Thoughts on 21st June 2015

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

Yoga is a discipline to improve the quality of life; a philosophy to attain peace. If you want to experience health, if you want to experience peace, and to evolve, make yoga a part of your lifestyle.

—Swami Satyananda Saraswati

21st June 2015 was declared the International Day of Yoga and represents the international recognition that yoga has gained as a holistic approach to physical well being, mental peace, and emotional balance. Across the globe, millions of people have embraced yoga to attain health and harmony, and to explore their inner potential. The acceptance of the International Day of Yoga proposal, adopted with a record consensus vote at the United Nations General Assembly, was a historic moment for India.

On the occasion of the first International Day of Yoga we offer our deepest respect to the ancient science of yoga, a science of transformation and spiritual evolution perfected and handed down by the ancient sages and seers of humanity over the ages. This is our real spiritual heritage.

To honour and benefit from this heritage, we need to connect with the teachings, the wisdom of yoga as a lifestyle. Only when yoga becomes a lifestyle, there is enhancement of physical health and stamina, development of mental clarity and inner creativity, and an experience of peace and fulfillment from life.

A prophecy come true

The yogic lifestyle is based upon the precepts of practice, awareness, attitude, action, detachment and discrimination. Awareness is the ability to observe and understand the environment, conditions, situations and events that influence us. Attitude involves developing a positive and creative outlook on life, and the ability to convert the negative influences into positive inspirations to improve and encourage others to improve also. Action involves an understanding of how we act, think and interact in the world, which should be assisted by viveka, discrimination: knowing just from unjust, right from wrong, appropriate from inappropriate and universal from limited.

This day is of special importance for the disciples of Swami Satyananda Saraswati, as it marks the fruition of the vakya, the vision and the prophecy, of our Guru, when in 1963 he proclaimed: "Yoga will emerge as a mighty world culture and change the course of world events."

It was Sri Swami Sivananda who realized that the need of modern society was not Vedanta and high spiritual scriptural knowledge, but rather practical, simple, applicable yoga. Yoga was to address the needs of modern man, on the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual level and provide a complete method of transforming the human personality. In 1963 yoga was an unknown word in the West, and in India considered a practice for sannyasins and sadhus who lived in seclusion. As Sri Swamiji said "There was a time when seclusion was a necessity but times have changed and now everyone can practise yoga. Peace and wisdom are everyone's birthright and everyone should make an effort to achieve it."

The disciples of Sri Swami Sivananda, such as Swami Venkatesananda, Swami Satchidananda, Swami Chidananda, Swami Sivananda Radha, Swami Nadabrahmananda, and Swami Satyananda took yoga from Rishikesh, a small hamlet in the foothills of the Himalayas, to all the corners of the globe.

Today, history recognizes the International Day of Yoga. For me it is a day to honour and respect the vision of my Guru, a vision he proclaimed over fifty years ago, and dedicated his life towards. The first International Day of Yoga is an occasion of great significance, for when the words of the guru manifest, all are blessed by the grace, auspiciousness and beauty they reveal.

Yoga as a component of life

As a sannyasin my first duty is to my Guru, Swami Satyananda, and to honour him, his mission and vision of yoga, I have chosen to spend the first International Day of Yoga at the Samadhi of my Guru, at Rikhiapeeth. As a sannyasin I have dedicated myself to working for yoga as a science, a lifestyle and a culture, as I follow the instructions of my Guru to develop and live the vidya of yoga, sannyasa and spiritual life.

Bihar School of Yoga has been receiving numerous invitations from across the world and also from many national organizations, NGOs and government departments, requesting the institution to guide and participate in the celebrations in various locations. The sannyasins of Bihar School of Yoga have lent their full support to the International Day of Yoga and they are conducting a program in Munger to encourage the community and family, to embrace yoga not only as a set of practices, but as a component of daily life.

For the last 53 years, Bihar School of Yoga has worked towards this day, as have other institutes of yoga such as the Divine Life Society, Iyengar, Kaivalyadham, SVYASA, Moraji Desai and many others for whom every day is a day of yoga, and every moment is a yoga moment.

On this day I wish to acknowledge and thank all the supporters of yoga, all those who have worked to uphold this ancient wisdom of our ancestors so that the future generations may benefit from the wisdom, purity, and grace of its teachings. I wish to thank all those who have walked along the path of yoga, whether as teachers, students or well-wishers and friends; you have all contributed to the light of yoga which is now shining in every corner of the world.

I wish to extend my good wishes to all those who have been inspired by the tradition and the teachings of yoga. I hope and pray that the inspiration and the spirit of yoga remains with you and in turn, you are able to assist others on the path of yoga and yogic living.

The resolution for the International Day of Yoga was cosponsored by 177 of the 193 member nations of the United Nations, and it is through their goodwill that this international celebration of yoga is possible. The openness and enthusiasm with which the world community has embraced yoga and the collective goodwill that yoga has inspired, is a matter of great happiness and joy which all can share, and history will remember forever.