This article is a chapter from the book Swami Sivananda, Our Loving Awakener.
Blessed Children of the Lord and devotees of Gurudev Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj!
Salutations and prostrations unto the Most High, the one Reality that dwells in the hearts of all beings. Greetings in Divine Life!
With great pleasure I send you this message for the holy Birthday Anniversary of Sri Gurudev.
Sages and saints of yore have emphatically declared that it is very difficult to get a human birth. Our Gurudev also sang thus: “It is difficult to get a human birth; therefore try your best to realise in this birth.” Human birth is put down as the very rare gift of God, and having got a human birth, if you do not have a hankering to attain that state which will bestow on you eternal bliss and immortality, it means that you do not utilise this human birth to any purpose at all. Therefore, live in such a way that it will bring you perennial bliss. The attainment of this bliss is your birthright.
To live is to fight for this birthright. Life is conquest. Life is a series of awakenings. Become free from the bonds of birth and death by realising your Self. Never forget your Immortal Nature. Thou art Divine!
On this holy occasion I wish to remind you of a few spiritual teachings of Sri Gurudev. These teachings will greatly help you in treading the spiritual path.
O Man! Follow your own religion, but stick to its fundamental spiritual ideals. Draw up a programme for your life, and that shall constitute the preparation for the journey towards Divine Life. You do not live on earth for the sake of talking about the Why, What and How of God and religion, but to lead a virtuous spiritual life with a broad feeling, careful understanding, devotion to Truth and tolerance towards all beings.
Religion must educate and develop the whole man, his heart, head (intellect) and hand. Only then will he have perfection (Siddhi). There must be integral development. One-sided development is not commendable. You must have the head of Sankara, the heart of Buddha and the hands of Janaka. Vedanta without devotion is quite dry. Bhakti without Jnana is feeble. How can one who has realised his oneness with the Atman remain without serving the world, which is only the Atman. Devotion is not divorced from Jnana, but rather Jnana is exceedingly helpful to its perfect attainment.
There is no hope of Immortality by means of riches. Such indeed is the emphatic declaration of the Srutis, ‘Na karmana na prajaya dhanena tyagenaike amritatvamanashuh’ (Neither by rituals, nor by progeny, nor by riches, but by renunciation alone does one attain Immortality). Mere giving up of objects will not constitute real renunciation. Dear friends! Remember, remember this point well. True Tyaga consists in renouncing egoism, mine-ness, selfishness, Moha, Deha-Abhimana, desires and cravings.
Even the greatest of persons will in course of time become the lowest of the low. Countless kings, earls, barons and emperors have come and gone. Where are those distinguished poets, intellectual geniuses, reputed scientists with boasted intellects; where are Shakespeare, Kalidasa, Byron, Newton, Kant, Faraday, Gandhi, Kennedy, Nehru?
In youth you are enveloped in complete ignorance, in adult age you are entangled in the meshes of sex, in old age you groan under the burden of Samsara and debility. You eventually die and pass off from the scene. Being thus always occupied, when will you, my dear friends, find time to devote yourselves to the performance of virtuous deeds, Nishkama Karma, Bhajan, Satsanga, Vichara, Kirtan and meditation?
Why should you try to realise the Atman? Because Self-Realisation gives you freedom from the Samsaric wheel of births and deaths, with its concomitant evils. Hear the emphatic declaration of the Sruti: ‘This Atman (Self) which is free from sorrow, hunger and thirst, with true desires and true resolves–that is what is to be sought after, what one must wish to understand; one who has sought after this Self and understood it, obtains all worlds and all desires’, said Prajapati to Indra.
Hear the forcible utterances of the Chhandogya Upanishad: ‘Yo vai bhuma tat sukham, na alpe sukham asti, Bhumaiva sukham, Bhumat eva vijijnasitavyah’ (The Infinite (the Great) is Bliss. There is no bliss in what is small (finite). The Infinite alone is Bliss. One should therefore wish to understand the Infinite). ‘Kalau Kesava-Kirtanat’–in days of yore, people had Self-Realisation by Tapas, Jnana, Yajna, etc. But in Kali-Yuga, when people lack in bold understanding, when people have not got strong, irresistible will and pure intellect, and when the vast majority of persons do not possess a strong physique to practise various Hatha Yogic Kriyas to awaken the Kundalini, Hari-Kirtan alone will help them in getting salvation easily.
Suka Deva, though a Brahma Jnani, did Sankirtan. Lord Gauranga, a master of logic, an intellectual giant, dedicated his life to preaching Kirtan throughout Bengal. Mira, Tukaram, Pavhari Baba of Punjab, Ram Prasad of Bengal, Rup Kala Bhagavan of Ayodhya, all had Darshan of God through Kirtan and Kirtan alone.
Sankirtan purifies and elevates the mind. Sankirtan destroys Vasanas, old vicious Samskaras, cravings, three kinds of Tapa,–the Adhyatmika, Adhidaivika and Adhibhautika,–three kinds of diseases, and brings the devotee face to face with God. Tukaram, the reputed Maharashtra saint of Deo, was an illiterate Bhakta. He could not even sign his name. His inspiring Abhangas are texts for the M.A. students in the Bombay University. What a great miracle it is! Wherefrom did the unlettered, untutored Tuka derive his knowledge? Tukaram had communion with Lord Krishna through Bhava Samadhi induced by Sankirtan. His inner eye of intuition, Divya Chakshuh, was opened. He tapped the fountain of Knowledge. He penetrated deep into the very source of Knowledge.
Where is God? God is in your heart. He is in you. You are in Him. If you do not find Him there, you will not find Him anywhere else. God is Truth. God is Love. Speak the Truth–Satyam Vada. Love everyone. See God everywhere, in every face, in everything. You will realise Him quickly.
Dear brothers! Plod on. Push on. Live in Truth. Live in the Spirit. Fix the mind on God and give the hands to worldly activities without expectation of fruits and without the idea ‘I am the doer’. Forget not the Source. Forget not the centre. Forget the body. Forget the world. Forget friends, relatives and property. Forget the past. Do not look backwards. March straight to the Goal. A glorious future is awaiting you all. March courageously with Sraddha, Vairagya and taking the sacred Name of the Lord. Merge in Him. Dive deep in Him. Plunge deep into the self-shining Lord, in the chambers of your heart. He is quite close to you.
Lead a life of self-restraint, service, devotion, spirituality and meditation. Speak the truth. Do not injure any living being. Help your neighbour. This is Divine Life. Live this Divine Life! Realise the indwelling Divine Being. God grant you Peace, Bliss and Immortality.
May the Light of lights guide you in the path to the Eternal every moment of your life. May success be yours. May you attain God-realisation in this very birth and put an end to all misery and suffering!
May the choicest blessings of God and Guru be upon you all!
With deepest regards, Prem and Pranams,
Yours in Sri Gurudev.