“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…