The Bihar Yoga Tradition

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, humankind stands at a crossroad. Technological progress and economic development have created immense wealth for some, but not all. Globalization has linked the world out of economic necessity.

Rapid urbanization has harmed the environment and disconnected the individual from nature. Voices are raised about pollution, environmental damage, both inner and outer, and the need to uplift the poor. On an inner level, people are unhappy, unhealthy, stressed and unsure about the direction of life. There is increasing awareness that human beings have a choice about whether to blindly pursue a non-existent utopia or to live in harmony and find inner fulfilment.

Bihar Yoga provides a system that restores order to our lives, creating harmony so that imbalances in the form of disease and neurosis drop away. The mind regains its peace, the emotions begin to harmonize and the body recovers its vital capacity, so that the individual can face life and its distractions with a greater sense of inner serenity and balance.

The Bihar Yoga system is a complete science of harmonious living, suitable for everyone, regardless of age, gender, nationality, religion, mental condition or level of fitness. It is a holistic system which addresses all aspects of human life in the spheres of physical health, mental well-being, emotional behaviour and work environment. Awareness is emphasized and practitioners are encouraged to learn about all aspects of their personality through yoga. Adjustment in stages is emphasized, not a total change in one’s lifestyle and environment.

The beauty of Bihar Yoga is that it slowly grows on one, and it is totally up to the practitioner to decide how much to implement. If the need is relief from chronic diseases, such as asthma, diabetes or hypertension, then a simple package of practices can be implemented. If the need is to improve one’s physical fitness, or one’s mental abilities, or take up yoga teaching, or find a direction in life, or live a spiritual life, then Bihar Yoga also provides that opportunity.

Bihar Yoga is a living tradition based on the realizations of two masters, Sri Swami Sivananda Saraswati and Sri Swami Satyananda Saraswati. Sri Swami Sivananda was the first spiritual personality in the twentieth century to emphasize that divine life was everyone’s birthright and could be practised in simple ways even while living in the normal social environment. He introduced the concept of integral yoga for harmonious development of the personality, incorporating a practical philosophy and a holistic lifestyle. Sri Swami Satyananda Saraswati was given the mandate of taking yoga to humanity ‘from door to door and from shore to shore’.

During nine years as a wandering ascetic, he discerned the needs of the general public, and then travelled around the world teaching the practices of yoga in a systematic and easily comprehensible way. He simplified and systematized the yogic practices, and at the same time added depth to every dimension of yoga. Shankhaprakshalana (intestinal cleansing) was made a practical and effective technique in the hatha yoga shatkarma series for physical purification. Asanas were classified and grouped according to position and sequence, and prefaced with the pawanmuktasana series, so that everyone could benefit. Pranayama as a complete system was revealed for the first time. The deep relaxation practice of yoga nidra provided major relief from stress as well as a means of personality transformation.

Sri Swami Satyananda Saraswati taught yoga in practically every country around the world. He found total acceptance everywhere due to his simple approach and universality. His successor, Swami Niranjanananda, has built up and consolidated this solid foundation of yoga. Thus Bihar Yoga evolved into a complete and integrated system of yoga with its practices and philosophy culled from the vedic and tantric traditions.

Notable events in Munger

Munger, the beautiful rural village overlooking the Ganges, is home to the Bihar School of Yoga and Bihar Yoga Bharati.

  • Munger is a place of great spiritual and historical significance.Sri Rama and Sita rested here during their exile before returning to Ayodhya.
  • King Karna of Mahabharata fame, elder brother of the five Pandavas, performed and perfected tantric sadhanas here.
  • Lord Buddha and more recent eminent personalities such as Rabindranath Tagore and Swami Vivekananda came to Munger to rest and pursue their spiritual sadhana and studies.
  • Sri Swami Sivananda Saraswati visited Munger in 1936 after the devastating earthquake and held kirtans in the town.
  • Sri Swami Satyananda Saraswati experienced the supreme bliss of the highest state of consciousness in Munger. He had the revelation that ‘Yoga is the culture of tomorrow’ and that he should create a global fraternity of yoga. Here he realized his mission to be the elevation of human consciousness by bringing to light and disseminating the science of yoga.
  • In 2004 Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, President of India (2002-2007) named Munger the ‘City of Yoga’.

Blessing to Yoga

Like the rays of the moon
The light of yoga is expanding.

All religions, beliefs and sects
Are receiving shelter
Under the kalpataru of yoga.

Towards the evolution of consciousness
Yoga has done unforgettable work.

Yoga will become tomorrow’s culture

And will show
A new way of life for mankind.

Sri Swami Satyananda Saraswati