In 1983, after fulfilling the mandate of Sri Swami Sivananda and creating a world of yoga, Sri Swami Satyananda handed over the responsibilities and obligations to his spiritual successor, Swami Niranjan.
From the day that Swami Niranjan received his guru’s mantle and the reins of the organization and the yoga movement, he exhibited a determined will to fulfil the mandate of his guru. As Sri Swami Satyananda was leaving the ashram for the last time, he said to him, “Now the ashram, the mission, all my life’s work are in your hands. If you are able to look after them well, they will grow.” And that is precisely what has happened. Over the past three decades Swami Niranjan has worked tirelessly to continue to fulfil the mandate to “spread yoga from door to door and from shore to shore”, and the Ganga Darshan Yogashram has grown into an international gurukul campus for authentic yoga training.
From 1983 to 2008 during his active presidency of Bihar School of Yoga, Swami Niranjan ensured the continuity of both the ancient yogic culture and also the sacred tradition of sannyasa. Under his inspired vision and guiding hand the ashram, mission and movement have engendered a new era of yogic and spiritual vision.
Applications of Yoga in Society
Under his guidance Bihar School of Yoga made significant advances in the creative application of yoga to address the needs of various groups in society – such as professionals, medical students and doctors, athletes and sportspeople, prisoners, the army and police, school children, people with cancer and special needs, people with addictions – including:
- 108 remote villages of Bihar – In 1995, sannyasins took yoga to these villages with spectacular results
- Addiction research and investigations – Findings in Greece, Italy and Czechoslovakia demonstrated yoga can significantly improve the ability of people to make positive, qualitative changes in lifestyle
- Medical Colleges in Bihar – Yoga therapy introduced as part of curriculum for all institutions in this sector
- Management of cancer – Research undertaken which now shows that proper yogic practices can extend life-span beyond conventional expectations, and that in its early stages cancer is frequently an eminently curable condition
- Twenty-four prisons in Bihar – Bihar School of Yoga teachers have taught yoga to thousands of Bhari convicts since 1994, five hundred of whom have also been trained as yoga teachers
- Large corporations and government bodies in Bihar – Stress management and self-development courses conducted for employees in this sector since 1994
- Sports Authority of India – Training programs provided for athletes, coaches and physical training teachers to improve physical and mental proficiency
- Indian army & police forces – Specialized training programs conducted in Bihar and other states for instructors to improve physical, mental and emotional fitness
- Guest Speaker at international conferences – Organized by UNESCO in France, in 1994 and 2000 Swami Niranjan’s expositions on the role and benefits of yoga for children and possibilities for the integration of yoga into classical education were highly acclaimed and generated a new approach to education in Europe.
Contribution to Yoga Practices
Taking up where his guru Sri Swami Satyananda left off, Swami Niranjan has made an immense contribution to the practices of yoga. A rare combination of inherent practical wisdom, insight and incisive genius, the depth of Swami Niranjan’s contribution to the understanding of yoga, in particular dharana and jnana, is unfathomable.
He has given an unparalled exposition of dharana, the stage of meditation following pratyahara and the sixth stage in the eightfold path of Sage Patanjali. Combining scriptural and personal experiential research, Swami Niranjan expounded upon a collection of dharana practices from ancient yogic, tantric and upanishadic texts. Published in 1993 his book Dharana Darshan systematized these practices and made them accessible for the first time. The practices are given in stages for safe, stable and sequential progression, with fully detailed explanations. All the obstacles, possible pitfalls, and ‘tricks of the trade’ are generously outlined with the infallible wisdom of experience.
Swami Niranjan elucidated the weighty subject of jnana yoga, making it palatable and accessible. He deftly rendered the high philosophy of Vedanta and the complex techniques of jnana into simple practices that can be applied by everyone. These practices bring more understanding and awareness into daily life, giving rise to a profound and powerful transformation.
Through scriptural research Swami Niranjan has revealed the previously unknown practice of yoga derived from vedic thought and tradition, laya yoga. A highly advanced practice, laya deals with the dissolution of the manifest nature and experience into the unmanifest and is seldom taught.
In the text Yoga Darshan Swami Niranjan has given a contemporary yogic vision of the Upanishads, presenting a picture that is both panoramic and precise. The different traditions and philosophies of yoga are identified and explained, along with clear expositions on the various branches and practices of yoga.
Seeing the fast pace of modern life with its overwhelming demands on time, Swami Niranjan introduced a specific sequence of sadhana called the “yogic capsule”. This sadhana consists of practices that are simple to perform and take only 10-20 minutes to complete, and which give benefits on all levels of being for health, wellbeing and upliftment. Deftly combining insight, wisdom and compassion, Swami Niranjan pioneered an approach by which everyone can incorporate yoga easily and effectively into their daily lives and experience the benefits.
“Perfection and success in yoga is seen in how one manages life with greater understanding, better awareness, through thoughtful and pure concepts and creative action.”