Citadel of Yoga and its practice

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 04 Jan 2018 11:42:07



Vijay Phanshikar,

It was a historic moment, 

undoubtedly -- arrival of Maharshi Mahesh Yogi at the Yogabhyasi Mandal at Ram Nagar especially to meet Shri Janardan Swami. In the small front room of the mandal’s early building, on a raised wooden platform covered by mattresses and sheets, the two yogis sat. Countless people sat on carpets spread out in the front. Many stood in doors and countless many peeped through windows. Everybody was eager to listen to the two great men of Yoga. Both the speeches were long enough to expose basic principles of Yoga and short enough to hold everybody’s attention.

What remained etched on the memory-plate was a unique Omkaar by Shri Janardan Swami. When his turn came to make a statement, Shri Janardan Swami sat upright in lotus posture -- Padmasana -- and took one big breath in and locked it in his chest. This action is called Kumbhak in pranayam parlance. And then, with his eyes closed and face radiating an inexplicable glow, Swamiji let out the Om sound -- Omkaar -- whose vibrations filled the air, mesmerising everybody present there. That Omkaar lasted not for a few seconds but for well over two minutes. As a teenage boy who sat in the first row, I did not have wrist watch with me, but heard later an elderly person telling another that the Omkaar sound by Shri Janardan Swami lasted for well over two minutes.

Everybody in the room felt impressed as the Omkaar went on and on. And when it stopped, Swamiji started speaking in simple but effective words, highlighting the importance of Yoga and its practice.
When it was the turn of Maharshi Mahesh Yogi, the internationally famed Guru said something that also remained etched in memory. He said, in effect, “I heard one of the longest-ever Omkaars in my life.” Then he went on to make his statement on Yoga and its practice.

Ram Nagar’s Yogabhyasi Mandal was in its early stages. It had started creating an ever-expanding fan-following. Shri Janardan Swami was a familiar figure not just in Ram Nagar and adjoining areas but also in whole of Nagpur. In his saffron cladding, he moved swiftly, mostly on foot, from area to area, spreading the message of Yoga Asanas and the critical role the ancient Indian science could play in human life in modern times.

His iconic personality magnetised hundreds of young and old men and women to Yogabhyasi Mandal. The Yoga Asan classes there were becoming very popular. A band of dedicated workers, too, was coming up fast, always swirling around Swamiji, all eager to carry out his wishes. It was also the time of early editions of monthly magazine Yogprakash launched by Shri Janardan Swami. The magazine was lucky to have a man of the eminence of Dr. Shridhar Bhaskar Warnekar as its editor right from the beginning.

The Yogabhyasi Mandal was a fantastic addition to Nagpur’s
persona. Not only did it promote teaching and learning of Yoga and its practices, but also turned out to be a centre to uphold the ancient Indian wisdom and tradition. Countless dozens of books were published by the Yogabhyasi Mandal. The Yogprakash magazine had begun attracting ever-expanding circle of subscribers and readers. Every person of consequence found it a matter of pride to visit the place. Ram Nagar became a socially buzzing centre soon.

Then came a sad moment when Shri Janardan Swami passed away. Even as he lay there in a lifeless condition, his face glowed as if he was alive. There was a freshness on his face that at least I could not describe in words. Followers started calling the institution Shri Janardan Swami Yogabhyasi Mandal, which has now become an institution of fantastic worth for the people of Nagpur and the country. It is being recognised as one of the top yoga institutions in the country.

What makes Shri Janardan Swami Yogabhyasi Mandal so special is the contribution of Swamiji himself. In him did all of us see a real sanyasi, the man who has relinquished all his worldly belongings including his desires. He never asked for anything in life, and was called Ayaachit (one who never makes any personal demand, including food). He never made a home for himself and was called Aniket (one who never lives in any place for more than three days).

To promote Yoga, Swamiji would wander the whole day, visiting institutions and homes. If people offered him something to eat, he would accept it in shockingly small quantities. For days, however, he would go without food if nobody offered him anything to eat. Once people knew this discipline, they often invited him home for meals.

Yet, that frail man never ate even a morsel extra.
Early years of Swamiji -- when he first appeared in Nagpur sometime in 1949 -- must have been difficult. But the impact of his presence made a lot of difference to the people. The Yogabhyasi Mandal, too, grew rapidly. Its present expanse and growth are a testimony to the strength Swamiji lent to it since start.

Today, that institution has become a nerve-centre of Yoga activity as well as of promotion of ancient Indian wisdom. Its Virat Yoga Sammelan, its regular Yoga Asan classes, the lectures various scholars deliver there --
everything has become an integral part of the legend of Shri Janardan Swamiji. The most critical part of the institution, however, is its sense of purpose. Nothing can budge the Shri Janardan Swami Yogabhyasi Mandal from its purpose. There are thousands of people who believe that their lives have been made easier and happier by practice of Yoga. For them, Swamiji has an immortal presence, so to say. And this is the stated purpose of the institution -- to spread popularity of Yoga as an ancient Indian science of complete well being.

For people like me who grew up in the shadows of Yogabhyasi Mandal, however, that long Omkaar Shri Janardan Swami let out that morning in company of Maharshi Mahesh Yogi still acts as a signature of excellence of Yoga and its practice.