Satyananda Purana

Rishi Vasishthananda, Acharya, Satyananda Ashram Canada, Ontario, Canada

During the conference this week we heard several excellent talks that raised a lot of issues, which I was going to talk about in my talk. So I've changed my mind and my talk is going to be entirely different. The main thing I want to say now is that there is so much good evidence that was presented during this conference that the scientific investigations into the results and the resulting efficacy of yoga are in good hands. You have heard about yoga in different institutions; in schools, in prisons and also about individual activities happening elsewhere, so I think we've pretty much convinced you that we are on the right path. Therefore, I want to do something totally different, since this is the last talk of the conference. That is, to give you the vision that I have of this conference, and of Sri Swami Satyananda.

I will give you an outline of what I call the 'Satyananda Purana':

Ardhanarishwara, in the form of Paramahamsa Satyananda, was sitting in satya loka. And he wondered, "What is happening in the world? Maybe it is time for me to go there again." He thought about Bhagavata Purana, and how Brahma created his various creations, and what he had thought at the time of creation.

When Brahma comes, who comes with him? The Saptarishis, the seven sages. Who are the Saptarishis? They are the shishtha. What does shishtha mean? Leftovers. What are they the leftovers of? The previous kalpa or manvantara, age. They bring all the knowledge from the previous kalpa which existed before the pralaya, the final deluge, and bring it to the next one. Who else comes with Brahma? The Manus, or fathers of the human race;seven of them at the beginning and seven of them at the end of a mahakalpa. The seven at the beginning bring the genes of the previous kalpa and the seven at the end take genes from this present kalpa to the next.

You have been hearing about yoga in education. I will now tell you in this Purana why all of this makes sense, why yoga in education is relevant, and why the effects of yoga are so beneficial at this stage. When Manu in Manava Dharma Shastra talked about the four ashramas in human life, he mentioned brahmachararya, the pupil stage; next is grihastha, the householder stage, which includes most of you; then vanaprastha, retirement from worldly life;and finally sannyasa, renunciation. Here we are concerned only with brahamacharya.

What happens in brahmacharya? How many years are spent in brahmacharya ashrama? Let's say twenty-one years, divided three ways into seven, seven and seven. What happens in the first seven years? Mastery of the physical body. We have to learn how to walk, to go to the bathroom, everything; we learn how to use the physical body. What happens when you become a bal yogiin the next seven years? Ah! Physical exercise is not so important; it is now emotional development, social development and social discipline. Is that not exactly what the bal yogis of Bal Yoga Mitra Mandal are expressing? You see it here in the thousands. What happens in the next seven years? You have to master, at least in regards to the physical world, the use of manas, mind. You go to university to get a degree, you get a job, then you become a grihastha.

Now what happens when you are a grihastha? You may have to act according to adharma, unrighteousness. Why? Because you say, "My family is my people, therefore I will do anything for my family because that is grihastha dharma, and I may do things regarding others that are not completely according to dharma." It is part of existing in this world; sometimes you have to tell little lies, sometimes you may decide unfairly in favour of your family and against social good. You have to care for your family; that is your dharma.

According to Manu, when your eldest son takes over the grihastha duties, you become a vanaprasthi. I like to call vanaprasthis 'unpaid social workers' because of what are they doing, namely, following the goal of dharma. Especially think of all of you who are vanaprasthis and who are karma sannyasins. You are paying back any dharma you may have violated with regard to others when you were in the grihastha ashrama.

Coming back to the education part: in the first seven years of brahmacharya you learn how to master the body. Of course the emotions and the mind are there, just like the gunas. All the gunas are always there; one is predominant, the others are subservient. Similarly, you also cultivate the emotions and the mind, but the body is the main thing. Second are the emotions: kama manas or kamarupa. And finally, manas, or manomaya kosha in Samkhya or Vedanta. In this way, after twenty-one years you are ready for life as a grihastha.

So we see that the things that were told to us in the lectures this week fit very nicely into this scheme. All the activities described by the individuals seated behind me on the podium, belonging to the Bihar School of Yoga, and of course, Swamiji and Swami Satsangi, fall within this classification I have given you and show the appropriateness of what is happening and what we are doing.

Now back to our Purana, where we envision Mahesh watching all of this and he is talking to the future manushis, or human beings. Who are the manushis? You and me. What does it mean to be a manushi? You have manas. What is the job of a manushi? To master matter. How do I know that? Because Manu said, "You have to do the following samskaras, including worship of the pitris", which means you have to worship Agnishwattas, Barhishads, etc.

Who are the Agnishwattas? Agnishwattas are one class of our pitris, our ancestors. They existed on the mental plane and their outermost body or their sthoola sharira was mental, and their task was to perfect mental matter. From them we inherit our mental body, which in our stage of immersion in grosser matter is a relatively subtle body. They have given us a body that was for them the outermost body,the sthula sharira. So manas was their vehicle as well as the matter that they had to master in order to give us a perfect vehicle into which to incarnate, consisting of manas. We don't have to learn how to make the mind work; it works on its own. It is like a natural product that was prepared for us by the Agnishwattas.

Then comes kamarupa or kamamanas, mind coloured by kama or desire. How are you going to get these manushis, these mental beings, sitting happily up there with Mahesh in heaven to come here, to get involved with this samsara, with all this illness, suffering, death? How are you going to do it? Through kama; only kama will draw manushis to this world, and it is kama which attaches you to the world. However, in pravritti marga, or the path of involution of consciousness in matter, it is necessary, because our job is to master our matter.

So then Sri Swamiji thought, 'If we do all these things and this is our duty, and we get involved in samsara and we have all these obligations, how do we get out of it?' He said, 'Aha! Chhandogya Upanishad teaches panchagni for this in the case of a sadhaka of the highest caliber! 'Panchagni is the sadhana of the five fires. The first fire, according to Chhandogya Upanishad, is Surya. What is Surya the symbol of? It is the symbol of manas and sight. Manas is the mind, which is the true organ of sight perceiving the objective world, the world outside.

The next fire is Soma. Soma is the moon, and moon connotes the emotions. So, kama, attachment to the world, is the second fire. That gets you out of swarga or heaven into prithvi or earth or worldly life. The next fire is something that is one hundred percent misunderstood, in both the West and the East. I'm trying to be scientific and also true to the shastras in what I tell you. I'm not just making it up.

There is a tradition – and it's not only in India – that says our lowest body, sthoola sharira, is pranamaya kosha, the pranic body. It says the annamaya kosha, the material body, is simply a bunch of matter collected together by the force field that is pranamaya kosha, and that manushis don't extend beyond the pranamaya kosha. That is why we have to learn how to use the body when we are brahmacharis, because we have to send the signals from pranamaya kosha through the brain to the body before it does what we want it to do. Therefore, the job on hand with us is to master matter, and in order to do that we have a physical body, which is really an outer shell of our real nature.

We have heard in the talks this past week that through physics, we have almost mastered physical matter. We know what to do with it. We may not understand it completely, but we know what to do with it. Through genetic science, we know how the biological processes work, and we also know almost completely how biology works, how living things work. This means that our job as manushis is almost done. The only problem is that we have lagged behind in developing our higher faculties because of our involvement in matter. This is where authentic yoga sadhana, as Swami Satyananda Saraswati taught and as represented by the Bihar School of Yoga, becomes all important.

This brings us back to panchagni. The third fire is what takes you into pranamaya kosha, and fires four and five are mother and father. Mother and father are two fires and they join to give you a body. They are the pitris that give you the physical body, the Kameshwaras or Barhishads are the ones that give you the emotional nature, and the Agnishwattas are the ones that give you the mental nature, and they correspond respectively to the lokas bhu, bhuvah and swah, the three worlds or tripura.

What does panchagni mean? According to Chhandogya Upanishad and Brihadaranyak Upanishad, it means that you pass through these five fires when you are born. According to the yogis, when you do panchagni sadhana, you turn the process of birth around at the time of voluntary death or true mahasamadhi and you pass through the five fires in reverse order, leaving your current embodiment in the three worlds. However, the big problem with that is how to interpret the father and mother fires. The mother is kundalini and the father is Shiva. You dissolve these two into each other and you go up through the fires and you experience mahasamadhi, as Sri Swamiji showed us, and Swami Satsangi described in some of her writings, because she was fortunate enough to be there at Sri Swamiji's mahasamadhi.

Presently it seems that the Kali Yuga is over or is almost over, they argue about it, but never mind. The point is that the mastery of the biological world, of the physical world, is close at hand. The next step is to become free of the world again, and that is to be done through yoga. With yoga you purify those three dimensions of the lower nature, and the main thing is that you turn manas – which is directed outwards via kama – towards buddhi, which is directed inwards via bhakti towards atma and Paramatama, and that corresponds to the vijnanamaya kosha, the psychic, intuitive body, referred to in Vedanta.

There are two more things I want to mention. One is that when Mahesh says to the manushis, "You've got to incarnate," there are four who say, "No." Who are they? The Kumaras, the four Kumaras. The four Kumaras say, "No no no no, we are not going to incarnate in these gross bodies, no, we will wait until they have evolved further." According to the Puranas, they become cursed and they have to incarnate later. They go to Dakshinamurti, an aspect of Shiva, and Dakshinamurti seats them in front of him and teaches them their message, their job, their mission. So the Kumaras receive their mission from Mahesh, and what is it? To connect buddhi to manas to create vijnanamaya kosha, and then you will have created the true human being. The true human being exists only because of the Kumaras.

Now, the final point. Why did Sri Swamiji, according to the Satyananda Purana, do what he did in Rikhia? Well, if our job is almost done – we've practically mastered matter, we've practically mastered biological existence – what's left to be done? Divinize the three puris, the three cities. Divinize human life physically, emotionally and mentally. You do it by leading the divine life, which was Paramguru Swami Sivananda's message. When you incarnate, you forget what you knew in heaven; Sri Swamiji forgot what he thought in satya loka. He needed Swami Sivananda to tell him, "This is your mission." That's when Sri Swamiji remembered it.

Sri Swamiji had also forgotten his second mission in Rikhia. However, he was humble, he always asked, he did not think he knew it all, so he asked Tryambakeshwar. And Tryambakeshwar said, "Okay, remember your second mission." Therefore, Sri Swamiji, sitting in satya loka, splits himself from what represented Ardhanarishwara, Shiva and Shakti, into two. They sit to his right and left; the one on the right is Shiva and the one on the left is Shakti, but we know them better as Swami Niranjan and Swami Satsangi. Sri Swamiji says, "You will have to do the work when I'm gone. When I leave this job, you carry on."

Why is he doing what he is doing in Rikhia? Because he is divinizing that which we have mastered through science, namely matter; making it divine through yajna, through puja. What is it but purification? Purifying thoughts, purifying emotions, purifying actions, purifying everything. That's what is happening in Rikhia. However, in this world of time and space you have to have two centres of evolutionary forces, so we have the Bihar School of Yoga, which allows you to perfect yourself to become a fully effective grihastha. You can also become a sannyasin, but there are more grihasthas than sannyasins, so we should worry most about you grihasthas.

Manu said that grihastha is the most important ashrama – not sannyasa but grihastha, because it is the grihastha who supports brahmacharya, vanaprastha and sannyasa. In the shastras there is also mention of avadhoota grihastha, householder renunciate, whereas what Sri Swamiji was doing in Rikhia was sannyasa avadhoota. Therefore, in the tradition you can even be an avadhoota as a grihastha. As Sri Swamiji always taught, "Don't leave your life, make it divine. When the time comes you can take sannyasa or karma sannyasa, but first work on yourself through yoga, and work selflessly for others. Purification takes place through work for others, selfless work."

I think my time is up, except to say this: if it is our duty to work for the purification of human society and the world at large, then there is a lot of work for us to do, both at the Bihar School of Yoga and at Rikhiapeeth.

—Address, 27 October 2013, Polo Ground, Munger