SWAMI SATYANANDA SARASWATI
Swami Satyananda Saraswati was born in a small town near Almora, Uttar Pradesh in the foothills of the Himalayas in 1923.
As a child he showed extraordinary qualities and had his first spiritual experience at the age of six. He was blessed by many sages and sadhus (holy people) who passed by his home on their way to higher Himalayan regions.
At the age of nineteen, he left his family and home to search for his spiritual master, Swami Sivananda Saraswati who he met in 1943.
During the twelve years he spent with his guru, Swami Satyananda plunged himself into karma yoga to such an extent that Swami Sivananda said he did the work of four people. Like an ideal disciple he worked from dawn until late at night, involving himself in every kind of work from cleaning to management of the ashram. Service to guru was his passion and his joy.
Although he had a very keen intellect and was described as a ‘versatile genius’, Swami Satyananda’s learning did not come from instruction or study in the ashram.
He followed with faith his guru’s one command, ‘Work hard and purify yourself. You do not have to bring the light from the outside. The light will unfold from within.’ This is exactly what happened. At an early age, he gained an enlightened understanding of the secrets of the spiritual life.
After spending twelve years with his guru, Swami Satyananda took to parivrajaka (wandering mendicant) life in 1955. He journeyed extensively for nine years traveling throughout India, Afghanistan, Burma, Nepal and Sri Lanka. During this period he met many great saints and yogis, and spent time in seclusion formulating and perfecting yogic techniques to alleviate the sufferings of humanity.
In 1963, his mission became apparent and he instituted the International Yoga Fellowship Movement (IYFM) and, in 1964, the Bihar School of Yoga (BSY) in Munger. Before long, students were coming from all over India and abroad to stay at BSY.
From 1968 to 1988 he authored over 80 books and toured internationally spreading the teachings of yoga. He became well known worldwide as a leading exponent of yoga and tantra. He guided and inspired thousands of spiritual seekers and centres throughout the world with his holistic and scientific approach to yoga and the spiritual life.
In 1983, he appointed Swami Niranjanananda as his successor and president of the Bihar School of Yoga and associated centres.
In 1984, he founded both Sivananda Math, a charitable institution for rural development, and the Yoga Research Foundation.
In 1988, Swami Satyananda renounced his mission and adopted kshetra sannyasa (renunciation of active participation in one’s own field). He began a pilgrimage through the siddhateerthas (holy places) in India as a wandering sadhu, without any assistance from any of the ashrams and institutions he had founded.
In 1990 he established the Sri Panchdashnam Paramahamsa Alakh Bara and commenced the lifestyle of a paramahamsa sannyasin. Here he has performed the panchagni sadhana (a practice where one is exposed to five fires) and other vedic sadhanas to pave the way for the future paramahamsas to uphold their tradition.
The activities of Sivananda Math are also directed from here and, in recent years, he has opened the ashram to those who wish to experience ashram life.
Swami Satyananda is a man of spiritual authority whose words and actions overflow with gentleness, compassion and wisdom towards all. Through his life, we have a living example on whom we can model ourselves and can gain courage to become wiser individuals and more caring human beings.