Fostering Integration

I was living in Nepal between 2005–2009. This period marked a height in both social disharmony and desire for national and personal recovery. During this time, Swami Ramdev was an accessible and popular yoga resource. A standard channel aired his morning show. Seeing people practise in the open and overhearing discussions in homes and cafes, it was clear people were tuning in.

I traveled through urban and rural Nepal and was also practising and teaching what I had learned from Bihar School of Yoga. Everyone I met, cosmopolitan businessman or sustenance farmer, wanted to know more about yoga. There was a hunger to learn yoga practices, especially for the possible benefits of reducing tension and slimming the body.

Curious to see what yoga references and guides were available to the public, I searched the places I visited and found very little. In Kathmandu, there were one or two books related to Swami Ramdev in standard book stores, and APMB in the esoteric or tourist book stores. In rural Nepal, there was only Swami Ramdev's TV show.

I give this background context to highlight the simplicity, efficiency and integrating effect of Bihar Yoga practices and teaching style, which was exemplified by Swami Niranjan leading the asana session. The standing practices – tadasana, tiryak tadasana, kati chakrasana – were new for nearly everyone. Swamiji asked those familiar with the practices to help the participants. I moved through many rows of people, assisting when needed, and guessed they might get it by the last day. Yet, the next day, I had a very different perspective from the stage: there was complete synchronicity. I watched the crowd move in perfect unison as an integrated whole rather than individuals.

I was in Nepal during constant security checks, bombings, intense violence and prolonged mental and civil unrest. To personally witness an entire city coming together and moving in unison, acting in unison, made a very deep impression. Days three and four maintained that integrity.

Captivating young and old

I would like to share one more observation in regard to the evening satsangs. Swamiji introduced hatha yoga, raja yoga, bhakti yoga and karma yoga over three evenings very systematically. Even though the content of the satsang was familiar to me, through being involved in the Bihar School of Yoga, I found myself listening with a fresh and engaged mind. Swamji conveyed large, interconnected ideas with simplicity and lucidity, in a manner that was relevant and digestible for all.

This is significant considering a new generation of youth that is inculcated by media – twenty-four hour access to radio, TV and internet. Nepal has been sheltered for many hundreds of years and has been a largely self-sufficient country. It is agriculture based. When you visit the village, you meet family upon family who has never needed to leave for anything. They have spring water coming three metres from their kitchen and fruits and vegetables growing around the house. At a basic level, they have the necessities and have been content with that. With the influence of and exposure to the outside world, the population has shifted their attention externally. And as happened in our house, a younger generation has emerged which no longer implicitly values or believes in the accumulated ideas and wisdom of previous generations.

Swamiji presented yoga and spiritual values, ideals and practices in a language that a new generation can accept and understand, right down to the scientific aspect. He spent much time talking about case studies of how yoga has helped people suffering from diabetes, asthma, tension, stress. This had everyone's attention, for in Kathmandu everyone is suffering from those ailments.

So the younger generation was completely captivated, and at the same, as Swamiji was speaking on spiritual ideas, which the older generation very deeply, innately knows, they were captivated as well. That in itself was unification. I felt it was a natural genius coming forth, and people responded; they wanted to be there. By the fourth day, there was considerable excitement when Swamiji announced he would be back every two years and there would be a centre in Nepal. People were already asking by the end of the program, after he had left, "So where is this centre? How can we get information?" I was at a loss. I didn't know what to say other than, "Come to BSY. I think Swamiji is only going to come back if he sees a sincere interest."

I expect to see a lot of Nepalese visiting Ganga Darshan in the near future.

—Sannyasi Satchidananda, Nepal/USA