The New President

From Mere Aradhya by Swami Dharmashakti Saraswati

On 16 January, 1983, Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati returned to India as per Sri Swamiji's directive, and on 19 January, the auspicious day of Basant Panchami, Sri Swamiji installed this young man of 23 as the president of Bihar School of Yoga, placing a big responsibility on his shoulders. In the words of Swami Satyasangananda, Sri Swamiji's secretary:

1983 heralds in new dimensions and horizons for BSY. Building an institution is itself a mammoth task but to find suitable successors to maintain the high ideals and standards is no less important. Right from its inception, Swami Satyananda has played the dual role of guru and administrator, two roles diametrically opposed and contradictory to each other, which led him into many difficulties from time to time, and which he survived with unsurpassable skill.

We are all familiar with the role of a guru. He inspires, instructs and is the guiding light for many lives. For those of you who have a guru, it is unthinkable to live this life without nurturing that relationship. It would be tantamount to having no eyes to see or ears to hear, but have you ever stopped to wonder how a guru meets the demands of his disciples? How is it that not just one or two or three but thousands and millions of people all over the world are able to draw energy from that one source? It is obvious that he is able to delve into deeper and higher states of consciousness where no duality exists, where he is able to sift the true from the untrue, the mundane and gross experience from pure experience. It is this ability which enables him to deal with the problems of people with accurate precision.

However, if at the same time he has to play the role of administrator, it is necessary that from time to time he must return or come down to the practical, day-to-day affairs of life. So on the one hand he must go deep within, and on the other he must externalise that same consciousness. Of course this constant fluctuation from higher to lower states of mind is not a trifling matter and not easily attainable, for one state of mind is not complementary to the other. Only a jivanmukta, one enlightened in this life, can do it with utmost ease. Swami Satyananda has been the epitome of such a person. His decisions as administrator have been flawless and his guidance to people illuminating.

For how much longer must these demands press on him? Sri Swamiji often jokingly says, "My life has been divided into twenty-year cycles. I was born in 1923, I joined my guru's ashram in 1943, I opened my ashram in 1963, and now, 1983 is the last turning point, I retire." When he sees the disappointed and disconsolate look on our faces, he always hastens to add, "When I say retire, I mean as an administrator. I shall continue to guide and inspire the people as long as I live."

Another relevant point which Sri Swamiji often mentions is that it is always necessary for the founder of an institution to step down and install his successor during his lifetime, so that the succeeding person can master the work thoroughly. This is especially relevant to a sannyasa institution where nothing really belongs to any particular person.

The inability of many spiritual leaders to effect this change has been instrumental in the downfall of many institutions. We have seen many jivanmuktas who function dynamically during their lifetime, but have been unable to leave behind pillars of strength. Obviously, at some time, they must give their responsibility to others and for the fulfillment of that responsibility the decision must be taken at the correct time. After all, a flower only blossoms when the soil and the season are right. Sri Swamiji, who has always maintained accurate timing in making his decisions, has chosen 1983 to nominate his successor. This decision will bring a host of questions to people's minds.

As you will see, Sri Swamiji, with his meticulous eye for detail, has been thinking not only of the present but also years into the future. After all, the disciples and devotees all over the world must have the assurance that the institution which they have worked so hard for will not dissolve. At present BSY has many ashrams, innumerable centres and a vast number of inspired schools, thousands of teachers and a host of sannyasins of different nationalities and religions spread out over the world, with the headquarters in Munger. To support them it is necessary to have adequate teachers, an efficient administration, a proper internal management and inspiring guidance.

The sannyasins who have been trained by Sri Swamiji as teachers are of a high caliber and have been producing excellent results and responses wherever they go. These sannyasins, whose number is always on the increase, will continue to spread the teachings far and wide. For the administration, Swami Niranjanananda, heading the Board of Directors, will handle all affairs directly. For a disciple it is of paramount importance that he should be able to follow every command of his guru, verbal or otherwise. He should be able to anticipate and remain constantly alert to every need of the guru; only then can the guru transmit his knowledge and guidance to the disciple and continue his mission through the disciple.

Swami Niranjanananda has always maintained the ideals and standards of such a disciple. Although only twenty-three years of age, his experience, maturity and astute judgment can be compared to a person twice his age. He has traveled widely from the age of eleven, perhaps little knowing the immense responsibilities that would befall him later. However, judging from his past record, one feels that the responsibility rests on very young but capable shoulders.

In the sannyasa parampara or tradition, according to the guidelines set down by Adi Shankaracharya, it is the responsibility of the guru to impart his knowledge to worthy disciples so they may continue the work even after the guru relinquishes his duties. The work, after all, is being done with a definite purpose in mind and is not the whim of an individual. It has a far greater and wider vision, the benefits and far-reaching effects of which should be felt not only in this decade but in decades to come. This culture, way of life and philosophy must not become extinct with the ravages of time, and neither should it be restricted only to a few people. Rather, we must diversify, we must spread the systems of yoga to all corners of the world. We must preserve this fund of knowledge which can help us in every sphere of our lives so that not only our children but our grandchildren and great grand-children may know and be able to judge for themselves the best way of life.

Now that Sri Swamiji is no longer at the helm of administration, the range and scope which Swami Niranjan will be able to cover will increase considerably. In this respect we can look forward to seminars and conventions in different countries, cities, towns and villages, which may be arranged for him to preside over, so that, in the words of his Guru, he may continue taking yoga from door to door and from shore to shore.