Circumambulating Bihar/ Satyananda Yoga Tradition, Bihar India- Published article

Circumambulating Bihar/ Satyananda Yoga Tradition, Bihar India

Sw Kamala at Rikhiapeeth ashram 2010

In your body is Mt. Meru, encircled by the seven continents (chakras)…”He alone who knows this is held to be a true yogi”, the Shiva Samhita says.

Certain other passages in Indian texts support the concept of Meru as a spiritual rather than a geographical centre (Mt. Kailash). The Maha Bharata describes Meru as a kingdom, of the mind; a heap of effulgence…. “immeasurable and unapproachable by men of manifold sins.”

The central subtle channel of psychic energy running up the spinal column (which itself is known as Meru danda). “Ultimately, Mt. Meru appears within man himself.”


Accepting one’s karma that has taken a form of destiny in this lifetime is not an easy acceptance and task for many, to say the least. Personally, I have fallen (literally) on numerous occasions and have found myself in the most unexpected experiences and unimaginable places. My journey I could never have accomplished alone without my religious foundation  and faith and the guidance of my spiritual masters. My masters have always mirrored and enabled me to sense within myself the perfection in me, no matter how faint I felt the light that I am. I personally felt, that I needed a medium, a proper secure ideal. My spiritual masters set a secure foundation for me in making the spiritual tangible through their immediate presence. The rule in guru and disciple relationship is never to have expectations or any fixed ideas from your master – it will never work. To attach oneself to an ego dependency relationship, a fall will definitely come. Applying these golden rules to every given moment of life is VIVEKA (discrimination) and VAIRAGYA (detachment).  Observing and studying oneself (SWADHYAYA) leads to a deeper understanding of one’s own nature; to discriminate as to what is real or unreal on this path to the ultimate reality. Through embracing and practicing the above, and applying the yogic science it ultimately becomes your lifestyle. It is in living with an attitude (BHAVA) of humanness that we get to experience the ultimate of who we really are.


In 1974 I was initiated into Kriya Tantra Yoga under the guidance of my master of Integral Ishta Yoga, Swami Kavi Yogeshwarananda addressed fondly and respectively as “Mani” by his students. I became an integral yoga teacher and was initiated as an acharya (spiritual teacher). Enduring many years of disciplinary Sadhana (practices) and initiations I was wholly devoted in trust and faith in my Tantric master Mani. I tenaciously followed a deep calling to experience the reaching of my conscious awakening. Mani often said, “This path is not for the weak minded and reserved individual. An attitude of hurling oneself unconditionally into the processes is needed to activate the awakening of this divine shakti (it is the root force for transformation).”


It was twenty one years later in 1994 in Peru, South America, at a farmhouse at the foot of a sacred site of Machu Picchu, that I had the unexpected shakti (kundalini) awakening. My journey of wisdom and knowledge began. Remembering my master’s voice that the arousal could happen any place, when the time was perfectly right. Its awakening is swift moving like lightning; an electrical vortex (atomic in nature) that consumed my whole body. I felt it consume and absorb my very existence and I lost touch of time and space, but I was constantly conscious and aware. Did I fear by any chance you may ask? Yes, would be my immediate reply! But it is not a time for doubting and questioning, one had already processed all that through years of purification on all levels. You just surrender fully with total trust, faith and acceptance to the divine experience, allowing the journey to reveal itself to you through the chakras. Reveal itself it did! This experience lasted two and a half hours. What I would like to share is that all the years practicing integral – Kriya – Tantra and Laya yoga paid off, my surrendering to the awakening as a means to an end. The whole experience left me thirsting for water when it was all over. It has taken me years to assimilate my experience. Writing this article is an ongoing event. After such an awakening one is still spiritually human. The Zen saying stands true, “Before enlightenment chopping wood, after enlightenment chopping wood.” I am very comfortable moving on with my spiritual progress for I have seen and experienced firsthand for myself, which makes it real from the unreal – maya (illusion). Putting words to my feelings come more easily now because I am living a life with an attitude of gratitude. I have found no greater happiness than my relationship with the Divine (infinity). When I shared my experience with Mani on my return from Peru he just sat in silence nodding his head in recognition. I say having shared the above, “If you are sincere in seeking and constantly checking that your intent is pure, you are qualified.”


My Peruvian experience acted as a catalyst for my travelling to Tibet the following year. I approached Mt. Kailash as a pilgrim with the intent to circumambulate it – but to no avail. The high altitude got to me as I was popping oxygen tablets like eating colourful Smarties (sweets) to compensate the low oxygen intake at such a high altitude of over twenty two thousand feet. Nonetheless, Lord Shiva (that resides in Mt. Kailash that is His abode) the deity of dissolution of ignorance (maya) and illusion was preparing me for renunciation. Mani left South Africa in 1996 and settled in America where he later left Mother Earth at the age of 94. Impelled by divine will and guidance, and according to my karmic script, I found myself two years later in 1998 in India in the divine presence of Paramahamsa Satyananda Saraswati, founder of the Bihar School of Yoga and his successor Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati, president then and founder of the Bihar Yoga Bharati (B.Y.B.) private university and its various institutions 

They are globally renowned for its high standards of integral yoga. They say that first impressions count and if favourably strong and convincing can change your life leaving an indelible imprint forever. Little did I realize that the blessed masters would play a major role in moulding my spiritual life further. 


I returned the following year, not as a guest but as a student to Bihar Yoga Bharati Institute located on a hill surrounded by the Ganges River. There at Ganga Darshan Ashram in Munger, Bihar India I studied and experienced ashram life for five months. It was during this period that I was initiated as a Karma Sannyasin (householder renunciate) by my master Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati and bestowed the name Kamalavidya into the Dashnami order. A renunciate is a slow, steady process whereby the sannyasin is made to be aware of constantly reducing attachments in one’s life – physically, mentally and emotionally. The sannyasin’s gheru (orange/ochre) robe is a reminder of that commitment to one’s self, guru and God.


Today I am the director of the South African School of Yoga (graciously named by Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati) that was established in 2001 based in Hyde Park, Johannesburg. The school teaches the Bihar / Satyananda Yoga Tradition and has had the honour and the privilege of hosting Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati in South Africa 2008 where I was initiated as Swami Kamalavidya Saraswati. This was the first time ever in the history of Bihar / Satyananda Institute that one of the masters of the lineage consisting of Sri Swami Sivananda Saraswati, Paramahamsa Satyananda Saraswati and Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati has visited our beautiful rainbow nation and has sincere intentions of visiting in the year 2011 once again.

            ~ Swami Kamalavidya Saraswati