Book Code: ES136
Paperback: 72 pages
Book Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.30 inches
Shipping Weight: 220 grams
The unfathomable nature of heartfelt love and devotion seems only to arise through grace; this irresistible attraction is inherent as a wonderfully impersonal quality of that grace.
For Sri Alan Neachell, an artist from the U.K., that attraction was what brought him to Sivananda Ashram in the year 2000. That grace inspired Alanji to dedicate himself to a three-year project to present the life of Gurudev in words and pictures to be displayed in his Samadhi Mandir.
Numerous devotees have been very inspired by these beautiful paintings and lofty words, and many requests have come for the paintings to be reproduced in printed form. This small booklet is a response to this heartfelt desire. It is offered with the loving wish that it be a constant reminder of Swami Sivananda’s extraordinary life and an encouragement to devotees from around the world to follow in Gurudev’s footsteps.
-The Divine Life Society
The Dawning of Gurudev’s Grace and Blessings
Everyone’s heart is ever touched by God, and yet this divine touch is not felt by everyone. For one awakened to this touch, the loving words of a divine being–a Satguru–can be like a fountain of God’s grace in the heart, sprinkling every atom of one’s being with great love. The heart then, like at the meeting point of a river with the ocean, ceaselessly empties itself into the Divine as an eternal offering unto the Beloved. Alan Neachell is an artist from England who has been staying in Rishikesh for an extended period every year for the last twenty years, and he is one among those who have been touched by the divine grace of Gurudev Swami Sivananda. At some crucial point, Alanji felt a strong inner prompting to devote himself to creating a series of paintings that would portray the life, personality, words and teachings of Sri Gurudev.
The motivation and willingness to take on this massive three-year project grew and flourished. Alanji did the preparatory work and eventually prepared a mock-up version of the proposed thirty-five paintings, and they were submitted to H.H. Sri Swami Chidanandaji Maharaj for approval. The enthusiastic support and blessings soon followed. Thus Alanji’s Tapasya commenced, and those three years, from 2000 to 2003, were a period of intense Guru Seva. It was not an easy path for the artist. All alone, patiently and painstakingly from a room in Ishwar Bhavan in the Ashram, Alanji worked each day from 8 am to 6 pm without a lunch break. The devotion to the task alone persisted in his mind–while working throughout the day and while falling asleep at night and getting up again in the morning.
At times, the mind revolted against what might have looked like a foolish decision to take up a seemingly impossible task. But the outpouring of love for Gurudev washed away such all-devouring thoughts from his mind. During those testing times, Swami Vimalanandaji Maharaj visited Alanji every day with words of prayers in heart and sacred Prasad in hands, like a loving mother.
Recognising this all as pure grace, Alanji inwardly grew from strength to strength and became unshakably rooted in his dedication. He once said, “An unfathomable bottomless love and devotion welled up in my heart, totally impersonal in nature, and I recognised it as His Grace alone. It ever remained in my heart, and that was the one who did all these.” In a way the artist became a part of Gurudev’s life by entering into it through deep introspection and meditation. He reflected deeply upon the moments in Gurudev’s life and brought them into being through the wonders of his art. The fruit of that relationship runs like a thread through all the paintings–giving life to colours, poses, expressions, feelings and words.
The ongoing Yajna–the oblations of total one-pointed dedication offered unto the fire of deep love for Gurudev–granted the desired results, which are the astounding works of adoration by the artist, now lovingly displayed on the walls of the Samadhi Mandir at the Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh.
Many, many people have benefitted from and been moved by these beautiful paintings, and over time it became clear that it would be a generous service to allow people the opportunity to be inspired by them over and over again. Hence, this pictorial collection of the paintings has been created so that devotees of Gurudev can have him with them wherever they go–inspiring them through image and word and encouraging them to grow ever closer to Gurudev.
Sri Alanji has very graciously continued to serve Gurudev’s mission over the last twenty years. He made an important artistic contribution to many books brought out in honour of H.H. Swami Chidanandaji Maharaj’s centenary. Alanji has also designed the annual Divine Life Society Calendars as well as many other works for the Divine Life Society. A most humble and simple person, always with a smiling countenance, Sri Alanji through his love and selfless service has no doubt touched the hearts of many.
We pray that the grace and benedictions of God and Worshipful Gurudev Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj may be upon Sri Alanji for many years to come.
The Divine Life Society