Sayings of a Paramahamsa

Swami Satyananda Saraswati

We want to know about your Panchagni sadhana and why you now lay more stress on bhakti than on the propagation of yoga.

Yoga does not only mean hatha yoga. Hatha yoga, jnana yoga, karma yoga and bhakti yoga are faculties of yoga. I teach yoga even today, but bhakti yoga not hatha yoga. There is no difference. As far as sadhana is concerned, it is only possible by the grace of God. The age for sadhana is eight to sixty years. What sadhana can a person of seventy do? I did whatever God inspired me to do, and that inspiration came from my inner being, not from my mind. It came from my innermost being and that is why I listened to it. I heard the voice with my own ears. From inside it told me what to do, and I did that. The decision was given like that.

Even today it is hard to believe that I performed Panchagni. During the Panchagni sadhana the temperature used to go up to ninety degrees centigrade. Do you know how hot that is? And how dehydration takes place at that temperature? Panchagni is performed from 14th January, Makar Sankranti, to 16th July, Karka Sankranti. In India it is nice to sit near the fire in January – but in May? But nothing happened to my health. This only happens by the grace of God.

I had a lot of weaknesses: desire, anger, greed, ego and attachment. These are the five fires inside the subtle body which dry up a person's being. To avoid these fires and to face these fires are two different things. I did not avoid them; I faced them and faced them strongly. However, sometimes I felt as if I would slip. Only a person who can face these five inner fires can face the five external fires – the south fire, east fire, west fire, north fire and the fifth fire of the sun overhead. Otherwise a sannyasin who does Panchagni sadhana is committing suicide. You sit surrounded by four fires and above you is the sun. All the water in the body dries up. A heart attack will definitely take place. The best way to die is in Panchagni sadhana.

Care for your neighbours

In 1990, the first year of my Panchagni sadhana, God gave me a very good idea. When I finished the sadhana in July, He told me, “Help your neighbours as I have helped you.” I then told the sannyasins to increase their activities. I said, “There are people in the villages who should get clothes, sick people who should get free medicine and boys and girls who should get help or scholarships for their education. Those who are unemployed should also some how earn twenty or thirty rupees daily so that they can make both ends meet. For that, rickshaws or thelas should be given.” So there is a lot of activity here now and the activities will increase in the future.

If we do not expand the atmabhava, the sense of selfhood, then all sadhana is useless. Atmabhava means feeling for others like you do for yourself. When your son falls sick, what happens to you? Yet when someone else's son falls sick in your neighbourhood, you just say, ”Give him cortisone.” That's all. You do not think beyond that. Nothing happens in the heart. Nothing happens in the head either. You go to sleep peacefully although his son is still sick. You have done your work, applied this medicine, called that doctor. You can make the phone calls, you may even take him to the doctor by ambulance, but the feeling that you have when your child is sick doesn't come because there is no atmabhava there.

Do not live only for those who belong to you. Live a little for others also. You cannot totally share the happiness and sorrows of the world, that is only possible for God, but in some little way share the sorrows of others. You have to find a place in your heart for people who are not known to you. You have to act out your compassion and feelings on behalf of these people. Consolation with words only is not enough.

To think on behalf of others in the same way that we think about ourselves is the true test of Vedanta. To think, “I am Brahman, you are Brahman” doesn't work. You can say it, but there is nothing in it. Atmabhava means feeling for others in the same way that you feel for yourself. It is written in the first Upanishad itself, the Ishavasya Upanishad: “Let your suffering be my suffering, my suffering be your suffering.”

Spiritual science – share your wealth

One who can face the five internal fires of desire, anger, greed, ego and attachment, he alone can face the five external fires. But he should also have the feeling of kindness, compassion and love. Like the kings Shibi and Rantidev, he should be prepared to give his blood and flesh for the welfare of others if necessary.

The hundred rupees you earn does not belong to you. You do not have an absolute right over your wealth, you have only limited rights. I am also a partner in your wealth, and 'I' doesn't mean Swami Satyananda, it means others. You have only partial rights over what you earn from your job, your business or your adventures. There are others who also have a right to it. This is spiritual science.

If you take away another's right, then you are also snatching my right. You have no rights at all to ten percent of your earnings. If you earn one hundred rupees, ten rupees do not belong to you. This applies to a beggar, too, not just to a rich man. That is spiritual science, it is not social science. I am not talking about charity, I am not talking about socialism. I am talking about a spiritual science in which you should remember that you are not alone but a part of the whole. You are a link in this chain of total existence, and if you are broken then everything is broken.

In this world everyone earns for their children, for their wife, for those that they love, and the rest are excluded. However, whether poor, totally destitute or rich, no one has the total rights to their income or their life. This is spiritual science and I realized it in July 1990. Then I said to myself, “Enough of selfishness.”

I tried hard for liberation but never got it. I never attained liberation and though I tried hard to see God, I never got Him. I tried hard to liberate myself from avidya, ignorance, but I couldn't do it. I wanted to have a vision of God, like Moses had of a fire burning in the bush, or like many other saints had, but I didn't have anything. Then I started this activity of helping my neighbours. After that I always used to hear His voice.

In bhakti it is necessary to detach the mind from the world and attach it to God. I tried to establish a connection with God, but at last I became tired and thought that with God I could have only one relationship – You be the Master and I will be the servant. Thy will be done. God's will has to be accepted as your own will.

The path of bhakti is the easiest path because you operate with emotions, with faith and belief. It is not the path of pranayama, or the path of kundalini. It is not the path of hatha yoga, karma yoga or jnana yoga. It is the path of 'self yoga' – everything is within me. I mobilize my willpower and the God within me is awakened.

Human life is for God-realization

God has created human beings with one objective only, and that is God-realization. One can see God. Whether in the form of light or sound or on the banks of Chitrakoot, one can see God. This is the only aim of human life. Eating, drinking, house, family, marriage and service are not aims. This has to be done and that has to be done, but man shouldn't live only for that.

The best way to achieve the aim of human life is to remember God's name, as in kirtan. Singing kirtan is the first way. The second way is helping others. Take something from your own pocket. Your bank balance will be somewhat less, but it will help reduce someone's hunger. Ask the people of Rikhia. I came here in 1989 and since then great change has taken place. Before that people would only eat properly once every three days. Now they eat regularly. In ten years great change has taken place in the entire county of Rikhia.

This is what a sannyasin should do. Every sannyasin must do it. The growth of society should now centre around the ashrams. In this century there will be a greater number of sannyasins. This twenty-first century will be the century of sannyasins and ashrams. We can foresee this and you should all be ready for it.

Once we return home, how can we still our senses and mind and purify ourselves?

You don't have to do anything. Leave everything to God – He will do it. If He inspires you to think good thoughts, think good thoughts. If He inspires you to think bad thoughts, think bad thoughts. God is the inspirer of every act. Why do you worry about it? Rather than trying to purify yourself by doing this and that, say, “God, what do You want me to do?” And do it. You leave it to Him and He will do it. Try this trick and everything will change in your life.

Sita Kalyanam, Rikhia, November 2000