How I Met My Guru

One morning, reading my daily paper, I came across an advertisement stating that the Bihar School of Yoga, Munger, will be having a program with Swami Niranjanananda on 25th, 26th and 27th July 2014 at Swabhoomi, Salt Lake. Now this rings a bell! Is it the same school where I and my daughter had done a short yoga course with the Sports Authority of India (SAI) in the same stadium some sixteen years back in 1999? I rummaged through my file of certificates, and sure enough it is the same Bihar School of Yoga. It had been a learning experience for me then; the techniques taught by the teachers had left a deep impression.

I had bought the book Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha by Swami Satyananda Saraswati with illustrations. Any question on yoga, right posture, you name it and it was there. I would solve a lot of yoga queries by consulting the book which became a bible for me and all answers were authentic and correct.

A feeling of belonging

With this previous experience in mind,I decided to attend the program out of plain curiosity on 25th, 26th and 27th July 2014 at Swabhoomi, Salt Lake. Swabhoomi is a beautiful place. We were asked to assemble in the hall at 5.45 am every morning and in the evening at 6 pm. I was very keen to see Swami Niranjanananda. In the evening all the guests, participants, assembled in the hall with abated breath and there appears Swamiji in geru attire. A stately, regal, dignified personality with a majestic walk enters. He looks like a prince from the epics. My imagination takes me to Lord Vishnu.

I am simply awed, and when he starts his discourse, I realize he is an excellent orator. His English is immaculate, clear diction, and wonderful pronunciation like a foreigner. Though to be very honest some of his sayings were beyond my comprehension, and went above my head, as they were high spiritual thoughts unknown to me. But in between he came up with jokes, anecdotes, stories, which I enjoyed thoroughly, as he undoubtedly had the gift of the gab.

The best part that I found in him were his deep eyes which seemed to look at each and every member in the hall. In between he would address an old devotee and ask him for some detail, some information or enquire about his welfare in the most casual, intimate, informal manner, unbecoming I thought for a Swamiji of such high competence, recognition and royalty.

Yes! And that is when I got a strong feeling of belonging; this was someone who was approachable, simple, yet had dynamism and magnetism in him.

Finally, at last – diksha

The next day an announcement was made that those who were interested in taking diksha from Swamiji should fill in a form and be present on Sunday the 27th in the morning. I was thrilled! The excitement I cannot put into words. At last, finally at the age of 65, I have found my 'guru'. Among Hindus it is said, 'You don't choose your guru, you are destined, and your guru chooses you.' I really don't know how far this is true or a fact, but the very thought made me happy.

Those who were to take 'diksha' were seated on the ground and were asked to sit in sukhasana. We were sitting at a distance from each other with a white silk stole in front of us, which was later put on us. The whole 'diksha ceremony' was very solemn. Finally we were asked to close our eyes and meditate. Then Swamiji, as I came to know later, put the rudraksha japa mala over our heads and the mantra initiation booklet, with the diksha mantra written on it and also the date of initiation, beside us. The booklet had a photograph of Swamiji's guru, Paramahamsa Satyananda, and his guru Swami Sivananda Saraswati, and our mantra sadhana.

I have had experience of a few organizations where we have been asked to donate or contribute something for the organization, but here to my utter surprise we were given gifts in the form of 'prasadam' every day in the evening. This was a new revelation; here was an organization totally in contrast with any organization known to me. This is the most memorable experience of my life – having a guru.

PS: Eight months after this encounter, I have come to Ganga Darshan. I am as awed and inspired as I was then in Kolkata.

Jignasu Kalikripa, Kolkata