In Gratitude

Swami Anandananda Saraswati, Italy

I met Swami Satyananda on 14th May 1979 in Australia where I received mantra diksha and spiritual name from him. That visit is still a vivid memory. I entered the room where Sri Swamiji was seated, to the right a fireplace was blazing. I sat in front of him and my mind went blank; all the questions I had, all the rational thinking, the sense of time, was gone. There was just him. Sri Swamiji patiently waited till I found my mala and remembered what I had to ask him. I left with the knowledge in my heart that I had found all I was looking for: a guru and a purpose in life.

That brought me to Munger and the Bihar School of Yoga, where I could see Sri Swamiji every day and come in closer contact with his mission: to bring yoga into the life of everyone, with comprehensible scientific explanations and easy access, applicable in many areas of society.

When leaving Munger in 1980, Sri Swamiji told me, “I’m coming to Italy this year. I will see you there.” When Sri Swamiji did arrive in Italy, I found the courage to ask him for a sadhana. He looked at me with a smile and said, “First you work very hard, then think about a sadhana.”

In those years Sri Swamiji came to Europe and Italy several times. On one occasion when Sri Swamiji was due to come, for some strange reason I had decided to fast till he arrived. Somebody informed him about it and, when we met in his hotel room some disciples had brought a suitcase full of Indian food. Sri Swamiji had the suitcase opened and began to distribute food to all. When my turn came he kept dishing out large amounts and said, “Ananda, eat it all, then I’ll give you more.” I ate to the point I was nearly exploding. When lunch was over another person arrived and Sri Swamiji enquired if he had had lunch. He had not, so Sri Swamiji said, “Ananda, take him to a good restaurant for lunch.” Then to the guest he said, “Make him eat whatever you eat.” And I did, resolving never to fast on such occasions!

On another instance I was thinking about renouncing coffee which I liked very much and switch over to tea. Sri Swamiji was meeting some guests and I was seated in a corner. He was talking in Hindi and suddenly he turned to me and said, “Ananda, tea or coffee is the same.” And then he continued to speak in Hindi. I was amazed, he knew exactly what was on my mind and with that sentence he made me realize the limitation of my mind and the vastness of his awareness.

I am grateful to God to have had the opportunity in my life to see the development and growth of Swami Satyananda’s mission from the original smaller ashram to Ganga Darshan, an oasis of beauty and perfection dedicated to yoga and spiritual life.

I am grateful to have been a witness of Sri Swamiji’s detachment when he left Munger and passed Ganga Darshan on to Swami Niranjan. I am grateful to have seen the steady and gradual development of the ashram at Rikhia, to have seen what Sri Swamiji did and is still doing for the villagers and, most of all, for the children, the kannyas and batuks. He had everything planned in advance, for he had the capacity to have a vision of the future. One of his sentences that has always inspired me is, “The sun always rises at the horizon.” Each time I left Munger or Rikhia it was always with a new boost of inspiration, enthusiasm and optimism, and the heart full and light.

I am grateful to the higher forces to have met a living example of a sannyasin totally dedicated to his guru, his mission and to the upliftment of humanity. I am grateful to have learned and understood yoga from Swami Satyananda, through his books and through his satsangs which are an immense treasure for humanity.

The vastness of his knowledge, brought to us in a practical, systematic and scientific way, is a source of encouragement and inspiration, acting as a flame of light giving us direction in life.

There are no appropriate words to describe my feelings for Sri Swamiji. All I can say is that the feeling is unique as he was a unique being, a unique man, sannyasin, teacher, explorer of life and spirit, a unique guru. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you Sri Swamiji.