When I first went to Munger thirty-five years ago I was a grihasthi, a householder, and still I am a grihasthi. The only transformation is my coming into contact with Swami Satyananda.
I was introduced to Swami Satyananda in 1971. He asked me, “Dadi, what is it that you require?” so I told him that I was steadily losing my memory. He said, “That’s all?” I was absolutely amazed. But fortunately or unfortunately he was about to go on a world tour. He said after that, in two years, he would come and solve my problem.
Within four months, Swamiji called to say he was cutting short his tour, and we should collect him from the airport. The moment he saw us he said, “All of you, come to Munger. I am going to start a kriya yoga course.” I had no idea what kriya yoga was, nor had I sat for so many hours in my life.
Classes started at 3:30 in the morning with Swamiji. At 3:31 the door would be locked and he would start. During the first two or three days my back started giving me trouble, everything started giving me trouble, but I had the feeling that this was my only solution, because the moment I saw Swami Satyananda I knew that he had come to me from the Lord. I thought to myself, “Just stick to him, come what may, just be with him and you will see what he can do.” So to me Swami Satyananda was next to God and I still believe that he is next to God.
Once we started, Swamiji told us that within a few days we would be able to sit comfortably. After two days I could sit straight through the day, for six to seven hours. That is how my training with Swami Satyananda started. It was an intensive course and by the time the course was over I started getting my memory back, very steadily, and I felt that I had come to the place that I had wished for. This is how I was cured.
After this event I never talked to Swami Satyananda about it, and he never talked to me about it. So I am completely blank as to how it happened. It is a miracle, whatever people say. Perhaps Swamiji would not agree, but to me it is a miracle in my life.
Two years later there was a convention in Munger, and I was invited two weeks beforehand for seva. Once the convention was over I told Swamiji, “I am going back to Bombay.” He said, “Just start teaching.” I said, “Teaching? Who do I teach? Where do I teach?” All these questions were going on in my mind. Then he said, “No, just start teaching. Do you know why? Because when the swamis go to Mumbai everyone says they have come to collect guru dakshina, but when you start teaching they will see that there are householders who can do the same job that the swamis do. I tell you, start.”
Behind me was a very dynamic lady, and we had been friends for over fifty years. She must have heard Swamiji telling me this. On the plane to Mumbai she quietly told me, “Dadi, you start teaching.” I said, “Start teaching, where? First of all get me a place, secondly get me students and then perhaps I might think about it, but just now what will I do? I know that I must obey him but I just don’t know what to say.” She said, “Tell me the day and my place is there for you.” “Fair enough,” I said, “Students?” She said, “I have three students ready for you.” That is how I started teaching. Today roughly sixty students come and go. Absolutely anybody can come, anybody can take lessons and leave or anybody can stay. I have students who are now teachers. They have joined me and we are doing good work as far as yogic science goes.
Yoga has meant everything in my life. If I had not met Swami Satyananda, I would not have learned yoga. With no memory at all, how can anybody function? So yoga means everything to me, it is very precious.
Nowadays, many yogas are taught in Mumbai. Everywhere you see signboards with different names, but students know that what we teach is different. We teach Swami Satyananda yoga, classical yoga. According to Swamiji it is known as composite yoga: asana, pranayama, mudras, bandhas, meditation and relaxation, all in one session. This is how my life is; prayers on one side, yoga on the other side, and then everything just flows by His grace and I am content and happy. No other yoga school has a better curriculum or teachers than the Bihar School of Yoga. Also no other yoga school can give you so much love that you feel, “Not only am I a member of the family, I am much closer than a member.”
Spiritual and material life are not two separate lifestyles, they are absolutely complementary and supplementary. When we start off, our way of looking at life is not really correct. We keep on making mistakes because we are pulled on one side by the temptations of life and on the other by our own conscience. Then we start learning and make sadhana the most important factor. Swami Satyananda used to say, “When you are in doubt do sadhana, when you are depressed do sadhana, when you are worried do sadhana. For anything that you want to overcome, do sadhana.” I have followed this in my life, and in thirty-five years of teaching I have found that sadhana can overcome anything and everything one wants.
If the sannyasa tradition did not exist, or the yoga culture was not there, what would our condition be? Who would give us spiritual knowledge? Who would lead us to the path of truth? It is very difficult to know the path of truth, particularly in the Kali Yuga, the current age. That is why without yoga, we cannot function. The sannyasins and the yoga culture also cannot function without our support for the simple reason that if we appreciate them we will visit from time to time. The sannyasins who lead us to the right path and the creation of the ashram is part of everyone’s contribution towards life. This is how the ashram has come about.
The contribution of my Guruji has been absolutely tremendous. I have seen it grow from a small ashram. It started with one big hall with Swamiji’s room next to it. Everywhere there were temporary shelters with corrugated sheets as roofs. Swami Satyananda’s techniques were very different and Swami Niranjan’s techniques are also very different, because this is how great masters are made. Yoga and life must be complementary. You cannot advance without honesty, truthfulness, kindness, generosity and charity. Where does it come from? It cannot be taught by ordinary people. It can only be taught by great masters.