Swami Suryaprakash Saraswati
Once somebody asked Swamiji, “In 2009 you stopped travelling and in 2010 you started a series of satsang programs. Please tell us of your new lifestyle and how the mission will continue.” Swamiji gave a beautiful answer.
He said he had no intention of answering the question; instead he would share his thoughts on the subject.
When Swami Satyananda appointed him as his successor, the succession was not for an institution, but for something greater and intimate – the succession of sannyasa. At the age of twenty-three, he was appointed president of the Bihar School of Yoga, and at the age of forty-eight he handed over the charge to the next generation. Swamiji guided BSY for over twenty-five years.
For thirty-eight years, Swami Niranjan lived out of a suitcase. As a child I once watched him pack his luggage and I asked what the second suitcase was for. He told me that when he came back from a trip, he would not have to pack again for the next one. He just had to drop one suitcase and pick up the other. At the time it sounded strange, but now, knowing of the hectic life he led, it makes perfect sense. He would travel throughout India and the globe, teaching and inspiring everyone who came in contact with him.
In 2009, Paramahamsaji instructed him to end his parivrajaka life, and to be established in Munger. Free from institutional and administrative responsibilities, he continued to work for yoga, and started to change his lifestyle, spend time in tirtha yatras, pilgrimages, and anushthanas, intense sadhanas. A new mission entrusted to him by his guru is the development of the sannyasa lifestyle, based at Paduka Darshan Ashram, a campus on the banks of the Ganga, away from the institutional and educational activities at Ganga Darshan and Yoga Vidya.
Swami Satyananda presented two monuments to the world. The first is the yoga monument at Ganga Darshan in Munger and the second monument is one of service at Rikhiapeeth in Deoghar. Ganga Darshan has become a centre of learning and knowledge. Its emblem, ajna chakra, symbolizes inner knowledge and wisdom. Rikhiapeeth represents ‘serve, love and give’, the three cardinal teachings of Swami Sivananda, to be made part of everyone’s life. We all live and interact in the world through our head (mental activity), heart (emotional expression) and hands (action and performance). Paramahamsaji established Ganga Darshan as the head, Rikhiapeeth as the heart, and gave Swami Niranjan the mission to develop the hands.
Waiting for the jigsaw puzzle
Swamiji made another point very clear: in order to move on his path, he has to interact less with people. The Satsang Series program begun in 2010 is a social event where people have an opportunity to meet him. These satsangs will develop yogic knowledge and understanding. He would like to disconnect from everybody in order to focus on the tasks before him, but since people will not accept it, he decided on a gradual withdrawal through the Satsang Series.
Swami Niranjan gave the example of a huge jigsaw puzzle where many pieces have been put in the right place, but many still remain to be placed. He needs young, dynamic and strong people, who can assist the new mission. When more pieces come into place, the image created will be self-explanatory. Then everybody will be able to appreciate the new creation.
After Swamiji’s talk it seems that two questions are troubling many people: ‘What’s next?’ or ‘What will we do when Swamiji is gone?’ I personally feel that before asking such questions, we should try to broaden our perspectives and with more clarity avoid unnecessary distress and tension.
What has actually changed? Bihar School of Yoga and its activities will continue unhindered. In February 2008, over two years ago, Swami Niranjan handed over the presidency. I was given the presidency not on the grounds of any expertise or qualifications. People far more competent could have been placed in that position. However, I was found to be suitable to learn. First comes the post, and with the responsibility comes the learning through the different situations one has to face. Swamiji says that at the age of twenty-three he was not familiar with the management of an institution, and it took him about fifteen years to attain a good grasp. The day he came to that realization, Paramahamsaji instructed him to start training the next generation.
I have noticed one misunderstanding in people. They relive the time when Swami Satyananda left Munger never to return, handing over all charge to Swamiji, who became the successor and guru, to continue the tradition. People who think that history is repeating itself forget that this time is completely different. Swami Niranjan has not appointed anybody as his successor. Nowhere will you find a quote about his successor. I have been handed the administrative responsibilities of Bihar School of Yoga, nothing more than that. People come to me for blessings, and I tell them, “Please do not mind, but you have approached the wrong department. Good wishes I can give you in plenty, but for blessings the line is ‘up there’.”
The activities of the institution which embodies the mission of Satyananda Yoga as well as the guidance of the guru at every step will continue. Swami Niranjan will spend more time on pilgrimages and in sadhana, and in preparation for the next phase of his life he will gradually withdraw from frequent interactions with people. After all, we will be the ones to benefit from the fruits of his sadhana. After travelling for forty years, leading a life dedicated to yoga and helping others, Swamiji is now getting an opportunity to fulfil his next mandates.
Bihar School of Yoga is an institution founded by Swami Satyananda for the promotion and propagation of yoga. He presided over it for twenty years and then moved on. The work continued and the movement grew. Swami Niranjan worked for yoga for twenty-five years and then handed over the responsibilities to Swami Suryaprakash. Paramahamsaji’s mission will continue to move forward.Swami Niranjan is not disappearing, but he is creating a space in order to fulfil the mandates given to him by his guru. He has freed himself of his administrative responsibilities, become free from the parivrajaka lifestyle, and is now starting his new mission and will continue to give spiritual guidance in abundance.