The Vision of Sannyasa

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

Rikhiapeeth, 16th December 2013

We are reaching the last leg of this beautiful event which has unfolded here at Rikhiapeeth. The flowering was witnessed from the time of Sat Chandi Mahayajna, when the energy of Shakti became part of all of you, and everybody took part in her grace. After the Sat Chandi Mahayajna was completed, this unifying Shivupasana began on the occasion of Yoga Poornima. This also has been a very special event touching the lives of many, inspiring many to have a different outlook about themselves and about others as well. The programs have been great. Those people who have made this program and conducted the entirety of this program deserve our thanks, and they are the kanyas and batuks of Rikhiapeeth.

They are not children of the village. If you look at the children who are not yet the kanyas and batuks of this place, you will notice a difference, therefore I will not call the kanyas and batuks children of the village, although they are children of this rural, tribal area, and their parents are have-nots of society. They are children who have grown up under the shelter of Sri Swamiji’s grace, and they have been the receiver of his inspiration and his determination to march forward in life no matter what may come.

Supporting children

Sri Swamiji always loved children, and children loved him. In fact, I may call myself his first love, although I know that many others have loved him and he has loved many other children before me. I like to say that for the simple reason that I was born in his life and I lived with him for 50 years from the day of my birth until the day of his Mahasamadhi. I saw that the love that he gave to me over the 50 years is the same love he has shared with everybody, all the children who have encountered him. Wherever he went and whenever children had his darshan, he supported, encouraged and inspired them, and gave them a new vision, hope, and dream to follow. They did that, and it is this inspiration, this jyoti, that you see alive here. The kanyas and batuks of Rikhiapeeth are the conductors, the medium, in whose lives the sankalpa of Sri Swamiji has come alive, so definitely thanks to them.

I also remember that at the Sat Chandi Mahayajna at the end of 2009, Sri Swamiji was sitting on the lawn in Akhara, watching placidly as the children gathered for Kanya Pujan and bhoj, and he said, “Look at all these children. Here there are thousands who have been given a hope, support, strength and a dream to follow. This is only one panchayat, and there are over 70,000 panchayats in India. In each panchayat there are thousands and thousands of children who have no hope, no opportunity and no future, and who have no education, no clothes – they have nothing. Society calls children the future, but what is the use of calling children the future if they are not provided for, not given nourishment or clothes, and not educated and given the right samskara? How can you call these people your future? If you call these people your future, your future is going to be dark.”

The aim of sannyasa

Then Sri Swamiji made another point, and it is something he frequently said at Rikhia to the sannyasins. He said that sannyasins generally try to achieve wealth, name and fame, but it is the honour bound duty of the sannyasin to uplift the human society from their grief, pain and suffering, whether social, spiritual, mental or physical, in whatever form it may be. The upliftment of human society and human consciousness is the aim and object of sannyasa, not emancipation. Sri Swamiji lived this idea when he said, “I do not want emancipation. I do not want name and fame. My only intention is to serve. I live to serve. My destination is to serve. My aim is to serve.” He inspired this thought in sannyasins. He told sannyasins, “Instead of having ashrams in Mumbai, Kolkata and Delhi, go and stay in a village and work for their upliftment and development – social, spiritual, in every dimension and aspect.”

Sannyasa life and Sannyasa Peeth

The vision he gave of Sannyasa Peeth is in relation to and in continuation of his aspirations: to bring hope, luminosity, happiness and joy, by living a life in which one can be selfless, committed and sincere, endowed with faith and conviction. That is the life of sannyasa, and those people who live this life become selfless. Those people who seek emancipation, samadhi and enlightenment are selfish. Why do you seek samadhi and enlightenment? For your happiness and contentment. Are you not selfish? What will your enlightenment or samadhi do to remove the misery and pain from the life of another person in whom God also resides? People brush off the suffering of others by saying that it is their karma and they have to pay for it.

Sri Swamiji gave a different vision and perspective. For him, sannyasa was a very sublime lifestyle. It was not membership to a club. He lived his sannyasa, and that sannyasa is what we see manifest as a flame of luminosity. When he gave the idea, the concept, the inspiration and the mandate of Sannyasa Peeth, it was with this intention to prepare sannyasins to be selfless – those who are devoted and dedicated and who have the strength, courage and conviction to move from selfish awareness, selfish needs and selfish life.

There is a very thin, fine dividing line, because often sannyasins live their own ambitions and desires in the garb of devoting it and dedicating it to the guru. The guru never receives the Rolls Royce the sannyasins use in the West and they say, “We have dedicated this Rolls Royce to the guru.” No. Each one lives their own ambition in the name of guru; nobody lives guru’s aspirations. Sri Swami Satyananda lived the aspirations of his master. As sannyasins of Swami Satyananda we have lived the aspirations of our master, not our aspirations.

This has to be seen from the sannyasa perspective. Not only you are the centre of your life, there is something else which is the centre of your life. We are too self-contained, and that is our selfishness. By wearing this geru garb, who has made the effort for the last forty years, thirty years, twenty years, ten years, five years to improve the quality of their life? Who has made the effort? If you have made the effort, what have you gained? Nobody will be able to give an answer to this question, because nobody has made an in-depth commitment, to devotion, to dedication and to samarpan, surrender.

Sannyasa Peeth and re-initiation

Bihar School of Yoga has completed 50 years of existence, and Rikhiapeeth is completing 23 years of existence. Sannyasa Peeth is developing with the intention to give the right samskaras to future sannyasins, along the lines that Sri Swamiji has defined. Sannyasa Peeth will have its role in the whole vision of Sri Swamiji, because it is his creation and his mandate.

Many of you may remember that at the time of the Sat Chandi Mahayajna in 1995 Sri Swamiji announced that those who want to follow the path of sannyasa should recommit themselves again and be re-initiated. Many did, and many did not. Those who did were to continue to live as a sannyasin in whatever manner way they could, under whatever situation and circumstance they lived in. Now many years have gone by, and they have lived a spiritual life for some time. Again a commitment has to be taken to live this life in its fullest, and if the choice is yes, then re-initiation into sannyasin will happen again. This re-initiation will take place on behalf of Sannyasa Peeth, but also on behalf of the people who have been initiated. In the course of time they shall be given the task to live the tradition and the life of a sannyasin, because sannyasa is sacrifice.

If you want to become a light, to bring luminosity to others, remember that you have to burn yourself. A jyoti burns itself to give light to other people. A sannyasin has to burn himself or herself to give light to other people. The dross of life has to drop and the principles of sannyasa have to be lived. Today nobody lives the principles of sannyasa. The same hatred, the same jealousy, the same envy, the same aggression, the same insecurity, the same likes, the same dislikes continue to haunt the sannyasin’s life day after day, day after day, just as they haunt the life of every other individual in society. It shows what kind of effort you have made, and if you have made the correction in your path of life or not.

If you want to live your sannyasa properly, you have to be re-initiated. This is an announcement which I am making formally here. You can live your sannyasa life the way you want, there is no restriction. You can live even as a free sannyasin. You can still continue to serve, you can still continue to be part of the whole vision and mission. But that is one aspect. The other aspect is perfection of sannyasa in one’s life, and for that, re-commitment and re-thinking must happen. If you can do that, then slowly and surely the aspirations of our guru will be actualized. Those aspirations are that sannyasa and the sannyasin reach out to everybody in society to bring health, happiness and enlightenment.

Sannyasins should think about it – the old hands, the sannyasins who have lived here, who have lived there, and who have lived everywhere. Think about your aspiration and commitment, your drive and determination, because now is the time to be serious, sincere and committed.