Tribute - Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

On the occasion of the concluding day of Shraddhanjali Saptah, Ganga Darshan, 30th December, 2009

Hari Om

At midnight of 5th December, Sri Swamiji entered into Mahasamadhi. At the time of his Mahasamadhi, it had been twenty years since Sri Swamiji had come to Rikhia. You must have known from him that his life is divided into twenty-year cycles. For the first twenty years of his life, he lived at home. For the next twenty years, he lived at his guru’s ashram in Rishikesh and immersed himself in seva.

In the third cycle of twenty years he came to Munger and following his guru’s direct mandate to him, established yoga as a worldwide movement. He created a monument of yoga in Munger, and then offered it as tribute at the feet of his guru, Swami Sivananda. He said, “This was your mandate which I completed. Now I offer it to you. Now I have become free of my guru’s mandate.” And in this way, after being here for twenty years, he walked away from it.

The last chapter of his life, Rikhia, was also a twenty-year period. It started in 1989 when he came to Rikhia and culminated in 2009. In Rikhia, he dedicated his life to live the sannyasa life and the teachings of his guru.

Sri Swamiji always said that when I have to leave my body, it will not be in a hospital, surrounded by disciples and with tubes in my nose and mouth, but in a state of meditation. In a poem he says,

With nothing on the body,
And with nothing in my hands,
Let me roam on the bank of the Ganga
With the name of Shiva on my lips
And the thought of Devi and Durga in my mind.
Let me not even know that I exist,
And when I die,
I will not know that I am dying.

That is exactly what he achieved. A siddha, perfected being, works according to sankalpas, resolves, in his life and not according to personal wish or desire. In Sri Swamiji’s life we see the force of his sankalpa shakti and what he achieved through his sankalpa shakti – he hoisted the flag of yoga and of the Bihar Yoga tradition in the world from Munger and brought honour to Bihar. Thereafter, Rikhia became his tapobhoomi. He performed arduous higher vedic sadhanas there, which have been prescribed for paramahamsa sannyasins. He practiced panchagni sadhana, along with other sadhanas. You all have also been witness to that. He lived a simple life and the lifestyle of a sannyasin. Sannyasa is a medium to realize and surrender to the guru and God residing within. In Rikhia, Sri Swamiji molded and lived his life as per the teachings of his guru and also inspired others to live these teachings of ‘serve, love, give’. Sri Swamiji converted Rikhia village into Rikhiapeeth with the mandate to propagate these fundamental messages of spiritual life.

The fundamental message of spiritual life is: improve the quality of life. The quality of life improves when we are able to come out of our shells and connect with other people through service, through love and through sharing. These are the inspirations that Sri Swamiji himself gave in Rikhia.

The last darshan and homage

After his Mahasamadhi, Sri Swamiji gave his last darshan to everyone on 6th December. Thousands of villagers, visitors, delegates and disciples gathered at Rikhiapeeth on that day to have the last glimpse of their guru, of a siddha and of a saint. At the godhuli bela, the hour of dusk, a poorna abhisheka was performed on Sri Swamiji at the Panchagni Vedi, and then he was given the bhu samadhi, burial in earth, at Parna Kutir.

Thereafter, from the 7th to the 22nd, as per the tradition of sannyasins, a sixteen-day Shodashi Anushthana was conducted at Rikhiapeeth. Every day, there were different havans and Rudrabhisheka, chanting of the Bhagavad Gita and the Ramacharitamanas, chanting of stotras and the singing of kirtans at the pace set by the exemplary kanyas and batuks of Rikhia. Every day, the villagers of Rikhia Panchayat were invited for bhandara, mass feeding, and over five hundred families were given prasad daily with Sri Swamiji’s blessings. A special pooja to install the guru tattwa in the mandala of Sri Yantra was performed by yoginis from South India, and a special Rudrabhisheka was conducted by pandits from Varanasi. A sannyasin bhoj was also held for representatives of different sampradayas and paramparas, spiritual traditions and sannyasa orders.

All through these sixteen days, thousands flocked from all over the world to Rikhiapeeth. Many came in tears, but as they basked in the radiance of peace and silence pervading Sri Swamiji’s Samadhi Sthal, you could see that they were experiencing a deep sense of contentment and fulfillment, and that they felt the presence of Sri Swamiji in their hearts.

From the 24th to the 30th, a Shraddhanjali Saptah was organized at Ganga Darshan, Munger, where again thousands came to pay homage amidst the singing and chanting of bhajans, kirtans, stotras and mantras, the performance of havans and poojas, and a daily bhandara.

The future

People have been asking what will happen after Sri Swamiji’s Mahasamadhi. They ask, now that Sri Swamiji is not present, what will be the future of the institution, of yoga, of Munger, of Rikhia? To these questions I have one answer – Sri Swamiji left Munger and the yoga work in 1988, and all these years I took on the mandate to carry on the work of yoga and develop Ganga Darshan. Then, in 2008, I handed over the charge of the yoga movement and yoga mission to Swami Suryaprakash. For twenty-five years of my time and for two years of Swami Suryaprakash’s time the ashram has continued to grow, thrive and propagate the vision and mission for which Sri Swami Satyananda had established this monument of yoga, Ganga Darshan.

He created Ganga Darshan because that was the instruction, the mandate, received by him from his guru: “Spread the message of yoga from door to door and shore to shore.” In Munger he said, “You have given the instruction to propagate yoga. I shall work for yoga, I shall create a monument of yoga and I shall dedicate that monument to you, as it is the accomplishment of your mandate. I am following your mandate. I am following your order.”

The modern world has not seen a visionary like Swami Satyananda. The history of whichever institution or saint we look at, we find that they definitely do a good job with good intentions, but they do not prepare the future. Sri Swamiji left the responsibilities of Munger and Ganga Darshan twenty-seven years ago. He became free. However, the further developments and accomplishments in yoga that have taken place through Ganga Darshan in the last twenty-five years have definitely been unique and unparalleled, and this trend and pace will continue.

In the same way, Rikhiapeeth has been under the care of Swami Satyasangananda for the last twenty years, and she has been managing it very effectively and efficiently at all levels. Sri Swamiji’s physical presence and inspiration were there, but the entire management and development of Rikhia has been done by Swami Satyasangananda.

So, as far as Munger and Rikhia are concerned, the work is not going to stop. With Sri Swamiji’s blessings and grace, this work will move forward every day and cover more ground. For this was the blessing that our guru had, and today we also experience this blessing in the form of God’s grace. The mission of both ashrams will continue to thrive and they will continue to propagate the yogic and spiritual vision of Sri Swami Sivananda and Sri Swami Satyananda.

People also ask: what will Swami Niranjan do now. I am now free to follow the new direction that Sri Swamiji gave to me this year. In March 2009, he instructed me to end my parivrajaka life and gave clear direction for the next phase of my life. He said to me, terminate your wandering peripatetic life. You have traveled for forty years throughout the country and the globe. Now, a new chapter of your life has to begin. He said, sit still in one place and work for development of yoga, for the sannyasa tradition and for the welfare of people. He cleared my path, he strengthened my will, and guided me towards the direction in which I have to walk now onwards.

Now I am not a sannyasin of Munger or Rikhia; I am Swami Satyananda’s sannyasin. People say that you are Swami Satyananda’s successor. This is true. I am his successor, but not of an institution. In an institution, people change. The succession that I have received from my guru is that of sannyasa. My inheritance is the commitment to sannyasa that he had in his life. I have to walk forward on the path of his samarpan, surrender, tyaga, renunciation, tapasya, austerity. Therefore, I am saying this before everyone today that now I am not a sannyasin of Munger or of Rikhia. I am only a simple sannyasin disciple of Swami Satyananda and that is how I wish you all to recognize me. I shall continue to move between Munger and Rikhia, but I do not belong to either of the places.

So, in your prayers include one more prayer that may this sannyasin walk the path that he has decided on and may he be successful in that. May he succeed Swami Satyananda in his sannyasa, in his determination, in his conviction, in his faith and in his austerities so that the two traditions—of yoga and of sannyasa —are established in Bihar and they bring honour to the whole society, the whole country, the whole world. That is the work that we have to do now. With your good wishes, I am sure I shall be able to cover the distance that Sri Swamiji has told me to cover. And the goodwill that you have towards this ashram, towards Sri Swami Satyananda, towards his work, should be upheld and protected. Continue to develop your faith, belief, dedication and surrender. And we shall meet time and again, either in Ganga Darshan or in Rikhia, until another instruction comes for me to come out.

Sri Swamiji’s spiritual strength and inspiration is the foundation of our life and today we invoke that very force and inspiration to descend in us. Let us welcome Sri Swamiji to become the in-dweller of our lives, and offer him the throne on which he can sit within us as the emperor of hearts so that we can always be one with his presence and grace.

Hari Om