Guru and Disciple

From Satyam Jyoti, Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

Prior to Munger Sri Swamiji was in Rishikesh with his guru. Visualize, the year is 1945, the month is June, Swami Sivananda is sitting beside the Ganges on a rock surrounded by a few people who had come for his darshan and satsang. The group of devotees are listening to the inspiring satsangs, kirtans, eloquence, poetry that flowed from Swami Sivananda effortlessly, naturally. All are inspired to experience the divine life. At that moment walks in a young man, age about 20 and places his head on the feet of Swami Sivananda. The young man who has come to place the head on the feet of the master is our master, our guru, our inspirer, Sri Swamiji, and this moment of surrender is recounted by Sri Swamiji as ‘Till the end live a life of dedication, live a life of samarpan.’


Sri Swamiji inspired me to live the life of samarpan. I haven’t faltered from that path. Swami Satsangi has not faltered from her path, many others too who walk the path continue to live the spiritual yogic teachings. These are the samskaras given to all by Sri Swamiji. Those people who live the yogic samskaras have given their help to others, no matter whether that person is a critical, negative, filthy mouthed, mentally sick individual; or the person is wisdom-full, knowing, compassionate, kind and cooperative. Nobody has been negated. People have their own aspirations and are guided by the whims of their mind, not by their wisdom. If they apply the wisdom to their life, they will discover what is right and what is wrong. It is the whims of mind, the vrittis that keep one from realizing the true nature of things.

Sri Swamiji recounts of that time when he placed his head on the feet of his master: “The moment I placed my head at the feet of my master, my mind became completely blank, empty, devoid of everything, in bliss, in harmony. I had no thoughts. I had no questions. My intellect, my whole mental process took a back-seat and I experienced shanti. I knew I had found the person who I was looking for and since then I have never looked back.”

In Sivananda Ashram, Sri Swamiji immersed himself in karma yoga from morning till night as he was possibly the only one in the ashram at that time who knew English, Hindi, Sanskrit and Tamil, the language of Swami Sivananda. He was one of the few people with multi-lingual capacity in the ashram, so he had many duties and responsibilities.

It was not the age of tape recorders, recording equipment, phones and mobiles. The decades of 1900s were stone age communication, par avion letter from one country to another country would take three months to reach. Letters within the country would take more than ten days to reach. Telephones did not exist. In those days Sri Swamiji would listen to the satsangs, the lectures and at night would sit down with a typewriter, recall word by word everything that was said in the satsang, type it, edit it, translate it, prepare it in files and have it ready by four o’clock in the morning on the table of Swami Sivananda for him to see. He had photographic memory and most of the early books are from the memory of Swami Satyananda, which you can still find in the bookshops of the Divine Life Society ashram. In the age of no tape recorders, he was the tape recorder.

Mandate and shaktipat

Sri Swamiji participated in every activity of the ashram, from sweeping the floor to cleaning the toilets to organizing the electricity, the water, the land, the meals, the marketing, the banking, the accommodation, the secretarial duties, he did everything. He served and he made everyone cooperate. He set aside his aspirations and ambitions, his likes and dislikes. He was in tune with his master. He became one with the master. And, when time came for him to leave, Swami Sivananda said, “You are leaving with a mandate: spread yoga from door to door and shore to shore, home to home, country to country, heart to heart, head to head. That is the mandate.” Sri Swamiji said, “What do you mean? I have never done yoga before and you are giving me this mandate to accomplish something of which I have no knowledge.”

All this is mentioned in the books Bhakti Yoga Sagar. Swami Sivananda said, “Come, I will give you the knowledge.” Swamiji said, “I’ve never been to any class of yoga. I’ve never learnt how to practise yoga; I’ve never read any scripture on yoga. I only know of yoga from your speeches, but no practice. I don’t know what is hatha yoga, what is raja yoga, what is kundalini, what is chakra. I have immersed myself in karma yoga all this time and I don’t have the yogic training.” Swami Sivananda said, “Did you think I ignored you? No, I have not. If I thought class was more important for you, then I would have said, ‘Satyananda, drop this work, go and join the class.’ If I thought something else is more important for you to know and learn, I would have said, ‘Satyananda, drop this and join that.’ But I have seen that you have made every effort to purify yourself. The cobwebs have gone, the house has been cleaned. Come with me, I will give you the lessons in yoga.” And in five minutes, Swami Sivananda gave shaktipat transference to Swami Satyananda.

Shaktipat is transfer of information from one brain to another, from one mind to another, from one heart to another, from one spirit to another, from one hard drive to another, and when they both are synchronized, can you tell the difference, which is the original drive or the second one? No, and the same thing applies here. The outer body may be different. One may be black, one may be white, one may be pink, one may be blue, one may be red, one may be tall, one may be short, one may be fat, one may be thin. All that can happen. The outer body can change, but the information that has been transferred is exactly, exactly, exactly the same as the original, which means the original has manifested in the secondary one.

The day Swami Sivananda gave Sri Swamiji the mandate and the shaktipat, Swami Satyananda was not Swami Satyananda anymore. He became Swami Sivananda in the body of Swami Satyananda. Filled with the energy, the spirit and the strength of his guru, Sri Swamiji left Rishikesh with a mission, with a purpose, with a drive and determination, with devotion and with dedication. Just as an arrow comes out from the bow and flies true, just as a bullet comes out from the gun and flies true in one straight line, so few this little one who was endowed with the shakti of his master.

Three experiences

For nine long years this little sadhu, as parivrajaka, as a wandering mendicant, travelled through the length and breadth of the Indian subcontinent and came to Munger beside the river Ganga. He liked the river bank at Munger so he decided to stay for some time to perfect his yoga sadhana, and to think about the future direction. While he was living in Munger, he would go to one platform where Ganga Darshan today is, the Jyoti Mandir. In those days the Ganga Darshan area was wild, with nothing there but an earthen platform. He would sit to meditate there. That platform somehow became the epicentre of spiritual awakenings in Sri Swamiji.

Sri Swamiji tells of his experience. There he had three major visions. First, during one of his meditation sessions, he felt the earth shake, the platform split open in half, a white figure emerge and a thunderous voice, a resounding voice said “This place will be the epicentre of yogic renaissance brought by you, and yoga will be the culture of tomorrow.” This is the statement that Sri Swamiji received in dhyana. When Sri Swamiji opened his eyes, the platform was intact. Nothing had happened.

In another vision he received the grace of Swami Sivanandaji when he had left his body. Sri Swamiji was sitting on the same platform, meditating, and he sees the river Ganga, a steamer boat with Swami Sivananda on it as the lone passenger with his hand raised giving blessings. From one of the wheels of the boat water splashes on the body of Sri Swamiji, and he knew that Swami Sivananda, his guru had given him his blessings and had left his mortal frame. When Sri Swamiji opened his eyes, his clothes were wet; there was no cloud in the sky, Ganga was at slight distance, how did his clothes get wet, from where did the water come? This was the second experience.

The third experience occurred when Sri Swamiji was thinking what to do now. At this time, he had a vision in which his guru appeared before him, in flesh and blood and said, “Satyananda, what are you doing?” Sri Swamiji replied, “Thinking what to do next, how to do.” Guru said, “What is there to think about? You work according to the plan we have made before,” and the image of Swami Sivananda disappears.

After that Sri Swamiji lays the foundation of Bihar School of Yoga, and Bihar School of Yoga is the outcome of the instruction, the mandate, the training, the transference given to Sri Swamiji by his master and where the yogic tradition continues today.