, to know the difference between day and night, to realize truth and untruth.
This is God's greatest gift to us as human beings. Let us utilize it in the right way. The right way becomes known after we begin to understand ourselves, our environment, our mentality, the tribe to which we belong, our true nature, the identity we adopt, and also ultimately ourselves as human beings. We are not human beings. We represent a particular social conditioning, whether it is Indian, American, Chinese, Japanese, English or Australian. This conditioning is the samskara. Our concept of right and wrong, good and bad, etiquette and non-etiquette, comes from the conditioning to which we belong.
We have never utilized our human qualities and abilities. I have seen people profess compassion, love and kindness who are totally devoid of the basic quality of understanding. How can they do it? They are leading us in the wrong direction. They have no right and they don't have wisdom.
People who have been identified as lights of human society, whether it be Shankaracharya, Buddha, Christ, Mohammed, Mahavir, Swami Sivananda or Saint Francis of Assisi, every great person has developed one important and great spiritual quality. That quality is understanding, nothing more than that. It is due to this understanding that they have interacted with love, compassion, kindness, beauty, simplicity, innocence or purity. Having this ability to understand one's self, the environment, society, the national and the global human mentality has been the vision of Swami Satyananda, attainable through the practices of yoga.
These are the visions and inspirations that have been guiding the entire yoga movement as established and created by Swami Satyananda. We may not have been aware of it, either as yoga students or even as sannyasins, but today I am telling each and every one who is here, whether new or long-term, that the environment of Ganga Darshan and the teaching imparted here, whether in the form of classroom training in yoga or philosophy, or in satsang, or through actions, all has one aim.
Each person who comes here is a unique character, with their own way of thinking, believing and living, their own perceptions and ideas. Therefore, we do not discourage funny behaviour here. Each sannyasin should think of himself or herself as a cartoon character and each person who comes here, student or visitor, as a character who plays a role in their cartoon. If you think in this way, at least you will learn not to take things personally. Then you will begin to see the joy and beauty that life has to offer. This applies to everyone.
Only when we begin to take things too personally, do we become involved in raga and dwesha, pleasure and pain, happiness and suffering. Why not pass the time just as you pass your night asleep and your day awake? If you sleep during the day, you will have a headache and if you stay up all night, you will feel very lonely. So, it is better to spend the day awake and the night asleep. Similarly, it is better to take both the good and the bad of life in your stride. When you learn how to do this, that is the fulfilment of life.
This is what BYB expects from all of you, whether you come here for a day, four months, two years or a lifetime. We expect and wish to see this growth in you, and I believe that you agree with me.
Ganga Darshan, September 23, 1999