Munger is 108 miles east of Patna, 300 miles west of Kolkata, on the banks of the Ganga, where the river flows like a mala, garland. Munger was once the capital of Maharaja Karna, the great warrior-hero famous for his generosity and charity in the Mahabharata. This eldest son of Kunti, mother of the Pandavas, was also a tantric mahayogi. He worshipped Chandi, the fierce form of the Cosmic Mother, who slew the demon Mahishasura. Thus the ishta devi of Munger is Chandi.
Munger acquired its name from Rishi Mudgala, who had an ashram here. Mudgala was one of the two disciples of Lord Buddha, the other was Sariputta. Mudgala came to be known as Mudgalagiri; shortly after, the site became Mudgiri and finally the English called it Monghyr. Now Monghyr has changed to Munger. It was the capital of the kingdom of Anga, which was gifted to Karna by his friend, Duryodhana. Here Karna had a palace which was known as Karna Chaura.
In 1967, I had my eye on this site and approached many people for a loan as I was keen to acquire the property. Finally, in 1976, I acquired it. Today, that precious hillock belongs to BSY. However, the actual foundation and roots of BSY are at the foot of the hill in a small ashram known as Bihar School of Yoga, where I first came in 1964.
I never aspired for an ashram, it is not my nature. I am not an ambitious person. As a sannyasin my ambitions are just two rotis, two dhotis, chillum, channa, chimta. I wanted to be alone, by myself – no ashram, no disciples! I quietly went to Munger and stayed there for over eight or nine years off and on. During my visits I had many visions, intuitions and revelations.
Yoga is not my sampradaya, tradition. My sampradaya is Vedanta. I belong to the tradition of Sringeri, that is my personal sannyasa. I am a sannyasin from the Dashnami order known as Saraswati, so my philosophy is Vedanta, not yoga. Of course I know yoga, as a sannyasin I ought to, but it is not necessary for a sannyasin to practise yoga. What for? A sannyasin has no tension, no problems, no insomnia, no high blood pressure, no anxiety, no indigestion – when you only eat half a roti and do not take any ghee, how can you get indigestion? I did not practise yoga in that way, but I know a lot about it and have read a lot of books on the subject.
In Munger, things began to happen by themselves and I was surprised. I thought, "I lived in Rishikesh for twelve years and I have been here only a few months. What is happening to me?" For night upon night, with eyes wide open, I would see things, hear voices, feel things. In 1963 when I was not even preaching I already knew what is happening today. At that time it just came to my mind, "Yoga is the culture of tomorrow." This is my slogan, which I began to use in 1963 after seeing those pictures and visions. So I stayed in Munger, had Sri Kedarnath Goenka give a little plot of land and sat down quietly. It was 19 January 1964, the day of Basant Panchami.
From that day till today, I do not know what has happened! Not a day do I get rest; not a day can I think of anything other than yoga. A number of times I have thought, "Get out somewhere in seclusion and don't come out for three to six months!" Of course not now, but in between I used to think like that. Many times I closed my school for one month. Even now I do it, but I get the maximum number of students when I declare the school closed. Batch after batch of teachers and sannyasins are prepared in that little school. I have given up resisting and began to think, "I am not doing it. Things are happening without my personal participation." Even if I do participate, things will happen, because yoga has to become the mother of world cultures.
Even BSY is not my creation or imagination. I had gone to Rameshwaram with my guru, Swami Sivananda, in the 1950s. Our team of sannyasins had worked hard to prepare for the All India program and at the conclusion of the events, Swamiji had told us to go to Rameshwaram and have darshan of the shivalingam. I was around twenty-seven years old then. When I bowed before the shivalingam at Rameshwaram, I had a vision of an area with buildings beside a river on a hillock. I also had the deep feeling that the vision was somehow related to me, but I could not understand it and eventually this experience left my mind.
Much later in 1982, when Ganga Darshan was being constructed and the design was finalized, it suddenly flashed before me that I had seen this site, the building, the hillock and the river in my vision at Rameshwaram. Ganga Darshan is the manifestation of that vision. Even the details of the vision have become clear to me, and therefore I know that I am not the doer, that things are being done through me.