When I was young I didn't know anything about yoga. During my student life I was always healthy. I have never had any physical, mental or emotional problems. After completing my formal education I went to Swami Sivananda, my guru, in Rishikesh. I didn't go to him in order to learn yoga. All I wanted was a more complete life. I had a philosophy and a religion of my own. I had definite views about life and I didn't want to be in the same category as my parents. I wanted to be different from them. I asked my father, "Are you happy with your way of life?" He said, "No." So I asked, "Then why do you want me to live like that? Let me make a different life for myself."
I went to my guru to live a monastic life, to evolve my personality and my whole being. I lived with him for twelve years and after that I lived a homeless life as a parivrajaka, a wandering mendicant, for nine years. During my period of wandering, I went all over India and I came to Nepal several times, not as a preacher, but as a beggar. I also went to Afghanistan, Burma and Ceylon. I traveled by foot, bullock cart, elephant, train and plane. While I was wandering, I realized how much man was suffering. Wherever I went, people came to me with their problems and I had no answer for them.
In 1956, I came to Munger and decided to find a solution for people. I had a solution for myself and I didn't need hatha yoga, raja yoga or karma yoga. However, humanity was suffering and I felt that yogic techniques could definitely provide a solution for them. What about medical science, psychiatry and prosperity? People have those methods and still they are suffering which means that they are not the solution. The answer had to be found somewhere else.
I stayed in Munger on and off from 1956 to 1963. In 1963 I found the answer: yoga. Munger is a backward place and the property which was given to me there for founding an ashram was small, but I stayed because Munger is the place where I found a solution for the suffering of humanity.
I am not opposed to any other system of physical exercise. I have studied almost all of them, including judo and karate, but I know that they are limited. The contribution of yoga to humanity is far greater as a messenger of peace. We need yoga practices such as yoga nidra, prana vidya, neti and dhauti. Guru Gorakhnath, one of the most important exponents of hatha yoga, has explained in his book Goraksha Samhita what hatha yoga is. When you have mastered hatha yoga, you can go on to the practice of meditation.
Meditation is not necessarily concentration on God, but it is realization of the inner dimension of your personality. You have much more within than you know. Man is infinite. His mind is powerful and capable, but he has not realized this yet. The individual awareness is potentially cosmic. Therefore, it is important that everybody should devote ten minutes each day to its discovery.
With meditation, dhyana yoga, you start a new chapter in your life. Once you are involved in dhyana yoga, doing your practices in the correct way, your experiences and personality will become steady and lasting. Your attitude towards yourself and your life will be fantastic.
—23 February 1977, Lion's Club, Kathmandu, Nepal