Message from Munger

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

Welcome to the morning session of the second day of the World Yoga Convention. For me it is a happy and joyous moment when I come here and see the whole world dancing. Munger has lived up to its name, Munger has brought glory to its name, for Munger is the city of yoga.

Even the citizens, the residents, the denizens of Munger are responding in a perfect manner to all the delegates of the Convention, by hosting you, looking after you, greeting you, respecting you, and caring for you. Many delegates and karma sannyasins who are staying in different locations outside the ashram have told me that as they walk on the road, practically everyone greets them with a "Hari Om, Swamiji!" As you walk through the town, this is the greeting from the public for the delegates who have come from all over.

The celebrations are not limited to the city of Munger, either. Globally, people are watching our sessions at the Polo Ground. In fact, yesterday many people travelling to Munger were watching the proceedings on their mobiles and iPads in trains and cars. We have been receiving phone calls from places like Singapore, Australia, the US, South America and Europe, saying, "We wish we could be there! Everything looks superb, gorgeous, beautiful and inspirational, and we wish we were there physically."

The eyes of the world are on Munger for these five days. Everyone is awaiting a message to be transmitted from this World Yoga Convention. Everyone is waiting to hear what the message of yoga will be, and they should. For, yoga is a science, a process, an experience of unity, a unity not only of body, mind and spirit, but a unity of the creative faculties of the head, heart and hands, as stated by our paramguru, Sri Swami Sivananda. This is what we are experiencing here, the multidimensional aspect of yoga. Despite its multi­dimensional aspect, yoga is a science of conscious­ness. Consciousness is the main factor for the development, growth and evolution of every individual, not the senses or the body, but the mind and consciousness. Therefore, yoga becomes the science of mind and consciousness to cultivate the creative and positive faculties, and to cultivate spiritual awareness while living in the material dimension. Just as a bird needs two wings to fly, materialism and spiritualism are the two aspects which allow the growth of an individual in life.

Spirituality is not religion. I wish to make it clear that spiritual experiences and religious experiences are two different things. Here I am talking about spiritual experience. A spiritual experience means to bring out the creative within you, to bring out that which is virtuous, true and beautiful within you. It helps you to express the qualities of Satyam, Shivam and Sundaram, truth, auspiciousness and beauty.

These are the three aspects of the human mind that have to be nurtured and cared for, and this is the attempt of yoga. The attempt of yoga is not samadhi or moksha, although that is written about too. What is the teaching? Has any guru taught samadhi to their student? Never. All gurus have instructed their students to do karma yoga only. Samadhi is written about as the ultimate goal, which is achieved after the cessation of all activities, external and internal. It is achieved when all external and internal activities stop and when you are no longer involved in karma or with the identity of the self, when you are free, when you are a videhamukta, free from the karmas of the body, or when you are a jivanmukta, a liberated soul. Only then is true samadhi experienced. No teacher has taught you how to become a videhamukta or a jivanmukta; every teacher has taught you how to deal with the distracted mind.

What is the meaning of distraction? The prefix 'dis' has come from distance, and 'traction' has the Latin root 'tractus', which means to handle, to bring forth, to put out, to separate, to attract to some other direction. When the intention of the mind is separated from the action, that is distraction. When you find that what you know and what you do are poles apart, that is distraction. The distance, the gap between intention and action is distraction, and everybody suffers from it. Everybody across the board suffers from it.

This distraction is a habit of the mind, and habit is a conditioning that one cannot be free from in a normal manner. You have to use strong medicines, for a habit is deep-rooted. I will give you an example. How do you spell the word 'habit'? H-A-B-I-T. If you want to remove a habit, remove 'h', what will remain? 'A bit' will remain. If you remove 'a', 'bit' will remain. If you remove 'b', 'it' will remain. So you can never actually get rid of a habit, something always remains there. You can reduce it, you can remove the 'h', you can remove 'a', you can remove 'b', you can separate some consonants and vowels, but something will always be left behind. That is the imprint or impression on the mind. When distraction becomes a habit, suffering, uneasiness, tension, stress and dissatisfaction set into your life. It is for this reason that Sage Patanjali says in the Yoga Sutras: Yogah chitta vritti nirodhah. He speaks of yoga as the means to stop the distractions of the mind.

In this Convention we are looking at all aspects of yoga: yoga as a science of consciousness, as a science of wellbeing and health, as a science of the mind, education and samskaras, and as a science of life and culture in the family, in society and in the world.

—Welcome Address, 24 October 2013, Polo Ground, Munger