Lives of Saints

by Swami Sivananda

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Book Code: ES93
xiv+480 pages
ISBN: 8170520959
Book Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 1.00 inches
Shipping Weight: 480 grams

Table of Contents

Publishers’ Note iii
Prayer v
Introduction vii
Saints of Ancient Times
Maharshi Vyasa 3
Sage Yajnavalkya 6
Yogi Bhusanda 10
Dattatreya 11

Yogi Jaigisavya

Thirumula Nayanar 20

The Prophets

Zoroaster 23
Parsvanatha 29
Buddha 31
Mahavira 44
Confucius 47
Jesus 58
Guru Nanak 63

The Acharyas

Sankara 77
Ramanuja 89
Madhva 95
Vallabha 97
Nimbarka 99
Ramananda 102
Gauranga 104
Saint Arunagiri 117

The Saivite Acharyas of Tamil Nadu

Appar or Thirunavukkarasar 121
Sundaramurti 126
Thiru Jnana Sambandhar 131
Manickavasagar 136

The Alwars or Vaishnava Mystics of South India

Introduction 141
The Three Ancient Alwars 143
Periyalwar 145
Nammalwar 149
Kulasekhara Alwar 153
Thondaradippodi Alwar 157
Thiruppan Alwar 161
Thirumangai Alwar 163
Thirumazhisai Alwar 166
Andal 170
Saint Alavandar 174

Saints of Maharashtra

Samartha Ramdas 181
Namdev 186
Ekanath 195
Tukaram 199
Damaji 208
Chokamela 210
Akalkot Swami 213
Gorakumbar 214
Jnanadev 217

Saints of North India

Goswami Tulsidas 225
Kabir 228
The Saintly King Pipa 237
Narsi Mehta 240
Dadu 243
Akha 245
Milarepa of Tibet 246
Gorakhnath 248
Saint Haridas 250

Saints of South India

Thiruvalluvar 259
Kanak Das 262
Nilakantha Dikshitar 264
Purandara Das 266
Thayumanavar 270
Yogi Mukund Rai 272
Paramahamsa Tailang Swami 273
Pattinathu Pillayar 275
Tyagaraja 279
Nandanar 282
Bhadrachalam Ramdas 284
Vilwamangal 289
Yogi Vemana 293
Jaya Deva 301
Vidyaranya 313
Appayya Dikshitar 318
Sadasiva Brahman 329
Appayyacharya 333
Potana 335

Women Saints

Madalasa 339
Mira Bai 340
Sakubai 346
Muktabai 351
Rabia 353
Avadayakkal 357

Sufi Saints

Jalal-ud-din Rumi 363
Mansoor 365
Shams Tabriez 367
Bulla Shah 368

Christian Mystics

Saint Augustine 373
Saint Francis of Assisi 377
Saint Francis Xavier 379

The Sikh Gurus

Guru Nanak 385
Guru Angad 387
Guru Amardas 392
Guru Ramdas 397
Guru Arjun Singh 399
Guru Har Govind 406
Guru Har Rai 411
Guru Har Kishan 414
Guru Tej Bahadur 415
Guru Govind Singh 419

Saints of Recent Times

Raghavendra Swami 429
Ramalinga Swami 433
Swami Dayananda Saraswati 440
Sundaresa Swami 445
Narayana Guru 448
Ramakrishna Paramahamsa 450
Sri Aurobindo Ghosh 453
Swami Swayamprakasa Brahmendra Saraswati 459
Swami Rama Tirtha 462
Sri Ramana Maharshi 467
Saint Gudidi Baba 472

Publishers’ Note

Swami Sivananda’s “Lives of Saints” was first published in 1941 and reprinted in 1943 and 1944. A companion second volume, under the same title, followed in 1947, the year of the Master’s Diamond Jubilee. It contained life-sketches of many more saints not covered in the original publication.

In the current edition, we have endeavoured to consolidate, not only the stories included in the above two volumes, but also those written by Swami Sivananda in other miscellaneous books. As such, the present publication has verily turned out to be a treasure-trove of inspiring spiritual biography, instructive anecdotes and lofty admonitions of men and women of the highest realisation. For sheer variety and range, this book perhaps has no equal.

Here, two points deserve special mention. Firstly, this book is totally non-sectarian and free from prejudice of any kind. It thus manages with marvellous success to draw out the very best from each subject it touches. Secondly, as these sketches come from the pen of a spiritual personality, they present all the lives in a distinctive spiritual perspective, which a layman writing the same biographies would hardly be able to do. This fact, in itself, enhances the worth and utility of the book a great deal.

We feel privileged to be able to offer this book to the readingpublic. May the light of these saints guide and illumine the path of thereaders. May their blessings shower upon the readers and the whole mankind!

February 19, 1993.


O All-Merciful Lord! Time is fleeting. The senses are revolting. The mind is jumping. Maya is deluding. The three fires are burning. The five afflictions are tormenting. Friends are disturbing. Diseases are troubling. The heat of the summer is scorching. Flies, mosquitoes, bugs and scorpions are teasing. The charms of the world are tempting. I can neither concentrate nor meditate. I cannot do anything in the spiritual path without Thy benign grace. O Lord! Thou art an ocean of mercy. Bless me. If I get a drop from that ocean, will it dry up?

O Adorable Lord! People proclaim that Thou art Deenabandhu, Deenanath, Kripa Nidhan, Karuna Sagar, Anatha Rakshaka. Thou hast saved Ahalya, Draupadi, Prahlad, Dhruva, Gajendra, but in my case, Thou hast not done anything. I am still in pain, agony and darkness. I am crying for Thy grace and help. O absentee landlord of this world! Where hast Thou gone?

O Self-Effulgent Lord! The fish cannot live without water. The sunflower cannot live without the sun. The Pativrata cannot live without her husband. The mind cannot live without Prana. The flame of the lamp cannot burn without oil. So also, I cannot live without Thee. O Lord, come, come, enthrone Thyself in my heart. Thou art the Prana of my Pranas. Thou art the Soul of my soul.

Thou art Light Divine. Thou art Light of Knowledge. Thou art the Dispeller of darkness. Thou art the Supreme Guru. Thou art beyond the reach of mind and speech. Thou art beyond any kind of limitation. Thou art the Over-soul. Thou art the Self of this universe.

Thou art self-luminous. Thou art without parts, without actions, without limbs, without any taint or fault, without birth and death. Thou art our Father, Mother, Brother, Friend, Guru, Relative and sole Refuge. Thou art the embodiment of Peace, Bliss, Knowledge, Power, Strength and Beauty.

O All-Merciful Lord! Through Thy grace, may I realise Truth! May I always entertain sublime thoughts! May I realise myself as the Light Divine! May I serve humanity with Atma Bhav! May I be free from greed, lust, egoism, jealousy and hatred! May I behold the one sweet Immortal Self in all beings! May I realise Brahman with pure understanding!

May that Light of lights ever guide me! May He cleanse my mind of all impurities! May He inspire me! May He bestow on me power, courage and strength! May He remove the veil of the mind! May He remove all obstacles in the spiritual path! May He make my life happy and fruitful! I bow to Thee, O Lord of lords, O God of gods, O Deva of Devas, O Brahman of the Upanishads, the Support for Maya and Isvara!


Who is a saint? He who lives in God or the Eternal, who is free from egoism, likes and dislikes, selfishness, vanity, mine-ness, lust, greed and anger, who is endowed with equal vision, balanced mind, mercy, tolerance, righteousness and cosmic love, and who has divine knowledge, is a saint.

Saints and sages are a blessing to the world at large. They are the custodians of superior divine wisdom, spiritual powers and in exhaustible spiritual wealth. Even kings bow their heads at their lotus feet. King Janaka said to Yajnavalkya, “O venerable sage! I am grateful to your exalted holiness for obtaining the ancient wisdom of the Upanishads through your lofty and sublime instructions. I offer my whole kingdom at thy feet. Further, I am thy servant. I will wait on thee like a servant”.

Such is the magnanimous nature of saints and sages. Their very existence inspires others and goads them to become like them and attain the same state of bliss achieved by them. Had it not been for their existence, there would not have been spiritual uplift and salvation for you all. Their glory is indescribable. Their wisdom is unfathomable. They are deep like the ocean, steady like the Himalayas, pure like the Himalayan snow, effulgent like the sun. One crosses this terrible ocean of Samsara or births and deaths through their grace and Satsang. To be in their company is the highest education. To love them is the highest happiness. To be near them is real education.

The saints wander from village to village and disseminate divine knowledge. They move from door to door and impart wisdom. They take a little for their bare maintenance and give the highest education, culture and enlightenment to the people. Their very life is exemplary. Whether they deliver lectures or not, whether they hold discourses or not, it matters little.

Saints and sages only can become real advisers to the kings, because they are selfless and possess the highest wisdom. They only can improve the morality of the masses. They only can show the way to attain eternal bliss and immortality. Shivaji had Swami Ramdas as his adviser. King Dasaratha had Maharshi Vasishtha as his adviser.

Study the lives of saints; you are inspired at once. Remember their sayings; you are elevated immediately. Walk in their footsteps; you are freed from pain and sorrow. Therefore, the book “Lives of Saints” must be your constant companion. It must be in your pocket always. It must be underneath your pillow.

Do not superimpose defects on the saints on account of your Dosha-drishti or evil eye. You cannot judge their merits. Be humble and sit at their feet. Serve them with your heart and soul, keep them in your garden, clear your doubts. Get instructions and practise them in right earnest. You will certainly be blessed.

Every school, every college, every boarding-house, every jail, every institution, every house, should have a saint for guidance. Saints are in abundance. You do not want them. You do not wish to approach them. You do not wish to serve them. You do not aspire for higher things. You are perfectly satisfied with some broken shells and glass-pieces. There is no thirst or spiritual hunger in you for achieving higher divine knowledge and inner peace.

There is no caste among saints and sages. Do not look to their caste. You will not be benefited. You cannot imbibe their virtues. In higher religion, there is neither caste nor creed. Cobblers, weavers and untouchables had become the best saints. Wisdom and Self-realisation are not the monopoly of Brahmins alone. South Indian Brahmins pay respects and give food only to the Brahmin Dandi-Sannyasins. This is a serious mistake and a grave blunder. What a sad state! That is the reason why saints do not wish to visit South India. Punjab and Gujarat have devotion to all saints. Hence the saints move in those parts and people there derive much spiritual benefit from them.

In placing this book before the public in general, and the aspirants in the spiritual path in particular, it seems proper to write a few lines on the glory of saints. Saints, to whatever clime they may belong, have left their footprints on the sands of time, so that others, who are true and faithful, may follow their track in search of the Eternal Truth. Their lives have ever remained an inspiration to us. Their glory has ever been green in our memory. Their teachings have ever flowed with the tide of life. May they inspire us and guide us for ever!

The present work has been divided into thirteen sections. Saints do not strictly belong to any clime or country and no geographical limits can stop their influence from overflowing the boundaries. They belong to the whole world. Hence, to attach to them any provincial basis is to facilitate the easy understanding of the spiritual current started by each separately and by all conjointly for the spiritual regeneration of the land.

Man feels that he is weak and helpless. He has to counteract such evil tendencies through right exertion and through proper lead. To such persons the lives of saints serve as a guide. They mould their life, their character and their future. They change their mental outlook and convert them to the faith and teachings of their guide. Such true and reliable guides are the saints who have come and gone.

May this world be filled with good saints and sages! May you all attain the supreme goal through their Satsang and advice!! May the blessings of saints and sages be upon you all!!!

Ananda Kutir,
8th January, 1947.


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