Space and Time

Swami Shivadhyanam Saraswati

Our paramguru, Sri Swami Satyanandaji, established the Bihar School of Yoga in 1963. Looking back at the statement made by him at the time “Yoga will emerge as a world culture and direct the course of world events” takes on a deeper significance in the context of the present situation in society, in the country and all over the world. The golden jubilee of BSY was celebrated in 2013 when Swamiji declared that the First Chapter of yoga had come to a close and a new Second Chapter was beginning.

Many of us wondered about the form and direction of this new phase and it has been slowly revealing itself. Now we have got a clear glimpse of the efficacy and application of the second chapter of yoga during the distressing time of the global Covid pandemic.

There are two essential elements without which creation is not possible. They are desh and kaala, Space and Time. The first chapter of yoga propagation related to the element of space and took yoga ‘from door to door and shore to shore’. Yoga spread all over the country and throughout the world. The success of this effort is irrefutably seen in the celebration of the International Day of Yoga in every part of the world since 2015.

The Second Chapter addresses the realm of Time with the slogan given by Swamiji – ‘Yoga from moment to moment’. This invites us to live yoga at every moment of time. Can we make the effort to bring yoga alive in our everyday existence? Yoga is no longer to be seen merely as a practice or a sadhana and has to become an intrinsic part of lifestyle. The goal and challenge which Swamiji has given us is to live yoga in every minute and moment of our lives.

The events of the past year during the epidemic and its crisis showed how unprepared we were to face something like this. Our civilization, culture, society and lifestyle proved totally incapable of combating this disaster. Though we take pride in the advance and achievements of science, our civilization was brought to its knees by a minuscule virus which can barely be seen even by an electron microscope! Scientists are of the opinion that if all the corona virus from all over the world was to be collected together, it would not weigh more than two or three grams!

A concerted effort is now underway throughout the world to develop vaccines and other means to deal with this epidemic. That has its place and purpose, yet one must remember that in order to protect oneself one must adopt means that are commensurate with what one is fighting against. A stick is useful in warding off an attack by monkeys, but is of no use in keeping mosquitoes away. The virus is almost invisible, a very subtle microscopic substance and one will need to resort to subtle means in order to deal with it. This is where the role of ‘yoga from moment to moment’ comes in.

Swamiji has given us the gift of Yoga Capsules with a short set of appropriate practices that can be easily followed in our daily routine. They bring an improved quality of strength and immunity in our physical health. When the quality of prana in our physical bodies is enhanced, our mental and emotional states are more balanced and peaceful. We have a better understanding of how to live in a manner that is beneficial to ourselves as well as others, and spiritual growth becomes a reality. These are the important areas of our life and when we experience balance and stability, it empowers us to face challenges with courage, self-confidence and an optimistic attitude. Subtle practices have a strong and deep influence when we incorporate them into our life.

Apart from these practices, there is something even more subtle and that is learning to live the yamas and niyamas. This truly allows us to experience yoga from moment to moment for yamas and niyamas liberate us from psychological and emotional blocks and barriers. You can select just one yama like manahprasad, happiness, for instance, which is the first yama of yogic lifestyle. Can we stay happy for twenty-four hours? A positive attitude and perspective can help you deal with any crisis without succumbing to despair and desperation. A very effective ‘vaccine’!

This is the thrust of Swamiji’s goal and aspiration for the Second Chapter – to imbibe yogic teachings and expressing them at every moment in our lives. Undoubtedly, this is not an easy task, however persevering with a sustained effort will be fruitful. Constant awareness was the basis of the First Chapter, this has been firmly established over the last fifty years of yoga propagation. All the practices of the First Chapter began with developing and maintaining awareness throughout, whether they were asana, pranayama, relaxation techniques or meditation practices. Thus, awareness was the foundation of all the practices.

Now the challenge is to extend this awareness beyond the class and mat and into our everyday lives. Can we retain this awareness as we go through the ups and downs we face in our lives? Can we keep smiling and have courage in every kind of situation? This is the slogan and the goal of the Second Chapter.

Despite the ashram and institutions remaining closed to the public this year in keeping with government guidelines, the activities have continued unabated. Every effort has been made to bring the eternal teachings of yoga to people, especially at this time of crisis, and the appropriate, beneficial use of technology has played a big role in this dissemination.

16 February 2021, Basant Panchami, Ganga Darshan