Spirituality and Renunciation

From the teachings of Swami Satyananda Saraswati

On 19th March 1956 in the morning, I went to Swami Sivananda to tell him I was leaving. He knew that I was going. I told him, "I don't want to have anything to do with any ashram, because I'm too tired. My body is tired, my mind is tired. I just want to rest somewhere." He called me into his room and taught me the seventeen kriyas of kriya yoga in maybe five minutes, then he said, "You practise it. Now you go." He gave me 108 rupees, which are still with me today. I haven't spent them and they are still in my locker.


On 13th July 1963, or early morning on 14th, I was in Munger and I had a great living experience which completely changed the course of my life. I experienced that I was in Rishikesh, not in Munger, in real flesh and blood. I was standing on the bank of the Ganga and a large motor launch was going across the water. On that motor launch, conches and trumpets were being blown and gongs were being beaten. On a chair he was seated – Swami Sivananda Saraswati. He was looking to the other side, as the steamer was sailing, but suddenly he looked at me, just for a glance. It was just a glance. The flywheel of the steamer sprinkled a little Ganga water on me and the living experience came to an end. When I got up, for about three or four minutes, maybe more, I did not know whether being in Munger was a dream or being in Rishikesh was a dream. It took me some time to come to the conclusion that I was in Munger, and not in Rishikesh.

For some time I thought that I was in Rishikesh and I was dreaming of Munger. That was the experience, but gradually I was coming down and down. Until morning I was doubtful, thinking, "How can I be sure which experience is true? If this is the depth of human experience which I have had just now, how am I to be sure that this life, this experience which I have been living for the last forty years years can be said to be the truth?" Maybe it is a dream or some other experience? We don't know.


That was all, and after that the yoga movement came into being. Again I started involving myself in the same way as I did in 1943, giving my mind, body and life. Still now I have clear glimpses of my guru. For me he is not dead, for the death of the body is only a change, it does not indicate disintegration at any cost. I have his glimpses especially when I am fed up with the world and with human nature.

I think, "I'll close the printing press, I'll close the ashram, I'll sell everything and give the money to a hospital, lunatic asylum or to some charitable trust. I'll just get out and let these fellows, my disciples, go to the dogs." I have thought this many times, and exactly on those days I have a glimpse, and with that glimpse he gives me some idea of what to do.

When I came back from South America, I was fed up with a few swamis and was about to pass a resolution to the committee to sell everything and give the money away. "I don't want it, if you want it, you run it." The same night Swami Sivananda came, saying, ‘'You must purchase that hillock opposite to the ashram." This is the place of Ganga Darshan. The same night he gave me the full master plan of all the buildings. I have seen the buildings that are going to be built there and the type of rooms they have. Swamiji came, "Here is your Ganga Darshan. Here is your Ganga Darshan. Here is your Ganga Darshan."

Commitment to guru

After leaving Rishikesh in 1956, I travelled across the Indian subcontinent. Frankly speaking I don't like ashrams. I do not like to have disciples. Sometimes I am exhausted of all these surroundings and I want to give up the ashrams and go away into seclusion, to a forest and just sit down there.

I think when I have left my parents and my property, why would I get another? When I have left my relatives, why do I want to have these relatives? It is always at these times, that I have the vision. I don't know if it lasts for long or for seconds. At that time, I am transported into another realm of consciousness. During these times I am not Swami Satyananda, and I hear clearly, "No, keep on moving. Don't withdraw yourself."

It has happened like this quite a few times after 1964 and I do not like it and I don't want that vision at all. I know that it is the voice of Swami Sivananda. He has many outstanding disciples spread all over the world. They are in America, in Europe and everywhere and they can do a lot of work, because they want it and have that ambition.

Renunciation has to be complete. Each and everything you are attached to should be renounced. My house has become old and I renounce it. My robe has become old so I renounce it, but can I renounce the person I love? The object I love? We practise convenient renunciation; we renounce those objects which we dislike. Try to renounce what you like. That is renunciation. I know very well that sooner or later I am going to come out of this cycle. I had written a poem some time ago:

Let Me Roam
With nothing on the body,
And with nothing in my hands,
Let me roam on the bank of the Ganga
With the name of Shiva on my lips
And the thought of Devi and Durga in my mind.
Let me not even know that I exist,
And when I die,
I will not know that I am dying.

That is the type of life which Swami Sivananda infused in me, but I have to follow him. Once he told me, "We are instruments, we are mediums. We have to love everybody without passion and attachment. We have to serve everybody without expectation. We have to love God without asking anything from Him. The purpose of our spiritual life is to have a vision of the Divine. God has given us everything; we did not ask for it, yet He has given to you everything without you asking Him."