An Important Month

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

October has turned out to be an important month, as this year we will be learning some other aspects of yoga which form part of the teachings of Sri Swami Satyananda. When I think about yoga, about Sri Swamiji and about the Bihar School of Yoga, I can only come to a conclusion that it was Swami Sivananda's mandate to teach yoga and to propagate yoga from door to door and shore to shore in 1956, which guided Sri Swami Satyananda to travel for many years across the Indian subcontinent trying to assess and understand the needs of people.

When Swami Sivananda gave the mandate to propagate yoga, it was not because he felt the need to commercially sustain his ashram and disciples with yoga. He realized that as the minds become more and more distracted and dissipated, a discipline which could regulate and harness the activities of the mind would be very much needed in society. It was with this intention that he gave his disciples the mandate to propagate yoga.

Our culture and tradition of sannyasins is Vedanta but we were given the mandate to propagate and experience yoga, so that through this discipline of mind and body, one could realize peace and contentment and harness creativity. When Swami Sivananda gave the mandate to propagate yoga, yoga was an unknown word and it was seen as a practice to self-realization, the path that renunciates, sadhus and sannyasins would follow after leaving behind their attachment to material life and society.

In an ignorant environment, Sri Swami Satyananda travelled for many years throughout the Indian subcontinent going from village to village, city to city, town to town, hamlet to hamlet to analyse, discover and assess the needs of people as to how yoga could help them and how yoga could be presented in a practical, applicable form to human society. While he was observing how he could fulfil his guru's mandate to propagate yoga, he worked to uplift the conditions of villages and rural areas and make the people more self-reliant.

In this manner he lived his life, and then in 1963 he established Bihar School of Yoga. To consolidate the understanding of yoga as it would be needed in future, he formulated the theories and the systems of yoga chakra. That was the education he imparted to the first generation of sannyasins and dedicated yoga teachers.

The first courses in the ashram were sadhana courses, in which Sri Swamiji took people through hatha yoga, raja yoga and kriya yoga. Then there were training courses which lasted for nine months or six months. Can you imagine a six-month teacher training course every day? Nine-month teacher training course every day? It goes beyond all the conceivable hours required today to become a yoga teacher. It was in those training times that Sri Swamiji exposed the ideas, concepts and practices of yoga chakra to the first generation of yoga teachers.

When we came out into society and went to different places for different programs, events and conventions, in different countries and locations, Sri Swamiji found that people in society had different ideas and were seeking relief of their physical and psychological stresses and tensions. They wanted to learn how to concentrate and experience peace.

With this understanding, he consolidated the practices necessary for society: asanas which are practicable by everyone; simple practices of pranayamas which are usable by everyone; a simple technique of relaxation which is enjoyed by everyone; a few practices of meditation, which people find challenging. In this manner, he consolidated the whole yogic system for society, and that is what we know as Satyananda Yoga.

It was Satyananda Yoga that was propagated with the idea that the collection of practices, the asana, pranayama, yoga nidra and meditations, would help future generations know the skills necessary to manage the dissipated and distracted mind and energies. The aim of Satyananda Yoga was never self-realization, as that was not the vision of Swami Sivananda, nor the vision of Swami Satyananda.

For Swami Sivananda, the aim of yoga was integrating head, heart and hands and this vision continues in Swami Satyananda's efforts and in the teaching and training of Bihar School of Yoga.

Now in October, along with Satyananda Yoga, an awareness of the yoga chakra will evolve so that our own experience can deepen. We can become an example if we are able to live yoga. Therefore, October is an important month. I am sure that with everybody's input and support, we shall make the Munger Yoga Symposium a memorable event on our journey through yoga.

—6 October 2018, Ganga Darshan, Munger

From 20th to 23rd October, a pre-symposium program was conducted at Ganga Darshan. As soon as the delegates arrived, they were immersed in the intent of the gathering. Each day, Swamiji gave satsang on the yoga chakra and its six spokes or branches of yoga.

In the afternoon, delegates spoke on their connection with Sri Swami Satyananda and his teachings. The personal accounts were funny, touching and inspiring to those who knew Sri Swamiji and those who did not have the opportunity.

Swamiji in his concluding satsang took the memories, anecdotes and experiences into the context of the symposium and the second chapter of yoga.

The evenings saw a kaleidoscope of country presentations. From around India and the world Satyananda Yoga was seen from all angles and in the context of many different social and cultural environments.

The venue

The stage for the teaching and training was the main Lawn of Ganga Darshan which was covered in a bright orange pandal extending from Yajnashala to Chhaya Samadhi. It was a most superb setting as Swamiji, teachers and speakers sat in front of Sri Swami Satyananda receiving his guidance and blessings.