True yogi, fount of wisdom

Across the globe, the followers and disciples of Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati, who was on Wednesday named as one of this year's Padma Bhushan recipients, believe he is a born yogi.

By Nalin Verma
  • Published 26.01.17
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Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

Across the globe, the followers and disciples of Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati, who was on Wednesday named as one of this year's Padma Bhushan recipients, believe he is a born yogi.

Born on February 14, 1960 at Rajnandgaon in Chhattisgarh, Saraswati was barely four years old when Bihar School of Yoga founder Swami Satyananda brought him to the school in Munger - 180km east of Patna - and named him Niranjan (untainted). According to legend, Satyanand imparted him lessons in yoga and spiritualism through yognidra - as Niranjan slept in his guru's room.

Saraswati was initiated as a sanyasi at the age of 10 - a rarity in the history of yoga - and named as Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati. Subsequently, he travelled across the world - from the US to Europe, Australia to Latin America - setting up Satyananda Yoga Kendras and drawing disciples cutting across all divides of race, ethnicity, nationality and language.

Niranjanananda never had a formal education, but he can converse and write in over a dozen languages and has deep knowledge of various cultures and languages thanks to his travels.

In 1990, he was initiated into the order of Paramhansa (enlightened one). In 1993, he was declared the successor of Satyananda and head of the Bihar School of Yoga. The same year, he organised a World Yoga Convention to commemorate the golden jubilee of the sanyas of his guru. In 1994, he established Bihar Yoga Bharati in Munger as a centre for higher studies in the ancient Indian practice. He founded the Yoga Publication Trust in 2000.

"Swami Niranjanananda is a master yogi," said Yogi Mahesh, Saraswati's disciple and a yogi at the Bihar School of Yoga. "He has absolute perfection in almost all the forms of yoga. Padma Bhushan is too small a thing for a personality like him. He has authored many classics on yoga, tantra and the Upanishads. He is a great source of wisdom."

Saraswati is not the first yoga guru to be conferred a Padma honour. The late BKS Iyengar was awarded the Padma Shri in 1991, the Padma Bhushan in 2002 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2014.