On Guru and Mission

Swami Satyananda Saraswati

Before going to Swami Sivananda in 1943 I had met many gurus, but when I found him I found the light. I had read about Christ many times but never believed that such a man could live in this world. Compassion, love and consideration for others are very difficult qualities to find, but in Swami Sivananda I found such a man.

On the morning of 19th March 1956, he called me to his kutir and gave me a mission. I had to go into the wide world. He said to me, “In 1923 you were born; in 1943 you came to me; in 1963 you will start working for yourself; in 1983 your institutional work will come to a close and after that your work will be for the cosmos.” So I am working according to his instructions.

From 1956 to 1963 I travelled throughout the Indian subcontinent. I lived amongst the people and experienced their joys as well as their suffering. I came to Munger and often spent time doing sadhana on the hill known as Karna Chaura. The place attracted me very much. It didn’t enter my mind, however, that by sitting there, spiritual experiences would take place.

One night I was lying on the platform where Jyoti Mandir now stands, when the platform cracked and an old man emerged, dressed in flowing white robes with a staff in his hand. He came out and just went away. Some months later I experienced that man in white rising again from the platform. He said, “Stay here.” At that time the slogan “Yoga will be the culture of tomorrow” came to my mind.

On 14th July 1963 I had another inner awakening. When my dream finished, firstly I understood clearly that Swami Sivananda had left his body and secondly that I had been anointed. His grace was upon me, and I would have to start working for the propagation of yoga. At that time the direction in my life became complete.

I went to Rishikesh and found my dream was correct. I returned to Munger and informed my sponsors that I was going to stay in Munger. Then I went to Bombay and made a few connections. To have an ashram one needs so many things. I collected bedding, money and other items, loaded a goods wagon and came to Munger.

On 19th January 1964 at 9 o’clock, I declared the ashram open and offered oblations to the fire. That was the day of Basant Panchami. You should understand that the work of Bihar School of Yoga is not an outcome of my intelligence or my efforts or my experience or of anything that belongs to me. It is because of the instructions and the guidance that Swami Sivananda whispers to me from time to time.

A guru may leave his body, but he will continue to live in the heart of every disciple. His spirit remains forever if the disciple can remain in tune with him. Then he guides him at all times, in thought and emotion, and in actual life. Disciples may go away but the guru’s grace follows them. I do not feel that I have done anything because my simple philosophy is that everything is an expression of guru’s will. If you are a disciple, you should be dedicated and devoted to your guru. And you should direct your effort and endeavour to carrying out and furthering his work, whatever it may be. For you are merely an extension of your guru, in body, mind and consciousness.

In November 1982 I felt his presence. He said, “You are now free from your ashram life,” and thereby released me. I called Swami Niranjan and said, “Now my plan is clear. I am not going to work any more with the administrative side of Bihar School of Yoga or any institution. Return to Munger as soon as possible.” I chose him when he came to me at the age of four and trained him without telling him that he would succeed me.

In the beginning the movement is the means and the philosophy the end, but later the institution becomes the end and the philosophy the means. That happens with all religions, all institutions. We live just to make the organisation or institution survive. A sannyasin should be beyond institutions and religions. For him, all spiritual institutions are a part of his soul and every religion is equally precious, important and meaningful.

During the coming twenty years, I will work for the good of mankind and my sadhana. Personally, I consider even yoga to be a means rather than an end. I have been thinking for many years that when people attain success, eminence and power, they forget the purpose. Instead of working for mankind, they work for themselves. We must work for yoga only as far as we can convince people that it can help them. We have to propagate a particular philosophy or science only to the extent that people can be benefited by it, but if we forget that the good of mankind in general is the goal, not the teaching itself, then we have made a great mistake.

All spiritual seekers should have these same aspirations and ideals. They should be free from any representational movement, organisation, clan, class or sect, and go on moving from place to place, so it cannot be said that they are working for an institution, for name, fame, money or anything. From November 1983 onwards, I will move out of the ashram and spend some time visiting all the teerthas. How I spend the next twenty years of my life after that, the future will tell.

O Bhikhu (disciple),
Keep on moving
With compassion and love
For the happiness of many
For the well-being of many.