A history of the South African School of Yoga:Satyananda Tradition


Submitted by Swami Kamala Kamalavidya

S.A. Satyananda School :www.satyanandaschool.co.za

Introduction: Standing here with these papers (reference taken from Past, Present, and Future Consolidated History of the Bihar School of Yoga) in my hand makes me feel humble to introduce such powerful masters. I have such respect, honour and love for them and I can’t wait to introduce you all to them.

I remember reading in one of Niranjan’s books, of which there are many, he said, “People who have achieved something in their lives did not do so by their words – their lives speak of their mission. We learn what their mission was by looking at their whole life.”

So lets start by looking at the master’s mission statement starting with…..

Sri.Swami Sivananda

Going back into the past to have a brief glimpse into the saintly and holy life of Sri Swami Sivananda:

  • He was born in 1887. During his 76 years he did not go on global tours but remained in India, which he toured extensively.
  • He was a medical doctor practising in Malaysia before he dedicated his life to serving mankind with Yoga and Philosophy. He had an enormous capacity to inspire with absolute patience and perseverance of a realised vision to uplift his people.
  • He knew and understood the importance of inspiring people even though he learned very little about Asanas (Physical movement) – breathing techniques (Pranayama) and meditation (Dhyana). Even though he practiced imperfectly it still brought about change in their life.
  • Sri Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh was that moving spirit in the MISSION OF YOGA.
  • He could awaken in man and arouse desire in people not only through his presence but also with his 200 books which he himself authored.
  • He formed the SIVANANDA AYYURVEDIC PAHARMACY – an ancient and natural form of medicine and the SIVANANDA EYE HOSPITAL.
  • Founder of the DIVINE LIFE SOCIETY
  • And the YOGA VEDANTA FOREST ACADEMY on the banks of the River Ganges in Rishikesh at the foothills of the Himalayas, where he had envisioned that one day scholars, doctors, scientists and researchers would work together in order to formulate a scientific basis the integration of Yoga into a MODERN Society.
  • Sri Swami Sivananda was and still is a moving spirit in the mission of Yoga and the whole inspiration of the Satyananda Yoga. Though all this his energy has been directed to the welfare of mankind saying, “It is useless to talk of the abolition of War when you are so full of petty jealousy and hatred. Remove your discordant inharmonious vibration first, and then there will be no more war between one nation and another. When disharmony arises in the heart of MAN, it infects the Household first and gradually spreads in to the Society and then the Nation and then the World at large. No amount of readjustment of political set-ups will bring permanent peace. Even when these are necessary, they should spring from the heart of man for the sake of Humanity. Lead an ideal life of peace.”

Paramahamsa Satyananda

  • The meaning of Paramahamsa is “supreme swan”. A title bestowed on one who is able to distinguish/discriminate between reality and unreality – truth and untruth.
  • Born in f 1923 in Almora at the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains.
  • At the age of 20, he renounced home and family in search of his guru and found Sri Swami Sivananda whose auspices he was under for the next 12 years. When he left, Swami Sivananda told him to “pertain to all” (Belong/be relevant to all).
  • He travelled for 8 years as an ascetic – living a frugal, abstemious and virtuous existence, when he toured the world for the first time and realised that people were searching for themselves.
  • He started formulating and perfecting Yogic Techniques to alleviate the suffering of society – to help people of the world – no matter what religion, sex, caste or nation.
  • He had a deep understanding of human nature – the stresses and strains of Western Culture.
  • He came to the conclusion that India had the most important thing known as YOGA to offer the Western World.
  • Paramahamsa’s entire life has been guided and shaped by Darshans, meaning that events in his life have been expressions of Divine Will.
  • He established an International Yoga Fellowship movement, a printing press for magazines called Yoga & Yoga Vidya.
  • He prophesised that “Yoga was going to emerge as a Mighty World Culture”
  • He established the BIHAR School of Yoga also known as the Satyananda Yoga in Munger in the state of Bihar on the river Ganges, the poorest state in India, and this was recognised as an International Teaching Centre. The science of Yoga has emerged and was reaching the cities and villages of countries around the world. Together with Yoga Research Library – aiming to spread the word, he said “The world is a very big family”.
  • He has authored over 80 books.
  • Throughout his mission, he was inspired by the vision of Sri Swami Sivananda to create a spiritual university along the lines of the ancient Indian universities at Nalanda and Vikramshila.
  • Selflessly serving as always extending beyond the realms of personal achievements, he had laid the ground work for Swami Niranjananda.
  • It was I 1994 with inspiration and blessings of Swami Sivananda and Paramahamsa Satyanandana that Niranjananda founded and established the Bihar Yoga Bharati Institue that later became the first yoga University, of which he is Chancellor.
  • A second university is being built in Rihkia called the World University, which I myself saw in December 2006 on my trip to Rihkia to visit Paramahamsaji and Niranjanandaji.

The first in the world to impart comprehensive scientific yogic education and training and grant higher degrees in yogic studies such as M.A. (Master Art) MSc.(Master Science), M.Pil. (Master Philosophy), D.Litt.(Doctorate Literature) and PhD (Doctorate) offering residential courses in a gurukul environment.

  • Paramahamsa entered the state of Kshetra Sanyassa (renunciation of establishment)
  • In 1988 the responsibility of realising the vision of Swami Sivananda and Paramahamsa Satyandna fell onto Swami Niranjananda saying: “Just as Yoga was a panacea remedy of the 20th century, it is Bhakti (Devotion to God) that will be the panacea of the 21st Century. It will be the feelings and emotions of devotion and the effects it will bring about in the body, mind, emotions and mans’ entire structure that will come under the scrutiny of the investigation of scientists.”

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati says “Fifty years ago people played it safe, in particular the physical aspect of Yoga. There were too many taboos associated with Yoga”. Today they only know the physical, with the exception of a few. The main theme of the Satyananda Yoga is awakening the faculties of the Head – Heart – Hands.

The Head represents – your Intelligence, Wisdom, Observation, Knowledge, Awareness                                                                                                                                      The Heart represents – your Feelings, Emotions, Sensations

The Hands represent – the ability for you to Act, Create, Perform

The ability to manage all 3 compartments of our life creates the balance which will make a person whole and complete – but of course still practicing the physical yoga for physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

Yoga is a process of managing oneself. It is a lifestyle. If you are willing to change and adapt to that disciplined lifestyle – then youbecome a YOGI.

Niranjan asks “What is the relevance of Yoga?”. The Answer: The moment we manage to handle our Intellect – Emotions – Actions, we give Evolution a chance in our life.

Swami Niranjananda is a tall, noble, graceful and compassionate man that moves like a swan on water – a modern day Swami with an eye for detail … and playful as a child. He used to play as a child, free spirit that has never left him, on Paramahamsa’s lap. It was already ordained that he was to be the spiritual successor to Paramahamsa when he was borne in 1960.

  • At age 10 he was initiated as a sanyassin and sent out of India to Northern Ireland, Ireland, England and Scotland. He had no formal education.
  • He toured Europe forming yoga centres. Then also Australia, Northern and Southern America, investigating the needs of various world cultures and conducting Yoga Programmes.
  • He was called back from overseas and made president of Bihar School of Yoga in India and also of the Yoga Research Foundation for the next 11 years. This took some adjustment as he was raised overseas, all this took place during his development into his twenties, working tirelessly and it was no easy task when he returned to Indian Culture.
  • At age 30 he was initiated into the Paramahamsa Tradition, a natural communicator to all nations and the experience he had during this training underlined his freedom from prejudice.
  • He has authored many classical books – 20 so far. Spreading the seeds of yoga in all directions, gave him a clear perspective of world situations and innovations.
  • Swami Niranjananda head everything today and divides his time between overseas visits, Indian tours and is President in Munger and Rihkia Ashram, This is where he resides – the Allakbara – a humble neighbourhood, working for his neighbours and paving the way for future paramahamsas. Here they work tirelessly improving the living conditions of the poor, providing housing, schooling, employment and healthcare wherever possible.

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