I left my native town in 1942 and went to Rajasthan in the western part of India. I had an adopted sister who was a doctor. She had a guru, so when she knew that I was searching for spiritual life, she took me to her guru. Her guru was eighty years old and he was a master of tantra. I lived with him for over six months. The master was very kind to me and taught me the theories and philosophies of tantra, for he thought that I could be his good disciple. However, after six months I left his place and again went in search of a guru of my choice.
I went to Rishikesh, and there I met Swami Sivananda Saraswati. I joined him on 19th March 1943 at 9 am in the morning. My problem was not meditation or samadhi or concentration. I could easily withdraw my mind and go deep, up to a certain point of awareness, but beyond that I could not, I could not go beyond a certain level of mind or consciousness. I tried for many years but it didn't work. Therefore, the first question that I asked him was, "When I meditate I have this difficulty." He advised me to stay in the ashram and work hard. He said, "Stay here and work hard."
From that time up to March 1956, the same day, 19th March, I worked for him. The life in that ashram was so dynamic and so full of novelties, every moment was a surprise. No two days were the same. Now we have a mechanical life, everyday we have the same program, same problem, same situations, but in the Rishikesh ashram, everyday was different, the experience was different, the difficulties were different, the place you slept was different and the food was different.
During these years the conflicts, the latent passions, the samskaras and the karma, which I did not know were there in me began to come up to the surface. Fear, anger, jealousy, laziness, hatred, passions, restlessness, anxiety, everything, one by one, and sometimes a hoard of them began to come up. So much so that in 1947, I began to think that it would be too difficult for me to live as a sannyasin, as a swami. It would be better if I went back and did some work somewhere to continue my spiritual life. I wrote an application to a newspaper where I knew the managing director. Immediately he sent me a letter of appointment as the subeditor of the newspaper, as he knew that I was a journalist. He also sent me some money, about fifty rupees. For fifty rupees one could buy a coat, pant, tie, and there would be money left. I did not tell anyone in the ashram. A few days before leaving, I went to my guru and told him, "I am dedicated to a spiritual life, I am not going to fall into maya, so I think I will work and lead a spiritual life." I think it was 4th, 5th, or 6th of September. He said, "Oh, you are going? Alright."
In the evening he called me and said, "You have lived in the ashram for so many years and you have done a lot of work for the ashram, raised so many buildings, established the printing press, offices, departments, kitchen, everything. Now when you are going we will give you a farewell party." I was not a big man in the ashram, but I was an important man in the ashram, as I worked for every department. He said, "Okay, this party will be arranged after two or three days." I said, "Alright." I began to tell everybody that I was going to be the subeditor of an importnat newspaper. On 12th September in the morning Swami Sivananda called me and said, "You are going to take sannyasa." I thought, "My God! I have prepared everything. My appointment letter has come, fifty rupees have come." I couldn't say anything, the barber was already there, for according to Swamiji's concept I needed to shave my head. The dhoti was ready, the archarya who chants the mantra for sannyasa was ready. Everything was prepared. I said, "I told everybody you were going to give me a farewell party." He said, "Yes, I am going to give you a farewell party. Farewell to the old man, welcome to another man. Farewell to that man, welcome to this man."
Even with such a powerful mind that I had at that time, I could not oppose my guru on any issue. I stayed. I didn't know exactly what to do. He said, "Ready?" No reply. I was mummified.
I went to the Ganga, which was not far, only about twenty to twenty-five feet. I took my bath, and then I went to the barber who shaved my head. I didn't speak. Swamiji said, "Come, sit down near the fireplace." Mantras where chanted. In two and a half hours, my sacred thread was thrown out, the tuft, sign of Hinduism, was taken out and my white dhoti was taken away. This geru garb was put on, the mala was put on and my name was given. My name before sannyasa was Satya Chaitanya, but then chaityanya was removed and ananda was added.