Gurudev Sivananda

by Swami Venkatesananda

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334 pages.

Table of Contents

Publishers’ Note
Gurudev Sivananda
Sivananda Yogindra Stuti
Sri Sivananda Sahasranama Stotram
Have You Seen God?
Ethics of Sivananda
Some Memorable Dates in Swami Sivananda’s
Life and Mission

Incarnate Love–A Unique Gospel–The
Problem of Evil–His Own Inheritance–The
Greatest Religious Teacher–Sivananda: The
Conqueror–God’s Own Humility–Gurudev’s
Mission–Man: The Centre of Creation–Sivananda in

Chapter One
The Eighth of September
The Stage
The Bud
The Birth of Synthesis

Chapter Two
Snapping of the Ties
Voyage to Malaya
Conquest of Malaya
The Holy Word
The Friend of the Poor–Companionship with the
Cook–Guest Is God–The Refuge of Destitutes–The
Altruistic Attitude–Service of Sadhus–The Supreme
The Simple Saintly Doctor
The Saint in the Making
Good-bye, Malaya

Chapter Three
Where Art Thou, Oh Lord!
Swami Sivananda Saraswati
Guru and Disciple
The Homeless Prince Among Men
Glimpses of Real Sadhana
Meditation–A Potent Sadhana–Selfless
Service–Cosmic Love–Tongue Control–Service of
Sadhus–A Miracle–The Middle Path–Austere
Life–Run To Serve–Eternal Vigilance Prevents
Obstacles–Flaming Vairagya
Association With Saints, Sages and Yogis
A Peep Into Kutir No. 111
The Gospel of Selfless Service
The Dynamic Yogi’s Daily Routine

Chapter Four
The First Disciples
The Preliminary Discipline–The Guru’s Supreme
Joy–The Eternal Mystery
The First Evangelical Mission
Sitapur Sermon–The World Saviour–Miraculous
The First Campaign for Mass Spiritual Awakening
The Perfect Precept–Unique Sivananda–The Apostle
of Unity–Methodical Work–Unforgettable
Incidents–The Call for Dynamic Action–The
Fundamental Factors–Disciple’s Duty
The First Organisation: Swargashram Sadhu Sangha
The Second Renunciation Chapter Five
The Seeker’s Paradise
The Divine Life Society
Gramophone Records: His Voice Immortalised–The
Sivananda Art Studio–The Sivananda Medical
Organisation–Mystery of Mysteries–Sivananda
Ayurvedic Pharmacy–The Sivananda Regalia–The
Sivananda Primary School–Awakener of
Talents–Nourisher of Genius–Maker of Saints–The
Sadhu-Element–Training In Self-reliance–Test of
Devotion–Dynamic Spiritual
Awakening–Correspondence–Sadhana Week
Sister Institutions
All-world Religions’ Federation–The All-world Sadhus’
Federation–The Yoga-Vedanta Forest
University–Yoga Museum
Jnana Yajna
The Mighty Spirit–The Yoga-Vedanta Forest
University Press

Chapter Six
How God Came Into His Life!
8th January–A Brief Account of the Historic
Tour–World Parliament of Religions–Platinum Jubilee
The Divine Life Crest
Twenty Important Spiritual Instructions
Sivananda’s Trisulam
Daily Routine–New Year Resolves for Quick Spiritual
Progress–The Spiritual Diary
A Garland of Sivananda Literature
Complete Works of Swami Sivananda

Chapter Seven





















Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time

The best teachers of humanity are the lives of great men.
—O.S. Fowler

Biographies of great, especially of good men, are most instructive and useful as helps, guides and incentive to others. Some of the best are almost equivalent to gospels—teaching high living, high thinking, and energetic actions for their and the world’s good.
—S. Smiles

Of all studies, the most delightful and useful is biography.

Biography, especially of the great and good, who have risen by their own exertions to eminence and usefulness, is an inspiring and ennobling study. Its direct tendency is to reproduce the excellence it records.
—H. Mann

Biography is the most universally pleasant and profitable of all reading.

My advice is, to consult the lives of other men as we would a looking-glass, and from thence fetch examples for our own imitation.

Temples have their sacred images; and we see what influence they have always had over a great part of mankind; but, in truth, the ideas and images in men’s minds are the invisible powers that constantly govern them; and to these they all pay universally a ready admission.
—Jonathan Edwards

If, instead of a gem or even a flower, we could cast the gift of a lovely thought into the heart of a friend, that would be giving as the angels give.
G. Macdonald



GURUDEV SIVANANDA is a unique, inspiring and absorbing narrative of a divinely lived life of the foremost Himalayan Sage and Saint of our contemporary era. All spiritual seekers throughout the world will find a great deal of highly instructive and informative matter in this valuable volume.

Here is the most authoritative work on the life and mission of the great saint, Swami Sivananda, hitherto unpublished, coming as it does from one of his great and intimate disciples, Swami Venkatesananda (The author attained Gurudev’s Feet on 2-December-1982.). It provides the reader with the details of Gurudev’s early life, followed by an inspiring and moving account of his medical career in Malaya before he became a monk, the period of his Tapascharya after he took to the path of renunciation, the story of his spiritual-awakening tours and pilgrimages, a complete history of the Divine Life Society up to date, and the landmarks in his illustrious life of divine service to humanity. The book is authenticated by eye-witness accounts and other direct evidences, and is replete with the embellishment of thrilling anecdotes from his sacred life. Here is an inspiring saga of the ideals that seekers of Truth have always striven to emulate, and which no reader should fail to study.

May Gurudev Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj’s blessings be upon you all. May his grace and the light of his teachings illuminate your heart and your life and actions, and may lead you to the Goal in this very life.



(By Deva-Bhasa-Kavi-Bhaskara
Sri Swami Jnananandaji Maharaj

1. Adorations to the perpetual showerer of nectarine words, the foremost of all great Rishis, Gurudev Sivananda, the object of our homage and worship, the abode of all virtues, the embodiment of compassion, the centre for reverence of good people, the ever-residing Deity in the mind-caves of his true devotees, the wielder of the noblest Heart and the treasure-house of all happiness.

2. The lustrous face of Gurudev Sivananda bears a countenance of radiant smiles resembling the brilliance of the rising sun, beams forth messages to mankind for treading the righteous path and avoiding the unrighteous ways, is intent upon destroying the diseases of the people, has become the wish-yielding tree to the poor, and has always been the one Ideal of all my meditation.

3. Upon that great world-preceptor Sivananda whose self-engrossment and self-absorption are given over wholly to the uttering of the holy Names of Sri Krishna, the worshipping of all gods, the saving of the afflicted beings, and the raising of prayers to God for the welfare of the whole world,—I meditate.

4. To the great Sage Sivananda of admirable intellectual power, of gigantic and praiseworthy achievements, the sage who is bereft of all pride, possessed of all prosperity, interested in protecting the helpless people, and pleasing all with his compassionate smiles,—prostrations.

5. Adorations to the incarnation of all merit, the possessor of a sharp intellect, the great Yogi Sivananda, the redresser of the distresses of mankind, the leader of all humanity upon the paths of auspiciousness, the divine lover of Lord Siva, the saviour of the people sorrowing in the ocean of Samsara.

6. I prostrate to Gurudev Swami Sivananda, the sole refuge of the afflicted poor, the fountainhead of charming words that delight all, the supreme master of all his senses, the foremost of all learned men, the sage who is lifted above all worldly desires, the dispeller of the darkness of the masses, upon whom the Divine Being is ever showering Its Light and Mercy.

7. May the great Yogi Sivananda, the beholder by his inner eye of the ever-beautiful Form of Lord Sri Krishna, within his own heart, the Sage of the lotus-feet that are worshipped by all people, the object of admiration for all scholars, the embodiment of bliss, be my saviour.

8. I adore the renowned Sage Sivananda of the most auspicious life-story, the giver in lucid interpretations, of the essence of all the scriptures, the unceasing dispeller of the darkness of the whole world’s ignorance, the exerciser of an intellectual power comparable to that of Lord Dattatreya.

9. Whoever studies (recites) these auspicious gems among hymns, describing the glories of Sri Gurudev Sivananda, will attain to purity of heart, as also all the (righteous) pleasures of this world, and Liberation (from birth and death), too.



1. In the family of great Appayya Deekshita a divine lovely child was born of Sri Parvati Ammal and Vengu Iyer. He was named Kuppuswami.

2. As a child he was endowed with a shining face and was very beautiful, enchanting all the people, skilled in dance and music and very efficient in spheres of work.

3. In the field of education young Kuppuswami evinced a very keen interest, especially in the medical field, and he was so intelligent and unselfish that he commanded the respect of all.

4. Leaving the medical college, Kuppuswami became a hero amongst the doctors and with an idea of rendering greater service to mankind left the shores of India for Malaya, where he endeared himself to all people by virtue of his generosity in treating and nursing the sick.

5. He was always very active, energetic and brave, and praised by all great people and one who adhered to the principles of a typical Brahmin possessing invaluable characteristic features.

6. Selfless service to others, removing the miseries of the afflicted, deep-rooted Vairagya, and a desire for humanitarian service were some of the noteworthy features in him.

7. Having renounced all his material possessions in the world, he got himself initiated into the Sannyasa order with the name Sivananda, thus fulfilling the one ambition in his life.

8. As a renunciate full of self-sacrifice he commanded the regard and respect of the noble and wise personalities and he always stood for the synthesis of all religions.

9. He was the dispeller of the darkness of ignorance and the giver of the light of knowledge from the tower of his intelligence with self-control and serenity of mind.

10. He is free from all worldly desires, skilled in work, well-versed in Yoga, bestower of all prosperity, full of sacrificial spirit and is also a guide pointing out the path to liberation.

11. He is loved by all, is all-knowing, worthy of being worshipped, devoid of all sins, is of deep-rooted dispassion, far-sighted and also a king of ascetics.

12. Devoid of all ego he is always a liberated soul with a pure heart and with good intentions and at the same time possessing knowledge of all sciences, entertaining very high ideals and always established in truth and happiness.

13. A pure soul as he is he has fulfilled all his desires with devotion as a result of which he has a fund of spiritual wealth to his credit and has attained far-reaching fame, giving eternal joy to mankind as a whole.

14. The dental rows in his mouth are like the spotless jasmine flowers which reveal themselves whenever he smiles and he has such attractive features and qualities that are loved by one and all.

15. Well-versed in Vedic lore he has an equanimity of understanding which is capable of removing all miseries and fulfilling all desires of those who take refuge in him who is the abode of all bliss and wisdom.

16. He is endowed with all the characteristics of a great soul, with a face beaming like the moon devoid of all the modifications of the mind and free from desires, betokening the height of perfection he has attained.

17. As a great philosopher and preceptor he has captured the imaginations of all people, and with his infinite qualities of head and heart he has proved to be a source of refuge to all alike.

18. Full of virtues, and revered by all, this great sage endowed with an exemplary patience and divine intuition is always worshipped by his countless devotees. He is also very reserved in his movements and always cares for the welfare of others.

19. Because of his pure and guileless heart and knowledge of Brahman with his mind and intellect always established in his own essential nature, he is worshipped even by people of high rank and position.

20. He is a great devotee of Lord Siva and, possessed of a broad and magnanimous heart, is particularly interested in the eradication of all evils and in the welfare of all beings.

21. As a redeemer of the afflicted he always followed the path laid down in the scriptures, and as an ocean of mercy he gave refuge to one and all.

22. He is free from ego, is possessed of equal vision and is always contented; he is all-knowing, worshipped by all and also the embodiment of all virtue and prosperity.

23. He, shining with a pure intellect, is well-versed in literature and music, and is constantly established in a meditative mood, with a thorough grasp of the essential teachings of the Vedas.

24. Endowed with a spotlessly pure heart, and keen in distributing his publications, he commanded respect and regard from all people who found in him all the fine qualities of a great soul.

25. Always caring for the welfare of his devotees, he did everything possible for alleviating their distresses by separating the good from the bad with proper discrimination.

26. Being possessed of a Sattvic mind and being a great devotee of Lord Siva he incessantly took great interest in destroying the sins of all persons.

27. He is the protector of the down-trodden and the bestower of mental peace and happiness to the afflicted; he is compassionate to all creatures, being an ocean of compassion himself.

28. With a knowledge of past, present and future and with a pure heart he directs everyone in a novel way to the path of welfare.

29. He is fearless, charming and beautiful and is endowed with all the qualities of a perfect human being who is established in Truth.

30. A great sage of divine vision, he is the support of all, who has got a magnanimous outlook and whose counsels and advices help people not to fall in vicious circles.

31. His qualities of head and heart have no parallel in anybody else and he is much devoted in doing Japa and is interested in the service of the sick and the afflicted and gives proper guidance, and he is also keen in preventing people who tread the path of danger.

32. With a face shining like a blossomed lotus he endears himself to one and all and his deep knowledge of the scriptures qualified him in attenuating the sins of others.

33. He has got the knack to engage people in sweet conversation and like a wish-yielding tree to satisfy their desires. He is always concentrated in the meditation of Brahman and is deeply devoted to Lord Siva.

34. With his austere penance he is shining like the rising sun and he is very eager to work for the welfare of humanity and to relieve the afflicted from their miseries.

35. As an ascetic of a very high order, possessing attractive features, he is an adept in all the arts, and with his unparalleled broad-heartedness and humility he gives real joy to his devotees.

36. A man of strong resolve, pure heart and supreme divine qualities, he has succeeded in eradicating all worldly desires. He is always active and is a source of refuge to mankind.

37. His antecedents in life are of a wonderful nature and his spotless character with a capacity to serve the poor and the needy and to relieve them of their worldly pains added to his honour in society.

38. With a spotless character and pure intelligence he expresses his qualities and being self-controlled he is cut off from the worldly bondages and gave a helping hand to those who took resort in him.

39. Being interested in human welfare he destroys all their sins, peculiar to this iron age, and with his incomparable qualities of head and heart he gives inexpressible joy to all mankind.

40. Devoid of all desires and possessed of a sharp intellect he is above public criticism and shines at all times without any mental uneasiness and is free from physical ailments, giving proper guidance to all people without any fear of being involved in danger.

41. With a view to work for the welfare of mankind he has written a commentary on Bhagavad Gita with interpretations appropriate to the modern outlook in human life, as a result of which he has risen in very high estimation of good and intelligent people.

42. As an all-knowing personality he has earned a universal name and with a proper control of his senses and desirelessness to the sense-objects he is a fountain of happiness and bliss.

43. His undisputed name and fame betoken his pure and spotless character, free from all sins and without any delusion, and with unquestionable determination he keeps himself engaged in the investigation of the ultimate Truth.

44. Always established in the Supreme Being and free from attachment, he is keen in doing virtuous deeds and with his good intentions he is a leader amongst great men.

45. He is a-storehouse of supreme joy, is interested in doing selfless service to others, and with a compassionate and loving heart he directs mankind in the discharge of their obligations.

46. Having a firm belief in Providence and with shining features which added to his greatness he has attained all Yogic powers leading to inexhaustible material and spiritual wealth.

47. With a seasoned mind, magnanimous outlook and increased spiritual wealth he has a renouncing spirit in him which is capable of fulfilling all his desires and destroying the veil of birth and death.

48. Pure at heart and shining like the rising sun, he uplifts the down-trodden, creates joy and happiness in the minds of those who move around him.

49. As the visible God on earth he shines with the supreme knowledge of the ancient scriptures and with sweet and loving words evoking the praise of one and all.

50. His flowing compassion towards the afflicted and sinless character give infinite joy to his devotees and relieve them from the meshes of worldly bondages.

51. Endowed with pure intelligence and inestimable greatness, he gives abiding peace and happiness to his disciples and is always established in deep meditation on Para Brahman.

52. As a perfect and steady-minded teacher of the Vedas and Shastras, he is praised by the wise and learned and has a fund of good and virtuous actions to his credit.

53. His beaming countenance, serene mind and controlled senses entitle him to be listed as a learned man of the Shastras and coupled with his good qualities he is removing the delusion of the ignorant people.

54. Even kings and barons are found to be his disciples because of his wide knowledge and compassion to all creatures. He is also a great devotee of Lord Siva.

55. He has a thorough grasp of Vedantic teachings and is capable of destroying the miseries of the afflicted. As a great mystic he is well-versed in Mantras and Tantras.

56. His innumerable qualities of head and heart and wide knowledge coupled with his Yogic attainments lead him to infinite Bliss and equanimity of outlook.

57. Established in the eternal Truth with a pure and serene mind, he commands lasting name and fame from his admirers and goads them to the path of virtue free from danger.

58. Moving in proper environments and devoted to the service of the Lord he is particular in administering the laws of Manu to the worldly-minded who derive immeasurable joy therefrom.

59. With fascinating features he gives solace and succour to the depressed and dejected and his status as a man of knowledge and wisdom has brought him immense honour and glory.

60. In respect of the internal purity of mind, fulfilment of desires, sublime thoughts, magnanimity and pure intelligence, he may be compared to Lord Buddha.

61. Being gifted with all human perfections and incomparable splendour, he shines with a beaming face free from all diseases as an embodiment of mercy and love.

62. With a magnanimous outlook, full of joy, he is worshipped by all as the chosen representative of the Lord on earth as well as an exponent of the Vedanta Philosophy.

63. Having a thorough grasp of the essence of the Vedas, he is highly esteemed by the learned people. His knowledge and pleasing ways can fulfil all desires welling up in human minds.

64. With a sharp intellect and knowledge of the ultimate Truth, he is always serene, straightforward in his dealings, well-versed in the art of dance and commands the regard and respect of literary public.

65. In respect of his knowledge in the essence of Vedanta and divine effulgence, he is equal to Lord Siva Himself who with infinite mercy flowing from His pure heart, protects the whole universe.

66. Meditation, helping the virtuous, equal vision, exemplary patience, a well-balanced mind and unceasing effort for the establishment of world-peace, are some of his important characteristics.

67. As a destroyer of poverty and bestower of prosperity, he is a great devotee of Lord Siva and is honoured by the wise and the learned.

68. He is an embodiment of integrity and modesty and has a full knowledge of all scriptures. His divine powers, born of his deep devotion to the Lord, is capable of destroying all worldly diseases.

69. With a regulated and disciplined life and extraordinary intelligence and power of giving supreme joy, he is highly qualified in teaching the Vedanta philosophy.

70. Free from all miseries and afflictions, he maintains purity and firmness of mind untainted by any sort of disease. His incessant flow of words in the shape of advices and instructions are quite pleasing to hear.

71. As a liberated soul he possesses charming features, spotless mind, sharp intellect and all traits leading to prosperity, and is always free from desires and attachments.

72. He is noted for his sense of justice, exposition of Vedic ideas and memory power. His wonderful organising ability, power of destroying fear and instilling joy, have brought splendour and fame to his personality which is worthy of being worshipped.

73. He is a great soul with magnanimous outlook and is endowed with the aroma of the sun. He lives in prosperous environments in the Himalayan regions.

74. As an ascetic of austere penance and with a face beaming with joy, established in deep meditation on Lord Krishna, he dispels the afflictions of the worldly-minded.

75. With his deep knowledge in the ancient scriptures, he reconciles all the contradictions in the exposition of the Ultimate Truth, as the result of which he is honoured and respected by the wise and learned people, particularly with regard to his equal vision and purity of outlook.

76. The power of understanding and discrimination, sublime mind and desirelessness, constitute his integral personality, constantly showering the nectar of wise counsels, leading to final emancipation from the wheel of birth and death.

77. He is so great, so merciful and so much devoted to religious discipline that he is always worshipped even by highly-placed people as an embodiment of virtues.

78. With his inexhaustible cultural wealth, free from all worldly desires and attachments, he is always served by humble disciples who derive a fountain of joy from him.

79. His spirit of renunciation and inexhaustible spiritual wealth go to make up the perfect Yogi in him whose deep knowledge in Yogic scriptures and power of expression qualify him as a physical and psychical doctor.

80. Devoted to Lord Siva’s worship, he has dedicated himself to the dissemination of spiritual knowledge, leading to material and spiritual progress, because of which he is praised by good people.

81. Having the power of reading others’ minds, he is quick to understand the feelings of others and does everything in his power to alleviate their distress which brings about immense fame as a protector and joy-giver of his devotees.

82. As the foremost of the Sannyasins marching towards the human ideal of perfection he is praised by all for his gentle habits, sinless character and guileless mind.

83. His teachings are illustrative of his high ideals and nobility which coupled with the grace of Lord Siva he is capable of destroying the miseries of the afflicted.

84 As a great sage of this age and worshipped by countless people, he possesses perfect beatitude of the mind which is powerful enough to lift the ignorant plunged in the ocean of Samsara.

85. With a strong determination and devoid of all delusions, he investigates into the reality of the ultimate Truth and at the same time keeps himself engaged in sweet talks and in meditation of the Supreme Being.

86. Adored by all people and endowed with divine qualities expressive of greatness, he is a source of happiness to mankind as a whole.

87. His greatness and magnanimous outlook coupled with his divine qualities lift those who are plunged in delusion and sorrow.

88. His shining beauty born of attractive physical features and his devotion to Lord Siva are the special praiseworthy qualities in him.

89. His lotus-like face resembling the rising sun sheds its lustre all around and brings inestimable fame to his name.

90. His deep insight in Sanatana Dharma and devotion to his scruples always keep him engaged in virtuous actions eliciting praise from the learned.

91. His simple life on the banks of the Ganga, his equal vision and desire to bestow peace and happiness on all creatures, single him out as a great benefactor of humanity.

92. His sharp and steady intellect, serene mind, glowing lustre and capacity to control people have made him very famous.

93. He is respected by the whole world as one who is the protector interested in the welfare of mankind. He is very much devoted to Lord Vishnu and well-versed in the Sastras.

94. His vast knowledge, infinite mercy, blissful heart and constant meditation on God are responsible for the highest regard and respect that he wields over the ascetic world.

95. With a fund of virtue to his credit and magnanimous outlook, true devotion and a face shining like the full moon, express his pure heart and far-sighted vision.

96. As the chosen son of Mother Earth endowed with remarkable qualities and splendour like that of the rising sun he bestows all prosperity on his devotees.

97. His purified mind and a face encircled by the aura of ascetic splendour betoken his supreme enlightenment as well as his devotion to the service of mankind.

98. Well-established in Self-knowledge and eager to serve the poor and needy he is accepted as the greatest living sage of the world with a thorough knowledge of the ancient scriptures.

99. Having attractive features, admiring wisdom, and excellent qualities and devotion to the Lord he is born of a respectable family.

100. As the Founder of the Divine Life Society, showering his nectar-like advices, he is a great sage who has dedicated his life for the welfare of mankind.

101. Free from pride and full of Sattvic qualities he is of a worshipful nature with a pure and unagitated mind. His fearless nature and helping tendency instil confidence and love in others.

102. Unbewildered and pleasing he is devoid of ego and agitation of the mind. His divine splendour coupled with his impressive words give joy to all who come in contact with him.

103. Well-versed in Yoga philosophy and an authority in giving directions on Yoga practice he has attained a very high progress expressive of his Yogic powers.

104. Devoted to the cause of human welfare and endowed with divine vision he always gives good counsels and shelter to the needy indicative of his keen interest in world-peace.

105. Completely detached from the sense-objects and with a contented and illumined mind and moon-like face he has been accepted as an expert in the interpretation of the scriptures.

106. With an unshakable frame of mind established in the contemplation of Lord Siva and faultless words he has very high ideals capable of saving people from wicked actions.

107. Seated in Siddhasana he is a leader amongst the highly evolved Yogins rich in experience and knowledge, who has achieved all his desires in life.

108. Well-versed in the science of Yoga he works for the welfare and fulfilment of desires of all to such an extent that he is worshipped by mankind as a whole.

109. As the king of ascetics he has earned a very good name as one who has a strong memory-power, knowledge of the scriptures, high and shining intellect and he is honoured as a great philanthropist.

110. His sweet and clear expressions are expressive of good speaker free from mental agitations eliciting name and fame. His divine effulgence and prosperous features are highly praiseworthy.

111. As a great Yogi of immense fame, perfect in his features he has transcended the sphere of Mayaic influence with inestimable prowess.

112. His motives are not easily understood but still he has attained such a great name as the dispeller of miseries, full of divine wisdom and wise words.

113. Being the seat of all good qualities and endowed with a deep insight in arts he destroys all impediments in a praiseworthy manner and is possessing a guileless character expressive of his lotus-like face.

114. Full of splendour born of his deep meditation he deserves all adorations and is being praised as the greatest ascetic of the world endowed with all qualities.

115. Honoured and respected by the wise people he is always attended upon by a group of devotees, anxious to carry out his instructions. The sweet words which constantly flow from his mouth are capable of giving health and happiness to the sick and afflicted.

116. Shining with the youthful energy and beauty he is accepted as the Jagat Guru of a faultless character giving proper directions leading to the path of liberation.

117. In respect of his intelligence, knowledge in philosophy, free from all doubts and as the destroyer of all obstacles in human life he has attained a very high degree of wisdom.

118. As the world preceptor of deep insight gifted with integrity and modesty he is well-informed of all Sastras and is considered to be the gem of the Lord’s devotees.

119. As the doctor of the soul established in meditation on the Lord he has dedicated himself for the welfare of humanity and relieving them from their miseries and afflictions.

120. Established in perfect awareness with shining features he is full of mercy, contented and worshipped by all for his infallible teachings.

121. Modest in outlook with a knowledge of the past, present and future he is like Buddha and as a great sage he is assisted by his chosen disciples in his mission of service to mankind.

122. Always working for the welfare of the whole universe he is worshipped by all as one possessing knowledge of all sciences and having his resort in the Lord.

123. Free from sensual desires and as a source of refuge to the afflicted he recommends Japa as an effective means for their salvation.

124. Treading the path of Dharma and with a humble and pure heart he is much regarded for his scholarly attainments by the intellectuals.

125. As an embodiment of virtues, shining as the sole witness of all actions he ceaselessly strives for eternal peace by giving infallible advices to the aspirants in their march towards the realisation of the ultimate Truth.

126. Free from sin and shining with splendour, with his fund of divine knowledge and devotion to duty as ordained in the Srutis he works for the added prosperity of mankind.

127. One constantly established in the meditation of the Lord free from all desires, his only concern is to work for the happiness of the whole world befitting his position as the world-preceptor.

128. Endowed with remarkable qualities, always caring for the joy and happiness of others, he possesses a serene mind deeply established in the contemplation of the Almighty Lord.

129. As a divine sage of world-fame and greatness and devoted to the Lord he redeems mankind from their sins and miseries.

130. Completely detached from the world as a result of his knowledge of the scriptures, he constantly establishes himself in meditation and his power to relieve the afflicted of their miseries, charitable disposition and merciful heart endear him to the people at large.

131. The splendour born of his austerities, strong resolve, steady intellect, grasping mind and controlled anger add beauty to the flow of his wise words.

132. His fine character, sharp intellect, controlled senses, high ideals and absolute desirelessness enshrine him in the lustre of the sun’s rays.

133. The power of his sweet words is so enchanting that he is honoured by the world at large as a great sage of strong mental powers free from all doubts and fears.

134. His face encircled by the aura of divine knowledge expressive of supreme wisdom and extraordinary splendour of the body entitle him to be adored by the whole world.

135. His attractive features, compassionate heart, moonlike face and a mind full of cosmic love are expressive of his guileless heart.

136. As a sage of remarkable esteem established in the meditation of ‘Omkar’ he gives bliss and joy to those who take refuge in his lotus-feet.

137. With a shining and enchanting physical frame and a consciousness established in justice, he gives satisfaction and supplies the needs of the needy bespeaking his deep knowledge in the scriptural injunctions.

138. Having inexhaustible resources at his command and fine antecedents in life and his knowledge suggestive of his manifest intelligence have led to his being worshipped by the learned people.

139. His hospitality to guests without any discrimination of caste and creed betokens his fearlessness and courage as the torch-bearer of divine life and a great sage.

140. Endowed with all good qualities, free from afflictions, with fearless and compassionate heart coupled with his moon-like face he serves the poor and needy.

141. Having controlled Maya and with a contemplative mind he has attained knowledge of all sciences and has to his credit a considerable amount of good actions so much so he is regarded as a great sage amongst the members of the monastic order.

142. As one whose qualities of head and heart are constantly sung by different classes of people he is a great preceptor of supreme knowledge full of mercy and always endeavouring for the welfare and prosperity of mankind.

143. Always in a meditative mood and possessed of exemplary qualities he is worshipped as a great sage of charitable disposition wishing the welfare of humanity at large as well as an adept in the field of music.

144. With an analytic intelligence and pure mind he speaks measuredly and in an idealistic way expressive of his kindness as well as his detachment from worldly ties and bondages.

145. Revered by Sadhu community, free from lust, anger and other modifications of the mind he has a perfect control of the senses and is always working for the welfare of mankind fulfilling all his desires according to time and circumstances.

146. Endowed with a shining complexion he possesses fine intelligence and deep-rooted devotion to the Lord always speaking sweet and enchanting words.

147. Every limb of his body is attractive and he is free from anger and other vicious tendencies of the mind. He is like unto fire in destroying sins and very much interested in relieving the distress of others.

148. As uplifter of distress and a great devotee of Lord Siva he directs people to the righteous path; at the same time he is worshipped as one of pure and guileless heart.

149. Himself desirous of annihilating all miseries he protects the helpless and is always engaged in doing Japa of Lord Vishnu.

150. Established in meditation on the Lord and devoted to His worship he works for the welfare and prosperity of the entire mankind, bringing name and fame to his credit.

151. True to his position as a great sage constantly giving enlightenment to the deluded and ignorant people he redeems them from the meshes of Samsara through his valuable and instructive writings.

152. His words are so sweet and pleasing that they are capable of destroying the miseries of the afflicted. His knowledge also is of a very high order which removes all feelings of misery and unhappiness.

153. His adaptability to time and circumstances with his mind constantly established in meditation leads him to a state of Jeevanmukti and to a position as the torch-bearer of divine knowledge.

154. His devotion to Truth and discriminative power are expressive of his incomparable status as God-incarnate working for the welfare of mankind.

155. He removes all obstacles in lifting the down-trodden through his simple and effective words based on the teachings of the Vedas thus elevating himself in the eyes of the pious people.

156. Born of a respectable family he has inherited an inexhaustible wealth of culture which amply manifests in his words and utterings with such wisdom and purity expressing those qualities in abundance.

157. With attractive features and having a thorough grasp of the different scriptures he not only possesses a high degree of efficiency in composing books but also the power of influencing those who come in contact with him.

158. Pregnant with high ideals and purified in heart he is the destroyer of sins like a sickle cutting the grass and redeemer of ignorance like fire consuming the trees of the forest.

159. With his divine outlook in life he incessantly works for the welfare of the world, bestows happiness and devotion on the people and relieves them from their grief.

160. As the Founder-President for the Divine Life Society he leads the ascetic world with his extraordinary divine qualities instilling a spirit of welfare-building knowledge in mankind.

161. Involved in different activities he commands high respect from all sorts of people as one of miraculous powers and praiseworthy qualities.

162. As President of the Divine Life Society his thoughts and actions are highly commendable and his novel way of expounding the scriptural teachings has elicited popular response in the literary field.

163. With his deep knowledge in the science of Yoga philosophy and expressive power he is also a qualified doctor.

164. Having dedicated himself for the welfare of humanity and with his scholarship in spiritual knowledge, one can find in him a shrewd and intelligent teacher.

165. With an unfathomable heart filled with joy and friendly attitude towards all, his lotus-face shines with divine lustre.

166. With a smiling face he expresses his love towards his disciples and coupled with his shining features he gives suitable directions to mankind to desist from wicked actions.

167. As a sage of incomparable lustre, established in justice he has dedicated himself in instilling fearlessness in mankind through his teachings of Vedanta philosophy.

168. With his power to read others’ thoughts and constantly established in the investigation of the ultimate Truth through meditation, he shares his experience with others without any reservation.

169. Shining like the rising sun with eyes expressing his compassionate heart he gives protection to all those who take refuge in him.

170. Being endowed with pure intellect born of direct knowledge and a desire to probe deep into the absolute Reality he engages himself in contemplation of the Lord.

171. With his perfect knowledge in the scriptures he has crossed the ocean of Samsara cutting all his ties and bondages thereof which has brought real fame to his name.

172. His adamantine faith in the Smritis coupled with his dedication in the service of the afflicted and knowledge in the art of music and dance are some of his noteworthy attainments in life.

173. Donning the ochre-robe with a face shining like the moon as well as his profound knowledge in various languages express his sinless character.

174. His spotless character and attractive features raise him to the status of a great sage who incessantly works for the welfare and prosperity of others.

175. With an intense desire for liberation from worldly ties he entered the fourth order (Sannyasa) and with an impartial outlook he is administering the knowledge of absolute Bliss to one and all.

176. His name has already captured the hearts of his countless devotees who have been relieved of their miseries and taken nearer to the abode of immortality.

177. With a charming appearance, pure heart and supreme intelligence he works with eagerness for the welfare of mankind and fulfilment of its desires.

178. His devotion to the Lord and detachment to the worldly objects are responsible for his position as a great sage who expresses his sublime ideas through sweet and charming words.

179. The expositions of the ultimate Truth by him who is devoid of all sins and with a serene mind, leave no vestige of doubt in the minds of his disciples.

180. His broad intelligence, steady mind, devotion to Truth and pure and sinless acts instil wonder and admiration in others.

181. His shining face is indicative of his unshakable frame of mind, established in contemplation of the Lord and sharp intelligence untainted by worldly desires.

182. As a world-preceptor constantly enjoying the infinite Bliss leading to identity with Supreme Brahman he is like the beautiful wish-yielding tree of divine origin.

183. With a devotion to God and resplendent physical frame, high ideals and desirelessness he may even be compared to God Himself.

184. Having studied all branches of scriptures he has acquired both spiritual and material prosperity, a sublime mind capable of bestowing welfare and knowledge of the Supreme on sincere aspirants.

185. His powerful words, guileless heart, incomparable good qualities and attractive and praiseworthy features have endeared him to mankind.

186. Admired by the whole world and established in constant meditation on the triple aspect (Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara) of the Lord he ameliorates the miseries of the afflicted.

187. Born of respectable Brahmin parents, illumined by the knowledge of Brahman and constantly absorbed in meditation, he is an expert teacher of the Supreme Knowledge.

188. Endowed with modesty, studiousness in work, adorable qualities and shining lustre he has dedicated himself in relieving the distressed of their afflictions.

189 to 194. Endowed with a broad forehead indicative of high ideals, bright and piercing eyes filled with compassion towards devotees, aquiline nose, transparent cheeks shining like mirrors, ruddy lips, brilliant pearl-white teeth, a beatific face illuminated with smiles, neck comparable in aesthetic structure to a conch, broad shoulders, long hands and conical fingers, stomach bearing resemblance to a fig leaf, lotus feet similar to the strong pillars on which the afflicted take their refuge, and with a mind filled with various divine thoughts to bring about the welfare of whole humanity, and ever-engaged in dispelling all kinds of miseries of everyone, in protecting all devotees, this Sivananda is from the crown of the head to the toe of the foot, indeed, very sweet and splendid, and bestows upon the whole world the gifts of auspiciousness.


1. They that desire all auspiciousness and wish to derive spiritual benefit, would do well to recite and chant these thousand Names of Sivananda Yogindra, composed with power and beauty by Jnanananda.

2. There is no doubt of this that they who repeat these thousand names, with their hearts filled with devotion, will surely find all their desires fulfilled too soon.

3. With sincere devotion, wherever these thousand names are uttered, there all persons grow sinless forthwith.

4. They will be able to cross the ocean of Samsara, who, with a purity of heart, recite these glorious Names of Sivananda, both in the morning and in the evening.

5. On repetition of this Sahasranama, wealth they get, they that desire wealth; a son they get, they who desire progeny, spiritual liberation they acquire, they who aspire after Moksha; and all forms of prosperity is granted to them, who desire prosperity.


“Have you seen God, Swamiji?”
Asked an American philosopher, Dr. Thompson.
“I see nothing but God,”
Replied Swami Sivananda.
“In the food I take,
In the water I drink,
In the people I greet,
In the animals I meet,
And in you Dr. Thompson,
I see nothing but God.”





1. Service has elevated me. Service has purified me.

2. I ever keep myself fully occupied.

3. I never leave a work until it is finished.

4. I never procrastinate any work.

5. I serve all.

6. I pray and do Kirtan for the peace of the whole world, for the health and peace of sick people and for the peace of the departed souls and the earthbound spirits also.

7. I serve the poor.

8. I shampoo the legs of sick people and Sadhus.

9. I attend on guests very carefully.

10. I stick to my promises.

11. I give very prompt reply to all my letters.

12. I please all through sincere selfless service.

13. I extract work through kindness, service, respect and love.

14. I obey.

15. I am humble and simple.

16. I am frank and straightforward.

17. I am bold and cheerful.

18. I can bear insult and injury.

19. I talk a little. I think much. I meditate much. I try to do much and serve much.


20. I love all.

21. I respect all elders and Sadhus.

22. I respect all saints and prophets of all religions. I respect all religions, all cults and all faiths and creeds.

23. I am ever happy and joyful: I make others happy and joyful.

24. I always speak sweetly.

25. I am perfectly tolerant and catholic.

26. I am merciful and sympathetic.

27. I am child-like in my Swabhava (nature).

28. I am forgiving.

29. I am free from vindictive nature.

30. I return good for evil. I serve the man who has injured me, with joy.


31. I rejoice in giving. I always give.

32. I have spontaneous and unrestrained generosity.

33. I take immense delight in feeding the poor and my students.

34. I try to be mother to my students.

35. I do a lot of charity.

36. I do not keep anything.


37. I ever served my masters with great sincerity and intense faith and devotion.

38. I wandered without food in my Parivrajaka (wandering) life. I slept on the roadside at night without clothing during winter. I ate dried bread with water.

39. I developed many virtues.

40. I stick tenaciously to my principles and ideals.

41. I fast on Ekadasi. I do not take salt on Sunday.

42. I practise Ahimsa, Satyam and Brahmacharya, (non-injury, truth and continence).

43. I look within always, introspect, analyse and examine.

44. I am very regular in doing Asans and exercises. I do Pranayama also, regularly.

45. I lead a well regulated life.

46. I lead a simple life.

47. I respect all. I do salutations to all first.

48. I do not argue much. I live in silence.

49. I study sacred books.


50. I perform worship of Atma at all times: I work for the good of others.

51. “Aham Brahma Asmi; Sivoham: Soham; Sat-Chit-Ananda Swarupoham.” This is my favourite formula for Vedantic meditation.

52. I constantly meditate on the following:

“Prajnanam Brahma, Aham Brahmasmi, Tat Twam Asi, Ayam Atma Brahma; Satyam Jnanam Anantam Brahma; Santam Sivam Adwaitam; Aham Atma Gudakesa; Aham Atma Nirakarah Sarvavyapi Swabhavatah; Brahma Satyam Jagan-Mithya, Jeevo Brahmaiva Na Aparah; Akarta Abhokta Asanga Sakshi; Ajo Nityah Sasvatoyam Purano; Jyotishampi Tat Jyotih.”

53. I never go to hill-stations or sea-side for a holiday. Change of work gives rest. Meditation gives abundant rest.

54. My joy is inexpressible. My treasure is immeasurable. I attained this through Sannyasa, renunciation, untiring selfless service, Japa, Kirtan and meditation.


55. I talk to others on things that I have myself practised.

56. I practise and advocate the Yoga of Synthesis.

57. I am not at all a dry lip-Vedantin. I am a practical Vedantin.

58. I mix with all. I become one with all.

59. I see the Lord in all.

60. I do mental prostration to asses, dogs, trees, bricks, stones and all creatures.

Extracted from the inimitable autobiography of Sri Gurudev ‘SIVANANDA GITA’ this self-revealed code of Sivananda-ethics gives you the essence of all the scriptures of the world.


Advent on earth
Embraced Sannyasa
The Year of Enlightenment
Occupied the present Ashram site
Established the Charitable Dispensary
Founded The Divine Life Trust Society
“The Divine Life” Magazine commenced
The Sivananda Publication League established
The Divine Life Society registered
Bhajan Hall opened
Akhanda (non-stop) Kirtan of Maha-Mantra
commenced in Bhajan Hall
Visvanath Mandir consecrated
The Sivananda Ayurvedic Pharmacy established
All-World Religions’ Federation constituted
All-World Sadhus’ Federation constituted
Birthday Diamond Jubilee celebrated
Sannyas Silver Jubilee celebrated
The Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy established
The Sivananda Art Studio opened
D.L.S. Pearl Jubilee celebrated
All-India & Ceylon Tour commenced
Dispensary upgraded as General Hospital
S.P.L. Pearl Jubilee celebrated
Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy Press established
World-Parliament of Religions held
Sivananda Regalia opened
The Sivananda Eye Hospital established
Birthday Platinum Jubilee celebrated
The Sivananda Mandir consecrated
The Sivananda Pillar consecrated
The Sivananda Literature Institute established
The Sivananda Literature Dissemination Committee
Entered Mahasamadhi

April, 1950
April, 1951



(Rudyard Kipling)

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting, too;
If you can wait and not be tired of waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream and not make dreams your master.
If you can think and not make thought your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools,
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and never sin
To serve your turn long after they have gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the will which says to them. ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue.
Or, walk with Kings, nor lose the common touch
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you.
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything in it
And—what is more—You’ll be a Man, my son!


Lay bare the truth. Truth will always shine. I lead a simple and natural life. I take immense delight in service. Service has elevated me. Service has purified me. This body is meant for service. I live to make everyone happy and cheerful.—Swami Sivananda, in a letter to Swami Paramananda

If Rudyard Kipling were alive today, he would be happy to find one who had lived up to every word of his famous poem, “IF.” Sri Gurudev’s illustrious life is an illustration of the greatest ideal that man has conceived of: the superman, or divine being.

If Gurudev had done nothing in life but delivered his message of cosmic love (expressed through ‘spontaneous, overwhelming generosity,’ to use his own favourite expression) and also the gospel of positivism, his name would go down in human history as the greatest benefactor of humanity in the twentieth century.


The world has not seen another person who has literally rejoiced to give; to give his all, give himself, give unasked. Posterity might well call him ‘Give-ananda,’ instead of Sivananda. There is not a thing that he would not give, without the least thought.

This doctrine of voluntary sharing of possessions might well solve the economic and political problems that constantly foment wars between nations and factions between men and groups of men all over the world. The evils of capitalism might thus be removed without losing the advantages of private enterprise. Public and private generosity might do away with government’s impersonal ‘services’ to society, which are often inadequate and ineffective. This message is the need of the hour. There is no doubt that the change of heart that would result, would itself prove a great blessing to mankind. They who accept this principle of spontaneous, overwhelming generosity are they that have been touched by God, Who is love.

If Love walked on earth in human garb, it could not have excelled Gurudev in this self-giving compassion. Gurudev’s life is but a song of love, a love that knew no limitations, a love that had no thought for self, but constantly (and in practice) wished the welfare of everyone. One of the greatest moments of my stay at Gurudev’s feet was a day in 1954, when Gurudev’s physical frame had grown dangerously weak from typhoid. Literally hanging on his stick he looked out of the window for his Darshan of Mother Ganga. Jal Mataji was sitting outside. The great heart was unaffected by the illness; in whispering tones, which alone were possible for him then, Gurudev said: “She is sitting in the sun; and it is not good for her. Please ask her to go to her room.” The attendant had to run outside to do this before the incarnate Love could be persuaded to rest. Everyone who has met him can add many similar instances of his supreme, self-forgetful concern for the welfare of his ‘neighbours,’ which is the trigger that powers his giving hand.

And, what is more significant, Gurudev has given the lie to those people who believe that charity on an indiscriminate basis, can only invite poverty. His answer (which he has demonstrated by building up an institution in lightning-quick time) is that, on the contrary, giving is the secret of abundance. It is giving with mental reservations that brings on disaster in its trail and that is what the insincerity deserved! Gurudev’s large-heartedness is highly infectious. Misers have had their lives transformed by Gurudev’s persistent charity towards them, unmindful of consequences. Here Gurudev shows the unwisdom of the calculative brain!


The second great contribution that Gurudev’s personal example has made to the welfare of Man is his gospel of positivism. He is all positive: and he wants us to follow him. His eventful and fruitful life has amply revealed that the intelligent diversion and proper channelisation of the physical, mental, moral, psychic and spiritual energies of man can make his achievement possibilities limitless. With an unearthly sparkle in his eyes, he would address us: ‘I entered the Holy Order of Sannyasa in middle age, after I had spent all my energies in Malaya. With a body that houses a number of chronic ailments, living on alms, I have been able to do so much work. What cannot you, whom the Lord’s Grace has brought to this divine life so early in life, with such a fund of energy, achieve? Always concentrate on the positive service that lies in front of you.’ This is the secret behind Gurudev’s own intense dynamism; and part of the force that has contributed to his phenomenal achievements.

What a colossal loss of energy results from man’s waste of moments, in useless thoughts, negative emotions, aimless speech, and destructive action, it is heart-rending to reflect over. Thought is power: every word is power; every act is expenditure of power. A society which condemns the wastage of man-power and money looks on with acquiescence, and often admiration, at this unpardonable waste of the greatest gifts of God (time and the vital energy in man) universally practised. Those who have been near Gurudev for a single day and watched him speak and act, know what life really means and is meant for. The widespread acceptance of this doctrine is the surest way to promote human weal.

A positive, constructive mind will think only of the good of all: such thought-vibrations themselves are humanity’s Peace Fortress which will effectively prevent any thoughts of war. It loves all. It constantly endeavours to find the good in everything and to utilise that good for the good of all. It turns the blind eye upon the evil inherent in human nature: and this is most predominant in Sri Gurudev. He understands everybody: and what to us looks evil is part of nature in his eyes. Surprisingly, Gurudev would come out with a bright idea for converting even that trait into a benefit. He has thus shown that evil exists only in the evil-seer’s sight. He is divine: he is incarnate divinity. To God, all are His children and the weaker ones are the parents’ pets!


The worst problem that faces Man, especially the seeker after Truth and the spiritual teacher or reformer, is that of Evil. What is Gurudev’s attitude? It is the natural offspring of his supremely compassionate heart and vision of oneness. On one occasion when it was brought to his notice that the Society (and, therefore, he) had been cheated, he calmly remarked: ‘Feel that through that man only you are benefited; then you will not feel the loss.’ After Lord Siva Himself no one has so readily allowed himself to be ‘pleased’ so easily, even to the point of being cheated! Gurudev identifies himself with the soul of the evil-doer, and insists that that man, too, must be enabled to evolve, and he appreciates that even his evil-doing was part of that process. The reformation is an extremely delicate process! Gurudev knows that other people will straight-away condemn the evil-doer. Therefore, just like the supremely compassionate Lord Siva, Gurudev ‘swallows the poison’ himself, and takes upon himself the onerous duty (often at very great expense to himself and his mission) of bringing about the transformation of ‘this growing soul’. He insisted on keeping in the Ashram a young man who sold away Ashram property for his own (mis)use, and was capable of only violent behaviour. Gurudev said: “I must serve him and reform him. Let him be here, the outside world will have one bad character less.” To Gurudev evil does not exist. All are growing; and his compassionate heart in which the Light of Cosmic Consciousness shines cannot throw anyone out of it!

There is something divine in his choice of the instruments to carry on his mission. Many, including Srimati Rukmini Devi (the celebrated Bharata Natyam exponent), have wondered how he could surround himself with such talented young men. We know that we were not chosen for our talents: anyone could have come and grown as talented. That is Gurudev’s magic. To him that ‘all knowledge is latent in all, awaiting unfoldment’ is not just theory. He has proved it. But, it needs a divinity to prove it. Who else could have such limitless patience to bear with the failings of each disciple, a thousand and one times?

Even Kipling would have been astounded at the limitlessness of Gurudev’s love. I do not want to say forgiveness: for forgiveness recognises that evil or harm has been done, whereas Gurudev does not. When his own disciples whom he has trained with such infinite patience, desert him, or when they speak ill of him, he has no thought to waste on even this evil; he prays that God’s grace might illumine their path and instantly switches his attention on to the constructive work on hand! He is ready to repeat this process ad infinitum. None but God Himself can do that. In his heart everyone has a place: his loving arms welcome all to come into the warmth and spiritual security of his embrace: his body, mind and soul, his life, light and love are there for everybody to share! He has no parallel at any time or place.


Hard working nature and intense application to the work on hand, he has perhaps inherited from his forefathers. It is said that when the revenue officials demanded it, his grandfather had a house built in a day! Gurudev’s love of scriptures and his ardent love for the quest of the Self, are the fulfilments of the ‘family aspirations’, as it were. Appayya Dikshitar, a great scholar and sage, and the equally learned Nilakantha Dikshitar are among Gurudev’s forefathers. Sundara Swamigal, a man of great renunciation and great Vedantin, was another ancestor of Gurudev. Their names, no doubt, inspired him. But he has far outdistanced them in the spiritual race.

The divine qualities that are enshrined in Sri Gurudev were, most of them, inborn, and, some of them, deliberately cultivated. Gurudev is an entirely self-made person. He has, even in the spiritual field, kept his eyes and ears open, watched and learnt his lessons from the school of real life, even as Lord Dattatreya had done before him. No one could influence him in the least. For instance, in Swarg Ashram, there were a great Hatha Yogi, a renowned Sanskrit scholar, and a Mauni-Vairagi, as his neighbours: and Gurudev found that they commanded the reverence and adoration of the masses. But, his path was different, and his mission was different. No one could persuade him to enter the mansion of fame through the back-door. He served all: and served these Mahatmas, too, for selfless service was his mission. All the three mentioned, later came to have the greatest reverence for Gurudev.


Free India’s Planning Minister Sri G.L. Nanda says: ‘When a history of the great religious teachers of this ancient land is compiled, Swami Sivananda’s name would appear at the top.’ Why do even renowned saints have great admiration and reverence for Gurudev? Firstly, because Gurudev himself reveres and literally worships all saints. (Did not Lord Krishna do so?) No wonder that he who devoutly folds his palms and bows to even a babe he meets on the road should treat saints with the veneration due to divinities. The unostentatious humility of this world-figure astounds the great ones who, in their turn, feel that Gurudev represents the acme of saintliness and towers above them all in achieved perfection clothed in artless courtesy. Secondly, Gurudev has no creed of his own: but he is the crystal (the Cosmic Consciousness) that at once reflects the object that approaches it. Every saint is thus made to feel in Gurudev’s presence, a remarkable oneness of spirit, in which he loses himself. This universality of outlook is the greatest distinguishing mark in this God-man who demonstrates in every one of his everyday actions that he is the Self of all. All religions are paths leading to Him: all creeds have originated in Him: all activities proceed from Him and have Him as their goal. He, the greatest among the religious leaders, is ‘at the top’ because he works in the plane of Brahmic Consciousness. He is the greatest because he is the humblest. He is the supreme master because he serves all!


Gurudev has attained to that state by a most wonderful conquest: the conquest of the heart. The whole world has been drawn to him by the power of his cosmic love, and mankind worships him today and he is accepted today as the greatest among saints because he liberates those who surrender to him, liberates them from the miseries of Samsara, liberates them from the crushing enemies of oneself, viz., selfishness, lust, anger, greed and egotism, liberates them from the wheel of birth and death. This divine being has a divine Wisdom Discus—the Divine Life (Gurudev himself sums up “Divine Life” in these few words: Serve, Love, Give, Purify, Meditate, Realise. Be good; do good; be kind; be compassionate. Enquire “Who am I?”, know the Self and be free.)—which he wields in order to save his devotees from the formidable foe, materialism. Therefore, even saints adore him: he is a tower of strength to them.

The heart is not won by magic or by the display of supernatural powers. Gurudev has never ‘openly’ performed any miracles, though devotees have experienced the miracle of his grace. But, that is not the mission. He has come to lead us on the path of divine life, not to inspire awe in us for his divine personality. Therefore, he moves in society, as one of us. If he stands apart from the rest of humanity, it is only in the great human qualities that he wants every human being to develop. Take for instance, service of guests. Even they whose job is to attend on guests can learn lessons from him. In June, 1949, the Dowager Maharani of Mysore, with a big party, stayed at the Ashram. The way Gurudev himself ran about attending to the minutest details of the arrangements made to make the guests’ stay at the Ashram comfortable, is an eye-opener to all. The following few lines which I copy from my ‘day-to-day’ records are highly eloquent. “Gurudev, in spite of the fact that the entire Ashram with its band of selfless workers is ever at his disposal, chose to attend on the Maharani himself. Fetching them water; bringing them coffee and light tiffin for breakfast; arranging to supply water to the Kutir in which they were lodged; supervising the sweeping of the verandah of the Kutir…. And, Gurudev is an adept at finding out a person’s need even before it is expressed. He noticed that the Mysore Maharani wished to bathe in the Ganga. One or two other persons (including a senior official of the Tehri State) were near the Ghat. Siva at once went up to them and asked them to go away; and Her Highness had her bath. While she was engaged in her Japa on Ganga-bank, Siva arranged for her breakfast, for her clothes to be dried properly, etc…. There is a peculiarity about him. As one thing is being done, his mind will leap forward to a dozen succeeding things and he will begin attending to them, too! Her Highness felt a little embarrassed in the beginning. This great sage to serve us like this! But, the spontaneous attitude of familiarity that Siva assumes towards one and all soon dispels this embarrassment….. ‘I am your own son,’ said he to the Maharani!” In everything, he sets us an example, by his own conduct. He has shown us that it is through such selfless service and humility we should win the hearts of all.


Here is another divine trait in this lovable God on earth. Humility! Not artificial, feigned or pretentious, but genuine, sincere and artless. Visitors to the Ashram have been embarrassed by it. ‘It was always a race: who ran faster and touched the other’s feet—Swamiji or we,’ said Dr. Het Ram. During the All-India Tour, Gurudev sent a thrill of ecstasy in our hearts when he prostrated himself at the feet Of the Dharmapuram Mahasannidhanam. It was part of his nature, but a part which Gurudev consciously nourished. We were dumbfounded with profound admiration and gratitude when, during the same Tour, he demonstrated that even this artless humility was the greatest spiritual treasure worth vigilant guarding. In Delhi, Gurudev was the guest of a noble devotee who regarded it as the greatest blessing of God to play the host to the Lord. On the day of departure, Gurudev left the house to visit some devotees, lecture at some places and leave for Rishikesh: but, had him quickly brought back to the host’s house. With folded palms and plaintive tone, he apologised for not taking proper leave of the hostess! She was stunned by Gurudev’s humility: and, as we boarded the car again, Gurudev remarked: ‘I think from somewhere the Mahatma-Abhiman was trying to enter me! We have to be ever vigilant!’ The expression on his face was one that we can expect on the face of one who has seen the devil! What humility and what vigilance!

But, this is not born of weakness: Gurudev’s meekness is born of extraordinary spiritual strength coupled with the perception of God in all. We had evidence of it on another occasion. A renowned ‘Mahatma’ (!) threatened to defame Gurudev, for speaking out the truth! The sage who humbly bowed to a young devotee, refused to bend to such a threat, with the result that the black-mailer had to abandon his trick. Gurudev bows to all, touches the feet of all, because he sees God in all. He is very fond of this Namaskara Sadhana.


Hearts are not won by Gurudev for the purpose of accumulating material wealth, nor for the purpose of adding feathers to his cap! Firstly, it is the inevitable consequence of the expression of his very inborn nature, which is to love all and to serve all—(I have endeavoured to show in this volume that these divine qualities were born with him, and they grew with him!). Secondly, the hearts thus won by Gurudev were immediately offered to God, or, in them God was enshrined: for, that is his mission.

God—His Grace, His Will, His Mercy—sustains creation. When people, succumbing to the overwhelming power of nescience, forget Him and His Law, He comes: in order to turn man’s gaze towards Himself. Sri Gurudev has effectively proved by his glorious life and illuminating teachings that when man’s gaze is directed towards the world, his heart generates the undivine current of egoism, desire, hatred, jealousy and the like; and that when the gaze of the same man is turned towards God, from him flows the current of love, harmony, peace, selfless service—in short, divinity.

Gurudev’s mission has been just this: turning man’s gaze towards God, opening out a window in his consciousness through which he would perceive God immanent in all creation, though transcendent too. In his Ashram, Gurudev has received legislators, students, doctors, musicians, members of various socio-spiritual organisations, men, women and children, belonging to various religions. The most remarkable trait in him has been that he has uniformly encouraged everyone in the pursuit of one’s own avocation. BUT he has quietly infused God in his consciousness and, consequently, love in one’s heart, discrimination in one’s head, and selflessness in one’s hand. What a miracle is wrought by this! The entire personality of the man is divinised.

The Ashram is the laboratory where Gurudev conducts experiments in such life-transformation. It is a miniature world; and into the resident-Sadhak’s daily life is compressed the experience of a life-time. Visitors are drilled into divine life, which is divinising the entire life. Everyone’s talents are brought out; everyone’s services are utilised—everyone is taught how one can divinise all activities. Visiting doctors conduct intensive medical relief camps. Visiting men-of-letters share their wisdom with the students of the Ashram (the Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy.) Creature comforts and unforeseen austerities alternate each other. Ceaselessly engaged in the service of God-in-man, Gurudev demonstrates daily how one can ever remain in blissful communion with the Lord. Remoulding man in the image of God is Gurudev’s Mission.

Everything in the Ashram, including his own body and mind, are instruments for the fulfilment of this mission. Said he on the 27th March, 1950, explaining it to Dr. Kailas Nath (the young doctor who conducted the first Eye Camp at the Ashram): ‘People think that a Sannyasi should not have this or use that! But I have no such notion. Service is the thing. Work, work, work for the welfare of humanity. Keep the instruments—body and mind—in a fit and healthy condition for the work. I am a different Sannyasi. I like to serve. People imagine that a Sannyasi should always be grave and be seated in a meditative posture, and thus give the impression to people that he is a Jivanmukta. But, I am of a different type. Work should be your meditation. That is my method.’

On the 13th February, 1950, while talking to some of his disciples, Gurudev said that (in his own unparalleled achievements of quarter of a century) he had only ‘sown the seed.’ ‘It must grow,’ he said: ‘If you are all really and seriously interested in the work, you can work wonders. There is a magazine of power within you. If you apply your entire mind, heart and soul to the work, you can, each one of you, turn out ten peoples’ work. Look at the Britishers! A handful of them were ruling India for several hundred years. They had conquered the whole world, nearly; and were able to declare ‘The sun never sets over the British Empire’. How did they achieve this? Through work, discipline, order. They were industrious, hard working and intelligent. They had unity among their ranks and great application. Through ceaseless application these handful of Englishmen were able to change the face of the earth! See, even today people take a great pride in speaking their language—English (Another interesting trait in Gurudev. He knew his mission even when he was a wandering monk; he knew his message would spread throughout the world, that he would be a world teacher. Therefore, he stuck to the world language, English. Once a revered Mahatma volunteered to teach him Hindi: Gurudev’s sweet disposition would not allow him to refuse the offer—but the next morning, he left the place without telling the Mahatma! He was the only Swami who was allowed by the public to speak in English; Swarupanandaji used to translate the speeches into Hindi.). Every kind of work is noble and divine. There is no menial work for me. Don’t think I am only for sitting on an arm-chair. I am very fond of doing service that would repel others. I will be the first man to carry a patient’s bed-pan on my own head. I can approach a poor beggar or leper and serve him. I can at the same time distribute magazine copies and leaflets to the Prime Minister. Premier and beggar are alike to me. I never feel shy to distribute free literature. I do not feel shy to do any kind of work. That is the surest means to cleanse the heart and make it fit to receive Divine Light. Indeed, everyone of you is an asset to the Mission. You will all grow into dynamic centres of spiritual knowledge; you must be centres of order and discipline. What is God? God is harmony, peace, order and discipline. You must install this God in your heart. Then you will shine as great Yogins and Divine Lights. Systematic and scientific living is Divine Life. If you, each one of you, lead the Divine Life, there is no limit to the work you can turn out.’


(Sivananda Yoga (or the Yoga of Synthesis) has been dealt with in great detail (with all the details of Gurudev’s own Sadhana, service, philosophy and teachings) in my book “Sivananda’s Integral Yoga”. The theme of the present volume, however, is a complete and comprehensive biography and only a glimpse of Sivananda yoga is given here.)

This should not, however, be taken to mean that Gurudev advocates only service. His Gospel is the Yoga of Synthesis which is beautifully propounded in the simple little ‘Song of A Little’ which, by the way, captured the imagination of everybody who heard it all over India during his Tour. It is this:

Eat a little, drink a little, talk a little, sleep a little.
Mix a little, move a little, work a little, rest a little.

Do Asan a little, Pranayam a little,
Meditate a little, do Vichar a little.
Do Japa a little, do Kirtan a little,
Write Mantra a little, reflect a little.

Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare;
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare.

A little of everything makes for integral development of the entire personality of man. This is Gurudev’s unique gospel. It also avoids the monotony in Sadhana which acts as a stumbling block on the path of the seeker. Gurudev asks the aspirant to choose the Yoga best suited to his temperament and, keeping it as the main Sadhana, add a bit of other spiritual practices, too! This is the Sivananda Yoga which takes the aspirant easily, quickly and safely to the goal of life, viz., Self-realisation.


Gurudev has never entered the political field. He has ‘seen’ that man is the fundamental factor that goes into the make up of the different phases of life on earth. Society is made up of individuals. Nations are governed by individuals. Commerce is controlled by individuals. Scientific inventions and philosophical doctrines proceed from the intelligence of individuals. Therefore, he has directed his attention to the moulding of the individuals. Man is his target: the human heart is his field of activity. He has, therefore, constantly and relentlessly bombarded it with the shafts of his love, in order that it may receive the light of divine life. Hence, too, his insistent demand that the entire life of man must be spiritualised by a change of heart. This has earned for him the unqualified admiration of the greatest among the political leaders of India.

‘The Power of the Divine should descend into us and work through us. It can be generated only in places like this,’ said the President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, on the historic occasion of his visit to the Sivanandashram on the 13th October, 1954. In the words of the last Governor-General of India, Sri C. Rajagopalachariar, what strikes them as the greatest feature in Gurudev is that he ‘is interpreting the teachings of the ancient Rishis of our land, reinforcing them by the example of his own life.’ Gurudev’s mission has struck a noble chord in the hearts of our national leaders. They recognise, in the words of Sri C.M. Trivedi, Governor of Andhra, that ‘We live today in a materialistic world, in which there is not a true synthesis of the real values of life. This spreading of spiritual knowledge (which Gurudev is doing) is one of the surest keys to a good life and real happiness.’ Governor Sri R.R. Diwakar has beautifully summed up Gurudev’s message and said: ‘I think that the one lesson which the life of Sri Swami Sivananda teaches us is ‘spirituality in action’. And, that is the need of the hour; that is the demand of the times, and if one may say so, the hunger of the human heart throughout the world.’ No wonder, then that Sri Thirumal Rao, Governor of Vindhya Pradesh, felt ‘that our revered Swamiji is one of the great rare souls who have been vouchsafed to us by Providence to accomplish a mission—the mission of restoring harmony and mutual regard, not only among various communities, but I think among various nations that inhabit the world.’

While dealing with Gurudev’s mission, in the book Sivananda’s Lectures—All-India Tour I have detailed why Gurudev should be regarded as an incarnation of God. Restoration of Dharma is God’s own mission. That is the sole mission of Sri Gurudev, too. Many among the leaders of the nation have recognised this fact. His Highness the Rajapramukh of Mysore said, during his visit to the Ashram that Gurudev is the ‘embodiment of Bhagavan in the Vyakta form.’ Sri P.S. Kumaraswami Raja, Governor of Orissa, asserts ‘He is divine light in human form, a fountain of spiritual power, saint of saints, doctor of doctors, people’s preceptor.’ He adds: ‘Swamiji has done more than any single individual of our times for the resuscitation of the nation’s faith in its ancient Dharma.’


History is made, not in the palaces of kings, not in the fields of battle nor over conference tables. History is truly made in the hearts of sages, the men of wisdom, the men-of-God, whose divine thought-radiations go round the world and effect a great change in the heart of Man. The result is not immediately apparent: it is not intended to be, either, for the purpose is evolution of humanity and not revolution.

Gurudev’s place in the history of the world is that of a Buddha or a Jesus. Historians will regard him as not only the greatest among modern religious leaders but also as an incarnate Divine Power that was able to work a miracle in the Heart of Man. Buddha Himself was a king; so, his religion soon earned royal patronage. Lord Jesus and His immediate followers won mass adherence to His religion by spectacular martyrdom. Eventually, Christianity, too, ascended the thrones of Europe.

The twentieth century is an era of democracy. Gurudev’s religion has to appeal to the heart of every individual, not merely to a king, in order to spread far and wide. To achieve this Sri Gurudev has ‘gone out’ to each individual in the form of a book, a pamphlet, a leaflet, a Gramophone record or a photograph, and won him over to Divine Life. Moreover, the twentieth century is an age of science, and people would not subscribe to a doctrine just because someone gave up his life for it—they have to be convinced that it is the Truth, that it is useful and that it is practicable. In numerous ways Sri Gurudev has demonstrated that his doctrine of Divine Life is all these and much more. He has presented the Truth in various ways—in the form of essays, short pithy sayings, stories, plays, parables, poems and songs—and he has demonstrated the doctrine in his own life; his loving hands have reached out to all the peoples of the world and to all classes of mankind, with the Message of Divine Life, and he has established a dynamic institution to preserve and perpetuate the religion of Sivananda (the religion of Love, the religion of the Heart, the universal religion of cosmic love and selfless service as the means to God-realisation). In this perfected Mission, he excels even the Prophets, for, in his own life-time, within a short span of quarter of a century, Gurudev has achieved what it took the earlier Prophets and their followers several centuries! It is this superhuman factor that ranks Gurudev, in the devout mind of a seeker after Truth, with great Incarnations of the Lord Himself, like Rama, Krishna.

In this volume I have brought together the many interesting anecdotes about the boyhood of Gurudev narrated by those who knew him and his parents. What I have failed to convey, however, is the tearful devotion with which these holy events were related by the (mostly) aged men and women who, though they realised that young Kuppuswami was different from other children, could not earn the merit of having discerned his divinity then. We see, that most of the divine qualities that have distinguished the Saint Sivananda, later were latent in him even in boyhood. The dynamism, the tenderness of heart, and the extraordinary power of bearing any hardship (This divine virtue is so natural to him that he is himself unaware of it! From early boyhood, Gurudev has cheerfully received all insult and injury, so much so that he is completely unaware that he has ever been wronged at all. The authorities of the Ashram have sometimes reminded him that someone (who might be his own disciple) had behaved unbecomingly towards him: but, Gurudev would vigorously deny it recounting that Person’s services to him!), were all there even in his boyhood. He had both brain and brawn!

I have traced his life in Malaya, where it was quite obvious (according to eye-witness accounts of those who were closely associated with him there) that he had been cut but for a spiritual life. His dynamism was intensified, his heart expanded further, and his wisdom deepened in Malaya. I was extremely fortunate to have had accounts of his life in Malaya from Gurudev himself, though the main source of my information was the personal experience of Sri Narasimha Iyer (who was Gurudev’s cook in Malaya and who, later rejoined the Master, was initiated into the Holy Order of Sannyasa, and who attained Samadhi recently). Gurudev’s renunciation of the world was not an accident, or an impulsive act, but the inevitable culmination of intense and irresistible surge of Divine Compassion in the saintly doctor’s heart from which all limitations and individuality had been banished. Gurudev’s life in Malaya, even the few ‘leaves’ that have come down to us, is an Ideal for householders to place before themselves.

From my book Sivananda’s Integral Yoga I have borrowed a few anecdotes: quoting in extenso would have demanded more space than this volume could afford. I had a lot of inspiring unpublished material, too. Here, I have confined myself to giving a mere factual picture of Gurudev’s austere life in the 20’s. Even this is arresting and inspiring enough if an earnest seeker after Truth utilises it as a blue-print for a life of intense Sadhana.

Then I have dealt with his life as an Enlightened Sage, bubbling with the Bliss of Self-realisation, with an eagerness to share that joy with all, ALL without any distinction whatsoever, whether people were themselves eager or not! Into the dynamic fountain of Kuppuswami had been poured the nectar of Divine Light, and it was overflowing all over, bathing all, saint and sinner, prince and peasant, with the waters of Immortality (The mixed metaphor may please be overlooked!).

Over a hundred biographies have been published, detailing Gurudev’s qualities, his life-transforming mission and his life-saving grace. I have endeavoured not to steal the tributes they pay to the divine life and personality of Gurudev. On the contrary, my endeavour in this volume has been to gather ‘raw material’ from all possible sources and present them together in one volume, for the great devotees and disciples of Gurudev to dwell upon in their meditation, and incorporate in their tributes to him. No tribute to his life can ever be adequate: even a mere catalogue of his achievements is awe-inspiring enough!

I offer in devout worship this humble flower at the lotus-feet of the Lord, the Antaryamin, the ruler of the heart, who enlightens the intellect and reveals the truth, the real author and the Hero herein portrayed.

Sri Sivanandarpanamastu


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