First Assignment

Swami Satyananda Saraswati

Swami Niranjan never attended school in his life. He only saw a school when he went to teach yoga. Swami Niranjan’s first assignment was Northern Ireland when he was ten years old. I took him there and on the way the plane first stopped in Tehran. I went to the bathroom and when I came out Swami Niranjan was fighting with somebody. He was a very naughty boy, always playing tricks on everyone. He would even pull somebody’s dhoti off from behind and run away with it.

I took Swami Niranjan to Belfast in Northern Ireland. He used to teach yoga in a Catholic school. When he came out, the Protestant boys would threaten him, saying, “Why do you go to the Catholic school? Don’t go there!” He would say, “I have to teach yoga.” They would reply, “Come to our school and teach us.” So the next day he would go to the Protestant school and on the way the Catholic boys would threaten him, saying “Why are you going to that Protestant school?” Northern Ireland was a great problem. The Protestants would say to the swamis, “Don’t stay here, this is a Catholic area. Come and stay in our area.” If the swamis went to the Protestant area, the Catholics would say, “No, no, you must come to our area.”

If the swamis didn't go to that area, the windows would be broken. Every now and then they would break the windows and in an hour the room would become very cold. The City Corporation would have to be informed.

Northern Ireland is not like India where the Hindus and Muslims are comparatively cordial to each other. The situation in Northern Ireland is a very difficult one.

Northern Ireland was Swami Niranjan’s first assignment, where he had to live like the tongue between two sets of teeth! There he learnt how to live life, what to expect from life and how to conduct himself if he expected to be successful in life. Every morning there was graffiti on his door: “Yogi bear lives here. Yogi bear has no hair.” He was ten years old.