How does one pay a tribute to a multifaceted spiritual diamond that dazzles, creating an astonishing pattern of ever-new beauty and eternal glory?
We grew up together at the lotus-like feet of Gurudev Swami Sivananda Maharaj. Yet, Swami Satyanandaji Maharaj was always someone special. Whatever he touched turned into pure gold. In the ashram at Rishikesh, there was not a single department or activity that he did not handle, and handle with extraordinary ability, dedication and devotion. His sadhana was integral; his siddhi is therefore perfection itself.
Satyananda shone with Brahma Tejas. The Brahma Shrotriya that he was before his holy initiation shone with the resplendence of a Brahma Nishtha. To the innate qualities of viveka (discrimination) and panditya (learning) was added jnana; in his affectionate heart came to dwell cosmic love; into his searching eyes entered equal vision; his questioning mind questioned itself out of existence and in its place Swami Satyanandaji realised the truth, the substratum of all being.
He is an all-rounder; he can deliver fiery lectures in English, Hindi and Sanskrit. He is a linguist. He can sing kirtans very nicely. He composes thrilling songs. He is an artist too. He is an adept in hatha yoga and a master of raja yoga. His life itself is a lesson in karma yoga. Every word he speaks is the highest Vedanta, in practical form. He is a great titikshu (seeker).
Today, he shines as the golden light of yoga; and this light shines in the hearts of thousands upon thousands all over the world: they who have met him have been completely transformed, and they who have heard of him from his devotees have only one desire, to have his darshan, and all of them are wholeheartedly dedicated to yoga.
May Swami Satyanandaji live long! is the prayer that every heart sings.
Sri Swami Satyananda is a rare combination of mighty head, powerful hand and soft heart, a brilliant member of the adhyatmic circle of Sri Swami Sivananda Maharaj, pledged to further his Masters mission of disseminating, by practice and by precept, the spiritual wealth of jnana, bhakti, yoga and seva, for the re-establishment of peace, love and bliss upon earth.
Swami Satyanandaji has the qualities of a disciple whose sole duty is to obey implicitly the words of the guru and speak not of his own personality in any way . . . he combines within himself the attitudes of a realist and an idealist. In action he is a realist; in thought he is an idealist. He follows the dictum of Sri Shankara: one should be a non-dualist in feeling but not in physical action . . . Swami Satyanandaji has devoted his life to holding aloft the brilliant torch of the ancient glory of tyaga and sannyasa.
When fortune fashioned Swami Satyananda she gave him intellect and will, talent and genius, strength and softness, a stomach and a feast, an abundance and an enjoyment, and above all she endowed him lavishly with spiritual understanding and enlightenment. The unusual coalescence and coexistence of all these elements not only differentiate Swami Satyananda from the rest, but distinguish him as being great.
On meeting Swami Satyanandaji one distinctly hears the tinkling footsteps of Guru Maharaj Sivanandaji. In Sri Satyanandaji one finds the full-blown blossom the practical echo of Sivananda.
Swami Satyanandajis ideal of a karma yogi and ideal sadhaka is a person of utter self-effacement, silent endurance, humility coupled with dynamism, zeal, tireless industry and the spirit of dedication. You are a perfect embodiment of all these . . . You are one of the pillars of the Divine Life structure which forms the main mission of Gurudev. You are adorned with the lofty virtues of vairagya, tyaga, dedication, singleness of purpose and guru bhakti to an astonishing degree . . . Yet you are the soul of modesty, always humble, unassuming and simple.
In Rishikesh Swami Satyanandaji was a very hard worker and very kind-hearted. What drew me most was his remarkable freedom from resentment and malice to those who had harmed or hurt him. He was a brilliant lecturer with a great sense of humour. Imbued with a sense of mission, even while at Sivananda Ashram, he was a renunciate at heart. Having built up a well-established and famous organisation, after a quarter of a centurys hard labour, he gave it all up. Very rarely does one see such an act of renunciation.
I had known Swamijis spiritual aspiration and detachment in our early years at Rishikesh. What, however, struck me most at Rikhia was his arduous austerity, culminating in Panchagni tapasya. Very few can endure such hardship. At his age, most of his peers would sit on the laurels of a successful spiritual mission and lead a comfortable life. His tyaga and tapasya is the most outstanding trait of his character today.
One of the dearest wishes of Gurudev Sivanandaji was the establishment of what he initially called Yoga Vedanta Forest University, where knowledge of all the branches of yoga would be widely available. This Swami Satyanandaji has realised in the Bihar School of Yoga. Another ideal of Gurudevs was public service through free medical treatment of the poor. This has been amplified through the projects of Sivananda Math. What, however, will have a world-wide influence is the Yoga Research Foundations presentation of yoga in a scientific way, especially the therapeutic benefits. These are the fruition of Swami Satyanandas labour of love for the mission, the result of a lifetime of dedication and hard work.
In April 1953, Satyabrat and I were invited to a program in Rishikesh. . . . Suddenly my eyes happened to rest on a young sannyasin, who absorbed all my attention. Was he a god descended on earth or a man in the form of a god, I wondered? The memory of that young ascetic overwhelmed us. In April 1956 we heard that Paramahamsa Satyananda had become a parivrajaka sannyasin. We immediately wrote to him. He replied: Rajnandgaon is on my mental screen. I will come, but in good time. My name is Satyam. Your name is Satyabrat. In you my brat or vow (of truth) is well-established. In future Rajnandgaon will become my headquarters and you will help me. On 28th August, 1958, Swami Satyam gave diksha to me. He said, From today you will be known as Mother Dharmashakti. Pray for her and for my mission. The chariot of my mission will have two wheels, namely yoga and dharma.
Swami Satyananda chose Munger, Bihar, as the focal point from which to spread yoga. Bihar has been the birthplace and playground of avatars, yogis, realised saints and siddhas. There was a time when any scholar who finished his basic studies would travel, not abroad like the modern student, nor to any big institution, but to Mithila to King Janaka, who was not only an emperor, but also a donor of wealth and knowledge.
Munger is named after the great Sage Mudgalrishi, and the most kind-hearted King Karna used to worship goddess Kali here and donate all the gold received from her blessings. Such are the rich antecedents of Munger. Swami Satyananda realised this secret, which had lain dormant for hundreds of years, and therefore made Munger the centre for his teachings. His decision has made the name Munger known to the entire world.
Swami Satyananda is a jivanmukta, free in this life, and he shows the path of freedom to all. Many people attain self-realization but remain in isolation. However, he did not retire to a secluded cave in the Himalayas and enjoy his blissful state there because he does not live only for himself. He made his knowledge available to all.
His mission is now providing guidance to many thousands of people. He has planted the Bihar School of Yoga like a kalpataru, a wish-fulfilling tree. Not only has yoga been popularised throughout the world, but at the same time Munger has been made famous. The credit goes to Swami Satyananda, an incarnation of renunciation, who occupies a shining place on the world map.
Swami Satyananda has propagated the miraculous science of yoga all over the world. This ancient science had lain buried in the womb of the earth for two or three thousand years. Very rarely is such a sage born, after a gap of centuries, who is able to ignite the spark in the sleeping human consciousness to again begin to search in the enveloping darkness. He fired the spark of curiosity in peoples hearts and minds to understand yoga. Arousing such aspiration is not a simple achievement. This great work will have its effect today, tomorrow and even after a few generations.
Swami Satyananda is an intellectual giant who has striven to synthesise the essential import of our traditions of yoga and meditation with the so-called rationality of modern science. This synergy is directed towards evolving systems and disciplines which contribute substantially to the improvement of the quality of life of all adherents. A laudable aspect of Sri Swamijis novel and refreshing approach is his thrust to uplift the rural underprivileged and tribal communities.
Swami Satyanandas life mission has been to establish the creative vitality of the art and science of yoga in the contemporary world, dominated by the decline of goodness and the ascendancy of evil. Sri Swamiji has shown through his mission the value of the perennial philosophy of yoga. His mission is spiritually distinctive in the sense that he is founder of no cult or sect, but of a fellowship of human beings keen to recover their roots. Sri Swamijis mission is also distinctive because he is a true renunciate. He has not allowed the yoga of power to overcome the power of yoga. Sri Swamijis example provides a continuing education in the tradition of authentic renunciation, extolling the importance of being in the world yet not of the world.
Sri Swamijis mission constantly emphasises solidarity with human suffering. He has, through precept and practice, sought to educate us that the foundation of a true spiritual morality is concern and responsibility for other beings who suffer. It is upon this foundation that the International Yoga Fellowship Movement and the Bihar School of Yoga are built. Sri Swamiji has thus added a new dimension of karma yoga. Through his mission he has taken the amar jyoti (eternal light) of yoga to all parts of the world, renewing hope, courage, compassion and solidarity for a better human future.