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by Swami Sivananda
Table of Contents
Chapter INECTAR DROPS
SPARKS OF TRUTH
Chapter IIWORDS OF WISDOM
Chapter IIIHINTS FOR SELF-CULTURE
Chapter IVESSENCE OF RELIGION
Chapter VLIGHT ON LIBERATION
THE GREAT TRUTH
THE ROLE OF SANNYASINS
YOGA FOR MODERN MAN
WOMEN SHOULD BE TRAINED
PEARLS OF WISDOM
Chapter VISPIRITUAL LESSONS
THE ROYAL ROAD TO REALISATION
REAL UNITY AMONG RELIGIONS
THE CALL DIVINE
Chapter VIIESSENCE OF YOGA
Chapter VIIIGARLAND OF YOGA
Chapter IXTHE GOAL OF LIFE
Chapter XIRULES OF DIVINE LIFE
WHAT IS VIRTUOUS LIFE?
WHAT IS GOD?
THE GREAT BHUMA EXPERIENCE
Chapter XIIKARMA YOGA
Chapter XIIIYOGIC ALPHABETS
ESSENCE OF SADHANA
TO THE FIRST EDITION
His Holiness Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj is a world teacher. He stands today as an embodiment of a synthesis of different faiths and religions of the world. Under the inspiration of his forceful and eminent practical teaching, men and women have come to feel religion as a positive, constructive and redeeming force in their lives elevating them from dejection and weakness to fresh hope and inner strength.
The pearls of wisdom Swamiji has gathered during his spiritual dives into the ocean of wisdom are scattered amongst his innumerable books which the busy man of the world would not be able to compass with his limited time and understanding. With this point in view, this small collection of the choicest sayings of His Holiness has been brought out in his inimitable way by Sri Swami Satchidanandaji, his Private Secretary.
This great little book is a real boon to mankind. It is your Guru, handy friend, invigorating tonic and soft goad. The flaming words of Sage Sivananda are stored in this unique treasure-trove for every man and woman to take the fullest advantage of. In moments of difficulty, doubt or despair turn to any page and the light that emanates from it. It is sure to dispel the darkness of gloom and despair. It is hoped that this book will serve as a constant companion to all seekers after Truth, as it throws much light on the intricate problems of life and clearly indicates the various ways to attain the Life Immortal.
This booklet is fit to be daily read and re-read by young and old alike, in all schools and colleges, in the houses and institutions and kept as a book of regular Svadhyaya and study.
KNOW THYSELF, from the pen of Maharshi Sivananda, the Sage of Practical Wisdom, is at once practical and sublime, awakening and illuminating.
KNOW THYSELF is a boon to seekers after Truth. It fulfils the long-felt need of spiritual aspirants who were eager to have in a nutshell the essentials of Yoga Sadhana, the fundamentals of spiritual life, the very cream of the ancient scriptures for daily reading and recitation. Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj has, in his inimitable characteristic style, summarised the very essence of all religious teachings that will at once elevate and inspire the reader. This spiritual tonic, if daily taken, will strengthen and develop brain-power, power of endurance and make the man fit to fight the battle of life.
May KNOW THYSELF, the gems of Sri Gurudev’s teachings, lead you to the Highest Realms of Immortality, Eternal and Supreme Bliss.
1st July, 1958
THE DIVINE LIFE SOCIETY
1. In this formidable ocean of Samsara, you have only one boat to voyage to the other shore of Immortality—the company of Sages.
2. When you are assailed by temptations and surging waves of turbulent mind, you have only one refuge here—the lotus feet of Saints.
3. In this peaceless world, men and nations can rediscover peace and bliss only at the fountain source of Eternal Wisdom—the Men of God.
4. In the dark wilderness of the daily battle of life, only the light of a Self-realised Mahapurusha can show you the path to love, light and peace.
5. If you want to enjoy peace and happiness, practise this simple Sadhana. Adapt, adjust and accommodate. Lack of this divine quality of adaptability is the cause for disharmony, quarrels, riots and wars.
6. It is not so easy as it looks outwardly. You should crush and powder your ego if you wish to develop adaptability. It is this Rajasic self-assertive nature that disturbs the equilibrium and creates disharmony.
7. Only if you bend, can you drink water from the tap. Only if you are humble, will you be able to drink the water of peace, bliss and harmony.
8. A humble man alone can conquer the whole world.
9. Only a man who is humble will be able to adapt, adjust and accommodate.
10. There is infinite Sakti in Ram Nam. Ram Nam is the solution for all the troubles that have beset the mankind of this Atomic Bomb Age.
11. A disciplined man achieves success in all undertakings.
12. But, for success in the spiritual life, self-discipline is most essential. Without discipline you cannot make any progress in the path.
13. Even if you are poor and have no food to eat, even at the point of a bayonet, sing Chidananda Hum and feel that you are the Immortal, Infinite Atman. You will derive fresh energy, great divine power.
14. Divine Life will descend only when there is serenity.
15. Just as you remove a pebble from the shoe and thus relieve yourself, you will have to drive off the Vritti which is disturbing you. Then only will you really reach the Realm of Peace and Bliss.
16. If you are established in one virtue, others will come by themselves.
17. He who wants to attain God-realisation should discipline his tongue, take simple Sattvic food and fast on Ekadasi.
18. If you eat a good dinner, only sleep will come, not the prayerful mood. Therefore, discipline the tongue.
19. It is no use meditating for half an hour and then spending the rest of the day in gossip. All the Sattva that you generate during meditation will be wiped out.
20. To overcome hatred, the best thing to do is to substitute it by love; hatred will die by itself. Positive always overcomes the negative.
21. Death is ever waiting to devour you all. That tomorrow will never come; wake up now, friends.
22. Real education is that which makes you realise your Self or Atman.
23. Real education is that which helps you to control the mind and the senses and to lead the Divine Life and realise the Satchidananda state.
24. Real education is that which helps you annihilate egoism, which enables you to attain immortality.
25. Real education is that which helps you to attain that final beatitude which is the summum bonum of your existence.
26. Merely hearing lectures or studying books will not help you in making you into a Superman. You will have to practise.
27. In a pure heart which is serene, which is free from passions and sense-appetites, will the divine light descend.
28. You should know the science of controlling the Indriyas. On account of Rajas the Indriyas always move towards the objects.
29. A little bit of money and family will make you forget the real goal.
30. The mind is so framed and constituted that it does not believe in transcendental experience. It makes you feel that there is nothing beyond this sense-experience.
31. Let the mind wander. It does not matter. Go on doing Japa and Kirtan. The Lord is so gracious. Go on with your Kirtan. This added strength will help you. Peace will come gradually.
32. Renunciation of Vasanas, and egoism, renunciation of Katritva Buddhi, Bheda Buddhi that puts a barrier between man and man—alone constitutes real renunciation.
33. The object which tantalises you now, loses its charm the moment you get it. So would every object in the world lose its charm the moment it is got.
34. When you get knocks and blows in the daily battle of life then the mind is duly turned towards the spiritual path.
35. Be regular in your Japa. Try to get up early in the morning. Practise a little Pranayama. Meditate. You will attain Moksha.
36. Kirtan is the easiest, cheapest, quickest, surest and safest way to attain God-realisation. It will fill your heart with Prem and strength.
37. The Message of Vedanta is the Message of Unity, Oneness of Consciousness.
38. You must be established in the repetition of the Mantra to such an extent that even in dream your mind will be repeating the Mantra.
39. Without the Grace of the Lord, anger, lust and greed can never be destroyed by mere human effort.
40. You can thin them out; you can reduce their force through Sadhana. But you cannot destroy them, without His Grace.
41. Cultivate dispassion mentally towards things mundane and dwell ever in meditation on the Atman. Then only will you grow in Bhakti.
42. Congregational prayer generates a mighty current. You will enter into Bhava Samadhi quickly.
43. Without newspapers you cannot live! And, what do you find in the newspapers? They are filled with nothing but sensational news. They excite you. Study the Yoga-Vasishtha and the Gita. The mind is elevated.
44. Control the mind, control the senses and enquire into the nature of the Atman or your real Self. That is your primary duty.
45. You have an ill-regulated life and go on blindly from day to day repeating the same old actions.
46. Those who think that they are doing injustice to the world through their aspirations for Self-realisation have not yet gone above the credulity of childhood.
47. If you find mercy and humility in a person, then alone can you know that person is a Sadhu. His Heart will melt at the suffering of others.
48. The Sadhu need not deliver lectures on Panchadasi. He need not necessarily be able to deliver eloquent discourses on the Gita. He may not be able to comment for three hours upon a single (Brahma) Sutra. But a sweet aroma will emanate from him. This will attract everyone to him. This will give you Santi and an inner bliss when you approach him.
49. A man without mercy, love and humility cannot realise the Self.
50. The Lord cannot manifest Himself in a sin-hardened heart; it must melt like butter before He can reveal Himself.
51. Without purification of the heart, no progress in Sadhana is possible. Therefore do Japa, sing Kirtan, do untiring selfless service, be generous; give, give, give.
SPARKS OF TRUTH
52. Maya assumes various forms. Ego assumes various shapes. Just as water takes the form of the vessel into which it is poured, the ego adjusts itself to all circumstances and persists in its work.
53. This ego is your terrible enemy. It wages guerilla warfare with you. Beware. Beware. Beware.
54. You can eradicate this ego through Japa, Kirtan and selfless service, if you are sincere.
55. Sincerity! It is a very rare virtue. Sincerity is combination of several virtues. Truthfulness, straightforwardness, simplicity, absence of vanity, courage, fearlessness, tenacity of purpose, love and humility—all go to form sincerity.
56. Your money belongs to the Lord. You have no business to keep more than what you need. How can you accumulate wealth, when your God in the form of the poor man is starving? How can you take food four times and tiffin, when the beggar-Narayana is starving outside the door? These are the tests of spiritual progress.
57. You should remain under a Guru. Serve him. There is no greater Sadhana than service of the Guru. The Guru will teach you the appropriate Sadhana for improving you.
58. Life and death are both processes of more and more fresh experience in the progress of evolution tending towards the fruition of the wishes of the experiencer.
59. Life is a scene where the individual puts on the dress of the form of a certain amount of desires which can be fulfilled in the special environment afforded by it.
60. Death is the time when the individual goes behind the screen and puts on a new dress to appear in another scene of life in order to fulfil another quality of desires which cannot find the required atmosphere for fruition in the present life, but demand a fresh suitable environment.
61. There is a science by knowing which the unseen becomes seen, the unheard becomes heard, and the unknown becomes known, the untaught becomes taught. This is the science of sciences. When you learn that science alone shall you attain the immortal abode of eternal bliss and perennial joy.
62. Real education is that which enables you to kill this little ego and pulverise this egoism.
63. The Atman is extremely subtle. The senses are subtle. Prana is subtler than the senses; mind is still subtler; even beyond this mind, and most subtle, is the Atman. That is your real nature. That education which enables you to realise this nature of your Self is real education.
64. Mango is not sweet; it is the imagination that makes it sweet.
65. There is no real pleasure in the objects. You simply project your own imagination on the objects and imagine that they are pleasure-giving.
66. The dog catches hold of a bone and starts biting it; blood oozes out of its own palate; it imagines that the blood comes from the bone and bites it harder.
67. Even the pleasure of the whole world is a drop when compared to the bliss that you will get from within, from the Atman, through meditation, by withdrawing the Indriyas and by fixing the mind on the Atman, by regular introspection, reflection and meditation.
68. In deep sleep there were no objects. There were no likes and dislikes (Raga-Dvesha). Yet you enjoyed peace and happiness.
69. Do not be deluded by the senses and the body. They are your real enemies.
70. Death is waiting to devour you all. Try to do Sadhana now itself.
71. Sensual pleasures are like the pleasure derived from itching.
72. Wake up now. Open your eyes. Make yourself steady so that you will meet Lord Yama with a cheerful face.
73. The whole world is suffering; but not one has the heart to share what he has with others. Share. Give. The joy that you will get from such actions is indescribable.
74. Humility is a fundamental virtue. If you don’t find humility and mercy in a man, reject him; there is no saintliness in him.
75. The self-assertive Rajasic nature is so vehement. It will never allow you to be humble.
76. So many desires will affect your body. Don’t be proud of the hot blood that runs through your veins.
77. Be regular in your Japa and Kirtan. Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram. It will give you power and strength. It will produce harmony in your mind. Rajas and Tamas will be destroyed. Good-Samskaras will be embedded in your mind.
78. Don’t join the various ‘isms; let these ‘isms come and go. But you take part in the ‘isms because you are carried away by emotion. Godless ‘isms cannot succeed. The foundation of society is God. Godless ‘isms cannot thrive for a long time. God is the basis for everything.
79. He who has faith, he alone can be happy. He is the real man.
80. Self-restraint, Japa, Kirtan, Sattvic diet, getting up at 4 a.m., all these things will make you a superman.
81. Don’t overload your stomach. Take your food when you are really hungry. Thus enjoy good health.
82. You must practise Asanas. Asanas have immense advantage over the other forms of exercise. They tone up the internal organs and the nervous system.
83. Sannyasa is the stage of life when you can destroy Maya.
84. Only if you maintain a spiritual diary will you be able to regulate your programme of life. Only then will you be able to eradicate the evil qualities within you and cultivate noble virtues.
85. There is no need to listen to more and more lectures. You have heard enough. When will you practise? Listening to lectures is a mere intellectual amusement. Practice is difficult. Start practising today.
86. Listening to lectures has become a disease nowadays. When you listen to a lecture, there is a little bit of nervous excitement and titillation. But unless you put the instructions into practice, the lessons will be lost upon you and you will be the same person.
87. Peacefulness, fearlessness, contentment and cheerfulness—and not seeing some lights in concentration and meditation—indicate your advancement in the spiritual path.
88. This is a world of Dvandvas. There will always be peace and war, good and evil, happiness and misery. You cannot have perfection in this imperfect world.
89. Study of scriptures is an indispensable and effective auxiliary in Sadhana.
90. Vedanta prescribes Nishkamya Karma Yoga for the purification of the mind, and Jnana Sadhana for the removal of the veil of ignorance. Sankirtan does all these; it is endowed with all these powers.
91. Samadhi will come by itself to a man whose heart is purified by constant, untiring selfless service.
92. You should not give up your Sadhana, your Japa, Kirtan, prayers, whether or not there are indications of the descent of Lord’s Grace. Go on with your Sadhana.
93. Your prayers are bound to be heard by the Lord one day.
94. The Absolute or Brahman, Eternal or Infinite, Atman or the Thing-in-itself, or the Substance or Essence, call it by any name you choose, cannot be demonstrated, because He is Infinite.
95. This little frail intellect cannot perceive Him who is infinite. How can the finite "I" perceive the Infinite Self? The Bhuma, the Unconditioned, is beyond Time, Space and Causation.
96. You cannot see your own eye-lashes. You cannot see a thing which is at a distance. The eye, the Indriya of perception is a finite instrument, it can see only things which are very near. The mind, intellect and ego, as also the senses, are effects. Effects cannot perceive the Cause, the Causeless cause, the Supreme Brahman, the Unconditioned, Bhuma, which is beyond time, Space and Causation, which is the Substratum of everything which is the basis of the world.
97. Nobody denies his own existence. It is a logical absurdity to deny one’s own existence. You feel that you exist for ever; this clearly proves that the Atman or your self is Immortal and Eternal.
98. There is no pleasure in sense-objects. You can experience bliss only when the mind is turned inwards.
99. Your mind runs outside because of desires and because you have forgotten your essential nature. Desires are imperfections; that is the reason why you experience pain, through lack, through want. When there are desires in the mind, when there are imperfections, there is no sense of fullness.
100. He who is intelligent, who has got discrimination, searches within for the joy of the soul.
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