Qualities of Guru

Swami Satyananda Saraswati

It is not necessary to talk about myself. It is not modesty, but what to say? I am the transmitter. The knowledge does not belong to me. I am a medium, an agent, the middle man. That is my identity. My guru had chosen me.

My guru was Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh. He had many disciples who are now scattered over the world like the fragrance of a flower. They are qualified and wonderful and I am just one among the prominent ones. However, I was chosen in such a way that even my physical frame changed, and my handwriting changed completely and became like Swami Sivananda's.

Wireless messages

I do not like ashrams and never liked disciples. If you have to exhaust your karma and suffer, you must have disciples. Disciples are the agony of the guru. I do not like this business of counting money day and night. I like to be alone even today and I don't like to meet people. That is my nature.

Up to 1963 I was able to do it. And suddenly on 14th July something happened. At midnight I started receiving wireless messages from my guru. Do this, do this, do this, do this. I did not know yoga at all. Yoga was as far as anything from me, for my tradition is Vedanta. I belong to the special order of Advaita Vedanta of the Indian Hindu tradition. I thought that asana and pranayama were just jokes and that drinking water through the nose was useless. However, the messages said, "No, yoga has to be taught, humankind needs it."

From time to time I received those messages. I don't know how to contact him, but he is able to contact me. Sometimes I think it is my fortune and I am blessed. Sometimes I think "Oh, he should not have chosen me, it would have been much better." I would be sleeping on the banks of the Ganga in a dilapidated Shiva temple, and sleep and sleep and sleep.

Meant for a different life

If you expect any power from me, please don't, because what I am delivering to humanity is not my property. Things happen and many people are helped, but I definitely do not claim it upon myself.

At the age of six, I felt suddenly that my body was there, but I did not feel myself. It was a peculiar experience without feeling the link between matter and prana. It was fast, like lightning and it repeated itself. I spoke to my parents and since my father was also an initiated disciple of a famous swami in India, he knew that something was happening to me, but he could do nothing more.

By God's grace, in those days, in 1929, there were not many doctors in India, otherwise they would have given me tranquillizers and my development would have been finished forever. Ultimately I was taken to a few spirit healers or village magicians who did not know what was happening to me.

Spiritual life, monastic life was something I could never understand. My guru has given me sannyasa and I stick to it out of respect for him. Logically I cannot understand it, as I think everybody can be a sannyasin in coat and pants, trousers, saris and frocks. Spiritual luminosity or enlightenment is not a cadre or a sect. Spiritual illumination can happen to anybody, at any time. One does not have to shave one's head and put on a certain garb.

I was always engrossed in intellectual pursuits, reading from Einstein to the mysteries in the Court of London, from the Bible, the Koran, the Vedas, books on sexual sciences, any absurd book. Reading politics, sociology, history and geography, science, day in and day out, that was my life. Or I would go into the forest with a rifle for hunting.

At the age of ten I started hunting and stopped at the age of eighteen, when I first shot a tiger at a short distance. That was my life. Still today, I do not understand how I became a swami, as there are many religious canons I do not accept.

But that first experience happened again and again. My father referred this matter to four or five people. They said, "Send him to an ashram. Give him to a swami." Well, my father did it. He used to ask me for years, "Are you not going for sannyasa?" I said, "Let me complete my education." As soon as the results were out, he took ninety rupees from his pocket, brought me to the bus stand, put me on a bus and said, "Get out. You are meant for a different life."

The shepard

I met many important yogis in India, but I liked Swami Sivananda. The relationship between guru and disciple is the relationship between the master and the medium. I keep myself open. I have my intellectual personality, philosophy and idiosyncrasies in life, but towards him I am completely open, so that his aspirations and wishes can be fulfilled through me.

Many times Swami Sivananda told me, "You have to go from door to door and shore to shore to meet people and tell them to practice meditation." Maybe it is a sort of hallucination, delusion or self-hypnotism. It is hard to say, but when I remember that I am a chela, or disciple, and whenever doubts come into my mind, when I am fed up with all the silly things I am doing, immediately that voice and aura comes, and I receive my next order, "Do it!" I do it and it works.

I am given guidance about my work and people. Many times the people I see, I have already seen. If I have to pick up one among my disciples for my work I know it well, for that face has already been shown to me. I know what I am going to do in which country. This is the glory of the guru and therefore we should try to become good disciples.

Everybody must have a guru. If you are a good aspirant, even a charlatan guru cannot cheat you. If you only wait for a great guru to come, please keep on waiting. Such gurus are not born everyday like swines and pigs and dogs. Search for a guru and try to correct your inner self.

As many things have happened in my life against my personal wishes, I don't know what is in store for me. Perhaps I do not want things and they are happening. However, I have completely submitted myself to his will, so let things happen. Guru is the shepherd, so let him take care of us.

—3 April 1982, Casablanca, Morocco