A Spirit with Direction

Swami Dharmashakti Saraswati

Yoga is the most ancient culture of the golden land of India. Its scientific character can be proved with any test or criterion. Therefore, it has become acceptable in this age of science.

In ancient times, for the practices of yoga, people used to reside in the forests in the garb of sannyasins. They used to develop esoteric knowledge within themselves and conducted some research. They used to teach their knowledge to others and transferring the entire knowledge to their chief disciples, entered mahasamadhi. The chief disciple became the successor or heir. The ancient yoga vidya, science of yoga, has survived till today on account of the tradition of guru-disciple relationship.

Mahamandaleshwar Swami Sivananda Saraswati was a great yogi. He gave a new direction to yoga. It is on account of his untiring efforts that the songs of yoga can be heard everywhere today. He made yoga the basis of world peace.

Samyam, restraint, is the basis of yoga and samyam is based on viveka, discrimination, which in turn is based on samatvam, equanimity, and vairagya, dispassion. These qualities can be developed through various yoga practices. However, as per the need of the time, many enlightened souls incarnated in this part of our planet Earth who were endowed with these virtues by birth. Sri Swami Satyananda was one such divine soul.

In 1923 on the full moon day of Margashirsha, December, a great soul descended in human form. This ‘yogi by birth' was the glory of Garhwal. The yogic rays started emanating from him since the time of his birth. He was not at all attracted to parents, property and homely comforts. At the age of nineteen, he came to Rishikesh and took refuge at the feet of his guru for the acquisition of spiritual knowledge. Thus began his sannyasa life. At the age when people normally seek bhoga, pleasure and enjoyment, he left his home, parents and everything else.

He became the chief disciple of Swami Sivananda and spent about twelve years in his service, perfecting the knowledge of scriptures. Side by side, he performed intense austerities and stood the many tests of his guru.

Swami Satyananda Saraswati was a saint with a simple heart. He was thoroughly spiritual; the world or worldliness did not touch him at all. Once he left his home, he left it forever and never looking back, he remained always free from the grip of maya.

Just as in the case of Hanuman, a great devotee of Sri Rama, Sri Swamiji always held Swami Sivananda in his heart. However, he was not infatuated with his guru, being balanced in all respects.

He was also fond of creative work. He undertook an extensive world tour in 1968 and delivered the message of peace through yoga in many disturbed countries and cities. The people were influenced by this great, wonderful sannyasin. His resolution and mission were so clear: propagation of yoga and establishment of peace. Nothing else attracted his attention.

It was always clear to him what he had to do. He knew that whatever his guru wanted to be done was in the overall interest of human society in general and his disciples in particular.

Really blessed are his parents who gave birth to such a spiritual being, and blessed is his devotion to his great guru.

—July 2010, Ganga Darshan, Munger