A Yoga Guru is someone who helps everyone attain the highest level of self-realisation.
By Swami Guru Prasadananda Saraswati .
The unseen power of the universe that created this visible world is called by various names such as Ishwar, God, Allah, Jesus, and thousands of other names. This spiritual energy can be described as consciousness or Chaitanya, which is beyond the mental and intellectual state. Eyes function because of the sun and the moon. The ear, essence of sky, helps us in listening to words; the essence of nose is earth, which gives us smell. The essence of tongue is water, utilised in taste. The essence of skin is air, which gives us the sense of touch. Through the practice of Yoga, this unseen power can make human beings the most capable on earth.
The Lord is unseen, human beings are seen, and the person connecting them both is a true Yoga Guru. We salute the great Yoga Gurus, foremost of them being Devarshi Narad, Valmiki, Veda Vyas, Adiguru Shankaracharya, Jesus, Swami Vivekananda, Aurobindo Ghosh, Anandamai Maa, Swami Sivananda, Swami Chidananda, and all the great sages and gurus of the world. Just as in an aluminium wire, we cannot touch the electricity passing through it, but can feel it, because of the light produced. Similarly, to be able to touch and connect to the unseen power, we need the help of Yoga.
Bharat is the Yoga Bhoomi, Dev Bhoomi (Land of Yoga and God). He who takes birth here and reaches the calibre of a sage is a quintessential Yoga Guru. As per Indian spiritual texts, soul resides in all, irrespective of caste, gender, creed, colour, race and nationality.
Why India is a Yoga Guru
Yoga Guru is someone who has the highest experience of Yoga and helps everyone attain the highest level of human potential. Hence the hymn “Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu….” Just as a person’s name gets associated with his/her inventions such as railways, electricity, atom bomb, etc, similarly the place from where Yoga originated is India that is Bharat. It is the place from where research on Yoga has been going on for thousands of years. That’s why India deserves to be called Yoga Bhoomi, where the spiritual knowledge arose, where people give priority to self-realisation.
Duty of World Citizens
We all are the citizens of the world, including the grass, trees, insects, fish, animals, birds in the eyes of God. Swami Sivananda has said that all are unique in the eyes of God. A human being is the highest because of vivek (intellect) and vichar (right thought). Our duty is to choose one path, and put as many zeros as you want, and it will increase only. Whether in sleep, walking, talking, God has kept us connected, as the breath is always going on in the form of Soham and Hamsa, “I am He, He I am”. But, immersed in worldly affairs, we tend to forget God. Remembering God is the first duty of all the citizens of the world.
Just as parents are thinking about the well-being of their children, sending them to kindergarten, school, college, with the desire that they will try to excel and become successful in life, similarly, God has sent us with the mandate to attain the highest, the invisible power, the Supreme Soul. So, if we remember the Supreme God and do our Karma, our duty, we will realise our highest potential. Without God, there is no total fulfillment of life. The mantra for success on earth is to keep connected with the highest and do our worldly duties simultaneously.
Rishikesh as World Yoga Capital
Rishikesh means the hair of the Rishis, and Rishis are people who delve into Yoga and knowledge. Akin to hair on our head, we have so many Yogis residing in Rishikesh. It is the place on earth, where people from the whole world come and feel its spiritual vibrations and receive the knowledge of attaining the transcendental state.
Just as we have satellites, to connect different devices on earth, we have this soul connecting us to God. Similarly, on earth, Rishikesh helps us to connect with the souls of the world.
Contribution of Swami Sivananda, and why he is called Grand Master of Modern Yoga
Swami Sivananda was born in Tamil Nadu and from birth his habits were divine. He was in the state of Daan (donating), Dhyan (meditation) and Karma (action) since childhood. He studied medicine and used to publish a medical journal The Ambrosia at a young age. After completing his medical degree, he went to Malaya where he used to provide his medical services to the tea garden workers, donate food and medicines to the labourers. He used to do even cleaning work in the hospital, showing that even small work plays an important role in the sanitisation of the hospital, which was usually ignored. So, the grand master taught us to not ignore doing our Karma. In the modern world, he was a practical embodiment of service to mankind. He epitomised excellence in action, that is, Karma Yoga.
Later he came to Rishikesh, where he did intense sadhana or austerity. He taught Karma Yoga, Raja Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Dhyan Yoga and many more forms, presenting a synthesis of Yoga. Because of him Rishikesh became famous, though other yogis have also contributed to it immensely. He said the only goal of life is God-realisation. He taught service to mankind as part of Yoga. He wrote more than 300 books in 25 years, never went out of India, but his inner knowledge reached the whole world. He started Divine Life Society of India, and a hospital in Rishikesh. He introduced the practical aspects of Patanjali Yoga to bring the modern age in sync with Yoga. That’s why he is known as Grand Master of Modern Yoga. He respected all the religions of the world. Dr A P J Abdul Kalam wrote about his life-changing visit to Swami Sivananda’s ashram in Rishikesh, in his book Wings of Fire. In contemporary times, with advancement in technology, his books are reaching learned persons through his writings and uneducated persons through educated persons.
So, a Yoga Guru is the enlightened person who can guide others. As none can measure the power of the sun, and fathom the waters of the ocean, similarly, to awaken our unlimited potential power, we need a Yoga Guru. That’s why India, because of its spiritual energy, austerity and intellectual calibre of great Yogis, needs to play this vital role of a Yoga Guru for peace and prosperity in the world. Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.
The author is a disciple of Swami Chidananda Saraswatiji Maharaj, who was spiritual successor of Swami Sivananda Saraswatiji Maharaj, Sivananda Ashram, Rishikesh.