It was in 1969 that I first came in contact with Swami Satyananda. During that time I was troubled by a stomach ailment. Tired of medical treatment, my father, the late Sri Rameshwar Mistri, introduced me to Swamiji.
Swamiji instructed me to come to the Yoga Vidyalaya every day by 4 am. As per his instructions, I started going to the Yoga Vidyalaya every day, early in the morning. By that time the Akhand Jyoti Hall had been made ready. It was there that Swamiji used to take yoga classes with some of his students. The sessions would commence with Sri Swamiji singing a prayer and the rest of us repeating each line after him. The words of that prayer were:
Bhavasagar taarana karana he,
Ravinandana bandhana khandana he.
Sharanagata kinkara bheeta mane,
Gurudeva daya kar deenajane.
After the prayer, Swamiji would conduct a yoga class with us for about an hour. This routine went on daily for six months. During this time he also guided us in the practice of shankaprakshalana three times. My stomach ailment soon became something of the past. After that, I began participating in various programs according to Swamiji's instructions. With regular attendance at Swamiji's satsangs, my closeness to Swamiji grew. He drew me towards himself with a deep feeling of belonging.
Around that time, my father was diagnosed with cancer. With the assistance of respected Goenkaji, he was treated in Calcutta and Bombay. Eventually, he was treated at home with medicines prescribed by the doctors.
On 30 March 1967, there was a satsang with Swamiji at the Yoga Vidyalaya. I took my father's permission to attend and went to the evening program. In the middle of the satsang, Swamiji suddenly called me and said that I should go home right away as my father was calling me. I was sent home in Goenkaji's car. When I reached I saw a big crowd gathered outside. I came to know that my father had passed away. Till today I have not been able to understand how Swamiji suddenly thought of my father and sent me back home in the middle of the satsang.
In this manner, my faith in Sri Swamiji kept growing and a close relationship with him became established. During the International Yoga Fellowship Convention, graced with the presence of learned teachers, I offered my service towards the organization with zeal and enthusiasm, according to Sri Swamiji's instructions. My humble abode has also been blessed by the lotus feet of Sri Swamiji. I was in close contact with him for many years and worked for the ashram as and when required.
I worked as a clerk in the education department. When I was transferred to Dumka, I had to move out of Munger. Whenever I came back for a visit, I always went to have darshan of Sri Swamiji. I continued to practice asana and pranayama with his guidance.
During this period I became associated with the Sri Ramashram Satsanga in Mathura and followed their practices of dhyana kriya. It gave me a lot of peace and joy. I had the opportunity to organize a special program for them in Munger. Many eminent acharyas of Mathura were to attend this program and arrangements needed to be made for their stay here. I met Sri Swamiji and told him all about it. He was happy and gladly offered the use of the rooms on the upper floors of the ashram for their stay and also arranged for their meals. The program was conducted as planned and Sri Swamiji was happy to meet the acharyas. I was richly blessed indeed.
My father was not only a social worker but a freedom fighter as well as an artist of a high caliber. On the occasion of Jhoolan at the temple in the Goenka residence each year, there were new and beautiful decorations prepared each day. They used to be made by my father. Occasionally we had darshan of Sri Swamiji. After the demise of my father, I used to make the decorations and over time gained proficiency in this art. After a few years, respected Goenkaji passed away. I was fortunate to receive an invitation from his son, Sri Krishna Kumar Goenka, to prepare the decorations for the Jhoolan programme in Rikhia and with Sri Swamiji's grace I have been doing this for many years.
The first time I went to Rikhia I thought that Sri Swamiji would have forgotten me, but I was delighted and surprised to find that at the first glance, Sri Swamiji called out to me saying, "Jaleshwar, you have come!" He introduced me to Swami Niranjanji and Swami Satsangiji saying that my father had been a good artist and social worker. I felt so blessed!
Once, during the first day of Jhoolan in Rikhiadham, I had a strong desire to have darshan of Sri Swamiji. I requested Swami Niranjan and Swami Satsangi for darshan. In those days Sri Swamiji gave darshan rarely, but that day I was promptly called by a sannyasin to go and meet him. As soon as he met me he said, "Jaleshwar, do you think that I am not able to see you? I have been watching you since you arrived. My eye is on all your activities. There is a video camera in my brain, I see everything that you are doing while sitting right here." He went on to describe in great detail the decorations I had prepared the previous day and what I was making on that day! I was completely speechless. When I heard his words I was totally astounded. I simply touched his feet and wordlessly went back to do my work with complete devotion.
When I had gone to Rikhia for the first time to make the decorations, on the morning of my departure at 5 am, Sri Swamiji called me to his little thatched hut and bidding me goodbye, he gave me a small packet. I said to him that I would not take his leave but begged for his blessings instead. At that time he presented me with some books as his blessings, which enlighten my innermost being till today.
One year I was fortunate to travel to Rikhia along with Swami Niranjanananda in his car. I would like to express the inspiration I received during that journey in my simple, inadequate words and offer this tribute at the lotus feet of Sri Swamiji:
Just as the darshan of a bhakta like Bharatji is the fruit of Sri Ramji's darshan, in the same way I have received the fruit of darshan with Sri Swamiji through the satsang with a guru-bhakta like Swami Niranjanananda. I have received mantra initiation diksha from him and also jignasu and karma sannyasa diksha, and my life is fulfilled.