Swami Satyananda Saraswati (1923-2009) was born in Almora (North India). In 1943, he travelled to Rishikesh, where he met Swami Sivananda and took initiation into the Dashnami sannyasa tradition. For the next twelve years he immersed himself fully in ashram life, working and training under Swami Sivananda. In 1955 he departed the ashram to wander throughout India as a parijaka (wandering mendicant), in search of his life’s mission. Inspired by Swami Sivananda’s integral approach to yoga, he founded the International Yoga Fellowship Movement (1956) and Bihar School of Yoga (1963). These two institutions formed a firm base for the dissemination of yoga. In later years, he also founded the Yoga Research Foundation (1984) and the charitable institution, Sivananda Math (1984) in memory of his guru, Swami Sivananda.
For twenty years, from the 1960s to the 1980s, Swami Satyananda developed his unique system of yoga and travelled the world to spread his teachings. At the same time he conducted medical and scientific research into the benefits and various applications of yoga. This research formed the material for over eighty books on yoga, tantra and spirituality. As a result, yoga gained universal appeal and acceptance as a system that could uplift humanity, addressing the needs of a wide cross-section of society.
Swami Satyananda was largely instrumental in bringing yoga to the West. He first visited Australia in 1969, where his approach to yoga appealed immensely to the Australian mindset and culture. In subsequent years, he visited Australia a number of times, thus inspiring a continued growth of Satyananda Yoga throughout the continent.
In 1988, Swami Satyananda retired from public life to adopt the life of a paramahamsa, the highest stage of spiritual dedication, where the sannyasin remains immersed in universal consciousness. He moved to Rikhia (Jharkhand, India), an underprivileged rural area, where he lived in seclusion and performed many higher sadhanas. As an outcome of his sadhana, he entered into a new phase of service to humanity – to actively uplift the local rural community. He achieved this aim through the expansion of Sivananda Math with the ongoing support of his many dedicated followers and disciples. He also conducted the Rajasooya Yajna (which was held for twelve consecutive years) for the peace, welfare and prosperity of all.
On 5th December 2009, Swami Satyananda entered the exalted state of mahasamadhi. Sitting upright in padmasana, he consciously departed from the physical body at the time of his choosing. Thousands of followers and well-wishers travelled to Rikhiapeeth during the following weeks, to pay homage to this great spiritual master. His teachings and example continue to inspire and encourage people from all continents to live a yogic life.