Bihar School of Yoga, gurudakshina, mahasamadhi, mahasiddha, Paramahamsa Satyananda Saraswati, Swami Sivananda, Swamiji, tattwas, Yoga, yoga nidra
“Let the inner lamp grow brighter and brighter. Let the old leaves wither away. Lets the clouds subside. Let the great light prevail. Let the divine force rejoice in thee.”
~ Paramahamsa Satyananda Saraswati (Book of Rikhiapeeth 2009)
He took mahasamadhi on 5th December 2009, reportedly he was found in padmasana. According to reports, his last words to Swami Shivpur Saraswati were: “I see flowers from the cottage where I lie”.
Though I was never privileged to meet him, Swamiji (Paramahamsa Satyananda) has been a part of my life for many years.
He is my guru’s guru and as such I’ve heard innumerable tales of my guru’s time with him, and his photo is on my altar (along with my guru’s and also Swamiji‘s guru Swami Sivananda), as well as others around my house. I have many Bihar School of Yoga books by Swamiji and those of his disciples.
Swamiji was one of the greatest yogis of this era. But he was no “rock star” guru. Although he spent twenty or so years teaching in the West and established the Bihar School of Yoga, he was never in the game of becoming famous.
Instead, once he’d fulfilled his gurudakshina, he retired from public life to focus on his practice in private, for the benefit of all beings.
The stories of Swamiji’s early life are quite legendary – the sorts of things that cause skeptics to snort derisively. It is said that he had to learn to fully inhabit his physical form, unlike most humans who need to learn to work up from the densest tattwas. He spent his teen years learning Kundalini yoga and at age nineteen he met his guru, Swami Sivananda in 1943.
In 1973, Swamiji was recognised as an Adept/mahasiddha (God realized Yogi). Some people have reportedly seen evidence of this, including that of the ability to produce two physical bodies in different places at the same time. As well as touring and teaching in the West, Swamiji also established various charitable organisations including Sivananda Math in 1984.
His physical age at the time of his passing was 86 although once a being becomes a mahasiddha, it is said their birth is erased: never born, never died.
The most interesting experiences I’ve had with Swamiji have been while sitting at my altar, meditating… it’s a little hard to explain any further than that…
And of course, he was my guru’s guru. Although my guru is not a part of the BSY organisation, he benefitted directly via teachings from Swamiji as well as Swami Naranjananda. It is through those teachings that I have come to the path of the dharma.
So I have a great deal of gratitude and love for Swamiji.
Given my recent guest posts, I realised I was unclear that much of my last eight or so years studying yoga have not been strongly focused on asana. But more the other aspects of yoga – meditation and philosophy. We learned asana of course, but it was never the “main meal”, so to speak. It’s only been in the last couple of years that I decided to take a more serious interest in asana.
Despite Swamij’s lack of interest in fame, is surprising to me that so few westerners know who he was/is. That Yoga Nidra thing you might’ve heard about or even used yourself? You have Swamiji to thank for that. He ressurected it as a practice and as a result, it became well known. His book on Yoga Nidra is well worth reading if you get the chance.
Swamiji was and is a great master of yoga – a true and authentic being whose eyes always seem to overflow with love and compassion.
This video is a recording of Swamiji’s voice, singing the Shanti Path mantra.
May all beings dwell in happiness. May all beings dwell in peace. May all beings attain oneness. May all beings attain auspiciousness.
Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti!
It is said that when a mahasiddha takes a conscious passing, that he never really dies – make of that what you will…
Thank you for this beautiful reflection on Swami Satyanandas influence on your yoga practice and your life. Many blessings at this time.
Last night devotees gathered at Rocklyn Ashram to celebrate Swamijis life with havan, chanting and kirtan.
I feel so blessed for having this remarkable man in my life.
@Samarpan – I am sure Rocklyn would have been been a wonderful place to be for that! We are all blessed to have shared the world with Swamiji!!
@Sevapuri – Thank you, and for your kind words and sharing.
Peace to you and thank you for your heartful posting honoring a great man and his life. Om Shanti
@premashakti – Peace to you also. Thank you for reading 🙂
Hari Om Tat Sat !!!
Pash… In Lak’eh…!!!
Pash… A Lak’en..!!!
Thank you for all,
Gracias por todo
@Agyna – Thank you for your comment!
a beautiful reflection on a great soul, svasti. a friend in India told me I should go to the Bihar School. sometimes I think it is these spiritual adepts whom we “never” hear about that are the true gurus.
@Linda-Sama – You know, if you get the chance, you should still go there. Swami Niranjananda is also pretty amazing. And yeah I agree… its the ones you don’t hear about!
Swami Yogasagar said:
I have been away in a remote part of South Africa for a few days of solitude. You awoke me at 5:30 am Sunday with a vision and the mantra Satyam Shivam Sundar Ram. I sat for sadhana with my 9 month daughter Anjani and her mother at 6:15 and later at around 8 am we spontaneously began to chant Maha Mrityum Jaya. In an instant you were with me again in vision with the Mantra Satyam Shivam Sundar Ram. Today I have returned to find that you have taken Maha Samadhi. My life has been blessed only because of your prescience in my life. By your grace alone I have survived cancer and so many other challenges that have forged the man I am today. Recently you have bestowed the most precious gift of all the prasad of unconditional love with my daughter and in your last moments you have again blessed me with your inner vision. I have loved only because of you. Thank you my divine guru thank you for always accepting me and showering me with your love and blessings regardless of my weakness or strength. Om Namo Narayan Om Tat Sat
@Swami Yogasagar – thank you for sharing your lovely memories and experiences!
Shivers as I read this 🙂 Ive just spent a couple months @ rocklyn. Wow: for u.
Hari Om Swamiji
I have certainly experienced Your Love and gratitude in all your experiences and tales of Your blessed and divine Guru. Thanks for sharing these wonderful moments with us – and in turn we have learnt much. Do keep in touch and I also look forward to welcoming You to the South Coast when time permits.
all my love and light
@Padmini – You do know he has passed, don’t you?
Kumar Onkareshwar said:
Why ? I dont know but were desperate to visit Swami jee in now-a-days. As one among several fortunate, my childhood enjoyed his love, care and blessings. For me its more than the source of Inspiration and Love. I and our entire family is in deep sorrow.We lost someone, whom no body could replace. May God send him again for us!
@Kumar – For any of us who had even a photo of this great being in their home, we all know of his greatness. If you read Swamiji’s Sankalpa, you’ll see he has promised to always return, always serve. I am sure he will be back. 🙂
Kumar Onkareshwar said:
yes, Svasti! he always used to say that he does not want MOKSHA instead he wish to lift all the human kind from the darkness to enlightenment. it was the quality with him which makes him UNIQUE, unlike others. I recall, during 1988, when he was to leave Munger, he said and I quote “I used to receive signals from all my loving people, my antenna is very sensitive and effective one. Even if you do not come to Ashram, it doesn’t matter, I am always with you and If there any problem with any bhakt, I feel as the pain in my own body “. He could not be past, he is always with us.
Bob Weisenberg said:
Svasti. Thanks for this warm and heartfelt remembrance.
My encounter with Swami Satayananda Saraswati is through his epic uncompromising commentary on the Yoga Sutra, “Four Chapters on Freedom”. The scope and scholarship of this volume are hard to overstate.
It is so different from the average modern analysis of the Yoga Sutra (both Western and Indian) and highly educational. There could not be more contrast between Saraswati and Desikachar’s “Heart of Yoga” approach to the Yoga Sutra, for example (although it could still be said that the underlying principles are still the same, I guess.)
Even more voluminous and uncompromising in its outlook is the heavily Saraswati influenced commentary on the “Hatha Yoga Pradipika” by his long time disciple, Swami Muktibodhananda (who happens to be an Australian woman who went to study with Saraswati when she was seventeen, spent many years in India with him, but moved back to Australia in 1985–have you met her?)
These are both hard thick reads for the average Yoga student. I personally found them difficult, in spite of my love for traditional Yoga philosophy. But I persisted because I knew how important it was for me to know this icon of modern Yoga and his approach. I’m glad I did.
Thanks again for your blog.
@Bob – Yes, his scholarly works are something else, aren’t they? I too, have had trouble reading them. But any time that happens, I take in what I can and vow to read them again some time. Usually, I understand more as a result.
He was a passionate man, completely one with all things. And we were blessed that he lived and shared what he has.
As always your post is filled with so much to consider for one who does not follow your faith. I have learned so much from you. Thank you for sharing Svasti. Thank you also for not forgetting me even though I have been ‘gone’ so long. I appreciate you more than you know.
@tricia – I’m so glad to see you’re back, even if its just a little bit. 🙂
Anything I can share, I am more than happy to do so. Always.
Brooks Hall said:
Thanks Svasti! Your pursuit of yoga beyond asana shows clearly in your words. Be well.
@Brooks – Thank you Brooks! It is a time of rememberance, but not overly sad. We must celebrate what Swamiji has given us!
Verity London said:
The power of your love, the light of your wisdom will continue to inspire my teachings to those who join me in sadhana every week. I met you through your word, i follow you through example and i will teach through experience and by the grace of Swami Yogasagar. Om Shanti Shanti Shanti.
Hari Om Tat Sat
Ignasu Vidya (Ignasu Vidya)
Satyavidya Yoga School
@Verity – What a wonderful profession of love. Thank you for sharing. 🙂
Hemanta Parida said:
I bow to one of the veteran disciples of the great Master Swami Sivananda Saraswati, who popularised Indian Yoga world wide.
With the Mahasamadhi of Swamiji, a great gap has been created in the spiritual world. But now it is a great thing of joy that he is not confined to only his body, rather present with all of us at all times.
@Hemanta – It is not really a gap. There are so many he has inspired, and they too, have the opportunity to shine and inspire others. He was a great gift to the world, and remains so, always!
Karma Tashi Drölma (Dr. Ursula L. Kirchner) said:
The merit of the success of Satyananda Yoga entirely belongs to Paramahamsaji, who remains as a light to us all. Paramahamsaji was like an ocean in his work. He has sowed the seed which now has spread like a gigantic tree. His work has conquered the world, spread by his students with sincerity, honesty and dedication. Every one has learned something from him keeping the fire of Satyananda Yoga alive.
Aum shanti shanti shanti –
Hari Om Tat Sat
from the 1st Brasilian Laughter Club http://www.clubedagargalhada.com.br and Siva Bindu Yoga – SBY- Belo Horizonte – Brasil
@Karma Tashi Drölma – He was truly a great example of what is possible if we do the work. Hari Om!
Yogi Sivadas from the Himalayas, and Kailash Tribal Yoga School family bow down to the Immortal Paramahansa Maha Rishi Swami Satyananda Saraswathi Maharaji.
Yogi Sivadas sends Tribute to Paramahamsa Satyananda Saraswati. I will always see and feel his smile. As I met him in Rishikesh. Sarvam Brahmamidam. Atmanam Brahmah.
(NIDHIYE SARVA VIDYANAAM BHISHAJE BHAVAROGINAAM
GURUVE SARVALOKANAM SATYANANDAYATE NAMAHA.)
@yogatribe – I see his smile, too. As I’m walking down the street, riding my bike or doing yoga. His spirit is large and generous. 🙂
Namo narayan we pay our shradhanjalli to Swamiji.may he bless us.
@pragyananda – Indeed. May we all benefit from his blessings!
swamiji may bless us. thogh physically he was not able to see us on5.11.09. pragyananda.
I humbly prostrate to the feet of such an accomplished Yogi who not only lived in this world blissfully, but also left this world in elegance, in the elevated state of being, in padmaasana. Thanks for summarizing with beautiful pictures. Om Shanti Shanti Shanti….
@thehappybaba – You are welcome. Swamiji was a truly remarkable being. Hari Om!
sant kabhi marte nahi
woh toh aate hain hum agyaniyo ko jhakjhorne
aur de jaate hain itna ki uski koi ginti nahi
HAZARON CHIRAG ISS SHAHAR MEIN
EK CHIRAG AB BUJH JAYGA
FARQ KYA PADEGA ROSHNI MEIN
SHAHAR HAMESHA CHAMAKTA RAHEGA
I had 1st darshan of Swamiji at Monghyr Ashram, I was in my teens visiting my aunt Swami Atmanandji (who passed away in year 2003).
The love, compassion & great knowledge of his kept me connected to him & in 2008, visited SitaKalyanum event. Was blessed by Swamiji.
My shrandhajali’s for him.
He is now closer to me than ever before.
Hari Om Tat Sat.
Aaah, yes our beautiful guru! He will be here, always… I kNOW this…
Does anyone know the name of the fire ceremony / meditation that swamiji did for five years between 1988 and 1992?
Thank you and Hari Om
svasti: thanks from heart for kind word.
hari om tat sat.
Swami Mounamurti Saraswati said:
Great trubute, but you should always acknowledge the source from where you get your photos. Noting that 3 of the above come from my personal collection. The two oldest pics were given to me many years ago from a very senior Swami.. but i have shared them on the net for all..
Swami Mounamurti Saraswati
Wow, what a bitchy comment. I had some of those photos on file (shared with me by friends), others I found online. But it never occurred to me that anyone would worry about such a thing, let alone leave such a comment.
Graciela keidansky said:
My name is Graciela and my spiritual name is Shantipriya… I had the great blessing to participate in Sannyasa tpTraining and to come to Deohgar then. And a few years later for a great celebration of the wedding of Parvati. I was born in Uruguay and used to live in Argentina and I live the last 20 years in San Francisco Ca USA.
My teacher Fernando Calvino… In Argentina… Inspired me to come to Munger… When I arrived with Jorge Zoppolo from Uruguay and others I arrived with three huge suitcases…filled with stuff.. And when I left the Ashram with only one medium one which had my notebooks and note taking from the classes and presents for others. I was full of experiences and learning and beauty … All inside me… And no clue then on how deep the change was inside me and how all this would make my life different than I had ever imagined… And special.
Coming to see Satyananda was the highlight….thank you for this beautigpful blog
Mahhesh Badgujar said:
Reblogged this on Mahhesh Badgujar's Journal.
soy nativa de Colombia y en este mi pais conoci ,el ashram a donde posteriormente llego Paramanhasayi y tu ve la inmenza dicha de conocerlo. Fueron varias las ocaciones de verlo hablar y estar con El en diferentes partes del mundo. Recibi Sanyasy en julio dia de Guru Purnima en India. Me regalo un hermoso nombre muy acorde con mi personalidad. Swami Asimananda. Cuando el me llamaba ese nombre tintineaba como una campanita en mis oidos y en mi corazon. Asimananda. Recuerdo que nos hablaba o nos pedia algo en ingles o en Hindi y de alguna forma entendiamos y sin darnos cuenta lo haciamos. En su presencia,compañia,estando en la misma casa pasaba el tiempo de una forma diferente, sin dia sin fecha se deslizaba el tiempo de una forma como magica. Vivia feliz,sucediera lo que sucediera. Hari Om Swamiji,mi gran Guru,mi maravilloso amigo. Om Namo Narajan
Jelena Todorovic Clemente said:
Thank you Swami Satyananda Saraswati for your guidance in the book Tantric Meditations. I was able to accomplish all chapters in two years of meditations, while working at the same time, finishing with Kundalini awakening, and than continuing successfully with Tatva Shudi and Bardo Thodol. It would not be possible without your unselfish remote guidance. you are a noble soul. I hope I too will one day be able to withdraw in my KY hills or in Serbia county house, and attempt to accomplish mahassidha
SHREE SWAMIJI HEALED MY PSYCHOLOGICAL PROBLEMS!!!!!I STOPPED MEDICINES!!!! WHEN I WAS 22 YEARS OLD(2002) I WAS TAKING PSYCHOLOGICAL MEDICINES (SEROXAT OR DUMYROX AND RISPERDAL OR ZYPREXA) FOR 2 YEARS ( MARCH 2000)WITH NOT GOOD RESULTS….HE WAS A HOLY MAN!!!!I WILL NEVER FORGET HIM.GREAT SOUL GREAT MASTER AND GREAT HEALER 🙏🙏🙏🙏… sorry for my English are not soo well… my name is Nick and i live Athens Greece…❤️❤️❤️❤️JAY SATYAM❤️❤️❤️❤️HARI OM🙏🙏🙏