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Satyananda Saraswati

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For other gurus called Satyananda, see Swami Satyananda (disambiguation).

Satyananda Saraswati
Born

25 December 1923
Almora

Died

5 December 2009 (aged 85)

Satyananda Saraswati (25 December 1923 5 December 2009), was a sannyasin, yoga teacher
and guru in both his native Indiaand the West. He was a student of Sivananda Saraswati, the
founder of the Divine Life Society, and founded the Bihar School of Yoga in 1964.[1] He wrote over 80
books, including Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha.
Contents
[hide]

1Biography
o

1.1Early life

1.2Bihar School of Yoga

1.3Seclusion

2Teachings

3Publications

4References

5Sources

6External links

Biography[edit]
Early life[edit]
Satyananda Saraswati was born 1923 at Almora, Uttaranchal,[2] into a family of farmers
and zamindars.[citation needed]
As a youth he was classically educated and studied Sanskrit, the Vedas and the Upanishads. He
says that 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. He also met a tantric bhairavi, Sukhman Giri, who gave him shaktipat and
directed him to find a guru to stabilise his spiritual experiences.[3][page needed] However, in one of his early
publications, Yoga from Shore to Shore, he says he would become unconscious during meditation
and that "One day I met a mahatma, a great saint, who was passing by my birthplace...So he told
me I should find a guru." [4]
At age eighteen, he left his home to seek a spiritual master. In 1943 at the age of twenty, he met
his guru Sivananda Saraswati and went to live at Sivananda's ashram in Rishikesh.[1] Sivananda
initiated him into the Dashnam Order of Sannyasa on 12 September 1947 on the banks of the
Ganges and gave him the name of Swami Satyananda Saraswati. He stayed with Sivananda for a
further nine years but received little formal instruction from him. [2]

Bihar School of Yoga[edit]


In 1956, Sivananda sent Satyanda away to spread his teachings. Basing himself in Munger, Bihar,
he wandered as a mendicant parivrajaka travelling through
India, Afghanistan, Nepal, Burma and Ceylon for the next seven years (although on several
occasions he said he travelled only through India[5]), extending his knowledge of spiritual practices
and spending some time in seclusion.[2]
According to Harry Aveling, some followers of Satyananda established the International Yoga
Fellowship Movement (IYFM) in Rajnandgaon in 1962 but the organisation struggled to make an
impact because he spent too much time travelling and was thus unable to direct it. [2] J. Gordon
Melton says that Satyananda founded the IYFM himself in 1956. In 1964, he founded the Bihar
School of Yoga (BSY) at Munger,[1] with the intention that it would act as a centre of training for future
teachers of yoga as well as offer courses for ordinary people. [6]
Among those who attended courses at BSY were students from abroad and students who
subsequently emigrated from India. Some of these people in turn invited Satyananda to teach in
their own countries. He lectured and taught for the next twenty years, including a tour of Europe,
Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, North America between April and October 1968. The
foreign and expatriate students also established new centres of teaching in their respective
countries. These people included John Mumford in Australia and Janakananda Saraswati in
Denmark. With the organisation expanding into a chain of ashrams within India and without, the
IYFM had 54 centres by the mid-1970s, including eight in Australia. These were all guided by
Satyananda and operated on behalf of the BSY.[6][1]

Seclusion[edit]
In 1988 Satyananda handed over the active work of his ashram and organisation to his spiritual
successor, Niranjanananda Saraswati, and left Munger.[citation needed]
From September 1989 he was in Rikhia, Deoghar, Jharkhand.[7] There he lived as
a paramahamsa sannyasin and performed vedic sadhanas including panchagni, an austerity
performed before five blazing fires outdoors during the hottest months of the year.[8] At Rikhia,
Satyananda conducted a 12-year Rajasooya Yajna which began in 1995 with the first Sat Chandi
Maha Yajna, invoking the Cosmic Mother through a tantric ceremony. During this event, Satyananda
passed on his spiritual and sannyasa sankalpa to Niranjanananda. [9]
He died on 5 December 2009.[10]

Teachings[edit]
Satyananda's teachings emphasise an "Integral Yoga" with a strong emphasis on Tantra, known as
the "Bihar Yoga" system or "Satyananda Yoga". This system addresses the qualities of head, heart

and hands intellect, emotion and action - and attempts to integrate the physical, psychological and
spiritual dimensions of yoga into each practice.[11] His system of tantric yoga involves the practice of:

Kundalini Yoga, in the tradition following Sivananda's explanation. Kundalini Yoga is the yoga
of the evolutionary energy of the universe.

Kriya Yoga through the practices of pratyahara, dharana and dhyana, which are the three

components of Kriya yoga, in combination with other practices such as asana, pranayama, mudras
and badhas. Kriya Yoga aims to awaken the dimensions of consciousness where our dormant
potential and creativity lies.

Mantra Yoga, the repetition of sacred sounds.

Laya yoga, the practice of a state of absorption on an object of meditation.

The four advanced stages of the Eight Limbs of Yoga as codified


by Patanjali: Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.

Satyananda classified and expounded the techniques given in the tantras as a series of different
stages and levels of pratyahara, such as antar mouna, and different stages of meditation. [12] He
invented a technique of yoga-nidra, now known worldwide as Satyananda Yoga Nidra, and defined
and codified the different stages of the technique. [13]