Swami Satyananda Saraswati was born in the year 1923 at Almora ( Uttaranchal ) into a family of farmers.
His ancestors were warriors and many of his kith and kin down the line, including his father, served in the army and police force.
However, it became evident that Swamiji had a different bent of mind, as he began to have spiritual experiences at the age of six, when his awareness spontaneously left the body and he saw himself lying motionless on the floor.


Swami Satyananda Saraswati was born in the year 1923 at Almora ( Uttaranchal ) into a family of farmers.

His ancestors were warriors and many of his kith and kin down the line, including his father, served in the army and police force.

However, it became evident that Swamiji had a different bent of mind, as he began to have spiritual experiences at the age of six, when his awareness spontaneously left the body and he saw himself lying motionless on the floor.

Many saints and sadhus blessed him and reassured his parents that he had a very developed awareness. This experience of disembodied awareness continued, which led him to many saints of that time such as “Anandamayi Ma “.

Swamiji also met a tantric bhairavi, ” Sukhman Giri “, who gave him shaktipat and directed him to find a Guru in order to stabilize his spiritual experiences.

” Renunciation “

In the year 1943, at the age of twenty, he renounced his home and went in search of a Guru. This search ultimately led him to Swami Sivananda Saraswati at Rishikesh, who initiated him into the “Dash-nam Order of Sannyasa” on 12th September, 1947 on the banks of the Ganges and gave him the name of “Swami Satyananda Saraswati “.

Rishikesh was then a small town and all the ashram requirements had to be brought by foot from far away. In addition, there were varied duties, including the daily pooja at Vishwanath Mandir, for which Swamiji would go into the dense forests to collect bael leaves.

Of that glorious time when he lived and served his Guru, Swamiji says that it was a period of total communion and surrender to the guru tattwa , whereby he felt that just to hear, speak of or see Swami Sivananda Saraswati was yoga.

Guru Swami Sivananda described him as a versatile genius.

Swami Satyananda Saraswati’s learning did not come from books and study in the ashram. His knowledge unfolded from within through his untiring ‘seva’ as well as his abiding faith and love for Swami Sivananda Saraswati, who told him:

” Work hard and you will be purified. You do not have to search for the light; the light will unfold from within you. “

” Wandering Sannyasin “

In the year 1956, after spending  twelve years in guru seva, Swami Satyananda Saraswati set out as a wanderer ( parivrajaka ).

Before his departure, Swami Sivananda Saraswati taught him kriya yoga and gave him the mission to “spread yoga from door to door and shore to shore “.

As a wandering sannyasin, Swamiji travelled extensively throughout India, Afghanistan, Burma, Nepal, Tibet, Ceylon and the entire Asian subcontinent.

During his sojourns, he met people from all strata of society and began formulating his ideas on how to spread the yogic techniques. Although his formal education and spiritual tradition was that of Vedanta, the task of disseminating yoga became his movement.

” International YOGA movement “

His mission unfolded before him in the year 1962 when he founded the ” International Yoga Fellowship Movement “with the aim of creating a global fraternity of YOGA. Because his mission was revealed to him at Munger, Bihar, he established the ” Bihar School of Yoga “. Before long, his teachings were rapidly spreading throughout the world.

From the years 1963 to 1982, Swamiji took YOGA to each and every corner of the world, to people of every caste, creed, religion and nationality. He guided millions of seekers in all continents and established centres and ashrams in different countries.

His frequent travel took him to Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China, Philippines, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, USA, England, Ireland, France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Yugoslavia, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Russia, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Dubai, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Colombia, Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Argentina, Santo Domingo, Puerto Rico, Sudan, Egypt, Nairobi, Ghana, Mauritius, Alaska and Iceland.

Swamiji hoisted the flag of YOGA in every nook and cranny of the world. Nowhere did he face opposition, resistance or criticism. His way was unique. Well-versed in all religions and scriptures, he incorporated their wisdom with such a natural flair that people of all faiths were drawn to him. His teaching was not just confined to yoga but covered the wisdom of many millenniums.


Swamiji brought to light the knowledge of tantra, the mother of all philosophies, the sublime truths of Vedanta, the Upanishads and Puranas, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism, Islam and Christianity .. including a modern scientific analysis of matter and creation.

He interpreted, explained and gave precise, accurate and systematic explanations of the ancient systems of tantra and yoga, revealing practices hitherto unknown.

It can be said that Swamiji was a pioneer in the field of YOGA because his presentation had a novelty and freshness.

” Ajapa japa ” .. ” antar mouna ” .. “pawanmuktasana ” .. “kriya yoga” and “prana vidya “are just some of the practices which he introduced in such a methodical and simple manner that it became possible for everyone to delve into this valuable and hitherto inaccessible science for their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual development.

Swamiji’s outlook was inspiring, uplifting as well as in-depth and penetrating. Yet his language and explanations were always simple and easy to comprehend. During this period, he authored over eighty books on yoga and tantra which, due to their authenticity, are accepted as textbooks in schools and universities throughout the world.

These books have been translated into Italian, German, Spanish, Russian, Yugoslavian, Chinese, French, Greek, Iranian and most other prominent languages of the world.

People took to his ideas and spiritual seekers of all faiths and nationalities flocked to him. He initiated thousands into mantra and sannyasa, sowing in them the seed to live the divine life. He exhibited tremendous zeal and energy in spreading the light of yoga, and in the short span of twenty years Swamiji fulfilled the mandate of his Guru.

” Bihar School of Yoga “

By the year 1983, Swami Satyananda Saraswati’s tireless efforts to spread the message of YOGA had touched the whole world.

He had also trained a core of sannyasins to transmit the yogic techniques for different needs and cultures, and they had established many ” Satyananda Yoga  Ashrams “, schools and centres around India and the world. “Bihar School of Yoga ” was well established and recognized throughout the world as a reputed and authentic centre for learning yoga and the spiritual sciences.

More than that, yoga had moved out of the caves of hermits and ascetics into the mainstream of society. Whether in hospitals, jails, schools, colleges, business houses, the sporting and fashion arenas, the army or navy, YOGA was in demand.

Scientific research into yogic techniques was being conducted all over the world. Professionals such as lawyers, engineers, doctors, business magnates and professors were incorporating yoga into their lives. So too were the masses. YOGA had become a household word.

” Second Renunciation “

At the peak of his accomplishment, Swamiji renounced all that he created. He appointed ” Swami Niranjanananda ” as his successor and gave him the mandate to continue the work, and then began to gradually withdraw from the teaching and administering of the yoga movement.

In the year 1988, Swamiji renounced disciples, establishments and institutions, and departed from Munger.

” Pilgrimage “

Swamiji went on a pilgrimage through the siddha teerthas of India as a mendicant, without any personal belonging or assistance from the ashram or institutions he had founded. At Trayambakeshwar, before the jyotirlingam of Lord Mrityunjaya, his ‘ ishta devata ” he renounced his garb and lived as an avadhoota.

And here, at the source of the Godavari river near Neel Parbat, while performing chaturmas anushthana, his future place of abode and sadhana were revealed to him.

” New mission .. Rikhia “

He received the mandate for a New Mission, to progress toward the cosmic dimension through unbroken remembrance and repetition of the Lord’s name with every breath.

On 8th September, 1989, birthday of his Guru Swami Sivananda Saraswati, he heard the voice loud and clear, “Chitabhoomi “, and saw a vision of the place where he was intended to go.

Swami Satyananda Saraswati did not choose ” Rikhia “, it was chosen for him !

After leaving Munger, while roaming the length and breadth of India, he came across many beautiful places where he was invited to take up residence. But in keeping with his style of surrender, he awaited the mandate of his’ ishta ‘ and Guru, which guided him to the small nondescript, unknown village of ” Rikhia “, on the outskirts of Baba Baidyanath Dham in Deoghar ( Jharkhand ), the chitabhoomi ( cremation ground) of Sati, consort of Shiva.

Swamiji arrived at ” Rikhia ” on 23rd September 1989, at mid-day, the day of vernal equinox, when nature is in perfect balance as the day and night are equal.

Soon after, he lit a ‘dhuni’ or fire and called it ” Mahakal Chita Dhuni “. Lighting a ‘dhuni’ is a very ancient tradition among sadhus. It is believed that the ash from a ‘sadhu’s dhuni ‘ is very potent, for his entire day is spent in front of the ‘dhuni’ and all his acts are performed with the fire as witness.

” Paramahamsa “

Swamiji began a life of intensive spiritual practice, entering the lifestyle of paramahamsas who do not work for their flock and mission alone, but have a universal vision.

His first anushthana commenced in the year 1989 during Ashwin Navaratri .. the performance of “ashtottarshat-laksh ( 108 lakh ) mantra punascharana” which took him three hundred days to complete.

He gave up the ‘gheru ‘cloth and donned the kaupeen, loin cloth, an important hallmark in the life of a sadhu denoting that vairagya and dispassion are an inherent part of his being. He no longer associated with any institutions, nor gave diksha, upadesh or received dakshina, but remained in seclusion and sadhana.

In a conclusive message, he told all :

” I have nothing more to say to anyone and no further guidance to give. For, over twenty years, I have lived with the people answering their questions and helping them on their spiritual path.

” Now, I withdraw my responsibility. Those who are receptive, they will surely benefit from what I have told them, but those who are not, they will now have to find their own way .”

” Sivananda Math “

In the year 1991, Swami Satyananda Saraswati received another divine mandate: “Take care of your neighbours as I have taken care of you.” Seeking to strike a balance between the personal aspect of spiritual liberation and the social aspect of helping others, he gave Swami Niranjanananda a new task for ” Sivananda Math ” : service to and improvement of the living conditions of the tribal people in the thousands of villages surrounding Rikhiadham.

From the year 1991 onwards, “Sivananda Math” undertook to finance and construct homes for the homeless, provide for clean drinking water, essential medical facilities, free clothing and household items. In the second phase of assistance, means of sustainable livelihood were provided.

In the year 1994, in a month-long darshan, Swamiji gave a new message, of “bhaktiyoga”. He said that:

” The purpose of human life is to realize God through love and to serve God by helping humanity. “

In the year 1995, Swamiji held the first” Sat Chandi Maha Yajna “, invoking the Cosmic Mother through a tantric ceremony hitherto not witnessed by common people. During this event, Swamiji also passed on his spiritual and sannyasa sankalpa to Swami Niranjanananda.

” A Conqueror “

In the year 1996, the annual event included ” Rama Naam Aradhana “and ” Sita-Rama Vivaha “, and in the year 1997, Swamiji declared it as “Sita Kalyanam “.

In the year 2001, for the first time he revealed that the yajna was part of the 12-year ” Rajasooya Yajna “, a ceremony that is traditionally performed by a conqueror.”

“ I am performing the Rajasooya Yajna not as a conqueror of land, wealth or people, but because I was able to establish an empire of yoga, which is the need of today in our civilization “, said Swamiji.

” Yoga works at the spiritual, mental and physical levels to improve the quality of life, and that is also the concept of prosperity in society. We have wealth, but we lack quality of life and peace of mind. Iam performing the Rajasooya Yajna to re establish peace of mind, to re-equip people with the riches of contentment, happiness, joy and well-being. “

” Service to humanity “

In the year 1998, Swamiji also inspired Sivananda Math to undertake an education project. Thus, scholarships were given to deserving students of Rikhia panchayat with special emphasis on the education of girls. English classes were also started at the ashram.

By the year 2001, nearly all eligible children aged between 6-12 years of Rikhia Panchayat had been adopted into the ever-expanding family of Swami Satyananda.

In the year 2004, “Sivananda Ashram” was formed with the main thrust of looking after the elderly and infirm, including widows. It has also undertaken a project to provide one wholesome meal a day to the children and elderly of Rikhia panchayat.

Thus, in a short span of time, a silent revolution had taken place in Rikhia. It was all made possible by a sannyasin who came to this place to live in solitude.

Swamiji says:

” After coming to Rikhia, my cataracted vision was corrected. I lived a spiritual life for more than sixty years. I have practiced every form of yoga, but ultimately I found that when I began to think about others, God began to think about me. On my Guru’s instructions, I lit the flame of yoga in Munger and the light of seva in Rikhia. This is the requirement of humanity today “.

” RikhiaPeeth “

In the year 2007, Swamiji announced the formation of “RikhiaPeeth “. He said:

” The Rikhia Ashram will now be known as ‘RikhiaPeeth ‘. ‘Peeth ‘ means, seat ” an apt term for Rikhia as the instructions given to me by Swami Sivananda Maharaj have culminated and fructified here.

” ‘ Rikhia ‘ is an ‘ Ashram ‘ in the original sense of the word because here a life-style is lived. ‘ Swami Satyasangananda is the Peethadhishwari of RikhiaPeeth and has been given the sankalpa that the three cardinal teachings of Swami Sivananda .. ‘ serve, love and give ‘ .. will be practised and lived here. This is the future vision of RikhiaPeeth. “

” Discarding the physical garment “

In the year 2009, after participating in and giving darshan during” Sat Chandi Mahayajna ” and “Yoga Poornima ” .. where Swamiji inspired everyone to lead the righteous life and bid final farewell to the thousands who had gathered to participate in these events .. he entered into Mahasamadhi on the midnight of 5th December, 2009.

“ Kriya yoga ”

All of us have potential which is beyond even our wildest dreams, but most of this potential remains untapped.

Each person has the capacity to experience different planes of consciousness, yet, most of us live in the lower planes; without experiencing higher levels of existence, or even believing that they exist.

Many people are unhappy in the world, dissatisfied and yet are not sure what is lacking in their lives.

The basic reason for this unhappiness is our attachment to the material plane of existence. Once we gain a glimpse of higher spheres of consciousness, then our unhappiness and discontent automatically fade away.

There are various systems of yoga, such as raja yoga, kundalini yoga, etc., which are widely propagated throughout the world. All are aiming at transcendental states where one starts to commune with one’s inner being. Most of the systems emphasize the importance of concentration as a means of withdrawing consciousness from the outside surroundings and directing it into the innermost realms of the mind.

Our consciousness in connection with our minds is habituated to movement from one point to the next, from one object to another. Any attempt on our part to subjugate the consciousness and make it dwell on one point imposes strain on the mind resulting in tension and frustration at our failure to curb its wandering tendency.

If you observe yourself, you will find that your consciousness has a natural tendency to have a diverse perception and to move from one object to the next. Try to concentrate on one thing for a few minutes and you will convince yourself of this fact. You will be conscious of a never-ending stream of thoughts, some that seem related to each other and others that seem totally unconnected. This occurrence of unconnected thoughts is known as distraction (vikshepa) and is a limitation of the mind.

A system is required which progressively leads a person to deeper states of relaxation, until concentration becomes the spontaneous activity of consciousness. This system is the system of kriya yoga.

” Awareness and kriya yoga “

KRIYA YOGA” is more interested in “awareness” than “concentration “. What do we mean by “awareness”?

By “AWARENESS”, we mean conscious attention of thoughts or of objects, either external or internal, without necessarily being one-pointed. Simultaneously, and this is most important, the word ” AWARENESS” implies that the individual knows that his attention is at a particular place or on a train of thought.

The word implies a relationship between the activity of perception and the perceiver. If a person does not know he is perceiving something, then “he is not aware “.

“AWARENESS” implies that the individual does not try to suppress an ever-arising stream of thoughts, even if they have nothing to do with his direction of perception ; he merely lets the thoughts arise and disappear, remaining as a witness to them.

The very word “KRIYA” means “activity” or “movement” .. and in this context, activity or movement of awareness or consciousness. The word “KRIYA” also means practical or preliminary and in this sense it means the preliminary practice which leads to yoga; “YOGA” here meaning the culmination, the union, the final result of practice, not the process as we normally understand it.

” Breath Awareness “

Development of BREATH CONSCIOUSNESS is very easy and can be developed by anyone with practice.

It is merely being aware of the fact that : ” I am breathing in and I am breathing out “. This can be done even while you are talking, or working, or when the mind is engaged in other directions, as well as when you are sitting comfortably with your eyes closed.

It can be done at any time and under any circumstances, even while you are reading these words and simultaneously understanding everything that is written. With practice it is possible to undertake all your daily activities and still maintain this BREATH AWARENESS.

Awareness of your BREATH implies that you are simultaneously aware of your consciousness. In other words, if you are aware that you are breathing then you are automatically aware of your own awareness.

Most people forget the fact that they are aware or conscious; they are so wrapped up in their thought processes and actions that they do these things automatically. So, by being aware of your BREATH, you continually know that you are aware of your conscious being ; you no longer lose yourself in mental and physical activity. This is a very important point to remember.

All humans think, yet, some who are more aware are able to watch themselves thinking. They are able to stand outside themselves and watch the thinking process occurring within their mind.

This is the aim of BREATH AWARENESS: to continually remind you of your ability to be aware of your consciousness and to be a witness or a spectator of your mental and physical activities. BREATH AWARENESS is an essential part of KRIYA YOGA.

Source : material excerpted from the book ” Yoga and Kriya ” by Swami Satyananda Saraswati .. published by Yoga Publications Trust & “www.biharyoga.net

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