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July 2006

Satyananda Yoga Golden Jubilee 1956–2006

In this issue we pay special tribute to Swami Satyananda Saraswati, who began his yoga mission in 1956, with the establishment of the International Yoga Fellowship Movement in Rajnandgaon. The subsequent expansion and success of his mission in both India and abroad is captured in a selection of articles, newspaper extracts and tributes.

The True Disciple
Swami Sivananda Saraswati

A Real Guru
Swami Sivananda Saraswati

Guru Seva
Swami Sivananda Saraswati

Yoga – Blueprint for Perfection
Swami Satyananda Saraswati

International Yoga Fellowship Movement
Swami Satyananda Saraswati

The Moving Spirit
Swami Satyananda Saraswati

News Reports

Revolution
Swami Satyananda Saraswati

Yoga – The Gift of Peace
Swami Satyananda Saraswati

On Guru and Mission
Swami Satyananda Saraswati

World Culture
Swami Satyananda Saraswati

Tributes



News Reports

Munger, January 1964

Bihar School of Yoga Inaugurated

On Basant Panchami, 19th January, the akhanda jyoti was lit in the Bihar School of Yoga, Munger, by Swami Satyananda Saraswati, a direct disciple of Swami Sivananda Saraswati of Rishikesh. The silver lamp will burn for all times to come in memory of Swami Sivananda, keeping aloft the glory of yoga and beckoning one and all towards the yogic path.
Swami Satyananda, the Chief Acharya of the Bihar School of Yoga and founder of the International Yoga Fellowship Movement, emphasized how yoga could be practised in towns and homes instead of caves and kutirs. There was a time when seclusion was a necessity, but times have changed and now everyone can practise yoga. Peace, power and wisdom is everyone’s birthright and everyone should make an effort to achieve it.
Sri Swamiji is ever ready to teach the techniques to all at the Bihar School of Yoga, where students irrespective of country, creed or nationality can undergo practical training in the science of yoga.

Munger, November 1, 1966

Yoga is the culture of tomorrow

Inaugurating the Third International Yoga Convention at Munger, Swami Satyananda, appealed to the 2,000 delegates from India as well as Poland, Mexico, Finland, Czechoslovakia, UK, USA and Australia to carry the seed of yoga far and near, and plant it in fertile ground so that yoga could find deep roots in the soil of the entire universe.
He said the saints and sages of ancient India had gone into the causes of human suffering and prescribed yoga as the cure. He emphatically stated that yoga was as essential as anything for life. In modern society the majority of people were mentally disturbed and yoga provided the best remedy. Both spiritualism and materialism are essential components of life, and thus yoga is inevitable for those who consider materialism as their end in life.
Sri Swamiji said that yoga was the culture of tomorrow which would unite all humanity leaving no barriers of race, language and continent. The world has to adopt the yogic way of life because “it is the culture of tomorrow”.

The Bharat Jyoti, Patna, February 18, 1968

YOGA’s Role today

Briefing newsmen on the importance of yoga, Swami Satyananda said that “the practice of yoga could eliminate from society the exploitation of man by man, the terror of world wars and the sense of insecurity from people’s minds. To Swamiji, yoga is a “blueprint for perfection”. He said, “Yoga has a special role to play in the world today, as its practice can remove physical and mental afflictions As a science yoga is useful for both the individual and society.”
He decried cheap stunts in the name of yoga and said there was nothing in any branch of yoga which was beyond reason and science. Feats such as drinking acid, walking over water or remaining buried underground for many hours were a mere ‘magic show’, he declared. “They are not yoga nor are the performers yogis since such feats not only tarnished the good name of yoga but also created doubts and suspicions in many reasonable minds about the purpose of yoga.”
He said, “The science of yoga had great physical and psychological potential. The effect of yoga techniques on human physiology is an inviting field for research for modern physiologists, and scientific investigations into yoga psychology are a challenge for modern psychologists.”
Swami Satyananda believes that “yoga is secular and can be applied in any religion or faith of the world without any hitch.”
He said the interest in yoga in foreign countries was growing rapidly. Students from more than 10 countries are currently completing a nine-month yoga teacher training course at Bihar School of Yoga, Munger.

Times of India, Bombay, February 1968

Yoga is a technique for living

Yoga is attracting more and more people from the West. It has drawn to Rishikesh the Beatles in search of tranquillity of mind and to Bombay many foreigners for a yoga seminar conducted by Swami Satyananda. What manner of man is this swami, of whom we have heard so much?
I met him at a luncheon attended by a cosmopolitan gathering, including businessmen, prominent citizens and newsmen. What struck me most about Swami Satyananda, a frail, smiling man with penetrating eyes, was his refreshing candour and simplicity. He invited questions and answered them all with relish. We asked him for his views on transcendental meditation.
“Meditation is always transcendental,” he explained. “A yogi meditates on consciousness. In meditation, the mind transcends the objective consciousness. Very few do transcendental meditation. I practise it. It is my bread, my life.” In reply to another question, he said he was not a realized soul. If he had been one, he would not be present at the hotel talking to us.
Clad in saffron robes, Swami Satyananda spoke at length on the virtues of yoga - “the heritage of the past and the culture of tomorrow.” There was no need to give up one’s normal way of life to achieve peace and tranquillity within, which is the real aim of yoga, he said. The daily office duties and domestic chores called for maximum care, efficiency, imagination and concentration. Yoga gave man the ability to be master of all situations. Besides it protected him “from falling prey to his senses, tensions and frustrations.”
He described political instabilities, social insecurities and the constant fear of war among civilized nations as “sparks of our short-circuited materialistic civilization” which had shaken the confidence of the common man. As a result, a new social order had been born in the form of the Beatles and hippies, and drugs such as LSD. “This is a revolt against society,” he declared.
“We are racing after mirages in search of happiness outside, but do not devote even a little time to knowing ourselves, going within and finding real bliss. Man is breaking down. He has become a patient of neurosis and various other mental ailments, a split personality.”
Swami Satyananda dwelt on the role yoga had to play in the modern world. He said its practice could remove mental and physical afflictions, and bring joy to many. “One can enjoy the good things of life and still be a yogi. There is no virtue in retiring to a forest and sitting enchanted in the solitary grandeur of self-equilibrium or samadhi. Heroism lies in remaining steadfast in the tumult of life even when the scales are heavily loaded against us, and in attaining samadhi or equilibrium in the midst of all odds.”
If the coming generation ignored yoga, “this great technique of actual living”, he warned, a time might come when people might be forced to meet unthinkable disaster never experienced by humanity in the past.

Free Press Bulletin, Bombay, May 9, 1968

World yoga tour

Swami Satyananda is on a world tour to disseminate practical knowledge of yoga to yoga aspirants all over the world. He will visit the USA, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, England, France, Belgium, Holland, Norway, Finland, Germany, Austria and other countries, as a cultural ambassador of India. Swamiji’s mission in life is to bring the maximum amount of happiness to the maximum number of people in the world during his life and to present to the world yoga in its most benevolent and scientific form.
Though an adept in all the traditional branches of yoga, Swamiji is far from a traditional yogi. A keen student of western psychology, he wants to apply yogic techniques universally for the ills of the world. Hitherto, because of its long tradition of secrecy, authentic yoga has flourished in isolation. Swamiji wants to do away with this secrecy and make the magnificent riches of yoga available to all. He believes that yoga has very little to do with religion; it is just a way of life. Yoga means many things to many people, but Satyanandaji has very decided views about it.
“My concept of yoga does not lay down extraordinary rules and regulations of self-discipline and behaviour. Yoga can benefit all people in all circumstances of life. Yoga stands for physical and mental health. It comes as a blessing for suffering humanity as a psychosomatic treatment. It also comes as a shortcut to self-renunciation for seekers of truth.”
Satyanandaji is a man with a mission. For him “yoga is the culture of tomorrow.” To revive this mission of universal yoga, he founded the International Yoga Fellowship Movement for the propagation and spread of yoga on an international basis. It is his firm belief that no one is unfit for yoga because yoga is a universal transcendental force while at the same time a specific technique which can mould not only the individual but also society and the world as a whole.

The Australian, May 10, 1968

Goodwill mission

Swami Satyananda, shaven headed with large brown eyes and a gentle smile, is the world head of the International Yoga Fellowship Movement and director of Bihar School of Yoga, Munger, India. Swamiji, who has been studying yoga for 25 of his 46 years, explained that this trip – his first outside India – would allow him to spread goodwill and expand the movement in many countries.
Australia was the most yoga-minded western nation, he said, partly because yoga exponents were active here – but also because of the climate. “The climate has a direct effect upon the grey matter. A warm climate brings about an expansion of the grey matter – in colder climates it contracts. I think this is why you have 100,000 followers of yoga in Australia.”
It was strange that 90% of the movement’s followers should be women, but he felt that this was because of their superior psychic development. “The psychic body in men is repressed – but they have more intellectual development than women,” he said with another gentle smile.
About Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and transcendental meditation he said, “What he teaches about the benefits of meditation is not wrong, but when he claims it is enough, I do not agree. His methods are good for those just beginning the study of yoga, but I do not think followers would get much lasting benefit. Transcendental meditation is only one of the eight parts of yoga.
He thought the ideal world would be one without money, but added that it was unlikely to eventuate.

The Village Voice, New York, June 11, 1968

Solution to peace

“The major problem facing the world is peace, not food or shelter, for if there is no war for 100 years there will be prosperity everywhere. I believe that any country that has to live in war and keep the economy flowing for that purpose generally creates tension. We Indians have been the worst sufferers in this for many centuries. We know what it means. Apart from destroying lives, it destroys the economy of the country and can change people’s good nature.”
Swami Satyananda feels that yoga is the solution. “The development of yogic consciousness, not only in the common man but in leadership, can be a powerful answer to the problems of fear, hostility and ignorance,” he said. “The masses will compel the leadership to practise it, because in the ultimate analysis the problem lies in the leadership.”
Swami Satyananda said there were many young Americans coming to India. “There they can find complete freedom” he said. “Life is very easy, but they should go to the right place and they should find the right person. Then everything is solved. They should learn yoga, the ancient texts, Sanskrit, and then come back to America. The best service people can do is to bring back yoga.”
Asked if he thought psychedelic drugs prepared people for the Eastern spiritual disciplines, he said, “I think people are ready. But through psychedelic experience people concluded that there was another state of consciousness, and then they began to search for that state, and how to achieve it permanently. They will come to yoga as an answer to that quest. But too many drugs damage the system. First drugs bring elation, then finally depression. Drugs do not give real tranquillity or understanding.”
He believes that yoga is a much more important experience. “Drugs are not the way to a spiritual life. One takes drugs through ignorance. Only through beatitude can you reach God. Drugs only change the perceptions and create a state of depression. Meditation changes the mind, the whole outlook.”
Asked if the United States matched his expectations, he said, ”I expected that people would be thinking of worldly things, but I have come to conclude that behind the veil of prosperity there is a spiritually starving soul in every American. Every time a society is at the peak of prosperity, a spiritual revolution inevitably takes place. Soon society will change.”

Chicago Sun-Times, June 13, 1968

Swami’s path to tranquillity

Swami Satyananda is a disciple of the famed guru, Swami Sivananda of the Divine Life Society of Rishikesh in India. In 1963 he went into voluntary seclusion for four years, founding the Bihar School of Yoga in Munger in 1964. In April 1968 he began his international speaking tour.
Yoga, he said, means ‘harmony’. In India the practice is at least 5000 years old and is not a religion but a folk tradition, involving meditation “so a person can be at peace.” Swami Satyananda, whose name means ‘truth and bliss’, says yoga acts like psychotherapy or tranquillizers. Where psychology ends, yoga begins. People in the West with anxiety neuroses have to be told that yoga can help in these matters. He said, “Western doctors, professors and ministers have talked of peace and God for years, but in India we have holy men and women who actually are at peace.”
There are many different kinds of yoga, but the one practised by Swami Satyananda consists of three states: tranquillity, concentration or fixation, and meditation or awareness. To reach tranquillity a person must “remove the clamour of the outer personality.” The exercises that most people think are the end purpose of yoga are how this is done. In a way it’s a kind of self-hypnosis.” The aim of meditation, when consciousness transcends inner space to illumination, is what he calls the divine state.
Although yoga goes against the grain of much of modern society where materialism often seems to be the most living faith, Swami Satyananda thinks things will change. “Despite prosperity and wealth, people are not satisfied with the age-old tradition that the body alone is man,” he said. “The search for spiritual enlightenment has come over this country very recently, though spiritual passions have been almost stifled by materialism.” He said the mind is more real than the body and the spirit is more concrete than matter.

Amrita Bazar Patrika, Bombay, June 29, 1968

Satyananda praises US society

“America is a nation full of vitality, her youth is in search of something that will take its mind from things which we know are evil and damaging to the upliftment of human thought,” said Swami Satyananda when he arrived in London after an extensive 2 month tour. He expressed satisfaction with what he had undertaken to accomplish. He was specially delighted that more non-Asians were listening to his talks than Asians. He said, “In Asia people are generally familiar with the teachings of Indian philosophy.”
He said transcendental meditation was another name for japa yoga. He does not prescribe a particular system of meditation. Those who seek his assistance in spiritual knowledge are seen by him individually and prescribed a certain course of meditation according to their temperament.
He said, “There is so much wealth that the minds of American people have slowed down, their capacity to think rationally is hindered by affluence. I am convinced they will abandon their craving for materialistic living and follow the path chalked out by such great men as Swami Vivekananda and Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, and by contributions made recently by Swami Chinmaya and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Americans want to know how to expand their consciousness. So they are looking to India and her people to assist them in their study of meditation and spiritual thinking.”

Geneva Tribune, August 30, 1968

A master of yoga in Geneva

“In Europe you suffer from insomnia, depression and have heart attacks at the age of 40! In India we have famine and tuberculosis but live to be very old. Your illnesses are mental, ours are physical.” It’s to help Europeans heal their mental illnesses that Swami Satyananda Saraswati, director of the Bihar School of Yoga, Munger, India, has come to give a series of conferences in Geneva on ‘Yoga and Modern Man’.
For several years yoga has been invading our country. It is practised from Stockholm to Rome, from Zurich to Paris. The Europeans discovered it after the Americans. They understood that many illnesses were primarily mental. They are convinced that the lifestyle we lead in the West is at fault. They are seeking a relaxation that will bring more than physical benefits. And for that they are turning to India.
Swami Satyananda said that he spent 12 years with his guru, a swami whom he served and who transmitted his knowledge to him. After leaving his guru, he travelled alone across India and continued to learn. He established Bihar School of Yoga six years ago. Asked how much time one should dedicate to yoga practice, he said half an hour in the morning and, if possible, at night.

Hindusthani Standard, Calcutta, September 27, 1968

Yoga gains popularity in foreign lands

Returning to India after a 5-month world tour to spread the message of yoga, Swami Satyananda told newsmen that the science of yoga had advanced to a great extent in foreign countries. He said that yoga institutions were very popular in foreign countries where people were being trained in its scientific aspects. He said, “Yoga is a heritage that needs to be preserved carefully and studied conscientiously in all its aspects.”

Times of India, September 23, 1969

Yoga, a substitute for drugs and alcohol

People who feel the need to take drugs, drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes should stand on their heads instead. “Headstands are an excellent substitute for drugs,” said Swami Satyananda Saraswati, one of the world’s leading exponents of yoga. During the recent International Yoga Conference held in Australia, he said that yoga exercises were a proven means of overcoming the stress and strain of modern living. “It costs nothing to exercise,” he said. “There are no distressing side effects. You look younger. You feel younger. Who needs drugs?”
According to Swami Satyananda, yoga is not some strange old religion. It is a much needed practical and desirable way of coping with life in the 20th century. “More and more people are realizing this,” he said. “Even the Russians have taken to yoga. They employed Polish yoga instructors to teach their astronauts yoga breathing techniques to help improve blood circulation.”
Approximately 600 people from all parts of the world attended the convention, the first ever held in Australia.

Beads and Bangles, Australia, October 1969

Yoga in Australia

During his recent Australian tour, Swami Satyananda Saraswati said, “There is a vast spiritual awakening in this country and I am overjoyed by the strength of the yoga movement. In some ways Australia could be a more fertile place than India for interest in yoga. Because of its high economic level, it has great potential for yoga practices. The Australian government should encourage the study of yoga in whatever way it can, because yoga is the spiritual discipline of millions of Australia’s neighbours in the East.”
With these words Swamiji signified the growing momentum of the yoga movement, a momentum gained through regular visits and spiritual guidance from overseas, through the establishment of the International Yoga Teachers Association and a free exchange with overseas.
Swamiji first influenced the Australian yoga movement when he invited a group of teachers to attend his International Yoga Convention in Bihar, India in 1966. He initiated both Michael Volin and Roma Blair into karma yoga and elevated both to the rank of swami.
At Swamiji’s request, the IYTA was founded to promote the development and growth of yoga teaching standards and principles, initially in Australia, Canada, India and South Africa, and ultimately throughout the world; to provide a forum for discussion, consultation and cooperation between members; to disseminate information about yoga; and to further understanding of eastern philosophy, mythology and culture in the Western world.
Swami Satyananda appeared on our horizon at a time when the materialistic West was looking eagerly to the ancient East for a meeting point. Age-old superstitions are melting, science has given man a glimpse of new possibilities, and his psyche has brought him to the crossroads.
Swamiji, the harbinger of a new psychic era, presents yoga as a therapy and a new way of life. He has lifted the veil of secrecy and declared that “yoga is secular.”

Raipur, November 5, 1976

World yoga movement sprouted at Rajnandgaon

The foundation of the International Yoga Fellowship Movement was laid out at Rajnandgaon, Swami Satyananda disclosed today. He said he came to Rajnandgaon in 1956 and met Satyabratji. They discussed the subject with a view to giving a new dimension and outlook to yoga and decided to project yoga in society and present an analysis of the scientific aspect of yoga.
On being asked the position of yoga abroad, he said hatha yoga was popular in America, while Australians also favoured bhakti yoga. In South American countries raja yoga is gaining ground. The yoga practised in Soviet Russia can be placed in the class of raja yoga. In this context he referred to the book ‘Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain’. Yoga has helped to bring about social awakening in the West and introduced the concept of community there.
He said that scientific research studies were going on all over the world to show the benefits of yoga. Several foreign countries have accepted it as a part of education. He said the Government of India was examining a proposal to include yoga in the educational curriculum. He stressed the need to introduce yoga teaching at the primary level in schools and to children from the age of seven.
As yoga changes people’s behaviour so it can play a great role in social reformation. Pranayama and dhyana reduce aggressive tendencies. In several USA jails yoga has been introduced in order to change the prisoners’ criminal attitudes. In mental hospitals hatha yoga and raja yoga help in treating the patients, he added.
He announced that a research centre will be set up at Munger where research reports from centres in India and abroad will be coordinated. This centre will help to find yogic solutions for chronic ailments and psychic troubles.

Times of India, November 7, 1993

In quest of the divine

If the purpose of life is to find the divine, then the Bihar School of Yoga at Munger provides the right ambience. Located on a large hill overlooking the Ganga, it is a veritable seat of spiritual learning and practice.
Paramahamsa Satyananda, the founder of this school, is supposed to have attained enlightenment at a God-forsaken place in Munger, supposedly the citadel of Danavira Karna of the epic Mahabharata. Having had his spiritual education under the tutelage of Swami Sivananda Saraswati of Rishikesh for over twelve years, Paramahamsa Satyananda, who had taken to parivrajaka life and travelled extensively in different parts of the Indian sub-continent, came to Munger in 1956, “not with the idea of founding an ashram, of creating a tradition or of teaching and preaching, but to live and understand myself. I wanted to experience the totality of existence beyond body and mind, name and form.”
“During this period from 1956 and 1963, I developed an understanding of the vibrations that seemed to have remained even after 5000 years. On the desolate, deserted and barren hillock of Karna Choura, I sat for days, weeks, and months, but did not know exactly what it was that I was assimilating. I knew that Maharaja Karna was a man of great magnanimity who used to give gold in charity and alms to all the people who came to him. I thought this seat was not really for me. If Karna gave gold, I could not give even a morsel of food, because I had nothing but two dhotis which are all my wealth.”
In 1963, his mission seemed to unfold before him – that he must be the instrument in heralding the dawn of the psychic age, that he could achieve it by spreading the message of yoga, i.e. the message of peace. “If Karna’s age demanded gold, this age demands peace – shanti inside, shanti outside and shanti everywhere. The one who can distribute shanti, the way of peace, is the Karna of today. Now I sit on Karna’s throne and to offer peace had been my desire.”
Fired by this desire to spread the message of peace “from door to door and shore to shore”, Swami Satyananda Saraswati founded the International Yoga Fellowship Movement with a view to creating a global fraternity of yoga. The Bihar School of Yoga (BSY) came into existence in 1964, though on a modest scale.
But as Swamiji began to spread yoga within and outside India and more and more devotees began to flock to Munger, it became a pressing necessity to create a larger institution. Some of his disciples pooled their resources and made a bid to acquire the hilly terrain which became known as Ganga Darshan.
Some people strongly opposed the move. Their apparent contention was that the historical monument must not be tampered with. It was also a cultural shock for the people of the Munger town, where modern civilization was yet to find a tow hold, to witness scores of foreign sannyasins descending on the place and living in a blissful world of their own.
But Swami Satyananda Saraswati, visionary that he was, did not criticize those opposing his efforts. As the years rolled by and Swamiji’s social and spiritual message began to make a visible impact in the neighbouring villages, popular resistance turned into popular approbation. That paved the way for the building of new premises at Ganga Darshan.
Swamiji’s real achievements lay in initiating training in the techniques of integral yoga, which is the hallmark of the institution he founded. He carried forward his mission by setting up the Yoga Research Foundation (YRF) in 1984 which is sponsoring pioneering research to establish yoga as an essential science for the further development and evolution of mankind. The major research programs sponsored by BSY are related to the effect of hatha yoga and meditation on the endocrine and nervous systems — on diabetes, asthma, cardiovascular problems and hypertension.
The positive outcome of this research is borne out by the thousands of people undergoing specialized yoga practices within the country as well as outside. The fact that BSY is now represented by more than 500 branches all over India as well as in countries as diverse as Australia, Greece, Spain, France, Germany, UK, Scandinavia, Colombia, USA and South Africa is an eloquent testimony to the success of Swami Satyananda’s dream project.

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