This article is from the book Swami Sivananda: Saint, Sage and Godman.
Swami Sivananda’s preachings are all backed by his personal experience of practical Sadhana of the past twenty-five years of ascetic life.
–Sri Dwarka Nath Jhingan.
His teachings are not based on mere academic knowledge or study of ancient and modern philosophies and religions, but have been carefully devised after personal practice of many years and intimate knowledge. They can easily be comprehended and translated into practice by any sincere aspirant.
–Sri D.C. Desai.
Gurudev used to write addressing young aspirants:
You must be very correct, very punctual, very regular. You should discipline yourself rigidly. Otherwise, you cannot attain the highest, the Realisation. It is not an easy task. Happy-go-lucky type easy temperament is no good in spiritual pursuits. Have you noticed how correct, how strict, how disciplined are the soldiers in the army? They have to stand in the parade according to the unit or battalion they belong to. They have to be absolutely spick and span. They do polishing of the shoes and brass by themselves. Even if a single button is dull, the inspecting officer spots the soldier and puts him into quarter-guard, and he will have to do fettling duty. They are always fighting fit, trim and clean, neat and tidy, because they have been drilled into this sort of correctness, precision and training. When an ordinary soldier is required to be so disciplined, so correct, so punctual, so regular, then what to say about you, O aspirant! A spiritual aspirant has to be even ten times more strict, regular, punctual, correct, well-disciplined. A soldier fights to win a battle, whereas an aspirant has to win the kingdom of heaven, win Kaivalya Moksha. Therefore, never give leniency to your mind.
When Gurudev said that, there was hundred per cent impact on the hearer. After hearing Gurudev, one could no longer remain what he was till then. Why? Because when Gurudev gave any instruction, one could clearly see he gave it with the firm conviction of his own practice. In fact, whatever Gurudev has said about Sadhana is based on his own experience only. He advised to the Sadhakas and disciples only such Sadhana which he himself had practised for such a long time that it had become his daily routine, his second nature. So it carried conviction, it carried a force behind it. The hearer immediately felt in his heart, ‘Here is someone who is saying what he himself has gone through; he is not giving us some theoretical or bookish knowledge; he is giving a part of his own life, his own self.’
That was the power behind Gurudev’s words. In spite of this fact, he seldom gave such straight, direct talk, rarely, very rarely, once in a while only. Gurudev used to say:
If anyone who is living in Sivananda Ashram complains of lack of guidance, he must be a lazy person, he has no interest in his own welfare. I have given everything necessary for a Sadhaka in my 300 books. If a Sadhaka is seriously interested in his own good, he should go through these books and he will have no more any doubts. He will never have any hesitation in proceeding with his Sadhana. Everything necessary for a spiritual aspirant is given in these books. Study them. If you have got any doubts after a sincere study, do come to me and ask.
He was indeed hundred per cent right. If anyone with real interest takes the pains to go through the hard labour Gurudev has put into his writings, then there will be an absolutely clear path ahead of him. For every question, for every doubt, there is an answer in his books. He was indeed,a man of practical wisdom.