Satyananda Saraswati

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For other gurus called Satyananda, see Swami Satyananda (disambiguation).
Satyananda Saraswati
Born (1923-12-25)December 25, 1923
Died December 5, 2009(2009-12-05) (aged 85)

Satyananda Saraswati (25 December 1923 – 5 December 2009), was a sannyasin, yoga teacher and guru in both his native India and the West. He was a student of Sivananda Saraswati,[1] the founder of the Divine Life Society,[1] and founded his own International Yoga Fellowship in 1956[1] and the Bihar School of Yoga in 1964.[1] He wrote over 80 books, including Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha.


Early life

Swami Satyananda Saraswati was born 1923[1] at Almora (Uttaranchal) in the foothills of the Himalayas, into a family of farmers and zamindars.

As a youth he was classically educated and studied Sanskrit, the Vedas and the Upanishads. 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.[2] 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." [3]

At age eighteen, he left his home to seek a spiritual master. In 1943 at the age of twenty, Swami Satyananda met his guru Swami Sivananda Saraswati and came to live at Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh.[1] Swami Sivananda gave him the name Swami Satyananda Saraswati and initiated him as a sannyasin of the Dashnama sannyasa order, on the banks of the river Ganges on 12 September 1947.[disputed ] Swami Sivananda described him as a 'versatile genius' who 'did the work of four people'.[citation needed] Swami Satyananda served in different departments at the ashram for over 12 years. He did physical labour, edited the ashram's Hindi journal, wrote various articles and composed poems in both Hindi and Sanskrit. He wrote a translation and commentary in the English language of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad by Swami Sivananda.[citation needed]

International Yoga Fellowship

In 1956 after receiving the instruction from his Guru to spread yoga from door to door and shore to shore,[disputed ] Swami Satyananda wandered throughout India as a mendicant parivrajaka travelling through Afghanistan, Nepal, Burma and Ceylon for the next 7 years (although on several occasions he only said he travelled through India [4]), extending his knowledge of spiritual practices. He eventually found his way to Munger, in the province of Bihar. After establishing himself there, he founded the Bihar School of Yoga in 1964.[1]

He lectured and taught globally for the next twenty years, including tours in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, North America, and Colombia and authored over thirty textbooks on yoga and spiritual life. The IYF spread via Indians who migrated to the west, establishing new centers, and via western followers.[1]


In 1988 Swami Satyananda handed the active work of his ashram and organisation over to his spiritual successor Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati and departed from Munger and did not return. On 23 September 1989 he arrived at Rikhia, Deoghar, Jharkhand to live [5] as a Paramahamsa Sannyasin, and perform Vedic sadhanas including panchagni, an austerity performed before five blazing fires outdoors during the hottest months of the year as described in the Satpatha Brahmanas and Kathopanishad.[6] At Rikhia, Swami 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, Swami Satyananda passed on his spiritual and sannyasa sankalpa to Swami Niranjanananda.[7] On 5 December 2009, he entered mahasamadhi at Rikhiapeeth, Jharkhand.[8]


Swami 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.[9] 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, in the form of Tapas, Svadhyaya and Ishvarapranidhana. Tapas is the practice of austerities. Svadhyaya is study of spiritual literature and also repetition of a personal mantra. Ishvarapranidhana is self-surrender to the Lord and doing all actions as an offering unto the Lord.
  • 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.

Swami 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.[10] He invented the technique of yoga nidra, now known worldwide as Satyananda Yoga Nidra, according to the tantric system of ,and defined and codified the different stages of the technique.[11]


Swami Satyananda wrote over 80 books, including Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha. Since its first publication by the Bihar School of Yoga in 1969 it has been reprinted seventeen times and translated into many languages. In 1971 Tantra Yoga Panorama was published in which the concepts of tantra were outlined as applicable to the needs of today's society.[12]

List of publications


Satyananda Ashram in Rocklyn Victoria in Australia

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Melton & Baumann 2010, p. 1483.
  2. ^ Swami Satyananda Saraswati 2004.
  3. ^ Satyananda Saraswati 1974, p. 8.
  4. ^ Satyananda Saraswati & Yoga From Shore to Shore 1974, p. 72.
  5. ^ Paramhamsa Swami Satyananda, the Sadhana of a Sage
  6. ^ Panchagni – the Bath of Fire, Swami Satyasangananda Saraswati
  7. ^ Past, Present and Future: consolidated history of Bihar School of Yoga, Editors Swami Yogakanti, Swami Yogawandana, 2009, Yoga Publications Trust
  8. ^ Rikhiapeeth
  9. ^ "The Growth of Satyananda Yoga or Bihar Yoga". Retrieved 9 December 2009. 
  10. ^ Meditations From the Tantras, Satyananda Saraswati,Yoga Publications Trust
  11. ^ Yoga Nidra, Swami Satyananda Saraswati,Yoga Publications Trust
  12. ^ Tantra-yoga panorama, Swami Satyananda Saraswati,International Yoga Fellowship Movement


External links