(By Sri B.S. Mathur, M.A.)
(Principal M.M.H Degree College, Gaziabad.)
This article is from the book Philosophy and Teachings of Swami Sivananda.
Swami Sivananda Maharaj of Rishikesh is a great Sage. He lives in the company of God incessantly. More than that he is a teacher, a world-teacher, keen on elevating mankind. But how does he do all this? He lives in Rishikesh and has disciples all round him. He does not leave Rishikesh and yet he is a treasure house of comfort and instruction to millions of people, all over the world. One might think that he is living far from the world. But that is not true. He is getting nearer and nearer to God so that he might uplift and comfort humanity by his illumination. He is freeing himself to free others; he is delivering himself to deliver others. There is no ignorance about him; instead, he has light and illumination. He is now spreading that light. But how? That question remains to be answered.
Swami Sivanandaji has written so many books; they are all a world of knowledge and experience. They are leading people and they will continue to lead. They are definite things, something precious which generations ill-afford to forget. Then, he is responsible for a number of first rate magazines: “The Divine Life,” “The Forest University Weekly,” and “Wisdom Light.” In all these journals, words of his wisdom, hence words of universal and eternal wisdom, appear ceaselessly. And the purpose is the same to illumine and lead.
This is right education that the Swami is imparting and how delightfully? Just peep into his books and magazines. This peeping is so good that you have a true and lasting glimpse of the reality behind all these appearances, so deceptive and so killing.
Now think of the way. What has he prescribed to achieve all this? Here are his words. Write them in gold; they are for All Time and they are for All.
“Do not be credulous. Do not give your ear to every saying or suggestion, or news or rumour. Weigh them very carefully. Ponder well, cogitate. Then come to a definite conclusion. If anything does not tally with Sruti, Yukti, Shastras, reasoning, and your own experience, reject it ruthlessly, even though it comes from the mouth of Brahma. It agrees with the above, accept it as gospel truth even though it comes from the mouth of a child.”
What is all this that the Swami is talking about? Is he not asking you to possess the outlook of a rationalist? You might, if you don’t think deeply, doubt his religiousness. But that is not the thing. The Swami is a true religious sage. He is not taken up by the show of religion. He has gone deeper; he has pierced through the apparent deception of religion, from religion to reason.
Look at the method. You are not to take anything for granted anything may come down to you as a tradition. Cogitate over it and accept or reject it as your reason allows you to do. Only that is precious which is accepted by your reason. Animals are animals as they have no reason. You have reason to use, and if you don’t, you get down to the level of animals. That you are not prepared to be. That is good. Try your reason and step out of darkness to come to light and greatness. That is the advice. That is the philosophy I get from Swamiji’s life and teachings. That is the philosophy I am trying to practise in life.
The world round us, is full of deceptive suggestions and sayings. Why not scrutinise them? There is misery in the world. You are here to dismiss it. Do so by working under the guidance of thought and reason. Even if things don’t agree with accepted principles and contents of religious literature, you are to reject them. What an advice? What merciless reason? After all, that is reason and we have to follow it.
Here you can think of Swamiji as a scientific thinker keen on truth and experiments for verification. What else a scientist will say than what is said by Swamiji? He is for the glorification of reason and truth. It might come from the mouth of a child. There is God in all of us. There is God residing in the child. God might speak through his mouth. This is common experience. Whenever we do an evil thing, there is a protest from inside. It might be feeble but it is there. That is the Voice of God. Why not listen to it? What is feeble today will assume strength in due course if you are on the right path, following God and His wishes all your life. This feeble voice you have to perfect by your thoughts, dreams and deeds. This we fail to do and thus become endless witnesses of misery and war.
“Turn to the pages of the Great book of Nature and study them carefully.” Again this is Swamiji. The Book of Nature is our true teacher. There are times in which you live and there are times when you don’t live, when you simply exist. Your times of living should be continuous. So turn to the great pages of the Great Book of Nature.
What a fundamental idea? In fact, this is to be our ideal and also outlook. We have to go through the Book of Nature. We cannot stick to anything endlessly except one thing and that is Nature and Reason, all in one.
Let the light of Reason be our guide, friend and teacher. This is the philosophy of Swami Sivanandaji. Who will not follow it to come to comfort and to one’s real self?