“The great saints and sages have left their mark in history, so that we may be able to follow and walk in their footsteps. They are our lights and our guides. It is their path which we have to follow.”
Sri Swami Satyananda
Sri Swami Sivananda conducted the first World Religion Conference in Rishikesh in 1953, which launched his movement of the Divine Life Society and gave it a solid footing. In 1973 Sri Swami Satyananda, twenty years later, celebrated the Golden Jubilee of Sri Swami Sivananda’s fifty years of renunciation. The theme of that convention was ‘World Yoga Conference’. From 1973 onwards, Sri Swami Satyananda began his mission of propagating yoga on a large scale. Twenty years later in 1993, the disciples of Sri Swami Satyananda led by Swami Niranjan conducted another convention to celebrate the fifty years of renunciation of Sri Swami Satyananda. The theme of this convention was ‘Integration of Yoga and Science’.
These yoga conventions have played a vital role in raising the awareness of society in relation to applied yoga. Each convention has represented a shift in the teaching, application and understanding of yoga. The two main aims of yoga conventions have been, firstly, to bring an awareness of yoga into the mind of the general public and, secondly, to focus on recent scientific findings and research as well as social and personal problems and to provide a glimpse into possible solutions.
There have been two major conventions held by Bihar School of Yoga which have shifted the focus of applying yoga in human society. Each of these conventions was a turning point for the mission of Bihar School of Yoga. From the first convention in 1973 the orientation of yogic research and studies was into the benefits of yoga for human health. Major research on asthma, pranayama, yoga nidra, diabetes, pregnancy etc. was launched after the convention. For almost two decades the yoga therapies evolved and the practices were looked into from the health and healing prospective.
It was after the 1973 World Yoga Convention that the yoga movement around the world took on a dynamic, scientific and professional focus. Some teachers taught yoga as a hobby, others as a profession, some formed yoga federations in their own countries, others conducted scientific research on asanas, meditation and therapy, some became sannyasins, others became karma sannyasins, some became aspirants, and some remained students or associates.
Development of ashrams, yoga training centres and yogic communities became the prominent theme in different parts of the globe. In their own capacity they propagated yoga through whatever means and media were available. Yoga became a global subject in the decade of the seventies and the Convention in 1973 launched yoga research and health awareness. People worldwide accepted yoga as a therapy and as a science.
The second huge shift in Bihar School of Yoga and its mission took place twenty years after the first convention in 1973, during the Golden Jubilee Convention held at Munger in 1993.
The outcome of this convention was the formation and creation of academic yoga training and teaching through Bihar Yoga Bharati. This gathering provided more focus to the work being done by independent teachers, yoga centres, yoga schools and yoga ashrams.
“There is a definite direction in each country regarding yoga, which is positive, constructive and uplifting. Eventually a new picture of yoga will emerge of which we are just at the starting point. In the next decade a network of yoga-minded people with a common vision will grow and each will find their place in the scheme of yogic events.”