Celebrating 55 Years of BSY

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

This year we are celebrating the 55th year of Bihar School of Yoga. The first chapter of the activities of Bihar School of Yoga came to an end in 2013. It was the chapter of yoga propagation. Yoga for health and yoga for peace, that was the first chapter and the propagation period. That was the need of the time. Everybody was looking for some means to experience health and be healthy, and some means to overcome stress and anxiety and experience peace.

For fifty years, health and peace became the focus of the propagation. A lot of research was done by Sri Swami Satyananda and by other people – scientific, medical, theoretical research to see the efficacy of yoga in the management of many physiological, psychological and spiritual disorders. Yoga was also introduced in many industries, departments, private and government sectors, for people to manage their anxieties, stress and pressures, for children to overcome their addictions which they faced, for prisoners to experience tranquillity and joy in the environment of the prison.

Many projects were taken up in the last fifty years during the first chapter of yoga which established yoga as a subject, a science and a way of life due to the efforts of our master, Sri Swamiji, and of course, many others who are no less contributors to the propagation of yoga in India and the world. However, Sri Swamiji is unique for he stands out as the propagator of holistic yoga and an ever-evolving yoga.

Satyananda Yoga

From 2014 to 2017, for four years, we took our time to re-assess the need according to the time now. Even knowledge has to be imparted according to the need of the people. Many other founders of so-called schools of thought like Buddha and Mahavir lived a life of tyag, renunciation, they lived a life of aparigraha, non-possessiveness, they lived a life of sadhana, effort, continuous effort to become better. They lived a rigorous life and their lifestyle, their sadhanas are taught to the followers, not to the public. To the public, they only taught one thing – non-violence. Buddha had his set of practices and sadhanas, disciplines and systems, but to the public he preached only the idea of ahimsa and everything else was for the bhikhus, the followers, who had renounced and were living the same life as Buddha. Similarly, Mahavir, who did the same and similarly, Swami Satyananda, he too did the same thing.

I remember in the early days of our training he taught us the whole yoga but when we went out to teach yoga we found that people could not do what we were able to do. Not even sit in lotus pose for half an hour. Who can sit in lotus pose for half an hour? There are limitations. So we had to change the entire system of teaching and only limited practices became known as Satyananda Yoga, not the whole yoga.

What was known as Satyananda Yoga? Pawanmuktasana parts one, two and three, standing, forward bending, backward bending, balancing asanas. Beyond that you can't even do any of the intermediate or advanced asanas. You are happy stretching, so stretch, but you are incapable of doing scorpion pose, or peacock pose, for example. So simple and basic practices were selected to teach as asana.

Out of the whole range of pranayama, only three or four: nadi shodhana, bhramari, kapalbhati, bhastrika, the common ones. Out of the whole range of pratyahara, only yoga nidra, antar mouna, ajapa japa, trataka, chidakasha dharana. Only these few practices became known as Satyananda Yoga which is known globally, but this is not the vision of yoga that Sri Swamiji had. What you call Satyananda Yoga and is taught everywhere in the world is a limited part of the yoga that Sri Swamiji lived, experienced and taught. Now is the time to deepen that awareness and the experience of yoga. Over the last four years we have worked on it.

Bihar School of Yoga has taken up a big undertaking in the first six months of the year to conduct 350 yoga seminars throughout the country. The process has started; the work has started. In six months, 350 yoga seminars throughout the country is not a small thing. We have started from the south because it is warm there and once the weather changes, the activities will move to the north. Right now, activities have started in Western India and in Southern India. Northern India and North-Western India are left for the season to improve. Then, in the course of time, there will be wandering yatras, padayatra, in Munger district, where people will go from village to village, town to town, conducting yoga seminars to present the new dimension of yoga which has been worked out by the Bihar School of Yoga over these last four years, to introduce the concept of Yoga Chakra and to identify those able teachers who can carry forward this new vision of yoga. Those teachers will be given the methodology to teach the new systems of yoga to deepen their own experience of yoga.

This year is a big year for Bihar School of Yoga because the new chapter is starting officially. Until now, research was done. This year we bring it to teachers and from next year, those teachers will propagate it to people in the world. Then every five years, we are having a special program. Every five years there will be a marker to go another step further. So the scope of BSY is increasing day by day. The research, the investigation, the understanding, the application, the implementation is increasing day by day. At least mine is!

It was said that Maharishi Vedavyasa put up his hands in despair for people were not listening to him. I also put up my hands every day and bring them down every night. I also put up my hands saying, 'No. No, it is too difficult for me. Nobody is following it. But then I bring my hands down and say, 'No! You are not to look at other people, whether they can do it or not. You remain connected to the vision of your Guru in which you will always do what he wants you to do. That makes me bring my hands down again, every time I put them up.

Cherish your intention

I do notice the limitations of people, more intensely than before. I can read the intentions of people, I can read their efforts and sometimes it is disturbing and dejecting to see that there is no willpower in any person to stand up for what is right, what is correct and what needs to be done. The lack of confidence in people is something that is anti-yoga and anti-spirituality. There is weakness in the lives of people and they are not able to stand up for yoga and for dharma.

There has to be commitment, sincerity and there has to be seriousness otherwise yoga will not lead you anywhere, sannyasa will not lead you any where and your life will not lead you anywhere. Without these three things you are a failure in the material world, you are failure in family life, you are a failure in your profession, you are a failure in sannyasa.

It is the weakness of human nature that has to be looked into now and how that weakness can be strengthened with the principles and practices of yoga. The time of asana and pranayama is gone. That was the need of the 60s and 70s and 80s and 90s. Now is the time to make a commitment to live a better life, a better organized life in which we are able to express the creativity of our actions and mind; that will make us into true human beings, and that is the purpose of Bihar School of Yoga.

I give my best wishes to Bihar School of Yoga, a place where I grew up and lived. I was a part of its management team until 2008. In 2008, I retired and handed over the charge to the future generations. I am happy to see that in continuation to that tradition, the future generations are here. On their shoulders falls the responsibility not to live a whimsical life, but to live the life that Swami Sivananda lived and that Swami Satyananda lived. They have the responsibility to live their teachings so that in future they can be the carrier of the teachings of Swami Sivananda and Swami Satyananda.

I wish Bihar School of Yoga a happy and fulfilling birthday. I wish BSY all success in the future and until now I have seen, the way things have been moving with difficulty, with struggles but always advancing. That is the trait of a sannyasin and that is the trait of Bihar School of Yoga too. No matter what comes, hail or thunderstorm, rocks or hot winds, you just have to protect yourself and keep on walking. Just as in these adverse conditions, you have to protect yourself to keep on walking, you have to hide your face from the biting winds, cover your body from the biting cold, in the same manner, you have to protect your own spiritual intention in all situations, at all times, in all circumstances.

Don't allow that spiritual intention to wither and die because you are unable to look after it. Your body will wither and die if you don't look after it. Do you want your best inspiration and motivation in life to die because you are unable to look after it? No, don't make that mistake. Cherish that moment which has inspired you to achieve greater heights, greater wisdom. Cherish those moments and then you will become a yogi, and if you become a yogi by doing that, then the vision of the founders of BSY will be complete.

Hari Om Tat Sat.

—22 January 2018, 55th Foundation Day of BSY, Ganga Darshan, Munger