Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati
The Boy, The Man & The Mission
Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati was born on the 14th February, 1960 with an innate love for the geru cloth. Even as a small child he experienced the compelling affinity with sannyasins having shaven heads. When he was merely three years old a kind person brought him some new clothes, forcing him to put them on, but he immediately removed them exclaiming, "I want only geru robes!". When he was four he had an inner calling and gathering a small bundle of clothes, set off for Munger. His father had difficulty in bringing him back from the railway station.
Paramahamsa Satyananda and Paramahamsa Niranjanananda have been irrevocably linked through many lifetimes. Even before his birth, Swamiji, had foretold his birth and karma. He named the child 'Niranjan', (The untainted one', or 'The one who is simple and free from any kind of falsehood'). In 1964 Swami Niranjan came to Munger with his father to attend a convention at Sivananda Ashram. They wore staying in a dharmashala but Swamiji had them called to the ashram, telling everyone that it was Niranjan's real home. So he moved in, never again to return to Rajnandgaon.
At the feet of the Guru
The very first day Swamiji disclosed to Swami Niranjan that he was a sannyasin born. From then on he began to absorb his Guru's transmission directly and innocently, sleeping with him, and at times, wrestling with him. Always, as now, they lived in complete unison with each other, as did Vashishtha and Lord Ram. He had the habit of sleeping late into the morning, so Swamiji utilised this to implant further knowledge through the ancient technique of yoga nidra. Thus at a very young age he was rich in knowledge.
Swami Niranjan enjoyed his gurukul days to the full, his mischievous Krishna-like nature displaying itself in a variety of surprises: a mosquito net suddenly rising above the innocent sleeper by means of a concealed hook; one side of a chowkie being pushed up from below by little hidden hands; a bucket of water descending on a sleeping or urinating victim - and ashram breakages were frequent when he was around.
His destiny however was awaiting him and his gurukul days came to an end on Basant Panchami 1970 when he became Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati at the tender age of not quite ten. Although he did not consciously understand the full import of sannyasa, at that time, in retrospect he comments, 'There was an inkling on some other level. I had the feeling that I was coming to a place and a path which were natural to me. I was expecting it. I wanted it".
The wheel of life began to spin fast for the young sannyasin. A sudden call from his Guru from Calcutta an the 1st march 1970 sent him on the flight to 'destination unlimited' - America, Ireland, England, Scotland, France, Germany, Australia, and many other countries. He was to return to the Bihar School of Yoga only in January, 1983 after 13 years of parivrajak life.
In spite of his youth, he was aware of his own strengths and of the Grace of his Guru, and he knew he was going to these countries well equipped. How did this child sannyasin cope all by himself in these foreign countries? He explains, "As the situation arose I found that I could deal with things without any kind of preplanning". Thus Swami Niranjan became a sharp instrument in his Guru's mission of spreading Yoga, Simultaneously, he utilised his sojourn abroad perfecting his skills and techniques and gaining invaluable experience for his work of guiding countless aspirants along the spiritual path.
During his parivrajak life he also had a chance to relax into the sporting life. Any game which involved mental concentration attracted him namely, archery in Switzerland, shooting in America, equestrian sports in Colombia, while in America he also came into contact with the Computer Age.
His spiritual experiences came initially in the form of dreams. When he was around six years old he had chicken pox and a high fever, and after crying himself to sleep had the following dream ,"I found someone was chasing me. I was trying to run but rny feet were glued to the spot. He came nearer and nearer and at last touched me. At that moment Swamiji appeared from nowhere and I fell at his feet. Swamiji turned towards that person and told him not to come again. After that I never suffered any kind of natural setback or fell ill again".
While abroad Swami Niranjan bad to take part in symposiums and give lectures while still in his teens, often having to speak on subjects which were unfamiliar to him. From the year 1973 onwards he found that he could visualise the entire process at a level of consciousness which he simply calls 'mind sight'. To his surprise he found .himself speaking about the assigned subject in his dreams. One night he found himself giving a lecture on Yoga and noted down the salient points upon waking. When he went through these points he discovered that he had been speaking on bio-feedback, a word he had not known even a day before. He was only aware of something having manifested from inside. He spoke on the subject with such authority that the boy sannyasin earned a standing ovation.
One full moon night in 1977 while sleeping alone in the forest in New South Wales, Australia, he heard his name being called. He got up and went in the direction where he thought he had heard the voice. Suddenly he stopped in his tracks with his foot frozen over a deadly tiger snake. 'For sometime", he recalls "we gazed at each other for what seemed like an infinity. I felt that an eternity had passed, and then it slid away".
In 1983 in an isolated retreat in Death Valley, California, he heard music, yet there was no one within miles. He was experiencing: the anahata nada and was later able to re-produce it on the harmonium exactly as he had heard it. He also found he had the ability to listen to people conversing at distant places as if they were talking in the same room.
These and many other experiences led him to a deep understanding of the many facets of spiritual life which control our physical existence, and thus changed his whole spiritual outlook.
On the 19th January 1983, Swami Niranjan was appointed President of the Bihar School of Yoga, and when his Guru, Swami Satyananda renounced the establishment in 1988 he became his successor.
BSY is going through a period of transition with new developments taking place every day. Furthermore, Swami Niranjan, at the time of his initiation into the Paramahamsa Order at midnight on 31st December 1989, undertook to fulfil an enormous task.
His immediate, mission however is to produce yoga teachers who can understand and appreciate the practicalities of modern life and offer viable solutions to the sufferings of all cultures throughout the world. To this end he aims to prepare a body of people who will be able to meet the challenge of future philosophies. In this endeavour he needs the wholehearted participation of every sadhak involved.
In the doming era, investigation of yogic practices will be of great importance, and many techniques need to be revealed from the hidden sources of Tantra and Vedanta. This will be a major contribution by BSY in the yogic panorama, and Swami Niranjanji has many books planned in his mind just waiting to come out.
Another important aspect of Ganga Darshan will be to synthesise the Eastern and Western cultures to create the spirit of internal and external development in the individual. Swami Niranjanji feels strongly that the most important thing to the mission is the 'spirit' which carries it through. On the basis of the medical and scientific research into Yoga here at Ganga Darshan he will give seekers specific meditation for inner growth according to their culture and philosophy.
Swami Niranjan visualises that Ganga Darshan will become a very strong base for sannyas in its traditional aspect. It is his mission to mould the age-old proven system of sannyas into the Modern Age, both in East and West and offer sannyas as an alternative way of life. In the course of time he wants to introduce yoga to children between the age of 7-14 years. This may take the shape of continuous gurukul which will provide a solid and stable personality for the child's future life. Here the children will he able to develop their own strengths, freedom, self-awareness, qualities and faculties in an integral and harmonious way.
It is not possible for the ordinary seeker to understand and evaluate the life and actions of a great soul. However, even now at this young age Swami Niranjan glows with an inner light. and the compassion and simple kindness which flows constantly from his gentle and forgiving nature holds the promise of a spiritual leader reminiscent of his Param Guru, Swami Sivananda, to whom Swamiji had dedicated his entire life and mission. For, like Swami Sivananda he possesses that inner joy and childlike innocence which opens spontaneously to each and every one of life's passing scenes and situations, So, being in harmony with himself, with Nature, and with all those around him, he is able to cope with everything at ease.
With his unique and sparkling wit, playful dynamism, deep spiritual insight and ability to meet any individual on their own level, Swami Niranjan has therefore universal appeal. At the same time he has proved himself master on the administrative front, with total dedication to his Guru's mission, and with a mind and intellect as sharp and strong as steel to cope with any obstacles that may stand between himself and his goal. In every respect he has shown himself to be a direct line of his Guru, Swami Satyananda. In fact, many are finding in Swami Niranjanji more than just a few similarities with the famous child sannyasin and sage Shankaracharya.
Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati was born in Rajnandgaon (Chhattisgarh) in 1960. Guided by his guru, Swami Satyananda Saraswati, from birth, at the age of four he came to live with him at the Bihar School of Yoga in Munger where he received training in yogic and spiritual sciences through yoga nidra.
In 1971 he was initiated into Dashnami sannyasa, and thereafter for eleven years he lived overseas, mastering skills in varied areas, acquiring an understanding of different cultures and helping establish Satyananda Yoga ashrams and centres in Europe, Australia, North and South America.
At the behest of his guru, he returned to India in 1983 to guide the activities of Bihar School of Yoga, Sivananda Math and the Yoga Research Foundation at Ganga Darshan. In 1990 he was initiated as a paramahamsa sannyasin and in 1995 anointed spiritual preceptor in succession to Swami Satyananda Saraswati. He established Bihar Yoga Bharati, the first university of yoga, in 1994 and the Yoga Publications Trust in 2000 in Munger. He also initiated a children’s yoga movement, Bal Yoga Mitra Mandal, in 1995. In addition to steering the activities at Munger, he travelled extensively to guide seekers around the world till 2009, when he received the command to embark on a new phase of sannyasa life.
Author of many classic books on yoga, tantra and the upanishads, Swami Niranjan is a magnetic source of wisdom on all aspects of yogic philosophy, practice and lifestyle. He ably combines tradition with modernity as he continues to nurture and spread his guru’s mission from his base at Munger.