International Yoga Fellowship Movement

Swami Satyananda Saraswati, First International Yoga Convention, Bihar School of Yoga, November 1–7, 1964

The International Yoga Fellowship Movement has been in existence for the last few years. It is doing good work and will continue to do so, I have no doubts about it. At Rajnandgaon we opened our first centre. From there I went on a tour of various provinces in India. In Bombay there was a great enthusiasm for the idea and our most active centre was established there. That was the time when the fighting on our borders had been called off and a cease fire declared. The mayor of Bombay in his inaugural speech said, “There is never a cease fire in the war of thoughts. We can build up defences against aggression, but we have to build up an intellectual defence against the enemy in our mind. Only yoga can do this.” Soon there were centres in other cities also.

What are the objectives of the IYFM?

  • The establishment of yoga training centres. The first of these, Bihar School of Yoga, has already started functioning.
  • Dissemination of knowledge of yoga through publications. We now own a press. Books and periodicals are coming out at regular intervals.
  • Establishment of yoga clinics. A beginning has been made. A section of the Bihar School of Yoga has been converted into Yoga Nidra Vihar. I am looking forward to a unique type of hospital with only one doctor, many patients, no equipment, no assistants, no nurses, no sweepers. This is the sort of yoga clinic I have in mind.
  • Yoga research. For the advancement of any science, research is of primary importance. We shall have to establish a central library with thousands of books in various languages, because at present literature on yoga lies scattered. Students can do research under our guidance and go back to their universities with a thesis on yoga. They will receive every encouragement and facilities. We are busy with this project and hope to see it soon.
  • Introduction of yoga into schools and colleges. For sadhakas there are ashrams. Those who want God-realization can come to institutes like the Bihar School of Yoga. But when you want to teach yoga to the masses, the best way is to teach them when they are young in the schools and colleges. Suitable text books will have to be devised for this purpose. If Sanskrit, which has ceased to have any utility, can find a place in our education system, there is no reason why yoga, with its utility in day to day life, should not find a similar place in education.

This is the vision of the International Yoga Fellowship. In the last quarter of every century a movement begins and comes to fruition in the first quarter of the next century. This is an historical process. At the end of the last century, we had a movement for the revival of Hinduism under Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Swami Vivekananda and Swami Dayananda Saraswati. This movement found its fulfilment in the first quarter of this century.

With the changing times, life has become more and more complex. The powers of darkness are once more stalking the world. However, there is a compensatory law. When satanic forces are abroad, divine forces come forward to ward them off. That is why you find a revival of religion everywhere. Primitive man was a cave dweller. He was followed by intelligent man who ushered in the age of philosophy. Now the age of the institutional man is dawning. In the coming age, man will be supramental. This is laid down in our scriptures.

We have started the International Yoga Fellowship Movement in the third quarter of this century, and it will take some time to gather momentum. Already people are coming forward, some with money, others with brains, and still others with offers of field work. Each according to his capacity is eager to give a hand to it.

It will not be long before scientists will acclaim yoga and give it a place of honour along with other sciences which serve humanity. Already well-known writers, thinkers, musicians, painters and cinema stars all over the world agree that yoga can do wonders for the promotion of mental and physical well-being. There was a time when yoga was considered to belong to a bygone age. To take up such practices was considered to be the weakness, the credulity, the superstition of the uneducated.

Nowadays ignorance of yoga is considered a lack of culture, lack of scientific spirit and lack of modernity. God willing, in a few years time, if only the mystery and miracle-mongering associated with yoga can be completely done away with, it will become a natural part of the lifestyle and people will consider their lives incomplete without it. Samadhi, which is considered very mysterious and beyond the average person, will be practised by everyone to maintain a vigorous mind, once its true meaning and significance are understood.

Just as people go to the cinema for relaxation, soon they will turn to yoga for relaxation. This is not a flight of imagination. In the short span of twenty years, people’s ideas on yoga have undergone radical changes. People speak very differently about yoga nowadays than they did in the past. So, you see, the time is right for yoga, and the International Yoga Fellowship Movement is in keeping with the time.

Although the time is right, I do not approve of orthodox methods such as advertisements, pamphlets and loudspeaker propaganda for the furthering of yoga. Yoga is not a dance show; it is vidya. You cannot apply the methods of the market place to revive yoga. You cannot bring it down to the mass level. The masses cannot revive a science Therefore, our present propaganda will have to be confined to select gatherings of intelligent people.

There are many people who bring gifts for me and think that will give me happiness. Such acts may give them a feeling of self-gratification. But how can these things please me? I am a sadhu and I am here for a mission. When my work is done, I will no longer be here. The best gift you can bring me is to try and realise what this mission is and how you can best serve it. The International Yoga Fellowship has no constitution, no accounts. It is my brainwave, my vision, translated into language, into action.