Swami Satyananda Saraswati

What will the role of yoga teachers be?

Yoga is the nucleus of a coming civilization. Yoga teachers will have to play a very prominent part in that coming event. Yoga teachers are in no sense ordinary teachers like music teachers and dance teachers.

In the past yoga has been a philosophy which has created geniuses, ideas, forms and expressions. In order to restructure the individual human mind, scientists have tried different methods right from the beginning of civilization, but they have found that the science of tantra of which yoga is a branch, is the most powerful and most successful.

Unless you are able to liberate energy from matter, how can the shakti be handled? In the same way, the sukshma or the subtle force in the human being is arrested by the gross body, mind and senses. This transcendental force known as atma, as chaitanya shakti, is in eternal captivity. We can see and experience the body and the mind, senses, thoughts and emotions in many ways – pains, pleasure, jealousies, dreams, hallucinations – but you have something other than this which most people have not been able to experience. Most people have not been able to experience the dimension of shakti. Yoga teachers, not only in India but everywhere, must understand that they will have to manifest this shakti in their life through constant sadhana and thus become the nucleus of a common culture.

What will be the role of your swamis in the future? Will they be teaching and who will handle the knowledge?

I am a person who has a very clear cut plan. I am not going to have many swamis to survive me. My swamis will have a very limited role to play, they will initiate the whole movement and then the householders, the total number in the human civilization of the world will take up the work, because this is meant for them.

Sannyasins and swamis are renunciates, and the most difficult commodities to find. Renunciation is the most difficult test. As such, I do not expect that many sannyasins will take over my work or that they will continue to be the leaders or masters of the culture. Sannyasins will not survive me but it will be the householders in India and abroad who will continue this work. They will have to champion the movement.

Can householders practise siddhasana? It is said in the Gheranda Samhita that parents who practise siddhasana have defective children.

Siddhasana is one of those asanas which can, in the course of time, bring about a state where the masculine system becomes incapable of producing a child. This is why it is said that siddhasana is good for brahmacharya. However, I have made some studies on siddhasana and had many talks on the role of siddhasana with my guru, Swami Sivananda, who was a medical man.

Swami Sivananda told me this is right but it is a minimal effect. It is about twelve years before siddhasana has an effect on the human body. So, these days, if you want less children, if you start practising siddhasana at the age of eighteen, then maybe by the age of forty you will be able to plan the whole thing.

When you need more children, then siddhasana need not be practised; when you need to produce more Christians or Muslims, or when you need more people to go into the army. We are not a race who believes that children are born in order to give expression to the most beautiful things in life though one might become a Shakespeare, another a Ravindranath Tagore. In order to give the best product to humanity, to guide humanity from darkness to light, children have to be produced not merely to increase the number of religious fanatics or to produce more children to go to the battle field.

Siddhasana has an overall effect only if you practise one and a half to two hours every day. If you practise siddhasana for half an hour or ten minutes every day, you can practise it throughout your life, it will not interfere with the scheme of procreation. In siddhasana you press two important areas of the body – the perineum and the abdominal viscera. These are the two important places or centres. They are responsible for sending stimuli to the heart.

When you practise siddhasana, the blood pressure remains steady. It will neither rise nor fall. When you practise meditation or dhyana, japa or pranayama, the blood pressure fluctuates. Everyone’s blood pressure fluctuates during these practices, sometimes more and sometimes less. These fluctuations should be controlled and in order to control them, siddhasana should be practised. When you do pranayama and pooja, meditation and japa or any other psychic or tantric practice in siddhasana, it has been noted that the blood pressure never fluctuates. It remains steady because the two important centres in the body are pressed during siddhasana. So this helps us understand the positive side of siddhasana.

If we care for the defective children being born through the practice of siddhasana, we have to make a systematic, thorough study about it and we know that defective children are born due to faulty medication also. Once when I was in England, one scientist had made a study that many outstanding musicians have defective children. He came to think that because they do a long range of Aaaaa . . . or rechaka, exhalation, they have defective children. That was the theory he was preaching and he was able to provide the name of a few outstanding musicians and their children.

Somehow he stumbled upon me and was talking to me about this. I became very alert because it was not only an attack on music but on rechaka, exhalation. He was saying rechaka can cause defective children. I said, science is something which can be shot at anyone. Science is a very vague system. It is not a clear system. I have studied it, at least from a yogic point of view for the last forty years. Today I can stand and criticize every asana from a scientific point of view and I have been supporting hatha yoga from a scientific point of view. Science is not a very clear subject. You can say anything about it and you can say anything on the basis of it. You can even say that the food you are eating is creating an imbalance in your hormonal system, so stop eating carrots from today.

In addition to what we study in science, there has to be a quantity of common sense in man. Science is definitely a very orthodox system. As such, if someone has made a statement that by practising siddhasana, the quality of the progeny becomes defective, you may accept it, this is perfectly all right but surely in India in the last few thousand years, there have been only a few defective great men. One of them was Ganesha, another defective personality was Brahma. The history of the people who have been practising yoga in this country for centuries and centuries have proved that, not only siddhasana, but the whole of yoga can definitely bring about a greater race and not a defective race.

My parents are worried that I may become a sadhu. How can I handle them?

This is always a problem. Many times the families think that I am going to become a scoundrel and they are worried about it and then they are also afraid that I am going to become a vagabond. That is also a problem. You can never help the family because the structure of families is based upon interdependence, not upon independence. A family is a place where people should sit together with total independence. In a family there is the dominance of a few people. When you will say that you are going to become a sadhu they should take it to be happy news. At least you are not going to become a gambler.

Of course, I have been thinking, and I have certain complaints about family life in many countries and many cultures. We follow a system that is a worn out system. It is not beneficial for our present day requirements, and that is why there is so much crime and tragedy. There is so much dissatisfaction and suppression in the family. Everybody is unhappy. The husband, the dominant figure is unhappy; the wife, the dominated figure, is unhappy. The children in a suppressed state are unhappy. The wife is crying, the husband is wailing and crying and ultimately some tragedy happens.

You must remember that young people are more capable than people who are grown up. They can do better things. The second point is that when any member of your family wants to become a sannyasin, a sadhu, a politician, a mountaineer or a sportsman – let him go! Let him be the best wherever he lives. Everybody cannot become a captain, somebody has to be the crew. Therefore, one should be the best whatever and wherever it is.

If he becomes a sannyasin and becomes like Swami Vivekananda – well and good, or if he becomes a mountain climber well and good. If he become a statesman or a mahatma like Mahatma Gandhi – well that is all right. Give him the best encouragement, the best help, so that he turns out to be the best in that particular vocation.

I practise asana and pranayama, but what is the best way to attain salvation?

Asana and pranayama have nothing to do with salvation. Asana and pranayama are the basic lessons in the science of yoga for the maintenance of the body, for increasing the sensitivity of the nervous system and also for the purification of the body and to make it fit for yoga and meditation. Salvation is an experience. Salvation is the discovery of an idea. Asana or pranayama, pooja, a temple, a church, the Bible, the Bhagavad Gita or Ramayana they are for a different purpose.

Salvation means, moksha, emancipation. You should think about what it really means. Mukti, moksha, nirvana, samadhi are synonymous terms. They say jivatma is arrested by devatma, by maya. The jivatma is under the captivity of maya, and when he becomes free from the clutches of maya then he becomes known as mukta – free.

In Samkhya philosophy, in yoga philosophy and in tantra, the concept is very clear. Just as energy is arrested in matter, even as the oil is in the sesame seed, the fire in wood and butter in milk, in the same way, behind this matter which is your body and mind, there is a great force which is dormant and that force has to be liberated. That force has to be released, just as a scientist breaks matter and by the process of fission and fusion releases the energy from the matter, known as nuclear energy. In the same way, in meditation, dhyana, this great energy becomes free from the hold of matter, this is the meaning of mukti.

20 April 1980