Culmination of Shodashi Anushthana

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

With the Bhagavati prayer to Devi Bhagavati we bring the Shodashi program dedicated to the memory of Swami Dharmashakti to its end. We read how the relationship between guru and disciple carries on for many lifetimes and is an eternal bond. Earlier we felt that this was just something written about in books, but the experience I have had over the last fifty-two years allows me to declare that this is an undeniable truth.


In 1953 my father, Satyavrat, receives an invitation from Rishikesh to participate in a convention which was being organized by Swami Sivanandaji. He goes to attend this convention and participates wholeheartedly in the work. In those days there were neither tape recorders nor any other gadgets to record the discourses, so people would take down notes in shorthand and then type them out. My father would make shorthand notes of the lectures, talks and discourses given by Swami Sivananda and would type them out later and prepare them for either books or newspaper reports.

In this manner his association and relationship with Swami Sivanandaji and the Rishikesh ashram begins. Then one day, he arranges to set off on a trip and takes my mother along. The purpose of the trip is to receive diksha from Swami Sivananda, but when the two of them arrive at Swami Sivananda's ashram, Ma Dharmashakti looks not at Swami Sivananda but at one of his disciples and loses herself completely. At that time Swami Sivananda said, "Don't worry. Her guru will come to her home and give her diksha." And that is exactly what happened.


In 1956 when our guru Swami Satyanandaji received the blessings and mandate from Swami Sivanandaji to spread the teachings of yoga, he left Rishikesh and traveled throughout India. His first destination was Rajnandgaon. After reaching the station, he sends a little message on a slip of paper saying, "Swami Satyananda has arrived in Rajnandgaon and is waiting at the station, please come."

In those days my father used to work for a mill. We are from a middle class family. I was born in a little mud hut. My father worked in the B.N.C. mill as a typist and stenographer. So this householder goes off to receive Sri Swamiji, to welcome him and take him to his humble abode. That little mud hut, which must have been about 15 feet by 40 feet, became the head office of the International Yoga Fellowship Movement. When in 1956 the International Yoga Fellowship was established, the responsibility of its care and nurture rested on the shoulders of Swami Satyavratanandaji and Swami Dharmashaktiji.

When Sri Swamiji gave them diksha, he expressed the outpourings of his heart and said, "You are the truth of my vow and that is why your name will be Swami Satyavratanandaji and you are the strength of my conviction and your name will be Dharmashakti Saraswati." Those words uttered on that day have proven their veracity here today.

Pillar of guru's mission

In this way life begins. There are always struggles in life, there is no need to talk about them for it is only through these struggles that the individual progresses and moves ahead. It is struggle that tests a person's character. In the same way that a stone is hewn with chisel and hammer to be turned into a beautiful statue, it is struggle that gives impetus to the character and creativity of man.

Time carried on, the decades flew past and the work of yoga surged ahead. Swami Dharmashakti and Swami Satyavrat played stellar and integral roles in this yoga movement. She was the general secretary of this movement. She was the editor of the yoga publications. She was the editor of Yoga and Yogavidya magazines. When our guru took kshetra sannyasa and left Munger to involve himself in his sadhanas in Rikhia and established the Paramahamsa Alakhbara for the training of sannyasins, he appointed her as the first acharya of Paramahamsa Alakhbara.

Her guru bhakti, or devotion to guru, was unparalleled. When her own father saw Swamiji, he said, "Daughter, I am handing you over to your real father, he is your father, not I." From that day forth, Swami Dharmashakti looked upon Sri Swamiji as her father and she lived the rest of her life as his daughter, imbued with trust, faith and dedication, imbued with love.

Inspiration to all

Whoever met and visited her always left with a message of peace and love, whether it was of inspiration, joy or delight. She always inspired enthusiasm, courage, the flowering of positive qualities and awareness in all. In fifty-two years I have never heard her say a single uncharitable comment about anyone, that so and so is like this, that he is wrong or not quite okay, not even that. She used to say that each person does whatever they can according to their capacity.

Some people are ants, some are monkeys and some are elephants. If the elephant says that the ant is not doing its work properly, that thinking is wrong on the part of the elephant. The ant has done the best it can, in the place it is. In this way she used to tell us that there is no gain in becoming upset with anyone, for each one works as much as they can according to their ability. In fact, you can encourage them to fulfil their jobs in the best possible way so that it can also inspire others. This was the nature of her teachings.

With the faith that she had in her guru, she told Swamiji after Swami Satyavratji had left his mortal frame in 1971, "Now you have come, what will happen when I go?" And Swamiji had replied, "I will come for you also."

Last days

Last year I had told her that as per Sri Swamiji's orders I would be commencing the panchagni sadhana this year. She gave me her blessings and said, "Whatever you have been told to do by Guruji, you must surely fulfil even though you might risk your life in the process." When I completed my panchagni sadhana on 11th February, I went to her and said, "With your blessings I have completed my panchagni sadhana and am going ahead on the path that my guru's sankalpa has set before me." She blessed me and said, "I have been waiting for this very day." Perhaps she was awaiting the completion of the panchagni.

When I told her that from tomorrow the celebrations of the Golden Jubilee of the ashram would begin, she replied, "My blessings are with all of you for these celebrations and I wish that in the same grandeur that this year's Golden Jubilee is being celebrated, fifty years later the centenary will also be celebrated with pomp and glory."

I was with her from about 11 a.m. till 11.45 a.m., on 12th February. After that I continued with the rest of the Basant Panchami program. Exactly at 12 o'clock I got a phone call. Not a second before or after, but at exactly 12 o'clock she breathed her last with complete ease, and without any anxiety she left her body.

Guru and Mother Earth

It is an ashram tradition that every night we prepare our Gurudev's room and make up his bed. On 12th February at 12 o'clock, Swami Dharmashakti dropped her mortal coil, and on 12th February in the evening, Sri Swamiji's bed was prepared. On 13th February in the morning, when swamis went to tidy up and clean the room, they saw that the bed had been used. The mosquito net had been moved aside, the quilt was lying to one side and there were impressions on the bed as if someone had been sitting in meditation, the impressions from the knees to the buttocks and back to the knees were clearly visible. That brought home to us the promise Sri Swamiji had made to her in 1971 that he would come to take her. That promise made by a guru to his disciple was fulfilled. He had come to take her.

Then on 13th February, she was given ceremonial bhu samadhi at Akhara in the prescribed manner. There is a provision for sannyasins to be given bhu samadhi, sannyasins who are siddhas and saints, not the ordinary roadside sannyasins. We all belong to the second category, but those who awaken the guru tattva and shiva tattva within themselves on the strength of their faith, for such great personalities, for such saints and sannyasins, there is a provision for bhu samadhi.

Swami Dharmashakti was born on Buddha Poornima and at the age of eighty-nine she left this mortal frame. I don't consider her as my mother, but I feel it is my great privilege that Guruji gave me the opportunity, gave this soul an opportunity, to be born from the womb of such a saintly and enlightened woman. This is why she is not my mother, but Devi to me, a Devi who ordained the gift of fearlessness in people through the strength of her love and compassion. She has given protection and strength to others.

This is my thinking that there must be very few people on earth to be as fortunate as I to have a mother such as she, and to have lived the grace of such a Guru and to have found such good society like all of you present here.

Ya devi sarvabhuteshu maatri rupena samsthita.
Namastasyai namastasyai namastasyai namo namah.

With these sentiments, feelings and thoughts, Swami Dharmashakti's Shodashi comes to its conclusion.

Hari Om Tat Sat!

28 February 2013, Ganga Darshan, Munger