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BIOGRAPHY OF A MODERN SAGE
by Swami Venkatesananda
Table of Contents
About This Book (Back Cover) Inside Front Cover Acknowledgements Introduction v How God Came Into My Life 1
Chapter 1: Heritage and Childhood
Chapter 2: Medical Career
13 Malaya 18 Senewang Estate 19 Johore 23 Life With The Doctor 26 Chapter 3: Renunciation 40
45 Chapter 4: Swarg Ashram 53
A Glimpse of Real Sadhana
53 Samadhi 70 Chapter 5: Birth of the Mission 74 The First Book 74 The First Disciples 75 The First Evangelical Mission 85 Swarg Ashram Sadhu Sangha 94 Chapter 6: The Second Renunciation 96 The First Step—Sivananda Ashram 99 The Divine Life Trust Society 102 The Divine Life Society 103 The Ashram Grows 105 Treatment of Visitors 112 Training in Self Reliance 116 Blueprint for the Institution 122 Chapter 7: Formal Training 125 Definition of a Disciple 128 Maker of Saints 133 Touchstone of Discipleship 137 Chapter 8: Unconventional Methods 145 Freedom and Discipline 149 Laziness 152 Sannyas 159 Chapter 9: Guru and Disciple 162 Discipleship 164 Supreme Solicitude 166 Sowing the Seed 171 Self-purification 174
Welfare of Disciples
175 Chapter 10: Integral Perfection 179 Religious Freedom 195 Attitude to Money 198 Health Re-defined 200 Chapter 11: Devotion 208 Satsang 208 Songs 211 Prayer 212 Worship 215 Japa: Mantra Repetition 221 Chapter 12: Sivananda’s Daily Life 225 Chapter 13: Miracles 239
Chapter 14: The Assailant
258 Chapter 15: Milestones 263 All India Tour 263 Parliament of Religions 292 Platinum Jubilee 296 Sivananda Literature Festival 302 Chapter 16: The Mission Spreads 305 Western Disciples 305 Branches 315 The Divine Life Spirit 317 All-World Religious Federation 319 All-World Sadhu’s Federation 320 Dynamic Spiritual Awakening 322 Sadhana Weeks 325 Birthdays 334 His Voice Immortalised 336 Chapter 17: Sivananda Medical Organisation 341 Sivananda Hospital 343 Sivananda Eye Hospital 344 Eye Camps 345 Health Education 348 Universality of Outlook 350 Sivananda Ayurvedic Pharmacy 354 Ideals of a Selfless Worker 355 Chapter 18: Communication and Education 359 Photographic Studios 359 The Post Office 364 Sivananda Primary School 366 Sanskrit 368 Sivananda Music School 369 The College of Yoga and Vedanta 371
Yoga Vedanta Forest Academy
373 The Sivananda Regalia 376 Yoga Museum 377 Chapter 19: Dissemination of Spiritual Knowledge 378 Swarg Ashram 378 The Mighty Spirit 390 The Yoga Vedanta Forest Academy Press 391 Spread of Teachings 396 Physical, Mental and Moral Welfare 400 Sivananda Literature Research Institute 405 Translations 406 Sivananda Literature Dissemination Committee 406 Journals 407 Epilogue 409 Chapter 20: Last Days 411 Appendix 414 A Garland of Sivananda Literature 414 Books Published Abroad 417 All World Religions' Federation 418 Glossary 421
About This Book
In this book the many-faceted personality of Swami Sivananda is depicted through examples and stories as told by his close disciples, as well as from his letters and official accounts in The Divine Life Magazine. They relate the story of a very great human being in a most effective manner. All the complexities of a sage of infinite wisdom, compassion and love are explored. His unparalleled selfless service of humanity (first as a medical doctor and later as a realised sage) provides an inspiring example of strength, humility and devotion. His dedication to the welfare of not only his own disciples, but mankind at large, is described in this volume.
Inside Front Cover
Swami Sivananda was incomparable: he was indefinable. and therefore unpredictable. He had no Stereotyped behaviour, set responses or rigid routines. There was no dogma in him, and yet he was not necessarily opposed to dogma. He was not opposed to anything, not even to opposition! In him contradictions were reconciled into a complete wholeness and the changes blended into an unchanging light that defied description.
We am indebted to:
H.H. Sri Swami Venkatesananda Maharaj, whose mammoth task it was to compile and edit almost 300 of Swami Sivananda’s books into 19 volumes, in spite of his demanding programmes and failing health.
H.H. Sri Swami Chidananda Maharaj for graciously allowing us the publishing rights for the first edition of these volumes.
H.H. Sri Swami Krishnananda Maharaj for his most comprehensive General Introduction to the volumes and for his support at various stages of the project.
Swami Brahmananda for his patient and painstaking help with the sanskrit quotes, etc.
Sri Narasimhuluji of the Divine Life Society Press, Rishikesh, for his continued encouragement.
Swami Venkatesananda’s many devotees around the world who helped with typing and checking the manuscripts.
Swami Lakshmi Ananda for the final editing.
Devotees of Sivananda Ashram, Fremantle, Western Australia, who have so lovingly prepared the manuscripts for the press.
Jan Rolfe for the graphics.
by Swami Krishnananda
The Problem Stated
The world we live in is observed to be a solid mass of matter. Even our own bodies are seen to be parts of physical nature governed by mechanistic laws, which alone appears to be all that is real. It has become a commonplace idea today, especially in the universe of science, that life is strictly determined by the law of causality which rules over the entire scheme of the world. We are told that distinctions that are supposed to subsist between such realms of being as matter, life and mind are only superficial and are accounted for by the grades of subtlety in the manifestation and spreading of particles of matter. Even the organism of the human body, which appears to defy the laws of the universal machine that modern science envisages, is explained away as only one of the many forms of the workings of the brute force of matter which is the ultimate stuff of all things. The natural consequence of such a theory as this is the astonishing conclusion that human life, like every other material substance in the world, is completely determined by blind causal laws and the so-called free-will of man is subservient to them, if not a mere chimera. When we protest that man is not merely matter but also mind, it is explained that mind is nothing but a subtle and ethereal exudation of forces of matter. Man is reduced to an insignificant speck in the gigantic machinery of the cosmos which works ruthlessly with its own laws, unconcerned with the weal and woe of man.
This naturalistic interpretation of life, that is fast threatening to become rampant in this modern scientific and atomic age, seems to be really the philosophy of the common credulous man and even of the intelligent public who have neither the patience and the leisure (nor the equipment of understanding) to fathom the greater depths of human experience. Hand in hand with this theory of crass materialism there is a craze for more comfort and pleasure by lessening effort and movement of every kind, and an inherent feeling that material progress conceived at its zenith should be the ultimate purpose of existence. Due to an irrational faith in the efficacy and correctness of this doctrine, the man of the world seems to have forgotten the corruption of moral values today, the fall in the mental life and the standard of present-day education, and a sense of monotony and restlessness of spirit brought about by such a view of life, in spite of his riches and material possessions.
The fact that man is not merely a humble cogwheel in the deterministic machine of a relentless universe and that the essence of man is a spiritual principle co-extensive and co-eternal with the universal Spirit, was easily felt by many as a reaction to the very unsatisfactory and humdrum propaganda carried on by the materialists. The balance swung from the extreme of materialism holding that man is merged in the physical nature, to the other extreme of the idealism which propounded that man is perforce dragged on by the impetus of a cosmic spiritual Substance. The difference between these materialistic and idealistic theories is found finally to be in the conception of the ultimate stuff and constitution of the universe—the one advocating that it is matter, motion and force, and the other affirming that it is pure Mind or Spirit. But both agree in holding that man has no real choice and freedom of his own, he being inextricably involved, merged and lost in the ultimate reality of the universe, be it material, mental or spiritual. Unfortunate man discovered that it was hard for him, under such circumstances, to live a normal life of enjoyment of the aesthetic, religious and moral values—and at the same time feel his feet well planted on mother earth, with her richness and grandeur, promises and mysteries. Yet that life is not all. There is some awe-inspiring and terrible truth continuously pointed out by the phenomena of suffering, pain and death; by the restlessness of the world and the vicissitudes of life, the endless desires of man and the moral aspirations surging from within. The man of the world required a loving and sympathetic, reasonable and satisfying teaching to enable him to live as an individual, fulfilling his daily duties in life, and yet aspiring for that marvellous and magnificent Beyond which ever seems to beckon him through the tantalising veils of Nature.
With the advent of Western education, people began to move along the ruts of a so-called modernism of thinking, a rationality of approach and a scientific attitude to life, and the sublimity and the wisdom of the lives of their ancient predecessors were slowly lost. There were many who delighted in doubting spiritual laws, in denying the superphysical, and went even to the extent of decrying soul and God. They succumbed to the glamour of applied science and the utility of an industrial revolution. The situation called for a revaluation of all values and for the building of man’s inner life upon a stronger foundation. There emerged several powerful and authentic voices in the prominent fields of life’s activity—politics, sociology, religion, yoga and spirituality—to correct erring minds and give articulation to the requirements of truth, law and morality. Swami Sivananda figured prominently among such leaders who brought about a thorough inner transformation in modern India, and placed the grand spiritual values on a firmer footing and in a proper setting.
The Mission Of The Philosopher-Saint
This lacuna in the entire structure of life was carefully observed by the acute vision of Swami Sivananda, who made it his mission to give to the world a comprehensive philosophical theory, striking a balance between reconciling and blending together the demands of an obstinate empiricism and the principles and teachings of the lofty idealism that the eternal Spirit alone is real; and to design comprehensively a practice of certain synthesised techniques of inner and outer discipline to achieve perfection. While being fully convinced of the doctrine of non-dualism—that nought else than God can have any ultimate value—and having entered personally into the stupendous reality of its experience, Swami Sivananda felt the need to intelligently tackle the situations in which the human mind is involved, without disturbing or upsetting the beliefs of the ignorant, and taking into consideration every aspect of man’s life. We cannot teach that life in the sense-sphere is all, that the physical body and the external material world constitute the only reality: for the thoughtful nature raises the pertinent question that mind cannot be equated with matter; that love and joy refuse to be reduced to movements of electrons and protons; that the never-ending cry, from time immemorial, of the mystics and the religious men who professed to know and who proclaimed the existence of an unknown region and an unexplored reality of spiritual values—and of the clear possibility of such a thing as immortality—cannot be set aside as mere distorted voices of morbid spirits or abnormal natures. Nor is pretentious man, being what he is, to be satisfied by the extraordinary teaching that the world is not there at all, that what he enjoys and suffers are mere phantasms, that life is a delirium of consciousness, that precious values which are so eagerly and anxiously treasured with zealous care are but the busy activities of a confused mind. For, the searching senses and the enquiring understanding vehemently complain that they see a world as hard, concrete and real as anything can be; that the body has its pains and pleasures; that life has its duties, burdens, griefs, wonders and patent meanings which cannot be brushed aside by any effort of logic; that the experience is real and cannot be abrogated as worthless by any stretch of imagination; that the visible is real and is valued, as amply testified by everyday experience. We cannot say that God created the world, for God has no desire to prompt Him to create. We cannot say that the world is God’s play, for a perfect Being needs no play. We also cannot say that the world has no ultimate basis at all, for the changing phases of physical nature and the moral urges of the inner spirit in man assert that God ought to be.
Swami Sivananda addresses himself to the difficult but important task of taking man as he is—a growing organism of a psycho-physical character—neither wholly restricted naturalistically by the mechanism of the material world nor fully absorbed spiritualistically in the supermundane aim of divine existence. Man is not merely a body, a mind or a spirit, but a curious mixture of all these in a manner not comprehensible to ordinary intelligence. The Katha Upanishad says that the true ‘enjoyer’ (or the empirical agent of knowledge and action) is a composite structure of the Atman, the mind and the senses, together. Life is not merely a process of swirling masses of matter, groups of molecules, aggregates of atoms or vortices of electrical forces; nor is it an occasion for the study of psychology (or even metaphysics); nor an idealistic soaring into the realms of logical thought, mental phenomena or mere psychic experience. Man is at once a physical embodiment, a mental phenomenon and a spiritual entity. He has to appease not only the hunger of the body and the thirst of his vital forces, but has to pay equal, if not greater, attention to the demands of his psychic nature, moral tendencies and spiritual aspirations. Life is a synthesis of the forces manifesting in different orders and in a graduated scale of the evolutionary structure of nature. In this sense the whole of one’s life is a sadhana, an integral endeavour for fullness on the part of mysterious man whose constitution, attention and training ranges at once from the lowest matter to the highest Spirit. As a body he is a creature of natural forces, subjected to the suffering and the mortality attending upon all composite structures in the physical world. He is one with inanimate matter when taken purely as a material structure. But man’s tale does not end here. He grows like a plant, feels and reacts like an animal, and in-so-far as the craving for food, sleep and sex is concerned, he is indistinguishable from the inhabitants of the mute kingdom. But man struggles to reach above the realm of the brute, exercises a moral consciousness totally absent in animals, and displays a marvellous understanding power and reasoning capacity in distinguishing between true and false, right and wrong, good and bad, beautiful and ugly. This makes it amply clear that while partaking of the natures of matter, life and mind (observable also in the inanimate world, the vegetable kingdom and the subhuman beings) he is also more than all these; and while including these in his individual make-up he also transcends them in an astonishing degree. The life of man is thus very complex, embracing variegated elements, exhibiting diverse characteristics and manifesting different grades of reality. If life is a sadhana—a continuous journey and movement and a story of adjusting oneself to and adapting oneself with the vast universe—it is not enough if we merely look into one side of the picture. We have to consider every aspect of the revelation of reality in man. This is precisely the mission of Swami Sivananda, to whom all life is yoga, and whose writings are an elaborate dissertation on integral living.
The Education of Man
The human self is constituted of a consciousness which is not pure existence but a dynamic process. This dynamic process is interfused, as it were, with the nature of the circumstances in which it finds itself in the world—an environment of social elements, political restraints, moral commands, physical needs, vital urges, intellectual situations and the like. In other words, in his activities and in the problems he has to encounter every day, man discovers that his life is related to others’ lives and undergoes growth and change as the world appears to change. We have to remember that human life is involved in the time-process and hence bound by temporal laws. The human self is in the world, though not of the world. Thus a study of man is nothing but a reflection on the totality of situations within the range of human knowledge—whether explicit as in the usual everyday experiences and in the themes of the physical and psychological sciences, implied as in philosophy or revealed as in religion. Such a study has to include in its gamut the whole of life’s problems, in-so-far as they affect the human self, the aspiring individual. Man thinks, feels and wills, and does not merely exist. Hence his approach to the religious value of God, the ethical value of duty and the logical value of truth, should proceed from his own central reality—as far as he experiences it in his daily life.
Human life is conceived by Swami Sivananda as a school of education for the jiva (or the empirical self) caught up in the meshes of ignorance, desire and activity. This education has to be physical, intellectual, emotional, moral, active and spiritual, all at once, in a way beautifully fitted to the conditions in which one is placed. The actual technique of this education differs in its details in different individuals, in accordance with their age, health, avocation, stage of evolution, social relations, etc., all of which call the attention of the soul in a variegated world. Essentially, any scheme of education should consist of methods for bringing about and effecting (1) the development of personality, (2) a knowledge of the world, (3) an adjustment of self with society, and (4) a realisation of the permanent values. By development of personality what is meant is the wholesome building up of the individual, not only with reference to the internal states of body, mind and consciousness, but also in relation to the external world reaching up to it through the different levels of society. In this sense, true education is both a diving inward and a spreading outward. Knowledge of the world is not merely a collection of facts or gathering information regarding the contents of the physical world, but forms a specific insight into its inner workings as well—at least in-so-far as man’s inner and outer life is inextricably bound up with them. When this knowledge of one’s own individuality and personality—as it is involved in a world of picturesque colours and varying depths—is acquired through intensive training by study, reflection and service of one’s preceptor, it becomes easy for one to discover the art of adjusting oneself with society. Truly speaking, this adjustment is not possible for one who has no knowledge of the deeper spiritual nature of humanity.
The aim of the individual as well as of society is the realisation of the values—personal, social, political and even universal—all mutually related and determined by a common goal to which all these are directed, consciously or unconsciously. Ignorant man may not be fully aware that the eternal values of life are summed up in the all-comprehensive terms—God, Freedom, Immortality—and that all his daily struggles are nothing but gropings of his mind in the darkness of his ignorance to recognise and participate in these by way of all that he sees, hears or understands. To awaken the human spirit to this tremendous fact is the primary mission of Swami Sivananda, and his voluminous works cater variegatedly to the hungry souls who are in search of food but cannot find it for want of knowledge.
Characteristics of His Works
The writings of Swami Sivananda cover a vast range of subjects, in accordance with his plan of approaching man from every side and every aspect. These works treat of—in detail—such diverse topics as anatomy and physiology; health, hygiene and sanitation; physical exercise, first-aid and treatment of diseases; the discipline of the physical body through the technical hatha-yoga processes of asanas (or bodily postures), pranayama (or the regulation of the vital force and of breathing), bandhas, mudras and kriyas—all intricate methods of the perfection of the body to prepare it for withstanding the onslaughts of nature’s pairs of opposites such as heat and cold, hunger and thirst; an exhaustive psychological analysis of the composition, working and behaviour of the inner man—the mental, volitional, affective, moral and rational natures which so much influence and decide the values of life as a whole; the duties of man, his relationship to family, community and nation; his position in the world and the universe; his national, international and world relations; the social, ethical and political structure of individuals; the assessment of both religious and spiritual values; and a comprehensive and penetrating discussion of the characteristics of the ultimate goal of human life, as well as an intensive treatment of the nature of the way leading to this goal.
In his expositions of these subjects Swami Sivananda appeals not merely to the rational and the scientific man—the intelligentsia of society—but also to the devout, the faithful and the believing, and the common masses ignorant of higher laws; to spiritual aspirants, recluses, sannyasins, householders, businessmen, women and children alike. It will be observed, on a careful study of his writings, that his appeal is more to the heart and the feelings, and his admonitions are mostly of a practical nature adapted for an immediate application in the day-to-day life of man belonging to every class of society.
His works are, strictly speaking, comprehensive gospels on the different yogas: e.g. (1) Jnana yoga (the philosophical technique of the rational and the scientific intellect in unravelling the secrets of nature and living a life of the wisdom, truth and justice of the law of the Absolute); (2) Raja yoga (the psychic and mystical way of analysing, dissecting and inhibiting the constituents and modifications of the mind-stuff, thus enabling man to overcome its tyrannies and to rise to a comprehension of his position in a universality of the Spirit or the Purusha); (3) Bhakti yoga (the way of spiritual love and devotion directed to the majestic Sovereign of the universe, the merciful and compassionate Father of all creation, by which emotions—such as those fastening man to relationships with his parents, children, masters, friends and partner in life—are sublimated and ennobled by being centred in the universal nature of God, who promises man the hope of salvation when he has surrendered his self completely to him); (4) Karma yoga (the science and art of spiritual activity, a splendid manner of converting every action and every duty in life—physical, mental, moral or spiritual—into yoga by linking it up with a ceaseless consciousness of the omnipresence of the Absolute, of the surrender of personality to God, or of one’s standing as an unaffected witness of the movements of the internal and external nature); (5) Hatha yoga (the disciplining of the physical body, the nervous system and the vital forces with a view to preparing the individual for the practice of the higher yoga of inner discipline and meditation); (6) Kundalini yoga (the bringing into activity of a highly occult force dominant and latent in the individual, by a rousing of which—through a training of the prana and the mind—the illimitable resources of nature are spontaneously placed at the disposal of man, and he becomes possessed of a consciousness of his true at-one-ment with the universe); (7) Mantra, yantra and tantra yogas (the ways of certain purely mystic processes of generating spiritual forces and vibrations within, as also of relating these to the forces without, through the symbology of specific sounds, formulas, diagrams and rituals intended to free man from confinement to the lower nature, and raise him to the regions of the higher nature); (8) Japa yoga (the spiritual practice of chanting of the name of God or certain significant letters, words, phrases or sentences in order to bring about a condition of harmony and illumination in the inner nature of man); (9) Laya yoga (the method of the dissolution of the mind in the Spirit by the recession of effects into causes, the merging of the grosser in the subtler, and the raising of one’s consciousness and force from the lower to the higher). Swami Sivananda displays a great mastery in the synthesis of these various yogas and assures the aspirant-world that success is bound to come when practice is backed up by sincerity, firmness and patience.
His Method of Approach
It is said that a sage of Self-realisation is like a pure crystal which has, by itself, no colour, but appears to assume the tint of any object that may be brought near it. He is supposed to behave, speak and act like a child with a child, an adult with an adult, an old man with an old man, a scholar with a scholar and an ignorant one with an ignoramus. The idea behind this spontaneous self-expression—uninitiated by any particularised motive, intention, effort or will—is a close following of one’s true nature with the Divine Will, which is immanent and active in all beings, and which has neither partiality nor prejudice, neither preference nor ill-will in regard to anyone. Swami Sivananda, in his personal life and example as well as in his writings and speeches, reflected spontaneously, as it were, the nature manifested and exhibited by the environment around him, and acted in close keeping with a purely impersonal life. His works are not so much enunciations of principles for the guidance of the intellect and the reason, as practical instructions on the methods of the life spiritual, meant to go straight into the hearts of aspiring individuals (whether or not they have carefully thought out beforehand the conditions and the inner circumstances under which they have been prompted to take to the spiritual way of living).
There is no circumlocution, no statement of superficials or throwing of unnecessary side-lights in his writings. A clear-cut, well-defined and open path free from all mystifications and ambiguities is laid before the seeker with an intention not merely to give information but to enlighten and guide him at every step of his sadhana. His style and expression are remarkably simple, surging from the heart and the feeling of one who has not only had a vision of the perfection and the delight of God, but possesses an insight into the sufferings of man, the depth of his ignorance and his needs—not only physical, mental and moral, but also spiritual. His entire teachings are powerfully charged with the dominant spiritual note that all forms of life in society—whether individual or collective—have ultimately to be based on (and to derive meaning and inspiration from) the recognition of a boundless existence deeper than all that is visible and conceivable.
Fired with a deep anxiety to relieve the world of ignorance and pain, Swami Sivananda faced the situation in the best possible manner open to him, and spared no pains in harnessing all his energy for the noble divine purpose which he set before himself. His works are illustrative of almost every way of contacting man through literature—metaphysics, ethics, religion, mysticism, psychology, parables, stories, catechism, yoga, prayer and ritual.
The qualified student to approach his spiritual literature is neither one who is totally ignorant of spiritual values nor one who has attained to the apex of spiritual life. The aspirant endowed with the ethical and the moral qualifications of yama, niyama and sadhana-chatushtaya (the four kinds of spiritual effort: discrimination, dispassion, sixfold virtues and desire for liberation), who has, by his purity of mind, received monitions as to the existence of a higher life and is stirred with the zeal to grasp it and realise it in his own life, but is at the same time troubled by doubts and lack of knowledge in regard to the proper method of approaching it and the spiritual way of conducting himself, should turn to the works of Swami Sivananda.
Most of his writings begin with a vivid and clear portrayal of the nature of suffering in the world, the detection of which is the fundamental prerequisite of a spiritual way of life. Like Sankara, the philosopher, Swami Sivananda boldly affirms the existence of a supreme Absolute, second to which there can be none. Like the Buddha he gives a colourful picture of the character of pain in life and makes a careful diagnosis of the cause of this pain, gives a detailed analysis of the human psyche and delineates the laying out of the path which runs up to the ultimate perfection and peace of man, together with a dignified and glorious description of the characteristics of his final destiny.
The Philosophic Life
Swami Sivananda emphasises that life is the working out of a philosophy, and philosophy is the unravelling of the mystery of existence, an all-round consideration of the deeper implications of experience and not merely a raising of the mansions of logical systems. Philosophy is more a digging deep into the abyss of life than a flying into the air of abstract speculation. Swami Sivananda recognises that any philosophy divested of human concerns is doomed in the end to failure and can never appeal to the restless and inquisitive spirit of man. Philosophy, religion and life meant one and the same thing to him. They signify not any unworldly or other-worldly concepts, but move in close association with man’s demands for food and love, fame and power, value for life, concern for others, regard for oneself and his ultimate aspiration for immortality in Brahman.
The ringing tone of Swami Sivananda’s life and teachings is that of a divine love based on proper understanding, a love in which the obstructing barrier between man and man is broken open and in which one easily discovers a happy way of participating in the life of others in the world. Endless hope—which seems to be the only foundation of all human enterprises—bespeaks the remote possibility, if not the immediate fact, of a union of the personal will with the Universal Law of God. It is this love and this meaning of hope and aspiration that can assure a world-brotherhood, a world-government based on universal sympathy and altruistic considerations. It is this principle of humanitarianism and an acute perception of the necessity of rousing mankind to the presence of an Almighty God that characterise the life and teachings of Swami Sivananda.
The Vedas declare that there is no limit to God’s glories and there is no cessation of man’s endeavour to comprehend His Nature and the path leading to Him. Swami Sivananda caught the significance of this great truth and so never felt that spiritual teachings can have an end, that one can ever be tired of teaching the spiritual way of life or of listening to spiritual instructions, that there could be a limit to the carefulness with which the guru has to look after the welfare of his disciples at every stage. To him every moment is an opportunity for sadhana, an occasion to exercise unlimited caution in regard to one’s spiritual practices and to be aware of the chance of temptations, thwartings, side-teachings and stagnations of mind and spirit in one’s life.
The philosophic life is not strange. It is the normal flow of a well-adjusted and perfected activity in the healthy maturity of seasoned knowledge and profound insight into Truth.
The Secret of World-Peace
The inspiring teachings of Swami Sivananda constitute one long song of liberation, the liberation of the individual, the society, the community, the nation and the world—physically, intellectually, morally and spiritually. The central burden of this eternal song of all-round freedom is peace—peace to all, peace everywhere—by learning and imbibing the lesson that Life is One. Every breath that flows from man, every movement of his limbs, every turn of his behaviour, is a direct or indirect effort towards the reconstruction of his personality to suit a better purpose, to bring about an easier and happier condition of life with liberty and peace as its emblems. Man represents a microscopic specimen of what happens in the gigantic cosmos on a colossal scale. The attempt to reach unity, freedom and happiness—which are seen to be vigorously active in man—can also be seen to be busy in the fulfilment of the purpose of the cosmos. In one’s own personal life, in society and in the state, man struggles to manifest a regular system and order, abolishing chaos and confusion. An intense passion for the firm establishment of system and order seems to be innate in the very structure of all beings, especially in those self-conscious ones in whom the development of intelligence has come to the stage of displaying the ability to know the difference between right and wrong, true and false. The universe does the same thing, with this difference—that while man strives with insufficient knowledge, the universe moves freely with an unrestricted expression of this tendency to realise the highest truth, goodness and freedom in its own bosom.
The changes that take place in the parts are felt in the constitution of the whole. As every cell in the human body organises itself to live in accordance with the law that regulates the whole body, and as every error on the part of a cell brings about a reaction from the entire body with the purpose of setting right the wrong that has entered into its being, so does the cosmic Law correct the errors committed by the individuals who constitute the cosmos. Small errors cause mild reactions and great wrongs lead to tremendous upheavals. Even the so-called unobserved acts in the grosser world produce mighty vibrations in the subtler regions.
The entire teaching and activity of Swami Sivananda centres round an untiring stress on the possibility of individual and world peace on the basis of a knowledge and practice of this rule of Unity in every level of existence, in every man, woman and child. He ceaselessly warned humanity that peace cannot be had by warfare, exploitation, domination and competition, for these bursting waves on the surface are raised by the storms of desire and greed, and that there can be no rest for man until these violent commotions cease through understanding and co-operation. Man’s concept of pleasure is nothing but an outcome of his erroneous judgment of a present good, his desire is the result of a wrong idea of a future good, his pain the consequence of a false notion of a present evil and his fear the corollary of a mistaken evaluation of the nature of a future evil. All passions and their several variations are veritable diseases brought on by erroneous thinking. These are to be eradicated, for they are irrational and founded on ignorance. Man needs proper education of his faculties in the direction of the real and the good in the highest sense. For Swami Sivananda, every activity in life can be transformed into a yoga of the Divine, provided the requisite knowledge is acquired by study, contemplation and service.
The revered Mahatma Gandhi did a signal service not only in the field of politics but also to religion, philosophy and ethics, when he emphasised the aspect of Truth is God. In the assertion commonly made, viz., God is Truth, the judgment involved is likely to become questionable, for the predicate ‘Truth’ is referred to ‘God’ whose existence is here presupposed or taken for granted. Naturally, those to whom the existence of God has not become an article of faith and whose rational attitude has not been convinced of it will take the assertion ‘God is Truth’ as not a demonstrated fact but a hypothetical proposition. But in the assertion ‘Truth is God’, no such sublime inconsequence is involved, for none can deny that there is such a thing as Truth. And this Truth is identified with what we have to understand by God. Truth is the law of the universe. This law is not blind but intelligence itself operating everywhere. Law and Law-Giver in this case are one. And likewise, to Swami Sivananda, Truth is not merely truth-speaking but ‘That which is.’ It is the unchanging, infinite and eternal Substance, which is at once the law and the love governing and guiding man, society, nation and world.
The true significance of this Truth and of this Love is not properly assimilated in ordinary man’s life, but is fully realised in the life of the superman who is not only a world-ruler but also a self-ruler. It is not Nietzsche’s egoistic elevation of man to power, but the Self-realised sage, a veritable embodiment of the Divine, that is the ideal superman, a being who is at one and the same time a man of the world and a representative of the Absolute. True knowledge is a knowledge of things in their essences, in their relation to the universe, in the relation of Truth. This Truth, this Law, when it is supported and protected, supports and protects everyone. Dharmo rakshati rakshitah. It is only when we realise that joy is in the fulfilment of the law of God that we become truly free and liberated from all bondage. Dharma is the innermost nature and truth of man and of the universe, for it is the body of the Divine Will. This is real duty, and here is the secret of world-peace. Swami Sivananda lived and preached this deathless truth, this law and order of Nature, for the solidarity of the world and for all mankind to emulate and follow. His divine mission shall be fulfilled when even a modicum of this knowledge shall succeed in throwing light into the dark corners in man’s mortal nature.
Unity, The Home of Peace
Here is the essence of the law and the love that unites all the world. This is the rationale behind all the gospels of world-peace and doctrines of universal love and brotherhood. By broadcasting the ancient wisdom of India, the wisdom that discovered the true relation of man to his environment, Swami Sivananda ceaselessly urges humanity to muster forces for bringing about real peace in the world. All his teachings and messages are lessons in the attainment of unity by the integration of personality in the consciousness of the Absolute. The aim of life is the practical realisation of the eternal spiritual essence which finds itself in man in a very limited and obscure form.
Every individual tries to stretch beyond himself by desiring, aspiring, longing. Desire of any kind is a disclosure, in one’s conscious states, that there is something wanting, something lacking, something inadequate. Give the whole world to man; he will not be satisfied. Why? Because, there is that something, beyond the world, lying outside the possession of any earthly individual. Give him the whole of the heavens; he will still be dissatisfied, because there is yet an unfulfilled want. This grievous mishap is the direct result of man’s ignorance of his unity with creation. ‘For the magnanimous, the whole world is one family,’ says the scripture. There can be no peace to man unless he begins to recognise, live and serve his vast surroundings as his own Self, until he does his best at least to approximate his conduct in daily life to this sublime ideal. Peace is only in God, and the peace which we can hope to enjoy in this world depends upon the extent to which we have succeeded in reading and manifesting this infinitude of the Spirit in our social, national and world relations. This achievement is not only a consequence of the knowledge and experience of Truth by man, but also a necessary condition of his attaining any success in his endless struggle for perfection. This is the teaching, the religion, the ethics, the philosophy and the gospel of Swami Sivananda to every son and daughter of this earth of every station in society. This is the hope of humanity.
A Garland of Sivananda Literature
(This beautiful garland, delightful and instructive, has been woven out of the titles of Swamiji’s numerous works.)
Titles of Swami’s works are printed in this type. (For the complete list of works, see Sivananda’s Elixir.)
Now listen to the Sivananda Vani! Sivananda’s Teachings, the cream of Philosophy and Yoga!
Words of Ancient Wisdom or the Sayings of Swami Sivananda are Wisdom Sparks, the Illuminating Messages which provide you with Religious Education.
"Achieve the Life’s Goal" So Says Sivananda. The Heart of Sivananda is revealed in his Satsang Bhavan Lectures. He gives Sure Ways for Success in Life and God-realisation in his Voice of the Himalayas. The Goal of Life, he declares, is God-realisation or Self-realisation. The Secret of God-realisation he gives in Aphorisms and Parables. Worldly Man! Wake up! Follow the Guide to God-realisation. Listen to his Gospel of Divine Life. Enter in Yoga Maharnava. Reach the Himalaya Jyoti.
Drink the Wisdom Nectar. Practice of Bhakti Yoga, Japa Yoga, Sankirtan Yoga, Practice of Karma Yoga, Hatha Yoga and The Practice of Brahmacharya, are all Aids to God-realisation. But, How to Get Vairagya? Understand The Philosophy of Dreams. Reflect over What Becomes of the Soul after Death. Sing Sangeeta Bhagawath. Study Samadhi Yoga. Practise Jnana Yoga. Know the Secret of Self-Realisation. Offer your Divine Life as Shraddhanjali unto the Lord. This is the Easy Path to God-realisation.
Ensure Health and Happiness by the regular practice of Yoga Asanas or Yogic Home Exercises. Understand well the Science of Pranayama.
Be your own Family Doctor. Study Health and Hygiene; learn Home Nursing and First Aid to the Injured; understand the relation between Health and Diet; and use Bazaar Drugs and Home Remedies: thus become your own Home Physician.
Become an expert in the Practice of Nature Cure and in the use of Practical Household Remedies: and you will know everything about Constipation (Its Cause and Cure), Asthma (Its Cause and Cure), etc.
Take Care of the Eyes.
If you know How to Get Sound Sleep and have Conquest of Anger and Conquest of Fear, you will be free from high Blood Pressure.
Stick to the Ethics of the Bhagavad Gita. Gita is the Universal Mother. It is Adhyatma Yoga Samhita.
The Essence of Ramayana, too, is the Ethical Teachings contained in it! The Beauties of Ramayana can be understood only by one who believes that God Exists and who is eager to know All About Hinduism. To him it is a Treasure of Teachings.
Wear a garland of Pearls of Wisdom or Perennial Teachings. Remember the Moral Lessons of saints (Sivananda Smriti). They are fountains of Light, Power and Wisdom.
Brahmacharya and Spiritual Life are inseparable. Therefore, practise brahmacharya and know How to Live a Hundred Years. Swamiji emphasised the Necessity for Sannyas and exhorted us to cultivate Sadhana Chatushtaya.
Before undertaking the Practice of Yoga, understand the Mind, Its Mysteries and Control. Wear the Vairagya Mala and swim on the Waves of Ganga, the Waves of Bliss. Study daily the Yoga Kundalini Upanishads; practise Kundalini Yoga and attain Yoga and Realisation. Kundalini Yoga gives several Spiritual Experiences, Joy, Bliss and Immortality, as well as Health and Long Life.
Raja Yoga bestows Psychic Influence on you. Therefore, study the Fourteen Lessons in Raja Yoga and know the Philosophy and Meditation on Om. Have Daily Readings of a page from Gita Meditations before your morning practice of Concentration and Meditation. The Jnana Jyoti will illumine your Path to Perfection. Sivananda Upanishad is good for Practical Meditation.
A thorough understanding of the Science of Reality will ensure the Students’ Success in Life. Swamiji’s Lectures on Yoga and Vedanta are the Sadhak’s Guide. They are Easy Steps to Yoga and contain The Essence of Vedanta. Sivananda’s All-India Tour Lectures, Radio Talks and Doon Lectures, Echo the Voice of Sivananda and have effected a Dynamic Spiritual Awakening, we are assured in his "Story of My Tour". His Inspiring Messages have gone round the world. His Telegraphic Teachings have thrilled thousands. His First Lessons in Vedanta represent the Essence of Teachings of all sages. Siva Gita or Sivananda’s Autobiography reveals the Wisdom of Siva and gives Yogic and Pedantic Sadhana in a nutshell. The Principal Upanishads (including Brihadaranyaka Upanishad and Chhandogya Upanishad), Minor Upanishads, Brahma Sutras, Moksha Gita, Ananda Gita and Jivanmukta Gita, throw a flood of Light on Yoga Sadhana. Ten Upanishads is Vedanta Jyoti: it is A Wisdom Eye-opener.
Through Revelation, attain Wisdom of the Upanishads; then work for World Peace.
If you want to taste the Bhakti Rasamritam (Essence of Bhakti Yoga), take to Bhakti and Sankirtan, recite Stotra Ratnamala, Stotra Pancharatna, Sangita Lila Yoga, Ananda Lahiri and Devi Mahatmya, and emulate Radha’s Prem or St. Alavandar. Recognise Music as Yoga; sing Inspiring Songs and Kirtans before your Daily Meditation.
The Lives of Great Men and Women are the Light Divine that illumine your Path to God-realisation, leading to Peace and Perfection. The Lives of Sixty-three Nayanars are not merely Illuminating Stories, but an illustration of Narada Bhakti Sutras: and their illuminating, immortal teachings are so many Steps to Self-realisation.
Visit the Ashrams and Saints as also the Temples of India; undertake a Pilgrimage to Badri and Kailas. Carry a Pocket Prayer Book wherever you go. Be devoted to Lord Siva and His Worship, or to Lord Shanmukha and His Worship.
Swamiji’s Advice to Women is that they should grow into Ideal Womanhood and should be familiar with Hindu Fasts and Festivals. They should prescribe Divine Life for Children, teach their children Gems of Prayers, Divine Stories, Spiritual Stories and Philosophical Stories. Early in life the children should be given Spiritual Lessons and Practical Lessons in Yoga. The Lives of Saints and Sages should be their ideal. This is Sthree Dharma, in short. Bequeath Yoga Teachings as your Children’s Divine Treasure.
Hindu children should be taught all about Lord Krishna: His Lilas and Teachings. Christian children should be acquainted with Lord Jesus, His Life and Teachings. Education For Perfection must teach students How to Cultivate Virtues and Eradicate Vices, not only How to Become Rich; and should tend towards Moral and Spiritual Regeneration of the World.
The Yoga of Synthesis is the Yoga for the Modern Man. Narrate Siva Lilas, Stories from Mahabharata, Stories From Yoga Vasishtha. Hold classes in Upanishads for Lay Men and Busy People. Keep The Yoga-Vedanta Dictionary by your side. Discourse on Bhagavad Gita. Initiate only fit people into Swara Yoga, Tantra Yoga, Nada Yoga and Kriya Yoga. Teach Suryanamaskar to all. Practise and preach Triple Yoga. Enact the Upanishad Drama or Brahma Vidya Vilas—get the Dialogues from Upanishads. When you teach Vedanta for Beginners, emphasise Vedanta in Daily Life. Daily offer Pushpanjali to Mother Ganges.
Let your Conversations be on Yoga. Mix (Wisdom) Philosophy in Humour. Write Essays in Philosophy. Get by heart The Essence of all Gitas or The Essence of Gita in Poems. They contain the Essence of Yoga. Enact the Ramayana Drama. You will soon be An Encyclopaedia of Spiritual Knowledge. Dhyana Yoga is the Yoga for the West. Take to Studies in Western Philosophy and know How Westerners Practise Yoga. Study the fundamentals of World’s Religions and realise the Unity of Religions.
Maharishi Sivananda’s Yoga-Vedanta Sutras point out the Life Divine and are your Spiritual Awakener(s) and Life-transformer(s). Inspiring Letters that Transform men’s lives have flowed from Swamiji as his Jnana Ganga, to Alavandariah, Gajanan Sharma, DR. Chhatrapati and Paramananda. They contain the Philosophy and Teachings of Sivananda; and are a valuable Guide to Aspirants, in the Practice of Vedanta. The Sayings of Swami Sivananda are his Select Teachings—our Pocket Gems or Vedantic Pearls.
Yoga Prasnottari means Yoga, Questions and Answers. These Analects of Sivananda are Nectar Drops, which contain the Essence of Principal Upanishads and lead to Self-knowledge. These are Swamiji’s Precepts for Practice; his Message to Mankind.
Books Published Abroad
(1) Yoga for the West.
Published by Sr. Yogiraj Marshall, Florida.
(2) What Becomes of the Soul After Death, (3) Concentration and Meditation.
Published by the Divine Life Society, Yoga Institute, Hong Kong.
(1) Kundalini Yoga, (2) Yoga Asanas, (3) Bhagavad Gita, (4) Sehat Walafiat Karena Yoga (5) Begitulah Sivananda Bilang.
Translated by Sri Kwee Liong Tian.
Published by the Editor of Penjedar, Malaya, Indonesia. Nos. 5 and 4 published by the Divine Life Society, Indonesia.
Translated by Sri Chang Hsiu Jen.
Published by Sri Wai Kai Aah of Hong Kong.
Published by T. Hate, Japan.
Five books translated and published by Sri Yogiraj V. Olshansky of Teheran—compiled by him from Swamiji’s works.
(1) Ovo Djelo Ponizno Posvecujem.
(1) Hatha Yoga.
Published by Yogiraj Louis Brinkfort, Copenhagen, Denmark.
(2) Hvad er Yoga.
Translated by Sri Aage Faergemann and published by the Sivananda School of Yoga, Denmark.
(1) Sivananda’s Integral Yoga, by Swami Venkatesananda, (2) Guru and Disciple (compiled by Sri Swami Satchidananda).
All World Religions’ Federation
(a). The name of the organisation, whose aims and objects are given below, shall be the All World Religions’ Federation.
(b). Its headquarters shall be Ananda Kutir, Rishikesh.
(c). Its aims and objects are as mentioned hereunder:
1. To establish the much needed unity of religions.
2. To do constructive work for the observance in practice of all the ethical and hygienic teaching found in all the prominent religions of the world.
3. To re-establish faith in unchanging ancient truths and preserve ancient traditions in so far as they are not incompatible with modern conditions of life.
4. To develop simplicity in life.
5. To re-model education, to make it an aid to spiritual progress.
6. To preserve the classical languages and revive a taste in them so that all scriptures may be studied in the original.
7. To organise and hold periodical conferences at different centres.
8. To institute local branches in different centres all over the world.
9. To publish magazines, books and leaflets for carrying out the objects of the Federation.
10. To constitute local committees in the various branches.
11. To organise a touring commission in the various branches.
12. To build up a library.
13. To establish a central Administration Committee at the headquarters to be ever in communication with the branches.
14. To constitute an advisory board consisting of members living in different geographical areas but offering advice, in all matters pertaining to the Federation, by correspondence. There need not be a limit to the number of members.
15. To publish monthly progress reports and send them to all active members of the Federation, for information about the activities of the branches all over the world.
16. To do any other act which may be pertinent to the aims and objects of the Federation.
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Last Updated: Friday, 04-Nov-2016 21:00:35 EDT
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