The Evolution of Yajna at Rikhiapeeth

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

In order to understand Sat Chandi Yajna and the subsequent event of Yoga Poornima, we have to go back in time. In 1989, when Swami Satyananda came to Rikhia, he started performing many sadhanas and practices prescribed for paramahamsa sannyasins. During these practices he had certain revelations, which always carried one message: “Whatever you do, your actions should bring peace, plenty and prosperity to your neighbours, the society, the community and the people.” This was the underlying message that he received in all his revelations. In 1995, the first Sat Chandi Mahayajna was conducted, which became the foundation for other yajnas in Rikhia.

Paramahamsaji took the sankalpa, resolve, that Sat Chandi Mahayajna, invocation of the cosmic energy, will be conducted for twelve years and that it will become the medium for Rajasooya Yajna. So the actual event that was taking place for twelve years was the Rajasooya Yajna, through the medium of Sat Chandi Yajna, and that was concluded in 2007.

Realization of a sankalpa

Rajasooya yajna is a ritual that is performed by kings and emperors. After conquering other lands, acquiring wealth and prosperity, they would come back to their kingdoms and share the acquisitions with their people. This tradition is called Rajasooya Yajna.

The wealth that Paramahamsaji has acquired is spiritual as well as material. The material wealth has been given to him by people, knowing and trusting that it will be put to right use, and the spiritual wealth has been given to him by his guru and God, and acquired by his own efforts. It was the sharing of this wealth that became the foundation of the Rajasooya Yajna at Rikhia.

In 1995, during the first Rajasooya Yajna, Sivananda Math started the work to help one village with twenty families. The outcome of the giving has been such that in thirteen years the work has spread to over 50,000 families. If each family on average is comprised of four members: husband, wife, son and daughter, then the number of people who are directly receiving prasad at present is 200,000. The entire area of Rikhia has seen an upliftment in lifestyle, mentality, spirit, feeling and energy such as is unparalleled anywhere in this country. Looking at the people there today, no one can imagine the kind of life they lived thirteen years ago.

When Sivananda Math first started the work, three women in the family would share one sari because they did not have any clothes. In many homes the fire would not be lit for three days, for there was nothing to eat. The children would fill their stomachs by drinking water and go to sleep. That was the environment Sivananda Math inherited. And today, these thousands of families are supported because of a sankalpa. There is no crime. Everyone is earning something. There is no dependency. Nobody is a labourer or servant any more. They can work on their own and earn. They are now able to stand on their own two feet. And it was the giving of the Rajasooya Yajna that brought about the change.

An ancient ritual

The medium of the Rajasooya Yajna was the Sat Chandi Yajna, which is a very ancient, tantric ritual. We must understand that not everything can be classified as left-hand tantra, right-hand tantra or even central tantra. Tantra is only tantra. The practices of tantra that invoke the higher force do not belong to any particular tradition. Rather, they become the foundation of a tradition, just as Sat Chandi Yajna is the foundation of the Shakta tradition of tantra and Mahamrityunjaya Homa is the foundation of the Shaiva tradition of tantra.

The Sat Chandi Yajna is a very powerful ceremony where, through the chanting of mantras, the cosmic power is invoked. When that cosmic power descends and assumes a subtle, pranic, etheric form in the altar, it is pure vibration. It chooses the form in which it wishes to appear. There is no planning, no human intervention at that particular moment. And when this power is combined with the sankalpa of peace, plenty and prosperity, it becomes a blessing and reaches out to everybody. Aim Hreem Kleem is the mantra of peace, plenty and prosperity given by Paramahamsaji to Rikhiapeeth. By chanting it, the sankalpa manifests as tangible grace, which transforms life.

These two events together, the Sat Chandi and the Rajasooya, become the Maha Yajna, the Great Yajna.

A fusion of forces

The Sat Chandi Yajna is performed specifically for the upliftment of the community and people because it invokes three powers: the power of wisdom, the power of prosperity and the power of transformation and change. It is conducted for the upliftment of everyone who comes to participate in the program or is a direct or indirect recipient of the blessings of the yajna.

Another term that is used is ‘Sita Kalyanam’, an event conducted on the last day of the yajna. It commemorates the marriage of Sita with Rama, sometimes conducted with real people and sometimes symbolically. What has been witnessed, therefore, is a spiritual event, a tantric event, a social event, a charitable event and an educational event: everything at the same time.

The full moon of yoga

The second component this year, Yoga Poornima, was to invoke Shiva’s grace and celebrate the first official birthday of Paramahamsaji. Nobody knew the day or the date on which Paramahamsaji was born. We knew the year was 1923, but not the month or the date. After many years, Paramahamsaji revealed his birth date. According to the solar calendar, his birthday fell on Christmas night, and according to the lunar calendar, on the full moon of December. So, as per Indian tradition, we celebrated it by the lunar calendar as the five-day event of Yoga Poornima.

The word poornima means full moon. Therefore, yoga poornima means ‘the full moon of yoga’. The full moon indicates the journey from the dark moon to the bright moon, and that is the journey of the soul as well: the journey from the dark night of the soul to the bright night of the soul.

From the 1940s to the 1990s, for 60 years, there were only a few authorities of yoga in the world. It was only after the ‘90s that the number of yoga teachers mushroomed and came up. Among those first propagators, Swami Satyananda cast a major influence in the field of yoga. Historically, his contribution to the development of yoga is immense, more than any other yogi. For the first time in yogic history, it was Swami Satyananda who defined the practices of pratyahara, the various dharanas and dhyanas, and classified all the different systems of yoga. Bihar School of Yoga was also the first in India and the world to teach pranayama. Prior to that, people avoided the practice of pranayama.

Swami Satyananda is a person who has lived yoga all his life. There has not been a day or moment in his life which can be called un-yogic. Never has an un-yogic sentence, attitude, idea or expression come into his life. Those of us who have known him for a long time stand witness to this. He has lived yoga. He is living yoga. And Yoga Poornima means celebration of the life of a person who has become the example of living yoga.

The Yoga Poornima celebration was also dedicated to Shiva. The system of worship that was followed is from the original or first tantra, the Pashupata tantra, expounded by Shiva to his consort, Parvati. Pashupata tantra is the original tantra from which all other Shaiva tantras have evolved, and the basic philosophy and practices of Shaivism are contained in Pashupata tantra. The program followed the disciplines and systems of Pashupata tantra.

Miracles in Rikhia

Miracles always happen in Rikhia. On the first day of Yoga Poornima, Paramahamsaji performed prana pratishtha in the Shivalingam. Prana pratishtha means infusing a symbol with power, with life force. While he was performing the ritual, the grace of Shiva manifested in the Shivalingam. It is appropriate that it was a saint who became the medium to invoke the spirit of Shiva.

Sat Chandi Yajna and Yoga Poornima were two events that don’t happen every day. They only take place once a year. The credit for their successful completion goes to all who went there and contributed to make the events memorable. So, big, heartfelt ‘Hari Oms’ to all for making them happen.

—Ganga Darshan, 17 December, 2008