Satyananda Saraswati

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


Early life

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 gave him the name Swami Satyananda Saraswati[citation needed] and initiated him as a sannyasin in 1947. He stayed with Sivananda for a further nine years but received little formal instruction from him.[2]

Bihar School of Yoga

In 1956, Sivananda sent Satyanda away to spread the message.[2] He wandered throughout India as a mendicant parivrajaka travelling through 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. 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 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.[6] 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 as described in the Satpatha Brahmanas and Kathopanishad.[7] 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.[8] On 5 December 2009, he died at Rikhiapeeth, Jharkhand.[citation needed]


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.

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]


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]

Satyananda's writings have been published by the Bihar School of Yoga and, since 2000, by the Yoga Publications Trust established by his disciple Ninanjanananda to promote his teachings.[13] Among them are:[14]

  • Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha. 2003. ISBN 978-81-86336-14-4. 
  • Dynamics of Yoga: The Foundations of Bihar Yoga. 2002. ISBN 978-81-85787-14-5. 
  • Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha. 1969. 
  • Four chapters on freedom: commentary on Yoga sutras of Patanjali. 1976. 
  • Japa yoga: a compilation of lectures delivered by : Paramhans Satyananda Saraswati to the students of International Yoga Teachers' Training Course from July 1, 1967 to March 31, 1968 at the Bihar School of Yoga, Monghyr, (Bihar), India. 1968. 
  • Karma sannyasa. 1984. 
  • Kundalini Tantra. 2002. ISBN 978-81-85787-15-2. 
  • Meditations from the Tantras, with live class transcriptions. 1975. 
  • Moola bandha, the master key. 19??.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  • Nine Principal Upanishads. 2006. ISBN 978-81-85787-34-3. 
  • Rikhiapeeth Satsangs. 2009. ISBN 978-81-86336-66-3. 
  • Sannyasa tantra. 1977. 
  • Steps to yoga and Yoga initiation papers. 2006. ISBN 978-81-85787-13-8. 
  • Sure ways to self-realization. 2002. ISBN 978-81-85787-41-1. 
  • Surya Namaskara: A Technique of Solar Vitalization. 2002. ISBN 978-81-85787-35-0. 
  • Swara yoga: the tantric science of brain breathing. 1984.  (with Muktibodhananda Saraswati)
  • A Systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriya. 2004. ISBN 978-81-85787-08-4. 
  • Taming the kundalini. 1973. 
  • Tantra-yoga panorama. 1974. 
  • Tattwa Shuddhi: The Tantric Practice of Inner Purification. 2000. ISBN 978-81-85787-37-4. 
  • Teachings of Swami Satyananda Saraswati Vol.1–4 [comp. and ed. by Gaurishankar Saraswati]. 1982. 
  • Yoga and Cardiovascular Management. 2008. ISBN 978-81-85787-26-8. 
  • Yoga Education for Children. 1999. ISBN 978-81-85787-33-6. 
  • Yoga from shore to shore: a collection of lectures given by Swami Satyananda Saraswati in many different countries during his world tour of 1968. 1980. 
  • Yoga Nidra. 2003. ISBN 978-81-85787-12-1. 
  • Yoga sagar: commemorative volume : compiled from the complete proceedings of the Paramahamsa Satyananda Tyag Golden Jubilee World Yoga Convention, 1993. 1994. ISBN 978-81-85787-91-6. 
  • Yogic management of asthma and diabetes. 1984.  (with Shankardevananda Saraswati)



  1. ^ a b c d Melton 2010, p. 1483.
  2. ^ a b c Aveling (1994), p. 60
  3. ^ Saraswati (2004).
  4. ^ Saraswati (1974), p. 8
  5. ^ Saraswati (1974), pp. 10, 72
  6. ^ "Paramhamsa Swami Satyananda, the Sadhana of a Sage". Archived from the original on 2011-07-18. 
  7. ^ Saraswati, Satyasangananda. "Panchagni – the Bath of Fire". 
  8. ^ Past, Present and Future: consolidated history of Bihar School of Yoga, Editors Swami Yogakanti, Swami Yogawandana, 2009, Yoga Publications Trust
  9. ^ Saraswati, Niranjanananda. "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
  13. ^ "Yoga Publications Trust". Satyananda Yoga. Retrieved 2014-12-27. 
  14. ^


External links