From Mere Aradhya by Swami Dharmashakti Saraswati

Magnanimous and large-hearted kings such as Karna ruled on the sanctified soil of Munger, and in the present age his place has been taken by a householder saint, Raibahadur Kedarnath Goenka. Drawn by his love and affection, Swami Satyananda stayed at his place, Ananda Bhavan, and performed intense sadhana there. During his sadhana he received the darshan, blessings and mandate of his great guru, and began to shine like a divine beacon. Goenkaji was already running a temple, hospital, dharmashala, school and college in Munger. Only an ashram was missing from the list, and now that deficiency had also been made up. Completing the ashram in January 1964, he finally bound Swami Satyam to the town of Munger.

Lighting the light

All the devotees, disciples and acquaintances of Swamiji received an invitation: "On 19 January 1964, the auspicious day of Basant Panchami and Saraswati Pooja, the ashram will be inaugurated and the akhanda jyoti will be lit. You are all invited to be a part of this event and receive the blessings of the Divine."

Devotees and disciples poured in from Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Bengal, Gujarat, Orissa and other provinces. During the auspicious Saraswati pooja, to the accompaniment of bhajans, kirtans and mantras, Swami Satyananda lit the akhanda jyoti, a symbol of the glorious tradition and radiant potential of yoga.

While lighting the Sivananda jyoti, a teardrop rolled down the face of this otherwise impassive and unattached sannyasin, as if a drop of Ganga water had fallen off the matted locks of Lord Shiva to wash the feet of the guru. The guru's light spread over the deserving disciple and his message of yoga began spreading in all directions.

After being installed as a paramahamsa as per the directive of his guru, and having lit the eternal flame in memory of his guru in Bihar School of Yoga, Swami Satyananda took a vow that he would not leave the ashram for three years. To conduct yoga camps, shivirs and conventions, he would be sending his sannyasin disciples instead. He himself would follow the stipulations of his vow to the letter.

Guru and disciple

Swamiji also inaugurated the Yoga Research Library on this occasion. "I'll stay in the ashram," he said, "and conduct classes and give satsangs during the fifteen-day courses. From time to time I'll conduct conventions. Special programs will be organized on Basant Panchami, Guru Poornima, Sivananda Janmotsav and other important occasions. Devotees and disciples can come here whenever they want."

The main purpose behind Swamiji leaving the parivrajaka lifestyle and adopting the role of a paramahamsa acharya was the effective propagation of the yoga tradition of his guru, Swami Sivananda.

Hamsa, the swan, symbolizes a certain stage in a sannyasin's life, wherein the swan of his spirit stays put in Manasarovar and doesn't go anywhere. This is a stage of human evolution which is reflected externally in the observance of certain rules and disciplines.

It is true that Swami Sivananda is no longer physically present amidst us. It is also true that great saints never die. Their mortal coil may disappear, but the true essence of their spirit permeates each and every corner of creation. The power and radiance that had come together in the form of Swami Sivananda is now illuminating the hearts of millions around the globe.

It is a matter of great pride for all of us that our Gurudev is a great yogi himself and that our Param Gurudev was a world renowned spiritual personality. Not only was Swami Sivananda a great saint, but we are all the more indebted to him as he created a spiritual dynamo in the shape of Swami Satyananda for the welfare and guidance of the world. Blessed are both guru and disciple!


Fifteen-day courses soon began at Bihar School of Yoga, Sivananda Ashram, in right earnest. The classes were conducted by Swamiji himself. Asana and pranayama in the mornings, followed by a light breakfast of porridge, then chanting of the Gita and the Upanishads, followed by lunch at 10 a.m.. From 1 p.m. onwards there would be likhit japa, nada yoga, yoga nidra, karma yoga for an hour or so and then dinner at 5 p.m.. After dinner, there would be bhajan, kirtan and satsang. Lights out by 8 p.m.. Shankhaprakshalana on the fourth day. Mouna vrat, unbroken silence, on the thirteenth day. The same routine would be followed that day, except in pin-drop silence. At 4 p.m., Swamiji would say, "Hari Om", everyone would respond with "Hari Om" and the mouna would come to an end. Everyone would sit on the lawn and drink porridge, followed by dinner and bhajan-satsang. In this manner, mouna and fasting went hand in hand. On the fourteenth day, the routine would be followed till 2 p.m., after which chanting of the Ramayana would begin. The townsfolk would join in the Ramayana chanting as well. Arati was conducted at 5 p.m., followed by prasad and dinner. Often on that concluding day of the course, some special delicacies would come from Goenkaji's Lakshmi Bhavan. And on the fifteenth day, Swamiji would bid farewell to the participants.

Slowly the attendance at the courses began to increase and the additional participants were lodged in the adjoining Goenka dharmashala. Books on Ajapa Japa Sadhana, Japa Yoga, Asana Pranayama, Moola Bandha, Samadhi Vidya and Swara Yoga were published in Hindi and English. Vairagya Vihar, a translation of Bhartihari's Vairagya Shatak in Hindi verse, was also published. Swamiji had composed this beautiful poetic translation during summer holidays in his ancestral village of Bhikiyasen in 1938, at the tender age of fifteen!