Evolution of Yoga and Yogavidya magazines

Swami Dharmashakti Saraswati

Almost fifty years ago Sri Swamiji told one of his close disciples, “I do not say that like Swami Vivekananda, I will be able to spread the spiritual mission of Pujya Gurudev, Swami Sivananda, but it is my only ambition. My ardent desire to spread the spiritual mission of Pujya Gurudev has taken shape, and I have to move continuously ahead in this direction. I want to make the lives of oppressed and poor people better by bringing spirituality through asana, pranayama, bhajan, sankirtan and satsang.”

Birth of Yoga and Yogavidya magazines

Yoga and Yogavidya have come into being thanks to Sri Swamiji’s ambition and the active cooperation of everyone. It happened in the year 1962 during a yoga camp organized in Rajgriha. Sri Swamiji said, “I’m thinking about something.” Satyavratji said, “Kindly tell us what you are thinking about?” Swamiji said, “Yes, I can tell both of you, because you are the two wheels of my chariot. If you cooperate, my chariot will move ahead.” I told him, “Swamiji, make us your horses. We will do whatever you ask us to do.”

Then he said, “I’m a parivrajaka, a wandering mendicant, moving here and there and spreading the message of yoga among people. I teach them yoga, but when I meet them again after four or six months, I find that they have forgotten everything. So I explain again, but I think that there should be a magazine for them, so that when they forget, they may read and remember what I had told them. It would be excellent if this type of magazine were published. I have thought about two magazines in very simple language. We will publish in Hindi and English simultaneously, as Yoga and Yogavidya. We will expand this work gradually. But you will have to do this work, because I shall be roaming around.”

Thus, Swamiji expressed his thoughts. Satyavratji said, “It is fine, but we do not know anything about printing and publishing. You gained so much experience in Rishikesh. Explain everything to us and give us the address where we can obtain catalogues of printing machines and samples of paper.”

Swamiji explained in detail what to procure and from where. After returning to Rajnandgaon we obtained all the required items. Swamiji came in October and instructed us to buy the paper from Gondia, two machines, one for the books and the other for the magazine, from somewhere else and the type form from yet another place. I said, “You keep the articles ready.” He replied, “Yes, I will keep the file ready and train you, but first you get the equipment.”

Establishing the Yoga and Yogavidya Press

Sri Swamiji had a profound resolution to make yoga more simple, useful and available to the whole world. According to Swamiji’s instructions two machines, one small and one big with their accessories and a cutting machine came from Kolkata, and the type from Allahabad and Pune. Then Swamiji explained everything, in which room and on which side to keep them, and how to fit the machines.

Swamiji said, “Through the means of the magazine I will teach yoga vidya, knowledge of yoga, so the name of the press and of the magazine will be Yogavidya. Then he gave me two files and said, “Look, composing is done in this way, proofs should be checked in this way and then print it.” Swamiji explained each and every detail. The work started, and the press was inaugurated on the 1st of January 1963.

In the beginning we faced many difficulties. For every little requirement we had to run to Nagpur or Raipur. To get machine parts repaired we had to go to Kolkata. In Rajnandgaon a good mechanic was not available. With the blessings of Sri Swamiji, the Yogavidya Printing Press started publication. Swamiji said, “I’m very happy, we have our own press. Books are the foundation of our mission.”

First issue

For the first publication of Yoga and Yogavidya, Swamiji spent the whole time in Rajnandgaon. The first issue of the magazine was compiled from a collection of Swamiji‘s writing and under his directions.

The covers were printed in the Litho Press in Nagpur. Until the completion of this work Swamiji remained, looking after everything. He taught us the technique of folding and everything related to printing. In January 1963 the printouts of the first issue of two wonderful magazines, Yogavidya in Hindi and Yoga in English were ready.

At that time, this small magazine published by the International Yoga Fellowship Movement was the only magazine related to the subject of yoga education. This interesting magazine, which compiled sound knowledge of yoga in simple language, was very useful for both beginners and advanced practitioners of yoga.

The first issue was sent to all the devotees and disciples, who accepted it and contributed wholeheartedly. The membership fee for Yogavidya and Yoga was five rupees annually and one hundred rupees for life membership. To send the magazine by post we registered at the post office. At that time, everything was cheap. The post office instructed us that a stamp of two paisa had to be fixed, and certain dates and rules for sending the magazine were given.

The first issue of the magazine was sent free of cost to all, then some people assisted by giving money in advance. Newspapers advertised the magazine, pamphlets were distributed, and in the first issue all the readers were requested to assist by becoming subscribers and sending articles, “If you have met Swamiji, then write some of your experiences related to him. If you have not met him, but have met a good saint then write your experience related to him.”

Steps leading to development

For the last fifty years, based on recent discoveries in yoga, this magazine has been making an effort to bring to you practical literature related to yoga as a scientific method. As per the needs of the age and society, the published articles of the magazine kept changing.

In the beginning we used to print the experiences of yoga practitioners. Wherever Swamiji would go to teach yoga, he would tell people to write their experiences for Yoga and Yogavidya. Then in Munger also, people who came to learn yoga used to write their experiences. Swamiji would give us their addresses to send them the magazine. In the November–December issue of the first year, Swamiji said that the readers should continue their membership and send five rupees. Some people would complain about the five rupees, although they were receiving the magazine every month.

Swamiji would say, “Brother, go on giving. How does it matter if you lose five rupees? We too have to spend, there is a machine, workers, paper, ink.” Guruji would explain this to all of them. Many times there were troubles and disturbances, workers made mistakes, printed in the wrong way or sometimes they would print twice and all the paper had to be thrown away. But then with the grace of God everything ran smoothly.

Satyavratji would ask the rich people of the town, “Do you take the magazine?” and they would say, “Well, we have heard that it is printed at your place. Take five rupees.” When Satyavratji would pass by their place again, they would ask, ”Is your press running well?” Satyavratji would say, “Have you read the magazine this time?” They would say, “When do we have time?” Satyavratji would say, “Well, your children will read it.” But the magazine used to remain under their seat.

From the very beginning separate articles were published in Yoga and Yogavidya. If there was a good article in English, Swamiji would get it translated into Hindi. Many people were trained to help with the magazine work. All the principles, professors and devotees in Rajnandgaon were also asked to write something for Yogavidya. All of them started writing little bits of their experience with Swamiji and yoga, which we started publishing in the magazine.

With the beginning of the press work, we started living in a hired house in the city. That time Satyavratji had not left his service at the mill. Morning and evening he would work in the press and then on Sundays the whole day. I was only looking after the Yogavidya work the whole day.

My early learning

I never went to school, but learnt reading and writing at home. The teacher used to come to our home. I became an expert in Hindi and studied a little bit of Sanskrit. My father was a lawyer and used to lecture a lot. Later on he joined the Congress party and was jailed. He used to write often in newspapers and had written a book related to the ill treatment of Indians during the British regime. That book was never published, but it was seized in the press itself.

My mother used to get two magazines at home, Grihani and Grilakshmi. When I was ten or eleven years old, my father asked me to write articles for these magazines, “Write from the kitchen.” My mother would tell me how a certain dish was to be prepared and I would write the recipe which my father would send for publication. I would write short articles on tailoring and knitting, which were also published. This encouraged me to write and gain experience.

In the Yogavidya press, I learnt proofreading and would explain everything to the workers, “This word is slanting, don’t make small and big lines.” I used to save the articles that were coming in and keep a separate file for Swamiji to use. He would see the file when he returned from a teaching tour. Sometimes we published the magazine late because we were waiting for him and mention in the magazine that the delay was due to some special reason.

Early days

In the beginning Swamiji cooperated a lot, at times he would stay for months and sometimes he would just turn up after visiting nearby places. In the beginning the magazine was a total of twenty-four or twenty-six pages, including the cover. Sometimes for 14th February and 26th July there used to be a special issue. November–December used to be only one magazine, because during that period we used to visit Munger. Gradually the number of pages in the magazine was increasing. In the beginning Swamiji’s satsangs, his feelings and gratitude towards Swami Sivanandaji, and people’s experiences with yoga were published.

After printing, the magazines came to Rajnandgaon and were distributed from there. People used to feel happy on receiving Swamiji’s magazine. Professors and teachers from Rajnandgaon helped a lot and some of them became Swamiji’s disciples and devotees. Baldev Prasad Mishra was well known for his literary work and had won several awards. His brother, who was a writer, owned a printing press. He helped us a lot and explained how to print out a particular news item in two lines.

From 1963 to 1976 Yogavidya and Yoga magazines were published from Rajnandgaon. I enjoyed working on Yogavidya very much. The whole day I would read and write. I used to record Swamiji’s discourses and then write them down. Wherever his discourses took place, devotees would send the recordings, and we would select parts for publication.

We had to face many difficulties in running the press and fight with many people. Some people would complain that they did not receive the magazine, some would ask why is it published like this and not like that. Many letters with complaints would come, but we stayed firm and strong. I would reply to the letters. Satyavratji was working in the factory. He looked after the English magazine and gave advice for the Hindi Yogavidya.

On 31st December 1971, Satyavratji met with an accident. After the death of Satyavratji, Swamiji brought a manager to look after the press work. Initially Satyavratji had been looking after the English magazine, but after his accident I took up the English as well, and in this way, from 1971 to 1983, for twelve years somehow I managed to run the press by myself. In the factory and in town, Satyavratji had been very popular and people would always ask me, “Is your work going on well?”


From January 1977 onward, Yogavidya and Yoga were published by Bihar School of Yoga, Ashram Graphics, Sivananda Ashram, Munger. But Swamiji’s books were still published in the Yogavidya Press. For unavoidable reasons the publication of Yogavidya and Yoga was discontinued from December 1983 to January 1990.

I feel Yogavidya very close to me. Even now, when someone reads it to me, I feel good. But I do not think about it much. With the changing world, a change has come in the articles of the magazine.

The articles in Yogavidya and Yoga published in the sixties were intended more to give an introduction to yoga and its usefulness in day-to-day life, because at that time people generally thought that yoga was meant for sadhus and sannyasins living in mountain caves.

In the seventies people were attracted to the therapeutic side of yoga, and we were publishing articles related to human health and yogic management of diseases.

In the eighties the main subjects were yogic research and spiritual discovery. In this decade people from all countries turned towards yoga, not only for gaining health and physical benefits but for grooming and developing their personality. They started considering yoga as part of their daily lifestyle.

In the nineties Yoga and Yogavidya threw light on the usefulness of yoga in the field of awakening one’s personality, stress management and education.

With the beginning of the 21st century there was a great change in Yoga and Yogavidya. Devotees were overjoyed on seeing colour photos of Swamiji on the cover page and in the middle of the magazine, along with beautiful articles. They would eagerly await the arrival of each issue and collect the rare photos of their dear Swamiji. In the first half of this decade issues of Yoga and Yogavidya remained dedicated to the teachings of Swami Sivanandaji and Sri Swamiji.

In 2012 Yoga and Yogavidya entered their 50th year. On this occasion, instead of saying much about the value of yoga, we pray and call upon all of you to make yoga an integral part of the lives of your friends and family members. This alone will be our true tribute towards Sri Swamiji.