Although I have only spoken with Sri Swamiji directly four times in twenty-five years, he is undoubtedly the greatest, most influential and inspirational being and force in my life. Just to have had the good fortune of entering into his energy field has been a transforming act in itself. A tangible shift of one’s physical and emotional energy, and state of consciousness or awareness could be perceived immediately at both gross and subtle levels.
The first time I went to Bihar School of Yoga, Munger, was for five days only. It felt like being in a powerful washing machine which turned me upside down and inside out, and shook up and subtly altered everything that I had previously known or thought to be real. The experience of being there was simultaneously both alien and yet disarmingly familiar, as if, after a long absence and a tiring journey, I had finally arrived back home.
I was given an area in the garden to practice karma yoga, and could not help but notice that whenever I moved close to one of the surrounding buildings, water began to flow spontaneously and copiously from my eyes, like a tap with a broken washer. I was not feeling sad, my mind felt quieter than usual and absorbed in the task at hand, yet for two days the taps poured freely without any control on my part. Finally I asked a swami what this building was. “Oh that’s the kutir where Sri Swamiji stays. Why don’t you go inside to see him, and ask for a mantra and spiritual name?”
Without having any idea of the enormous life-changing implications involved, I asked for permission to receive his darshan, which was quickly granted, and suddenly I found myself sitting a few feet in front of him. “Yes?” he asked. After requesting a mantra, which he gave me, I enquired about a health issue, to which he replied, ‘”Simple, just sit in siddha yoni asana for ten minutes every day.” I said, “I can’t do that.” I was quite new to yoga and very stiff, with both knees high up in the air when I attempted to sit in even the most basic cross-legged posture. He replied, “You can do it, here, now; just follow my instructions.” I did, and to my amazement, in a matter of seconds, I found that my body was sitting perfectly and effortlessly in this quite advanced asana, for the duration of the meeting, without the slightest discomfort.
All other prepared and complex questions simply melted away. There was actually nothing to ask, and, along with a feeling of being as transparent to him as a wafer-thin pane of glass, only the purest sense of being remained. How strange, simple and timeless everything became in the presence of this swami.
I floated out of the kutir and later realized that in the unexpected bliss of being with him, I had forgotten to ask for a spiritual name. I was lucky enough to be received by him again the next day. When he said my name it was like being given an exquisitely tailored garment to put on, with an accompanying internal voice saying, “Yes, that fits and feels completely right now.”
Back in my room I tried to practice siddha yoni asana again. It was impossible! It took two and a half years of rigorous and regular sadhana before my body was even close to repeating the effortless performance that had taken place in the kutir.
The following night was time to go, the taps in my eyes had dried up for now, and I recall walking out of the ashram gates, alone, in the dark, heading for Australia, with the most powerful sense of absolute fearlessness. Despite having no idea what life had in store, I knew for certain that I would return to the Bihar School of Yoga.
Since that first encounter, the supposedly life-long, serious health issues were completely resolved through Satyananda yoga. There has been a magnetic pull, on both an internal and external plane, and an inexplicable sense of connection and guidance; a sense that, despite all the terrible things taking place on a daily basis, somewhere in the world there is this extraordinary, positive, uplifting force to tune into or to attempt to align oneself with, that provides a counterbalance.
The key thing I have learnt from Sri Swamiji is that if we are blessed enough to have come into contact with him, or to have benefited in any way from the superb, integrated system of yoga that he devised to relieve suffering and awaken awareness, it is our fundamental duty to learn from his graphic example: to use this good fortune, working body and mind to help others in need, and to serve in whatever way is possible and available to us.
While the small gross mind will selfishly miss the sight of Sri Swamiji’s physical body each year, the light he has awakened in so many hearts and minds remains absolutely inextinguishable. Jaya Guru.