Life of the master
The founder of Bihar School of Yoga, is Swami Satyananda Saraswati. Satyananda was born in 1923 at Almora (Uttaranchal) into a family of farmers. He was educated in Sanskrit, Vedas and Upanishads from childhood, and he began to have spiritual experiences since the age of 6. Many sadhus and sanyasi blessed him including Anandamayi maa.
A tantric master Sukhman Giri gave him Shaktipat, and directed him to find a spiritual guru. At the age of 18, he left home, seeking a spiritual master, and in 1943, he met Swami Sivananda Saraswati in Rishikesh. Sivananda initiated him into the Dashnami 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 9 more years totally immersed in guru sewa and ashram development. The grace received from the Guru and his practice slowly turned him into an authority on hatha Yoga, vedanta, tantra, samkhya and kundalini yoga. In 1956, Sivananda initiated him into Kriya yoga sadhana and sent him to “spread yoga from door to door and shore to shore”.
He set out, travelling throughout India, Afghanistan, Burma, Nepal, Tibet, Ceylon and the entire Asian subcontinent.He met various people, trying to understand their problems and formulating ways on how he would propagate his teachings. In 1962 Satyananda established the International Yoga Fellowship Movement (IYFM) in Rajnandgaon.In 1964, he founded the Bihar School of Yoga (BSY) at Munger, Bihar with the intention that it would act as a centre of training for future teachers of yoga as well as offer courses on yoga.
For the next 20 years, he travelled in many countries, including Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, North America. In 1988, he handed over the organisational work of Bihar School of Yoga to his successor Swami Niranjananda Saraswati, and left Munger. In 1989, he moved to Rikhia, Jharkhand and stayed there as a paramahamsa sanyasin for the rest of his life. There he was engaged in various Vedic sadhanas and social service. He constructed homes for the homeless and established the rikhiapeeth ashram. He conducted a 12 year Rajasooya yagna which began in 1995, during which he passed his spiritual sankalpa to his successor Niranjananda Saraswati.
In 5th December 2009 he left his body, entering mahasamadhi.
He wrote over 80 books, including the yoga manual Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha, and “A systematic study of Principles of Yoga and Tantra”.
Bihar School of Yoga serves as the fulcrum of spreading his teachings. It was found in 1964 in Munger, Bihar.
Eventually as Satyananda’s devotees increased, multiple centers were opened in the world. In the mid 1970s there were 54 BSY ashrams all over the world.
The Prime Minister conferred the National Yoga Award 2019 on the Bihar School of Yoga for outstanding contributions to the promotion and development of yoga.
His teachings were based on Sivananda’s yoga approach. They emphasized an integral approach known as Satyananda System of Yoga, which combines six main branches of yoga. Hatha, Raja and Kriya Yoga are referred to as the external yogas, as they focus on improving the quality of body and mind, the expression of the senses and behavior. They aim at reconditioning and fine tuning the various aspects of the aspirant’s personality. Karma, Bhakti and Jnana Yoga are referred to as the internal yogas, as they are concerned with cultivating a positive attitude towards life’s situations and the expression of creativity. There are multiple apps and websites in which their publications, books are available for free for everyone to read.