An Inspiration for all Ages

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

Every disciple has a unique feeling for his guru. I also have a feeling for my guru. Since early childhood I grew up on his lap, but I have never wanted to see or identify him as a father, mother, relative or even a guru. I have only seen and experienced him as an inspirer who has encouraged us to progress in our lives despite every difficulty and problem. In the future also I wish to continue to see and experience him in this form.

In our history there have been certain individuals who have had a higher vision and a higher goal since the time of their birth, and who do not need the help of a particular sadhana in order to reach the spiritual apex. They attain everything with ease. There are certain personalities like Adi Shankaracharya and Ramana Maharishi, who had the spiritual spark within them from birth, and who went through life with total ease, keeping one direction, one goal, one aim as their target. They didn't need any sadhanas; they themselves were the living experience of everything.

The chosen path

In the life of our guru, we see this spark of wisdom, this samskara, which motivated him to move through life in one direction, with one aim. The path he chose was renunciation, wisdom and selfless service. He stayed with Swami Sivanandaji for twelve years, undergoing training and building the foundation for future achievements. Swami Sivananda initiated him in to the tradition of paramahamsa sannyasa, and at that time he also instructed him that first he must purify and prepare the mind through the medium of selfless service.

After serving his guru, Sri Swamiji left the stage of ashram life in order to fulfil the mandate of his guru. For nine years he traveled around the Indian subcontinent with the purpose of seeing the direction in which humanity was moving, according to its thoughts and beliefs, and which steps should be taken to awaken the spiritual spark in humanity.

While traveling he came to Tryambakeshwar, one of the jyotir lingams of Lord Shiva. There he received a clear instruction from Lord Mrityunjaya that he had to establish an institution to propagate yoga, for yoga would present itself as a powerful world culture and would ‘change the course of world events'. Swamiji accepted this mandate. In Munger he established Bihar School of Yoga and later developed Ganga Darshan.

Yoga knocks at every door

When we look at the history of Bihar School of Yoga, we can see how Swamiji through his selfless efforts worked for the propagation of yoga from door to door and from shore to shore to fulfil the physical and psychological need for health, balance and happiness and, at the same time, to make people aware of the spark of the divine self inside.

According to the need of the modern age, he instigated many scientific, therapeutic and literary investigations into the science of yoga. Swamiji's aim and purpose was, along with the teaching and practices of yoga, to provide a path or system whereby people could experience the highest truth which would enable them to realize the element of spirit within them.

Along with this effort to provide peace, happiness and contentment for the general public, he established another institution by the name of Sivananda Math, which was dedicated to the memory of his guru, Swami Sivananda. The purpose of Sivananda Math was not to propagate yoga but to promote social service.

The second renunciation

In 1988, when all the branches of the International Yoga Fellowship Movement were well established throughout the world and he was at the apex of achievement, one night Swamiji suddenly decided, "Now, I have to leave all this; this was not my aim. This effort was to rid myself of my obligations to my guru, and I have fulfilled them." Swamiji said, "I am just a wave in the ocean which rises once and carries with it anything that comes in its way. Now other waves have to rise in this ocean, so that they can also contribute to the development of human society."

With this attitude, on 8.8.88, Swamiji left the ashram, which was such a vast establishment, full of all comforts. When he left the ashram, he did not have a single rupee in his jhola or bag. After many requests, as a token of respect, we were able to give him 108 rupees, which he gave to somebody after leaving the ashram gates. He only took two dhotis with him. While going, he said, "Now let me go; let me be free. If you have the capacity, you develop the work even further. If you do not have the capacity, let other people carry on with the work according to their capacities."

After renouncing the ashram and his mission, Sri Swamiji traveled through the various siddha tirthas until finally once again he reached Tryambakeshwar where he had received his first mandate. This time he received a clear mandate from Lord Mrityunjaya: "You are now free from your obligations to the guru. Your work in this world is over, and now you have to concentrate on sadhana."

Sri Swamiji started to think, "I have received the mandate, but where do I have to go, to the caves of the Himalayas or the banks of the river Ganga?" He received the message, "Go to my cremation ground." Since the day Swamiji received this message, he has dedicated himself fully to his sadhana at the cremation ground of Lord Mrityunjaya.

The highest sannyasa

There are examples in history of saints and people with a higher vision, who had started an institution, which they later on handed to their disciples, so that the work did not stop with them but continued eternally. They separated themselves from the aim of the institution and established themselves in universal consciousness. This is what we see in the life of Sri Swamiji, and it is an example of sannyasa life.

In his last letter written to us he said, "For you, I am dead now, and if I am alive, it will be in the light of your spirit. If you want to see me, try to see me, not with the physical eyes, but with the eyes of the spirit. I do not want anyone to come to me with their physical or mental problems, for now I am not that person who gives answers. I have removed my robes and I am only a sadhaka. I only have one aim in my sadhana, to experience the higher nature within life and merge with it. So, for this, let me be free and do not bind me in any way."

Sri Swamiji always said that to be a guru is easy, but to be a disciple is difficult. In his life we see the perfection of discipleship at the highest apex of yoga. He lived like a disciple and followed the mandates of his guru and of God. Therefore, I always consider him as my inspirer.

printed in YOGA Vol. 1, Issue 5 (September 1990)