Comm-Union of Yoga

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

The journey of the Golden Jubilee celebrations began in 2009 when, in the month of June, my guru Sri Swami Satyananda called me and said that the Golden Jubilee of the Bihar School of Yoga was only a few years away. "You will celebrate it! Right?" he said. "Of course," I replied. Then he said in Hindi, "Khoob dhoomdhaam se manana," which literally means, 'celebrate with great pomp and splendour'. I said, "It will be as you wish."

Sri Swamiji attained mahasamadhi in December 2009, and for the year that followed there was no time to think about the Convention. The formalities of Shraddhanjali, the rituals performed to honour the mahasamadhi of a sage of Sri Swamiji's caliber, were completed by the end of 2010, and the year 2011 was spent immersed in sadhana and visiting the teerthas in Sri Swamiji's footsteps. When 2012 dawned, thoughts of the Convention returned. During the 2012 Basant Panchami program, held at the end of January, we made a formal announcement inviting all to join in the preparations. Thereafter, preliminary meetings were held with town planners and citizens of Munger. The defining day, however, was 6th February 2012, when after the performance of the Sri Yantra Abhisheka at the Akhara, I went to my room and did yoga nidra. During the practice, I felt a download of information in my brain. When I came out of the practice, the entire plan for the Convention was crystal clear in my mind.

The next morning, I called a sannyasin and said, "Come with a clean diary." She said, "Shall I bring a notebook?" I replied, "No, I want a diary." I wanted a yearly diary with clean pages for each of the 365 days. When she arrived with the diary I said, "Okay, now sit down and start writing." For three hours, I dictated and filled the whole diary of three hundred and sixty-five pages with a detailed plan of the Convention, by days, weeks, months, departments, people; everything was outlined. This happened on 7th February 2012. Everything that was downloaded in my mind was written down. That done, I said to the sannyasin, "Now remind me of the Convention after Guru Poornima 2013."

The work of preparing for the Golden Jubilee and the World Yoga Convention started then and I began to think what the theme of the Convention should be. The spiritual and yogic tradition and culture in India has become like a huge banyan tree, under whose shade yogis meditate and even thieves, robbers and dacoits count their money. This is the umbrella of spirituality under which we all sit, some as tapasvis, yogis and sadhakas, some as commercial opportunists to propagate their own agendas.

Purity of tradition

We belong to the tradition of tapasvis, yogis and sadhakas. This tradition is visible from the time of our paramguru, Swami Sivananda. He did not strive for any commercial gain through his wisdom, knowledge and power. Although he was a popular and famous person, there were times when there was nothing to eat in the ashram. Yet his motto and ideal remained selfless service and not self-oriented accumulation of wealth and power. In this way, he lived the life of a tapasvi, a yogi, a siddha and a sevak.

That same spirit is seen effulgent in Sri Swamiji. While having all the options and opportunities to 'become the messiah', he chose the path of tyaga, tapasya, yoga and selfless service. He did not desire anything for himself, for status, name or fame. The only motivation in his life and the only inspiration he gave to all who came in contact with him was to bring a smile of happiness on the faces of people, and to wipe their tears of pain and sadness.

These tapasvis and siddhas created the foundation of yoga and spirituality, and the Bihar School of Yoga has been propagating their teachings for the last fifty years. It is a very solid foundation and we hope that the future generations will maintain the purity, the sanctity, and the classical and traditional aspects of spirituality and yoga. It is this that survives, not the add-ons or fluff that people attach to the subject of spirituality or yoga. All the fluff that people add in the form of hot and cold, power and no power yoga, are only indications of a mind set wanting to be identified differently and acquire name and fame, guided by financial and commercial motivations.

If you want to help humanity through a tradition and a science, a vidya, then the purity, integrity and sanctity of the tradition and the teachings have to be maintained. Otherwise, despite all the vidyas in the world, there will be no salvation, growth or evolution for humankind. It has been the attempt of the Bihar School of Yoga, Ganga Darshan Vishwa Yogapeeth, to maintain the systems and the teachings of spirituality and yoga, as taught by Swami Sivananda and Swami Satyananda, pure and intact, free from the influences and impositions of people and society.

All those who come here must remember that this is a place where discipline and yogic culture are imbibed. It is not a place for flirting away one's time under the guise of spiritual life. This was the inspiration we see in the life of Swami Sivananda and Swami Satyananda, and this is the foundation of the Bihar Yoga tradition, of Ganga Darshan Vishwa Yogapeeth, Munger.

Fifty years of accomplishing the mandate

In the last fifty years, yoga has become a household word. Fifty years ago, Sri Swamiji had pronounced that 'yoga is the culture of tomorrow'. Fifty years ago, Swami Sivananda had given the mandate 'to spread yoga from door to door and from shore to shore'. Since the mandate and the pronouncement, fifty years have gone by. In this period, yoga has undoubtedly gone from door to door and from shore to shore: as a practice, a way of life, an academic subject, a subject of research, a subject of implementing in one's life. The mandate given to Sri Swamiji by his guru, Swami Sivananda, is fulfilled; there is nothing lacking. That mandate is complete and over.

In these fifty years, the aspiration and pronouncement of Sri Swamiji that yoga will become the culture of tomorrow, is also being realized, as more and more people become aware of what yoga has to offer. This relates not only in terms of physical health and practice, but also mental health and practice, and spiritual awareness and practice. People are realizing that yoga is not a religion, that the aspirations of yoga are different from those of religion.

Many types of yoga have come up in the world, some focusing on physical aspects, some on mental, and some on a pseudo-spiritual/religious aspect. Nonetheless, in these last fifty years that I have been a witness to the development of yoga around the globe and seen the effort put in for the propagation of yoga by my guru and others who have followed him, I find that the understanding of yoga is incomplete in both the East and the West even today. If you look at human society and the yoga studios and centres that exist around the world, in many countries and India, what are they teaching? What are they doing? Teaching hatha yoga to slim the waistline? That defeats the purpose of yoga. Teaching asana and pranayama for health also defeats the purpose of yoga. If you look at the hatha, raja, jnana or bhakti yoga centres around the world, they are each teaching only one-tenth of yoga. How many centres in the world teach holistic yoga as conceived by Swami Sivananda and as propagated by Swami Satyananda? A handful.

New yogic mandate

While the hatha yoga and the raja yoga centres will fail in the next five years' time, the need for yoga for the development of an integrated human personality is going to increase manifold. In this area, Satyananda Yoga has a lot to contribute and offer. Therefore, when thinking as to what should be the theme of the Convention, I chose three words: seriousness, sincerity and commitment to yoga. I am not saying 'practice of yoga'; I am not using the term 'yogic lifestyle'. I am using three very specific, non-abstract words. How you understand and define sincerity is up to you. If you are sincere, you will know what it means, and if you are not sincere you will never know its meaning.

Seriousness is to go deep into something. Sri Swamiji often says that if you want to get water from the ground, do not dig fifty holes one-foot-deep. Instead, dig one hole that is fifty-feet deep and you will find water. The yogis, yoga teachers and students of today are like those who dig a hundred holes that are only one-foot deep. Therefore, people are still not enlightened, nor is their kundalini awakened; they cannot face their own moods and stresses, despite being involved with yoga for twenty, thirty or forty years. They do not have control over the vrittis. Thus, seriousness, sincerity and commitment have to become the words that every yoga aspirant follows, emanates and lives.

This is the statement of the Bihar School of Yoga. The Bihar School of Yoga IS Swami Sivananda, Swami Satyananda and Swami Niranjanananda. This tradition, received from Swami Sivananda through Swami Satyananda to us, is going to be the tradition of the future. Mark my words. This World Yoga Convention has become the stepping-stone into the new world of yoga that will develop and evolve in the years to come.

What we witnessed and experienced during the Convention was something extraordinary. While everyone was fully engaged in the external events, a tectonic shift took place in the unified consciousness present here; how each individual experienced it depended on their receptivity, and how they will carry it forward will depend on their sincerity, seriousness and commitment. Many people came up to me and said, "Swamiji, despite the numbers, despite the long queues, despite the range of activities, despite the lack of sleep and so much to do, we feel so peaceful and calm." What they were referring to is real yoga: samatvam between the outer and the inner, and the Convention became the medium to have a glimpse of this state. People also expressed their delight at the number of activities they could engage in, but remember, the intention was not entertainment. Every activity was a 'neuro-bion injection' into an aspect of the personality, whether the mind, the emotions, the pranas, the psyche – even the legs were exercised with all the walking required! The sum total gave a true experience of integral yoga: seen in the harmony shared by all. Now, this must become the reference point for how you perceive, practise or propagate yoga.

At the deliberations, the majority of the speakers were not spiritual masters but yoga sadhakas who have been practising and propagating yoga in the past thirty or forty years and are trying to live yoga in its true essence. Their experiences provided a real understanding of the yogic journey across the globe since the inauguration of the Bihar School of Yoga. At this Convention we also applied the latest technology, whether for security, procedures or information dissemination. In the future, yoga and modern science will play a complementary role. Above all, however, it was the presence of grace and gurus that made this Convention outstanding. Sri Swamiji's guiding hand could be felt in every aspect of the Convention, assuring us that he would continue to lead us forward. I could just imagine him looking down at all of us and smiling, for we had accomplished what he asked us to: the Golden Jubilee was celebrated with yogic 'dhoomdhaam', with great dignity and great splendour.

The future

As the outcome of this Convention, many old systems and methods will be replaced, and within a few years you will see the new systems and methods that will be put in place. Those people who follow this system and tradition will have the responsibility to ensure that the sanctity and purity of the tradition is not diluted. In the coming years, a new direction and motivation will be given to all yoga aspirants, teachers and students. Those who have the ability will become part of it, and those who do not have the ability will be a witness for the development of something much more sustainable, substantial, intense and powerful to touch the lives of people. This is the vision of the World Yoga Convention and of the Bihar School of Yoga, whose Golden Jubilee we have celebrated. This is the offering from all of us to our guru parampara, Sri Swami Sivananda and Sri Swami Satyananda.

Finally, I would also like to say 'thank you' to all the people who have contributed to the fulfillment of this vision of Sri Swamiji in their own manner. In whatever way you have done it, half a percent or one hundred percent, thank you for your contribution to make this vision a reality.

—6 November 2013, Ganga Darshan