Article from Bindu no 5
N amo Narayan –
Welcome to Alakh Bara
After five years of fire meditation, Swami Satyananda breaks the isolation and invites you to Satsang in India
Namo Narayan is a mantra, which yogis, swamis and others use, when they greet disciples of another guru. A longer version is OM Namo Narayanaya. The mantra implies: I greet god in you. This custom expresses a tolerance which is unique to India – and very important for the preservation of a very special spiritual tradition. For the individual, this greeting means that superficiality is eliminated. It ensures that one does not, from fear of missing out on something, run from one teacher and method to the next, without ever confronting the whole of oneself. Here, in fact, it is permitted to surrender to one teaching and one teacher, when you are serious about self-realisation.
The use of Namo Narayan(a) is also important for society. You avoid sectarian and know-all "supporter-clubs" around the gurus. Sects very seldom arise in India with that negative interpretation known in the West.
The concept, Namo Narayan, is fundamental in that part of Indian culture where yoga is kept alive. The mantra expresses that no matter where you come from, then I respect the path you have chosen. I greet you! You are my guest, as god is. I can exchange experiences with you on equal terms.
When a well-known guru - whose teaching has substance also for the West, and who has been visited by many different people over the years, some just to shop around, others to be touched and be trained and still others to receive help to live a life in concentration and meditation or to become able to fulfil the task which is that person's calling – when such a guru suddenly one day greets his disciples with Namo Narayan, what has happened?
Let me relate this in a personal way: The summer of 1988 I was in USA, among other things, to work on the new English edition of my book Yoga, Tantra and Meditation in Daily Life. For a time I lived on Long Island and, late one afternoon, I went for a swim with a couple of friends in the Atlantic. The waves were bigger than I had expected, and I was knocked over several times. At first I was just annoyed that my bathing trunks slipped down and my hair was washed forward, covering my face so that I was unable to find my bearings. Then I realised that this was serious. After being knocked beneath the waves more times than I care to remember, I managed to fight my way ashore. Never as an adult have I been that short of breath. At the same time, I felt incredibly good, having fought my way out of the ocean.
The experience gave me perspective on my life. I saw the twenty years I had taught yoga, and felt strongly inspired, in one way or another, to go on for another twenty years.
Later, home in Sweden, I had a vision – no, a total experience – in my meditation. I am in a landscape that looks like the foothills of the Himalayas near Rishikesh. I have a feeling of just having left everything – students, administration, routines. I feel endlessly relieved. Now I am free, and can go wherever I want and completely devote myself to my Sadhana. Afterwards I wondered why this wonderful experience of freedom appeared just now, when I was so inspired to go on teaching!?
A few weeks later Swami Pragyamurti from London told me that Swamiji had left the ashram and his role as a guru. At the time of my vision, he was residing near Rishikesh...
In November 1993, I was invited to speak at a congress in Monghyr and therefore visited my teacher, Swami Satyananda. When I told him of my vision, he just said: "Yes, I thought you should know".
After some years of travelling around visiting holy places in India, Swamiji has, at his own wish, lived in relative isolation in his new ashram, AlakhBara. During the last five years he has, among other things, devoted himself to a unique meditation between five fires. Every day, from 15 January till 15 July, from sunrise to sunset with four strong fires just next to him, the fifth being the sun. It is said that since Shankaracharya nobody has practised this meditation. And now that the five years have passed, he wants to see everyone who accepts his invitation. After that he will carry on - the first five years were just a rehearsal.
Satsang means to be together with, to receive guidance, to listen, to get inspiration, or just to be - in company with a master. In the period between 18 November and 17 December, 1994, you can, together with many others, meet him daily from 12 to 2 pm.