Rikhia: The Vision of a Sage, is compiled from the satsangs and enlightening informal talks given by Sri Swami Satyananda Saraswati in Rikhia from the time of his arrival there in 1989 until he attained maha samadhi on 5th December ma 2009. It presents Sri Swamiji's vision to fulfill the ultimate mandate God had given him, 'Take care of your neighbours as I have taken care of you'. It was this mandate that led to a metamorphosis in Sri Swamiji's personality, way rof life and destiny. It was a mandate that also began to transform the lives of thousands of Sri Swamiji's poverty-stricken neighbours living in the villages of Rikhia panchayat. Rikhia:The Vision of a Sage illustrates how this great soul gave everything he had to fully realize his divine mission.
This book is dedicated to the upliftment of Sri Swamiji's neighbours in Rikhia and to the fulfilment of his pledge to them, to make Rikhia 'green and prosperous.
In August 1988, after leaving Bihar School of Yoga in Munger and travelling to the holy places throughout India, Sri Swami Satyananda Saraswati finally arrived in Tryambakeshwar, near Nasik, to spend the monsoon rains in seclusion. There, on 14th July 1989, he sought darshan of his ishta deva, Mahamrityunjaya. Prostrating before his ishta, Sri Swamiji surrendered everything: the work, responsibilities, friends, disciples, money and all accomplishments that related to his mission to spread the message of yoga throughout the world. He now sought guidance from God as to what he should do next, and he promised, "Hereafter, I will do whatever You tell me. I will not do anything on my own." A few months later, Sri Swamiji received a clear instruction from God that he was to go to Sati's cremation ground in Rikhia, near Deoghar. Following this command he arrived in Rikhia in September 1989, and settling into his new abode he began to perform intense austerities, exemplifying the highest principles of the sannyasa tradition.
He received the ultimate mandate from God in 1991: "Take care of your neighbours as I have taken care of you." This led to a metamorphosis in his personality, his way of life and his destiny. Sri Swamiji changed his teaching and his way of thinking. He became the servant of God and henceforth was shown a spiritual path that would transform the lives of thousands of poverty-stricken villagers in Rikhia panchayat.
When Sri Swamiji first came the Rikhia was desolate; there was nothing growing not even a tree, shrub or bush. The conditions of the village people around him were pitiable. Many had nothing to eat and many more were suffering from malnutrition. The elderly, the blind, the sick, the disabled and widowed were all in grave need of assistance. There were no proper housing or drinking water facilities in the villages. No basic services for healthcare, electricity, transport, roads or telephones. Facilities for education were minimal and of the lowest standard. was a big problem, with no inspiration to overcome it. The villagers had no alternative but to live a life of deprivation and their future looked abysmal: scarcity, suffering, poverty. darkness and dejection. Nothing else. However, Sri Swamiji changed it all.
Rikhia: Vision of a Sage is a compilation of the satsangs and informal talks given by Sri Swami Satyananda Saraswati in Rikhia from the time of his arrival there in 1989 until his Mahasamadhi on 5th December 2009. It shows how this great soul gave everything he had to fulfil the mandate God had given him, to care for his neighbours. It is a detailed account of how Sri Swamiji transfOrmed the very existence of his village neighbours by distribution of prasad, the fruit of his sadhanas.
Sri Swamiji makes it very clear that the economic, social and spiritual prosperity he brought to his neighbouring villages came not through charity or social service. Whatever was distributed, the cows and bulls; cycle rickshaws and handcarts; education, bicycles, stationery and games for children; food, clothes, blankets, houses and household items; sewing machines, construction and farming tools, good quality vegetable seeds, umbrellas and hurricane lanterns, all was first offered to God as a f.orm of worship, and then given to the recipients in His name.
We read how Sri Swamiji ensured that the village recipients received their prasad in a correct and orderly manner. He was adamant that everything he offered to the villagers in the form of prasad should have some practical purpose, to help people according to their need. He taught that if things were simply distributed in the villages as handouts it would not make any significant difference in the long run. Their poverty would be a curse, because they themselves would not be doing anything constructive to eradicate their adversity. In his words of wisdom, "lb help people, you should make them sell-sufficient; give them an opportunity to build their skills; give them auto-rickshaws and teach them to drive so they can earn some rupees daily to at least feed their family."
This book illustrates how, through Sri Swamiji's enlightened guidance, the village developmental work, under the auspices of Sivananda Math, enabled the villagers to foster and improve their own strengths and abilities. Sivananda Math arranged low-cost housing for many villagers in such a way that the recipient of each house not only felt responsible for the construction, but was also paid for his contribution to the building work. Each year on his guru's birthday a villager was helped by Sri Swamiji to establish a small business or enterprise which would generate a means of earning in that family and at the same time provide a service to the local community. Cows were given as prasad to hundreds of families, but each household was required to send a representative to the Akhara for thorough training in caring for the cow before it became part of their family. Rikhia: The Vision of a Sage presents many more examples of how the villagers were encouraged by Sri Swamiji to help themselves.
Within these pages there is also the treasure trove of inspirational spiritual teachings that came through Sri Swamiji during the period of his austere sadhanas in Rikhia. And we learn that all these teachings were founded on what his own guru, Swami Sivananda, had always emphasized, 'Serve, love and give'; that selfless service is the stepping stone into spiritual life and the realization of divinity in every aspect of creation. The wisdom he gave was to help us understand that until we are able to provide the basic needs of life to those who do not have them, there is no meaning to our religion, politics, national laws or our spirituality. He talks about compassion and sympathy and the necessity for every spiritual aspirant to have these qualities in their heart, for without them, no sadhana will be successful. In Fact Without them, sadhana will be useless.
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