The Next Chapter of Yoga

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

Sannyasa Peeth, Paduka Darshan, Munger, 18th January 2014

Today is the first time since the World Yoga Convention in October that we have this opportunity to meet together. Many things have happened since the Convention in relation to yoga and in relation to Munger. The World Yoga Convention has marked a very important milestone in the history of Bihar School of Yoga.

The propagation of yoga

Bihar School of Yoga has a 50 year history – the Convention commemorated the Golden Jubilee of Bihar School of Yoga. In this 50 year history of Bihar School of Yoga, the first chapter in the book of the Bihar Yoga tradition, the focus was on yoga propagation.

From the establishment of Bihar School of Yoga in 1963 to 1983, when I came here, Sri Swami Satyananda had only one aim, vision and mission: the propagation of the yogic techniques as a science and as a lifestyle. To achieve this, he travelled tirelessly for many years throughout all parts of India and the world, inspiring people to understand and experience yoga, to realize yoga and adopt yoga in life. He reached out to people of all communities across the globe, taught them the principles and practices of yoga, and gave everybody a purpose, a vision and an aspiration to achieve through yoga.

As a result of his effort, those people who were inspired by his vision contributed in their own way. Some became yoga teachers with their own centres to teach small numbers of people, others became yoga teachers without a centre who reached out in different areas of the community to small groups, and others established training centres to facilitate yoga training.

In this way, the seeds of Bihar Yoga were planted the world over by Sri Swamiji, but people did not realize what the real intent of Bihar Yoga was. People merely took it as a practice which they can do to improve their health: physical, psychological, and possibly spiritual as well.

Bringing yoga to society

Then in 1983 I came to Bihar School of Yoga and took on the responsibility, and for 25 years the focus was on bringing yoga to all the other levels of human society. From 1983 to 2008 yoga was integrated into many different areas of society, which brought fantastic insight and results to those involved with this process and to the people who practised yoga techniques in different situations. Yoga went to professionals, industries, the army, railways, prisons, medical colleges, clubs, and to villages and rural areas. Yoga also went to the academic and medical spheres, and was involved in medical, scientific, and physiological research.

These are the achievements of the last 50 years. The mandate that was given by Sri Swami Sivananda to our guru Sri Swamiji – “Spread the message of yoga from door to door and shore to shore” – is attained. The outcome of this was seen during the World Yoga Convention held in Munger in October 2013, an event never before seen in the world and that could not be replicated even if we wanted to.

The next chapter: maintaining the classical, integral system of yoga

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Now, after the World Yoga Convention, the attention and focus in my mind has shifted to the development of yoga for the next 20 to 50 years; the next chapter. In the commencement of the next chapter of yoga, many things will have to be streamlined by each individual, to discover one’s own sincerity, commitment and seriousness to yoga and the tradition. Many of the systems and procedures of the institution will be streamlined to cater to the future needs and the changing environment. Many other things will also be fine-tuned to facilitate our understanding and adoption of the yogic practices and principles. Let us say in short that our work is charted, and the focus for the next 20 or 30 years of solid work is to preserve, to maintain and to promote the integral system of yoga as envisioned by Sri Swami Sivananda and Sri Swami Satyananda.

In the last 50 years yoga has become a household word, and many people, centres and groups have emerged, but if one looks around the world, all the groups and centres that have arisen represent only a miniscule aspect of yoga: the physical. It is not even complete hatha yoga. People label asana as yoga, but asana should not even be called hatha yoga because it does not even form the complete hatha yoga. All these different centres which have emerged around the world are focusing only on the physical, and the message that is being conveyed to human society at large is that yoga is a physical system.

If one looks at the history of all the yoga organizations in India and in the world, and their achievements, drive and motivation in the last 50 years or from their foundation until the present, one will discover that Bihar School of Yoga stands tall. It is the primary institute which is working to preserve, protect and promote the classical, traditional science of yoga in the modern day environment, language, and lifestyle, without altering the precepts of yoga. Consolidation of this work will be a very important contribution in the history of yoga for the future as well.

Seriousness, sincerity and commitment

What I am saying to all of you is that our work has not stopped. Rather, now the belt has to be tightened even more – not so much that one can’t breathe, but enough for each one to feel the need, the urge, the drive and the motivation to act according to the themes that were defined in the World Yoga Convention: with seriousness, sincerity and commitment. Time is limited, there are many miles to travel and the journey should be uninterrupted. As Robert Frost wrote:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

The loveliness of the world should not hold us back anymore, but rather the determination to achieve should be the motivating factor. That achievement is not external, it is internal.

Checklist in daily life: the six friends

As an individual, a yoga aspirant, a sadhaka, and a sannyasin, one has to learn how to deal with the six friends: kama, passions, desire; krodha, anger; lobha, greed; mada, arrogance; moha, infatuation, attraction; and matsarya, envy, jealousy, hatred. Everyone is subject to their influence. As a sannyasin, if one cannot work through one’s own maze of problems, then one cannot be an inspiration for oneself or to anybody else. For all spiritual aspirants, this should become the checklist in life.

It is no use getting awed by the lofty ideas of abstract spiritualism as presented by many people. Rather it is important that one lives those precepts by fine-tuning one’s own self and the nature, behaviour and responses which one expresses every day in one’s own life. Why not improve the natural expressions?

It is important to strive to be a person who can work seriously, sincerely and with commitment at many levels: at the personal level, at the outer organizational level, at the yogic level, at the spiritual level, with people individually, without ambition, envy, greed, or ego. It is indeed a tall order and one cannot be perfect, but one can make a start.

Commitment to start

Frankly from my perspective, I have seen very few people make that commitment to start, despite all the satsangs given over the years. People know what is right and what has to be done, but they don’t do it. Instead people allow Duryodhana to sit in their head and heart, and he is the king of envy, jealousy, hatred, greed, arrogance and negativity. In the Mahabharata Duryodhana says to Sri Krishna, “I know what is right and correct, but I am not inclined to that.” For example, people shunt their responsibilities onto others, and create trouble and problems for others, instead of co-operating with them. That is the Duryodhana who sits in the head of each person, and that is the six friends who are guiding people in their spiritual journey, leading them astray. People accept their help, and ignore the help that the gurus have given in the form of guidance and instructions.

Therefore, one has to make that effort and commitment. Kick Duryodhana out to allow the victorious Pandavas to enter the kingdom with Sri Krishna, and let peace reign.