Almora was Swami Satyananda’s janma bhumi, birth place, Rishikesh was his shiksha bhumi, place of discipleship, Munger was his karma bhumi, place of perfection in action, and Rikhia was his tapobhumi, place of intense spiritual practices and austerities. He arrived at Rikhia on the 23rd of September 1989, at midday, the day of equinox, when nature is in perfect balance as the day and night are equal. From this day the fortune of Rikhia changed forever.
Swami Satyananda did not choose Rikhia, it was chosen for him. After leaving Munger in 1988, while roaming the length and breadth of India as a royal mendicant, or avadhuta, he came across many beautiful places where he was invited to take up residence. But in keeping with his style of surrender he awaited the mandate of his Guru, which guided him to the small unknown village of Rikhia.
Sri Swamiji came to Rikhia on the instruction he received while performing Chaturmas anusthan at Neel Parbat in Trayambakeshwar, the abode of his ishta devata, personal deity, Shiva as Mrityunjaya. During his early morning meditation on 8th September, which happened to be the birthday of his Guru Swami Sivananda, he heard the voice loud and clear, “chitta bhumi”, and a vision of the place where he was intended to go, directing him to Deoghar the chitta bhumi or burial ground of Sati, the consort of Shiva.
As the 8th of September was his Guru’s birthday, Swami Satyasangananda reached there early in the morning with prasad of the puja, worship,done for him. He immediately directed her to go to Deoghar to locate the place he had seen in his meditation. Swami Satyasangananda followed her Guru’s instructions and travelled alone to a poor and nondescript village that was not to be found on any map, and here she found the site that exactly matched the vision that Paramahansa Satyananda had described, it was Rikhia!
Soon after that, on 23rd September, Swami Satyananda came here to live in seclusion and to lead the life of a paramahansa. The Rikhia, which Swami Satyananda entered in 1989, was still living in the 16th century. There were no roads, no electricity, no telephones, newspapers, television, and shops. Absolutely no trace of the 21st century had entered here. It was barren and desolate no doubt, but its vibrations were pure and spiritual providing an ideal climate for the seclusion which he imposed on himself in order to begin the sadhanas, spiritual practices, which he had been directed to perform. Here he performed the most difficult tapasya, austerities, of Panchagni and Ashtottar-Shat-Laksh Mantra purascharana. He also established the annual Sat Chandi Mahayajna and Yoga Purnima for the spiritual upliftment of humanity. It was at Rikhiapeeth that Swami Satyananda revealed the essence of his Guru’s teachings and showed the way to incorporate them into our daily lives.