The Spirit of Ananda Kutir
Smt. Savitri Asopa
This article is a chapter from the book Sivananda: Poet, Philosopher and Saint.
The spirit that pervades and works behind the every activity of the Ananda Kutir, cannot be expressed, but can be deeply felt and experienced at times. The degree of manifestation of the spirit differs from an individual to individual, because the degree of revelation varies. Now, greater the revelation, greater shall be the faith and devotion of a person. And to these chosen few whom the spirit stands fully revealed, their devotion and dedication is Supreme, for they are not deluded, for they at every moment behold the beauty, splendour and glory of the spirit.
If we ponder deeply we find that behind every department of Ananda Kutir it is the spirit of Sri Sat-Guru Sivananda that is ever working very actively. So to work sincerely in any department is to become an instrument in the hands of Sri Swami Sivananda. Behind the press, behind the studio, behind the hospitals, behind the temples, in the Annapurna hall, behind the typewriters, it is the spirit of Sri Swami Sivananda that works. Minus Sri Swami Sivananda from all these things, then they will all become meaningless. And I remember the day when I was to begin the work of typing letters. Sri Gurudeva said, “Do not be afraid of the work. Do not think that you are typing.” Believe it or not, behind every cup of tea and plate of food, too, there is His unseen hand and Spirit.
Countless people come to Ananda Kutir, out of them some are unimpressed, while some are captured by the Divine Spirit of Sri Guru Deva. Only those are captured whom the Sat-Guru draws to Himself; and those whom He draws, He works up the transformation of their personalities by various methods. Sri Guru Deva’s Spirit pervades the entire Universe. That is the only reason why He is able to help us even when we are far, far away from Him. In the Ashram also, the thoughts and feelings and actions of every person are known to Him.
I have a firm conviction that every feeling, thought and action of every person is known to Sri Guru Deva. I have always felt His Omnipresence. And once He draws a person to His feet, then He works for the evolution of the person. Whenever we move towards goodness, He would at once give us encouragement. And when He would find us stepping on the path of evil, He would give us a nice unseen, sweet slap or a kick. Though unseen, it is at once felt by the recipient. Those are the moments of struggle, darkness and remorse. When repentance and humility manifest in the heart, Sri Guru Deva Himself kneels down, out of His Supreme Love and compassion, to lift us up. This process goes on continuously between the Guru and disciple. Sri Guru Deva adopts various methods to transform the disciples. Sometimes He would Himself send terrible trials, tests and storms. Sometimes He would talk through someone and warn us. Sometimes He would talk to us through books and dreams. Sometimes He would send powerful thought-waves and sometimes amidst the darkness of struggle, and painful inner civil war, He would bless us with some revelation accompanied by bliss. And, these moments infuse in us courage, faith and hope, to struggle and struggle forward.
Every moment Sri Guru Deva is shedding Grace and blessings on each and every person. But our own impurities obstruct the showers. Our own doubts, ego, and ingratitude shut out the blessedness that Sri Guru Deva wants to give us. Siva works at the very destruction of these barriers, so that our hearts and minds may be purified. The process of purification is extremely painful, but Siva calls it the negative aspect of Grace.
Various experiences in the Ashram have given me the firm conviction that Siva is the embodiment of Divine Mother. As Sri Kali, He would assume Her frightening form and destroy the Asuras (the evil in us). As Sri Lakshmi He would shed Gracious smile on us and bless us with all sorts of prosperities and ultimately as Sri Saraswati showers supreme wisdom on His devotees.
Once Siva draws a person, then whether he be far or near, whether he wants or not, whether he knows or not, Siva works for the evolution of that person, slowly but surely.