This article is a chapter from the book “Sivananda–The Perfect Master”. Siva–The Sevak
Sri Swami Narayanananda
Siva always addresses everybody as Maharaj-ji. He uses “Aaap” (you–with respect) for everybody irrespective of age, even for scavengers also. He never uses the word “Tum” for anyone, even to a boy of 3 years. He says that this is a great help for developing equal vision, cosmic love and Narayana Bhav and destroying Ghrina or contempt towards inferiors and other sorts of people.
He put Sadhu Leik, an European Sannyasi, in a charpai (cot), carried him on his head and admitted him in the Punjabi Sindh Kshettar Hospital in Rishikesh. He carried a Sannyasini on his back in Lucknow hospital. He takes great delight in service of this nature. He derives immense joy and happiness from such services.
He serves sick Sannyasins, Sadhus and poor people in the neighbourhood with intense faith and attention. He tends to their bodily wants and medicine. He gives them money. He sends milk, sago Conjee and Kitchadi. Whenever doctors come and stay in his Ashram he sends them with a batch of Sevaks to serve the poor and sick with milk with their own hands.
Whenever anybody comes to him with perspiration by walking in the hot sun, he at once fans him, offers him a seat and gives refreshing drink and food. This is Pooja and meditation for him. He feels that he is serving God while doing such services.
Whenever he hears that some of his students of Nivritti Marga are not keeping good health, he at once remits money and sends almonds, raisins, Chyavanprash, Silajit, etc., without their asking for these.
Whenever anybody is seriously ailing he sleeps by his side at night and attends to him very carefully. He keeps a vigilant watch over him. He will not hesitate to spend any amount on his behalf for his speedy recovery. If a certain thing is very necessary for the patient and if it is not available in the local market he will get it from Lahore or Calcutta or Madras at any cost through wire or special messenger. Costly Mosumbees, glucose, valuable special medicines will be at the table within a short space of time.
He may be called an extravagant Swami by a fault-finding, crooked, petty-minded Thomas or John. He may say “He is a Sannyasin. He does not know the value of money. He never earns. When he has to earn by the hard sweat of his labour then only he will know the worth of money. He is not at all economical. He wastes the money of others.” But a sensible man will not dare use such words. Such a thought can never enter his mind even in dream. He will say: “Siva tries his level best to save a man’s life and help his speedy recovery. I admire the noble trait in him. I adore him! I have not seen in my life a man of the type of Siva.”
Some of his students have imbibed the spirit of service. They have become fiery Karma Yogins. No force in the world can stop their urge to serve. The current that is generated in them through constant touch with Siva has become very powerful indeed. They are a blessing to the world at large.
Some of the Sannyasins in Rishikesh laugh at him, because he washes the plates of householders. They mock at him. They vilify him behind his back. They say “Sannyasins duty is hearing, reflection and meditation on the teachings of the Srutis. Siva is not a Sannyasi at all. He does not know anything of Vedanta. He does not know the secrets of Upanishads.” These Sannyasins will shout only at his back. When they stand before him they cannot speak a word. He is an embodiment of Vedanta. He is a practical Vedantin who loves all, who beholds the one Self in all. How can these theoretical, dry-lip Vedantins stand before him, the Vedanta Kesari (the lion of Vedanta)? They are overwhelmed by his love and sense of oneness. He is their doctor when they are ailing. He is their benefactor when they are in want. He is their sincere friend when they are in distress. He loves them. He laughs when he hears that some Sannyasins are censuring him. The same Sannyasins who abuse and speak ill of Siva are served by Siva in a wonderful manner. Siva is a strange wonderful mixture. He is a Karma Yogi. He is a Bhakta. He is a Raja Yogi. He is a Jnani. It is difficult to fathom him. Some take him for a Kirtanist. Some Sannyasins criticise him “He does not know Vedanta. He knows only to play cymbals and karatals and dance. He is a Natchnevala.” Some others say: “He is a Karma Yogin. He is a Sevak. He does a little service. He does not know Upanishads or Brahma Sutras.” Some say: “He is a Raja Yogin.” Some others say: “He is a great Vedantin. It is a mistake if people take him for a Sankirtanist or Ganawala.”
God only knows what he really is. He is made of sterner stuff. It is difficult to understand him properly and thoroughly. He plays like a child, walks like an emperor, talks like a sage, works like a servant, roars like an orator, sings like Narada, nurses like Florence Nightingale, attends like mother, feeds like Annapoorna and explains philosophy like a Maharshi. Move with him closely and take him for what he is really worth. He always says: “I know nothing. I am a humble student. I am a poor Sevak.”
Just listen to what others think of Siva. Barrister Ganga Sahai said: “Siva is a hard master” but Sri D.C. Desai, I.R.S.E., Track Supply Officer, E. I. Railway says: “Siva is more than our mothers.” Thakur Prasad, Judge, Srinagar, Kashmir says: “I have not seen anybody doing such marvellous Kirtan in these days. Another Gauranga or Chaitanya has come now.” Pundit Binduji Sarma, the famous Kathavachak of Brindavan says: “Siva is undoubtedly Kirtan Samrat.” Yogi Harry Dickman of Riga says: “There is no practical Yogi who at the present moment gives practical lessons on Yoga and trains them in the path of Raja Yoga like Siva.” Vedantic students say: “We have not seen upto this time books like “Practice of Vedanta,” “Ten Upanishads,” “Vedanta in Daily Life” and “Lectures on Yoga and Vedanta.” Everything is practical, lucid and forcible. Our eyes have been opened. The whole world is under a great debt of gratitude to Siva. He has done greater service to the world than Swami Rama Tirtha and Swami Vivekananda.” Those who have heard his lectures at Rawalpindi, Calcutta, Lahore, Lucknow and other places say: “Siva excels even Swami Rama Tirtha and Swami Vivekananda in his lectures.” The people of Calcutta have expressed: “We have not seen a preacher like Siva. His thundering lectures have electrified us.” Mr. Avasthi of Lucknow, writes to his friend, an advocate in Monghyr: “Wherever Siva goes on a propaganda tour, he comes like a ‘storm’.” The Maharaja Sahib of Sitamau expresses: “Siva’s lecture is more powerful than his writings. I am impressed more by his lecture than by his writings.”
A judge writes: “Siva has done greater work than Swami Vivekananda and Swami Rama Tirtha without going to America or the continent. He has influenced the whole world by remaining in a small room on the banks of the Ganga through his powerful pen. He has established branches of the Divine Life Society even in the West and America, Africa, Burma, Ceylon and other places.”
Without money, without proper support from the public, without workers, without a proper place to live, without proper food, he has turned out so much stupendous work. This is a marvel indeed!
He removes the leaves after Sadhus have finished their meals when there are several people to do this work. He shampoos the feet of sick persons and aged people. He fans the people when they are taking food in a Bhandara. He washes the clothes of sick persons. He carries a pot of water on his shoulders and keeps it in the room of sick persons and sweeps the room silently. He carries curd in the tiffin carrier and places it silently in a sick man’s room who is suffering from dysentry. He takes delight in such services and always says and hammers, “This is the highest Yoga that will take one to the highest peak of perfection and the pinnacle of divine glory.”
He feeds ants with sugar, birds with rice, monkeys with gram, fishes with bread. He keeps water in pots for the birds. He says: “This will develop mercy and cosmic love. This will soften the stony heart. This will instil the sense of Oneness or Advaita. No one can hope to attain oneness without doing such services. Mere study of Vedantic books without practice is absolutely useless.”
He prescribes: “Easy Namaskar Sadhana” for the vast majority. He says: “Do Namaskar with Bhav. Do not do it like a drill. Try to see God in all. This Namaskar will help you to feel the divine presence and crush your pride and egoism. Do Namaskar mentally even to ants, asses, dogs, outcastes, stones, trees, river, sky, sun, chairs, tables, pillars, iron posts. Talk to them. The Indweller is there. Sri Narasimha came out of the pillar. This is the easy way to feel: “Vaasudevah Sarvam iti, Sarvam Vishnumayam Jagat.” Do this for some months and mark the change for yourself. You will be a different, changed man, a God man with God vision. Sri Krishna prescribed this for Uddhava when the latter was not able to follow the path of Raja Yoga. Sri Krishna himself saluted the cows, elders, teachers, and guests. He washed the feet of all in the Rajasuya Yajna.”
He never goes to hill stations even when his health is undermined seriously on account of overwork. “Work, work”, “Service, service” is his motto. “Do something grand, useful, unique and sublime before the last breath departs from this body.” This is his watch word. He has no money to spend for Simla and Mussoorie trips. He spends everything in service and publications.
He wants everything to be done promptly, quickly and efficiently. He is like Mr. Churchill in this respect.
There must be a special electrical machine to record his thoughts. Even the most speedy stenographer cannot take down his speeches. If he writes for one hour, there is enough work for twelve persons. The six typewriters cannot cope up with his work. He himself has to write letters to the students and other people. He gives for twelve persons enough work in advance. Even if he does not work for a month his assistants are left with enough work for a month. The old arrears of work are so much accumulated that there is a great demand for workers at all times. His students are also as busy as himself. No lazy man can stay with him. The more the hands are admitted into the Ashram, the more the work increases. The more typewriters are purchased for the sake of the work, the more are needed. It is a great wonder how the work is created by him. His work is many-sided.
He is extremely humourous. He heals diseases through humour. He elevates a sinking man through his humour. He cuts jokes but his jokes are highly educative and instructive. They are not like the clever insults of others.
His mild rebukes correct and educate others.
When time comes and there is a proper occasion, he behaves like Guru Govind Singh. This he exhibited when he was at Swarga Ashram. When his services are required for some reforms and social services he marches fearlessly. At the same time he is gentle, sweet, calm and innocent. That is the beauty in his conduct and character.
Even when he is ailing he works like a hero. He thunders during his lectures, sings to a very high pitch. Nobody knows that he is ailing. If there is continuous diarrhoea, he wears a rubber drawer and speaks on the platform.
What others can do in propaganda in twenty years he has done in a couple of years. He is untiring in service, lecturing and singing. No microphone, no loud speaker is necessary when he speaks. He can address an audience of twenty or fifty thousand. He is a fiery propagandist.
During his propaganda tour as usual he will get up at 3 a.m. He will roar Hari OM and OM and wake up the students and others. He will then start his morning meditation class.
After that he will start for a Prabhat Pheri round the Mohallas and cover 3 or 4 miles. He will take a little rest and train people in Asanas and Pranayama and attend to interviews. Then he will deliver lectures in 2 or 3 places. Then he will start his afternoon lectures and evening classes. At night he will deliver lectures and do Kirtan in 3 or 4 places. He will retire to bed at 2 a.m. He will never refuse any engagement. Anybody can take him to any function. That is the reason why he has done so much propaganda work in so short space of time. This is his key to success and dissemination of knowledge.
Whenever he takes up a work he does not care for the hot sun or heavy rains. He would walk barefooted in the hot sun a long distance. He would march without an umbrella when there is heavy torrent of rains and finish his work, lecture or Sankirtan. This he did during his Bihar tour when he marched from Navinagar to Kutumba and from Meerut to Parikshitgarh.
He always carries a bag of medicine and a bag of free tracts in his hand. The bag is a miniature shop. It will contain knife, scissors, tape, match box, candle, some sweets for children, tablets, powders, letter papers, red pencil and other things, whatever that is necessary for service on the spot. Once he journeyed to Lucknow with the Maharani of Singahi, Srimati Surat Kumari Devi, O.B.E. There was a puncture. The car had to stop. It was quite dark at 10 p.m. Some light was very necessary. At once Siva took his candle, lighted it and gave it to the driver.
Behave like Siva. Serve like him. Pray like him. Write like him. Live like him. Talk like him. Sing like him. You will soon attain eternal bliss, immortality, supreme peace and perennial joy.