Vision of Yogic Education

Swami Satyananda Saraswati, talk during the Fourth International Yoga Convention, Gondia, November 1-7, 1967, originally printed in YOGA, Vol. VI, No. 1, 1968

Saints have taken birth to uphold the culture of the nation; this has been our tradition for countless ages. But now there is friction between nation and nation. There is turmoil in the mind of man; his outer and inner life are at war with each other and there is no harmony. In our own country, there is chaos and a sense of frustration. It looks as if the ancient tradition of saintly souls keeping alive all that is good in our culture is no longer there.

How are we going to re-establish this ancient culture of ours? Politicians cannot revive it, nor can economists or reformers, for all of them fail to fulfil the one essential condition for its operation. You cannot reform others unless you reform yourself first. You cannot purify others unless you purify yourself first. Only saints can fulfil this condition. In the surrounding darkness, they bring the bright flame of yoga as their answer for the ills of the modern world, and now the time is ripe for an advent of a new psychic age.

Man runs vainly after the good things of life which are impermanent. Instead he should go in search of that which is not perishable, that which is immortal. As long as mankind runs after ephemeral things, there can be no salvation either for the individual or for society or for the world. The more we turn towards things spiritual, the more we evolve. That is why in Indian culture, saints who are spiritually advanced souls are held in high esteem.

In our daily doings, we waste a great deal of energy. Yoga helps to stop this waste of energy by making us go within, and when we at last turn inward, all the samskaras, the mis-doings of countless previous births, dissolve. Our concept of yoga is different from the generally accepted one. Asanas, pranayamas, hatha yoga, etc. are all different limbs of yoga, but they are only a means to an end, the end being the unfoldment of the hidden potentialities of a human being.

For us, the ideal to aim for is to bring out the Satyam, shivam, Sundaram, truth, consciousness and beauty, all that is best in humankind. We believe that everyone can practise yoga, irrespective of where they are and what they are. We do not believe that world-shunning renunciates are the only ones who can profit from yoga. We are therefore out to propagate yoga here and abroad. We tell both young and old to make their life fully yoga oriented.

With this in mind, and inspired by our guru, Swami Sivananda, we want to create a gurukul type of educational institution wherein the ancient and modern ideas of education will blend in happy harmony, where the young ones will receive education from saints and mahatmas.

What is education for if not to create universal brotherhood and a united world? That is the end of all education. Is education meant only for degrees or to earn a livelihood? We would rather educate the students to bring out all their un-awakened potentialities and their dormant powers.

Education is not just for earning our daily bread, not for degrees and diplomas, but to create a unified world. Everything we learn in schools and elsewhere should bring us nearer to the point of world unity, where all the differences dissolve and merge into unity. Christians are not primarily Christians, Hindus are not primarily Hindus, Moslems are not primarily Moslems, but we are first of all atmans, sparks of the one divine soul, and this should be realised.

This is the message of Vedanta; there is one atman, one essence, one consciousness, one reality penetrating and permeating everyone. That should be the background of education, and because Vedanta teaches us this universal brotherhood, there should be at least one Vedantic textbook in all our educational institutions. Vedanta is a science and not just metaphysics; it trains your psyche to see and feel the unity which runs like a thread through the universe.

You may adopt different labels and create different religions, but the essence of religion does not change. Religion begins with people and survives after they have gone. You cannot destroy religion. So what we must strive to do is to remove the differences between religions and only then will there be universal kinship. Political, racial, ideological and religious differences must all go. For this we have to take full advantage of our educational institutions, and arrange our program of education so that a day will soon dawn when the slogan of one world becomes a reality.

This Vedantic vision should be developed through the teaching of yoga. Our school textbooks should be written by those who have knowledge of human psychology. They should be written by seers who can envisage the shape of things to come, thirty or forty years hence. The present system of exerting influence to acquire a monopoly of producing textbooks must go as such people write useless and rubbishy textbooks which cannot help our students. Also yogic techniques of meditation should be introduced in the educational institutions to remove the subconscious samskaras of our students and to bring out the best in the human personality.

We shall consecrate ourselves to this aim, not only in thoughts, not only in words, not merely with our material possessions, but without any reservations whatsoever. It is a grand idea. What happens when we become the instrument of the Lord? When the dew drop slips into the sea, a great miracle takes place, the miracle of the sea entering the dew drop.

We shall overcome our limitations and shortcomings. We shall overcome the difficulties that face us today. And when this happens, we shall have peace, a peace that passes all understanding, not the peace as we understand it, but the peace of nirvana, the peace of final emancipation, the peace of jivanmukta, enlightenment in life.

Too long have we lived a life of ajnana, ignorance. Now let us resolve to remove that ajnana. We are all the children of God. Just as an infant learning to walk moves forward, step by step, towards the outstretched hands of his parent, so too shall we move forward step by step and in complete surrender. We shall not allow any problems, great or small, to stand in our way.

Nothing external can help us, for the unfoldment is within, not without. All the treasures and riches of the world are within. The name of the Lord is the greatest gift you can have. Try to keep your mind in tune with the name. Keep yourself firmly anchored to it; it is the highest sadhana, beyond the comprehension of the human mind. In the scholastic sense, the name is a mere component of a few syllables, but in reality the intellect fails to understand the wonder-working power of the name. It takes away all our avidya, gross ignorance. This has been the experience of our saints through the centuries. It was for this reason that Swami Sivananda used to say that chanting God's name is the highest sadhana.