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The Ultimate Journey
For the most part, the photographs in The Ultimate Journey, gathered from Sivananda Ashram’s archive and also from devotees both in India and abroad, are previously unpublished. Hundreds of photographs have been viewed with the specific idea of matching them with the text, which describes the different practices of yoga and the levels of attainment that result from these practices.
Conversely, specific texts were chosen to accompany photographs which appear to best capture Swamiji Maharaj in a certain situation, setting, or mood which best illustrate the sadhana in which he is engaged.
A special series of photographs appears in this book on pages 106, 107, 110, 111, 112, 113 and 115. It was arranged with Swamiji’s permission and the pictures were taken on the roof terrace of Guru Nivas, Sivananda Ashram headquarters, on the banks of the Holy Ganga, near Rishikesh.
It was requested of Swamiji that he enter into deep meditation and ascend into higher and higher states of consciousness, beginning with Samadhi, into Samyama, Turiya and finally Sahaja Avastha. Swamiji agreed that he would remain in each state for approximately two minutes, before he would ascend to the next.
Photographs were taken continuously during this time and the results are a truly precious visual document of a Yogi in the highest state of divine consciousness. Later, Swamiji himself chose which photograph corresponded to each state. For the state of Turiya he selected a photo taken at a different time of his life.
For the individual soul, making the journey back to the One Supreme Universal Being, the all-pervading consciousness, is the purpose of life here on this earth.
Seers and sages from ancient times, right up to this modern era, have not only declared this truth to mankind, but have lived their lives as examples of how this journey can be made.
The exemplary life of one such a yogi of contemporary times, is Sri Swami Chidananda Saraswati, who has traveled the world for more than four decades, bringing light and inspiration into the lives of thousands of seekers, in the form of his Holy Master Sri Swami Sivananda’s teachings of Divine Life.
This book, The Ultimate Journey presents the teachings and requirements that result from these practices, accompanied by photographs of Swamiji, from his youthful days up to the present.
As Swami Chidananda is verily an embodiment of these teachings, the visual images in this book, capture the essence of a life lived in and for God. Each snapshot glimpse of his life, is a window through which we can see a simple monk, a devoted disciple, a compassionate saint, a realized sage. All the different aspects and practices of spiritual life are portrayed and explained–prayer, service, devotion to God and Guru, discipline, dispassion and discrimination, culminating in deep meditation and final liberation, from the endless repetitive existence of samsara.
For one who has determined to travel this path, The Ultimate Journey is both a map and a compass. The way is shown by Swami Chidananda, the luminous lamp of wisdom.