When I started the practice of yoga, I found that people thought yoga had nothing to do with them and that it was absolutely useless for the man of the world. I am talking of the years from 1936 to 1939 when people did not know that this practice could bring them something precious and valuable. Within a few years, suddenly a great change has taken place. In spite of heavy preoccupations with social and family problems, people have come to the understanding that yoga is for them.
In 1962, when a conjunction of eight planets occurred in Aquarius and many were terrified by the thought that chaos was going to take place, I was in Munger, a town in Bihar, and that town was in absolute terror! In 1934, when there had also been a conjunction of four planets and the sun in Aquarius, the town of Munger was reduced to rubble by a terrible earthquake; not one house survived, and 50,000 casualties occurred in half an hour. The astrologers had told the people of Munger that the next time this conjunction occurred, they were going to face the same calamity again, so everyone was terrified. Around the clock throughout the month, everyone left job, duty and shop, and people were praying, day and night.
At that time I happened to go to Munger for the first time. I was just a wandering monk. I was not speaking very much, so I did not even have one friend. I was accustomed to sleeping on the roadside like many people do today, and at the time I was not sure that I would have something to eat for lunch. If I had a few onions that was enough for me.
On my arrival in Munger, a gentleman called me and said, "Swamiji, what is your opinion of this day?" I told him, "It's the birth of a new world." That man left Munger the same afternoon. He misinterpreted my reply; I had told him that there would be the birth of a new world, but he thought that everything was going to be finished by that afternoon.
I stayed in Munger and that day passed without incident. At about one o'clock that night, when the deluge, the destruction, was supposed to happen, I got up and I felt that now the birth of a new world is taking place. The man who had left Munger the same day out of fear got in touch with me the next morning. He came back to Munger and asked me to build an ashram there.
Without my wanting, the ashram grew up, without my wanting, the disciples started coming, without my wanting it, I came to the West a number of times, and everything happened without my wanting it.
You can be sure of one thing – after a few years, when you meet your friend you will say, "Have you got a television?" and he will say yes or no. You will ask, "Have you got a car?" and he will say yes or no. You will ask, "Do you practise yoga?" If he says no, you will think, "What type of man is he? He does not practise yoga!"
It has already started happening. When the great violinist Yehudi Menuhin was recently awarded the Nehru Prize in India and was asked by the press correspondents what the firm bases of his life were, he said, "First yoga, next music."
I can tell you that if you practise yoga asanas, pranayama, meditation, ajapa japa or antar mouna, a change does take place in the body undoubtedly, but more than that, a change is taking place in the deeper spheres of your life but you do not know it.
When you practise yoga, you should not take to the path of abstention or rejection, it should be a path of synthesis. Yoga should unite not only two parts, but many. The great thinkers like Annie Besant, Aldous Huxley, and Sri Aurobindo have been talking about this superhuman race or this supramental race. As a member of this superhuman race, you need not be afraid that you are going to develop horns or wings, but you will develop your consciousness to such a degree that you will become aware of the whole cosmos.