AUTOBIOGRAPHY

OF
SWAMI SIVANANDA










Sri Swami Sivananda
Founder of
The Divine Life Society



SERVE, LOVE, GIVE,
PURIFY, MEDITATE,
REALIZE
So Says
Sri Swami Sivananda













A DIVINE LIFE SOCIETY PUBLICATION
Sixth Edition: 1995
(4,000 Copies)



World Wide Web (WWW) Edition: 2000


WWW site: http://www.SivanandaDlshq.org/




This WWW reprint is for free distribution






© The Divine Life Trust Society








ISBN 81-7052-029-0








Published By
THE DIVINE LIFE SOCIETY
P.O. SHIVANANDANAGAR—249 192
Distt. Tehri-Garhwal, Uttar Pradesh,
Himalayas, India.
PUBLISHERS’ NOTE
Asaint’s life is the ideal for all to emulate, a pattern for everyone who would make his own
life sublime. It is an open book from which to learn the lessons of divine life. However much one
tries to gain knowledge of spiritual truths from scriptures and texts, it is not until one actually sees
someone in whomthose truths shine exemplified that one is ready, willing and eager to realise those
truths in actual daily life.
That is the purpose that this inspiring book serves.
THE DIVINE LIFE SOCIETY
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(Sri Swami Jnanananda)
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iii
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÷ivànandastutiþ
(Sri Swami Jnanananda)
(1) màyàkåpàramagnànava÷ajanagaõàn tràtukàmaü prakàmaü
kàyàyàsàvasàdaü sakalamapi tçõãkçtya kçtyaprasaktam
chàyànàthopamàmaü suciramatimudà.abhyastayogàsanàdi-
vyàyàmàvàptasattvaü ÷ivamanavarataü bhàvaye yogivaryam
(2) nànàlokàya nityaü pratipadamadhuraü ÷àntisande÷apatraü
pãnàmodapravàhapraguõitakaruõaü preùayantaü mahàntam
mànàtãtaprabhàvaü manasi manasijàràtimàlokya gàóhaü
dhyànàviùñaü prakçùñaprakçtiguõayutaü ÷rã ÷ivànandamãóe
(3) vi÷vàràdhyaü vi÷iùñapratibhamabhayadaü pràõinàmà÷ritànàü
vi÷vàsàmatramàrtipra÷amananirataü sàdhulokàvalambam
vi÷vàdhã÷aprabhàvaü bhç÷amakhilajanàn bodhayitvà.a.arùadhama
÷a÷vat saüsthàpayanyaü ÷ivamunimani÷aü bhàvaye divyaråpam
(4) vedàntàü bhodhigarmàdaviralavilasattattvaratnànyajasraü
modàduddhçtya nànàmanujaguõagaõàyànvahaü dàtukàmam
khedàve÷àva÷ànàmamitasukhakaraü nityakalyàõaraügaü
÷rãdànotkaü munãndraü ÷ivamakhilajagadde÷ikaü bhàvaye.aham
iv
SIVA’S EXPERIENCE
1. I have seen God in my own Self.
2. I have negated name and form, and what remains is Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute
and nothing else.
3. I behold God everywhere. There is no veil.
4. I am One. There is no duality.
5. I rest in my own Self. My bliss is beyond description.
6. The world of dreams has gone. I alone exist.
Swami Sivananda
SIVA’S MESSAGE
Delight in good.
Make up your mind to tread the spiritual path.
Be patient.
Go slowly. Go ahead. Be deliberate. Assert. Recognize.
Realise: I am the immortal Soul.
This is the discipline.
This is Siva’s message.
Swami Sivananda
v
HOW GOD CAME INTO MY LIFE
(Swami Sivananda)
It would be easy to dismiss the question by saying: “Yes, after a prolonged period of intense
austerities and meditation, while I was living at Swaragashram and when I had the Darshan and
blessings of a number of Maharishis, the Lord appeared before me in the form of Sri Krishna.
But that would not be the whole truth, nor a sufficient answer to a question relating to God,
who is infinite, unlimited and beyond the reach of speech and mind.
Cosmic Consciousness is not an accident or chance. It is the summit, accessible by a thorny
path that has steps—slippery steps. I ascended them step by step the hard way; but at every stage I
experienced God coming into my life and lifting me easily to the next stage.
My father was fond of ceremonial worship in which he was very regular. To my child-mind
the image he worshipped was God; and I delighted in helping father in the worship by bringing him
flowers and other articles of worship. The deep inner satisfaction that he and I derived from such
worship implanted in my heart a strong conviction that God was in such images devoutly
worshipped by His devotees. Thus did God first come into my life and place my foot on the first
rung of the spiritual ladder.
As an adult I was fond of gymnastics and vigorous exercises. I learnt fencing froma teacher
who belonged to a low caste. He was a Harijan. I could go to him only for a few days before I was
made to understand that it was unbecoming of a caste-Brahmin to play the student to an
untouchable. I thought deeply over the matter. One moment I felt that the God whom we
worshipped in the image in my father’s worship room had jumped over to the heart of this
untouchable. He was my Guru all right. So I immediately went to him with flowers, sweets and
clothes and garlanded him, placed flowers at his feet and prostrated myself before him. Thus did
God come into my life to remove the veil of caste distinctions.
Howvery valuable this step was I could realise soon after this, for I was to enter the medical
profession and serve all, and the persistence of caste distinctions would have made that service a
mockery. With this mist cleared by the light of God, it was easy and natural for me to serve
everyone. I took keen delight in every kind of service connected with the healing and alleviation of
human misery. If there was a good prescription for malaria, I felt that the whole world should know
it the next moment. Any knowledge about the prevention of diseases, promotion of health and
healing of diseases I was eager to acquire and share with all.
Then in Malaya, God came to me in the formof the sick. It is difficult for me now to single
out any instance, and perhaps it is unnecessary. Time and space are concepts of the mind and have
no meaning in God. I can look back now upon the whole period of my stay in Malaya as a single
event in which God came to me in the formof the sick and suffering. People are sick physically and
mentally. To some, life is lingering death; and to others, death is more welcome than life; some
invite death and commit suicide, unable to face life.
vi
The aspiration grew within me that if God had not made this world merely as a hell where
wicked people would be thrown to suffer, and if there is (as I intuitively felt there should be)
something other than this misery and this helpless existence, it should be known well and
experienced.
It was at this crucial point in my life that God came to me as a religious mendicant who gave
me the first lesson in Vedanta. The positive aspects of life here and the real end and aim of human
life were made apparent. This drew me from Malaya to the Himalaya. God now came to me in the
form of an all-consuming aspiration to realise Him as the Self of all.
Meditation and service went apace; and then came various spiritual experiences. The body,
mind and intellect as the limiting adjuncts, vanished, and the whole universe shone as His Light.
God then came in the form of this Light in which everything assumed a divine shape and the pain
and suffering that seem to haunt everybody appeared to be a mirage, the illusion that ignorance
creates on account of low sensual appetites that lurk in man.
One more milestone had to be passed in order to know that “everything is Brahman.” Early
in 1950—on the 8th of January—the Lord came to me in the formof a half-demented assailant, who
disturbed the night Satsang at the Ashram. His attempt failed. I bowed to him, worshipped himand
sent himhome. Evil exists in order to glorify the good. Evil is a superficial appearance. Beneath its
veil the one Self shines in all.
A noteworthy fact ought to be mentioned here. In this evolution nothing gained previously
was entirely discarded at any later stage. One coalesced into the next, and the Yoga of Synthesis
was the fruit. Idol-worship, service of the sick, practice of meditation, the cultivation of cosmic love
that transcended the barriers of caste, creed and religion, with the ultimate aimof attaining the state
of Cosmic Consciousness, was revealed. This knowledge had to be shared immediately. All this
had to become an integral part of my being.
The mission had been gathering strength and spreading. It was in 1951 that I undertook the
All-India Tour. Then God came to me in His Virat-Swarupa—as multitudes of devotees—eager to
listen to the tenets of divine life. At every centre I felt that God spoke through me, and He Himself in
His cosmic formspread out before me as the multitude, listened to me. He sang with me, He prayed
with me; He spoke and He also listened. “Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma—all indeed is Brahman.”
vii
WHAT LIFE HAS TAUGHT ME
(Swami Sivananda)
It was, I should say, by a flash that I came to the conclusion early in my life that human life is
not complete with its observable activities and that there is something above human perception
controlling and directing all that is visible. I may boldly say that I began to perceive the realities
behind what we call life on earth. The unrest and feverish anxiety that characterise man’s ordinary
existence here bespeak a higher goal that he has to reach one day or the other.
When man gets entangled in selfishness, greed, hatred and lust, he naturally forgets what is
beneath his own skin. Materialismand scepticismreign supreme. He gets irritated over little things
and begins to fight and quarrel; in short, man becomes miserable.
The doctor’s profession gave me ample evidence of the great sufferings of this world. I was
blessed with a new vision and perspective. I was deeply convinced that there must be a place—a
sweet home of pristine glory, purity and divine splendour—where absolute security, perfect peace
and happiness can be enjoyed eternally. Therefore, in conformity with the dictum of the Sruti, I
renounced the world—and felt that I now belonged to the whole world.
A course of severe self-discipline and penance endowed me with enough strength to move
unscathed amidst the vicissitudes of the world-phenomena. And I began to feel the great good it
would do to humanity if I could share this new vision with one and all. I called my instrument of
work “The Divine Life Society.”
Side by side, the stirring events since the advent of the twentieth century, had their effects
upon all keen-minded people. The horrors of the past and possible wars, and the consequent
suffering, touched the minds of people. It was not difficult to see that the pains of mankind were
mostly brought on by its own deeds. To awaken man to his errors and follies, and to make himmend
his ways so that he may utilise his life for attaining worthier ends, was felt to be the urgent need of
the time. As if in answer to this need, I saw the birth of the Divine Life Mission, with its task of
rescuing man from the forces of the lower nature and raising him to the consciousness of his true
relationship with the Cosmos. This is the work of rousing the religious consciousness, of bringing
man to an awareness of his essential divinity.
Not by mere argument or discussion can religion be taught or understood. Not by precepts
or canons of teaching alone can you make one religious. It requires a peculiar atonement with one’s
vast environment, an ability to feel the deepest as well as the vastest. It requires a genuine sympathy
with creation. Religion is living, not speaking or showing. I hold that whatever be one’s religion,
whoever be the prophet one adores, whatever be one’s language or country, age or sex, one can be
religious provided the true implication of that hallowed term“Tapas,” which essentially means any
formof self-control, is made capable of being practised in daily life to the extent possible for one, in
the environment and under the circumstances in which one is placed.
I hold that real religion is the religion of the heart. The heart must be purified first. Truth,
love and purity are the basis of real religion. Control over the baser nature, conquest of the mind,
viii
cultivation of virtues, service of humanity, goodwill, fellowship and amity, constitute the
fundamentals of true religion. These ideals are included in the principles of the Divine Life Society.
And I try to teach them mostly by example, which I consider to be weightier than all precepts.
The modern thinker has neither the requisite time nor the patience to perform rigorous
Tapas and austere religious practices; and many of these are even being relegated to the level of
superstition. In order to give the present generation the benefit of real Tapas in the true religious
sense, to reveal to them its real significance, and to convince them of its meaning and efficacy, I
hold up my torch of divine life, which is a systemof religious life suited to one and all, which can be
practised by the recluse and the office-goer alike, which is intelligible to the scholar and the rustic,
in its different stages and phases. This is a religion which is not other than what is essential to give
true meaning to the daily duties of the human being.
The beauty of divine life is its simplicity and applicability to the everyday affairs of the
ordinary man. It is immaterial whether one goes to the church or the mosque or the temple for
offering one’s prayers, for all sincere prayers are heard by the Divine.
The average seeker after Truth is very often deceived by the caprices of his mind. A person
who takes to the spiritual path is bewildered before he reaches the end of his journey. He is naturally
tempted to relax his efforts half-way. Many are the pitfalls, but those who plod on steadily are sure
to reach the goal of life, which is universality of being, knowledge and joy. I have laid great
emphasis in all my writings upon the discipline of the turbulent senses, conquest of the mind,
purification of the heart, and attainment of inner peace and strength, suited to the different stages in
evolution.
I have understood that it is the foremost duty of man to learn to give, to give in charity, to
give in plenty, to give with love and without expectation of any reward, because one does not lose
anything by giving,—on the other hand the giver is given back a thousandfold. Charity is not
merely an act of offering certain material goods, for charity is incomplete without charity of
disposition, of feeling, and of understanding and knowledge. Charity is self-sacrifice in the
different levels of one’s being. Charity in the highest sense I understand to be equivalent to Jnana
Yajna, the sacrifice of wisdom.
Similarly, I consider that goodness of being and doing constitute the rock-bottom of one’s
life. By goodness I mean the capacity to feel with others and to live and feel as others do, and be in a
position to act so that no one is hurt by the act. Goodness is the face of Godliness. I think that to be
good in reality, in the innermost recesses of one’s heart, is not easy, though it may appear to be
simple as a teaching. It is one of the hardest things on earth, if only one would be honest with
oneself.
There is no physical world for me. What I see I see as the glorious manifestation of the
Almighty. I rejoice when I behold the Purusha with thousands of heads and thousands of eyes and
feet, that Sahasrarasirsha Purusha. When I serve persons, I see not the persons, but Him of whom
they are the limbs. I learn to be humble before the mighty Being whose breath we breathe and
whose joy we enjoy. I do not think there is anything more to teach or to learn. Here is the creamof
religion, the quintessence of philosophy that anyone really needs.
ix
The philosophy I hold is neither a dreamy, subjective, world-negating doctrine of illusion,
nor a crude world-affirming theory of sense-ridden humanism. It is the fact of the divinity of the
universe, the immortality of the soul of man, the unity of creation with the Absolute, that I feel is the
only doctrine worth considering. As the one all-pervading Brahman appears as the diverse universe
in all the planes of Its manifestation, the aspirant has to pay his homage to the lower manifestations
before he steps into the higher.
Sound health, clear understanding, deep knowledge, a pure, powerful will and moral
integrity, are all necessary parts of the process of the realisation of the ideal of humanity as a whole.
To adjust, adapt and accommodate, to see good in everything, to bring to effective use all
the principles of nature in the process of evolution towards Self-realisation along the path of an
integrated adjustment of the human powers and faculties, are some of the main factors that go to
build up a philosophy of life. To me, philosophy is not merely a love of wisdom, but actual
possession of it. In all my writings I have prescribed methods for overcoming and mastering the
physical, intellectual, mental and vital layers of consciousness, in order to be able to proceed with
the Sadhana for self-perfection.
To behold the Lord in every being or form, to feel Him everywhere, at all times and in all
conditions of life, to see, hear, taste and feel everything as God, is my creed.
To live in God, to melt in God, and to dissolve in God, is my creed.
By dwelling in such union, to utilise the hands, mind, senses and the body in the service of
humanity, to sing the Names of the Lord, to elevate devotees, to give instructions to sincere
aspirants, and disseminate knowledge throughout the world, is my creed, if you can call it one.
To be a cosmic friend and cosmic benefactor, a friend of the poor, the forlorn, the helpless
and the fallen, is my creed.
It is my sacred creed to serve the sick, to nurse themwith care, sympathy and love, to cheer
up the depressed, to infuse power and joy in all, to feel oneness with each and everyone, and to treat
all with equal vision.
In my highest creed there are neither peasants nor kings, neither beggars nor emperors,
neither males nor females, neither teachers nor students. I love to live, move and have my being in
this realm indescribable.
The first step is often the most difficult one. But once it is taken the rest becomes easy. There
is a need for more courage and patience on the part of people. They usually shirk, hesitate and are
frightened. All this is due to ignorance of one’s true duty. Acertain amount of education and culture
is necessary to have a sufficiently clear grasp of one’s position in this world. Our educational
systemneeds an overhaul, for it is now floating on the surface without touching the depths of man.
To achieve this, cooperation should come not only from society but also from the government.
x
Success is difficult without mutual help. The head and heart should go hand in hand, and the
ideal and the reality should have a close relation. To work with this knowledge is Karma Yoga. The
Lord has declared this truth in the Bhagavad Gita.
I pray that this supreme ideal be actualised in the daily life of every individual. I pray that
there be heaven on earth. This is not merely a wish,—this is a possibility and a fact that cannot be
gainsaid. It is to be realised if life is to mean what it ought to mean.
INTRODUCTION
(Swami Sadananda Saraswati)
When I received the set of manuscripts bearing the title Autobiography of Swami
Sivananda, I jumped with joy because I expected, as I believe many would expect, that there was a
chance to know many of the details of the Master’s life which in spite of my fairly long stay with
him(running into many years) I was unable to learn, either fromhimor fromanyone else. But how
great was my surprise—not to say disappointment—when I found that I could not obtain even a
glimpse of what my little mind was curious to know. Yet, after laying down the manuscripts and
thinking about the matter for a while in the manner in which he has trained me to think, I realised the
wisdom of his reticence. The one trait which is totally absent in him, and which he completely
dislikes in anyone, is idle curiosity and profitless talk.
Sage Tiruvalluvar, who is justly regarded in the Tamil country as not merely a poet but also
a lawgiver, has in his immortal poem, Tirukkural, devoted Chapter 20 in “Illaraviyar” (rules about
householder’s life), a section of “Arathuppal” (Dharma or code of conduct), to what is called
“Payanila Sollamai” which means “non-utterance of what is fruitless.” The truths which that poet
expounds in the ten stanzas of that chapter are of inestimable value.
The eighth stanza says: “The wise who are competent to distinguish between what is useful
and what is not will never give utterance to futile words.”
Sivananda’s Studied Reticence
Swami Sivananda adopts this rule of conduct in his life and never, even in forgetfulness,
swerves fromit. He considers it wasteful to write about such incidents in his life as are not directly
beneficial for the spiritual progress of the reader. That is the reason why we do not hear a word
about why he left the shores of India and went to far-off Malaya in those days when orthodox
Brahmin families regarded it a sacrilege to cross the seas. It is well known that Sivananda came
from one of the most orthodox Brahmin families.
Again, what special circumstance made him give up a fairly lucrative job in Malaya and
come back to our land bent upon pursuing the life of a Sannyasin? There are not a fewdisciples and
admirers of his who wish to knowwhether he was a householder at any time and what happened to
his family if he had one. Even the least curious among those who have the highest regard for his
xi
spiritual eminence are eager to know what he did in the Himalayas by way of Tapasya (austerity)
and Sadhana (spiritual practices) of the conventional type which is generally undertaken by a
novice; for it is their opinion that the pinnacle of spiritual excellence that he has reached is
impossible of attainment without arduous and unremitting effort in the right direction. Even these
earnest seekers are denied by our Gurudev the pleasure of knowing what he did to make himself the
superman that he is.
It is undeniable that his studied reticence regarding these particulars is not due to any
shyness in his nature, for where he speaks about himself he exercises no restraint upon his
expressions. Perhaps, it is the other way. He often says things with an unparalleled boldness,
unconcerned about the possibility of being regarded as boastful of his achievements. No, it is not
shyness that has stood in the way. It is only his conviction that no useful purpose can be served by
writing about them.
For instance, regarding the reason that prompted him to go to Malaya, suppose it was
merely a spirit of adventure, a desire to see far-off lands: how are we as spiritual aspirants going to
benefit by this knowledge? Suppose it was a feeling that he should serve the cause of the
unfortunate Indian labourers who were in those days being practically decoyed by estate agents and
their minions with promises of high wages and comfortable living but were actually subjected to
considerable hardship. Even then, this knowledge will not help us to evolve into spiritual
personalities. Knowing that a mention of this phase of his life will not prove useful to us, the author
of this autobiography has not spoken a word about it.
Again, if there was a special circumstance which produced a radical change in his outlook
upon life and made him eager to rush forth in all haste to become a Sannyasin, it is not necessary
that everyone who has the urge to renounce the world should have the same experience that
Sivananda had. When there is the irresistible divine call, anyone will be drawn automatically. Thus
no useful purpose is served in mentioning the reason why the author renounced the world.
Clues to Sivananda’s Sadhana
The same is the answer to the other questions, including the Sadhana that he must have
adopted. What one has to remember is that though books are written—and Swami Sivananda has
also written many such treatises—about Sadhana with the object of instructing spiritual aspirants,
the Sadhana which will be really effective, will be purely subjective and will relate to the particular
individual himself and not to any other. All Sadhana is intended to make one’s mind most helpful
and least harmful. One’s mind is one’s own and not of anyone else. It reflects the consequences of
one’s actions in the past lives and in the present life. Each mind has to be handled in a special way
and only the possessor of the particular mind will know from experience and practice that special
way. Therefore, even if Swami Sivananda wrote elaborately about what obstacles he had to face in
exercising control over his mind and howhe faced them, it would be merely a bit of personal history
and not anything which would help us in any way, however eager we may be to profit therefrom.
Yet, one cannot say that Sivananda has been completely silent in this matter. In the course of
the autobiography, he has given us sufficient information here and there. He says: “The life of a
mendicant during pilgrimages helped me to develop in a great measure forbearance, equal vision
xii
and a balanced mind in pleasure and pain. I met many Mahatmas and learnt wonderful lessons. On
some days I had to go without food and walk mile after mile. With a smile I faced all hardships.”
Surely this is a very brief account. But it is highly revelatory. It is not easy to walk mile after
mile on an empty stomach and still preserve equanimity of temper. That is real Sadhana. It elevates
the individual more than a hundred malas of Japa sitting in a cosy corner without the pinchings of
hunger. One can fromsuch passages of the author understand the nature of the severe austerity that
he must have undergone.
In another place he writes: “Self-realisation is a transcendental experience. You can march
on the spiritual path only by placing implicit faith in the words of the sages who have realised the
truth and have knowledge of the Self”. These words are written in connection with his search for a
Guru. Here we have an insight into the nature of his faith. It is by no means the faith of an ignorant
person. He knewall the teachings about the Self that are in the Upanishads. Yet he fully recognized
the need of a Guru. He knew that unless implicit faith is placed in the words of a Guru, the ego
cannot be curbed. He teaches us this truth when he writes about his search for a Guru.
It is in this fashion that we have to learn about the Sadhana that he practised. The fact is that
Swami Sivananda is a very practical person. What he learnt from books or men would be put into
practice so that he might know how far the teaching suited him. If it did not suit him, he would not
condemn it but merely shelve it. So far as he was concerned it was ineffective. That was all. So,
whatever he writes about is experienced by him. He does not like torturing the body with the desire
to attain spiritual powers and perform miracles. He writes about this too in this book.
Motive of the Autobiography
Sometimes a doubt arises in me as to whether a saint should write an autobiography at all. Is
there not, I ask myself, a tinge of vanity in writing about oneself and one’s achievements? It may be
pardonable for a worldly man to speak about himself in such a way as to obtain the good opinion of
others. But is it right for a self-denying saint to do the same thing?
In answering this question, I find that Swami Sivananda is without any blame whatsoever
because his book is only in name an autobiography. It does not contain anything which can be
construed to have the motive of obtaining the respect and good opinion of the readers. He has had
only one motive. He knows that though he did not plan anything, God had made him found the
Divine Life Society, establish the Forest University (now known as Forest Academy), and do
similar things all of which are at present satisfying the crying need of people all over the world: to
live a life without fear and with faith in the protection of the Lord. He finds that whether he wanted
it or not he is at the head of a great mission and, before he leaves the world, he would like to make
people know how this noble movement can be used for the benefit of mankind. That is the main
purpose, as I understand it, of his publishing this book with the title Autobiography of Swami
Sivananda. Naturally the book cannot be compared with autobiographies of others which sprang
from different motives.
xiii
Valuable Lessons in the Book
It is nowpossible to examine the value of the book. Fromthe very beginning to the end, the
book is of great educative value to the person who wishes to benefit himself. The great regard
Sivananda has for his great ancestor, Appayya Dikshitar, is revealed in the opening chapter.
Intentionally brief is his account of his parentage and boyhood. His love of the medical profession
and the way in which ideal doctors are to do the job are revealed in his account of his Malayan
career. How his faith in the injunction of the Srutis—“The day on which you get dispassion,
renounce the world”—transformed himis seen in the section “Dawn of a NewVision.” His life as a
wandering mendicant, the benefits he derived from pilgrimages, his search for a Guru and his
choice of Rishikesh for final stay are stated quite simply, without any embellishments of style. Yet
they all have something to teach us. His observations upon the foolishly spiritually ambitious, his
decision to adopt a synthesized Sadhana, the way in which he lived it at Swarg Ashram, the lecture
tours and the journey to Kailas reveal his early attempts to combine Sadhana with service.
After this formative period in his spiritual evolution, we find himlaunching upon a career of
mass dissemination of spiritual knowledge. He has well described the different stages in which he
started the Divine Life mission. Especially valuable are his remarks upon howhis unselfishness and
largeness of heart won for him the lasting attachment and devotion of his disciples.
The third stage—“The Birth of a Great Institution”—having been reached, he is happy, in
witnessing now the noble and invaluable work done therein. He then discovers himself as the
cosmic friend and cosmic benefactor because he constantly lives in the spirit of the Upanishadic
thought: “AhamBrahma Asmi—I amBrahman.” He also engages himself in improving the natures
of those who are by his side. What he does for them and with them is narrated in “Collective
Sadhana” and the succeeding chapters. In due course the Divine Life movement gains strength and
is found to meet the need of the hour because of the universality of its ideals and of the efficacy of its
methods for spiritual perfection.
The author writes just as if he is writing an annual report, but the beauty of the book consists
in the fact that the narration reveals in every sentence the nobility of his mind, the sincerity and
seriousness with which he goes through his self-chosen task of benefiting mankind, and the love
and respect with which he is regarded by his disciples, admirers and even casual visitors. In fact, it
is the greatness of the man and his work that are seen through the unvarnished account of what
actually happens in his Ashram. The rapid growth of the mission, which he states quite simply in a
brief chapter, is proof to us that when a good man does something good there is always God behind
to help him. The chapters dealing with the nature of the Divine Life movement, which has no secret
doctrines, which explains what true religion is, and which in reality is only a simple and practical
way of living with ease and true happiness, are highly illuminating.
When we go on reading about the spiritual conferences, lecture tours, the organisations for
Nagar Kirtan, Prabhat Pheri, etc., we see the dynamic work that has been done by Sivananda for
ensuring that the maximum use is made of one’s time to live up to the ideals of the Divine Life
movement.
xiv
The author also gives us instructions about howaspirants are to be cared for, howuniversal
love should be practised and help rendered to all, and how disciples at a distance are to be looked
after. The reproduction of some letters which he had written to his disciples reveals the great
solicitude that he had for the spiritual and even material welfare of those who attached themselves
to his service.
In the later part of the book, the author deals with many diverse matters such as the spirit of
accommodation, glory of renunciation, need for renunciation even when one is young, the
qualifications to be a good disciple, the need for the purification of the heart, the right attitude
towards women, whether women can renounce the world, and many other topics of practical
interest. Some of these chapters evidence his breadth of outlook and even a bold departure from
time-honoured conventions, suited to the needs of modern times.
There is much valuable advice to Sannyasins about proper meditation, real service, about
who can start Ashrams and who should not, about the relation between Sannyasins and politics, the
value of initiation by a Guru, and other similar matters. The book, whatever its title, is a mine of
most valuable advice and instructions.
Some chapters are devoted to the Master’s books and other publications. There we find how
he is very different from others, for he has no attachment for copyright. He has no commercial
motive. He wants that, even after his passing away fromthe world, there must be a permanent stock
of useful knowledge available to people in every part of the world. That is why he is a ceaseless
writer. His books appear every year in increasing numbers and get distributed freely to thousands in
India and elsewhere.
A part of the book deals with practical advice to his disciples not to quarrel, scandalise or
even entertain thoughts of hate.
It is not possible to deal here with all the matters that are written about in this book. But this
can safely be said: any page may be opened at random and there will be some teaching or other
which will transform our inner nature. Every word that is written comes from the author’s inner
experience. He has, it is clear fromthe book, ever been at pains to keep his mind pure, exalted and
noble, and been equally at pains to impart this same purity and nobility to his disciples.
Warning on Supernatural Powers
It is usual for the Master to warn us and also write in his books that a real spiritual aspirant
ought not to hanker after Siddhis or supernatural powers because, when they are desired, further
spiritual progress is arrested. He has seen some instances in which people who were making good
progress were caught by the temptation to acquire these powers and fromthen on they had a serious
fall. Nobody can dispute the correctness of the Master’s opinion on this matter. But a doubt comes
to me from time to time. Numerous are the letters received at the Ashram from people in different
places mentioning many miracles performed by the Master. It cannot be that all who write such
letters are uttering falsehood or are under any hallucination. It is likely that there is a small
percentage of self-deceiving persons. But judging from the nature of the events reported to have
happened—reported with many details and meticulous care in the narration—I have to come to the
xv
conclusion that the Master is exercising supernatural powers. If so, will he have a fall? I can safely
assert that he cannot have a fall, because he has risen above the states of rising and falling. Since he
has reached the stage in which he can identify himself with the Supreme—call It Atman or
Satchidananda or Ishwara, as you like—where is the question of rising and falling? When the ego is
negated how can there be any kind of danger?
Of one thing we can be certain: The real Siddha who does not want or care for Siddhis but
who manifests themfor unselfish reasons and as a result of communion with the Lord, is an entirely
different person fromthe little man who has psychic powers to do things which are extraordinary or
who has control over spirits. The power over spirits (good or bad) is entirely different fromspiritual
power. And no real Siddha goes about calling himself a Bhagavan or parading his powers. It can be
said that the Siddha does not know that he performs miracles since they are not miracles to
him—they are just ordinary things for him because he lives in the plane beyond the reach of the
common man. I have to conclude that Swami Sivananda is one such. But he does not reveal himself
as such to all and sundry.
Conclusion
Before concluding this introduction I cannot help stating that the author is—very probably
unconsciously—revealing his real personality through every sentence he has written. And what a
grand personality it is! In this sense, this book is indeed a real autobiography.
We see in him, through his writings, that outstanding trait of his: the passion to help
all—small and great, learned and unlearned—to realise, each in his own humble and limited way,
that he is heir to the supreme bliss that pervades the entire universe, the bliss “from which all this
(what we see as the world) has come, by which it is sustained and into which it merges.” We see in
himthe unceasing endeavour to transformlittle natures into noble beings so that they may easily get
over their different forms of bondage and live for ever in the eternal abode of bliss which is their
birthright as the children of God.
PREFACE
(Sri N.C. Ghosh)
The Yoga-Vedanta Forest University, Shivanandanagar, has done India a signal service in
giving us this fine autobiography of a great savant. Being an original product of Swamiji’s genius,
the book combines a searching analysis of his experiences with a depth of sincerity that at once
carries conviction. The whole book is instinct with the prophetic vision of a seer, a man of
Self-realisation, and the expression is so lucid and poetical that quite a new life has been breathed
into the dry bones of philosophical discussion, and that too on the most abstruse subject ever
known.
xvi
India’s Spiritual Culture Enriched
Now the cultural heritage of India is glorified with the presentation of the inspiring
life-story of Paramahamsa Swami Sivananda. It will do incalculable good to the whole world as it
has in its characteristics many things unprecedented in other biographies. The Master’s pen gives us
an insight into his own personality, hints on practical spirituality, and an idea of the great spiritual
heritage of India. It also provides us with a basis for universal understanding and sympathy, and a
fascinating story of the foundation of the Divine Life Society, its subsequent development and the
activities of this divine mission.
Amid the din and bustle of this atomic era, a spiritual institution like the Divine Life Society
is almost a paradox. Its expression of the infinite Spirit through a limited mediumof philanthropic
work and aesthetic culture is putting a stop to the downhill trend of many features of modern
civilisation. It is not easy for the general public to have sufficient opportunities to get first-hand
knowledge of the diverse activities of this institution and its illustrious Founder-President. In these
circumstances this book will be found extremely handy and valuable. Within its short compass, the
learned author has compressed much useful information on divine life and opened up a perspective
that grips the attention of the reader to the end. He has described from his direct experience some
incidents and events of his own life which are at once miraculous and instructive. Readers of a
religious bent of mind all over the world will derive immense delight from the book, as it is a
treasure of practical lessons for spiritual uplift.
The author brings out the essential features of India’s spiritual culture for the common run
of readers who, being steeped in worldliness but yet aspiring to walk the way of divine life, are
unable or have no time to dive into the profundities of the great books like the Vedas. In a word, the
book is a portrayal, however partial, of the Divinity whomthe devotee should love and worship and
cherish in his purified heart, and as such it is destined to awaken an aspiration for spiritual Sadhana
in the reader.
An Ideal Personality
For the benefit of mankind Swamiji has tried to make the book helpful to all aspirants,
giving a lot of information on the practical side of Sadhana. This autobiography gives a vivid
picture of how his great heart bled for the suffering millions in India and abroad, and also what his
plan was for the uplift of his motherland and the restoration of her past glory. If our young men wish
to win the respect and admiration of the world let themdraw inspiration fromthe wonderful life of
Swami Sivanandaji, who is not only a seer and the greatest torch-bearer of Vedanta in the East, but
the very personification of all that is great and noble in life. The magic personality of Swamiji, his
vitality and endurance are wonderfully portrayed here. Written in chaste English and replete with
soul-stirring incidents, this autobiography is sure to captivate the mind of the reader.
His novel and revolutionary methods of training his disciples which are depicted in this
book shed a flood of light on our spiritual life also. Christ once said: “He that followeth me shall
walk in darkness, but shall have the Light of life.” The contemplative saint who has written this
book throws light—well-focussed and going to manifold transformations—on the various aspects
of Truth, which is unity. We are full of admiration for Swamiji. He is riding on the surging waves of
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popularity because the deepest truths of the profoundest philosophy have been so well blended with
a stimulating story and written in such sweet and simple style that even the beginner can assimilate
the lessons. The devotee, the Jnani, the Karma Yogi and others will immensely enjoy this book
which is a mine of gold to introduce themto a newworld of delight and ecstasy. They will have the
one thing that is needful.
Sivananda—A World-Force
When Sivananda speaks, the world listens. His resplendent personality and pristine
perspective, brilliant intellect and all-compassionate disposition coupled with his impetuous
fervour to uplift mankind have made him a veritable God-man.
Swamiji says: “To raise the fallen, to lead the blind, to share what I have with others, to
bring solace to the afflicted, to cheer up the suffering, to love my neighbour as my own Self, to
protect cows, animals, women and children—these are my aims and ideals. I will help you and
guide you. I live to serve you all. I live to make you all happy. This body is meant for service.”
This is his thrilling message to the people of this atomic age Swamiji has, by years of
arduous work, created a new world—“Ananda Kutir” or the “abode of bliss”—for the quick
spiritual progress of all types of seekers after Truth, suitable to various tastes, temperaments and
stages of evolution. Spiritual truth is eternal, but it has to be restated and redemonstrated in a human
life in order that it may be a living and shining example before all of us. Swamiji’s life is one of long
stillness of prayer perfectly blended with dynamic activity through selfless service. The story is one
of strenuous spiritual endeavour and service in the cause of suffering humanity often in the face of
great trials. The supreme devotion and efficient organising capacity of his worthy disciples on
whom has descended the Grace of the Master have amazed everyone who has paid a visit to
Swamiji’s Ashram. It may be said without any hesitation that Swamiji’s mission is well on its way
to becoming a world-force.
The story of Paramahamsa Sivananda’s life is a study of religion in practice. Swamiji has
astonished the world by the versatility of his genius, by the many-sidedness of his faculties and by
the contributions, innumerable and diverse in character, which he has made to the world. Having
attained realisation he has striven to impart the benefit of the citadel of Truth. The Siddha Jnanis, of
whom there are great examples in human history, are personages like Lord Buddha, Jesus Christ,
Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and others. Swami Sivananda himself, judging from the work he is
doing, exemplifies the ideal type of Siddha Jnani.
Fulfilment of India’s Spiritual Mission
It is the job of India to change the way of the world through her spirituality. India’s true
mission is to deliver her spiritual message to the world. The times need a change of heart. We
wanted freedom because we thought that we had certain truths to preach, certain messages which
were good not only for India, but for the whole world. India should achieve her true and noble
mission by disseminating this message. In that mission, God-intoxicated men like Swami
Sivananda are giving us the real lead. If India in bondage needed a Gandhi to lead her to freedom,
xviii
resurgent India needs a Sivananda to make her conscious of her precious heritage and resume her
spiritual mission.
Never was a man like him needed more urgently than today when the world, armed to the
teeth with atomic weapons, hovers over the brink of a suicidal war. He is, as it were, a link between
heaven and earth, and if anybody can contribute substantially to the peace and spiritual uplift of
mankind, it is certainly Sivananda.
Even though there is poverty and misery in India, Indians are happy because they still have
illustrious living saints like Swami Sivananda who in his clarion call asks us to seek the happiness
of the soul and not material enjoyment. He is a saint of international outlook and is one of the
pioneers who have brought the Yoga practices fromthe seclusion of the monastery within the reach
of the common man. He is not lost in meditative contemplation to see the Unknown. He is a saint for
the masses and has come down amongst us with a mission to show the truth in falsehood, to throw
light on darkness and to establish immortality in this mortal world. In a word, he is the modern
world-prophet. Just go to the Sivananda Ashram and get a thorough physical, mental and spiritual
overhaul—the picturesque Ashram in Rishikesh at the foot of the majestic Himalayas with the
Ganga in the foreground and the Visvanath Mandir in the background, flanking the colony of saints
who, under the divine leadership of Sadguru Sivananda Maharaj, live and work for the welfare of
humanity.
Sivananda’s Achievements
The Divine Life Society was established by His Holiness in 1936 and it exists today to serve
mankind by the dissemination of spiritual knowledge and by training spiritual aspirants in Yoga
and Vedanta in the Yoga-Vedanta Forest University. I humbly draw the attention of the world to
this living saint and sage who is ever ready to extend his helping hand to every sincere seeker after
Truth. His is a unique institution in that it is the great gift of a divine being who, paradoxically,
combines in himself the cosmic consciousness of a sage, the dynamism of an enterprising
industrialist, the daring of an adventurer, and a novel and refreshingly new approach to religious
life. Therefore, it beautifully blends the essentials of the different ways of viewing and approaching
God.
The two epoch-making events in Swami Sivanandaji’s life are his All-India Ceylon Tour in
1950, and the Parliament of Religions convened by him in 1953. The warm reception that His
Holiness received everywhere during his tour is not at all surprising. He held discourses at several
universities and learned bodies, speaking mainly on universal peace and the message of Hindu
philosophy. He won the respect of everyone who heard himbecause of his vast knowledge and his
thought-provoking remarks.
A new chapter opened at Sivananda Ashram on April 3rd, 1953, a blessed day for India,
when the Parliament of Religions was inaugurated. Indeed, it was for the first time in the history of
this country that such a congregation of distinguished men and women from different parts of the
world took place on the soil of India. This Parliament will, no doubt, be appraised by the world’s
philosophers and other intellectuals as one of the greatest achievements of the twentieth century.
xix
Magnetic Influence of Sivananda’s Life
Human language is an altogether inadequate vehicle to express supersensory perception.
The reader will find mentioned in this work many visions and experiences that fall outside the ken
of physical science and even psychology. With the development of modern knowledge the
borderline between the natural and the supernatural is ever shifting. Genuine mystical experiences
are not as suspect nowas they were half a century ago. The words of Swami Sivananda have already
exerted a tremendous influence in the land of his birth. Savants of Europe have found in his words
the ring of universal truth. But these words are not the product of intellectual cogitation; they are
rooted in direct experience. Hence, to students of religion, psychology and physical science, these
experiences of the Master are of immense value for an understanding of religious phenomena in
general.
In the spiritual firmament Swami Sivananda is a waxing crescent. He is a living
embodiment of godliness and his message has spread across land and sea. There already exists a
network of the branches of the Divine Life Society throughout India and abroad. Thousands have
found solace in his teachings and experienced the miraculous powers of Swamiji ward off evils on
their material and spiritual paths. The lofty ideals of peace and harmony which His Holiness
exemplifies in his life have today become the watchwords of a world institution like the United
Nations Organisation. He is being recognized as a compeer of Krishna, Buddha and Christ.
Service of humanity has been his one burning passion and this he has sought to fulfil by
every means possible. The world-renowned Yoga-Vedanta Forest University has published over
two hundred of his books on various subjects of absorbing interest but this book is their
monumental epic, dwarfing all previous publications. It is indeed a true picture of Indian culture,
tradition and dignity. In their breadth and depth they are unique. Great spiritual truths are here
described in simple words and vivid stories, and the conflicts of religions are here solved in the light
of direct experience. In those pages every man, whatever his religious creed, will find courage,
faith, hope and illumination. Swamiji’s life is a laboratory of religious experiment and his message
is a silent force animating the national life of India. It is the precursor of a new age of light and
understanding for the whole world.
Attracted by his irresistible spiritual power, hosts of people—men and women, young and
old, educated and illiterate, agnostic and orthodox—have flocked to him. All have felt the radiation
of his spirit and are uplifted in his presence. His love knows no barriers of race, colour or creed, and
he gives without stint to all who seek him.
I amsure all pilgrims on earth will find the necessary “elixir divine” in the following pages
at a time when it is so much needed in this materialism-ridden world. This book carries a message of
inspiration for every day in the year and each message will leave a lasting impression on the
reader’s mind and may be a turning point in his life.
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CONTENTS
Publishers’ Note . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iii
÷ivànandastutiþ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iv
Siva’s Experience . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . v
Siva’s Message. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . v
How God Came Into My Life. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vi
What Life Has Taught Me. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . viii
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xi
Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xvi
CHAPTER ONE
I AM BORN
The Blessed Advent—Sri Dikshitar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
AGiant Among Geniuses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Great Spiritual Luminary. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
My Birth-Place. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
The Budding Phase. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Trials in Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
First Lessons in Service to Humanity. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
CHAPTER TWO
THE CALL OF THE IMMORTAL
Dawn of a NewVision . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
As a Wandering Mendicant . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Howto Benefit by Pilgrimage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Necessity of a Guru. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
The Journey’s End . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
CHAPTER THREE
ON THE ANVIL—SHARING THE TREASURE DIVINE
Vagaries of Spiritual Ambitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
HowI Synthesised My Sadhana . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Life at Swargashram . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Out on Divine Ministration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Call of Mount Kailas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Mass Dissemination of Spiritual Knowledge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Spiritual Conferences . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Lecture Tours . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Unfailing Inspiration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
Dynamic Transformation of the Masses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
Types of Different Kirtans . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
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CHAPTER FOUR
THE DIVINE MISSION
HowStudents Are Trained . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Reserve and Humility. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Guiding the Steps of Neophytes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
Planting of the Acorn Sapling. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
Talents Find Their Best Uses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
Birth of a Great Institution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
ACentre of Dynamic Spiritual Regeneration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
Collective Sadhana . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
Prayer and Study Classes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
Attention to Visitors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
CHAPTER FIVE
MY RELIGION, ITS TECHNIQUE AND DISSEMINATION
The Divine Life Movement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
The Need of the Hour . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
Universal Ideals for Spiritual Perfection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
The Critical Juncture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
Rapid Growth of the Mission . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
Basic Approach . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
No Secret Doctrines. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
What Is True Religion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
Gospel of Divine Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
Practical Aspect. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
Role of Divine Life Branches and Spiritual Aspirants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
Oneness of Humanity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
The Clarion Call of Divine Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
CHAPTER SIX
SIVANANDA ASHRAM
Problems of Spiritual Organisations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
The AshramGrewby Itself . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
Where Everyone Is Welcome . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
Perfect Freedom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
Miracle of Miracles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
HowAspirants Should Be Cared For . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
Helpfulness and Love Towards All . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
Individual Attention and Consideration. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
Encouragement and Advice. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
Spirit of Accommodation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
Who Can Start Ashrams . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
Ideals Must Not Be Forgotten. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
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CHAPTER SEVEN
LIGHT ON THE PATH OF RENUNCIATION
The Glory of Renunciation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
Youth Is the Best Period for Renunciation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
No Rigid Conditions Are Attached . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
Who Are Fit to Be My Disciples . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
Purify the Inner Nature . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
Attitude Towards Women . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
Should Women Renounce the World . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
Service to Women . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
To Those Who Wish to Take Sannyasa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
Combine Service and Meditation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46
Financial Independence. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46
Importance of Service. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
Sannyasins and Politics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
Is Guru Indispensable. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
Initiation Transforms the Mind . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48
First Deserve, Then Desire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48
CHAPTER EIGHT
JNANA YAJNA
Profound Experiences BlossomAs Countless Publications. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49
Why There Are Repetitions in My Books . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50
Rapid Work Is My ideal. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51
Attention to Details . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51
No Attachment to Copyright . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52
Attitude Towards Profit Motive. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
CHAPTER NINE
THE IDEAL OF LIFE
The Philosophy of Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54
Integral Development. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54
My Creed . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55
Secret of Energy and Dynamic Work . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55
Healing Through Prayers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55
CHAPTER TEN
MY METHODOLOGY OF THE EVOLUTIONARY PROCESS
1. Detached, Yet Careful . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
2. Sadhana Till the End of Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
3. Why So Many Photographs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57
4. Self-reliance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57
5. APurpose Behind Everything . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
6. Simple Living and Generosity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
7. Not a Slave of Fashion and Style . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59
8. Evolution for Everybody . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59
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9. Personal Attention and Liberal Disposition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59
10. No Compulsion But Full Liberty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60
11. The Way to Get Things Done . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61
12. Message of Cheer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
13. Attitude Towards Vilification. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
14. Rise Above Criticism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63
15. Constancy and Gratitude . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64
16. You Cannot Get Away FromEvil . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64
17. My Attitude Towards Dissension Among Disciples . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65
18. Raking Up the Issue Does Not Solve Problems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
19. Way to Success . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
20. Howto Convert the Nature of a Man . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67
21. My Viewof Goondas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67
22. Destroy Abhimana (Egoism) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67
23. An Ideal Teacher . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68
24. Come, Come, My Friends . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68
CHAPTER ELEVEN
PRACTICAL HINTS ON THE SPIRITUAL PATH
1. Training of Students Through Post . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
2. Way to Peace . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
3. Have Strong Thirst for Knowledge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70
4. Do Not Be Hasty in Leaving the World. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71
5. Look Before You Leap . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71
6. Snippets for Evolution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72
7. Unfold the Latent Divine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73
8. Regeneration of the Lower Nature . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74
9. The Bane of Sensual Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74
10. Sadhana Should Be a Daily Habit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75
11. Nishkama Seva . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75
12. Troubles Through Pranayama. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75
13. Overcome Depression and Gloom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76
14. When You Are Agitated . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76
15. Avoid Extremes in Yoga . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76
16. What Is Actual Yoga . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76
CHAPTER TWELVE
SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCES
1. Dawn of NewLife . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77
2. Preliminary Spiritual Experiences . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77
3. I Have Won the Game of Life. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78
4. In HimI Find My All . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78
5. In the Ocean of Bliss . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79
6. Immortal Self I Am. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79
7. Speechless Zone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80
8. I Have Become That . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80
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9. The Great Bhuma Experience . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80
10. Mysterious Experience . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81
11. Sivoham—Sivoham—Sivoham . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81
12. State of Samadhi . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82
13. Through the Grace of Guru . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82
14. I AmThat I Am . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83
CHAPTER THIRTEEN
WISDOM IN HUMOUR
1. Training of Students in Lecturing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84
2. The Way of Business People . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84
3. Regarding AStrong Packing Case With Thick Nails . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84
4. When Important Points Are Omitted by Publishers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84
5. Care About Manuscripts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85
6. On Attractive Advertisement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85
7. Philosophy Over the Call of Coffee. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85
8. Method of Sending Reminders . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85
9. Correcting the Ways of Students . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85
10. Invitation for Formality . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85
11. Over the Damaged Parcel of Cashew-Nuts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85
12. Rich Despite Debts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86
13. Ideal Tonic for Brain-workers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86
14. My Respectable Guests . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86
15. An Attack on Weakness in ‘Walking’ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86
16. Ways of Virakta Mahatmas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86
17. Philosophy Over Snuff . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86
Glossary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87
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OM
CHAPTER ONE
I AM BORN
The Blessed Advent—Sri Dikshitar
On this blessed earth from which alone one can strive for and obtain Mukti, in which even
Devas wish and have to be born for getting their final beatitude, appear, from time to time, some
rare great Mahatmas, whose sole object of existence is to radiate love, light, joy and mercy all
around, to serve the poor and the helpless, to bring solace to the forlorn and the depressed, to uplift
the ignorant, to disseminate spiritual knowledge among the people and to bring unalloyed felicity
and happiness to suffering humanity. These are the Saints and Sages, Arhats and Buddhas, Fakirs
and Bhagavatas, Swamis and Yogins who have adorned this earth, at different times and in different
climes. The Bhagavad Gita says:
“Having attained to the worlds of the pure doing and having dwelt there for immemorial
years, he who fell fromYoga is reborn in a pure and blessed house. Or he may be born in a family of
wise Yogins; but such a birth as that is most difficult to obtain in this world.” (Chap. VI—41, 42)
Sri Appaya Dikshitar was one such. I have had the privilege to be born in such a great saint’s
family. Sri Appaya Dikshitar was born in Adaipalam near Arni, North Arcot District.
A Giant Among Geniuses
Sri Appaya Dikshitar, one of the greatest names in the annals of South India, is the reputed
author of more than 104 works, embracing the various branches of knowledge in the Sanskrit
language. The height of his intellectual eminence is evidenced by his works on Vedanta and all the
Schools of Vedanta have drawn inspiration from his unique and unrivalled works. Of his Vedanta
works, the ‘Chaturmatasarasangraha’ is justly famous for the scrupulous fairness with which he has
expounded the tenets of the four great schools, Dvaita, Visishtadvaita, Siva-advaita and Advaita,
respectively in his ‘Nyayamuktavali’, ‘Nyamayukhamalika’, ‘Nyayamanimala’, and
‘Nyayamanjari’ (which together form the Chaturmatasarasangraha).
In almost all the branches of Sanskrit literature, poetry, rhetoric, philosophy, he was
peerless not only among his contemporaries but even among scholars of several decades before and
after him. ‘Kuvalayananda’ is generally regarded as one of the best works on rhetoric. His poems in
praise of Siva are great favourites with worshippers of Siva. He has also written a learned
commentary, entitled ‘Parimala’, on the Vedanta; it is a unique monument of philosophic erudition.
Sri Appaya Dikshitar’s was a mighty intellect. Great is the reverence paid to himeven now.
He was equally revered in his own days. Once he went to a village, which was the birthplace of his
wife. Agrand reception was accorded to himby the villagers who were proud of calling himas one
of themselves. There was a great excitement: “The Great Dikshitar is coming to us.” The
distinguished guest—Dikshitar—was greeted by crowds of people who flocked to have a sight of
1
the great “Lion of Vedanta.” An old dame, curious to a degree, came out, staff in hand, to see the
“phenomenon.” With the freedomthat is conceded to her age, she made her way easily through the
crowd and looked at Sri Appaya steadily for some minutes. Dim recollections of a known face
floated in her mind. She mused I have seen this face somewhere and suddenly cried out, “Wait, O
yes, are you not the husband of Achcha?” The great scholar confirmed her surmise with a smile.
The good lady was disappointed; with her face and spirits fallen, she retraced her steps homewards
remarking: “What ado they make, why it is only Achcha’s husband! Sri Appaya summarised a
world of wisdom when he perpetuated the incident in a half verse—‘Asmin Grame Achcha
Prasiddha’—In this village name and precedence are Achcha’s.
Great Spiritual Luminary
Sri Appaya is considered by many to be an Avatara of Lord Siva. When he went to Tirupati
temple, in South India, the Vaishnavas refused him admission, as he was a Saiva. But, lo! In the
morning the Vishnu Murti was found to have changed into the form of Siva. The Mahant was
astounded and, begging Dikshitar’s pardon, prayed to him to change the Murti again into Vishnu,
which needless to say, the great saint did.
Sri Dikshitar lived in the middle of the 16th century. He was a great rival of Panditaraja
Jagannatha in the field of poetry. He had no independent views on the doctrinal side of
Sankara-Vedanta but carried on fierce controversies with the followers of Vallabha at Jaypore and
other places. His ‘Siddhantalesha’ is the most admirable digest of the doctrinal differences among
the followers of Sankara. He was one among the greatest spiritual luminaries India has ever
produced. Though a detailed account of his life-history is lacking, his works remain as sufficient
testimony to his greatness.
My Birth-Place
Pattamadai is a lovely place with green paddy fields and mango groves all around; it is ten
miles away fromTinnevelly Junction (in Tamil Nadu). Abeautiful canal fromTambraparni known
as Kanadiankal encircles Pattamadai like a garland just as Sarayu or Kaveri encircles Ayodhya or
Srirangam. Tambraparni is known as Dakshina Ganga (Southern Ganga). As it passes through
rocky beds which contain copper; it has the significant name, Tambraparni (Tambra means
copper). The water is very sweet and health-giving. Pattamadai is famous as the place where the
finest grass mats are made. People greatly admire the silk-like mat exhibited at the Sivananda
Regalia.
My father Sri P.S. Vengu Iyer of Pattamadai, was descended fromSri Appaya Dikshitar. He
was the Tahsildar (revenue officer) of Ettiapuram Estate. He was a virtuous pure soul, a
Siva-Bhakta and a Jnani. He was worshipped by the Rajah Sahib of Ettiapuram and the public at
large. People used to say: “Vengu Iyer is a Mahan, a Maha Purusha.” Justice Subramania Iyer was
his classmate and had the greatest regard for him. He used to shed tears
profuse—Ananda-bhashpam—whenever he uttered: “Sivoham, Sivoham.” His grandfather was a
big Zamindar of Pattamadai. He was known as Pannai Subbier. Pannaiar means a landlord or
Zamindar.
2
I AM BORN
At Pattamadai there is an excellent High School, founded and then conducted by the erudite
scholar, late Ramasesha Iyer, B.A., L.T. Another important feature of this place is that all children
of the soil of Pattamadai have a good ear for music and can sing well. Pattamadai has produced
many eminent musicians.
I was born to Srimati Parvati Ammal and P.S. Vengu Iyer, as their third son, on Thursday
the 8th September, 1887, at the time of sunrise, when the Star Bharani was in ascendance. My elder
brother, Sri P.V. Veeraraghava Iyer, was the personal assistant to the Rajah of Ettiapuram. My other
brother, Sri P.V. Sivarama Iyer, was an Inspector of Post Offices. My uncle Appaya Sivam was a
great Sanskrit Scholar. He was much revered by the people in Tinnevelly District. He has written
many philosophical books in Sanskrit. Kuppuswamy was the name given to me by my parents.
In my youth I brought flowers and Bael leaves and prepared beautiful garlands and served
my parents in their Siva Pooja.
The Budding Phase
Born in the family of devotees, saints and philosophers as a pet child, I was brought up
carefully by my parents and received very good training. People used to admire my wonderful
physique, well-developed chest and sinewy arms. The Rajah of Ettiapuram was all admiration for
my well-developed body, my good manners and habits. I was bold, courageous, carefree and
amiable by nature. In former days, especially in villages, there was no roomfor developing any evil
habit at all. The environment and atmosphere were highly favourable for progress in education and
culture. I was unusually active as a boy and had a highly pushing nature.
Even now I clearly remember, that when Lord Ampthill, the then Governor of Madras,
came to Kurumalai Hills in 1901 for hunting, I was chosen to read the Welcome Address. I also
sang a beautiful Welcome Song in English at the station platform of Kumarapuram, next to
Koilpatti Railway Station. In the School Annual Prize Distribution, I used to get a lot of books as
presents. Once I got the Globe Edition of Shakespeare and Macaulay’s Speeches and Writings. I
passed my Matriculation Examination in 1903 from the Rajah’s High School, Ettiapuram. Then I
joined the S.P.G. College, Trichinopoly, of which the Rev. H. Packenham Walsh was then
Principal, who is now a Bishop.
I was interested in dramatic performances in the College. In 1905, when the Midsummer
Night’s Dream of Shakespeare was staged in the College, I played the part of Helena. I passed the
Madurai Tamil Sangam examination creditably. I chose the medical course and ran a Medical
Journal, Ambrosia, at Trichinopoly, for three years. I was very ambitious and enthusiastic.
I was a tremendously industrious boy in the school. During my studies at the Tanjore
Medical Institute, I never used to go home in holidays. I would spend the entire period in the
hospital. I had free admission into the operation theatre. I would run about here and there and
acquire knowledge of surgery which only a senior student would possess. An old Assistant Surgeon
had to appear for a departmental test; he used to make me read his text books for him. This enabled
me to compete with the senior students in theoretical proficiency. I was first in all subjects.
3
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA
I had heard of an enterprising assistant in the Mannargudi Hospital. I wanted to become like
him. With all humility I may mention that I possessed greater knowledge than many doctors with
covetable degrees. At home my mother and brothers would persuade me to take up some work in
some other line, but I was adamant in my resolve to stick to the medical line, as I had a great liking
for it. All my leisure hours were spent in studying all kinds of medical books.
In the first year of my study in the Medical School I could answer papers which the final
year student could not. I topped the class in all subjects. I studied Osler’s medicine with Dr.
Tirumudiswami in my first year. That was a rare privilege for me. Lt.-Col. Hazel Wright, I.M.S.
loved me. Dr. Jnanamadmired me as an ornament of the Institution. Even during holidays, I worked
in the Hospital and learnt many new lessons.
I hit upon a plan that I should start a medical journal. I soon worked out the details. I got
from my mother one hundred rupees for the initial expenses. I used to approach Ayurvedic
physicians for articles on Ayurveda. I myself used to write articles on various themes and publish
them in the “Ambrosia” under different pseudonyms.
The Magazine quickly gained popularity soon after its inception in 1909. Distinguished
contributors started contributing for it. Once my mother wanted to celebrate some festival and was
in need of about one hundred and fifty rupees to meet the expenses. I was ready with this sum.
The “Ambrosia” journal was successfully run for four years until I sailed for Malaya. It was
of demi-quarto size, thirty-two pages each issue, and was quite beautifully got up. The material that
its contents presented to the reader every month was attractive and highly useful to all medical
practitioners. A significant spiritual touch could be felt in the pages of the “Ambrosia.” Unlike
other medical journals, the entire outlook was based on the teachings of the sages of yore.
Spirituality was ingrained in me even in my youth.
Trials in Life
I was not satisfied with the running of the journal. I wanted to take up some job, with a view
to maintain myself and to stabilise the journal. I, therefore, left Trichinopoly and went to Madras to
join Dr. Haller’s Pharmacy. Here I had to manage the accounts, dispense medicines and attend on
the patients. Very hard work I had to do. I would finish all these, and yet find time to continue the
editorial and circulation work of the “Ambrosia.” I brought the old copies from Trichinopoly and
despatched themto high officials and people of distinction in order to enlist their support. I resolved
to seek a better position somewhere else. Finally, I decided to try my luck in the Straits Settlements
of Malaya, and wrote to a friend, Dr. Iyengar who had his establishment next to Dr. Haller
sometime ago and later settled in Singapore. I wrote to Dr. Iyengar that I was planning to go to
Malaya. I left Madras by S.S. “Tara.”
I was unaccustomed to such long travels. I had no idea of the food I was to take on the way,
of what preparations I was to make to begin my Career in Malaya, and how much money was
needed. I packed my things and did not forget to take a good consignment of sweets which my
mother lovingly prepared for me. I belonged to an orthodox family and was frightened to take the
non-vegetarian food on board the ship and so I carried a good quantity of sweets. In youth I liked
4
I AM BORN
immensely sweet preparations. Throughout the voyage, I managed to live with the sweets and drank
plenty of water. Being unaccustomed to this diet, I reached Singapore almost half dead!
It was a bold adventurous bid to throw oneself on the high seas of uncertainty. I had no
money to fall back upon in case of a reverse in my expectations. However, I had tremendous hopes
and took a plunge to test the mettle of my destiny. Strength of will and a fiery determination played
a lot in moulding my life and spiritual career. No easy-going prospect was awaiting me in the distant
swamps of Malaya, as I was altogether unknown and friendless, with no financial safeguard
whatsoever. I had to start from the very scratch and encounter disappointing setbacks in the
beginning. But the later events turned out much in my favour and I felt my position secure.
Immediately after disembarking I went to the residence of Dr. Iyengar. He gave me a letter
of introduction to an acquaintance of his, Dr. Harold Parsons, a medical practitioner in Seremban,
the capital of Negri Sembilan. When I reached Seremban, I found that Dr. Parsons was absent. By
this time, the little money I had was spent away. I was highly optimistic about my getting a job. Dr.
Parsons himself did not need an assistant. I was able to impress this physician in such a manner that
he took me to Mr. A.G. Robins, the Manager of a nearby Rubber Estate which had its own hospital.
Fortunately for me, Mr. A.G. Robins was just then in need of an assistant to work in the
Estate Hospital. He was a terrible man with a violent temper, a giant figure, tall and stout. He asked
me: ‘Can you manage a hospital all by yourself?’ I replied: ‘Yes. I can manage even three
hospitals.’ I was appointed at once. I had been told by a local Indian resident that I ought not to
accept, in accordance with their policy, anything less than a hundred dollars a month. Mr. Robins
agreed to give me one hundred and fifty dollars to start with.
The doctor who was in charge of the Estate Hospital had just then left. Moreover, I was told
that he was not very competent. I quickly acquired a good knowledge of the hospital equipment and
the stock of medicines, and found myself absorbed in the job. Here again hard work awaited me. I
had to dispense medicines, in addition to keeping accounts and personally attending on patients as I
did for Dr. Haller in Madras. Unusual handicaps began to tell upon me and I felt like resigning the
job after some time, but Mr. A.G. Robins did not allow me to go.
Later on, when I was in Johore Medical Office, my assistants used to take too much
advantage of my kindness and leniency and were super-lethargic in their duties. I had to do all their
work as well. There I could not even complain of overwork lest my employer should be harsh
towards them. The problem of my overwork was never solved in Malaya, still I continued in the
same job.
I served in the Estate Hospital near Seremban for nearly seven years, after which I joined the
Johore Medical Office, Ltd., at the instigation of Dr. Parsons who had by then returned from war
service. I served in Johore for three years before renouncing the world.
In Malaya I came in direct contact with hundreds of the poor natives and indentured
labourers as well as the local citizens. I learnt the Malaya language and conversed with the natives
in their own tongue.
5
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA
I served the workers of the estate nicely and endeared myself to themall. I gained the esteem
of the employer and the employee alike. I was always fond of service. This moment I would be in
the hospital; and the very next moment in some poor patient’s house to attend on him and his
family. Dr. Parsons who was a visiting physician to the estate hospital, loved me very much. I used
to assist himin his private work also. Off and on I gave my earnings to help friends and the patients.
I even went to the extent of pawning some of my own valuables.
I was a friend of both the management as well as the labourers. If the scavengers went on
strike, the estate manager would come only to me. I would somehow run about here and there and
bring themback to work. In addition to my own work, I would go about visiting other hospitals and
acquire special knowledge in bacteriological and other subjects.
There was not a single available English medical book at that time that I had not read and
digested. In addition to all this I would help my assistants too and train themfor sometime daily, and
then send them to other hospitals with a recommendation letter, providing from my pocket their
railway fare as well as some emergency money. Soon I became well-known in Seremban and
Johore Bahru. The Bank Manager would oblige me at any time even on holidays, by honouring my
cheques. I became everybody’s friend through my sociable disposition and service. I got rapid
promotions and with that my salary and private practice increased by leaps and bounds. All this was
not achieved in a single day. It meant very hard work, unflagging tenacity, strenuous effort and
indomitable faith in the principles of goodness and virtue and their practical application in my daily
life.
During my career in Malaya, I contributed many articles on ‘Public Health’ to “Malaya
Tribune,” Singapore.
First Lessons in Service to Humanity
I specialised in microscopical study and Tropical Medicine. Subsequently I moved to
Johore Bahru, near Singapore, to join Drs. Parsons and Green and lived there for three years.
Doctors Parsons, Green, Garlik and Glenny complimented me as highly competent for the medical
profession and admired me for my agile, nimble and efficient nature. I was happy, cheerful and
contented. I carefully attended on all patients. I never demanded fee from my clients. I felt happy
when they were free from disease and trouble. To serve people and to share what I have is my
inborn nature.
I used to cheer up people with my wit and humour, and elevate the sick with loving and
encouraging words. The sick persons at once felt a new health, hope, spirit, vigour and vitality.
Everywhere people declared that I had a special gift from God for the miraculous cure effected in
the patients and acclaimed me as a very kind and sympathetic doctor with a charming and majestic
personality. In serious cases I used to keep vigil at night. In the company of the sick, I understood
their feelings and endeavoured to relieve their sufferings.
I became a Member of the Royal Institute of Public Health (M.R.I.P.H.), London, a Member
of the Royal Asiatic Society (M.R.A.S.), London, and an Associate of Royal Sanitary Institute
(A.R.San.I.), London. During my stay in Malaya, I published some medical books such as
6
I AM BORN
“Household Remedies,” “Fruits and Health” “Diseases and their Tamil Terms,” “Obstetric
Ready-Reckoner,” “Fourteen Lectures on Public Health.” I gave shelter to many people during
their days of unemployment and gave them food and clothing and fixed them up in one office or
another.
I was liberal in my views. The spirit of Sannyasa was ingrained in me. Crookedness,
diplomacy, double-dealing, are not known to me. I was very candid, straightforward, simple and
open-hearted. I trained many young persons in the Hospital where I worked and fixed them up in
various Estate Hospitals. I spent all my energy and time in relieving human sufferings by serving
the poor and the sick, day and night, with a sympathetic heart. This kind of selfless service gave me
purification of heart and mind, and led me to the spiritual path.
In my youth I had a great liking for high class dress, collection of curious and fancy articles
of gold, silver and sandalwood. Sometimes I used to purchase various kinds of gold rings and
necklaces and wear them all at a time. When I entered shops, I never used to waste any time in
selection. I gathered all that I saw. I did not like haggling and bargaining. I paid the shopkeepers’
bills without any scrutiny. Even now, whenever I enter a book-shop, I purchase a lot of books and
add them to the Forest University Library for the benefit of the students in the Ashram.
I had many hats, but never wore them. Sometimes I used my felt cap and the Silk Turban
like a Rajput Prince. I prepared my own food for a long period. Biking was my best exercise. I
entertained guests and served themwith great love and devotion. Malaya was a land of temptation,
but nothing could tempt me. I was as pure as a crystal and did my daily worship, prayers, study of
scriptures. I used to conduct Nandan Charitram and played on Harmonium and sang Bhajans and
Kirtans. Even in Malaya I practised Anahat Laya Yoga and Svara Sadhana.
CHAPTER TWO
THE CALL OF THE IMMORTAL
Dawn of a New Vision
“Is there not a higher mission in life than the daily round of official duties, eating and
drinking? Is there not any higher form of eternal happiness than these transitory and illusory
pleasures? How uncertain is life here? How insecure is existence on this earth-plane, with various
kinds of diseases, anxieties, worries, fear and disappointments! The world of names and forms is
constantly changing. Time is fleeting. All hopes of happiness in this world terminate in pain,
despair and sorrow.”
Such were the thoughts constantly rising in my mind. The doctor’s profession gave me
ample evidence of the sufferings of this world. For a Vairagi who has a sympathetic heart, the world
is full of pain. True and lasting happiness cannot be found merely in gathering wealth. With the
purification of heart through selfless service, I had a new vision. I was deeply convinced that there
7
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA
must be a place—a sweet home of pristine glory and purity and divine splendour—where absolute
security, perfect peace and lasting happiness can be had through Self-realisation.
I frequently remembered the Sruti Vakya: “Yadahareva Virajet Tadahareva
Pravrajet—The day on which one gets Vairagya, that very day one should renounce the world.” I
constantly thought of: “SravanarthamSannyasamKuryat—For hearing the Srutis, one should take
Sannyasa.” The words of scriptures have great value. I gave up the life of ease, comfort and luxury,
and reached India in search of an ideal centre for purposes of prayer and contemplation, study and a
higher form of service to the whole world.
In 1923, I renounced the life of ease and money-making and took to the life of a mendicant,
a true seeker after Truth. I left my luggage in Malaya with a friend. ASchool Master in Malaya who
came to the Ashram in 1939 told me: “Mr. S. is still keeping all your articles intact, awaiting your
return!”
As a Wandering Mendicant
From Singapore, I reached Banaras and had Darshan of Lord Siva. Then I proceeded to
Nasik, Poona and other important religious centres. FromPoona I walked to Pandarpore, a distance
of seventy miles. On my way I stayed for a couple of days in the Ashramof Yogi Narayan Maharaj
at Khedgaon. Then I spent some four months in Dhalaj on the banks of Chandrabhaga. During my
incessant travels, I learnt how to adjust and adapt myself to various types of people.
I learnt a lot from the lives of Yogins, Mahatmas and great men. The spirit of service
ingrained in me enabled me to lead a smooth life of peace everywhere. The life of a mendicant
during pilgrimage helped me to develop in a great measure Titiksha (forbearance), equal vision and
a balanced state of mind in pleasure and pain. I met many Mahatmas and learnt wonderful lessons.
On some days I had to go without food and walk mile after mile. With a smile, I faced all hardships.
How to Benefit by Pilgrimage
Mahatmas and devotees go on pilgrimage and visit sacred places as a part of spiritual
Sadhana. They have different objects in view. Mahatmas come in contact with sincere devotees at
various centres and impart their knowledge and experiences, and guide them. They select suitable
places for meditation where they find inspiration and facility for intense Sadhana. They clear the
doubts of the householders, give their blessings and guide them. Devotees who take to pilgrimage
get Darshan of Mahatmas and have their doubts cleared. They receive inspiration by seeing holy
men and sacred places and develop various kinds of divine qualities by mixing with various types of
people. They are trained to adopt a simple living and bear hardships.
There are some who spend their entire life in pilgrimage by wandering frequently from
Kadirkamam (in Ceylon) to Mount Kailas (in Tibet), Puri to Dwaraka, Amarnath (in Kashmir) to
Allahabad, Banaras to Rameswaram. I have seen many persons repenting in old age that they had so
wasted their youth in such a wandering life. I led the life of a wandering monk, just for a short
period, in search of my Guru and of a suitable place charged with spiritual vibrations, for spending
my life in seclusion and to do rigorous Sadhana.
8
THE CALL OF THE IMMORTAL
Necessity of a Guru
The spiritual path is beset with many obstacles. The Guru will guide the aspirants safely and
remove all sorts of difficulties they have to face. He will inspire the students and give themspiritual
powers through his blessings. Guru, Isvara, Truth and Mantra are one. There is no other way of
overcoming the vicious worldly Samskaras of the passionate nature of raw, worldly-minded
persons than personal contact with and service to the Guru.
In search of a Guru, I reached Rishikesh and prayed to the Lord for His Grace There are
many egoistic students who say: “I need no Guru. God is my Guru.” They change their own robes
and live independently. When difficulties and troubles confront them, they are bewildered. I do not
like the rules and regulations of the scriptures, sages and saints to be violated. When there is a
change of heart, there should be a change in the external form also. The glory and the liberty of a
Sannyasi can hardly be imagined by the timid and the weak. From the sacred hands of
Paramahamsa Viswananda Saraswati, I received Holy initiation on the bank of the Ganga on 1st
June, 1924. The religious rite of Viraja Homa was done for me by my Acharya Guru, Sri Swami
Vishnudevanandaji Maharaj at Kailas Ashram.
A personal Guru is necessary in the beginning. He alone can show you the path to attain
God, who is the Guru of Gurus, and obviate the snares and pitfalls on your path. Self-realisation is a
transcendental experience. You can march in the spiritual path only by placing implicit faith in the
words of sages who have realised the Truth (Apta Vakya) and attained knowledge of the Self.
Guru’s Grace is needed by the disciple. This does not mean that the disciple should sit idle
and expect a miracle fromthe Guru to push himdirectly into Samadhi. The Guru cannot do Sadhana
for the student. It is foolish to expect spiritual attainments froma drop of Kamandalu water fromthe
Guru. The Guru can guide the student, clear his doubts, pave the way, remove the snares, pitfalls
and obstacles and throwlight on the path. But it is the disciple himself who has to walk every step in
the spiritual path.
Spiritual progress requires intense and unswerving faith in the teachings of the Guru and the
Sastras, burning and lasting Vairagya, yearning for liberation, adamantine will, fiery resolve, iron
determination, unruffled patience, leech-like tenacity, clock-like regularity, child-like simplicity.
If you have no Guru, take Lord Krishna or Siva or Rama or Christ as your Guru. Pray to
Him. Meditate on Him. Sing His Name. He will send you a suitable Guru.
The Journey’s End
I came to Rishikesh in June 1924 and found it my destination. My Guru gave me initiation
and enough spiritual strength and blessings. Gurus can do this much only. It is the student who has
to do intense and rigorous Sadhana. Rishikesh is a Railway Station in the District of Dehra Dun,
Uttar Pradesh, in the Himalayas. It is a holy place with many Mahatmas. There are Kshetras
(alms-houses) to provide free food for all Sadhus and Yogins and aspirants. They can stay in any of
the Dharmasalas or Kutias or have their own thatched cottages and huts in any place. Near about
Rishikesh, there are many charming places like Brahmapuri Forests, Nilakantha, Vasishtha Guha,
9
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA
Tapovanam. Sadhus who stay in such places get their dry rations once in fifteen days and prepare
their own food.
The scenery of the Himalayas is charming, soul-elevating. The Holy Ganga is a blessing.
One can spend hours in contemplation, sitting on a rock or on a sand-bank by the side of the Ganga.
There are some Libraries fromwhere we can get authoritative works in Sanskrit, English and Hindi
on Yoga and Philosophy. Some learned Mahatmas conduct regular daily classes and give private
tuition to deserving students. The climate of the place is fine—slightly cold in winter (November to
March) and slightly hot in summer (April to June). There are allopathic and Ayurvedic Hospitals to
attend to the sick. Thus I found Rishikesh an ideal place for intense and undisturbed spiritual
practices true for all seekers after Truth.
CHAPTER THREE
ON THE ANVIL—SHARING THE TREASURE DIVINE
Vagaries of Spiritual Ambitions
Some Mahatmas spend their whole life in deep study of scriptures and derive great pleasure
in hot discussions and arguments on abstruse points of Yoga and Vedanta. Some Yogins struggle
with Hatha Yoga exercises with the hope of getting Siddhis. They indulge in practices which torture
the body. There are a few who are tempted by the Kundalini Yoga and Tantra Sastra for attaining
spiritual powers to performmiracles. Devotees spend all their time in Japa and Kirtan and weep for
hours because of their separation from the Lord. In this group, you will find also some educated
young persons who spend their whole time in writing thrilling articles and lectures. They plan and
prepare for a world-tour. I have great love and reverence for all such Mahatmas for the thorough
research they do in various directions. Do they all succeed in attaining perfection?
I found that they did not have proper facilities, comforts and conveniences. They lacked
guidance froma competent person. They could not be steady and systematic in their Sadhana. The
planning and scheming nature in them led them to frequent changes in their daily practices. Either
they paid undue attention to their wants or completely ignored their health. They all thought much
of the future and aspired for Siddhis, miracles, name and fame. That only fattened their ego. Adeep
study of the ways of Mahatmas opened my eyes and gave me strength to stick to rigorous Sadhana
in the right direction. I felt the Grace of the Lord. I derived strength and guidance from within. I
found ways for an all-round development. I had the goal of my life as Self-realisation and
determined to spend every bit of my energy and time in study, service and Sadhana.
How I Synthesised My Sadhana
Service of the sick and the poor and the Mahatmas purifies the heart. This is a field for
developing all divine qualities such as compassion, sympathy, mercy, generosity. That helps to
destroy the evil qualities and impurities of the mind such as egoism, selfishness, pride, hatred,
anger, lust, jealousy, etc. Mahatmas and the poor villagers who were sick did not have proper
10
THE CALL OF THE IMMORTAL
medical aid. Thousands of pilgrims to Badrinath, Kedarnath also needed medical help. Therefore I
started a small dispensary, Satyasevashram, at Lakshmanjhula on the way to Badri-Kedar, and
served the devotees with great love and devotion. I arranged special diet for the serious cases and
provided milk and other requirements. Spiritual evolution is quicker through service done with
proper Bhav and attitude.
For maintaining a high standard of health, I practised Asanas, Pranayamas, Mudras and
Bandhas. I used to go out for long brisk walks in the evenings. I combined physical exercises such
as Dand and Bhaitak also. I paid special attention to simple living, high thinking, light food, deep
study, silent meditation and regular prayers. I loved seclusion and observed Mauna. I did not like
company and futile talk. Fromthe RamAshramLibrary in Muni-ki-reti I used to get some books for
my study and devoted some time to study every day. I kept always a Dictionary by my side and
looked up the meaning of difficult words. Rest and relaxation gave me enough strength to carry on
intense Sadhana. I moved closely with some Mahatmas but I never indulged in discussion and
debates. Self-analysis and introspection were my guide.
With a viewto devoting more time to prayer and meditation, I moved to the Swargashram. I
lived in a small Kutir, 8 feet by 10 feet, with a small verandah in front, and depended on the Kali
Kambliwala Kshetra for my food. Nowthe Kutir is numbered as 111 with some additional rooms by
its side. I continued my Sadhana and service to the sick persons of the place. Just for an hour daily, I
used to go from Kutir to Kutir to attend to the sick Mahatmas, enquire about their welfare and
supply their requirements. I spent much of my time in meditation and practised various kinds of
Yogas in my Sadhana, and my experiences have all come out in many of my publications as advice
to aspirants. I quickly sent out my thoughts and experiences to help the world and struggling seekers
after Truth. It was usual for even great Mahatmas to keep their rare knowledge as a secret and teach
only a chosen few.
Life at Swargashram
I did not spend much time in cleaning the teeth, washing clothes and bathing. I quickly
finished these when I was a bit free from my Sadhana, study and service. I never depended on any
one though there were a few disciples who were awaiting opportunities to serve me. I had fixed
times for all items of work such as study, writing notes and letters to Sadhakas, exercises, going out
for Bhiksha, etc. Gradually people came to me in large numbers. That seriously affected my
systematic work. With the permission of the Kshetra people, I fixed up a barbed-wire fencing
around my Kutir and locked the gate.
Before the visitors, I did not show my erudition by discussing high philosophy at length. I
gave some short hints on practical Sadhana and disposed of each of them in five minutes. I kept a
sign board at the entrance of my compound: “INTERVIEW—between 4 and 5 p.m.—only for five
minutes at a time.” During winter, the devotees were not many. I utilised this time for a brisk walk
in the compound, singing Bhajans and songs. For some days, I would not come out of my Kutir. For
my food, I used to keep some dry bread, remnants from my daily alms. Thus intense Sadhana was
my Goal.
11
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA
My joy was indescribable when I spent hours in the evenings on the sand banks of the Ganga
or sitting on a fine rock and gazed at wonderful Nature. I became one with Nature. During this
period, I established the Swargashram Sadhu Sangha, to obtain redress for the grievances of the
Mahatmas, and registered the Institution. I invited great Mahatmas and organised weekly
discourses and daily Bhajan and Ramayana Katha for some time. For some months, we had
discourses on the Yoga-Vasishtha, Tulasidas Ramayana and Upanishads also. I trained my students
in organisational work through the Swargashram Sadhu Sangha.
Out on Divine Ministration
In 1925 I visited Sherkot Estate, Dhampur, in the District of Bijnoor. The Rani of Sherkot,
Srimati Phulkumari Devi, gave me a cordial reception. I conducted Bhajan there on several days
and gave medical aid to the villagers. The Maharani of Mandi, Sri Lalita Kumari Devi, also
attended the Bhajan. Whenever the Maharani met me, even after several years, she used to say: “I
cannot forget your melodious, inspiring songs. They are ever green in my memory. I can now feel
their influence. They lulled me and elevated my soul.”
From Sherkot I returned to Rishikesh by walk after visiting the villages on the way. I gave
discourses on Yoga and conducted Kirtans and Bhajans to the groups of devotees I met. Occasional
tours helped me to develop all divine qualities and to serve mankind on a large scale. Once during
my Parivrajaka life, I visited Rameswaramand sawthe sacred places in South India. At this period I
stayed in Sri Ramana Ashram for some time. Sri Chand Narain Harkuli, Advocate, Sitapur,
accompanied me. On my way I went to Puri and worshipped the Lord Jagannath. I took bath in the
sea at Waltair. At RameswaramI worshipped Lord Ramalinga. I reached the Ashramon the day of
Sri Ramana’s Birthday celebration. I did Bhajan and Kirtan in the big Hall before Sri Bhagavan
Ramana and the devotees and perambulated the Arunachala Hill and worshipped the Tejas Linga.
Whenever I found an opportunity to serve people on a large scale or when people compelled
me to preside over Spiritual Conferences, I visited various centres in Bihar, Punjab and United
Provinces. I started dynamic centres for Sadhana and organised Spiritual Conferences and Kirtan
Sammelans and participated in the activities of many educational, religious and spiritual
Institutions. Even while travelling in trains I taught Yoga exercises to the passengers and gave them
simple lessons on Japa and meditation. I carried a chest of medicine with me always and gave
medical aid to the sick.
The important places of my visit were; Lahore, Meerut, Srinagar (Kashmir), Patna,
Monghyr, Lucknow, Gaya, Calcutta, Ayodhya, Lakhimpur-kheri, Bhagalpur, Ambala, Aligarh,
Sitapur, Bulandshaher, Delhi, Shikohabad, Nimsar, Mathura, Brindavan, Etawah, Mainpuri and
many other places in Northern India. In Andhra Province, I visited the Santi Ashram in Totapalli
Hills, the Mission of Peace in Waltair and also went to Rajahmundry, Kakinada, Pithapuram and
Lakshmi-narasapuram.
During my travels, I carried a bundle containing my ink-pot, pens, pencils, pins, study
books like Viveka Chudamani, the Upanishads, the Gita and the Brahma-sutras. I kept also some
postage stamps to attend to some urgent correspondence work. I used to go to the Railway Station
two hours before the scheduled train timings. Instead of looking here and there, I would sit under a
12
ON THE ANVIL—SHARING THE TREASURE DIVINE
tree and attend to my writing work. I never kept any address book with me for meeting devotees or
friends at important centres of my travel with a viewto getting nice food or financial help. I quickly
finished my work for which I was travelling and returned to Rishikesh by the first available
opportunity.
I visited Kedarnath and Badrinath, Tunganath and Triyuginath. Swami Balananda, Swami
Vidyasagar accompanied me. I had a dip in the hot-water springs at Badri Narayan. Throughout my
travel I sang Kirtan and Bhajan and did mental Japa.
By a steam-boat at Calcutta, I reached Ganga Sagar—the confluence of Ganga with Bay of
Bengal. Srimati Maharani Surat Kumari Devi also was with me. There is a small temple of Kapila
Muni at the sacred Ganga Sagar. I had a bath in the sea. There was a Mela (fair). I helped the
pilgrims in getting up the ladder.
Call of Mount Kailas
In the early years of my Sadhana at Rishikesh, I decided to see Kailas. Mount Kailas is in
Western Tibet. On the 12th June, 1931, I started on a pilgrimage to that sacred place with His
Holiness Sri Swami Adwaitanandaji, Sri Swami Swayam Jyoti Maharaj, Sri Brahmachari
Yogananda, Her Highness Maharani Sahiba Surat Kumari Devi, O.B.E., Singhahi State, and Sri
Kedarnath, her secretary. We all had a dip in Lake Manasarovar and went around Mount Kailas. I
walked the whole distance. There is no place on all this fair earth which can be compared with
Kailas for the marvellous beauty of the everlasting snows. Of all Yatras, the Kailas trip is the most
difficult. It is called Mount Meru—the axis of Mountains. At the time I went there, His Highness the
Maharajah Saheb of Mysore also visited Kailas. He is the only Maharajah in India who has visited
the sacred mount. The total distance fromAlmora to Kaiias is about 230 miles. In two months one
can easily visit the place and return. On August 22nd our party returned to Almora.
Mass Dissemination of Spiritual Knowledge
On the 9th September, 1950, I started on a dynamic Mission of Dissemination of
Knowledge, undertaking an extensive tour all over India and Ceylon for a period of two months. I
returned to Rishikesh on the 7th November, 1950. I then came in close touch with thousands of
sincere spiritual aspirants all over the land. I rejoice heartily that the Almighty gave me an
opportunity to serve Him and His children by undertaking the All-India-Ceylon Tour. I recollect
with immense delight the deep devotion of the people of India and Ceylon, the reverence they have
for the Holy Order of Sannyasa and their eagerness to acquire the Knowledge of Yoga and Vedanta.
I visited all the important cities, towns and villages all over India. I addressed public
meetings and conducted Kirtans. I delivered speeches in many Schools, Colleges and Universities
on ethical culture and Real Education and addressed numerous public meetings on general spiritual
topics. Several thousands of rupees worth of valuable books were distributed free of cost to the
public during this historic event—the All-India-Ceylon Tour.
In keeping with my usual practice, I did not spend any time in preparing fine lengthy
speeches on Yoga, Bhakti and Vedanta for such occasions. Along with my Kirtans and songs, I
13
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA
gave practical lessons on Sadhana. That created a wonderful effect on the audience. When I was
filled with immense joy in the company of devotees, I combined Nritya also—the Dance of Lord
Siva and Lord Krishna. People were thrilled. Even today thousands repeat my favourite Kirtans:
“Agada Bhum,” “Chidananda-hum,” “Pilade,” etc. In various centres, the devotees also stood up
and danced for a long period in divine ecstasy.
Everywhere I went, I was overwhelmed by the love of the people. I enjoyed at every centre
the warmth of the people’s cordiality and devotion. I bathed again and again in the ocean of the
masses’ devotion to the Lord. I drank again and again the Immortal Elixir of the Lord’s Name,
which all people sang with Bhava and fervour.
Service gives me Joy. I cannot live without service even for a second. I found a dynamic
field in the All-India Tour. I worked without any rest or relaxation for a period of two months. I felt
that the Tourist Car and the scheduled timings for the travel by Aeroplane, Train, Cars and Steamers
imposed a restriction on my method of intense work. I had to stick to ‘time’ in attending to various
functions and did not have enough time to attend to the needs of the devotees.
When I was at Bombay on my return journey, I wanted to dispense with the Tourist Car at
Delhi and then to continue the tour from Province to Province, going from door to door in every
city, town and village and singing Kirtans and Bhajans and repeating Maha-mrityunjaya Mantra for
the health and long life of the devotees. I wanted to carry the Message of Divine Life to each and
every aspirant individually.
Spiritual Conferences
Though I had a special predilection for deep meditation in seclusion during my stay in
Swargashram, periodically I organised Satsangas in the evening hours. I invited the Mahatmas and
the Brahmacharis. One Punjabi Mahatma used to conduct classes on the Yoga-Vasishtha and
Tulasidas Ramayana and before closing I did Bhajan and Kirtan. Occasionally I visited Sitapur,
Lakhimpur-kheri, Meerut and other places in the U.P. and Punjab. I conducted Kirtans at night,
lectures in all High Schools and Colleges with demonstration of Yoga exercises and distributed
leaflets on “Twenty Important Spiritual Instructions” and “Importance of Brahmacharya.” I
introduced common prayers and silent meditation in the early morning at 4 a.m. and compelled all
the devotees to join the collective Sadhana.
I asked people to maintain Likhita-Japa (writing of Mantras). I saw many devotees sit in
public meetings motionless, write Mantras and observe Mauna during the period. I distributed
presents to those who wrote the largest number of Mantras legibly. To encourage people, I gave
spiritual books as presents not only to the winners in the competition but also to every one present in
the Hall. Devotees used to bring a lot of fruits, and the entire lot used to be distributed to the
audience then and there. At the end I used to take a small bit as Prasad.
Lecture Tours
Invariably the organisers used to chalk out a tight programme for a week or two. There used
to be Akhanda Kirtan for 2 or 3 days. To relieve me in the work at out-stations, I used to take my
14
ON THE ANVIL—SHARING THE TREASURE DIVINE
students, Sri Swami Svarupananda and Sri Swami Atmananda. The former would quickly and ably
translate my English speeches into Hindi and the latter conduct melodious Bhajans and Kirtans.
Many pamphlets and leaflets were printed for free distribution.
In 1933 I took up this propaganda tour in Lakhimpur-kheri, Meerut and Hardoi. Every year,
for a week or two I travelled in the Punjab and in Bihar. During such tours I asked my students in
Swargashram and the Post Master at Rishikesh not to redirect my letters. I did not attend to this
correspondence work during my tour and concentrated on a dynamic work for dissemination of
knowledge.
Though I lived a simple life with ordinary dry bread (Rottis) at Rishikesh, during such
intense work, day and night, I felt the need for energy-giving food and fruits. I used to keep a few
pieces of bread or biscuits in my pocket, because the work in various places did not allow me any
time for my meals or rest. Before starting for such Conferences, I kept enough money with me for
my return fare. For my expenses I never demanded money fromthe organisers of the functions, but
I asked them to print a large number of copies of leaflets and pamphlets in different languages for
wide circulation during the Conference or Sammelans.
My students who accompanied me in the tours invariably said: “It is all joy to travel with
Guru Maharaj for the wonderful treatment he gives.” I shared with themall that I had and took great
care of their health and made them very popular and well-known. Sometimes I wrote to the
organisers: Keep enough fruits and biscuits in my room. That is my Saguna Brahman. To bring
about a solid and substantial work, the workers need nutritious food and energy-giving fruits.” in
Sitapur during my visit in 1934, I started a Medical Relief Campaign. In Andhra Districts, during
my tour, I visited many villages and gave medicine to the poor village people. Sri Swami Omkarji
and Sister Sushila (Sri Ellan St. Clair Nowald) accompanied me.
Unfailing Inspiration
During intense work, I used to relax through Japa, meditation, deep breathing exercises,
Bhastrika Pranayama, and Kirtan; and that energised and galvanised me. I conducted Nagar Kirtans
and Prabhat Pheri in many places. The whole town, wherever I went, was charged with spiritual
vibrations. People felt the wonderful peace and power for days. Devotees used to write to me after
several years: “Beloved Swamiji, we hear your OM chanting and Maha-Mantra Kirtans even
today.” People who work in the fields even now repeat my popular Kirtans: “Om Namah Sivaya,
Chidananda-hum, and Sita Ram Sita Ram,” Dhwanis. The students in all Colleges and Schools
repeat my favourite Kirtan: “Govinda, Govinda—Don’t smoke, Govinda.” The results of the tour
were wonderful and lasting.
The work at the Ashramwas heavy and I gave up the tour life in 1938. To various centres I
sent my students to attend the Spiritual Conferences at out-stations. People fromPunjab compelled
me on various occasions and did Satyagraha (strike) at my Kutir and forced me to visit Lahore
during their Annual Sankirtan Conferences in December.
15
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA
Dynamic Transformation of the Masses
Some of the letters written by me from1933 to 1936, reproduced below, give an idea of the
work turned out during my travels:
I. “When I travel, I pour out all my energy in the course of a week. I am tired now. But
people compel me to visit Meerut. It is all His Grace. May His Will be done. Do not send any letters
to my camps. It will interfere with my work here. People are devouring me from all corners.
Nothing is definite. I may return to Rishikesh after one or two weeks.”
II. “My time is spent in delivering thrilling lectures during day and Kirtans at night. I pump
joy and power into the devotees. I roar like a lion. People do not leave me even a second. Sitapur and
Lakhimpur-kheri are Vaikuntha nowon earth. I had a Virat Kirtan with 3000 people, a thing which
Lakhimpur has never seen in its annals. I will have Kirtans with Harijans today. Through Kirtan
Movement, we can revolutionise India. India needs this. There is a great revival now.”
III. “Tell the organisers that I amslightly pleased with themnow. Akhanda Kirtan for 3 days
on a separate platformis very, very necessary. This is the only effective part of the work, solid and
substantial. Sankirtan in different centres to thrill and electrify the whole atmosphere is another
task. These two items are important for the peace of the world. Local riot and Section 144 are
nothing before Ram Nam. You need not be afraid of the curfew orders.”
Types of Different Kirtans
Even today I can easily visualise how, when I sang Agada-BhumKirtans, thousands used to
get up and dance. After every Bhajan and Kirtan, I gave impressive lessons on Sadhana. I conducted
Lorry Kirtans in Bihar. I went to various places in a Lorry with a party of devotees and did Kirtans.
In Rishikesh, on several occasions, I did Boat Kirtans.
Another highly interesting feature was the Group Kirtans. I selected the Government
officers from the audience for doing Kirtan from the platform. Then a chance was given to all
College Professors, doctors, students, ladies and girls. That created great enthusiasm. It was a novel
feature. At first they all hesitated and felt shy. Then they felt the benefit. After some months they all
turned to be staunch Kirtanists and established Kirtan Mandalis in various towns.
16
ON THE ANVIL—SHARING THE TREASURE DIVINE
CHAPTER FOUR
THE DIVINE MISSION
First Stage
How Students Are Trained
I always loved silent Sadhana in seclusion. During the day for a short period I would write
some articles and letters to thirsty aspirants. I did not use a kerosene light, nor did I work at night at
any time. I used to come out of my Kutir just for an hour in the morning to serve the sick people with
medicine, for a brisk walk in the compound, to bathe in the Ganga and to go to the Kshetra for
bringing my food. This sort of routine has become my habit during my thirty-five years of life in
Rishikesh. I never indulged in loose talks with friends. When I went to the Kshetra, I observed
Mauna. To avoid people, I used to walk through a small foot-path through the jungle. While
walking to the Kshetra, I combined deep breathing exercises and mental Japa.
I had no ambition to become world-famous by any extensive tour or thrilling lectures from
the platform. I never attempted to be a Guru to anyone. I amnot pleased when people call me: “Sat
Guru” or “Avatar.” I am dead against “Gurudom.” That is a great obstacle and has caused the
downfall of great men in the spiritual path. “Gurudom” is a menace to society. Even now I ask
people to do Namaskar to me mentally. The fewlines I wrote to one of my disciples in 1931 convey
my attitude clearly:—
“I am only a common Sadhu. I may not be able to help you much. Further I do not make
disciples. I can be your sincere friend till the end of my life. I do not like to keep persons by my side
for a long time. I give lessons for a couple of months and ask my students to meditate in some
solitary places in Kashmir or Uttarkashi.”
Reserve and Humility
I never said or did anything to tempt people with promises of grand results like Mukti froma
drop of Kamandalu water or Samadhi by a mere touch. I emphasised the importance of silent
Sadhana, Japa and meditation for a systematic progress in the spiritual path. Invariably I asked all
aspirants to purify the heart through selfless service to mankind.
In 1933 the publishers in Madras wrote articles on my life and mentioned me as an
“Avatar.” Immediately I gave a reply which explains the attitude I have always maintained:—
“Kindly remove all ‘Krishna Avatara’ and ‘Bhagawan’ business. Keep the publication
natural and simple. Then it will be attractive. Do not exaggerate much about me very often. The
juice will evaporate. Do not give me titles as ‘World Teacher’, ‘Mandaleshwar’ and ‘Bhagawan’.
Lay bare the truth, Truth will shine, I lead a simple and natural life. I take immense delight in
service. Service has elevated me. Service has purified me. This body is meant for service. I live to
serve everyone and make the world happy and cheerful.”
17
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA
Even before donkeys and other animals, I do mental prostrations. To my disciples and
devotees, I first do Namaskara. I behold the Essence behind all names and forms. That is real
Vedanta in daily life.
Guiding the Steps of Neophytes
From 1930, many earnest students with a burning desire to devote their lives to spiritual
pursuits came to me for guidance. I had also a burning desire to serve the world. Those were the
days when Sadhus and Mahatmas lived in peculiar, pitiable conditions—without necessary
comforts and conveniences and proper guidance for spiritual evolution. Many tortured the body in
the hot sun and in the Himalayan cold. Some were addicted to intoxicating drinks to induce the
so-called Samadhi.
With a viewto training a band of Sannyasins and Yogins on the right lines, I permitted some
aspirants to live in the adjacent Kutirs. I arranged for their meals from the Kshetra and gave them
initiation. I arranged all comforts and conveniences for them. I encouraged them and infused
Vairagya in them. I took special care of their health. I frequently enquired about their Sadhana and
gave useful hints for the removal of their difficulties and obstacles in their meditation. When they
offered their services to me, I asked them to go from Kutir to Kutir and find out the old and sick
Mahatmas and serve themwith Bhakti and Sraddha by bringing food for themfromthe Kshetra and
massaging their legs and washing their clothes.
I asked some educated students to take copies of my short articles and send them to
magazines and Newspapers for publication, and devote their time to study, Japa and meditation.
They all took great pleasure in copying out my articles, as they all contained the essence of the
teachings of all sages and saints, and a clear commentary on the difficult portions of the Upanishads
and the Gita. My articles contained practical lessons for controlling the turbulent senses and
fluctuation of the mind.
Instead of studying the ancient sacred scriptures for decades, the students spent a few
minutes daily in making copies of my articles and thereby learnt Yoga and philosophy easily in a
short period. I closely observed their faces to see if they liked the work and then carefully selected
matter suited to their taste and temperament and entrusted themwith the work. Sometimes I had to
do the whole work. I love the students. Unasked, I attended to their needs.
In the case of old persons who had no ties in the world, I welcomed them and encouraged
them in carrying on their Sadhana and asked them to take bath in the Ganga and do plenty of Japa
and Sravana. I danced in joy when I sawpeace and bliss in their face. Thus more and more aspirants
came to me, and the Swargashram management could not maintain the increasing number of
seekers after Truth. I loved the place and enjoyed the peace, but in the interest of the spiritual uplift
of a large number of educated Sadhakas, I decided to leave the Swargashram.
Second Stage
18
THE DIVINE MISSION
Planting of the Acorn Sapling
Planning and scheming were not in my nature. I depend on the grace of the Lord. I had
decided to leave Swargashram. Where was I to go? That was a great problem. For some days, I
stayed in a small room at the Rama Ashram Library. A few of my students lived in a small
Dharmashala nearby and depended on the Kshetra for their meals. For some days I too went to the
Kshetra for my Bhiksha. To save time, I received my Bhiksha through an elderly Sadhu from the
Kshetra. Thus months passed.
Then I found a small Kutir in a dilapidated condition nearby. That was improved a bit by
fixing doors and windows. I occupied the place and lived there for a period of over 8 years. I could
have easily set up some thatched cottages in the jungle. That was not suitable for dynamic work.
Books and papers might get damaged by white-ants. I sawa series of rooms in a Dharmashala used
by a shopkeeper as a cow-shed. These rooms had no doors. Gradually, one by one, all the rooms
were converted into residential quarters for the students.
When devotees gave me some money for my personal use, I utilised it in printing leaflets
like “Twenty Important Spiritual Instructions,” “Way to Peace and Bliss,” “Forty Golden Precepts”
and other pamphlets, and gave them to visitors. I utilised the money in purchasing some useful
medicines for the treatment of sick Mahatmas and for postage to send articles to newspapers and
letters to thirsty aspirants. The work grew in a steady pace. I did not go out in search of students.
True seekers of Truth came to me in large numbers seeking my help and guidance. They all
received initiation fromme and lived in the adjacent rooms of the Dharmashala and worked day and
night. To meet the heavy rush of work, I got a duplicator and a typewriter. People evinced great
interest in the divine service done for the spiritual uplift of the world. I admired their devotion to
me. In work, they forgot their past and plunged themselves in attaining evolution through service
and Sadhana. Devotees gave me voluntary contributions for the noble cause. For the maintenance
of the students, I received dry rations for five persons from the Kali-kambliwala Kshetra at
Rishikesh. For the rest of the students and the visitors I utilised the meagre donation received froma
few admirers. That enabled me to publish some books also for sale.
Talents Find Their Best Uses
With the arrival of new and able hands, I started various fields of activities suited to their
taste and temperament. I found out the talents and hidden faculties in themand encouraged themto
a great extent. Then a small kitchen was started to provide food for the hard workers, the visitors
and the helpless who could not get Bhiksha from the Kshetra. I maintained various kinds of
addresses—of devotees, High Schools, Libraries, donors and aspirants for the Sannyasa line.
(Nivritti Marga) and sent my books periodically for dissemination of knowledge. The addresses
were well-classified under several headings for easy reference. Here I give the titles of a few
address books:
Ashrams, Associations, Advocates, Judges, Graduates, Book-sellers, Publishers, Firms,
Doctors, Correspondence students, Divine Life Society Branches, Libraries, Ladies Section,
Brahmacharis and Sannyasi students, Magazines and Periodicals, Maharajahs and Zamindars,
19
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA
Students who have received initiation, Monthly Donors, Household Disciples, Officers, Patrons,
Professors, Wonderful Misers. Now there are several address books, a separate volume for each
country. I myself used to fill in the correct addresses and note the changes very carefully. Even
today, I myself enter the important addresses and permit the students to maintain all the address
books in perfect order.
Third Stage
Birth of a Great Institution
Systematically to carry on the Divine Mission on a large scale, I established the DIVINE
LIFE TRUST SOCIETY in 1936 and registered the Trust Deed at Ambala. In 1936 when I was
returning from Lahore after presiding over a Kirtan Conference, I just thought of a Trust Society
and alighted at Ambala and consulted an Advocate and prepared the Trust deed. Then the Divine
Life Society was established for the dissemination of spiritual knowledge throughout the world and
subsequently about 300 Branches were opened in all important cities. Thousands of students
received initiation from me into the order of Sannyasa. So long as they undergo training they stay
with me and work. Advanced students start their own Mission in big cities or have their own
Sadhana in the Himalayan caves.
Thirsty aspirants in all parts of the world receive guidance through post. Series of articles
come out on the practical side of Yoga, Bhakti, Vedanta and Health through leaflets, pamphlets and
bigger publications, in various languages. Leading newspapers in all countries publish my articles
on Yoga, Health and general spiritual matters. Half a dozen periodicals are published at the Ashram
in English and Hindi for circulation through the world. The Ashramis nowin a position to maintain
about 400 persons, learned and cultured scholars, Mahatmas, Yogins, devotees, poor people and the
sick, not to mention the school students of the neighbouring villages.
A Centre of Dynamic Spiritual Regeneration
Many foreigners come to the Ashram and spend some weeks or months and admire the
wonderful work turned out at the Ashram. The inhabitants of Shivanandanagar, young and old, men
and women, enjoy the peace and bliss of this Holy Centre and help the world in a variety of ways.
They all receive my careful, personal attention. I provide themwith all comforts and conveniences
and help them in their evolution.
There are a number of buildings, Kutirs and Guest Houses for their stay. Over thirty
typewriters work day and night for attending to correspondence and book-work. The
Yoga-Vedanta Forest University trains a large number of students through able and qualified
professors and teachers. The students become well-versed in all the scriptures. The University Press
is now equipped with several electrically operated automatic machines of composing, printing,
folding and binding. For the dissemination of knowledge among youths, Essay Competitions are
conducted and scholarships offered to prosecute their studies in Colleges and High Schools.
The Sivananda Hospital is a blessing to the Mahatmas, Yogins, pilgrims and the poor
people of the neighbouring villages. Experienced doctors in different systems of medicine attend to
20
THE DIVINE MISSION
the Hospital work. The General Hospital is equipped with modern apparatus like X-Ray, Diathermy
and a High Frequency Apparatus for E.N.T. and eye cases.
Special worship in the Lord Viswanath Mandir has given a new life to the sick persons all
over the world. People get peace and prosperity by such worship done in the name of the devotees. I
am filled with immense joy when I receive hundreds of letters from devotees who say that their
lives were saved through the special prayers conducted in the Temple of all Faiths at the Ashram.
They write volumes on the miraculous escapes they had in their lives.
Leaders and followers of other religions and cults also come and stay at the Ashramand find
this an ideal centre—a common platform—to serve the world. I see before me a huge Spiritual
Colony with Joy and Bliss in the face of every resident. People come with many motives (such as
attaining material and spiritual benefits) and they are all stunned to have their wishes fulfilled in a
large measure. Glory to the Lord for bestowing this Ideal Centre for all types of seekers after Truth.
In addition to the normal activities, occasional Blind Relief Camps are organised at the
Ashram and at out-stations also. Provincial Divine Life Conferences are organised in important
cities of India. Devotees and students come in batches during their holidays and join the daily
routine and Satsanga, and derive incalculable spiritual benefits.
Fourth Stage
Collective Sadhana
Young aspirants, because of old habit, used to sleep in the winter cold till sunrise or till 6 or
7 in the morning. They must not waste their precious life in sleeping in the Brahmamuhurta,
between 4 and 6 in the early morning. That period is highly favourable for deep meditation. The
atmosphere also is charged with Sattvic vibrations. Without much effort one can have wonderful
concentration at this period.
From my Kutir, I used to chant aloud several times the Mantras: “OMOMOM, SHYAM
SHYAM SHYAM, RADHESHYAM RADHESHYAM RADHESHYAM” and thus made my
students get up early for prayers and meditation. This had no effect on the Tamasic type of
aspirants. I arranged their night meals before sunset. That enabled some to get up early morning. It
is only those who load the stomach heavily at night that find it difficult to get up early in the
morning.
In the beginning stages of Sadhana, even if people meditate alone in a room, they get up in
the morning only to see that they were overpowered by sleep, and sleep the whole period in a sitting
posture. This gave me an idea of a common prayer and meditation during Brahmamuhurta. One
student would ring the bell in front of every Kutir and collect the aspirants in a common place for
the collective Sadhana. I joined the group daily for some months and years.
21
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA
Prayer and Study Classes
The function started with prayers to Lord Ganesha, Guru Stotra and Mahamantra Kirtans.
One student would read a Chapter of the Gita and explain the meaning of one Sloka. Another
student gave some short hints on concentration and meditation. In the end, I spoke for half an hour
on attaining quick spiritual progress and suggested various methods for destroying the evil
tendencies of the mind and controlling the turbulent senses. I laid great emphasis on ethical
perfection. The function came to an end with the chanting of ten Santi Mantras in chorus. The
students kept up the divine consciousness even during their work in the day.
Some students lived in Brahmananda Ashram, a furlong away from my Kutir. On many
occasions I paid surprise visits to the Kutirs at 4 a.m., and chanted OMseveral times and made them
get up for prayers. I did not compel all the students to join the common meditation. I permitted them
to have their own Sadhana in their own Kutirs. Thus I paid all my attention to the spiritual uplift of
my students. Even now many students who attended in those days the common prayer and
meditation say how they were inspired by my short speeches on Sadhana.
In the evening also I organised a “Study Class” between 3 and 4. I asked one student to read
a Chapter fromany of my books. On the next day I used to put questions on the important points. I
trained the aspirants in a variety of ways. They all specialised in chanting the Mantras of the
scriptures, conducting Kirtans, delivering short lectures. I asked one student to put questions and
others to answer them. In the evening class, I introduced Likhita-Japa and in the early morning,
Trataka and other Yoga exercises. During the day, they should all prepare essays on Yoga and
philosophy and write about their own experiences. Even today when school boys and young
children come to the Ashram, I teach thema fewshort sentences in English and ask themto deliver
a powerful lecture. Many have learnt my English Kirtans, like “Eat a little.”
I trained my students in organisational work, typing, maintaining proper accounts managing
the affairs of the Society and in attending to the devotees, visitors and the sick. Thus even in the
early stages, the Yoga-Vedanta Forest University was vigorously in its working.
Attention to Visitors
When visitors came to me, instead of talking to themon their family affairs, I asked themto
forget the past and sing Kirtans with me. I taught themmusic, Bhajan, Kirtan and philosophy. Even
today when devotees come to the Ashram, I prescribe a book for their study and on the next day, I
ask them questions. I clear all their doubts and give helpful suggestions for the removal of their
troubles and obstacles.
They all feel happy in receiving my personal attention. The systematic work done at this
sacred centre in the Himalayas on the banks of the Ganga, attracted thousands of seekers after Truth
from all distant places in India and other countries. The Divine Life Society, the Yoga-Vedanta
Forest University and the Sivananda Ashrambecame “watch-words” for all aspirants. Similar work
is now organised systematically in various centres with the formation of Branches of the
University, The Divine Life Society, Sivananda Ashram and Sivananda School of Yoga.
22
THE DIVINE MISSION
I pay much attention to the diet of the aspirants at the Ashram. Here they have enough to
keep themselves quite fit—not for luxury or craving of the senses, but helpful items for progressing
in Sadhana.
I introduced saltless diet on Sundays, simple boiled potatoes and bread on Ekadasi days or
only milk and fruits for some students. I started the work with a dozen students.
In a short period, a large number of devotees came to me during holidays from Delhi,
Madras, Calcutta and other cities in India. Then I introduced a Collective Sadhana—a special
programme with the important items of Sadhana—a kind of Spiritual Conference on the practical
side of Yoga. This took the shape of Sadhana Weeks during Easter and Christmas holidays. And
now this has become a regular feature during the last twenty years.
Various Branches of the Divine Life Society in India organised similar Conferences with
the routine of the Sadhana Week at the Ashram. They invite great men to deliver lectures during
these Conferences. They print several leaflets, pamphlets and books for free distribution on the
occasion. Thus there is a dynamic work for spiritual awakening all over the world.
CHAPTER FIVE
MY RELIGION, ITS TECHNIQUE AND DISSEMINATION
The Divine Life Movement
I love seclusion. I have to hide myself at times. I do not crave for name and fame. I did not
spend much time in a deep study of all the scriptures and religions of the world, for preparing
thrilling lectures. I never liked to spend time in writing fine essays for publication through books or
newspapers. I was not pleased when people called me: “Mahatma, Guru Maharaj.” I never planned
for any Institution to perpetuate my name. But the Divine Will was different. The whole world
came to me with all divine glory and splendour. That may be due to the intense prayers of thousands
of sincere seekers after Truth coupled with my own inborn tendencies to share with others what I
have and to serve the world on a large scale on the right lines, for the attainment of Light, Peace,
Knowledge and Power.
I was induced to start the Divine Life Society when I found some facility and useful hands to
carry on the work. I carried the Message of the Sages and Saints and taught the world the way for
Peace and Bliss. Because of the popularity of the Divine Life Society, many learned and pious souls
fromfar off lands have come to see me and, sharing with me the love for selfless service, are doing
valuable work in spreading right knowledge, which alone can confer lasting peace and happiness.
Many foreign Branches of the Divine Life Society are reprinting parts of my writings and
distributing them free in their respective regions.
23
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA
The Need of the Hour
When man gets entangled in selfishness, greed, lust, passion, he naturally forgets all about
God. He always thinks of his body, family and children. He constantly attends to his food, drink,
comforts and conveniences. He is drowned in the ocean of Samsara. Materialism and scepticism
reign supreme. He gets irritated by little things and begins to fight. There is restlessness, misery,
panic and chaos everywhere. Now the whole world seems to be in the grip of materialism. The
invention of newkinds of bombs causes terror everywhere. People have lost faith in holy scriptures
and the teachings of the sages and saints. People have become irreligious owing to wrong education
and evil influences.
The stirring events since the advent of the twentieth century did not fail to have their effect
upon all spiritual-minded people, Sannyasins, saints and men-of-God. The horrors of world wars
moved themgreatly. The fateful epidemic and the world-wide depression that followed it, touched
their compassionate heart. They saw that the sufferings of mankind were mostly brought on by its
own deeds. To awaken man to his errors and follies and to make himmend his ways so that he may
enthusiastically utilise his life for attaining worthier ends, was felt to be the urgent need of the age.
Millions were eagerly looking for such guidance. This silent prayer was heard and I sawthe
birth of the Divine Life Mission with its task of rescuing man from the forces of bestiality and
brutality and divinising his life upon this planet.
Just at this critical juncture, I started the Divine Life Society. Now people consider it a
blessing to the world. It has as its basis the quintessence of the teachings of all religions and of all
saints and prophets of the world. Its principles are broad, universal, all-embracing and in
accordance with science and reason. It has set for itself the task of raising man above the sorrows
and miseries of this mundane life by making himsee the Blissful Divinity that is hidden behind all
outward forms.
Good thoughts pervade and influence all good people. The thought-currents generated by
the Divine Life Movement have had their effect upon the people of Europe and America, and now
there is a great thirst for peace all over the world. Millions dread the speedy termination of the race
by nuclear weapons.
Universal Ideals for Spiritual Perfection
The Divine Life Society is an all-embracing and all-inclusive Institution; its objects, ideals
and aims are very broad and universal. It does not condemn any of the principles or tenets of any
cult. It includes all the fundamental principles of all religions and cults. There are no pet dogmas or
sectarian tenets. It leads people to the spiritual path. It enables people to take easily to the Divine
Life even while living in the world and following the teachings of some particular cult or religion.
The Society has brought about a vigorous awakening throughout the world and has
contributed much to a newlife of freedomin action, a life of harmony amidst worldly turmoils and a
life of bliss through mental non-attachment and mental renunciation of desires, egoism and
mine-ness. There is universal appreciation of the principles, aims, ideals of the society and the
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MY RELIGION, ITS TECHNIQUE AND DISSEMINATION
method of its work. It lays great stress on the practical side of Sadhana. It expounds in a rational and
scientific manner the Yoga of Synthesis. Members belonging to various institutions and
organisations in all parts of the world become members of the Divine Life Society and write to me
for spiritual guidance. I take special care of them and give them lessons through post for their
spiritual progress and welfare. The Divine Life Society proclaims that any man can attain Wisdom
in his own station of life, be he a Brahmachari, Grihastha, Vanaprastha or Sannyasi, be he a
scavenger, Brahmin, Sudra or Kshatriya, be he a busy man of the world or a silent Sadhaka of the
Himalayas. Divine Knowledge is not the sole property of Sannyasins, recluses.
It explains howalthough the central basis is Jnana Yoga, Vedanta, it is necessary for one to
practise Karma Yoga for purification of mind and heart; Hatha Yoga to keep up good health and
strength and purify the Prana and steady the mind; Raja Yoga to destroy the Sankalpas and induce
concentration in meditation; and Jnana Yoga to remove the veil of ignorance and ultimately rest in
one’s own Satchidananda Svarupa.
The Critical Juncture
Students became irreligious,
They lost faith in religion,
Under the influence of Science,
They neglected Dharma,
They began to smoke and gamble,
Girls became fashionable,
Officers became materialists,
Health of people deteriorated,
People shunned the scriptures,
Materialism had its sway.
At this critical juncture,
To revive the Glory of the Lord,
To disseminate knowledge of Yoga,
To preach the Yoga of synthesis,
To instil devotion and faith in people,
To work for the spiritual uplift of mankind,
To bring peace and bliss to every home,
I established the Divine Life Mission,
And founded the Yoga-Vedanta Forest University,
In a sacred, charming spot in the Himalayas,
On the banks of the Holy Ganga in Rishikesh.
Rapid Growth of the Mission
I started the Divine Life Society in 1936 for the spiritual uplift of mankind. I trained many
sincere students in Yoga. For their quick spiritual evolution, I introduced the morning common
prayer classes with Group Asana Class. To the local poor people and thousands of pilgrims I gave
medical aid by starting a free dispensary. Experts were sent to various centres to deliver lectures on
25
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA
Bhakti, Yoga and Vedanta. A small temple was erected for prayers and worship. When a large
number of students came for training, boarding and lodging facilities had to be provided for all the
students and visitors; and thus Sivananda Ashram came into being.
The Yoga Vedanta Forest University came into existence when regular classes began to be
conducted on all Branches of Yoga. To help the students all over the world, the University Press
was established for printing necessary works on the practical side and half a dozen periodicals, with
a number of machines to do the work automatically. The small dispensary grew into a big
Sivananda Medical Organisation, with a General Hospital and a building of its own. Though the
Divine Life Society continues to be the Central organisation, to fulfil the various functions that have
developed to carry out organised work, many other institutions had to come into existence. Nowthe
Ashram, a very big Spiritual Colony, looks like a huge factory with the wonderful, indescribable
Peace of the Himalayas. Spiritual aspirants who come to the Ashram and stay there for months or
for years, find that there is scope for spiritual progress both as workers in the different institutions of
the Ashram and as silent meditators in the temple precincts or in the jungle retreats of the
neighbourhood, and each chooses his line according to his own bent of mind.
Basic Approach
More than to strive to reach a Heaven after this life, the followers of the Divine Life try to
make conditions of Heaven prevail upon earth. The tenets of the Divine Life Society are perfectly
non-sectarian and universally applicable. The basis of this Movement is adherence to the triple
ideal of truth, non-violence and purity—the common fundamental tenets of all the religions
throughout the world. Therefore the Divine Life Movement has the willing cooperation of the
peoples of all faiths and cultures, a Plan of Life and a Goal that is common and acceptable to all
upon earth, who wish to rise above sorrow and obtain lasting Bliss. This, then, is the Divine Life
Movement.
No Secret Doctrines
The Path of Divine Life Sadhana is no other than the essence of all Yogas and the main
essentials of all religions. Here everyone finds the features suitable and unoffending to his own faith
or belief. The great need for a vigorous and intense working of its Ideals is more than ever patent
today, because the most recent developments in the fields of science, politics and sociology have
tended to bring mankind nearer than ever to the brink of the dangerous precipice of total
agnosticismand violent self-destruction. Hatred and violence, untruth and deceit, vice and impurity
are fast becoming the order of the day.
A strong counter-force alone can possibly balance to some extent this downward trend.
Thus to counteract these baneful influences that are rampant today and to check man’s whirling
rush towards ruin, the Divine Life Society was established. I carry the message of peace, goodwill,
spiritual fraternity and the realisation of the oneness of Spirit. There are neither petty dogmas nor
secret doctrines nor esoteric sections in this Divine Life Movement. Lovers of Truth realise its
fullness, infinite beauty, majesty and splendour. It gives room and shelter for all. It enables one to
realise the religion of the heart, the religion of oneness.
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MY RELIGION, ITS TECHNIQUE AND DISSEMINATION
What Is True Religion
Not by mere argument or discussion can religion be taught. Not by precepts or moral canons
alone can you convert a person to be religious. Not by pointing to your loads of sacred literature or
the miracles of your Chief can an aspirant be won over. Practise religion and live upto its teachings
if you want to evolve and attain the Goal of Life. Whatever be your religion, whosoever your
prophet, whichever be your language and country, whatever be your age or sex, you can easily grow
if you know the way to crush the ego, to destroy the lower nature of the mind and to have mastery
over your body, senses and mind. This is what I have found out to be the way for real Peace and bliss
eternal. Therefore I do not try to convince people by heated debates and arguments.
Real Religion is the Religion of the heart. The heart must be purified first. Truth, love and
purity are the basis of real religion. Conquest of the lower nature of man, control of mind,
cultivation of virtues, service of humanity, goodwill, fellowship and mutual amity, constitute the
fundamentals of true religion. These ideals are included in the mottoes of the Divine Life Society. I
am very particular in propagating these ideals on a wide scale.
I do not waste time in finding out suitable authoritative statements fromscriptures to satisfy
the curiosity of aspirants. I lead a practical life and try to be an example to the students for moulding
their lives. Know that true religion begins when you go above body-consciousness. The essence of
the teachings of all sages and saints, the fundamentals of all religions and cults, are the same. People
needlessly fight over non-essentials and miss the Goal.
May the Divine Life Movement, the harbinger of peace, harmony and exalted life shed its
lustre and glory throughout the world!
Gospel of Divine Life
The world of unreality is beset with many difficulties at every step that we take to attain the
Goal—Nirvana—which the Lord Buddha attained after years of determined and steady struggle.
The modern thinker has neither the requisite time nor the patience to perform rigorous Tapas and
austere religious practices; and some of these are even being relegated to the superstitious level. In
order to give the present generation the benefit that will result fromreligious practices, to reveal to
themtheir real significance and also to convince themthoroughly of their efficacy and usefulness, I
taught my gospel of DIVINE LIFE, which is a system of religious life suited to one and all, which
could be practised by the common office-goer as well as the obscure labourer without undue
interference in the performance of their daily round of duties. The beauty in “Divine Life” is its
simplicity and practical applicability to everyday affairs of the ordinary man. While following the
teachings of his own religion, a man can attain quick spiritual evolution by following the principles
of Divine Life.
Practical Aspect
The average seeker after Truth is often deceived by the caprices of his mind. A person who
takes to the spiritual path is bewildered before he reaches the end of his journey, and is naturally
tempted to relax his efforts half-way. Many are the pitfalls, but those who plod on steadily by
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AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA
leading a Divine Life are sure to reach the goal of their religious aspiration, i.e., Self-realisation. I
have laid great emphasis in all my writings upon disciplining of the turbulent senses, conquest of
mind, purification of heart, attainment of inner peace and spiritual strength, to suit the different
stages of evolution, the taste and temperament of each individual.
Role of Divine Life Branches and Spiritual Aspirants
My message to individual spiritual aspirants and to the Branches of the Divine Life Society
is as follows:
“You have come to this earth to attain spiritual perfection. You have come here to attain
supreme and unalloyed Bliss. The purpose of human birth is the achievement of Divine
Consciousness. The Goal of life is Self-realisation. Man is not a sensual animal. Man, in his
essential nature, is an ever free, ever pure, ever perfect, immortal, spiritual being. Feel that you are
the Immortal Self. You are Satchidananda. Remember ‘Ajo nityah sasvatoyampuranah,’—you are
unborn, eternal, imperishable and ancient. To live in this exalted Consciousness is to experience
indescribable joy every moment of your life, to experience a limitless freedomin the Spirit. This is
your birthright. This is the aim of your life. This is the goal. To realise this through a life of truth,
purity, service and devotion is the chief purpose of the Divine Life Movement.
“Fear dominates in this era of nuclear weapons of mass destruction. Hatred rules the
policies of vast sections of the so-called enlightened and civilised mankind. This age of
advancement has been exposed to be in reality an age of degeneracy in the views and values, the
ideals and morals of the greater masses of mankind. At this juncture, cultured men and women all
over the world look to the sacred land, India, for light and knowledge. It is your noble task to spread
this light of spiritual knowledge and spiritual Idealism to all corners of the globe.”
Oneness of Humanity
“The Upanishads say: ‘All this is verily the Atman. The One, blissful Self indwells all
beings.’ The spiritual oneness of all humanity is a great lesson man needs today. Whatever has been
and whatever will be in the future, all this is verily the one, eternal Being alone. The Message of
Divine Life is: ‘See God in all faces. Serve all. Love all. Be kind to all. Be compassionate. Feel
everyone to be your own. Serve your fellow beings in the spirit of worship offered to the Divine
which indwells them. Service of man is truly the worship of God.’ Let this message ring freedom
from end to end in every land. Let this message enter into every home and into the heart of
everyone.
“All great religions of the world do verily declare this divine message of the spiritual basis
of man’s life. They do verily declare the universal brotherhood of man under the fatherhood of the
Almighty Lord. Know well that the heart of the Vedas, the heart of the Bible, the holy Koran, the
sacred Gathas and all the world scriptures are in truth one and sing in unison the sweet message of
love and concord, goodness and kindness, service and worship. Discard the barriers of name and
form. Seek the oneness at the heart of all beings. Include within your spiritual embrace entire
humanity. Live for peace. Live for universal love. Live in the Life Divine.”
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MY RELIGION, ITS TECHNIQUE AND DISSEMINATION
The Clarion Call of Divine Life
“A Divine Life Branch is a great blessing to man in the present age. It is a veritable boon
fromthe Divine. It is a field of dynamic Yoga, a field of practical Vedanta. Spread of Divine Life is
the hope of mankind. Through Divine Life shall man free himself from ignorance, pain and
suffering and go beyond sorrow into the realms of peace and bliss now and here, in this very life.
Divine Life brings peace and brotherhood to mankind. It purifies man, ennobles his nature and
unfolds his glorious, hidden, divine personality. Divine Life is the gift of India to the world at large.
“Let the clarion call of the Upanishads ring through every village, town and city. Let the
glorious chant of divine Name fill all quarters. Let virtue be implanted in every heart and Dharma
and the good life be seen in every walk of life. Divine Life must be practical. Ideals of Divine Life
must shoot up into practical realisation. Divine Life must be made vigorously manifest in the lives
of the people. This is important. Be sincere. Work with concord. Be adaptable. Adjust, adapt and
accommodate. Remember always that work is the important thing, not personal views and
individual opinions. Therefore dissolve all differences and work together for the cause of a pure life
and spiritual perfection.
“Perfection of the individual leads to the perfection of mankind ultimately. Spread the
doctrine of selfless service. Inspire all to follow the path of Yoga and attain the Goal of life, fine
health and long life.” It is not through rules and regulations and restrictions that I tried to help the
seekers after Truth. Stage by stage, I gave instructions through letters, periodicals and valuable
publications to all the students for creating some spiritual vibrations through collective prayers,
common meditation, Bhajans and Kirtans. For spiritual progress, it is not number that counts. Even
a single sincere student can move the world and bring light and knowledge to the world.
The following letters written to my students between 1936 and 1940 will clearly explain
how I started a dynamic campaign all over the world and established over 300 Branches of the
Divine Life Society.
(1) Importance of Collective Sadhana
“Evolution is quicker through collective Sadhana, mass prayers and common meditation.
The purpose of Divine Life Branches is not amassing wealth, name or fame. It is just to bring peace
and harmony to the world by creating spiritual vibrations at various centres. Organise weekly
meetings. Invite friends who are spiritually-inclined. Clear the doubts of the devotees. You can
have a library with philosophical books. Invite learned men of your place to give discourses.
Occasionally print my “Twenty Important Spiritual Instructions” and other leaflets for free
distribution. Thus you can lay the seed for a Divine Mission. It will growslowly and bring spiritual
good to the world. This will contribute a lot to your own evolution and to the uplift of mankind as
well.”
(2) How to Start a Branch of The Divine Life Society
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AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA
‘Well begun is half-done.’ I amnot interested in gigantic plans and programmes. If there is a
good beginning and if the workers have sincerity, faith and devotion, success is assured. I wrote to
sincere students:—
“You have made a wonderful start and a good beginning. It will strike root and bear
blossoms soon. You can have the Yoga Class in a house, in a room. Make a signboard also. Hold
meetings once a week. Collect some books fromyour friends and develop a library. I shall send you
all my publications. To meet the ordinary expenses you can collect a small subscription from
members. Have the following aims and objects:—
(a) To have Self-realisation through Yoga.
(b) To regenerate youths through Yoga Asanas, Pranayama and ethical training.
(c) To disseminate the Knowledge of Rishis and Yogins far and near.
(d) To develop universal brotherhood, cosmic divine love.
“Never be disheartened or diffident. There are many who have started a Branch of the
Divine Life Society in their own homes. The members of the family join together in the morning
and evening for common prayers and conduct Bhajans and Kirtans. The spiritual vibrations thus
created bring peace and prosperity to the entire family. Do something among your own selected
friends, even with two members.”
I am ever ready to give detailed instructions to enthusiastic aspirants who are desirous of
spreading the divine knowledge:—
“Collect a few members. Read some pages of my books. Clear the doubts of the aspirants.
Make them do some Japa, Kirtan, meditation, study of the Gita. Ask them to maintain a spiritual
diary and Likhita Japa notebook. You have got rare things and knowledge and capacities in which
you have not sufficient confidence or of which you are not even aware. Express your hidden
faculties. Give whatever you possess. The world will be benefited. Forma Group in your own place
and start similar activities in different parts of the city. Do not waver. Be hopeful. You can do
wonders. Radiate joy and peace. Have a definite line of work. Work a little. This will suffice. You
can spend the time nicely, usefully. Let the flower blossom. The bees will come by themselves.
Much effort is not needed. No effort is necessary. Simply press the switch; it will flow. I wish you
success, freedom and perfection.
“Have meditation in the open air with select friends. Arrange group demonstration of Yoga
Asanas. Have Trataka practice on OMor any of the Lord’s pictures for 5 minutes. Introduce fasting
or Phalahara on Ekadasi days. Give lessons on the various Chakras.
“Prepare the lessons daily at night, the previous day. Concentrate and collect ideas. Register
and record them on a piece of paper or in a notebook. Read a paper if you cannot deliver a lecture.
Speak slowly. Recharge yourself with mild Kumbhakas and Japa. Take good nutritious food and
fruits.
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MY RELIGION, ITS TECHNIQUE AND DISSEMINATION
“If you cannot give a fine speech, write an essay and read the paper with emphasis and great
force from the bottom of your heart. Slowly you will gain the power of oration. When you meet
good thirsty souls, give themgood ideas and ask themto formsuch groups in their own places. That
will facilitate your future work. Ask every man with whom you come in contact to read a few
Slokas daily fromthe Gita and repeat the Gayatri Mantra. Initiate many. Eulogise the usefulness of
Mantra and Japa. Introduce Malas for Japa.”
(3) Spiritual Current Must Be Kept Alive
I carefully watch over the activities of the Branches and continue to inspire and encourage
themevery nowand then. I send able and advanced aspirants to keep alive the current and spur them
onward in their activities. Here are my instructions to one of them:
“Howis the Centre now? Dead or gasping or full of life? Approach all Headmasters of High
Schools and arrange for a magic-lantern Showof Yoga Asanas. Do not fail to do this work. I did this
work in all schools of Punjab and the U.P. during my travels. Kindly send me a report of your
activities now and then. Never make false excuses. Do not be diffident. Do not become a Zanana
Vedantin. Through the work you do in schools and colleges spiritual Samskaras become imbedded
in thousands of minds. That will burst forth when the time comes.
“Be bold. Even M.A’s, Judges and Surgeons are worldly. You will be an Avatar before
passionate people. Be bold and talk with nobility, humility and sincerity. You can electrify and
spell-bind the audience. Assume a different strong personality on the platform. Throwfire, zeal and
enthusiasm into your utterances. Do not lose any opportunity. Whatever you are doing now is
sufficient to elevate the world. Do not wait to become a great Pundit to do this work.
“I amreceiving several letters fromthe Branches you have visited and exhibited the Movie
Films in Countless appreciations. No one has done such a work before. It is unprecedented. When
the work taxes you, hide yourself in your own roomor go to a solitary place for a change. Recharge
the battery through silent meditation in seclusion and come out with redoubled energy. Regulate
your energy. Do not pour all in at once. Take sufficient rest. Learn to relax. Hide yourself.”
(4) Service Is Greater Than Meditation
“The present work you do is a greater Yoga than the important, so-called meditation (sleep
and building air-castles combined) done by Vedantins of the present day. It is a great Yajna. Work
like a lion. Roar like a lion. Congratulations on your noble work done in various Centres. It is all His
Grace. Feel this. It is His Will that worked through your mind, intellect and body. Be grateful to
Him always. Pray for His Blessings and Mercy. If anything is offered to you by devotees and
admirers, do not refuse it under a false sense of Vairagya. Money is needed for work, medicine for
the sick and publication work. Become a Maha Tyagi and Maha Bhogi. Take rest. Do not overwork.
Regulate your energy. Drink, inhale much ozone. Do not mix with people. Talk a little on vital
points only. As you are working hard, take great care of your health. Take plenty of milk, fruits,
almonds. Take rest for a week. Rest means change of work and not sleeping and wasting time with
useless friends or in aimless wanderings.
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AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA
“Serve people whole-heartedly, willingly, untiringly, without grumbling, without showing
even an occasional Sunday castor-oil face. This is rather difficult. Try your utmost. Then it will
become pure Yoga. You need not meditate. You need not do Japa. You need not close the nostrils
for Pranayama. Convert every motion, every breath, every movement of the body into pure Yoga as
above described. It is service of the Lord. You work, live and breathe for Himalone. Entertain this
Bhav. You will have cosmic consciousness soon. Remember this point: Work is worship. Work is
meditation. Do not forget this. You will have to evolve through work and meditation. Scavenging is
Yoga when done in the right spirit. The first duty before you is to place your head at the feet of all
elders, Swamis and everyone in the Ashram, be he a scavenger or a Zamindar. Feel oneness. Be
cheerful. Adjust. Bear injury and insults. Train the mind to be even in all circumstances and places.
Then only can you be really strong.”
(5) Integral Yoga
I do not encourage lop-sided development, but urge my disciples to combine the important
branches of Yoga with emphasis on dynamic selfless service and cultivation of virtues, while yet
giving the full scope of individual discretion to the aspirant:
“I do not press you to remain in cities. Your health and spiritual progress are very important.
See how you have turned out solid work in such a short period. If you are still energetic and if you
think that you can get on with the work with perfect ease, you can remain there for some more time.
Or you can say ‘Goodbye’ to the city life. It is in your hands.
“You can come by the end of this month. Do not stay in cities longer. It will be detrimental
to your interests and progress. You need seclusion now. Spend a long period in study also. Your
present knowledge is shallow. Your inner nature also is not regenerated. Sadhana is needed. Now
you need rest, a quiet life, in the Himalayan-Gangetic atmosphere for recharging the battery, for
doing dynamic work with redoubled energy and vigour. Long stay in cities must be followed by a
frequent change to secluded places. That will be beneficial to you. Kindly do come and stay here for
a long period. Mere flying visits will not be of much benefit.
“Thou art blessed. God exists. God indwells everything. God is the Inner Ruler. God is to be
realised. Dharma leads to God-vision. Goodness leads to God. Love leads to God. Meditate on the
Eternal, thy innermost Self or the Atman. Persevere in Sadhana. Plunge in Sadhana and meditation.
Enter the silence. Become a flame of God. Attain eternal bliss through the Life Divine. He who lives
for the service of others is very happy. He is blessed. He attains God-realisation. Service purifies the
heart and brings the divine Light. Be rooted in the Atman. This is real Sadhana. Claimthy birthright
amidst typewriting, editing books, writing articles. This is better than a cave-life. This is dynamic,
integral Yoga. Though you are in the city, feel that you are in the Ashram here in the Himalayas.
This is Yoga. This the test put by Janaka to Sri Suka.”
(6) All-round Application to the Task
I want my disciples to be like myself in applying themselves in an all-round manner to the
propagation of the message of the Lord and developing the divine qualities in themselves and
inculcating them in others.
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“Wherever you go, give, distribute, disseminate, your ideas, mottoes, ideals. Broadcast
your spiritual feelings. Share with others. Always give, give, give. Give all. Ask nothing. Your
usual routine for meditation and study must be kept up. Brahman alone is real. Minus Indriyas, you
are Brahman “Tat Tvam Asi”. I am not tired of repeating again and again these three ideas. They
must enter your very nerves, cells, blood, bone. Hammer these ideas on the minds of all, along with
Bhakti and Nishkama Karma. Carry these three ideas in your pocket, Chitta. This world, body, is
shallow, Jalam, Svapna.
“Teach Asanas to thousands. Read my Brahmacharya article in all schools and colleges
with demonstration of Asanas and Pranayamas. After silent meditation for 5 or 10 minutes, have
Kirtan and OM chanting. Explain the Yogic and Vedantic terms to the members. The whole city
will be charged with spiritual vibrations. Mere study of my writings with a little explanation of the
Yogic terms will nicely constitute your Yoga Class. I have to remind you of:—
(a) Initiation into Mantra of as many thousands of students as possible.
(b) Introduction of Japa Mala.
(c) Kirtan and Bhajan at night.
(d) Study of the Gita, Atma-Bodha, Viveka-Chudamani, the Upanishads, etc.
(e) Printing some leaflets for free distribution.
“On Ekadasi day, arrange for a mass Hari Kirtan in a big Hall or Temple. Have a programme
for short lectures by great men. Distribute Prasad at the end. Make necessary preparations seven
days in advance. Thrill the world. This is an important and sacred work, wherever you go. This is a
Divine Life Conference in small scale. You can do this, I know.
“You are doing wonderful work indeed. It is a beautiful beginning. This kind of
combination of Japa, Kirtan, Yoga Asanas, study and lecture is the thing needed. Keep a
memorandum book in your pocket. Note down all the points you have to attend to. By such work
you can improve yourself. You will develop thinking. You will know Nature, Her ways. You will
be more concentrated also when the mind is fully occupied. Thousands will be inspired to do some
kind of religious performance. It is all purification of heart and Yoga for you.
“You can do real, silent, solid work through individual talks. It is a field for preparation and
enlightenment for you. Work in various localities of the city must be taken up. It is not blind work. It
is not business. It is His work done through your body and mind. In the course of five years you will
excel many of the professors and renowned religious leaders, if you are sincere and do steady
dynamic work.”
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AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA
CHAPTER SIX
SIVANANDA ASHRAM
Problems of Spiritual Organisations
Spiritual organisations with high aims and objects should be started only by Mahatmas who
are absolutely free, perfect and unselfish. If religious institutions are started by selfish people, they
become fighting centres and a menace to society and bring ruin to those who are associated with the
workers. In the long run, through ill-managed Institutions and Ashrams, people lose faith in God
and religion and condemn all Mahatmas as pseudo Yogis. Sometimes selfish persons start spiritual
institutions as business undertakings. They misguide the people.
Even an Ashram started by a self-realised person, with high aims and objects in the early
stages may get polluted later on by mercenary motives. The founders must have extraordinary
capacity to serve mankind. Then and then alone can real service be done at all times. When there is
lack of interest and Sraddha in householders, it becomes difficult to carry on systematic work.
Above all, it is extremely difficult to get workers with ability and devotion. These days aspirants do
not appreciate much the value of selfless service. Many of the Ashrams suffer for lack of able
workers.
The Ashram Grew by Itself
I never thought of starting an Ashram. When the great rush of students and devotees came to
me for spiritual guidance, with a viewto render help to themand to make themuseful to the world, I
created some fields of activities for their evolution and for public good, encouraged them much in
their studies and their Sadhana, and arranged necessary comforts and conveniences for their
boarding and lodging, using the donations I received from some admirers for my personal use.
Thus, in course of time, I found around me a huge Ashram and an Ideal Institution with congenial
environment—a big Spiritual Colony—SHIVANANDA NAGAR.
I did not work with big plans or schemes. I did not approach any great person or Maharajah
for getting money. The world appreciated the service done here on right lines. A little help came
fromthe divine source and I carefully utilised every cent of it for bringing maximumspiritual good
to the world. Several new palatial buildings crop up every year and yet there is lack of
accommodation for the inmates and the stream of visitors. At every stage, there was splendid
development of work. On many occasions devotees pressed me to undertake propaganda tours for
collecting money. That was impossible for me. I take delight in giving and serving all. In 1940,
grand arrangements were made for an extensive tour in the Punjab. I sent a telegram at once and
cancelled the programme. The telegraphic message conveys the attitude with which I manage the
affairs of the Ashram:
“I do not care if the Divine Life Society flourishes or not. If it is the Grace of the Lord and if
we carry on our Sadhana and service with the right attitude, Bhava and Sraddha, help is bound to
come from Divine Source. Let me do as much as possible by remaining in my own small Kutir on
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SIVANANDA ASHRAM
the banks of the Ganga. When the honey is there, the bees will come by themselves. Shun ruthlessly
the desire for money.”
In a short period the work grew. Regular classes are now conducted on Yoga, Bhakti,
Vedanta and Health. Today over 300 students live by my side with all comforts and conveniences,
tread the path of Yoga, and serve the world in a variety of ways. Glory to the Lord. Blessed are the
aspirants. Students of different cults and faiths come from various countries and stay with me for
weeks and months. Devotees from all parts of India come to the Ashram frequently and join the
collective Sadhana and Satsanga.
Where Everyone Is Welcome
As qualification for first class aspirants, Viveka, Vairagya, Shat-sampat and Mumukshutva
are prescribed by the scriptures. Some orthodox cults have caste-restrictions and insist on the
students passing through the four stages of life, viz., Brahmacharya, Grihastha, Vanaprastha and
then Sannyasa. When students come to me, I do not enquire anything about their qualification,
position, parentage, caste or capacity. I welcome even thieves and rogues, persons of tender age and
those who are sickly and old also. I know very well that they will all become dynamic Yogis when
they are put in the company of sages and saints or when they are allowed to stay in a place charged
with marvellous spiritual vibrations.
Perfect Freedom
The spiritual vibrations of the Ashram have a great beneficial effect in moulding people in
the path of Yoga. Thousands have felt this. I do not impose any rules or restrictions on the aspirants
who desire to stay in the Ashram. Any number of persons can come and stay here as long as they
like and they can go out the moment they wish. I do not demand any work, service or help from
them. I permit them to carry on their own study and Sadhana and help them in all possible ways.
The highly devoted aspirants who appreciate selfless service for their own evolution spend
all their time in carrying out useful works and manage the affairs of the Society nicely. It is all Yoga
for them. They are all Yoga Bhrashtas, living examples and models for the world. Thousands of
aspirants have come to the Ashram. Several hundreds have gone out, after proper training, either for
intense Sadhana in seclusion or dynamic work in cities; and yet the Ashramis always full and every
day at least a dozen highly educated candidates crave permission to live in the Ashram. The
students are mysteriously helped by attending the Satsanga and taking bath in the holy Ganga.
Through some work, they all come in close touch with me and learn a lot in a short period. Quickly
they develop all divine qualities without much effort and become great Yogis.
Miracle of Miracles
Howis it possible to run an ideal Ashramunder the above circumstances? It is a great puzzle
for many. It looks like a miracle to the world. People are staggered. I do not worry even a bit if the
Secretaries and Managers of the Ashramcome to me frequently with a big list showing a statement
of debts extending to a lakh of Rupees. People’s wonder knows no bounds when, in spite of such
debts, I sanction the purchase of several automatic printing machines for the University Press, or
35
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA
latest model high class Cameras, Enlargers and Projectors for the Studio, or the construction of big
halls, temples and Ghats by the side of the Ganga.
People complain that here they get more food and facilities than they need for their living.
The inmates feel very rich and happy. Some may look as ordinary villagers; a fewmay not have had
much education. But I find that every one who lives in the Ashram is a great saint with wonderful
hidden faculties and talents. Prominent persons who visit the Ashram are stunned to see the
wonderful development in the inmates, admire their capacities and enquire: “Dear Swamiji
Maharaj, how do you find so many people of talents?”
Is there any instance of my having asked any inmate of the Ashram to go out or expressed
ill-feelings or used harsh words to him? None at all. When I have serious complaints that a
particular Sadhaka disturbs the peace of the Ashram or interferes with the smooth working of the
institution, I ask the man to go out and live independently in some other suitable place. I give him
enough money for travelling expenses and a note of introduction to devotees for helping him. I give
himspiritual advice at the time of his departure and pray for his welfare and enlightenment. In a few
days or weeks, the man feels the Ashram as his own sweet home and comes back with a changed
angle of vision and heart. I heartily welcome him. I forget the past easily. I do not have a vindictive
nature. I permit useless persons, pessimistic people and even those who criticise me and attack the
management to stay in the Ashram. After a short stay, they are transformed miraculously. I see joy
and bliss in their face.
How Aspirants Should Be Cared For
I have unlimited, spontaneous generosity, love and affection for all the students of Yoga,
irrespective of their age or sex, qualifications or abilities. I am highly pleased with those who do
Japa, or a little meditation or some kind of service for the society, the sick and the poor. I give ample
scope for all types of people to remain in the Ashram and evolve through Sadhana or work for the
spiritual uplift of mankind. I take special care of the old people, young aspirants and the helpless
sick persons. I distribute sweets and fruits first to all of them and then take a small portion.
I remember now how I carried milk and curd to the old Sadhus in Swargashram and
shampooed their legs and gave them medicine when they were sick. Even now I send a portion of
my own food first to some Sannyasi students and visitors in the Ashram. For some years I myself
carried a portion of my own food to a fewhard workers who were taking a meagre diet and had very
poor health. Later on, when the work increased in all directions, I kept two young Brahmacharis by
my side always to distribute fruits and biscuits to all the inmates of the Ashram. These were not
thrown into the rooms in the way in which worldly people haughtily give charity. I had the Bhav
that I served the Lord in that form. I did prostration first and then offered them.
When I occasionally send money or books or eatables to my students at out-stations, I
invariably say: “May this be kindly accepted.” For spiritual attainment, the Bhav, the inner feeling
and the motive are more important. This came to me naturally, and was not created consciously by
any effort. It was not like the service done by egoistic people for name and fame. This one virtue of
voluntarily serving the sick, the poor and the helpless with all humility is my main YOGA, and this
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SIVANANDA ASHRAM
one virtue alone helped me to develop all divine qualities and to see the Lord behind all names and
forms.
Helpfulness and Love Towards All
Due to Prarabdha or Vikshepa of the mind, or a craving for sensual enjoyments or for some
form of luxury, or a curiosity to see various places; people try to go away from the Ashram. Some
advanced students after some years of stay in the Ashram, like to gain some experience from
meditation in the interior parts of the Himalayas. I admire themand give themall facilities. They all
depend on alms for their food, but I also send themenough money for their special milk and fruits.
Some students who have a pushing nature desire to help humanity and desire to go out on lecture
tours. I organise Spiritual Conferences and send such students to various centres.
In the Ashram, in the past, a few students with powerful senses and cravings, criticised me
and abused the Ashram and the whole of the Himalayas and left the place in anger. I blessed them
and prayed for light, knowledge and proper understanding and inner spiritual strength to them. But
they all go out only to come back to the Ashram with a thorough change of heart. I welcome them
with great love and affection. I forget the past quickly. Thus a man may go out a hundred times and
come back. My love for the man is greater. It is not through compulsion or rules or regulations that
men can be transformed into divine beings. They all must have convincing experiences of their
own.
In the Ashram every one is in charge of some important section of work or other. When
people go out suddenly, the work would naturally suffer. There would be a lot of irregularities when
new persons handle the work. That might result a great loss also. I care only for the individual’s
progress and prosperity, knowledge and peace, and therefore do not stand in the way of any one
who wishes to go out.
Individual Attention and Consideration
Some of the letters written by me to my students at out-stations several years ago explain
how I care for my students:
I. Sri A. is wonderfully improving. He is the senior Acharya of the kitchen nowadays. He is
the senior typist also. Kindly supply himwith one set of the Upanishads, a fountain pen and a copy
of my Practice of Vedanta from my account.
II. Kindly attend on Sri S.R.C. carefully. His health is already poor. He has some complaints
now. His food is meagre. Kindly supply himsaltish biscuits and fruits. He does not like sweets. May
you ever abide in the Lord.
III. Whenever you are in need of money, write to me at once. In the name of Tapasya, do not
spoil your health. You can do just as you like. Anyhow spend the time usefully. May Lord bless
you.
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AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA
IV. Howis your health? Record all your experiences and send me a report of howyou spend
the 24 hours. My dear Yogiraj, you can return to the Ashram at any moment. This is your own
spiritual home. For uninterrupted Sadhana and perfection, the following items are essential:
(a) Fine health through prayers, rest, relaxation with agreeable diet and Sadhana.
(b) A calm and cool place with spiritual vibrations.
(c) Simple food at regular intervals.
(d) Help of elderly persons and guidance from advanced students of Yoga or from Guru.
(e) Facility for medical aid in case of need.
These ensure quick spiritual progress. Without worry or anxiety, you can then progress
nicely in the practice of Yoga. And you have all the above facilities here in the Ashram. May I send
you money for your train fare? Cordial greetings.
Encouragement and Advice
I am always grateful to those who have served the Divine Mission. I value their services
immensely and am ever lavish in showering praises. I also look to the personal necessities of my
students—their health and spiritual evolution. Some years before, I wrote to one of my students:
I. Take great care of your health. You cannot live on grass, water and air alone. Give up this
idea at once. Take nutritious food and plenty of energy-giving fruits. Learn to relax. This is very
important. Go for a long, brisk walk. You have done solid work this year in the printing line. This
will amply suffice. It is all His work. It is all His Grace. Feel this. Are you comfortable there? May I
send you money for your personal expenses? Milk and nutritious food are needed when people
work in the active field of dissemination of knowledge or do rigorous Sadhana in seclusion.
II. You have done miracles. It is not flattery. I never expected so much from you. Do not
overwork. Regulate your energy. Take rest in suburbs when you are tired. On Ekadasi, hold Kirtans
in different centres. Hold weekly classes. Have silent individual talks. You can influence people
more by this method. Never sleep in householders’ houses. RUNAWAYFROMLADIES. No play
and joking with them.
III. Do not be afraid of the cold at Rishikesh. Do not be unnecessarily alarmed. You may use
my blankets. Take milk and tea from the shop on my account. May you enjoy the Peace of the
Eternal.
IV. Take rest. Do not work hard. Apply cooling oil on the head. Do Pranayama in the early
morning when it is cool. It will recharge you with abundant energy. Take fruits also. Never neglect
morning meditation and evening meditation. The goal of a Sannyasi is Vedantic Realisation, Aham
Brahma Asmi. Brahma Nishtha is your food, drink and all in all. This can be kept up along with
Karma Yoga.
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SIVANANDA ASHRAM
I have great respect for the Sanskrit language and I encourage my students to study
Sanskrit—whoever has an aptitude for it—though it may be at the cost of the Ashramitself. I wrote
once to my student:
“If I posses a ghost or a tree that bears currency notes and coins as fruits, I can easily satisfy
these Sanskrit students. Their needs are endless. I have to do something for helping them. They are
doing wonderful research work and have deep study. Their study will seriously be interfered with if
the books are not provided. I wish to start a Sanskrit College with a large number of students and
arrange all facilities for the Sannyasi students to do research work in Sanskrit literature. We should
have mercy and must serve others at the sacrifice of our wants even. It is my inborn nature. That is
the Dharma of a saint.”
Spirit of Accommodation
When one of my students had left the Ashram for some reason, I at once felt that his
valuable experience and faculty should not be lost for the service of humanity. So I wrote thus:—
“I was sending you money for your pocket expenses. The money was returned with the
remark: ‘Left the Place.’ I am always at thy feet to serve you at all times. You only refuse it. Why
should you depend on anybody, when I am here to serve you in all ways? Why should you live in
cities with worldly persons? There are various sections here in which you can work, gently, mildly,
slowly, a little, without mixing with anybody, independently, having connections with me only.
“All sections of work suffer for want of people and proper supervision. Even if you look
after a little work in the correspondence section, it will be a great help to the world. You can assist
me in a hundred ways. Do not work hard as before. You do a little work without any responsibility.
This is God’s Blessing and Grace. Take plenty of rest and do a little work. You can remain away
fromthe Ashram. Your food will be placed in your room. I shall give you money for your expenses.
“There is no dearth for food for you here. I do not refuse food to any one. Why should you
live in cities? Gradually you will lose all your faculties when you are not in touch with work. The
worldly atmosphere is not congenial to spiritual progress. Therefore come at once to Rishikesh.
May I send you train fare? If you like, you can live here for six months and six months in cities.
“If you change your outlook, vision, imagination and attitude a bit, you can be happy here
and everywhere. Man suffers on account of his own imagination and his old habit of thinking. He
never allows himself to be changed. This is Maya. Adjust and adapt. Be happy and cheerful at all
times. Evolve quickly and become a dynamic Yogi and bring Light and Knowledge to the whole
world.”
Who Can Start Ashrams
An Ashram is a Glorious centre to ensure World Peace. Many enthusiastic persons start
Ashrams with a fine letterhead. That is not enough. The starting of newAshrams by beginners will
not bring good results to the world. It needs special faculties to run an Ashram successfully. For
beginners, that will be a hindrance, and for advanced students that will be a downfall. Many years
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AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA
ago some Sannyasins wrote to me for financial help and advice for improving the activities of their
Ashrams, and the reply I gave to one of themis reproduced below. That clearly explains my attitude
and principles:
“Beloved Swamiji, Your achievements, ambitions, aims and objects are laudable, indeed. O
Swamiji, aspire not for Gurudom, comforts, name and fame when you start an Ashramor a religious
Society. Generally those who start Ashrams are humble in the beginning and do some service.
When they become rich and well established, they care not for public service or individual
evolution. They become arrogant and autocratic. Beware of temptations and work as a meek Sevak
always. Even after Self-realisation, leave not the daily routine of Sadhana.
“I do not know any rich Rajah or Zamindar. I have no disciples. Some aspirants who want
real spiritual training, consider me as their Guru. I take great care of them. That is all. I cannot help
you with money. I amserving the world by a variety of ways and work through all Ashrams, Mutts
and religious institutions.
“If you do public service with a selfless spirit, if people see the spirit of renunciation in you,
then they themselves will volunteer to help you in every way. Do not move heaven or earth for
money. Try not your luck through Derby Sweep. It is a pity for Sadhus to think of such schemes.
“Nowadays aspirants do not care to look to their spiritual progress. They shave their head,
colour their clothes and remain at Rishikesh for some time and then pass for great Yogis. They
begin to collect money for starting Ashrams for leading comfortable life.
“There are enough Ashrams and Mutts in India. Sincere, selfless workers are rare. Before
one starts an Ashram, one must have been leading an exemplary life. His very presence must give
peace, power and bliss to all. Only then can one successfully run the institution.
Ideals Must Not Be Forgotten
“Before starting an Ashram, the mottoes, ambitions and aims are no doubt grand, charming
and attractive. As soon as a little fund and fame come, the ideal is forgotten. The spirit of selfless
service dwindles away. The objects are abandoned. The Founders want to lead a comfortable life
with some chosen disciples and followers. Even granting that the founders are able to live an ideal
life, their disciples will not be able to manage it with the same spirit later. It becomes a place of
quarrel or a business-house. The head of the Ashram and the inmates there should lead a life of
Vairagya, absolute renunciation. The Ashram run by such people stands as a centre, a nucleus of
perennial peace, bliss and joy. It attracts everyone. Millions all over the world derive inspiration.
The world is always in need of such Ashrams.
“Every Sannyasi, every Yogic student has got some defect or other. It is only a full-blown
Yogi who will be absolutely free from evil qualities and defects. All are in the path of evolution.
Everybody is likely to err sometimes, even very often. Become tolerant. See good in everything.
Slight rupture or friction is bound to come between friends and workers, at times between
Sannyasins, too. One must excuse the other, must reunite and forget the past. You must have a
tendency to grasp only the good in others and try to emphasise it in your everyday life. No one is
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SIVANANDA ASHRAM
entirely bad. Remember this point welt. You must have adaptability when you mix with others.
Have perfect control over impulses. Only then will more workers feel happy to live with you and
serve your Ashram. May the noble Mission established by you gloriously prosper. I shall be always
happy to help you.”
CHAPTER SEVEN
LIGHT ON THE PATH OF RENUNCIATION
The Glory of Renunciation
Every Religion has a band of anchorites who lead the life of seclusion and meditation. There
are Bhikkus in Buddhism, Fakirs in Mohammedanism, Sufistic Fakirs in Sufism, Fathers and
Reverends in Christianity. The glory of a religion will be lost if there are no monks leading a life of
renunciation and service to the world. It is these people that maintain the religions of the world.
They give solace to the householders when they are in trouble and distress. They are the harbingers
of peace and wisdom. They heal the sick, comfort the forlorn and bring help to the hopeless, joy to
the depressed, strength to the weak, and knowledge to the ignorant. One true Sannyasin can change
the thought-currents of the world for better.
A real Sannyasi is a mighty potentate of this earth. Sannyasins have done sublime work in
the past. They are working wonders at present. One real Sannyasin can change the destiny of the
whole world. I dance in joy when I see or hear from an aspirant who entertains genuine devotion,
aspiration and inclination for the path of renunciation and tries to get out of this quagmire of
Samsara. Through prayers and thought-currents I am in very close touch with such students and
help thema lot. They are all attracted towards me and leave the world quickly with a great hope for
the future. I welcome them with great joy and train them nicely in a variety of ways in the path of
Yoga and take care of them until they are able to stand firm in the path.
Youth Is the Best Period for Renunciation
In scriptures, the order of Sannyasa is mentioned for those who have passed the
Brahmacharya, Grihastha and Vanaprastha stages of life. That means people took Sannyasa in their
old age, on the verge of death. It is quite good to have some peace at the time of death. By this they
may get a good birth. From experience I find that tremendous energy is needed for purposes of
contemplation, clear vision and extraordinary purity of body, mind and heart. I consider youth, with
abundant energy and mental purity, as the foremost qualification for the path of renunciation. I have
all admiration for those young Brahmacharis who do not have any worldly bondage and
entanglements. They can be moulded nicely.
Viveka, Vairagya, Shat-sampat and Mumukshutva are the primary qualifications to
students prescribed by the scriptures. It will not be possible to have all the above qualifications
when people live in worldly environments with heavy responsibilities, anxieties and worries. By
the time they develop one virtue or try to remove a single defect or evil in the mind, they get
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AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA
entangled in various other directions. The vibrations of the materialistic world are not favourable
for spiritual progress in the early stages. They have to spend their entire energy solely in resisting
the temptations. Therefore I prefer young persons. Necessary qualifications will come by
themselves when they tread the path of Yoga, in a favourable atmosphere, and when they live in the
company of Yogis, in a place far away from the temptations and attraction of sense-objects.
No Rigid Conditions Are Attached
I heartily welcome all types of people. Old people can take bath in the holy Ganga and spend
their time in prayers and Bhajan and enjoy the benefits of Satsanga. Young persons will evolve
quickly through a dynamic Sadhana and bring spiritual good to the world. If people only showsome
symptomof disgust for sensual enjoyment coupled with a taste for the path of Yoga, I at once give
them Sannyasa and share with them what I have and encourage them to a great extent.
It is a great surprise to many to see that I give initiation through post also. Some students
who are not in a position to come to the Himalayas have taken Sannyasa by receiving the sacred
cloth and instructions by post. I cannot express their joy in full. They have made wonderful
progress. I closely watch them.
The entire voluntary donation I receive from devotees for my personal use is spent in
providing comforts and conveniences to the students, for their welfare and peace and in creating
hundreds of avenues in which they can quickly evolve and help the world in a variety of ways. In
my method of work for the spiritual uplift of mankind, I permit even married people to take to the
path of renunciation and live like Sannyasins. There are many who have taken to the order of
Sannyasa when they have a family and children. After some training here, they go back and live
near the family or a little away and take care of the family with complete detachment and gloriously
prosper in their Sadhana.
The point of my method is that I look to the motive and the inner purity of the seeker. I do
not impose too many rules and restrictions on food and dress. External conformity to rules is not of
much value. My students can live in any place, in any dress and yet effectively follow my
instructions. They all set an example to the whole world. Glory to the true, ideal Sannyasin who
leads an exemplary life. This world is in need of ideal Sannyasins who will serve the country and
humanity with divine consciousness and disseminate true knowledge and carry the message of the
Sages and Saints to every door. May Sannyasins, the repositories of divine knowledge, the
torch-bearers of Truth, the beacon-lights of the world, the corner-stones of spiritual edifices and the
central pillars of the eternal Dharma or religion, guide the nations of the world.
Who Are Fit to Be My Disciples
Though I give much freedom and liberty in dress and external forms, I am very strict with
my students with regard to the essentials. The rules prescribed by the Order of Sannyasa must be
followed. Then only can they shine as ideal Sannyasins. Comfortable Sannyasa is very dangerous.
They should not give lenience to the mind. Fashionable, independent Sannyasins are a menace to
society. The people in the world curse such Sannyasins and treat them with disrespect and
contempt. They, however exalted in the spiritual line, should not live in the company of women or
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LIGHT ON THE PATH OF RENUNCIATION
householders and freely mix with others. Burning Vairagya with simple living and high thinking
must be the ideal at every moment of their lives.
No doubt renunciation is mental. That does not mean that you can do anything and live in
any way you like. That will bring your downfall. Strive for perfection by following the traditional
rules for discipline and control of mind and senses. Discipline in food and dress will naturally
manifest itself if you have genuine Vairagya and dispassion. External observance of the rules will
help you to stick to the path. Maya works havoc. Maya deludes. Beware. Be cautious at every step
and watch the Vrittis of the mind.
My disciples should have no superiority complex. They are not dry philosophers who spend
all their time and energy in preaching alone. They have self-sacrifice and serve the world with their
silent and intense Sadhana. In the midst of intense service, they learn the way to rivet the mind on
the Lakshya. They are rooted in the idea: “The world is a long dream (Deergha Svapna),
perishable—Truth alone is Real.” For my students, there is no world. They perceive the Divinity
behind all names and forms.
Purify the Inner Nature
Purify your mind. Develop Sattvic qualities such as nobility, courage, magnanimity,
generosity, love, straightforwardness, truthfulness. Eradicate all evil qualities such as lust, greed,
anger, avarice, Raga-dvesha and other negative traits which stand in your way of ethical perfection
and Self-realisation. Ethical perfection is a pre-requisite to Self-realisation. No amount of practice
can be of any value to the aspirant if he ignores this side of Sadhana. Love all. Prostrate yourself
before everybody. Become humble. Talk loving, sweet, endearing words. Give up selfishness,
pride, egoism, hypocrisy. Regenerate your lower nature.
Find out through self-introspection if you want real freedom and liberation or you are just
inquisitive about higher things or have a lurking desire for obtaining money, name and fame by
exhibiting spiritual powers. Become sincere. All qualifications will come by themselves when you
are in the company of evolved persons and live in an atmosphere charged with spiritual vibrations.
Attitude Towards Women
My silent adorations and prostrations to all women, who are manifestations of the Divine
Mother, Sakti or Kaali. They are the backbone of society and upholders of religion. If they are
inspired, the whole world will be inspired. There is a peculiar religious instinct in them. They have
natural, inborn divine qualities. In olden days, Hindu ladies also led the life of celibacy, served the
Rishis, meditated on the Atman and obtained Brahma Jnana. In ancient days there were many
Siddhas, Brahma Jnanis, Vairagis, Bhaktas and advanced Yogis among women. By their purity and
perfection they could do miraculous things when there were occasions for utilising their spiritual
power. There are instances of their giving life to the dead, stopping the rising of the sun in the
morning and of controlling the elements also. Even today you can find many women in Rishikesh,
Haridwar, Brindavan. Banaras and other holy places in India, who have renounced the world and
taken to the path of Yoga.
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AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA
I do not detest anybody. I revere a woman as my own self. I regard women as Mother Durga
or Divine Mother. Women are dynamic forces on earth. Religion is sustained through their piety.
To passionate youths, I have written a lot about the perishable nature of the physical body of
women. It is just to develop in them a strong Vairagya and help control of their senses and mind.
Though for the sake of inducing Vairagya in men I have given a negative description of women, I
have great reverence for them. I serve them. I have done Kirtans with them in various Sankirtan
Sammelans in the Punjab and the U.P. Many ladies come to the AshramfromDelhi and other places
even if they get two or three days’ holidays. They come in groups and join the daily Satsanga and
enjoy the peace and bliss, and stay within the Ashram for days and weeks.
Should Women Renounce the World
No doubt it is difficult for young women to get on in the Sannyasa line. They do not have the
same liberty and freedom as men. Men can live and move about in any way and sleep anywhere.
They can go from door to door for alms and maintain themselves. But women are greatly at a
disadvantage and suffer thereby. It is a pity that there are not many ideal institutions in India
exclusively for women where they can live peacefully, serve the world and evolve. Ideal
institutions with all comforts and conveniences for women, who are spiritually-inclined, are a great
need of the hour. For ages, this important work has been neglected.
I get letters from some sincere cultured ladies expressing a desire to tread the path of
renunciation. In 1936, I gave a reply to a devotee giving my helpful suggestions:
“I cannot safely suggest any Ashramwhere you can live peacefully and evolve. You should
get a decent amount from your parents. Invest it in a Bank. You can lead a simple life with the
interest you get fromthe deposit. This is the best way. Even then, live in an Ashramwhere you have
advanced souls, Mahatmas, or live with some elderly ladies of a religious temperament. Devote all
your time to the study of the Upanishads, the Gita and to Sadhana. Specialise in Kirtan and Bhajan.
When you advance on the spiritual path, you can go from village to village and elevate the masses
and develop Bhakti in them. The world will worship you if you do so. If this is not possible, you can
get a monthly allowance from your brother. This will make you dependent on him and you will
develop a leaning mentality. You must be expecting his sympathy every month. This is not safe.
“If you are bent upon treading the path of renunciation but cannot manage independent
means for your maintenance, you can give private tuition to some girls. Their parents will support
you in return. I do not mean that you should become a qualified mistress of a school or a nurse. That
is worldly. That will take away all your time and you cannot have strength or energy to do intense,
regular Sadhana. The temptations of the world will affect you in the long run, Vairagya will slowly
vanish. Luxury and comforts will creep in. You will miss the Goal. You will not be able to keep up
the same mind and Bhav as nowif you lead a comfortable life and freely mix with worldly persons.
Be adamant. Never change your mind. Have perfect trust in God.”
Service to Women
“This mission of service to sincere women is very dear to my heart. I do not have money. I
have no knack to collect money fromthe public, fromRajahs and Zamindars and businessmen. I do
44
LIGHT ON THE PATH OF RENUNCIATION
not go out for collecting money in the name of service. Occasionally I receive a little money from
devotees. I spend this voluntary donation for the spiritual uplift of those who are around me and
those who keep themselves in close touch with me fromvarious centres. My books are sold in large
numbers in many parts of the world, but I do not earn anything fromthe publications. I lavishly give
away my books free. I do not know business. For starting an institution purely for ladies, I do not
have resources or facilities at present.”
Some orthodox people and Sannyasis say that women are not fit for the path of renunciation.
My viewis different. They too are eligible to tread the path of Yoga and renunciation. Several times
I have thought of concentrating more on rendering a real service to mankind by starting an Ashram
exclusively for ladies. That will be a boon to the world. In the absence of proper support from the
world for an ideal institution exclusively for women, I have permitted many educated and cultured
ladies to live in this Ashram. I personally attend to their needs and train them in all branches of
Yoga, Bhajans and Kirtans. Many have learnt Yoga exercises and derived incalculable benefits.
Among them, there are many from foreign countries also. I give them initiation into the
Order of Sannyasa. After some training in the Ashram they go back to various centres and they
continue their Sadhana and service to the world. The Divine Life Society Branches have Ladies’
sections in all parts of the world, where they have ample scope not only for their own evolution but
also for serving womankind. The ladies who stay in the Ashram have all comforts and
conveniences. They have all facilities, liberty and freedom. In the absence of a separate Ashram
exclusively for women, this Institution has become an ideal centre for their spiritual evolution. May
they all prosper and enjoy peace and Divine Glory and Splendour.
To Those Who Wish to Take Sannyasa
Many sincere seekers of Truth in different parts of the world write to me very often
expressing their eagerness to take to the path of renunciation or the Order of Sannyasa. From
experience I have found that many of those who renounce the world on account of the emotional
type of Vairagya, which might have been induced special reason or other, eventually fail to keep up
to the spirit of renunciation and consequently go back to the world or become a disgrace to the
Order of Sannyasa. While to those who have genuine Vairagya and burning aspiration, I
recommend immediate renunciation; others I advise as follows, in order to give them ample
opportunity to develop their Vairagya and prepare themselves for the path:—
Worldly greatness is nothing, it is a child’s play. You must become a great man in the
spiritual field. Remain in the world, but be not worldly-minded. Mere college study cannot make
you great. When you remain in the world, prepare yourself nicely for the path of Sannyasa. You
have Vairagya, but you have no experience in the line. I am ready to give you Sannyasa at any
moment. Suppose you remain with me as a Sannyasi, have you got the strength to face your mother,
wife, sister and brothers when they weep bitterly with a broken heart in front of my Kutir? Think
well and decide this point. Destroy Moha first. Occasionally go out and live in a secluded place for a
month or two, away fromyour family and see if your mind often goes to your people, your property
and native place. Test your mental strength.
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AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA
Mere emotion and enthusiasmwill not serve you much in the path of renunciation. The path
of Sannyasa is beset with many difficulties. But it is full of joy and bliss and is smooth for the man
of firm determination, patience and fortitude. The life of a Sannyasi is the best kind of life in the
world. Atrue Sannyasi is the real monarch of the three worlds. Even a mere aspirant is an Emperor
of the three worlds. Have courage. Be bold. Realise that the world is a mere illusion. Assert your
real Satchidananda Svarupa.
Sit for a moment alone in a quiet room. Enquire. Cogitate and investigate. Realise the glory
of living in the Atman. Introspect. Try to remove your defects and weaknesses. This is real
Sadhana.
In the early stages of your life, do intense Sadhana in seclusion and a little service to
Mahatmas, the sick and the poor—as much as you can. Do not think of conducting classes on Yoga
and preaching and presiding over big Conferences. Do not entertain the idea of a world tour and of
becoming a World-Teacher. All such hopes will only result in a downfall. When you are young, do
intense Sadhana and have deep study. Forget the past and the future. Lord Jesus hid himself in
solitude for several years. He came out for a period of three years to electrify and thrill the world
with his spiritual powers and illumination. Empty bullets in the air cannot influence the birds. The
words of a man who has no ethical and spiritual development will be like empty bullets. They
cannot have any influence on worldly minds. Become a dynamic personality. Through pure thought
(Satsankalpa) you can revolutionise the materialistic world. Do not be tempted by name and fame
or comforts and conveniences. Lead a hard life.
Combine Service and Meditation
There is one difficulty when you live in a jungle or a cave. As you are a neophyte, you do not
knowhowto regulate your energy and adjust your daily routine and spend the time profitably. You
do not know how to get over depression when it manifests itself. Beginners cannot spend all the
twenty-four hours in meditation alone. They have to work in the beginning for purification of the
heart as well. They should combine work and meditation. I have never come across people in all my
experiences of this life who always remained in meditation entirely and who emerged fromit with
flying colours. What I want to emphasise is that beginners cannot fare well in seclusion. They
become Tamasic and lose their talents and hidden faculties after a long stay in seclusion.
Financial Independence
I have closely studied the lives of Sannyasins, and I have come to the definite conclusion
that a little money helps the Sadhaka in his Sadhana and evolution. Financial independence will
bring peace of mind and strength during the Sadhana period. Downfall comes only when you try to
augment the amount and to accumulate a bank balance. Yet, if you have a strong power of
endurance, patience and fine health, if your Vairagya is intense and of a sustained type and if you
are willing to do some selfless service to mankind, you need not worry about money. You can
renounce the world even this moment. It is not advisable to waste your precious life in trying to earn
more and saving a lot. There is plenty everywhere for sincere Sadhakas. Leave the world quickly.
Fly, fly away fromthe company of worldly-minded persons. Get away fromthe bustle of cities and
46
LIGHT ON THE PATH OF RENUNCIATION
the tumultuous world. Run quickly to solitary places like Rishikesh. You will be outside the danger
zone.
Good Sadhus are well looked after everywhere. It is only the beggars who come in the garb
of Mahatmas that become a nuisance to the public. It is not easy for the public to differentiate
Mahatmas from beggars by a mere casual look. But it is quite possible to find out real Mahatmas
from their talk, walk and action. These days Sraddha is lacking among householders. To avoid
interruptions in Sadhana I ask the students to keep enough money with themto meet their needs. Do
not entertain the begging mentality. If possible provide for bare necessities or join some Ashramor
religious institutions.
Importance of Service
As a drastic measure to overcome the vicious nature and worldly Samskaras? I ask the
students to drown themselves in active service for some months or years. This enables them to
forget the past entirely and devote their entire energy and time to spiritual pursuits. They forget their
body and surroundings. They train their mind to behold automatically the hidden essence behind all
names and forms. They learn to keep a balanced state of mind under all conditions of life, pleasant
or painful. The period of training varies according to the evolution and standard of the students.
In my method, every student should learn cooking, washing, nursing, serving the Sadhus,
Mahatmas and the sick in all possible ways. They must spend hours in deep study, meditation, Japa
and prayers. Even during work they should do mental Japa. They should learn to adjust and adapt
themselves to various circumstances and persons. They all must learn typewriting and first-aid also.
They should learn Bhajans and Kirtans and must prepare fine essays and articles on Yoga and
Vedanta. I prescribe all the important items of Sadhana for a quick spiritual evolution and give them
all facilities and comforts. When I find some progress in them, I send themto some cool places for
deep meditation.
Sannyasins and Politics
In these days of political agitation, even Sannyasins are asked by political leaders to join the
agitation. It is a sad mistake. These leaders have not understood the glory and significance of the life
of pure Nivritti Marga. These Sannyasins purify the world, even though they remain in the caves of
the Himalayas, by their thought-vibrations. They help the world better. My field is the spiritual
path. Let the politicians and scientists work in their own fields. It may be that you cannot separate
politics from religion. But different people should work in different fields according to their
capacity and temperament. All are important and great in their own fields.
Is Guru Indispensable
Only genuine, thirsty spiritual aspirants know me.
Aspirants need not be afraid of pitfalls and snares in the spiritual path. The whole spiritual
world is ready to back up sincere students who are trying to lift up their head fromthe quagmire of
Samsara. Aspirants should nourish their good Samskaras through Japa and regular meditation.
47
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA
Even in this materialistic age, India is full of thirsty aspirants who, want God and God alone,
who are ready to give up wealth, family and children, ruthlessly, for the sake of God-realisation
which they regard as the be-all and end-all of their existence. This is a land of sages and saints.
Thousands of seekers after Truth are in close touch with me from all parts of the world. Many
foreigners come to India in search of Yogis and Mahatmas. Glory to India and all devotees.
The spiritual path is beset with many obstacles. The Guru who has already trodden the path
will guide the aspirants safely and remove all sorts of obstacles and difficulties. Apersonal Guru is
therefore necessary.
There is no more powerful way of overcoming the vicious nature and old Samskaras in the
aspirants than personal contact with and service to the Guru. Guru’s Grace will, in a mysterious
manner, enable the disciples to perceive the spiritual power within, though it is impossible for the
Guru to point out God or Brahman to be this or that.
Initiation Transforms the Mind
Initiation (Diksha) is not a mere change in outward forms. Real change of mind and clear
vision and understanding come to the aspirant after the initiation by a Brahmavidya Guru. Many
students, according to their own fancy, select their own method of Sadhana without considering the
consequences. Improper diet, wrong Sadhana without a proper guide, hard and foolish austerities
on a weak body, torturing the body in the name of Tapasya, have entirely ruined many aspirants.
Therefore a personal Guru is necessary to give timely instructions according to the change of
seasons, circumstances and progress.
The grace of a Guru is necessary. That does not mean that the disciple should sit idle. A
Guru can clear the doubts, show the spiritual path best fitted to the aspirants and inspire them. The
rest of the work will have to be done by the aspirants themselves. It is foolish to think that one can
have all Siddhis (psychic powers) and Mukti from a drop of water from the Kamandalu of a
Mahatma or a Yogi. There is no magic pill for attaining Samadhi. It is mere delusion to think so.
First Deserve, Then Desire
To find out a Guru who may sincerely look after the interests of his pupil is a difficult task in
this world. It is quite true. But to find out a disciple who will act sincerely according to the
instructions of his Guru is also a very, very difficult task.
As disciples are arrogant, disobedient and self-willed in these days, no senior man in the
spiritual path wishes to accept disciples for training. They bring only troubles to the Guru. They do
not want to carry out the instructions of the Guru. They become Gurus themselves in a few days.
This problem of Guru and disciples is indeed an embarrassing one. If you cannot find a first class
type of Guru, at least try to find out one who has been treading the path for some years, who is
compassionate and selfless and who will take a special interest in your welfare and progress.
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LIGHT ON THE PATH OF RENUNCIATION
Realised souls are not rare. Ignorant, worldly-minded persons cannot easily recognise them.
Only a fewpersons who are pure and have all virtues can understand realised souls. They alone will
be benefited in their company.
There is no use of running hither and thither in search of realised men. Even if the Lord
Krishna remains with you, He cannot do anything for you, unless you are fit to receive Him.
To serve God and mammon at the same time is impossible. You will have to sacrifice the
one or the other. You cannot have light and darkness at the same time. If you want to enjoy spiritual
bliss, you will have to renounce sensual pleasures.
Even if one of my disciples lifts up his head fromthe quagmire of Samsara, I have justified
my existence. The greatest service that I can do to humanity is training and moulding aspirants.
Every Yogic student, when he is purified and elevated, becomes a centre of spirituality. He will
draw to himself, through his magnetic aura, thousands of baby souls for spiritual transformation
and regeneration.
Students who are in the world with responsibilities, need not wait for obtaining a Guru.
They should select their own Ishta Devata and a Mantra suitable to their taste and do Sadhana and
prayers. At the proper time, a Guru will appear to them. It is better to receive the Mantra from a
Guru. The Mantra received from the Guru has a mysterious influence.
CHAPTER EIGHT
JNANA YAJNA
Profound Experiences Blossom As Countless Publications
When I study scriptures, I mark the important portions. I constantly think over the points
and reflect. I found effective methods to tide over difficulties and obstacles. I recorded my own
experiences. Thousands came to me in person or through correspondence seeking a remedy for
solving their problems. I gave suggestions and suitable remedies based on my own experiences. I
do not miss a single thought because I record all my thoughts. I attach great value to the experiences
of the students also. I minutely observe and note down the points for the benefit of other students. I
take care to see that these reach immediately all aspirants at distant places through my letters,
articles and messages, through all leading journals and periodicals in various languages.
For the guidance of so many struggling souls, I released my experiences as ‘Mind, Its
Mysteries and Control’, ‘Spiritual Lessons’, ‘Precepts for Practice’. I classify the lessons and
publish the same in pamphlet and book form. Thus my publications become numerous and
limitless. When once I gave a lot of new material for ‘Practice of Yoga’, Volume Second, the
publishers gave me a suggestion to have only one volume. In 1933, I wrote to them:
49
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA
“Why do you stop my work? Let ‘Practice of Yoga’ be in several Volumes, 3, 4, 5 and so on,
when I have brand new ideas and lessons. Let me work as long as my eyes are good, as long as I
have new messages and lessons for seekers after Truth. My love to serve mankind is so great that I
will continue the publication work with the help of able stenographers and secretaries even if I lose
my eyesight. Let the Divine work grow and bring peace and bliss to the world.”
Why There Are Repetitions in My Books
I believe in the harmonious development of heart, intellect, mind and body. One-sided
development is not of much benefit. I do not ignore any of the teachings of the sages and saints of
various religions and cults. For a quick spiritual progress of students of different tastes and
temperaments, I give the essence from all sources. I call this “Synthesised Yoga” or “Integral
Yoga.” The lessons that I give are the outcome of my own researches and also the experiences of
thousands of devotees.
In all my books I emphasise the essential points of the practical side for an all-round
development. This is regarded by some as “Repetition.” They are very helpful to sincere students.
Aspirants are able to grasp the value and importance of such useful repetitions. These lessons are
intended to create a deep and indelible impression on the minds of the aspirants. While describing a
particular subject, with a view to making the book useful to all the readers, I repeat the vital points
that are to be observed in daily life. These prove to be very helpful. They hammer the mind that is
tossed by materialistic influences. That helps to develop the will-power also. There is a message for
the solace, peace, freedom and perfection of every individual.
Devotees have a big library with a complete set of my books and yet they frequently write to
me for books that are in the press. They very often write to me: “The one beauty I find in your books
is that the lessons create a taste for spiritual progress and tempt me to follow some of the lessons,
though I am conscious that I do not have a natural taste or inclination for the path. The lessons are
meant for me and I find themhighly useful for my material progress as well. I feel a newpower and
hope in me after reading a few pages of your book: ‘Mind, Its Mysteries and Control’.”
In 1935 the publishers sent me a letter from a devotee who complained that my books
contain a lot of repetitions. I wrote to them: “Repetition should be carefully avoided. You will have
to sit 3 or 4 nights with full thermos flasks of tea and work hard for removing the repetitions. For
fear of repetition, do not omit the important portions. Repetitions are necessary when the lessons
aim at hammering the worldly mind. This world is a sphere of repetition. We cannot please the
entire world. The Gita, the Upanishads and other scriptures are full of repetitions. This cannot be
avoided. Without hammering, nature refuses to change. After some years, when we bring out fresh
editions, we can thoroughly overhaul each and every book, every para, every sentence and improve
the book. Print all that I have given you. Do not omit even a single comma or word.” The
devotee of that letter says that my books are full of repetitions and yet he wants to have a complete
list of my latest publications! At the end he adds: ‘It is food and life for me.’
It will be a great surprise for the world to see that I authorise any number of publishers to
bring out new editions of several of my books. One and the same book comes out from various
presses in India, Germany, Switzerland, Indonesia and America. I want the maximum amount of
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JNANA YAJNA
work in a short space of time. My letters written in 1934-36 explain the method of my work in
carrying out a dynamic work through the press:—
“I like 20 days’ and 10 days’ productions. Can you do ‘Dhana-dhan’ or ‘Fata-fut’ work?
Can you take up 3 or 4 books at a time? Engage several presses. This is Dhana-dhan work which is
being done by a small press here in Rishikesh. Mind not about payments. Anyhow the bills will be
paid, sooner or later.”
“Engage several presses for finishing the matter quickly. Do not rely on one Press alone.
Press people, goldsmiths and tailors belong to the same category. They do things very slowly,
leisurely. They do not stick to their promise.”
My object is quick work and rapid dissemination of spiritual knowledge. This is indicated in
my next letter.
Rapid Work Is My ideal
I amnot restrictive about my publications. Any good matter must be shared with the readers
at once for their prompt spiritual benefit. I do not want my readers to wait until a newpublication is
ready. Hence, if any newideas crop up, I at once add themin the latest work under print even though
they may not have a direct connection with the subject-matter of the book. Nor do I wish that
valuable time should be wasted in carefully scrutinising every word.
“Do not worry about the mistakes in printing. You need not be afraid of mistakes. If you
send me the proof, I shall correct them. Do not confine the book to 125 pages. If you have good
matter, insert it and increase the price of the book by a fewannas. What harmis there if there are 200
or 300 pages in a book? You can help the world by bringing out substantial and authoritative
works.”
Where a recognition of merit is due, I am not hesitant about expressing it:
“The book ‘Yoga Asanas’ is beautiful. It has got its own charmin the field, though there are
many books in the market.”
Attention to Details
I am also very careful in giving detailed instructions:
“You can introduce meditation on OM (figure) itself. This is both Saguna and Nirguna
meditation. Print some nice OM Charts and as footnote write some instructions on concentration
and meditation. Insert the Four Mahavakyas also on four sides. I wish to have a Japa leaflet: Print
OM 108 times on a page. Those who do not like to have a Japa Mala can go through this page.”
* * *
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AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA
“Herewith a detailed article on Brahmarandhra. This will suffice. The elaborate description
of Pericarp, Nibodhaka fire, Nirvana Sakti, etc. does not help the student much. It is all Greek and
Latin—Mystic. Do not take any matter from any other books. Whatever I have written is quite
sufficient. Do not copy matter from any other source and spoil the beauty of the books.”
* * *
I carefully watch over the way my books are brought out. Sometimes, the publishers
thought of omitting some of the portions they did not consider to be apposite or appropriate. But I
do not wish any valuable matter to be lost in this process. Hence, in the following letter I
emphasised their importance and also asked them to be careful about preserving the force of the
writing which might be lost in the process of changing the language. I do not like too much of
correction and editing.
“You can remove some portions. But remember, it is not the language or style but the power
behind the thought that influences people. In trying to improve the language, etc., the force must be
kept up. Whenever you make a change, you must reflect over the views of the writer. Mere
metaphysical or flowery decoration will not make any improvement. The force of the writer must
never be lost. Keep this in view when you think of any improvement in the publications.”
The following observations would showhowI appreciate a good production and also howI
am disinclined to deletions:
“The book is very beautiful with the Introduction. You may think that you get some
‘criticism’ from the press. This is only a wrong imagination. Some newspapers will praise the
volume. If you insert a thrilling advertisement, the copies will be sold like hotcakes. Coupled with
‘Practice of Vedanta’, this will form a fine combination for the study of Vedanta.”
* * *
“In ‘Yoga Asanas’, there is a great difference between the 1st and the 2nd editions. You
have omitted all Sanskrit words like ‘Parichchinna Ananda, Bimba Ananda’, etc. Sanskrit words
have great, special power and significance. On account of the contagion from the editor of a
humorous Weekly, you have omitted the Sanskrit words. In future, kindly do not omit even a single
syllable. There is a force, beauty and elegance in Sanskrit words. It will not in the least break the
continuity of thought while reading.”
No Attachment to Copyright
I do not expect any royalty from publishers. For dynamic work, I ask all the publishers to
bring out several editions of my books in different languages. I do not demand anything from
publishers as remuneration to the author. Let them give the royalty or not, I permit any number of
publishers to come forward to print my books for wide circulation throughout the world. Usually
they give me 100 copies for every 1000 copies published. I do not sell those copies and earn any
profit. I distribute the copies to all important libraries, educational and religious institutions and to
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JNANA YAJNA
daily newspapers for purpose of review. This proves to be an efficient channel for publicity and the
copies are sold out quickly and the publishers earn profit. I wish all should prosper.
I look to the spread of knowledge. Sitting in a small Kutir in the Himalayas on the banks of
the Ganga, I have published hundreds of very useful books in all languages for circulation
throughout the world. This was possible, because I have not entertained any mercenary motive. My
liberal views attracted many publishers in all countries like Germany, Switzerland, America and
Indonesia. Some publishers do not like to handle valuable books on high Vedanta. They want to
earn enormous profit by selling books quickly on Magic, Miracles and Yoga. Important works on
Vedanta and Health are sold gradually, and hence the publishers are not so much interested in them.
So I thought of having my own publications. In the interest of future generations, for preservation of
valuable books, now I restrict the copyright of all my works to the Divine Life Society or the Yoga
Vedanta Forest University. And yet I permit others also to publish my books.
Even if I do not demand any royalty copies, politely I tell the publishers in a convincing
manner to give me some copies for free distribution. They give me 100 or 150 copies (per thousand)
liberally. I call the ‘royalty’ copies as Ganesh Pooja, as offering to the Lord. In 1936, I wrote the
following lines to a Publisher in India:
“Kindly remember the Ganesh Pooja copies. It is in your own interest. Whenever a tree
bears fruit, the first fruit or vegetable should be offered to God or Sannyasins. Then the man
prospers with grand success. Even so in regard to the Ganesh Pooja copies. The publisher attains
prosperity, here and hereafter. I utilise the copies in bringing wonderful publicity for the books.”
I am highly pleased if all the books are printed in the University Press, as here I have full
freedom. When copies are received from the press, I give away all the copies free to the inmates,
visitors, pilgrims and, by post, to all devotees, Branches of the Divine Life Society and all religious
and educational institutions. Daily I empty all the almirahs in the office, and yet I find fresh stock
continuously coming from the Press. Now there are many devotees in all parts of India and Hong
Kong who print large number of copies of my books and send me all the copies for such
distribution. My joy is great when devotees send me contributions for this publication work and the
maintenance of Sadhakas at the Ashram, or for the relief of the sick persons in the Hospital.
Attitude Towards Profit Motive
When there was some discrepancy in the accounts with a publisher, I asked one of my
disciples to behave well and to maintain a cool mind. Some of the letters to himreproduced below
will explain my attitude to the business people:
“Be calm and serene. Never fret yourself. Be magnanimous and ‘Gambhira’. The whole
world is yours, your body, your home. Be a Sakshi. Watch.”
“Do not fight. Under all conditions, be polite, civil and courteous. Money is nothing. Be
friendly with the publishers for ever. Become fearless. Have no quarrel with regards to the
accounts. Be noble. Go on reasonable lines. If they are wrong, point out to themthe mistake, if they
persist and stick to their mistakes, keep silent. Ignore the whole matter even if we have heavy loss.
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AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA
Do not use any harsh word in your letter. Politeness and courtesy must breathe in every line. Settle
the account without going to the courts. Consult a lawyer on the point. Do not lose temper. Act like
a Sannyasi.”
CHAPTER NINE
THE IDEAL OF LIFE
The Philosophy of Life
The aim of philosophy is right living. The meaning of right living depends on how it is
defined. It is a life of wisdom, free fromthe imperfection, which characterises unphilosophical life.
Philosophy is neither intellectual diversion nor aristocratic pedantry which overlooks the facts of
experience in the world. As against a feat of scholarship or a mere hobby of the care-free mind,
philosophy is the intelligent analysis of the implications of experience and a scientific theory
evolved fromsuch wise meditations for the purpose of regulating the functions responsible for the
various experiences in the world. Philosophy is, therefore, the great art of the perfect life, a kind of
life where the common notion of life is transcended and where the Supreme Life, which is identical
with existence itself, is realised.
The philosophy taught by me is neither a dreamy, subjective, world-negating doctrine of
illusion, nor a crude world-affirming theory of humanism. It is the theory of the divinity of the
universe, the immortality of the soul of man, which is identical with the Absolute Self of the
universe, there being an essential unity of everything in the universe with the highest Brahman,
which is the only existing Reality. The Vedanta does not shut its eyes to the heart-rending pitiable
condition of the world, nor does it ignore the body and the mind with their downward pull towards
an empirical life, though the province of the Vedanta is supra-mundane.
Integral Development
The one Brahman or the Supreme Self appears as the diverse universe in all the planes or
degrees of its manifestation, and, therefore, the aspirant has to pay his homage to the lower
manifestation before he steps into the higher. Sound health, clear understanding, deep knowledge,
powerful will and moral integrity are all parts of the process of the realisation of the Ideal preached
by the Vedanta. I insist on an all-round discipline of the lower self. The teachings of the Vedanta are
not in conflict with Yoga, Bhakti or Karma. All these are blended together as elements constituting
a whole in the several states of its experience.
To adjust, adapt and accommodate, to see good in everything and to bring to effective use
all the principles of Nature in the process of the evolution of the individual towards Self-realisation
along the path of an integrated adjustment of the human powers, are some of the main factors which
go to build up my philosophy of life. To love all and to see God in all, to serve all, because God is
all, to realise God as the identity of all in one fullness of perfection are the main canons. In all my
writings I have prescribed methods for overcoming and mastering the physical, the vital, the mental
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and the intellectual planes of consciousness in order to enable the aspirant to proceed with his
Sadhana without impediments towards this great spiritual destination, the realisation of the
Absolute. The Vedanta is a philosophy and way of life which teaches the method of spiritual
realisation, the direct experience of the immortal, the omnipresent nature of the Self, where the
universe is realised as identical with the Self, where nothing second to the Self can exist, and as the
result of this high realisation, the realised sage becomes the Saviour of the Universe,
Sarva-bhuta-hite Ratah.
My Creed
To behold the Atman or Self in every being or form, to feel the Brahmic consciousness
everywhere, at all times and in all conditions of life, to see, to hear and taste and smell and feel
everything as the Atman is my creed. To live in Brahman, to melt in Brahman and to merge and
dissolve in Brahman is my creed. By dwelling in union with Brahman, to utilise the hands, mind,
senses and the body for the service of humanity, to sing the Lord’s Names for elevating Bhaktas, to
give instructions to sincere aspirants and to disseminate knowledge far and wide through books,
pamphlets, leaflets, magazines and platform lectures is my creed.
To be a cosmic friend and a cosmic benefactor, a friend of the poor, the forlorn, the helpless
and the fallen is my creed. It is my sacred creed to serve sick persons, to nurse them with care,
sympathy and love, to cheer up the depressed, to infuse power and joy in all, to feel oneness with
each and every creature and to treat all with equal vision. In my creed there are neither saints nor
sinners, neither peasants nor kings, neither beggars nor emperors, neither friends nor foes, neither
males nor females, neither Gurus nor Chelas. It is all Brahman. It is all Satchidananda.
Secret of Energy and Dynamic Work
I am now 72 (in 1958). I keep myself busy. I am always blissful and happy. I can do more
work. I personally attend to hundreds of students at the Ashramand manage the affairs of the Divine
Life Society, the Forest University, the General Hospital and guide thousands of students at far off
places through correspondence. I pay much attention to the Printing Press and the despatches of
useful books to the students, libraries and religious institutions. I can do more. The secret of my
energy for the dynamic work is the keeping up of the Divine Consciousness throughout.
Change the angle of vision and be always happy and cheerful. See only good everywhere.
Dance in joy. Saturate the mind with divine thoughts. You will at once feel tremendous, inner
spiritual strength and spiritual power fromwithin. The peace you enjoy nowcannot be described in
words. Adopt any method that can make your mind move inward, that can make the mind
one-pointed and steady. Keep control over the senses. Have a careful vigil and intense faith.
Develop will-power. Otherwise, Vikshepa and Alasya (oscillation and laziness) will overpower
you.
Healing Through Prayers
All over the world, doctors experiment on the poor patients with so many medicines. How
to expect a permanent and lasting cure when the doctors work with the selfish motive of earning
55
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA
more and more wealth? In the Ayurvedic system experts prepare genuine drugs from Himalayan
plants, seeds and roots. They study the pulse of the patients and diagnose the case properly and
prescribe effective medicines for bringing a permanent cure in the patients. The patients also should
follownatural methods to a great extent and select suitable food-stuff and followthe instructions of
the expert doctors.
In this Ashram I combine all the methods in the Sivananda General Hospital. There are
expert doctors in all systems of medicine. In addition to this, I have great faith in the power of
Mantra and grace of the Lord. Through special prayers conducted in the Lord Viswanath Mandir, I
have seen miraculous cures of the hopeless cases even in distant places. I have tremendous faith in
healing through prayers—healing of diseases by chanting of Mantras and prayers. The results are
wonderful. The Lord’s Name is so effective. I call this NAMAPATHY.
CHAPTER TEN
MY METHODOLOGY OF THE EVOLUTIONARY PROCESS
1. Detached, Yet Careful
In my Kutir, there are many big trunks with hundreds of valuable books, articles and
dresses. I do not knowthe exact contents of the trunks. I do not have any keys with me. I do not keep
anything as ‘secret’. I cannot eat anything in private. I do not pretend to be a Vairagi with empty
hands, expecting others to keep enough for my personal use. When I travelled on propaganda tours,
I kept enough money with me in two or three pockets. I gave separate purses with plenty of money
to those who accompanied me.
I am very careful in keeping things like fountain pen, spectacles, study books, and various
articles contributed by all great men and devotees. Previously when I locked my Kutir for a short
brisk walk, I kept the key carefully tied at the end of my cloth. I may use a torn coat with patches but
I must give others the superior quality of articles. I do not worry about debts. I find necessary
support spontaneously coming from the Divine Source. I feel the grace of the Lord at every step. I
feel the presence of the Lord at all times, behind all names and forms.
2. Sadhana Till the End of Life
The Sadhus and Yogis do Sadhana and study for some time and then give up the habit when
they get a little name and fame. It is a great pity. That is the reason for their downfall. Sadhus and
perfected Mahatmas should continue Sadhana till the last moment of their lives. Then only will it be
possible to keep up the Divine Consciousness. That will be a fine example and a source of
inspiration to others also. The saint need not talk and preach. His life itself is a scripture to illumine
the world. Even today I write OMOMOMand HARI OMTAT SAT Mantras in all my letters. I fill
up half a page of my letter with the Mantra or with philosophical ideas. Before commencing to write
anything in a notebook or letters to students, I write the Mantra.
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THE IDEAL OF LIFE
I do about five or six items of Sadhana all the 24 hours: Japa, meditation, exercises
including Asana and Pranayama, worship, study, writing work and service to the world, help to
Mahatmas, the sick and the poor. Thus I charge my mind with divine consciousness at all times. I
nicely combine rest and relaxation with deep breathing exercises. I have thus spent my 35 years of
life at Rishikesh and derived wonderful fresh spiritual energy and strength in abundance. I maintain
a high standard of health and enjoy peace and bliss at every moment. I just come out of my Kutir for
one hour in the morning and manage all the affairs of the Ashramand give work to those who live in
the Ashramand think of others who live at distant places. And yet I feel I can work for another ten
hours every day. The secret is my systematic Sadhana and the grace of the Lord.
3. Why So Many Photographs
In holy temples the authorities do not permit the taking of photographs of the idols. In Badri
and Kedar, people do not allow cameras to be taken inside the temples. It is strange. Some of the
sages and great men of India have serious objection to taking their photographs. They think that the
spiritual power will be diminished by taking photographs. I do not believe at all in such things. I
allow anyone to take any number of pictures while sitting, running, walking, talking, eating,
playing, swimming in the Ganga, in meditation, study or worship at the temple. When devotees
look at a picture, they get inspiration. Books and magazines have a special charmwith the addition
of a series of pleasant and instructive pictures. I do not have any restriction. I find only good in
every thing.
Great men from all countries come to the Ashram. Sincere devotees from all parts of the
world come and stay with me for some months or years. They all desire to have a copy of my photo
in their company. Why should I unnecessarily refuse and displease them? Groups of students who
come to Rishikesh during vacation desire to have a group photo with myself in the centre. I have
been photographed with the great men of the world, Maharajahs, sages and saints, devotees,
Ashramworkers, the sick persons in the Hospital and the school children. I have been photographed
with my hat and suit, a loin cloth and an overcoat, with a turban like a school master, in a motor car,
aeroplane and a bullock cart in Rameswaram during my All-India tour in 1950, and in a
cycle-rickshaw during my stay at Roorkee in 1953. I make no distinction in having photographs
with Maharajahs or devotees or coolies at the Railway Station platform, with great Mahatmas of the
Himalayas or the scavengers of the Ashram. I have included the lively monkeys, cats, dogs of the
Ashram, fish, cows, elephants and cheetahs also. I do not believe in the statement that my spiritual
powers will be lost or influenced by the evil-eye. I look at the wonderful benefits the world would
derive. I enjoy when I find people around me feel happy and cheerful.
4. Self-reliance
I personally attended to my works such as, cleaning the room, bringing water from the
Ganga for drinking purposes, washing clothes and vessels, going to the Kshetra for my alms. I
myself used to type my articles and letters to aspirants. I carefully packed the packets and posted
them. I never depended on my students. I did not like themto enter my Kutir frequently and disturb
my daily routine. When I go out on tour, I myself carry my luggage. When porters carry some of my
heavy packages of leaflets and books for free distribution, I pay them liberally. I pity those rich
persons who fight with the porters and coolies at the platform for the sake of two annas.
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AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA
When the work in the Ashrammultiplied, I could not find time to attend to this kind of work.
Sincere students came forward to attend to some of these works. As selfless service brings about
purification of the heart, I permitted them to do this work and to serve other Mahatmas and sick
persons. I carefully attended to the needs of the visitors and the inmates. I personally saw that they
had their hurricane lanterns, (then there was no electricity), cots, beds, books for study, in their
rooms and that they got their timely tea, milk and food. Nowhundreds of students have come to the
Ashram. Things go on in an organised method, automatically. I silently sit, watch and enjoy the
grace of the Lord. I supervise every section of work and give instructions to all the members and fix
up able hands in charge of all departments of work. Even people without any ability or
qualification, quickly pick up their work in a short period when I give them full liberty and
responsibility and show confidence in them.
5. A Purpose Behind Everything
I am by nature serious. Even today I am very serious in my Sadhana, study and service.
Nothing can disturb me from my concentration and peace. I can remain blissful and attend to my
work steadily under all circumstances. Sometimes to elevate the depressed, to cheer up the dull, I
appear to be humorous. I may joke and play with my students and visitors and make themlaugh like
children. But, behind every joke, fun and humour, there is a purpose. I have a limit for everything.
Every action or word has a definite purpose in the evolution of the people around me. Through fun
and humour, through presentation of biscuits, fruits and clothes, I find out the taste, temperament
and weakness of the students and teach them a way to get over their difficulties and defects.
I am dead against gossip, giggling and guffaw. I ask my students to avoid loose talk and to
live alone with introspection or work. When they go out to bathe in the Ganga or for meals or for a
walk in the evening, I ask them to go alone and to do Japa.
6. Simple Living and Generosity
I am economical. I do not spend much on my personal needs. I have lived for years a hard
life by depending on the Kshetra food. I am very happy when I lead a rough and hard life. Simple
living helps in high thinking and getting mastery over mind and body. Even today, I love the alms I
get from the Kshetra and use torn clothes. I always hammer the mind with the words:
‘Kaupeenavantah khalu bhagyavantah’—Blessed are the dispassionate. I live in a rented building
by the side of the holy Ganga, even though there are many palatial buildings in the Ashramwith all
comforts and conveniences. There is a special joy in simple living. But I do not suffer in the name of
Tapas. When there is a need for certain items for the improvement of the Ashram or any
individual’s evolution, I insist on the needful being done immediately.
At every step I think of the welfare of the world and the evolution of the aspirants. When
devotees give me valuable items and sweets with great devotion, I accept themwith great love and
affection. I use them to please the donors or give them away at once to deserving people. When I
serve and help others, I want the best quality in everything. When I get a superior fountain pen, coat,
a shawl or an easy chair, immediately I want to give similar items to all the workers and important
persons in the Ashram. I await a chance to purchase the items, as in a growing institution where
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MY METHODOLOGY OF THE EVOLUTIONARY PROCESS
dynamic work is carried on with voluntary donation, it is difficult to find finance immediately. I
wait for opportunities. I attend to the needs of all the inmates of the Ashram, one by one.
When I get sweets or fruits, I do not eat anything secretly in my Kutir. I carry the bundle to
the Satsanga Hall and distribute themto the people assembled there and then take a small portion at
the end as Prasad. Even with my diabetes trouble, sometimes I take a lot of sweets brought by
devotees with so much of devotion, love and affection. I am not affected at all.
7. Not a Slave of Fashion and Style
I do not know fashion or style. This is a curse. I do not live for sensual enjoyment. It is the
product of Maya, delusion, the way of the egoistic and the ignorant. I always wear my dhoti above
my knees. Fromthe way of dress, walk, talk and behaviour, I can easily find out the ego in different
persons and prescribe methods to destroy it. Sometimes I wear a Turban and keep a long walking
stick. In Swargashram when I had my evening walk, I kept the long walking stick. I used that as
Yoga Danda for changing the flow of breath from one nostril to another and thus maintained the
Swara Sadhana. In my earlier days I never used shoes or umbrella. One’s attitudes, ways and
manners become entirely different by the constant use of shoes, walking stick and umbrella.
8. Evolution for Everybody
Sadhanas differ according to the stage of evolution, the strength of ego, weaknesses and the
nature of the lower Self. Astrong and sturdy constitution and a fine health are in themselves a good
qualification for the student. All other qualifications can be developed when one is placed in
favourable environments. In the spiritual path any type of student can progress and evolve if he is
endowed with Sraddha, sincerity and faith. There is no need for special talents or qualification.
There is no need also for a deep study for years and Japa on one leg for decades. A willing, loving
heart is what is needed. Scavenging, typing, writing, carrying water, nursing the sick, helping the
poor—all these forms of service can be converted as YOGA with the right mental attitude. The
student must have a new angle of vision and try to crush the ego at each step by discipline,
discrimination and dispassion. Charge the mind with Divine Consciousness through constant Japa,
prayers and systematic meditation.
9. Personal Attention and Liberal Disposition
The kitchen is the fighting centre in an Ashram. All sorts of troubles and misunderstanding,
hatred and jealousy among workers, emanate from the kitchen. I can easily find out the taste,
temperament and spiritual progress, and control of the senses of the students fromthe stories I hear
fromthe kitchen side. That is the main centre of disturbance in an Ashram. But it is the best field for
a quick spiritual evolution of the workers, for developing cosmic love, sympathy, mercy, patience,
generosity. People are well trained to adjust and adapt themselves here in a marvelous way.
Due to the large number of inmates and the heavy rush of visitors, arrangement has been
made for the supply of a common type of food in abundance, two or three varieties to suit the
various tastes of the people of different provinces in India and of other countries. In a humorous
manner I say to the people: “If you do not get ghee, take milk. If milk is not available, ask for
59
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA
butter-milk. If this also is not obtainable, take plenty of Ganga water.” They should not murmur.
One has to be very cautious in adjusting and adapting to various circumstances if one wishes to
enjoy peace. I ask themnot to think much of their body or bread or beard. They all should constantly
think of the all-pervading Brahman.
I pay special attention to supplying energising food and fruits to some of the workers in the
Ashram who are busy with responsible work or intense silent Sadhana, to those who need more
nutrition. I send special fruits, biscuits and butter to their own Kutirs. I serve them unasked. Their
health must not suffer in the name of Tapasya. In the same manner, I carefully attend on the visitors
also. They cannot change their habits in a day at the Ashram. That may affect their health and they
cannot do any kind of Sadhana if they make a sudden, drastic change in their food and dress and
relaxation. I do not, therefore, insist on strict rules and restrictions regarding diet for any one.
Even if there is some bad habit like that of tea, coffee and smoking, I allowthemto continue
their ways for some time. When they attain mental purity and will-power, all evil habits drop by
themselves. The mysterious influence of the Ashram atmosphere has its own effect also. This sort
of freedom given to the aspirants enables even a dull type of aspirant to feel quite at home in the
Ashram and to plunge himself in dynamic work and develop his hidden faculties. Particularly in
regard to the sick persons, I amvery liberal. When fruits are not available in the local bazaar, I send
a special messenger even to Delhi, thus spending a lot, for bringing oranges for the patients in the
Hospital. A stitch in time saves nine.
10. No Compulsion But Full Liberty
I permit people to have their own ways and to work in any field suitable to their taste and
inclination for some time, and create in thema natural taste for the right line of work and Sadhana. I
do not compel anyone. Some of the letters I wrote in 1938 to one of my students will explain the
method of my work and my consideration for the welfare and temperamental preferences of my
students:
“You are in need of plenty of rest. You will have it as soon as the present work is finished.
You need not work hard. There is no hurry. Take your own time. Do not worry unnecessarily about
anything. I will take all responsibilities, mistakes, on my head. You need not worry anything about
the activities of the Divine Life Society. Whatever little help you can do, you may do in future, if
you want. You have done enough now. Be cheerful and happy. May I send you some more money
for your expenses?”
“After finishing one or two books, you can return to Rishikesh. But one suggestion. Take
rest for two weeks in a village. Completely stop all printing work. Then join the work. If you stay
for a month or two, you can do some solid work. For two years you can remain in Rishikesh without
going out. If your health permits, you can consider this point or come to Rishikesh at once. It is left
to you to decide. Everything is left to your convenience and discretion.”
“I will not connect your name with the Divine Life Society. You can help me if you want
without any label, whenever you find time, whenever you like. You are ever free.”
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“I ammarking, you are enslaving me through your real affection. Don’t have any Moha for
this body of mine. Become independent. I have made you free. I can help you more when you are
away. I do not wish anyone to work with me for a long period.”
“Don’t be afraid of work. You can go to Uttarakashi next year. You need not attend to any
work. But prepare and train able hands to continue your work. There are good persons here who are
saturated with and absorbed in the typewriter. Pray, do not stop my book work. Let there be some
series of books ad infinitum. I amsure people will run after my books for the practical lessons and
guidance given there.”
11. The Way to Get Things Done
In the past, I maintained a Memorandumnotebook to enter the items of work I entrusted to
various workers. I called this “WHIP”. Even if due to pressure of work, students forgot the items, I
did not leave themuntil the work was completed. Politely I used to remind themoften. But this was
done in a way humorous and charged with affection; and no one was displeased with me when I sent
several reminders for the same work. For the Tamasic type of persons, I wrote stiff letters also, but
at the end I added a few lines of advice to make them cheerful and happy. Some of the original
letters are reproduced below. First I enquire about their health and spiritual progress and then ask
about the work entrusted:
“Howdo you do? Do you keep up burning the Divine Flame, even amidst various activities
in remembering His Name, feeling His presence everywhere, and seeing Him in all faces? Work
hard. Meditate. Do Swadhyaya. Don’t talk much. Don’t mix. Don’t be curious for news. Go for a
walk alone in the evening. Do not neglect to maintain the Spiritual Diary. That is your Guru by your
side. Write ‘Hari Om’ Mantra ten times at the top of your letters. This is an easy Sadhana for
Self-realisation, remembering God during intense activities. Kindly take great care of your health.
Be regular in your Japa, meditation and study. Change your nature and habit gradually.
“Hope you are keeping good health with Brahma Chintana, along with Karma Yoga. What
about ‘Science of Pranayama’? Is it ready? Why you are silent on this subject? Kindly send me a set
of final proofs.”
“I hope you are O.K. Have Smaran of Rama, Krishna or Siva along with your work. You
will become a Yogi and a Jnani. This is easy Yoga for you amidst various activities. Draw inner
energy and peace through silent meditation at least for a fewminutes in the early morning. I have to
reiterate again and again: World is a dream, Jaalam, jugglery of mind. It is Bhrama (mere
appearance). You are Atman (Satchidananda). Assert. Deny body. With great effort get yourself
established in this Bhav. Feel: ‘I am One—Ekam, Chidakasa, Akhanda Brahman, the Self of all
beings, I am Sakshi, I am Akarta.’ Stamp out the hissing Indriyas and Vasanas. This is the
Upanishadic essence quite sufficient to destroy ignorance. Send me a report of how you spend all
the “24 hours of the day, please.”
I never forget the spiritual interests of my students, and continuously remind them of the
purpose of life and the importance of Sadhana, even though they may have a lot of work to do for
the divine mission. Here is another letter:
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AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA
“This world is Deergha Swapna. You are Vyapaka Atma. Be established in this one idea. I
have to hammer on this point very often. Acknowledge the article; ‘Sat Guru Mani Mala.’ If you
don’t do this, reminders after reminders will be sent to you until I get answer. To avoid this boring,
say: ‘Yes, received Sat Guru Mani Mala.’ This will save a lot of time and energy.”
“I have written to you several times for compiling all my letters to you in a book form. Just a
little trimming repeated portions and selecting of the lessons useful to aspirants. I have not received
an answer fromyou. If you are not inclined to do this work now, I shall wait. This will not tax you
much. You can do it slowly.”
12. Message of Cheer
I don’t believe in scandal-mongering. Pardon even the worst sinner. There is hope for
everybody to improve and progress in the spiritual path. I want my disciples to be strong, bold and
cheerful. I want themto carry on dynamically the mission of the Lord. My letters attest this attitude:
“Don’t waste your energy in worrying unnecessarily. Our work is increasing by leaps and
bounds. Shall we attend to the scandal and criticisms or proceed on with our Yogic activities?
Forget. Forgive. Forgive.
“Even if people advertise you with a lady by your side in daily papers, I won’t believe. It is
the mischief of scandal-mongers. Even if I catch you red-handed with a lady, I will excuse you.
These are all mistakes only in the path and not heinous crimes. I will tell you, ‘Don’t do this in
future. March on in the path of light.’ You are unnecessarily bothering yourself. I wanted to send
you a telegramto cheer you up. You have to do many ennobling works. I ampreparing the ground,
paving the way for your future spiritual activities.
“I wish many students like you will crop up in India to help the world. Be bold. Be always
cheerful. Proclaim the Truth everywhere. Stand up. Gird up the loins and preach Vedanta, Yoga,
Bhakti everywhere. Don’t worry yourself even a bit. No one in the world can hurt. You are
invincible. Roar like a lion on any platform, resting on Truth. The slight defects in you will soon
vanish. Don’t bother. In the Atman there is purity. It is Niranjan, spotless. Thou art Niranjan. Stick
to this idea. The impurities will vanish. This is the positive method of eliminating or eradicating
defects. Strength, joy, peace, bliss, immortality is your very nature. Assert and realise.”
13. Attitude Towards Vilification
Here is a letter addressed in 1937 to one of my students who published a pamphlet attacking
the Founder of a famous Ashram in Punjab:
“I came to know that you have published a small pamphlet wherein you have indirectly
attacked an Ashramin Punjab. You ought not to have done this. It is vilification. Forget the past. It
is not a noble act for a Sannyasi. Petty-minded householders only will behave like this. Sannyasa is
magnanimity. In future don’t do any thing of this kind. It indirectly affects me. Howis your health?”
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MY METHODOLOGY OF THE EVOLUTIONARY PROCESS
I want my disciples to mind their own business and not to waste their energy and time in
cavilling at others. I want themto have a broad vision, to acquire balance of mind and cultivate the
spirit of tolerance and forgiveness. The letter continues:
“Your work will suffer if there is even a little agitation. Keep silent and work with undivided
attention. Have no connection with anyone. Let everything end peacefully. Forget everything. You
are still very weak. You are swayed or tossed by ‘words’, jugglery. Become adamantine. ‘Tit for
tat’ is the nature of householders and not Sannyasins. To bear insult and injury is the Svabhava of
Sannyasins. That is spiritual strength. That is the balance. To be moved by trifles, to worry for
months and to waste energy in a useless direction is not wisdom.
“Keep quiet. Never think of old affairs. You are wasting your energy by thinking in wrong
directions. This will interfere with our smooth work. Stop selling the remaining copies of the
pamphlet and destroy them. The Founder of the Ashramis my dear friend, brother. You must not do
any thing that can affect him in the least even indirectly. You are conscious of certain harmful
things that are written there. Forget everything. Rest in peace. Don’t bring out any such books.
Write purely on philosophy, Yoga, Bhakti and Vedanta. Don’t bring out tracts of this nature. Even
though you are in the right, when the other party is aggrieved, you must be sympathetic. Don’t bring
out such pamphlets even if you have good materials. Be careful. When the party feels a lot, howcan
you poke or rake up the matters again and again. It is not the Dharma of a Sannyasin. How long do
you want to continue this sort of business? Keep the mind cool and direct your attention to our
publications, meditation and other useful work.”
14. Rise Above Criticism
I am not interested in useless arguments but am concerned only with quick action and
obedience. I do not want my disciples to be upset by criticism. Hence my strong exhortation:
“This affair is serious. I want you to keep absolute silence in future. This needs your
immediate action. I don’t want to hear your arguments, justification, etc. The matter must be
absolutely stopped. I may be partial and unjust. You need not send me a reply. But kindly see that
you act up to my request immediately without fail. Sannyasa is for peaceful and constructive work.
What more shall I write to you? Are you the Atman or the mind and body? Even if you have read
1001 times all my writings, still you identify yourself with the mind and the body. People can
criticise your body and mind. You yourself dislike your body and mind. Those who criticise your
body are your real friends. Then, why do you get agitated? You are weak. Ignore criticisms. Why do
you brood over the past? This is a bad habit. You can’t have peace of mind. Rise above criticisms
and remarks. Do good to that man who wants to poison you and kill you. Put it into practice.
“You have learnt many things fromthat unhappy, unpleasant occurrence that was worrying
you. It was in the grand plan for you to gain some experiences.
Out of evil comes good. It has given you strength and wisdom. Nowrest in peace and work
like a lion. Joy, Bliss, Power, Strength, Splendour and Glory are your Divine heritage. Think you
are the emperor of the world. Face difficulties boldly. Draw inner strength. God has given you
special favour. He has made you a Brahmachari and cut off all ties and made you absolutely free.
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AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA
Where then is room for lamentation, despair, sorrow, worry or depression? Smile. Cheerfulness,
peace, divine service, Yogic activities, dissemination of knowledge, form part and parcel of you
now. I amalways at thy feet to serve thee. Be assured. Be assured. Be assured. Jump in joy. Dance in
ecstasy. Walk like a lion. Radiate Joy, Peace and Strength to all around.”
15. Constancy and Gratitude
I can never forget the services done to the divine mission by my disciples. Even if, for some
reason or other, they go away fromme, I do not forget the work done by them. They continue to live
in my heart. The letter continues:
“Never change your opinion. I am thy servant, well-wisher, friend, brother. Even if you
leave me, I cannot leave you. I won’t leave you. You always reside in my heart. You are dear to me
always. I cannot utter any harsh word to anyone. If anyone utters a harsh word, I feel for that man. I
want to correct him. You may experience this. You might have experienced this. I amgrateful to the
Lord who has endowed me with at least a ray of this virtue. I do not crave for higher attainments.
The Lord has given me this quality. It is His mercy.
“Now the whole matter is clear. Feel His Mercy and Grace. I am myself going to the Post
Office and posting this letter. It is very difficult to understand the mind of a man even though you
move with himvery closely for years together, and to understand even one’s own mind. God alone
knows the real culprit. You know me full well by close contact. It would have been a nice thing to
drop the correspondence concerning the bogus letter altogether and you ought to have talked to me
about it privately when you come down here, even though you have reason, to suspect from the
signature and the envelope. This is all unnecessary botheration to you, to me and to all. There is no
time for you or for me to look into these matters and to waste our time and energy in these worthless
topics. We should utilise every second of our life in His service and meditation.
“You ought to have had a strong belief that I will never write such a letter to you. You have
failed here. It does not matter. Man learns and grows by mistakes.
“Even if a thousand people poison my ears and mind by speaking ill of you, I won’t hear.
You are glory to me, to India and to the world.”
16. You Cannot Get Away From Evil
“This world is a strange world. We have to learn many lessons. One of the disciples of the
Lord Jesus betrayed the Lord. Many obstacles will come to the growing aspirant at every step. We
will have to showour strength. Do not be agitated by little things. Be cheerful. Smile. Walk boldly.
Think and feel that nothing has happened. Don’t worry about little things. You have to do many
great actions yet. Prakriti is preparing you in a variety of ways. Feel this. Be grateful to the Lord.
“These things have happened, yet I cannot leave you or Sri ‘B’ or Sri ‘A’ or Sri ‘Y’. All
grow by committing mistakes and blunders. You must forget the past entirely. As I have written
above, I shall arrange for your residence in Brahmananda Ashramand supply separate food for you.
You need not mix with anybody. Some work you can do for the Divine plan. You cannot eliminate
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evil persons from any part of the world. Wherever you go, you will have to live amidst them. But
have Atma Bhav. This will change the situation.
“You should try to love all, even the worst man who wants to destroy you. That is Sannyasa.
A Sannyasin is one who feels that he has no body. We should live amidst people who want to
destroy us, amidst unfavourable surroundings and then work and meditate. Then only can we grow.
Then only can you have the unruffled mind of a Sage. For this you must have tremendous inner
spiritual strength and faith through Sadhana.”
17. My Attitude Towards Dissension Among Disciples
One of my students wrote a bogus letter with my false signature to another important worker
at Madras. That disturbed and upset the person. Here is the letter showing my method of work for
establishing peace and proper understanding. The letter was dated the 8th September, 1937. It
clearly explains my attitude, the nature and method of my work. Even if the whole Ashram is
affected, I stick to my principle which is underlined as:
“I cannot hurt the feelings of anyone even in my dream. I love all, even the worst man who
aims at my life. Even if students leave me, I cannot leave them. I unite the workers with my spiritual
glue: ‘Om Namo Narayanaya’ Mantra and Prayers.”
Here is the complete text of my above-mentioned letter outlining my attitude:
Beloved Sri Swamiji,
Pranams. I have not written any such letter to you. It is a forged letter. Kindly compare this
signature very carefully with others. You will find out the thief. Kindly send me the letter per
registered post for my perusal. I presume it must be a typed letter. Can you make out whether it is
typed in our machine or any other machine, and by whom in our group?
Some days ago there was a trouble here. Swami ‘B’ created some mischief. So I have asked
him to leave the Ashram. Sri Swami ‘A’ and ‘R’, his friends, also have left the place. They are all
living now in Rishikesh. They have planned this mischief to create some ill-feelings between you
and me and to drive out Sri Swami ‘Y’, their enemy. This is their plan, I presume now. Sri ‘B’ is
deadly inimical towards this Ashram and somebody has set fire to the bed of Sri Swami ‘N’ also.
You ought to have understood immediately: ‘Swamiji will never write such a stiff letter.
Possibly it is some mischief by others.’ Everything will be all right. Be not troubled. When you
come here, you can live separately in Brahmananda Ashram. You need not take meals from our
kitchen. I shall make special arrangements for your food. As soon as the work is over, come here
immediately. You need not wait even for a single moment. Do not worry a bit about the forged
letter. It is the mischief of scandal-mongers. He who does wrong action will reap the fruits thereof.
The law of Karma is inexorable. I wanted to send you a wire: ‘Don’t worry. It is forgery. It is a
mischief by someone. Letter follows.’ Then I thought a detailed letter would explain matters
clearly.”
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18. Raking Up the Issue Does Not Solve Problems
I do not usually entertain complaints. There will be no end for the arguments given by
different groups of persons. I know well that an enquiry will worsen the situation. Just for the
satisfaction of the persons concerned in the ‘plot’, I made some enquiries on the subject and gave
my conclusions in the letter reproduced below. I allow ‘time’ to improve the situation. The letter
continues:
“I called this morning all the inmates of the Ashram and enquired into the matter. No
conclusion has been arrived at. God only knows the real truth. I have no clairvoyant powers to find
out the culprits. You can judge yourself as to who the culprit is. Can you make out the real man from
the style of typing? Even if you spot out conclusively, the man will not admit. Do not feel a bit
anything now. Be cheerful. Everything is false; some mischief has been done out of jealousy. It is
very difficult to find out the mischief-makers. You need not come here soon, if there is work there,
on account of this perturbed condition of mind caused by this affair. Be cool. Do sufficient work.
Collect all the rays of the mind and be calm. Forget the past. Do as much work as possible. Plunge
yourself in work. Do not be agitated. These little difficulties and disturbances come in the way to
strengthen you, to strengthen me. We should not be disturbed. All these matters happen only to
make us strong. It is all for your growth and improvement only.
“One thing I have found out; you become agitated soon. As soon as I read your letter, I was
extremely surprised. I could not make out to whomyou were writing, because I never wrote to you
anything of the kind. Even if you have found out that to be my signature even if the envelope was
bearing my own handwriting, you should have thought that someone has done a mischief. Even
supposing I have written such a letter, I would have done it for your own good or for the good of
some one. You have hopelessly failed. I cannot hurt the feelings of anyone, even in dream, even that
man who is injuring me to the extreme. I amdeveloping this one virtue. Be sure of this always, even
if such things happen in future.”
19. Way to Success
Whenever I take up any work,
I finish it at any cost.
Whenever I start writing a book,
I complete it somehow or other.
Whenever I take up a book for study,
I complete it before taking up another work.
I never leave anything half done.
I concentrate on the subject and
Think intensely without distraction.
I am firm, steadfast and steady.
I have intense application to work.
I have tenacity and intensity of purpose.
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20. How to Convert the Nature of a Man
Honour those who are bad characters. Serve the rogue first. Treat himas a future saint, as a
saint, as a saint himself. This is a way to purify your heart and to elevate him also. I take a special
delight in serving such people carefully. I always keep around me any number of people who would
abuse me, vilify me, insult me and even try to injure me. I want to serve them, educate them, elevate
them and transform them. I address them in the most respectful terms. Acclaim the rogue or the
thief as a saint and publicly honour him, he would be ashamed to continue his evil doings.
Persistently tell an ill-tempered man: “You are a Santa Murti (a man of peace),”—he would be
ashamed to lose his temper. Call a lazy man, “You are a dynamic worker,” and he would throw off
his laziness and plunge into service. This is my method. The praise should come from the very
bottom of your heart. You must give your soul-force to every word. You must sincerely feel that
behind the apparent negative quality, there is a resplendent positive virtue latent in the man. Then
both of you will be benefited.
21. My View of Goondas
Good people are already virtuous
I will have to correct and mould Goondas only.
This is my special work.
Goonda is a negatively virtuous man.
He exists to glorify the virtuous.
Goonda also is Lord Krishna.
Lord Krishna says in the Gita:
‘Dyutam chhalayatamasmi—
I am the gambling of the cheat.’
Rudri says: ‘Taskaranam pataye namah—
Prostrations the Lord of thieves,’
I keep in the Ashram all sorts of students.
The world calls me a Guru for thieves and rogues.
Glory to the Divine Mission.
The spiritual vibrations of this Holy Centre
Convert them as Divine Beings, Yogis and Saints!
22. Destroy Abhimana (Egoism)
It is well to remember that Sattva, Rajas and Tamas have their own “hooks” that keep the
Sadhaka back and prevent himfromsoaring into the realms transcendental. The Sattvic hook is the
most subtle of all and therefore most difficult to discern and detect. With Sannyasa, floats the
Sannyasa Abhimana. It might allowthe student a greater freedomto roama little higher than others,
but he is also bound. With Tyaga, creeps in Tyaga Abhimana, most subtle and most dangerous,
almost impossible to get over. Similar is the case with Seva-Abhimana. Egoismtakes many shapes.
Sannyasa, Tyaga and even Seva is transformed by it into its cloak. The Sadhaka who would like to
strive for realisation of the Self would do well to guard himself well and not allowquarters to these
subtler forms of Abhimana.
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23. An Ideal Teacher
I am ever a thirsting student
I am not a teacher
But God has made me a teacher
The students have made me a teacher.
I make my students soon as teachers
I am such a teacher.
I treat them in respectable terms as
‘Maharaj’, ‘Swamiji’, ‘Bhagawan’, ‘Narayan’,
I treat them as my equals
I give them equal seats
I am such a teacher.
I allow them to learn from my own life
I make them Mahants and servants of humanity
Presidents, lecturers, writers, Swamis and Yogis
Founders of spiritual institutions, poets, journalists,
Propagandists, divine scavengers, health and Yoga Culturists,
Typists, Yoga-kings, Atma-Samrats,
Karma Yogi Veeras, Bhakti Bhushans, Sadhana Ratnas
I am such a teacher to all Seekers after Truth.
24. Come, Come, My Friends
My Call is irresistible,
It has transformed countless lives.
Do not waste this precious life
In playing cards and idle gossiping
Give up hot debates and arguing
Destroy all pleasure centres
Abandon the desire for comfort
Set fire to the fuel of lust.
Destroy the fortress of egoism
Be quick, Be quick, friends!
Sing the Lord’s Name day and night
Now take a plunge in the Ocean of Bliss
And enter the illimitable domain of the Atma within.
Come, come, my friends, take the plunge, be quick
Tarry not, delay not—enjoy the Wisdom Bliss.
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CHAPTER ELEVEN
PRACTICAL HINTS ON THE SPIRITUAL PATH
1. Training of Students Through Post
I have no stereo-typed, printed lessons in Yoga for coaching up students through post. I
usually send some of my books suitable to the taste of the students. I give them lessons through
correspondence. The lessons are well graded. They write to me about their daily routine, welfare
and progress. They maintain the Spiritual Diary and follow my “Twenty Important Spiritual
Instructions.” I help them with advice and remove their troubles and obstacles. I send my
thought-currents of peace. Thousands of students in all countries have made wonderful progress
through this personal attention. For the advanced courses they come to the Ashramand stay with me
for some weeks or months and receive initiation.
They all like this kind of individual attention. I do not take any fees from any one for the
training given in Yoga, and do not demand any money for their maintenance at the Ashram.
Invariably all students who come to me pay me liberally or take pleasure in voluntarily contributing
their mite to the progress of the institution and helping the Society in its dissemination of
knowledge. Through such acts, they obtain Chitta-Suddhi and spiritual progress.
In the following pages are reproduced some of my typical letters to different aspirants,
delineating the methods of my training in the path of Yoga, the spiritual perspective. I emphasise to
all, the moral and ethical ideals. I exhort others to emulate—in short, showing the way to lead the
divine life.
2. Way to Peace
Swarg Ashram,
16th August, 1930.
Revered Brother,
Your kind line. Thank you very much indeed. Get up at 4 in the morning. Have a meditation
roomunder lock and key. Do not allowanybody to enter it. Have a Gayatri picture, the Gita, etc., in
the room. Meditate on the Gayatri. Repeat the Gayatri Mantra with meaning. Concentrate on the
Trikuti, the space between the two eye-brows, with closed eyes. Sit on Padma-Asana. Try to sit for
two hours continuously. Study the Gita regularly. Speak the truth at any cost. Control anger. Serve
poor persons, the sick and the saints. Spend some money on charity. That will purify your heart.
Don’t join worldly persons. Serve, love, respect everybody. Give up Ninda (criticising),
back-biting, fault-finding, tale-bearing. Be humble. Be obedient. Speak sweetly. You will enter into
Peace. Observe Mauna for one hour daily and three hours on holidays.
Yours fraternally,
Swami Sivananda
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3. Have Strong Thirst for Knowledge
I advise aspirants against emotionalism and impetuosity in taking to the path of
renunciation, but counsel diligent cultivation of a strong urge for spiritual life while yet in the
world.
Swargashram, Kutir 22,
29th August, 1930.
Om Sat-Chit-Ananda,
You are the Atma. You are immortal. Be fearless. Assert the majesty of your Self. Free
yourself fromthe deceptions of the mind and worldly objects. My Dear Yogi, May God bless you.
I am filled with infinite delight to peruse your line of the 21st instant. You are a man of
spiritual Samskaras. Nurture them. Protect them. Increase them.
DO NOT COME TO ME
If you can manage, and if you are quite sure that you will not become a menace to society, if
you can control lust, be a Brahmachari till the end of life (Naishthika Brahmachari). You are not
rich. How can you manage a family and children? That will bar your spiritual progress.
Mere juvenile enthusiasm will not do. Mere emotions will not do in the spiritual line. It is
not a rosy path. It is full of thorns, scorpions and snakes. The path is rugged, precipitous, extremely
difficult, but easy for a man of the strong determination: “I must realise—I will give up life even.”
This kind of strong thirst for Knowledge is needed.
Develop Sattvic virtues gradually—patience to counteract anger, contentment to check
greed, service (Seva Bhava) to destroy pride, arrogance. Develop humility, truth-speaking, Titiksha
(bearing heat, cold, pain). Love all. Be kind to all. Never become irritated, excited. Keep a diary of
spiritual progress. Record everything. Live amidst developed persons. Visit the Ramakrishna
Mission and serve the Mahatmas. Serve elders with enthusiasm, love and affection (deep).
Clear your doubts. Wishing you peace and beatitude,
Yours
Sivananda
HARI OM TAT SAT
OM SANTI!
Get a copy of my Yogic & Vedantic Sadhana.
In future send me a reply post card or postal envelope for my reply.
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4. Do Not Be Hasty in Leaving the World
c/o. Vizianagaram House,
Camp/Calcutta,
12th December, 1930.
OM SAT-CHIT-ANANDA
Come to Rishikesh for some time. You will enjoy the solitude and the spiritual vibrations
undoubtedly. Tell my name. People will accommodate you and serve you. Have Darshan of Sri
Swami Advaitanandaji, Sri Swami Tapovanji Maharaj, Sri Swami Purushottamanandaji. They are
all in close touch with me,—advanced souls.
Do not be hasty in leaving the world. The world is an arena for developing various Sattvic
qualities. The world is the best teacher for those who want to be benefited. Remain for some time
longer there. Earn and enjoy. Vairagya comes out of Bhoga. Then it will be strong, steady and
intense. DO NOT MARRY. That is a different point. The world is not a hell. It is all Ananda when
ego and Raga-dvesha die away. Change the mental attitude. Come and see all these places and
Mahatmas. You will have inspiration.
Lead a divine life when you are there. The spiritual path is not all rosy. It is full of thorns.
Qualify yourself. Attain purity and spiritual strength through Japa and meditation. Cheer yourself.
Wishing you Kaivalya Moksha,
Swami Sivananda
Hari Om Tat Sat
Tat Tvam Asi
5. Look Before You Leap
The preceding two letters, addressed to one of my disciples, would show how I caution
aspirants against any hasty decision. But when I find that one is endowed with strong Vairagya and
unshakable determination, I am at once filled with joy and delight. On those days, when I lived
alone and had no Ashramof my own, I was very reluctant to have any disciple by my side. I did not
want anybody to come and stay with me. Hence, in the case of the above-mentioned aspirant, when
I found that he had strong aspiration and unwavering will, I felt that it would be better for him to
stay in an active Ashram, so that he might improve there rapidly. Thus I preferred forgoing my own
interest by not availing myself of the services of aspirants, and always looked to their own welfare
and the progress of other religious institutions.
Beloved Self,
Your devotion towards God and religion will doubtless elevate you from Samsara. May
God bestow on you spiritual strength and power to attain the Goal of life—God-realisation.
Kindly join Sri Aurobindo Ashramor the Ramakrishna Mission. There you will improve a
lot. I promise you. I assure you. Stick to the Ashramfor some years. You may come here for visiting
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and not for permanent stay. LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP. Think. Consider well. The world is the
best teacher. You have to learn a lot. Do not be hasty and run away to the Himalayan caves.
Youthful buoyancy, juvenile enthusiasm, may not help you much. This line is an arduous,
hazardous path. You may not know how to spend your time usefully here.
I am only a common Sadhu. I may not be able to help you much. Further, I do not make
disciples. I can be your sincere friend till the end of my life. I don’t like to keep persons by my side
for a long time. I give lessons for couple of months and ask them to meditate in some solitary
centres in Kashmir or Uttarakashi.
I reiterate: Join a good Ashramwhere you will have spiritual gain. Stick to the centre. Bear
difficulties. The end is immortality, infinite Ananda.
Thy Own Self,
Swami Sivananda
Cheer yourself. Be free, courageous, fearless. You are Nectar’s son. Hari OM Tat Sat.
Develop patience. Speak the truth. Control anger. Develop Titiksha. Serve. Love. Give. Forgive
others. Speak a little. Speak sweetly.
6. Snippets for Evolution
Here are some valuable instructions in tablet form—succinct to the point and sorted out for
immediate application.
Swargashram
3rd October, 1930.
(a) Fear not.
(b) Grieve not.
You are Sat-Chit-Ananda Rupa, Amrita Atma. You are not this Jada body.
May God bless you.
Kindly go through my book: “Mind, Its Mysteries and Control.” The lessons will be of
much practical use for progress in meditation. Save as much money as possible. In these days
money is needed even by Sannyasin, as there is lack of support fromhouseholders. Have these two
important pleasure-centres: STUDY and MEDITATION. Cut off all external pleasure-centres.
1. Search. Understand. Realise.
2. Analyse (objects). Realise (their true nature) and abandon.
3. Know Thyself and be free.
4. Always be Self-centred.
5. Pray and be virtuous.
6. Aspire and draw.
7. Negate (body) and Assert (Brahman)
8. Tat Tvam Asi—never forget this.
SIVANANDA
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7. Unfold the Latent Divine
True to my advice, the aspirant joined the Ramakrishna Mission, and yet continued to be in
touch with me. I did not deny himmy constant care and instructions for evolution, as I consider all
Ashrams my own and do not recognise any exclusive monopoly over any aspirant who approaches
me for guidance:
Swargashram,
Rishikesh.
Revered Brother,
Om Namo Narayanaya. May God bless you.
I have returned from a long Kailas trip. I am glad to hear that you have joined the
Ramakrishna Mission. My heartfelt congratulations. Stick to the Ashram with leech-like tenacity.
The Ashram is your own. Feel this. You are bound to progress. You are the Sun of suns. You are
hope of the world. You have taken a responsible gown. Unfold the Divinity. May holiness,
splendour, glory attend on thee.
You have cut asunder all the earthly ties. Now you can proceed unhampered in your way.
Stick to the Mission and serve all your elders with respect and sincerity and disinterestedness.
Speak the truth at any cost. Speaking the truth cannot harm anybody. It will give you spiritual
power. Truth can be achieved only by speaking the truth. Control anger by developing patience,
Kshama, cosmic love, service and Daya. You must cultivate humility, magnanimity (Audarya) and
courage.
Six hours of study and six hours of meditation should go on uninterruptedly. That is my
method. Forget the past. Live in the solid present. Give up all kinds of fancied expectations. Even if
people persecute you, hate you, mock at you, keep quiet. Don’t revenge. Study the ‘Sermon on the
Mount’ daily before you proceed to work. I shall quote one passage. If you remember this once
daily you will have wisdom. Practise this unceasingly:
‘Love your enemies. Bless themthat curse you. Do good to themthat hate you and pray for
those who despise and persecute you.’ —St. Matthew.
The practice is difficult but must be done and can be done. This is being practised by
Mahatma Gandhi. This is the secret of his success.
With regards and Prem,
Your humble brother
SWAMI SIVANANDA
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8. Regeneration of the Lower Nature
In spite of my reluctance and initial objection when the aspirant subsequently came to me
and made a strong impression about his spirit of renunciation and adamantine will-power. I
willingly initiated him into the Order of Sannyasa, and he immediately plunged himself into the
arena of the divine work, which was then in its initial stages and which was soon to assume gigantic
proportions and astound the world with a tremendous whirlwind of spiritual revival and divine
inspiration among millions of aspirants all over the world. Yet, I never forget the object of life and
the purpose with which one renounces the world, and, therefore, repeatedly exhorted him to pay
attention to practical Sadhana and self-discipline:
SIVOHAM SIVAH KEVALOHAM. May God bless you.
I have great hopes in you. You are a glory to India and the world at large. May the Divine
Light, Divine Splendour and Glory shine in you for ever. Live in Truth. Feel Truth. Realise Truth.
Disseminate Truth. Regulate your energy. Conserve it. Utilise it when needed. Meditate well. Live
in a closed room. Don’t mix much. Do not multiply friends. One real and sincere friend is quite
sufficient. Don’t beg with the begging spirit. Command and get whatever you need. The whole
world is your home. Prakriti and nine Riddhis are ready to serve you with folded hands. Control
Indriyas. AWAY FROM LADIES. Be fiery. Don’t become a lazy Zenana Vedantin or a
moustache-lady Sannyasin. There must be fire in every cell, in every word. I know you will do
wonders within a short time. Read the Upanishads and the Gita. Master themwell. You are a zero in
that direction.
You should have regular, systematic study, meditation and Japa. Don’t think: ‘I will study
in Uttarakashi when I am alone without work.’ That is wrong. That is foolishness. You must have
the daily habit. That ‘tomorrow’ will never come. Make hay while the sun shines. Winnowthe corn
when the wind blows. Concentrate. Meditate. Live alone for some hours. Be polite. Never be
arrogant. Have tolerance and patience. Manifest these virtues while talking. Watch every thought:
There is no play. You have taken a responsible garb. Do you feel this? Away fromladies. No joking
and laughing with them. These are all manifestations of lust only.
Don’t beg. Don’t ask with the begging spirit. Command. Everything will come. The whole
world is your own home. Feel this. Feel this. Showme a report of your systematic Sadhana. Method
and discipline must be there in your daily routine. Scrutinise your motives. Destroy selfish motives.
Crush all sorts of meanness. Become noble in every inch of your action. Don’t fight for petty trifles.
Give up back-biting, tale-bearing. Regeneration of the Asuric nature is imperative.
OM
SIVOHAM
9. The Bane of Sensual Life
I once again emphasise the importance of Sadhana and the necessity of shielding oneself
from the baneful effects of a sensual life:
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Don’t look at the filth again. Don’t ruin yourself. You have sufficiently enjoyed a life of joy
and bliss in the spiritual path. What to speak of further glories if you blossom fully through Yoga.
Beware. Beware. Don’t become a slave to your senses. Don’t come out of your room. Stop all
activities. Hide yourself in a roomor come back to Ananda Kutir at once. Introspect and meditate.
* * *
If you cannot resist Moha, it is better you leave the city at once. Proofs will take care of
themselves. I do not care for work at all. If you are strong enough, you may stay there for some time
more and finish the work. Anyhow make arrangements for coming to Rishikesh soon.
* * *
Without ideal life, resting in the indwelling, interpenetrating Presence, sensual life becomes
a burden. It is tantamount to brutal life. The world is a dream. The Essence is the solid Reality.
Never forget this. You are the Atma, Akarta, Sakshi.
10. Sadhana Should Be a Daily Habit
The following are some of the important hints on the path of Yoga which are culled frommy
different letters to aspirants, and which will be found very useful to one and all for a correct
knowledge of some of the practical aspects of the spiritual path.
You should have regular, systematic meditation, Japa, study and service. Don’t think: “I
will study and meditate when I finish all my responsibilities, when I am alone in the Himalayan
Caves.” Live alone for some hours and study the mind. Prepare nowslowly for the life in seclusion.
11. Nishkama Seva
This does not require big funds. If you are fit to serve humanity, the Lord will arrange
everything for you. Get some useful medicines and distribute to the sick persons or nurse them
nicely. Do not expect anything from anybody for the service you do. Give education to the poor
boys in your village. Maintain yourself by getting alms from 4 or 5 houses. Live in seclusion. Do
Sadhana. Destroy Manorajya, building castles in the air. It is an enemy of peace. Do service
according to your ability, capacity and means, as much as you can, with the right mental attitude and
spirit.
12. Troubles Through Pranayama
I have received similar reports of troubles from many students who try to awaken the
Kundalini Power by forcible methods of Pranayama and Kriya Yoga. I pity them for their over
enthusiasmand incomplete knowledge. Reduction or giving up of food may not help you at all. The
field must nicely be prepared by regular daily practice. In the advanced stages you must have the
personal guidance and supervision of the elder’s who have attained mastery and perfection in the
path of Yoga. Purity of heart, congenial company, correct understanding of the scriptures,
favourable atmosphere and environments charged with spiritual vibrations play a vital part in your
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quick success. Do not be hasty or impatient. One-sided development will not help you. Do not spoil
your health by too much fasting. That will weaken your system. Take plenty of energy-giving,
easily digestible, nutritious food, and fruits and milk. For some months, breathe in and out very,
very slowly. Do not retain the breath (Kumbhaka). When you advance a bit, move to a cool place
during summer and have three sittings in Pranayama. Follow the proportion 1:4:2 for inhalation,
retention and exhalation. The benefits are incalculable. It is a harmless exercise for advanced
students.
13. Overcome Depression and Gloom
Run in the open air. Do mild Pranayama. Chant OM. Sing with devotion. Dance in ecstasy.
Depression will vanish soon. You are Ananda Svarupa—where is gloomand depression? They are
mental creations only. Remain silent. You can gain more by silence. Soak a fewBadams (almonds)
overnight in water. Take them in the early morning with sugar-candy. It is very efficacious as a
brain-tonic for Sadhakas. Apply Amalaka oil on the head. Take Huxley’s Syrup also.
14. When You Are Agitated
Do not leave Japa and Sadhana even for a day. Adjust and adapt. Bear insult and injury.
Learn to forget trifles. Tactfully move with people. Train everyone in Bhajan and Kirtan. Create
spiritual vibrations wherever you go. Then you will find peace, joy, happiness and prosperity. There
will be joy in all faces. This is the way for harmony. When you are agitated and irritated, take to
Japa or leave the place for some time. Love all and serve all.
15. Avoid Extremes in Yoga
In Yoga exercises, do as much as you comfortably can. Avoid extremes. Do not tax
yourself. People in foreign countries find it difficult to do Padmasana (folding the legs in lotus pose)
and Sirshasana (head-stand pose). For prayers and meditation, you can have any comfortable
position. You must select a fine pose in which you can sit for a long time comfortably. The only
condition is that your neck and back should be erect. Close your eyes, breathe in and out very slowly
and mentally repeat the Mantra OMOMOMand think of the divine qualities of the Lord. Nowyou
will enter into silent meditation. You will enjoy great peace and acquire inner spiritual strength.
16. What Is Actual Yoga
Yoga does not consist in sitting cross-legged for six hours or stopping the beatings of the
heart or getting oneself buried underneath the ground for a week or a month. These are all physical
feats only. Yoga is the science that teaches you the method of uniting the individual will with the
Cosmic Will. Yoga transmutes the unregenerate nature and increases energy, vitality, vigour, and
bestows longevity and a high standard of health. Try to increase the power of concentration. Japa
will help you to have a one-pointed mind.
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PRACTICAL HINTS ON THE SPIRITUAL PATH
CHAPTER TWELVE
SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCES
1. Dawn of New Life
I was tired of this illusory life of sense-pleasures
I became quite disgusted with this prison of body.
I had Satsanga with Mahatmas
And imbibed their nectarine instructions.
I crossed the dire forest of love and hatred.
I roamed far beyond the world of good and evil
I came to the border-land of stupendous silence
And caught the splendour of the Soul within
All my sorrow is over now
My heart is now brimming up with joy
Peace has now entered my soul
I was suddenly lifted out of my life
There was a dawn of new life.
I experienced the inner World of Reality
The Unseen filled my soul and head.
I was bathed in a flood of effulgence ineffable
And saw the Lord behind all names and forms
And realised that I am the Light.
2. Preliminary Spiritual Experiences
I
More and more dispassion and discrimination,
More and more yearning for liberation,
Peace, cheerfulness, contentment,
Fearlessness, unruffled state of mind,
Lustre in the eyes, good smell from the body;
Beautiful complexion, sweet, powerful voice,
Wonderful health, vim, vigour and vitality,
Freedom from disease, laziness and depression,
Lightness of body, alertness of mind,
Powerful Jatharagni or digestive fire
Eagerness to sit and meditate for a long time
Aversion to worldly talks and company of worldlings
Feeling of Presence of God everywhere
Love for all creatures,
Feeling that all forms are forms of the Lord
That the world is Lord Himself
Absence of Ghrina or dislike to any creature
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AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA
Even to those who despise and insult
Strength of mind to bear insult and injury
To meet dangers and calamities
Are some of the preliminary spiritual experiences.
These indicate that one advances
In the spiritual path.
II
Balls of white lights, coloured lights
Sun, stars during meditation
Divya Gandha, Divya Taste,
Vision of the Lord in the dream
Extraordinary, superhuman experiences,
Vision of the Lord in the human form
Sometimes in the form of a Brahmin
Old man, leper or out-caste in rags
Talking to the Lord,
Are the preliminary spiritual experiences.
Then comes cosmic consciousness or Savikalpa Samadhi
Which Arjuna experienced.
Eventually the aspirant enters
Into Nirvikalpa Samadhi
Wherein there is neither seer nor seen
Wherein one sees nothing, hears nothing
He becomes one with the Eternal.
3. I Have Won the Game of Life
Through the Grace of the Lord and Sat-Guru
I am unattached and free.
All doubts and delusions have vanished.
I am free and ever blissful
I am free from fear,
As I rest in That non-dual State.
Fear is due to duality.
I am Brahman-intoxicated.
I have attained perfection and freedom.
I live in the pure consciousness.
I have won the game of life.
I have won! I have won!! I have won!!!
4. In Him I Find My All
At last His Grace descended on me
I gazed and gazed at Him
I was lost in that wondrous Vision of the Lord.
The Grace filled the cup of my heart.
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SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCES
The ecstatic thrill overwhelmed me
In His Will is my peace
His Name is a heaven of repose
In Him I find my all.
All knowledge is locked up in His bosom
The whole creation rise and fall in Him
He is the Supreme Reservoir of all that appears.
He is the Mainstay of all the worlds.
He is the Holy One, Perfect in Wisdom,
The cause of this world, the Bestower of Salvation!
5. In the Ocean of Bliss
O Mahadeva, O Kesava
By the sword of Thy Grace
I have cut off all my bonds
I am free, I am blissful
All desires have disappeared
Now I aspire nothing
But Thy blessed Feet
I have lost all my thoughts
In Thee, O Narayana.
I had Thy wondrous vision
I was lost in ecstasy
I was at once transformed
I was drowned
In the Divine Consciousness
In the ocean of bliss
Hail, Hail, O Vishnu, My Lord.
6. Immortal Self I Am
One eternal, infinite Being alone exists
Jiva is identical with this Being
Pain is unreal; it cannot exist
Bliss is Real; it cannot die.
Mind is unreal; it cannot exist,
Soul is real; it cannot die.
Freedom comes through knowledge of the Self
Freedom is Perfection, Immortality and Bliss
Freedom is direct realisation of the Self
Freedom is release from births and deaths
I am neither mind, nor body
This whole world is my body
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AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA
The whole world is my home
Nothing exists, nothing belongs to me
Immortal Self I am.
7. Speechless Zone
In the perfect nameless, formless Void,
In the unlimited expanse of bliss,
In the region of matterless, mindless joy
In the realm of timeless, spaceless, thoughtless space
In the transcendental abode of Sweet Harmony
I united with the Supreme Effulgence
The thought that we are one or two vanished
I crossed the sea of birth for ever.
This is all due to the Grace of the Lord
Who danced in Brindavan with rhythmic jingle
Who raised Govardhan as umbrella for the cowherds.
8. I Have Become That
The Maya-made world has vanished now
Mind has totally perished
The Ego has been entirely powdered
The watertight compartments have been broken down
Names and forms disappeared
All distinctions and differences have melted
Old Jivahood has entirely fused
The flood of Truth, Wisdom and Bliss
Has entered everywhere in abundance
Brahman alone shines everywhere
One homogenous Joy-essence pervades everywhere
I have become That. I have become That.
Sivoham. Sivoham. Sivoham.
9. The Great Bhuma Experience
I merged myself in great unending joy
I swam in the ocean of immortal bliss
I floated in the sea of Infinite Peace
Ego melted, thoughts subsided
Intellect ceased functioning
The senses were absorbed
I remained unawakened to the world
I saw myself everywhere
It was a homogeneous experience
There was neither within nor without
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SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCES
There was neither ‘this’ nor ‘that’
There was neither ‘he’, ‘you’ nor ‘I’ nor she
There was neither time nor space
There was neither subject nor object
There was neither knower nor knowable nor sight
How can one describe this transcendental experience?
Language is finite, words are impotent;
Realise this yourself and be free.
10. Mysterious Experience
Brahman or the Eternal is far sweeter than honey
Jam, sugar-candy, Rasagulla or Laddu
I meditated on Brahman, the Immutable
I attained the stage that transcends finite
True light shone in me
Avidya or Ignorance vanished in toto
The doors were totally shut
The senses were withdrawn
Breath and mind merged in their source
I become one with the Supreme Light
A mysterious experience beyond speech indeed
Sivoham, Sivoham, Sivoham, Soham
Sat-chit-ananda Swaroopoham.
11. Sivoham—Sivoham—Sivoham
I have realised the identity
Of individual soul and Supreme Soul
Sat-chit-ananda is my essential nature
My mind is withdrawn from all external objects
I am deeply God-intoxicated
All sorrow and pain and fear have vanished
I am ever peaceful and joyful
I am Truth, Pure Consciousness and Bliss
I shine forth as a Divine Flame.
In all living beings
I am tasting the Bliss of the Eternal
I have attained the Goal of Life
In that Brahman am I!
That Brahman who is Satchidananda
Who is the Indweller and Inner Ruler
Who is the womb of the Vedas
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AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA
Who is the creator of this universe
Who is the substratum for everything
Who gives light to the intellect
Who is hiding himself in all forms
Who is adored by the Rishis
Whom the Vedas proclaim
Whom the Yogins wish to attain Samadhi
Who is terror to Indra and Agni
Who is sweet to the disciplined Yogi
That Brahman verily am I
Sivoham Sivoham Sivoham!
12. State of Samadhi
O What a Joy! What a Bliss!
All desires are now fulfilled
Everything is attained
I am Immortal, deathless,
I am Eternal Consciousness
I am the Great and the High
All this is mere Moksha
Moksha alone is everywhere
It is to be known
And experienced by everyone.
That ego has melted now
The Vasanas are burnt up
In the fire of wisdom
There is Manonasa
Or annihilation of mind
All distinctions have vanished
All differences have disappeared
There is neither ‘I’ or ‘you’
All indeed is Brahman
This is one homogeneous bliss
This experience-whole is ineffable
Words fail to describe this state
Feel it yourself in Samadhi.
13. Through the Grace of Guru
I know my essential nature
I have reached the peak of perfection
I am pure Immortal Atman.
All my desires are gratified
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SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCES
I am Apta Kama
I have attained everything
I have done all my works
I have nothing more to learn
The Vedas have nothing to teach me
The Smritis have nothing to instruct me
The world has nothing to attract me
Maya is hiding herself modestly
As I know all her tricks and ways
She blushes to appear before me
This is all due to the Grace of the Lord
And the Grace of the Guru
He made me like Himself
Prostrations to the Guru
Obeisance to the Guru!
14. I Am That I Am
Timeless and spaceless is this goal
Painless and sorrowless is this seat
Blissful and peaceful is this Abode
Changeless and boundless is this Dhama
I know that “I am He”
I have neither body, mind nor senses
I have neither change, nor growth nor death
I am the Immortal, All-pervading Brahman.
Neither virtue nor sin can touch me
Neither pleasure nor pain can affect me
Neither likes and dislikes can taint me
I am Existence-Absolute, Knowledge-Absolute and Bliss-Absolute.
I have neither friends nor enemies
I have neither parents nor relatives
I have neither home nor country
I am that I am. I am that I am.
I am never born, I never die
I always exist, I am everywhere,
I have neither fear of death nor fear of public criticism
I am Siva, full of Bliss and Knowledge
Chidananda-rupah Sivoham, Sivoham.
83
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA
CHAPTER THIRTEEN
WISDOM IN HUMOUR
The following excerpts from my letters to an aspirant clearly portray my temperament
which is at once humorous with flashes that convey a deep philosophical bent of mind and extreme
tolerance of other people’s defects and weaknesses combined with broad liberalismand a profound
understanding of the habits of people and the nature of things:
1. Training of Students in Lecturing
“You will have to lecture at least for 5 minutes in English and Hindi and do Kirtan also with
Nritya whether your body is willing to bend and move or refuses to move. If there is difficulty in
lecturing, kindly crama fewlines frommy books. If cramming also is difficult, read froma piece of
paper. If you showor exhibit your foolish obstinacy like a child, there is no other course for me than
to carry you and put you on the platform. Don’t give room for this extreme manoeuvres in these
cold days.”
Many students were turned into wonderful orators and Kirtanists after such compulsion by
me in the early stages. I want everyone to be a fiery lecturer. People should learn to express their
thoughts.
2. The Way of Business People
“In Samaradhana or Brahmana Bhojana, leaves are spread at 10 o’clock in the morning but
the food is served at 4 in the evening. The same is the case with the PRACTICE OF YOGA.
Advertisement has been going on for 5 weeks nowand yet not even a smell of the book for me. The
first fruit of a tree is always offered to God. The first bound copy should reach me by registered
post. But when V.P.P. orders are executed in full, a residue copy is sent to me. This is the way of
business people.”
3. Regarding A Strong Packing Case With Thick Nails
“Thy parcel received in due order. It was a Brahman packing with Brahmic screws which
had Brahma Nishtha. Hammering was not able to remove the cover. After all it was broken into
pieces. Thanks to the Brahmic packer of the parcel. The books reached me in good condition.”
4. When Important Points Are Omitted by Publishers
“I have given you full permission or power of Attorney to remove whatever portion you
deemfit to remove by your new long razor, just to suit your purpose in making the book grand and
thrilling, but pray, keep a small tuft—according to Narada Parivrajaka Upanishad. Do not remove
even a single important word from my writings, even if you find it a repetition.”
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SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCES
5. Care About Manuscripts
I think you say ‘goodbye’ when the book RAJAYOGAis over. You will not be able to take
up BHAKTI YOGA. Just as Sankirtan cannot enter your ears, so also this BHAKTI YOGA does
not attract you much. I knowthat you will not take up this work. Kindly bring the manuscripts with
you very carefully. I shall transfer it to some other press, in Northern India.
6. On Attractive Advertisement
The Advertisement of Vol. II of PRACTICE OF YOGA at the end of the book is not a
thrilling one. It is quite ordinary. It does not give a full, select exhibit. You have nicely done before
for YOGA ASANA, KUNDALINI YOGA, etc. Why not for this? Perhaps the Thermos Flask was
empty.
7. Philosophy Over the Call of Coffee
The Winter of Rishikesh is sending invitations. You may be feeling the cool breeze also.
The stove which was sleeping is now turning its face towards the Railway Station to receive you
with great joy. He who throws light on the Winter season and the stove is the Self-luminous Para
Brahman, the support for seasons and all names and forms. He never drinks and talks. He is Asanga.
He is Sakshi always. Feel His Presence.
8. Method of Sending Reminders
Kindly advise me by a postcard: “Yes. I have despatched books for Libraries” or some code
word. That will save much time and energy. It will not surely interfere with your deep Mauna. It is
not Kaashtha Mauna or Maha Mauna. It is a form of ‘Hu-Hu’ Mauna.
9. Correcting the Ways of Students
Take special care of Poorna. My respects to him. He is simple, quiet and noble. Let himkeep
off his castor oil or quinine face.
10. Invitation for Formality
Kindly come to Ananda Kutir after fixing up everything there. Invitation for Birthday is just
for information but ‘not to come.’
11. Over the Damaged Parcel of Cashew-Nuts
Received Kajoo (cashew-nuts) in a damaged condition on account of the admixture of
sugar-candy in hot summer. The candy has melted and made the Kajoo soft, which will be nice for
veteran Swami Jnanananda. My teeth are quite sound and strong. In future do not send sugar-candy
with cashew-nuts.
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AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA
12. Rich Despite Debts
“Everyday newspiritual aspirants are coming to the Ashram. Hundreds of students write to
me from all countries for spiritual guidance and I spend a lot in giving prompt replies to all the
letters. Some Kutirs are under construction. Work is progressing on all directions. One cow is
coming to the Ashram. You can take good milk. We are becoming rich nowadays despite debts.”
13. Ideal Tonic for Brain-workers
(An Attack on the Coffee Habit)
Take Badams (almonds) and Huxley’s Syrup. Put Badam oil or Amalaka oil on your head.
This is very good for brain-workers. There is no ‘Pathyam’—(restriction) on diet. You can take the
same quantity or even more of Coffee.
14. My Respectable Guests
Received all letters and parcels of coffee. The first respectable guests for the ‘tin’ of coffee
were Sri Swami Omkar who carried the bundle from the Railway Station, and Sri Swami Poorna
who prepared the coffee. Probably barber Balla will be my next guest.
15. An Attack on Weakness in ‘Walking’
The Divine Life Society may send you as the head of a group of Sannyasins and
Brahmacharins for propaganda, Kirtan and lectures if all goes well. Even in that case you will have
to walk 12 miles a day.
16. Ways of Virakta Mahatmas
Your friend, that Mauni, Virakta boy of Swargashramwho was with a towel only, has asked
me to request you to send him one pound of snuff. This is also a kind of Vairagya. The nose has
become like a machine-gun through repeated usage of snuff. He brings his ingenious arguments for
his using the snuff. You can send him a small tin. Let this be your charity towards a Virakta
Mahatma.
17. Philosophy Over Snuff
Snuff parcel received and distributed among:
1. Mukhya—chief snuffer Sri ‘V’
2. Adi Snuffer—Guru snuffer Sri ‘N’
3. Sanatan snuffer—old snuffer Sri ‘G’
4. Maha-snuffer—terrible snuffer
Sri Mauni and Tyagi
of Swargashram.
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WISDOM IN HUMOUR
You will get some Punya and Papa also. I will also get a share, a small portion of Punya for
relieving a bit of their suffering, Papa for making them continue their habit. Had we not supplied
snuff, their habit would have been destroyed. But ‘AhamBrahma Asmi people’ are above Papa and
Punya. So you are now freed by knowing your own Svarupa.
GLOSSARY
Acharya—Preceptor
Advaita—Non-duality, monism
Akarta—Non-doer
Akhanda—Unbroken, continuous, partless
Alasya—Inertia, Idleness
Ananda-bhashpam—Tears of bliss
Arhats—The perfect souls
Asana—Yoga exercises
Ashram—An ideal centre for Sadhana, a monastery
Bandha—A group of exercises in Hatha Yoga; a bondage
Bhagavatas—Those illumined souls who recite the stories of the Lord
Bhaitak—An Indian physical exercise
Bhajan—Praise of the Lord singing in chorus songs in praise of the Lord
Bhakti Yoga—The Path of devotion
Bhakti—Devotion
Bhav—Feeling of devotion and love
Bhikkus—Monks
Brahma-muhurta—The period from4 to 6 in the morning which is highly favourable for spiritual
practices
Brahmachari—A Celibate
Brahmacharya—Celibacy
Chitta—Mind-stuff, subconscious mind
Dand—An Indian physical exercise
Darshan—Insight, seeing the Lord or holy persons
Daya—Mercy, compassion
Devas—Celestial beings, Gods
Dharma—Righteousness
Dharmasala—Charity house
Dvaita—Duality
Ekadasi—The 11th day of full-moon or new-moon, a holy day for observance of fast
Gambhira—Dignified, grand, magnanimous
Grihastha—Householder’s life, a householder
Grihasthi—A householder
Guru—Preceptor, Teacher
Indriyas—Senses, sense-organs
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AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA
Ishta-Devata—A particular incarnation of the Lord which appeals most to a person
Jaalam—Jugglery
Japa—Repetition of the Name of the Lord
Jnana-Yajna—Dissemination of knowledge
Jnana-Yoga—The path of knowledge
Jnana—Wisdom
Jnani—A Vedanti, one in the path of knowledge, the illumined
Kaashtha Mauna—Silence wherein one does not make even gestures and signals
Kamandalu—A vessel used by Sadhus for carrying water, mostly the shell of a hard fruit
Karma-Yoga—The path of selfless action
Karma—Action, fate
Kirtan—Loud singing of the Name of the Lord in different tunes
Koran—The holy scripture of the Mohammedans
Kshama—forgiveness
Kumbhaka—Retention of breath
Kutir—Hermitage, hut or cottage, where a renunciate or Yogi lives
Likhita-Japa—Writing of Mantras or the Name of the Lord
Mahant—The Founder or the president of a religious institution
Mahatmas—Great men, holy persons, high souled ones
Mantra—A sacred formula expressing obeisance to the Lord
Mauna—Observance of silence
Maya—Illusive power of the Lord, which is responsible for ignorance and bondage
Moha—Attachment to things and beings
Mudras—A group of exercises in Hatha Yoga
Mukti—Liberation, release from the bondage of birth and death
Mumukshutva—Intense longing for liberation
Murti—Image, an idol
Mutt—The institution of monks, a monastery
Namaskar—Prostration
Nirguna—Without attributes, the Absolute Reality
Nirvana—Final emancipation, liberation
Nirvikalpa Samadhi—Complete absorption in Reality; A state wherein one’s identity with the
Universal Reality is realised
Nishkama—Selfless service, work without selfish motive
Nishtha—Deep meditation; full dedication to a holy undertaking
Nivritti Marga—The path of renunciation
Parivrajaka—A Wandering monk; a mendicant
Pooja—Worship
Prabhat Pheri—A religious procession early in the morning
Prana—Vital force or breath in the body
Pranayama—Breathing exercises; Regulation of the vital breath
Raga-Dvesha—Feelings of attachment and aversion
88
GLOSSARY
Rajas—One of the 3 qualities producing passion and restlessness, the principle of dynamism in
nature
Sadhaka—An aspirant; a spiritual practitioner
Sadhana—Spiritual practices
Sadhu—An anchorite
Saguna—The Absolute conceived with form; A personal God
Sahaja-Avastha—Superconscious state that has become natural and continuous
Saiva—The worshipper of Lord Siva
Sakshi—Witness; the self who acts as a witness
Samadhi—Superconscious state
Sammelan—A Religious Conference
Samsara—The process of worldly life through transmigration
Samskara—Impressions in the mind
Sannyasa—Renunciation
Sannyasi—A Monk
Sastra—Scriptures of the Hindus
Satchidananda—Existence, knowledge and bliss; an expression suggesting the indescribable
Absolute Reality
Satsanga—Association with the wise and sages
Sattva—Purity
Sattvic—Pure
Seva—Service
Shat-Sampat—Sixfold virtues: Sama (balance in pain and pleasure), Dama (control of senses),
Uparati (tranquillity), Titiksha (forbearance, bearing heat and cold), Sraddha (faith and sincerity)
and Samadhana (balanced state of mind)
Siddha—A perfected sage
Siddhi—-Psychic powers
Svabhava—one’s own nature
Svapna—Dream
Svarupa—Form
Swami—One who is devoted to the path of renunciation
Tamas—Ignorance, inertia
Tapasya—Austerity, penance
Titiksha—Forbearance
Trataka—Steady gazing
Vaikuntha—The abode of Lord Vishnu
Vairagi—A man of dispassion
Vairagya—Aversion to sense-objects
Vaishnava—Worshipper of Lord Vishnu
Vanaprastha—Householders leading a life of a hermit
Vedas—Scriptures of the Hindus
Vikshepa—Tossing of mind
Viraja Homa—Religious rite for entering the Order of Sannyasa, the path of renunciation
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AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA
Viveka—Discrimination
Vyapaka—All-pervading
Yajna—A sacrifice
Yoga Bhrashta—One who has fallen from the high state of Yoga
Yogi—An aspirant going through a course of spiritual discipline, A student in the path of Yoga
Zenana—womanfolk
90
GLOSSARY

Sixth Edition: 1995 (4,000 Copies)

World Wide Web (WWW) Edition: 2000

WWW site: http://www.SivanandaDlshq.org/

This WWW reprint is for free distribution

© The Divine Life Trust Society

ISBN 81-7052-029-0

Published By THE DIVINE LIFE SOCIETY P.O. SHIVANANDANAGAR—249 192 Distt. Tehri-Garhwal, Uttar Pradesh, Himalayas, India.

PUBLISHERS’ NOTE
A saint’s life is the ideal for all to emulate, a pattern for everyone who would make his own life sublime. It is an open book from which to learn the lessons of divine life. However much one tries to gain knowledge of spiritual truths from scriptures and texts, it is not until one actually sees someone in whom those truths shine exemplified that one is ready, willing and eager to realise those truths in actual daily life. That is the purpose that this inspiring book serves. THE DIVINE LIFE SOCIETY

eS:v:an:ndst:Øet:H
(Sri Swami Jnanananda)

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iii

arùadhama ÷a÷vat saüsthàpayanyaü ÷ivamunimani÷aü bhàvaye divyaråpam (4) vedàntàü bhodhigarmàdaviralavilasattattvaratnànyajasraü modàduddhçtya nànàmanujaguõagaõàyànvahaü dàtukàmam khedàve÷àva÷ànàmamitasukhakaraü nityakalyàõaraügaü ÷rãdànotkaü munãndraü ÷ivamakhilajagadde÷ikaü bhàvaye.a.(4) v:ðdant:aö B::ðeD:g:m:aüdev:rl:ev:l:s:¶:¶v:rtn:any:j:+ö m::ðdadÙdÏD:àty: n:an:am:n:Øj:g:ØN:g:N:ay:anv:hö dat:Økam:m:Î K:ðdav:ðS:av:S:an:am:em:t:s:ØK:krö en:ty:kly:aN:rög:ö Â:idan::ðtkö m:Øn:indÓö eS:v:m:eK:l:j:g:¸ðeS:kö B:av:y:ð|hm:Î ÷ivànandastutiþ (Sri Swami Jnanananda) (1) màyàkåpàramagnànava÷ajanagaõàn tràtukàmaü prakàmaü kàyàyàsàvasàdaü sakalamapi tçõãkçtya kçtyaprasaktam chàyànàthopamàmaü suciramatimudà.aham iv .abhyastayogàsanàdivyàyàmàvàptasattvaü ÷ivamanavarataü bhàvaye yogivaryam (2) nànàlokàya nityaü pratipadamadhuraü ÷àntisande÷apatraü pãnàmodapravàhapraguõitakaruõaü preùayantaü mahàntam mànàtãtaprabhàvaü manasi manasijàràtimàlokya gàóhaü dhyànàviùñaü prakçùñaprakçtiguõayutaü ÷rã ÷ivànandamãóe (3) vi÷vàràdhyaü vi÷iùñapratibhamabhayadaü pràõinàmà÷ritànàü vi÷vàsàmatramàrtipra÷amananirataü sàdhulokàvalambam vi÷vàdhã÷aprabhàvaü bhç÷amakhilajanàn bodhayitvà.

This is Siva’s message. I rest in my own Self. and what remains is Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute and nothing else.SIVA’S EXPERIENCE 1. Swami Sivananda SIVA’S MESSAGE Delight in good. 3. Be patient. I have seen God in my own Self. This is the discipline. Recognize. I alone exist. 6. The world of dreams has gone. I am One. Make up your mind to tread the spiritual path. I have negated name and form. Swami Sivananda v . Go slowly. Realise: I am the immortal Soul. Go ahead. Assert. I behold God everywhere. My bliss is beyond description. There is no veil. There is no duality. 2. Be deliberate. 5. 4.

it was easy and natural for me to serve everyone. Cosmic Consciousness is not an accident or chance. One moment I felt that the God whom we worshipped in the image in my father’s worship room had jumped over to the heart of this untouchable. But that would not be the whole truth. The deep inner satisfaction that he and I derived from such worship implanted in my heart a strong conviction that God was in such images devoutly worshipped by His devotees. for I was to enter the medical profession and serve all. unlimited and beyond the reach of speech and mind. after a prolonged period of intense austerities and meditation. who is infinite. My father was fond of ceremonial worship in which he was very regular. He was my Guru all right. placed flowers at his feet and prostrated myself before him. Any knowledge about the prevention of diseases. People are sick physically and mentally. promotion of health and healing of diseases I was eager to acquire and share with all. Thus did God come into my life to remove the veil of caste distinctions. Time and space are concepts of the mind and have no meaning in God. I could go to him only for a few days before I was made to understand that it was unbecoming of a caste-Brahmin to play the student to an untouchable. It is the summit. So I immediately went to him with flowers. unable to face life. accessible by a thorny path that has steps—slippery steps. With this mist cleared by the light of God. It is difficult for me now to single out any instance. some invite death and commit suicide. sweets and clothes and garlanded him. I felt that the whole world should know it the next moment. and the persistence of caste distinctions would have made that service a mockery. I thought deeply over the matter. while I was living at Swaragashram and when I had the Darshan and blessings of a number of Maharishis. and to others. I learnt fencing from a teacher who belonged to a low caste. I took keen delight in every kind of service connected with the healing and alleviation of human misery. To my child-mind the image he worshipped was God. God came to me in the form of the sick. life is lingering death. the Lord appeared before me in the form of Sri Krishna. and perhaps it is unnecessary. vi . To some. nor a sufficient answer to a question relating to God. death is more welcome than life. If there was a good prescription for malaria. He was a Harijan. I can look back now upon the whole period of my stay in Malaya as a single event in which God came to me in the form of the sick and suffering. Then in Malaya. but at every stage I experienced God coming into my life and lifting me easily to the next stage. As an adult I was fond of gymnastics and vigorous exercises. Thus did God first come into my life and place my foot on the first rung of the spiritual ladder.HOW GOD CAME INTO MY LIFE (Swami Sivananda) It would be easy to dismiss the question by saying: “Yes. I ascended them step by step the hard way. and I delighted in helping father in the worship by bringing him flowers and other articles of worship. How very valuable this step was I could realise soon after this.

with the ultimate aim of attaining the state of Cosmic Consciousness. vanished. It was in 1951 that I undertook the All-India Tour. He sang with me. who disturbed the night Satsang at the Ashram. listened to me. and the whole universe shone as His Light. The body. Beneath its veil the one Self shines in all. mind and intellect as the limiting adjuncts. Evil is a superficial appearance. and if there is (as I intuitively felt there should be) something other than this misery and this helpless existence. This drew me from Malaya to the Himalaya. and then came various spiritual experiences. God then came in the form of this Light in which everything assumed a divine shape and the pain and suffering that seem to haunt everybody appeared to be a mirage. the cultivation of cosmic love that transcended the barriers of caste. God now came to me in the form of an all-consuming aspiration to realise Him as the Self of all. In this evolution nothing gained previously was entirely discarded at any later stage. worshipped him and sent him home. All this had to become an integral part of my being. A noteworthy fact ought to be mentioned here. and He Himself in His cosmic form spread out before me as the multitude. it should be known well and experienced. At every centre I felt that God spoke through me. His attempt failed.The aspiration grew within me that if God had not made this world merely as a hell where wicked people would be thrown to suffer. I bowed to him. It was at this crucial point in my life that God came to me as a religious mendicant who gave me the first lesson in Vedanta. He prayed with me. creed and religion. practice of meditation. He spoke and He also listened.” vii . This knowledge had to be shared immediately. Evil exists in order to glorify the good. service of the sick.” Early in 1950—on the 8th of January—the Lord came to me in the form of a half-demented assailant. Idol-worship. Meditation and service went apace. the illusion that ignorance creates on account of low sensual appetites that lurk in man. was revealed. Then God came to me in His Virat-Swarupa—as multitudes of devotees—eager to listen to the tenets of divine life. One coalesced into the next. The mission had been gathering strength and spreading. and the Yoga of Synthesis was the fruit. “Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma—all indeed is Brahman. The positive aspects of life here and the real end and aim of human life were made apparent. One more milestone had to be passed in order to know that “everything is Brahman.

an ability to feel the deepest as well as the vastest. Therefore. I may boldly say that I began to perceive the realities behind what we call life on earth. And I began to feel the great good it would do to humanity if I could share this new vision with one and all. Control over the baser nature. I saw the birth of the Divine Life Mission. he naturally forgets what is beneath his own skin. man becomes miserable. The horrors of the past and possible wars. with its task of rescuing man from the forces of the lower nature and raising him to the consciousness of his true relationship with the Cosmos. As if in answer to this need. When man gets entangled in selfishness. in short. age or sex. To awaken man to his errors and follies. This is the work of rousing the religious consciousness. the stirring events since the advent of the twentieth century. It requires a peculiar atonement with one’s vast environment. Materialism and scepticism reign supreme. of bringing man to an awareness of his essential divinity. and the consequent suffering. love and purity are the basis of real religion. purity and divine splendour—where absolute security.WHAT LIFE HAS TAUGHT ME (Swami Sivananda) It was. I hold that whatever be one’s religion. in conformity with the dictum of the Sruti. hatred and lust. Not by mere argument or discussion can religion be taught or understood. The heart must be purified first.” which essentially means any form of self-control. whoever be the prophet one adores. by a flash that I came to the conclusion early in my life that human life is not complete with its observable activities and that there is something above human perception controlling and directing all that is visible. I renounced the world—and felt that I now belonged to the whole world. perfect peace and happiness can be enjoyed eternally. in the environment and under the circumstances in which one is placed. conquest of the mind. whatever be one’s language or country. one can be religious provided the true implication of that hallowed term “Tapas.” Side by side. greed. and to make him mend his ways so that he may utilise his life for attaining worthier ends. A course of severe self-discipline and penance endowed me with enough strength to move unscathed amidst the vicissitudes of the world-phenomena. I hold that real religion is the religion of the heart. Truth. viii . was felt to be the urgent need of the time. I should say. not speaking or showing. is made capable of being practised in daily life to the extent possible for one. had their effects upon all keen-minded people. touched the minds of people. It was not difficult to see that the pains of mankind were mostly brought on by its own deeds. Religion is living. Not by precepts or canons of teaching alone can you make one religious. The unrest and feverish anxiety that characterise man’s ordinary existence here bespeak a higher goal that he has to reach one day or the other. I was deeply convinced that there must be a place—a sweet home of pristine glory. It requires a genuine sympathy with creation. The doctor’s profession gave me ample evidence of the great sufferings of this world. I was blessed with a new vision and perspective. He gets irritated over little things and begins to fight and quarrel. I called my instrument of work “The Divine Life Society.

I learn to be humble before the mighty Being whose breath we breathe and whose joy we enjoy. to give in plenty. I rejoice when I behold the Purusha with thousands of heads and thousands of eyes and feet. to reveal to them its real significance. There is no physical world for me. in its different stages and phases. The average seeker after Truth is very often deceived by the caprices of his mind. because one does not lose anything by giving. Goodness is the face of Godliness. and many of these are even being relegated to the level of superstition. the sacrifice of wisdom. Many are the pitfalls. ix . to give in charity. I see not the persons. suited to the different stages in evolution. is not easy. constitute the fundamentals of true religion. to give with love and without expectation of any reward. Charity in the highest sense I understand to be equivalent to Jnana Yajna. and of understanding and knowledge. purification of the heart. It is one of the hardest things on earth. the quintessence of philosophy that anyone really needs. service of humanity. I consider that goodness of being and doing constitute the rock-bottom of one’s life. which is universality of being. knowledge and joy. fellowship and amity. Charity is self-sacrifice in the different levels of one’s being. Similarly. but Him of whom they are the limbs. Here is the cream of religion. The beauty of divine life is its simplicity and applicability to the everyday affairs of the ordinary man.—on the other hand the giver is given back a thousandfold. He is naturally tempted to relax his efforts half-way. These ideals are included in the principles of the Divine Life Society.cultivation of virtues. This is a religion which is not other than what is essential to give true meaning to the daily duties of the human being. I think that to be good in reality. And I try to teach them mostly by example. which I consider to be weightier than all precepts. I have laid great emphasis in all my writings upon the discipline of the turbulent senses. for charity is incomplete without charity of disposition. A person who takes to the spiritual path is bewildered before he reaches the end of his journey. I do not think there is anything more to teach or to learn. and attainment of inner peace and strength. in the innermost recesses of one’s heart. In order to give the present generation the benefit of real Tapas in the true religious sense. if only one would be honest with oneself. and be in a position to act so that no one is hurt by the act. and to convince them of its meaning and efficacy. that Sahasrarasirsha Purusha. conquest of the mind. I have understood that it is the foremost duty of man to learn to give. which can be practised by the recluse and the office-goer alike. I hold up my torch of divine life. By goodness I mean the capacity to feel with others and to live and feel as others do. for all sincere prayers are heard by the Divine. which is intelligible to the scholar and the rustic. but those who plod on steadily are sure to reach the goal of life. What I see I see as the glorious manifestation of the Almighty. Charity is not merely an act of offering certain material goods. though it may appear to be simple as a teaching. of feeling. goodwill. which is a system of religious life suited to one and all. When I serve persons. The modern thinker has neither the requisite time nor the patience to perform rigorous Tapas and austere religious practices. It is immaterial whether one goes to the church or the mosque or the temple for offering one’s prayers.

at all times and in all conditions of life. I love to live. to cheer up the depressed. is my creed. and disseminate knowledge throughout the world. neither beggars nor emperors. powerful will and moral integrity. to give instructions to sincere aspirants. if you can call it one. subjective. to feel Him everywhere. deep knowledge. By dwelling in such union. In my highest creed there are neither peasants nor kings. As the one all-pervading Brahman appears as the diverse universe in all the planes of Its manifestation. To adjust. the aspirant has to pay his homage to the lower manifestations before he steps into the higher. There is a need for more courage and patience on the part of people.The philosophy I hold is neither a dreamy. for it is now floating on the surface without touching the depths of man. move and have my being in this realm indescribable. senses and the body in the service of humanity. hesitate and are frightened. to infuse power and joy in all. nor a crude world-affirming theory of sense-ridden humanism. a pure. sympathy and love. In all my writings I have prescribed methods for overcoming and mastering the physical. a friend of the poor. To behold the Lord in every being or form. hear. to bring to effective use all the principles of nature in the process of evolution towards Self-realisation along the path of an integrated adjustment of the human powers and faculties. to melt in God. to utilise the hands. but actual possession of it. that I feel is the only doctrine worth considering. Our educational system needs an overhaul. to sing the Names of the Lord. To achieve this. world-negating doctrine of illusion. to see good in everything. cooperation should come not only from society but also from the government. the unity of creation with the Absolute. All this is due to ignorance of one’s true duty. to see. neither males nor females. in order to be able to proceed with the Sadhana for self-perfection. the forlorn. the helpless and the fallen. is my creed. the immortality of the soul of man. clear understanding. intellectual. are some of the main factors that go to build up a philosophy of life. are all necessary parts of the process of the realisation of the ideal of humanity as a whole. to feel oneness with each and everyone. x . and to treat all with equal vision. It is the fact of the divinity of the universe. mind. To be a cosmic friend and cosmic benefactor. The first step is often the most difficult one. is my creed. taste and feel everything as God. It is my sacred creed to serve the sick. mental and vital layers of consciousness. neither teachers nor students. is my creed. adapt and accommodate. philosophy is not merely a love of wisdom. They usually shirk. to nurse them with care. to elevate devotees. To me. But once it is taken the rest becomes easy. A certain amount of education and culture is necessary to have a sufficiently clear grasp of one’s position in this world. To live in God. Sound health. and to dissolve in God.

what special circumstance made him give up a fairly lucrative job in Malaya and come back to our land bent upon pursuing the life of a Sannyasin? There are not a few disciples and admirers of his who wish to know whether he was a householder at any time and what happened to his family if he had one. It is to be realised if life is to mean what it ought to mean. Yet. and which he completely dislikes in anyone. and the ideal and the reality should have a close relation. To work with this knowledge is Karma Yoga. a section of “Arathuppal” (Dharma or code of conduct).” The truths which that poet expounds in the ten stanzas of that chapter are of inestimable value. It is well known that Sivananda came from one of the most orthodox Brahmin families. is idle curiosity and profitless talk. This is not merely a wish. either from him or from anyone else. I pray that this supreme ideal be actualised in the daily life of every individual. The eighth stanza says: “The wise who are competent to distinguish between what is useful and what is not will never give utterance to futile words.” Sivananda’s Studied Reticence Swami Sivananda adopts this rule of conduct in his life and never. He considers it wasteful to write about such incidents in his life as are not directly beneficial for the spiritual progress of the reader. Tirukkural. as I believe many would expect.—this is a possibility and a fact that cannot be gainsaid. devoted Chapter 20 in “Illaraviyar” (rules about householder’s life).Success is difficult without mutual help. Again. INTRODUCTION (Swami Sadananda Saraswati) When I received the set of manuscripts bearing the title Autobiography of Swami Sivananda. swerves from it. even in forgetfulness. Sage Tiruvalluvar. that there was a chance to know many of the details of the Master’s life which in spite of my fairly long stay with him (running into many years) I was unable to learn. after laying down the manuscripts and thinking about the matter for a while in the manner in which he has trained me to think. The one trait which is totally absent in him. Even the least curious among those who have the highest regard for his xi . The head and heart should go hand in hand. I realised the wisdom of his reticence. I pray that there be heaven on earth. to what is called “Payanila Sollamai” which means “non-utterance of what is fruitless. But how great was my surprise—not to say disappointment—when I found that I could not obtain even a glimpse of what my little mind was curious to know. That is the reason why we do not hear a word about why he left the shores of India and went to far-off Malaya in those days when orthodox Brahmin families regarded it a sacrilege to cross the seas. who is justly regarded in the Tamil country as not merely a poet but also a lawgiver. The Lord has declared this truth in the Bhagavad Gita. has in his immortal poem. I jumped with joy because I expected.

even if Swami Sivananda wrote elaborately about what obstacles he had to face in exercising control over his mind and how he faced them. he has given us sufficient information here and there. unconcerned about the possibility of being regarded as boastful of his achievements. for where he speaks about himself he exercises no restraint upon his expressions. the Sadhana which will be really effective. It is only his conviction that no useful purpose can be served by writing about them. regarding the reason that prompted him to go to Malaya. for it is their opinion that the pinnacle of spiritual excellence that he has reached is impossible of attainment without arduous and unremitting effort in the right direction. Clues to Sivananda’s Sadhana The same is the answer to the other questions. Again. It reflects the consequences of one’s actions in the past lives and in the present life. Each mind has to be handled in a special way and only the possessor of the particular mind will know from experience and practice that special way. In the course of the autobiography. He often says things with an unparalleled boldness. this knowledge will not help us to evolve into spiritual personalities. it is the other way. it would be merely a bit of personal history and not anything which would help us in any way. Perhaps. including the Sadhana that he must have adopted. the author of this autobiography has not spoken a word about it. What one has to remember is that though books are written—and Swami Sivananda has also written many such treatises—about Sadhana with the object of instructing spiritual aspirants. suppose it was merely a spirit of adventure. Yet. Even then. For instance. equal vision xii . if there was a special circumstance which produced a radical change in his outlook upon life and made him eager to rush forth in all haste to become a Sannyasin. it is not shyness that has stood in the way. however eager we may be to profit therefrom. one cannot say that Sivananda has been completely silent in this matter. Even these earnest seekers are denied by our Gurudev the pleasure of knowing what he did to make himself the superman that he is. Knowing that a mention of this phase of his life will not prove useful to us. Therefore. When there is the irresistible divine call. will be purely subjective and will relate to the particular individual himself and not to any other. It is undeniable that his studied reticence regarding these particulars is not due to any shyness in his nature. a desire to see far-off lands: how are we as spiritual aspirants going to benefit by this knowledge? Suppose it was a feeling that he should serve the cause of the unfortunate Indian labourers who were in those days being practically decoyed by estate agents and their minions with promises of high wages and comfortable living but were actually subjected to considerable hardship. it is not necessary that everyone who has the urge to renounce the world should have the same experience that Sivananda had. Thus no useful purpose is served in mentioning the reason why the author renounced the world. All Sadhana is intended to make one’s mind most helpful and least harmful. He says: “The life of a mendicant during pilgrimages helped me to develop in a great measure forbearance.spiritual eminence are eager to know what he did in the Himalayas by way of Tapasya (austerity) and Sadhana (spiritual practices) of the conventional type which is generally undertaken by a novice. anyone will be drawn automatically. No. One’s mind is one’s own and not of anyone else.

On some days I had to go without food and walk mile after mile. I met many Mahatmas and learnt wonderful lessons. He knows that though he did not plan anything. What he learnt from books or men would be put into practice so that he might know how far the teaching suited him. With a smile I faced all hardships. One can from such passages of the author understand the nature of the severe austerity that he must have undergone. It is in this fashion that we have to learn about the Sadhana that he practised. before he leaves the world. That was all. If it did not suit him. So far as he was concerned it was ineffective. But it is highly revelatory. That is real Sadhana. as I understand it. Yet he fully recognized the need of a Guru. he would not condemn it but merely shelve it. These words are written in connection with his search for a Guru. He has had only one motive. He finds that whether he wanted it or not he is at the head of a great mission and. It is not easy to walk mile after mile on an empty stomach and still preserve equanimity of temper.and a balanced mind in pleasure and pain. a tinge of vanity in writing about oneself and one’s achievements? It may be pardonable for a worldly man to speak about himself in such a way as to obtain the good opinion of others. He does not like torturing the body with the desire to attain spiritual powers and perform miracles. establish the Forest University (now known as Forest Academy). of his publishing this book with the title Autobiography of Swami Sivananda. You can march on the spiritual path only by placing implicit faith in the words of the sages who have realised the truth and have knowledge of the Self”. I ask myself. He knew all the teachings about the Self that are in the Upanishads. the ego cannot be curbed. God had made him found the Divine Life Society. It is by no means the faith of an ignorant person. Naturally the book cannot be compared with autobiographies of others which sprang from different motives. whatever he writes about is experienced by him. Here we have an insight into the nature of his faith. But is it right for a self-denying saint to do the same thing? In answering this question. In another place he writes: “Self-realisation is a transcendental experience. He teaches us this truth when he writes about his search for a Guru. He writes about this too in this book. xiii . he would like to make people know how this noble movement can be used for the benefit of mankind. He knew that unless implicit faith is placed in the words of a Guru. The fact is that Swami Sivananda is a very practical person. Motive of the Autobiography Sometimes a doubt arises in me as to whether a saint should write an autobiography at all. So. and do similar things all of which are at present satisfying the crying need of people all over the world: to live a life without fear and with faith in the protection of the Lord. Is there not. It does not contain anything which can be construed to have the motive of obtaining the respect and good opinion of the readers. That is the main purpose.” Surely this is a very brief account. It elevates the individual more than a hundred malas of Japa sitting in a cosy corner without the pinchings of hunger. I find that Swami Sivananda is without any blame whatsoever because his book is only in name an autobiography.

Intentionally brief is his account of his parentage and boyhood. He then discovers himself as the cosmic friend and cosmic benefactor because he constantly lives in the spirit of the Upanishadic thought: “Aham Brahma Asmi—I am Brahman. His observations upon the foolishly spiritually ambitious. What he does for them and with them is narrated in “Collective Sadhana” and the succeeding chapters. renounce the world”—transformed him is seen in the section “Dawn of a New Vision. but the beauty of the book consists in the fact that the narration reveals in every sentence the nobility of his mind.” His life as a wandering mendicant. Especially valuable are his remarks upon how his unselfishness and largeness of heart won for him the lasting attachment and devotion of his disciples. After this formative period in his spiritual evolution. When we go on reading about the spiritual conferences. From the very beginning to the end. we find him launching upon a career of mass dissemination of spiritual knowledge.” He also engages himself in improving the natures of those who are by his side. The third stage—“The Birth of a Great Institution”—having been reached. which he states quite simply in a brief chapter. The chapters dealing with the nature of the Divine Life movement.Valuable Lessons in the Book It is now possible to examine the value of the book. he is happy. is revealed in the opening chapter. the book is of great educative value to the person who wishes to benefit himself. How his faith in the injunction of the Srutis—“The day on which you get dispassion. are highly illuminating. the lecture tours and the journey to Kailas reveal his early attempts to combine Sadhana with service. Yet they all have something to teach us.. which has no secret doctrines. The great regard Sivananda has for his great ancestor. Prabhat Pheri. The rapid growth of the mission. and the love and respect with which he is regarded by his disciples. etc. we see the dynamic work that has been done by Sivananda for ensuring that the maximum use is made of one’s time to live up to the ideals of the Divine Life movement. and which in reality is only a simple and practical way of living with ease and true happiness. xiv . his search for a Guru and his choice of Rishikesh for final stay are stated quite simply. without any embellishments of style. his decision to adopt a synthesized Sadhana. He has well described the different stages in which he started the Divine Life mission. the way in which he lived it at Swarg Ashram. in witnessing now the noble and invaluable work done therein. The author writes just as if he is writing an annual report. admirers and even casual visitors. In due course the Divine Life movement gains strength and is found to meet the need of the hour because of the universality of its ideals and of the efficacy of its methods for spiritual perfection. the organisations for Nagar Kirtan. the sincerity and seriousness with which he goes through his self-chosen task of benefiting mankind. Appayya Dikshitar. In fact. it is the greatness of the man and his work that are seen through the unvarnished account of what actually happens in his Ashram. which explains what true religion is. His love of the medical profession and the way in which ideal doctors are to do the job are revealed in his account of his Malayan career. lecture tours. is proof to us that when a good man does something good there is always God behind to help him. the benefits he derived from pilgrimages.

Numerous are the letters received at the Ashram from people in different places mentioning many miracles performed by the Master. There we find how he is very different from others. how universal love should be practised and help rendered to all. The book. Every word that is written comes from the author’s inner experience. and been equally at pains to impart this same purity and nobility to his disciples. He wants that. is a mine of most valuable advice and instructions. That is why he is a ceaseless writer. the need for the purification of the heart. His books appear every year in increasing numbers and get distributed freely to thousands in India and elsewhere. even after his passing away from the world. and other similar matters. for he has no attachment for copyright. The reproduction of some letters which he had written to his disciples reveals the great solicitude that he had for the spiritual and even material welfare of those who attached themselves to his service. exalted and noble. it is clear from the book. the right attitude towards women. But a doubt comes to me from time to time. real service. whether women can renounce the world. He has. scandalise or even entertain thoughts of hate. It is not possible to deal here with all the matters that are written about in this book. about the relation between Sannyasins and politics. the qualifications to be a good disciple. when they are desired. Warning on Supernatural Powers It is usual for the Master to warn us and also write in his books that a real spiritual aspirant ought not to hanker after Siddhis or supernatural powers because. Some chapters are devoted to the Master’s books and other publications. ever been at pains to keep his mind pure. A part of the book deals with practical advice to his disciples not to quarrel. It cannot be that all who write such letters are uttering falsehood or are under any hallucination. about who can start Ashrams and who should not. In the later part of the book.The author also gives us instructions about how aspirants are to be cared for. whatever its title. and many other topics of practical interest. Nobody can dispute the correctness of the Master’s opinion on this matter. need for renunciation even when one is young. Some of these chapters evidence his breadth of outlook and even a bold departure from time-honoured conventions. There is much valuable advice to Sannyasins about proper meditation. there must be a permanent stock of useful knowledge available to people in every part of the world. and how disciples at a distance are to be looked after. He has seen some instances in which people who were making good progress were caught by the temptation to acquire these powers and from then on they had a serious fall. the author deals with many diverse matters such as the spirit of accommodation. It is likely that there is a small percentage of self-deceiving persons. glory of renunciation. He has no commercial motive. the value of initiation by a Guru. further spiritual progress is arrested. But judging from the nature of the events reported to have happened—reported with many details and meticulous care in the narration—I have to come to the xv . But this can safely be said: any page may be opened at random and there will be some teaching or other which will transform our inner nature. suited to the needs of modern times.

Being an original product of Swamiji’s genius. and the expression is so lucid and poetical that quite a new life has been breathed into the dry bones of philosophical discussion. will he have a fall? I can safely assert that he cannot have a fall. The power over spirits (good or bad) is entirely different from spiritual power. And what a grand personality it is! In this sense. learned and unlearned—to realise. that he is heir to the supreme bliss that pervades the entire universe. the bliss “from which all this (what we see as the world) has come. But he does not reveal himself as such to all and sundry. If so. because he has risen above the states of rising and falling. has done India a signal service in giving us this fine autobiography of a great savant. PREFACE (Sri N. It can be said that the Siddha does not know that he performs miracles since they are not miracles to him—they are just ordinary things for him because he lives in the plane beyond the reach of the common man. The whole book is instinct with the prophetic vision of a seer. xvi . I have to conclude that Swami Sivananda is one such. through his writings.conclusion that the Master is exercising supernatural powers. Conclusion Before concluding this introduction I cannot help stating that the author is—very probably unconsciously—revealing his real personality through every sentence he has written. a man of Self-realisation.” We see in him the unceasing endeavour to transform little natures into noble beings so that they may easily get over their different forms of bondage and live for ever in the eternal abode of bliss which is their birthright as the children of God. and that too on the most abstruse subject ever known. as you like—where is the question of rising and falling? When the ego is negated how can there be any kind of danger? Of one thing we can be certain: The real Siddha who does not want or care for Siddhis but who manifests them for unselfish reasons and as a result of communion with the Lord. this book is indeed a real autobiography. We see in him. is an entirely different person from the little man who has psychic powers to do things which are extraordinary or who has control over spirits. the book combines a searching analysis of his experiences with a depth of sincerity that at once carries conviction. Ghosh) The Yoga-Vedanta Forest University. And no real Siddha goes about calling himself a Bhagavan or parading his powers. Since he has reached the stage in which he can identify himself with the Supreme—call It Atman or Satchidananda or Ishwara. Shivanandanagar. that outstanding trait of his: the passion to help all—small and great.C. each in his own humble and limited way. by which it is sustained and into which it merges.

He is riding on the surging waves of xvii .” The contemplative saint who has written this book throws light—well-focussed and going to manifold transformations—on the various aspects of Truth. If our young men wish to win the respect and admiration of the world let them draw inspiration from the wonderful life of Swami Sivanandaji. and as such it is destined to awaken an aspiration for spiritual Sadhana in the reader. which is unity. He has described from his direct experience some incidents and events of his own life which are at once miraculous and instructive. In these circumstances this book will be found extremely handy and valuable. as it is a treasure of practical lessons for spiritual uplift. Christ once said: “He that followeth me shall walk in darkness. The magic personality of Swamiji. It also provides us with a basis for universal understanding and sympathy. his vitality and endurance are wonderfully portrayed here. His novel and revolutionary methods of training his disciples which are depicted in this book shed a flood of light on our spiritual life also. This autobiography gives a vivid picture of how his great heart bled for the suffering millions in India and abroad.India’s Spiritual Culture Enriched Now the cultural heritage of India is glorified with the presentation of the inspiring life-story of Paramahamsa Swami Sivananda. and a fascinating story of the foundation of the Divine Life Society. The Master’s pen gives us an insight into his own personality. Amid the din and bustle of this atomic era. giving a lot of information on the practical side of Sadhana. but shall have the Light of life. this autobiography is sure to captivate the mind of the reader. Written in chaste English and replete with soul-stirring incidents. and also what his plan was for the uplift of his motherland and the restoration of her past glory. An Ideal Personality For the benefit of mankind Swamiji has tried to make the book helpful to all aspirants. The author brings out the essential features of India’s spiritual culture for the common run of readers who. the book is a portrayal. of the Divinity whom the devotee should love and worship and cherish in his purified heart. Readers of a religious bent of mind all over the world will derive immense delight from the book. and an idea of the great spiritual heritage of India. being steeped in worldliness but yet aspiring to walk the way of divine life. are unable or have no time to dive into the profundities of the great books like the Vedas. Within its short compass. hints on practical spirituality. It is not easy for the general public to have sufficient opportunities to get first-hand knowledge of the diverse activities of this institution and its illustrious Founder-President. who is not only a seer and the greatest torch-bearer of Vedanta in the East. It will do incalculable good to the whole world as it has in its characteristics many things unprecedented in other biographies. but the very personification of all that is great and noble in life. In a word. however partial. its subsequent development and the activities of this divine mission. a spiritual institution like the Divine Life Society is almost a paradox. the learned author has compressed much useful information on divine life and opened up a perspective that grips the attention of the reader to the end. We are full of admiration for Swamiji. Its expression of the infinite Spirit through a limited medium of philanthropic work and aesthetic culture is putting a stop to the downhill trend of many features of modern civilisation.

God-intoxicated men like Swami Sivananda are giving us the real lead. The times need a change of heart. The devotee. which he has made to the world. Sivananda—A World-Force When Sivananda speaks. His resplendent personality and pristine perspective. It may be said without any hesitation that Swamiji’s mission is well on its way to becoming a world-force. In that mission. The story of Paramahamsa Sivananda’s life is a study of religion in practice. The supreme devotion and efficient organising capacity of his worthy disciples on whom has descended the Grace of the Master have amazed everyone who has paid a visit to Swamiji’s Ashram. to share what I have with others. by years of arduous work. Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and others.” This is his thrilling message to the people of this atomic age Swamiji has. women and children—these are my aims and ideals. of whom there are great examples in human history.popularity because the deepest truths of the profoundest philosophy have been so well blended with a stimulating story and written in such sweet and simple style that even the beginner can assimilate the lessons. judging from the work he is doing. xviii . the world listens. temperaments and stages of evolution. Swamiji says: “To raise the fallen. Swami Sivananda himself. Fulfilment of India’s Spiritual Mission It is the job of India to change the way of the world through her spirituality. to bring solace to the afflicted. but it has to be restated and redemonstrated in a human life in order that it may be a living and shining example before all of us. to love my neighbour as my own Self. Spiritual truth is eternal. to protect cows. animals. brilliant intellect and all-compassionate disposition coupled with his impetuous fervour to uplift mankind have made him a veritable God-man. certain messages which were good not only for India. The Siddha Jnanis. are personages like Lord Buddha. Swamiji’s life is one of long stillness of prayer perfectly blended with dynamic activity through selfless service. by the many-sidedness of his faculties and by the contributions. I live to serve you all. This body is meant for service. India’s true mission is to deliver her spiritual message to the world. Having attained realisation he has striven to impart the benefit of the citadel of Truth. to lead the blind. Swamiji has astonished the world by the versatility of his genius. suitable to various tastes. We wanted freedom because we thought that we had certain truths to preach. the Karma Yogi and others will immensely enjoy this book which is a mine of gold to introduce them to a new world of delight and ecstasy. Jesus Christ. but for the whole world. India should achieve her true and noble mission by disseminating this message. to cheer up the suffering. the Jnani. innumerable and diverse in character. If India in bondage needed a Gandhi to lead her to freedom. created a new world—“Ananda Kutir” or the “abode of bliss”—for the quick spiritual progress of all types of seekers after Truth. I will help you and guide you. The story is one of strenuous spiritual endeavour and service in the cause of suffering humanity often in the face of great trials. They will have the one thing that is needful. exemplifies the ideal type of Siddha Jnani. I live to make you all happy.

The two epoch-making events in Swami Sivanandaji’s life are his All-India Ceylon Tour in 1950. and the Parliament of Religions convened by him in 1953. 1953. Sivananda’s Achievements The Divine Life Society was established by His Holiness in 1936 and it exists today to serve mankind by the dissemination of spiritual knowledge and by training spiritual aspirants in Yoga and Vedanta in the Yoga-Vedanta Forest University. and if anybody can contribute substantially to the peace and spiritual uplift of mankind. Therefore. to throw light on darkness and to establish immortality in this mortal world. Even though there is poverty and misery in India. and a novel and refreshingly new approach to religious life. be appraised by the world’s philosophers and other intellectuals as one of the greatest achievements of the twentieth century. live and work for the welfare of humanity. He is not lost in meditative contemplation to see the Unknown. mental and spiritual overhaul—the picturesque Ashram in Rishikesh at the foot of the majestic Himalayas with the Ganga in the foreground and the Visvanath Mandir in the background. Indians are happy because they still have illustrious living saints like Swami Sivananda who in his clarion call asks us to seek the happiness of the soul and not material enjoyment. flanking the colony of saints who. He won the respect of everyone who heard him because of his vast knowledge and his thought-provoking remarks. He is. His is a unique institution in that it is the great gift of a divine being who. A new chapter opened at Sivananda Ashram on April 3rd. speaking mainly on universal peace and the message of Hindu philosophy. a blessed day for India.resurgent India needs a Sivananda to make her conscious of her precious heritage and resume her spiritual mission. Indeed. Never was a man like him needed more urgently than today when the world. I humbly draw the attention of the world to this living saint and sage who is ever ready to extend his helping hand to every sincere seeker after Truth. he is the modern world-prophet. He is a saint of international outlook and is one of the pioneers who have brought the Yoga practices from the seclusion of the monastery within the reach of the common man. armed to the teeth with atomic weapons. a link between heaven and earth. This Parliament will. as it were. paradoxically. it is certainly Sivananda. Just go to the Sivananda Ashram and get a thorough physical. In a word. He held discourses at several universities and learned bodies. under the divine leadership of Sadguru Sivananda Maharaj. The warm reception that His Holiness received everywhere during his tour is not at all surprising. the daring of an adventurer. combines in himself the cosmic consciousness of a sage. no doubt. the dynamism of an enterprising industrialist. it was for the first time in the history of this country that such a congregation of distinguished men and women from different parts of the world took place on the soil of India. He is a saint for the masses and has come down amongst us with a mission to show the truth in falsehood. hovers over the brink of a suicidal war. xix . it beautifully blends the essentials of the different ways of viewing and approaching God. when the Parliament of Religions was inaugurated.

Savants of Europe have found in his words the ring of universal truth. In their breadth and depth they are unique. The reader will find mentioned in this work many visions and experiences that fall outside the ken of physical science and even psychology. Buddha and Christ. agnostic and orthodox—have flocked to him. This book carries a message of inspiration for every day in the year and each message will leave a lasting impression on the reader’s mind and may be a turning point in his life. tradition and dignity. dwarfing all previous publications. All have felt the radiation of his spirit and are uplifted in his presence. I am sure all pilgrims on earth will find the necessary “elixir divine” in the following pages at a time when it is so much needed in this materialism-ridden world. they are rooted in direct experience. young and old. The words of Swami Sivananda have already exerted a tremendous influence in the land of his birth. xx . In those pages every man. to students of religion. He is being recognized as a compeer of Krishna. whatever his religious creed.Magnetic Influence of Sivananda’s Life Human language is an altogether inadequate vehicle to express supersensory perception. and the conflicts of religions are here solved in the light of direct experience. Great spiritual truths are here described in simple words and vivid stories. hope and illumination. The lofty ideals of peace and harmony which His Holiness exemplifies in his life have today become the watchwords of a world institution like the United Nations Organisation. Thousands have found solace in his teachings and experienced the miraculous powers of Swamiji ward off evils on their material and spiritual paths. His love knows no barriers of race. But these words are not the product of intellectual cogitation. There already exists a network of the branches of the Divine Life Society throughout India and abroad. hosts of people—men and women. educated and illiterate. Hence. The world-renowned Yoga-Vedanta Forest University has published over two hundred of his books on various subjects of absorbing interest but this book is their monumental epic. faith. Attracted by his irresistible spiritual power. It is indeed a true picture of Indian culture. In the spiritual firmament Swami Sivananda is a waxing crescent. Genuine mystical experiences are not as suspect now as they were half a century ago. psychology and physical science. He is a living embodiment of godliness and his message has spread across land and sea. With the development of modern knowledge the borderline between the natural and the supernatural is ever shifting. will find courage. Service of humanity has been his one burning passion and this he has sought to fulfil by every means possible. and he gives without stint to all who seek him. these experiences of the Master are of immense value for an understanding of religious phenomena in general. colour or creed. Swamiji’s life is a laboratory of religious experiment and his message is a silent force animating the national life of India. It is the precursor of a new age of light and understanding for the whole world.

. . The Blessed Advent—Sri Dikshitar . . . . . 10 10 11 12 13 13 14 14 15 16 16 xxi . . . . . . . . . xi Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Call of Mount Kailas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Life at Swargashram . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iv Siva’s Experience . The Budding Phase. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A Giant Among Geniuses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . v How God Came Into My Life. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .CONTENTS Publishers’ Note . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . How to Benefit by Pilgrimage Necessity of a Guru. . 7 8 8 9 9 CHAPTER THREE ON THE ANVIL—SHARING THE TREASURE DIVINE Vagaries of Spiritual Ambitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . First Lessons in Service to Humanity. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Types of Different Kirtans . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iii ÷ivànandastutiþ . . vi What Life Has Taught Me . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . My Birth-Place . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Great Spiritual Luminary. . . . . . Dynamic Transformation of the Masses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . viii Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Journey’s End . . Spiritual Conferences . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 1 2 2 3 4 6 Dawn of a New Vision . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Trials in Life . . . . . . . . . . . . As a Wandering Mendicant . . . . . . . v Siva’s Message. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Lecture Tours . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Unfailing Inspiration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xvi CHAPTER ONE I AM BORN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . CHAPTER TWO THE CALL OF THE IMMORTAL . . How I Synthesised My Sadhana . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Out on Divine Ministration . . Mass Dissemination of Spiritual Knowledge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

CHAPTER FOUR THE DIVINE MISSION How Students Are Trained . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Reserve and Humility . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Guiding the Steps of Neophytes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Planting of the Acorn Sapling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Talents Find Their Best Uses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Birth of a Great Institution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A Centre of Dynamic Spiritual Regeneration . . . . . . . . . . Collective Sadhana . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Prayer and Study Classes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Attention to Visitors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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CHAPTER FIVE MY RELIGION, ITS TECHNIQUE AND DISSEMINATION The Divine Life Movement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Need of the Hour . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Universal Ideals for Spiritual Perfection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Critical Juncture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Rapid Growth of the Mission . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Basic Approach . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . No Secret Doctrines. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . What Is True Religion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Gospel of Divine Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Practical Aspect. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Role of Divine Life Branches and Spiritual Aspirants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Oneness of Humanity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Clarion Call of Divine Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . CHAPTER SIX SIVANANDA ASHRAM Problems of Spiritual Organisations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Ashram Grew by Itself . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Where Everyone Is Welcome . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Perfect Freedom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Miracle of Miracles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . How Aspirants Should Be Cared For . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Helpfulness and Love Towards All . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Individual Attention and Consideration. . . . . . . . . . . . . Encouragement and Advice. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Spirit of Accommodation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Who Can Start Ashrams . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ideals Must Not Be Forgotten . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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CHAPTER SEVEN LIGHT ON THE PATH OF RENUNCIATION The Glory of Renunciation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Youth Is the Best Period for Renunciation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . No Rigid Conditions Are Attached . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Who Are Fit to Be My Disciples . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Purify the Inner Nature . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Attitude Towards Women . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Should Women Renounce the World . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Service to Women . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . To Those Who Wish to Take Sannyasa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Combine Service and Meditation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Financial Independence. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Importance of Service. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sannyasins and Politics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Is Guru Indispensable . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Initiation Transforms the Mind . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . First Deserve, Then Desire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . CHAPTER EIGHT JNANA YAJNA Profound Experiences Blossom As Countless Publications. Why There Are Repetitions in My Books . . . . . . . . . . Rapid Work Is My ideal. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Attention to Details . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . No Attachment to Copyright . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Attitude Towards Profit Motive. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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CHAPTER NINE THE IDEAL OF LIFE The Philosophy of Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Integral Development. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . My Creed . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Secret of Energy and Dynamic Work . . . . . . . . . . . . . Healing Through Prayers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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CHAPTER TEN MY METHODOLOGY OF THE EVOLUTIONARY PROCESS 1. Detached, Yet Careful . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. Sadhana Till the End of Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3. Why So Many Photographs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4. Self-reliance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5. A Purpose Behind Everything . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6. Simple Living and Generosity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7. Not a Slave of Fashion and Style . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8. Evolution for Everybody . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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9. Personal Attention and Liberal Disposition . . . . . 10. No Compulsion But Full Liberty . . . . . . . . . . 11. The Way to Get Things Done . . . . . . . . . . . . 12. Message of Cheer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13. Attitude Towards Vilification. . . . . . . . . . . . 14. Rise Above Criticism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15. Constancy and Gratitude . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16. You Cannot Get Away From Evil . . . . . . . . . . 17. My Attitude Towards Dissension Among Disciples 18. Raking Up the Issue Does Not Solve Problems . . . 19. Way to Success . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20. How to Convert the Nature of a Man . . . . . . . . 21. My View of Goondas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22. Destroy Abhimana (Egoism) . . . . . . . . . . . . 23. An Ideal Teacher . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24. Come, Come, My Friends . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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CHAPTER ELEVEN PRACTICAL HINTS ON THE SPIRITUAL PATH 1. Training of Students Through Post . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. Way to Peace . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3. Have Strong Thirst for Knowledge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4. Do Not Be Hasty in Leaving the World . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5. Look Before You Leap . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6. Snippets for Evolution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7. Unfold the Latent Divine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8. Regeneration of the Lower Nature . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9. The Bane of Sensual Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10. Sadhana Should Be a Daily Habit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11. Nishkama Seva . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12. Troubles Through Pranayama. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13. Overcome Depression and Gloom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14. When You Are Agitated . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15. Avoid Extremes in Yoga . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16. What Is Actual Yoga . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . CHAPTER TWELVE SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCES 1. Dawn of New Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. Preliminary Spiritual Experiences . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3. I Have Won the Game of Life. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4. In Him I Find My All . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5. In the Ocean of Bliss . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6. Immortal Self I Am . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7. Speechless Zone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8. I Have Become That . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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State of Samadhi . . . . . . Through the Grace of Guru . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7. . . . . . . . . . . Sivoham—Sivoham—Sivoham 12. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . My Respectable Guests . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16. . . . . . . . . . . . . 11. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Regarding A Strong Packing Case With Thick Nails . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10. . . . . . . . . . . . 13. . . . . . 80 81 81 82 82 83 CHAPTER THIRTEEN WISDOM IN HUMOUR 1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8. . . . . . . . . . . . On Attractive Advertisement . . . . . . . . . . . . When Important Points Are Omitted by Publishers . . . . . . . . . . 84 84 84 84 85 85 85 85 85 85 85 86 86 86 86 86 86 Glossary . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11. . . I Am That I Am . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Great Bhuma Experience . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ways of Virakta Mahatmas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Philosophy Over Snuff . . . . . . . . . . . 17. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Correcting the Ways of Students . . . . 6. . . . . . 87 xxv . . . . . . . . . . . Rich Despite Debts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3. . . 2. . . . . . . . . . Training of Students in Lecturing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9. . An Attack on Weakness in ‘Walking’ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Care About Manuscripts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Method of Sending Reminders . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14.9. . . . . . . . 12. . . Over the Damaged Parcel of Cashew-Nuts . . . . 5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mysterious Experience . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Invitation for Formality . . . . Philosophy Over the Call of Coffee. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ideal Tonic for Brain-workers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10. . . . . . . . . . . . . The Way of Business People . . 4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The height of his intellectual eminence is evidenced by his works on Vedanta and all the Schools of Vedanta have drawn inspiration from his unique and unrivalled works. Siva-advaita and Advaita. Once he went to a village. to bring solace to the forlorn and the depressed. In almost all the branches of Sanskrit literature. ‘Nyamayukhamalika’. at different times and in different climes. appear. poetry. He was equally revered in his own days. Visishtadvaita. A Giant Among Geniuses Sri Appaya Dikshitar. Fakirs and Bhagavatas. VI—41. rhetoric. to serve the poor and the helpless.OM CHAPTER ONE I AM BORN The Blessed Advent—Sri Dikshitar On this blessed earth from which alone one can strive for and obtain Mukti. one of the greatest names in the annals of South India. respectively in his ‘Nyayamuktavali’. Of his Vedanta works. Sri Appaya Dikshitar was born in Adaipalam near Arni. There was a great excitement: “The Great Dikshitar is coming to us. some rare great Mahatmas.” (Chap. the ‘Chaturmatasarasangraha’ is justly famous for the scrupulous fairness with which he has expounded the tenets of the four great schools. whose sole object of existence is to radiate love. in which even Devas wish and have to be born for getting their final beatitude. Dvaita. philosophy. His poems in praise of Siva are great favourites with worshippers of Siva. but such a birth as that is most difficult to obtain in this world. it is a unique monument of philosophic erudition.” The distinguished guest—Dikshitar—was greeted by crowds of people who flocked to have a sight of 1 . light. A grand reception was accorded to him by the villagers who were proud of calling him as one of themselves. and ‘Nyayamanjari’ (which together form the Chaturmatasarasangraha). Sri Appaya Dikshitar’s was a mighty intellect. he was peerless not only among his contemporaries but even among scholars of several decades before and after him. Arhats and Buddhas. entitled ‘Parimala’. He has also written a learned commentary. to disseminate spiritual knowledge among the people and to bring unalloyed felicity and happiness to suffering humanity. I have had the privilege to be born in such a great saint’s family. from time to time. he who fell from Yoga is reborn in a pure and blessed house. to uplift the ignorant. is the reputed author of more than 104 works. which was the birthplace of his wife. joy and mercy all around. ‘Kuvalayananda’ is generally regarded as one of the best works on rhetoric. Swamis and Yogins who have adorned this earth. on the Vedanta. These are the Saints and Sages. ‘Nyayamanimala’. North Arcot District. embracing the various branches of knowledge in the Sanskrit language. 42) Sri Appaya Dikshitar was one such. Or he may be born in a family of wise Yogins. The Bhagavad Gita says: “Having attained to the worlds of the pure doing and having dwelt there for immemorial years. Great is the reverence paid to him even now.

a Maha Purusha. his works remain as sufficient testimony to his greatness. to see the “phenomenon. was descended from Sri Appaya Dikshitar. Sri Dikshitar lived in the middle of the 16th century. He was worshipped by the Rajah Sahib of Ettiapuram and the public at large. Sivoham. He was the Tahsildar (revenue officer) of Ettiapuram Estate. she made her way easily through the crowd and looked at Sri Appaya steadily for some minutes. lo! In the morning the Vishnu Murti was found to have changed into the form of Siva. My father Sri P.” His grandfather was a big Zamindar of Pattamadai. why it is only Achcha’s husband! Sri Appaya summarised a world of wisdom when he perpetuated the incident in a half verse—‘Asmin Grame Achcha Prasiddha’—In this village name and precedence are Achcha’s. curious to a degree. The Mahant was astounded and. Vengu Iyer of Pattamadai.I AM BORN the great “Lion of Vedanta. The good lady was disappointed. But. Tambraparni is known as Dakshina Ganga (Southern Ganga). are you not the husband of Achcha?” The great scholar confirmed her surmise with a smile. A beautiful canal from Tambraparni known as Kanadiankal encircles Pattamadai like a garland just as Sarayu or Kaveri encircles Ayodhya or Srirangam. prayed to him to change the Murti again into Vishnu. He was one among the greatest spiritual luminaries India has ever produced. came out.S. Pannaiar means a landlord or Zamindar. which needless to say. Great Spiritual Luminary Sri Appaya is considered by many to be an Avatara of Lord Siva. People used to say: “Vengu Iyer is a Mahan. staff in hand. The water is very sweet and health-giving. Though a detailed account of his life-history is lacking. it is ten miles away from Tinnevelly Junction (in Tamil Nadu). Tambraparni (Tambra means copper). it has the significant name. She mused I have seen this face somewhere and suddenly cried out.” With the freedom that is conceded to her age. Dim recollections of a known face floated in her mind. Pattamadai is famous as the place where the finest grass mats are made. she retraced her steps homewards remarking: “What ado they make. as he was a Saiva. He used to shed tears profuse—Ananda-bhashpam—whenever he uttered: “Sivoham. He had no independent views on the doctrinal side of Sankara-Vedanta but carried on fierce controversies with the followers of Vallabha at Jaypore and other places. the great saint did. As it passes through rocky beds which contain copper. the Vaishnavas refused him admission.” Justice Subramania Iyer was his classmate and had the greatest regard for him. People greatly admire the silk-like mat exhibited at the Sivananda Regalia. begging Dikshitar’s pardon. His ‘Siddhantalesha’ is the most admirable digest of the doctrinal differences among the followers of Sankara. in South India. “Wait. with her face and spirits fallen. He was a great rival of Panditaraja Jagannatha in the field of poetry. When he went to Tirupati temple. He was a virtuous pure soul. O yes. a Siva-Bhakta and a Jnani. He was known as Pannai Subbier.” An old dame. My Birth-Place Pattamadai is a lovely place with green paddy fields and mango groves all around. 2 .

An old Assistant Surgeon had to appear for a departmental test.G. I was born to Srimati Parvati Ammal and P. 3 . I would spend the entire period in the hospital. I also sang a beautiful Welcome Song in English at the station platform of Kumarapuram. B. The Budding Phase Born in the family of devotees. on Thursday the 8th September. the then Governor of Madras. was the personal assistant to the Rajah of Ettiapuram. I passed the Madurai Tamil Sangam examination creditably. Ambrosia. founded and then conducted by the erudite scholar. People used to admire my wonderful physique. Sivarama Iyer. Vengu Iyer. I used to get a lot of books as presents. Sri P.V. that when Lord Ampthill. Then I joined the S. L. Even now I clearly remember. at the time of sunrise. when the Star Bharani was in ascendance. My elder brother.S.AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA At Pattamadai there is an excellent High School. In my youth I brought flowers and Bael leaves and prepared beautiful garlands and served my parents in their Siva Pooja. at Trichinopoly. there was no room for developing any evil habit at all. I chose the medical course and ran a Medical Journal. In the School Annual Prize Distribution. carefree and amiable by nature. Kuppuswamy was the name given to me by my parents. I never used to go home in holidays. I would run about here and there and acquire knowledge of surgery which only a senior student would possess. My other brother. when the Midsummer Night’s Dream of Shakespeare was staged in the College. Ettiapuram. of which the Rev. H. I played the part of Helena. courageous. he used to make me read his text books for him. During my studies at the Tanjore Medical Institute. I was brought up carefully by my parents and received very good training. Trichinopoly. who is now a Bishop. I was first in all subjects. I was a tremendously industrious boy in the school. He has written many philosophical books in Sanskrit. Pattamadai has produced many eminent musicians. was an Inspector of Post Offices. I passed my Matriculation Examination in 1903 from the Rajah’s High School. Once I got the Globe Edition of Shakespeare and Macaulay’s Speeches and Writings. He was much revered by the people in Tinnevelly District. as their third son. I was chosen to read the Welcome Address. I had free admission into the operation theatre. I was bold. saints and philosophers as a pet child. This enabled me to compete with the senior students in theoretical proficiency. The environment and atmosphere were highly favourable for progress in education and culture. Sri P. I was very ambitious and enthusiastic. for three years. late Ramasesha Iyer. next to Koilpatti Railway Station. Another important feature of this place is that all children of the soil of Pattamadai have a good ear for music and can sing well. My uncle Appaya Sivam was a great Sanskrit Scholar. Veeraraghava Iyer. my good manners and habits. came to Kurumalai Hills in 1901 for hunting.T. well-developed chest and sinewy arms. College.P. especially in villages.V.. Packenham Walsh was then Principal. In former days. The Rajah of Ettiapuram was all admiration for my well-developed body. 1887.A. In 1905. I was interested in dramatic performances in the College. I was unusually active as a boy and had a highly pushing nature.

dispense medicines and attend on the patients. The “Ambrosia” journal was successfully run for four years until I sailed for Malaya. Even during holidays. Dr. Haller sometime ago and later settled in Singapore. I got from my mother one hundred rupees for the initial expenses. Haller’s Pharmacy. I resolved to seek a better position somewhere else. I studied Osler’s medicine with Dr. I had no idea of the food I was to take on the way. The material that its contents presented to the reader every month was attractive and highly useful to all medical practitioners. Iyengar who had his establishment next to Dr.S. with a view to maintain myself and to stabilise the journal. and was quite beautifully got up. I. The Magazine quickly gained popularity soon after its inception in 1909. In youth I liked 4 . Distinguished contributors started contributing for it.-Col.” I brought the old copies from Trichinopoly and despatched them to high officials and people of distinction in order to enlist their support. and wrote to a friend. A significant spiritual touch could be felt in the pages of the “Ambrosia. With all humility I may mention that I possessed greater knowledge than many doctors with covetable degrees. I would finish all these. I wrote to Dr. but I was adamant in my resolve to stick to the medical line.M. At home my mother and brothers would persuade me to take up some work in some other line. Dr. All my leisure hours were spent in studying all kinds of medical books. Lt.I AM BORN I had heard of an enterprising assistant in the Mannargudi Hospital. therefore. thirty-two pages each issue. loved me. Spirituality was ingrained in me even in my youth. Trials in Life I was not satisfied with the running of the journal. I wanted to become like him. It was of demi-quarto size.S.” Unlike other medical journals. Very hard work I had to do. I topped the class in all subjects. of what preparations I was to make to begin my Career in Malaya. I packed my things and did not forget to take a good consignment of sweets which my mother lovingly prepared for me. I left Madras by S. Here I had to manage the accounts. That was a rare privilege for me. I hit upon a plan that I should start a medical journal. the entire outlook was based on the teachings of the sages of yore. Hazel Wright. Jnanam admired me as an ornament of the Institution. Once my mother wanted to celebrate some festival and was in need of about one hundred and fifty rupees to meet the expenses. I. I myself used to write articles on various themes and publish them in the “Ambrosia” under different pseudonyms. Iyengar that I was planning to go to Malaya. as I had a great liking for it. and how much money was needed. I wanted to take up some job. I belonged to an orthodox family and was frightened to take the non-vegetarian food on board the ship and so I carried a good quantity of sweets.” I was unaccustomed to such long travels. I soon worked out the details. I decided to try my luck in the Straits Settlements of Malaya. I used to approach Ayurvedic physicians for articles on Ayurveda. Finally. I was ready with this sum. left Trichinopoly and went to Madras to join Dr. I worked in the Hospital and learnt many new lessons. and yet find time to continue the editorial and circulation work of the “Ambrosia. Tirumudiswami in my first year. “Tara. In the first year of my study in the Medical School I could answer papers which the final year student could not.

I was able to impress this physician in such a manner that he took me to Mr.G. I had to start from the very scratch and encounter disappointing setbacks in the beginning. Mr. and found myself absorbed in the job. I had been told by a local Indian resident that I ought not to accept. In Malaya I came in direct contact with hundreds of the poor natives and indentured labourers as well as the local citizens. Mr. I reached Singapore almost half dead! It was a bold adventurous bid to throw oneself on the high seas of uncertainty.’ I was appointed at once. I had tremendous hopes and took a plunge to test the mettle of my destiny.G. after which I joined the Johore Medical Office.G. Parsons himself did not need an assistant. Throughout the voyage. Parsons was absent. at the instigation of Dr. He gave me a letter of introduction to an acquaintance of his. Dr.AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA immensely sweet preparations. Parsons who had by then returned from war service. Fortunately for me. 5 . There I could not even complain of overwork lest my employer should be harsh towards them. in accordance with their policy. He was a terrible man with a violent temper. the Manager of a nearby Rubber Estate which had its own hospital. A. By this time. Immediately after disembarking I went to the residence of Dr. I was told that he was not very competent. the capital of Negri Sembilan. Robins was just then in need of an assistant to work in the Estate Hospital. when I was in Johore Medical Office. A. I served in the Estate Hospital near Seremban for nearly seven years. with no financial safeguard whatsoever. Ltd. Being unaccustomed to this diet. Moreover. I had to dispense medicines. However. The doctor who was in charge of the Estate Hospital had just then left. A. I quickly acquired a good knowledge of the hospital equipment and the stock of medicines. Robins did not allow me to go. When I reached Seremban. Haller in Madras. a giant figure. No easy-going prospect was awaiting me in the distant swamps of Malaya. I had to do all their work as well. Later on.. He asked me: ‘Can you manage a hospital all by yourself?’ I replied: ‘Yes. but Mr. Robins. anything less than a hundred dollars a month. Iyengar. still I continued in the same job. the little money I had was spent away. I served in Johore for three years before renouncing the world. my assistants used to take too much advantage of my kindness and leniency and were super-lethargic in their duties. I was highly optimistic about my getting a job. Dr. Harold Parsons. Unusual handicaps began to tell upon me and I felt like resigning the job after some time. in addition to keeping accounts and personally attending on patients as I did for Dr. The problem of my overwork was never solved in Malaya. But the later events turned out much in my favour and I felt my position secure. Here again hard work awaited me. Robins agreed to give me one hundred and fifty dollars to start with. as I was altogether unknown and friendless. I managed to live with the sweets and drank plenty of water. I can manage even three hospitals. I had no money to fall back upon in case of a reverse in my expectations. tall and stout. I found that Dr. a medical practitioner in Seremban. Strength of will and a fiery determination played a lot in moulding my life and spiritual career. I learnt the Malaya language and conversed with the natives in their own tongue.

In addition to my own work. It meant very hard work. Subsequently I moved to Johore Bahru. hope. and the very next moment in some poor patient’s house to attend on him and his family. I even went to the extent of pawning some of my own valuables. There was not a single available English medical book at that time that I had not read and digested. In addition to all this I would help my assistants too and train them for sometime daily. loved me very much. near Singapore. I became everybody’s friend through my sociable disposition and service. unflagging tenacity. I was happy. The sick persons at once felt a new health. nimble and efficient nature.). I was always fond of service. Everywhere people declared that I had a special gift from God for the miraculous cure effected in the patients and acclaimed me as a very kind and sympathetic doctor with a charming and majestic personality. London. strenuous effort and indomitable faith in the principles of goodness and virtue and their practical application in my daily life.A.P. First Lessons in Service to Humanity I specialised in microscopical study and Tropical Medicine. and then send them to other hospitals with a recommendation letter. by honouring my cheques. I contributed many articles on ‘Public Health’ to “Malaya Tribune.I AM BORN I served the workers of the estate nicely and endeared myself to them all. Dr. the estate manager would come only to me.R. Green. To serve people and to share what I have is my inborn nature. In the company of the sick. If the scavengers went on strike.R. Off and on I gave my earnings to help friends and the patients. I became a Member of the Royal Institute of Public Health (M. Garlik and Glenny complimented me as highly competent for the medical profession and admired me for my agile. I understood their feelings and endeavoured to relieve their sufferings. Parsons who was a visiting physician to the estate hospital.S. cheerful and contented. I used to cheer up people with my wit and humour. I published some medical books such as 6 . spirit. Soon I became well-known in Seremban and Johore Bahru. and an Associate of Royal Sanitary Institute (A. The Bank Manager would oblige me at any time even on holidays. Doctors Parsons.). I would go about visiting other hospitals and acquire special knowledge in bacteriological and other subjects. I would somehow run about here and there and bring them back to work. I used to assist him in his private work also. I was a friend of both the management as well as the labourers. London.” Singapore.San. providing from my pocket their railway fare as well as some emergency money. a Member of the Royal Asiatic Society (M.). This moment I would be in the hospital. In serious cases I used to keep vigil at night. All this was not achieved in a single day. During my career in Malaya.I. and elevate the sick with loving and encouraging words. I carefully attended on all patients. I got rapid promotions and with that my salary and private practice increased by leaps and bounds. I felt happy when they were free from disease and trouble. London. to join Drs.H.I. vigour and vitality. I gained the esteem of the employer and the employee alike. During my stay in Malaya. I never demanded fee from my clients. Parsons and Green and lived there for three years.R.

and led me to the spiritual path. silver and sandalwood. I entertained guests and served them with great love and devotion. I spent all my energy and time in relieving human sufferings by serving the poor and the sick. When I entered shops. Biking was my best exercise. whenever I enter a book-shop. I never used to waste any time in selection.” “Fourteen Lectures on Public Health. Malaya was a land of temptation. I was liberal in my views. I prepared my own food for a long period.AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA “Household Remedies. I used to conduct Nandan Charitram and played on Harmonium and sang Bhajans and Kirtans. double-dealing. eating and drinking? Is there not any higher form of eternal happiness than these transitory and illusory pleasures? How uncertain is life here? How insecure is existence on this earth-plane.” I gave shelter to many people during their days of unemployment and gave them food and clothing and fixed them up in one office or another. I was as pure as a crystal and did my daily worship. are not known to me. worries. The spirit of Sannyasa was ingrained in me. with a sympathetic heart. Even now. This kind of selfless service gave me purification of heart and mind. simple and open-hearted. True and lasting happiness cannot be found merely in gathering wealth. but nothing could tempt me. diplomacy. I purchase a lot of books and add them to the Forest University Library for the benefit of the students in the Ashram. fear and disappointments! The world of names and forms is constantly changing. with various kinds of diseases. Even in Malaya I practised Anahat Laya Yoga and Svara Sadhana. In my youth I had a great liking for high class dress. the world is full of pain. I was very candid.” “Obstetric Ready-Reckoner. collection of curious and fancy articles of gold.” Such were the thoughts constantly rising in my mind. but never wore them. anxieties. I had a new vision. I gathered all that I saw. day and night. straightforward. Sometimes I used my felt cap and the Silk Turban like a Rajput Prince. study of scriptures. I trained many young persons in the Hospital where I worked and fixed them up in various Estate Hospitals. prayers. I was deeply convinced that there 7 . I paid the shopkeepers’ bills without any scrutiny. With the purification of heart through selfless service. Crookedness.” “Fruits and Health” “Diseases and their Tamil Terms. Sometimes I used to purchase various kinds of gold rings and necklaces and wear them all at a time. I did not like haggling and bargaining. Time is fleeting. despair and sorrow. All hopes of happiness in this world terminate in pain. CHAPTER TWO THE CALL OF THE IMMORTAL Dawn of a New Vision “Is there not a higher mission in life than the daily round of official duties. For a Vairagi who has a sympathetic heart. I had many hats. The doctor’s profession gave me ample evidence of the sufferings of this world.

equal vision and a balanced state of mind in pleasure and pain. I reached Banaras and had Darshan of Lord Siva. During my incessant travels. a true seeker after Truth.” I constantly thought of: “Sravanartham Sannyasam Kuryat—For hearing the Srutis. There are some who spend their entire life in pilgrimage by wandering frequently from Kadirkamam (in Ceylon) to Mount Kailas (in Tibet). awaiting your return!” As a Wandering Mendicant From Singapore. They receive inspiration by seeing holy men and sacred places and develop various kinds of divine qualities by mixing with various types of people. comfort and luxury. Then I proceeded to Nasik. Mahatmas come in contact with sincere devotees at various centres and impart their knowledge and experiences. In 1923.” The words of scriptures have great value. They clear the doubts of the householders. just for a short period. They select suitable places for meditation where they find inspiration and facility for intense Sadhana. On some days I had to go without food and walk mile after mile. They have different objects in view. A School Master in Malaya who came to the Ashram in 1939 told me: “Mr. I learnt a lot from the lives of Yogins. Amarnath (in Kashmir) to Allahabad. in search of my Guru and of a suitable place charged with spiritual vibrations. study and a higher form of service to the whole world. give their blessings and guide them. and guide them. S. a distance of seventy miles. I renounced the life of ease and money-making and took to the life of a mendicant. Puri to Dwaraka. Poona and other important religious centres. From Poona I walked to Pandarpore. I learnt how to adjust and adapt myself to various types of people. Mahatmas and great men. The spirit of service ingrained in me enabled me to lead a smooth life of peace everywhere. and reached India in search of an ideal centre for purposes of prayer and contemplation. I frequently remembered the Sruti Vakya: “Yadahareva Virajet Tadahareva Pravrajet—The day on which one gets Vairagya. that very day one should renounce the world. On my way I stayed for a couple of days in the Ashram of Yogi Narayan Maharaj at Khedgaon. I faced all hardships. perfect peace and lasting happiness can be had through Self-realisation. The life of a mendicant during pilgrimage helped me to develop in a great measure Titiksha (forbearance). one should take Sannyasa. With a smile. Then I spent some four months in Dhalaj on the banks of Chandrabhaga. They are trained to adopt a simple living and bear hardships.THE CALL OF THE IMMORTAL must be a place—a sweet home of pristine glory and purity and divine splendour—where absolute security. How to Benefit by Pilgrimage Mahatmas and devotees go on pilgrimage and visit sacred places as a part of spiritual Sadhana. I have seen many persons repenting in old age that they had so wasted their youth in such a wandering life. I led the life of a wandering monk. Devotees who take to pilgrimage get Darshan of Mahatmas and have their doubts cleared. I left my luggage in Malaya with a friend. 8 . Banaras to Rameswaram. I met many Mahatmas and learnt wonderful lessons. for spending my life in seclusion and to do rigorous Sadhana. I gave up the life of ease. is still keeping all your articles intact.

yearning for liberation. In search of a Guru. Near about Rishikesh. A personal Guru is necessary in the beginning. take Lord Krishna or Siva or Rama or Christ as your Guru. The Journey’s End I came to Rishikesh in June 1924 and found it my destination. who is the Guru of Gurus. 9 . There are Kshetras (alms-houses) to provide free food for all Sadhus and Yogins and aspirants. But it is the disciple himself who has to walk every step in the spiritual path.AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA Necessity of a Guru The spiritual path is beset with many obstacles. If you have no Guru. leech-like tenacity. pitfalls and obstacles and throw light on the path. Guru. You can march in the spiritual path only by placing implicit faith in the words of sages who have realised the Truth (Apta Vakya) and attained knowledge of the Self. The religious rite of Viraja Homa was done for me by my Acharya Guru. Vasishtha Guha. clear his doubts. Gurus can do this much only. sages and saints to be violated. The Guru cannot do Sadhana for the student. When difficulties and troubles confront them. They can stay in any of the Dharmasalas or Kutias or have their own thatched cottages and huts in any place. I received Holy initiation on the bank of the Ganga on 1st June. I do not like the rules and regulations of the scriptures. Pray to Him. It is a holy place with many Mahatmas. burning and lasting Vairagya. worldly-minded persons than personal contact with and service to the Guru. He will inspire the students and give them spiritual powers through his blessings. unruffled patience. He alone can show you the path to attain God. there are many charming places like Brahmapuri Forests. Spiritual progress requires intense and unswerving faith in the teachings of the Guru and the Sastras. fiery resolve. iron determination. Meditate on Him. The Guru will guide the aspirants safely and remove all sorts of difficulties they have to face. child-like simplicity. My Guru gave me initiation and enough spiritual strength and blessings. It is foolish to expect spiritual attainments from a drop of Kamandalu water from the Guru. Truth and Mantra are one. adamantine will. and obviate the snares and pitfalls on your path. There is no other way of overcoming the vicious worldly Samskaras of the passionate nature of raw. He will send you a suitable Guru. they are bewildered. Nilakantha. clock-like regularity. remove the snares. Sing His Name. When there is a change of heart. in the Himalayas. Uttar Pradesh. Sri Swami Vishnudevanandaji Maharaj at Kailas Ashram. Rishikesh is a Railway Station in the District of Dehra Dun. there should be a change in the external form also. From the sacred hands of Paramahamsa Viswananda Saraswati. Isvara. God is my Guru. Self-realisation is a transcendental experience. The glory and the liberty of a Sannyasi can hardly be imagined by the timid and the weak.” They change their own robes and live independently. It is the student who has to do intense and rigorous Sadhana. I reached Rishikesh and prayed to the Lord for His Grace There are many egoistic students who say: “I need no Guru. pave the way. 1924. This does not mean that the disciple should sit idle and expect a miracle from the Guru to push him directly into Samadhi. The Guru can guide the student. Guru’s Grace is needed by the disciple.

They all thought much of the future and aspired for Siddhis. The planning and scheming nature in them led them to frequent changes in their daily practices. mercy.THE CALL OF THE IMMORTAL Tapovanam. That only fattened their ego. This is a field for developing all divine qualities such as compassion. soul-elevating. They lacked guidance from a competent person. Do they all succeed in attaining perfection? I found that they did not have proper facilities. miracles. pride. lust. I had the goal of my life as Self-realisation and determined to spend every bit of my energy and time in study. sitting on a rock or on a sand-bank by the side of the Ganga. name and fame. sympathy. There are a few who are tempted by the Kundalini Yoga and Tantra Sastra for attaining spiritual powers to perform miracles. The Holy Ganga is a blessing. anger. comforts and conveniences. One can spend hours in contemplation. English and Hindi on Yoga and Philosophy. Thus I found Rishikesh an ideal place for intense and undisturbed spiritual practices true for all seekers after Truth. selfishness. you will find also some educated young persons who spend their whole time in writing thrilling articles and lectures. The climate of the place is fine—slightly cold in winter (November to March) and slightly hot in summer (April to June). There are some Libraries from where we can get authoritative works in Sanskrit. I found ways for an all-round development. They plan and prepare for a world-tour. etc. generosity. I felt the Grace of the Lord. How I Synthesised My Sadhana Service of the sick and the poor and the Mahatmas purifies the heart. CHAPTER THREE ON THE ANVIL—SHARING THE TREASURE DIVINE Vagaries of Spiritual Ambitions Some Mahatmas spend their whole life in deep study of scriptures and derive great pleasure in hot discussions and arguments on abstruse points of Yoga and Vedanta. Some learned Mahatmas conduct regular daily classes and give private tuition to deserving students. I derived strength and guidance from within. That helps to destroy the evil qualities and impurities of the mind such as egoism. jealousy. In this group. service and Sadhana. Devotees spend all their time in Japa and Kirtan and weep for hours because of their separation from the Lord. Either they paid undue attention to their wants or completely ignored their health. Mahatmas and the poor villagers who were sick did not have proper 10 . hatred. There are allopathic and Ayurvedic Hospitals to attend to the sick. Sadhus who stay in such places get their dry rations once in fifteen days and prepare their own food. I have great love and reverence for all such Mahatmas for the thorough research they do in various directions. Some Yogins struggle with Hatha Yoga exercises with the hope of getting Siddhis. They could not be steady and systematic in their Sadhana. They indulge in practices which torture the body. A deep study of the ways of Mahatmas opened my eyes and gave me strength to stick to rigorous Sadhana in the right direction. The scenery of the Himalayas is charming.

AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA

medical aid. Thousands of pilgrims to Badrinath, Kedarnath also needed medical help. Therefore I started a small dispensary, Satyasevashram, at Lakshmanjhula on the way to Badri-Kedar, and served the devotees with great love and devotion. I arranged special diet for the serious cases and provided milk and other requirements. Spiritual evolution is quicker through service done with proper Bhav and attitude. For maintaining a high standard of health, I practised Asanas, Pranayamas, Mudras and Bandhas. I used to go out for long brisk walks in the evenings. I combined physical exercises such as Dand and Bhaitak also. I paid special attention to simple living, high thinking, light food, deep study, silent meditation and regular prayers. I loved seclusion and observed Mauna. I did not like company and futile talk. From the Ram Ashram Library in Muni-ki-reti I used to get some books for my study and devoted some time to study every day. I kept always a Dictionary by my side and looked up the meaning of difficult words. Rest and relaxation gave me enough strength to carry on intense Sadhana. I moved closely with some Mahatmas but I never indulged in discussion and debates. Self-analysis and introspection were my guide. With a view to devoting more time to prayer and meditation, I moved to the Swargashram. I lived in a small Kutir, 8 feet by 10 feet, with a small verandah in front, and depended on the Kali Kambliwala Kshetra for my food. Now the Kutir is numbered as 111 with some additional rooms by its side. I continued my Sadhana and service to the sick persons of the place. Just for an hour daily, I used to go from Kutir to Kutir to attend to the sick Mahatmas, enquire about their welfare and supply their requirements. I spent much of my time in meditation and practised various kinds of Yogas in my Sadhana, and my experiences have all come out in many of my publications as advice to aspirants. I quickly sent out my thoughts and experiences to help the world and struggling seekers after Truth. It was usual for even great Mahatmas to keep their rare knowledge as a secret and teach only a chosen few.

Life at Swargashram
I did not spend much time in cleaning the teeth, washing clothes and bathing. I quickly finished these when I was a bit free from my Sadhana, study and service. I never depended on any one though there were a few disciples who were awaiting opportunities to serve me. I had fixed times for all items of work such as study, writing notes and letters to Sadhakas, exercises, going out for Bhiksha, etc. Gradually people came to me in large numbers. That seriously affected my systematic work. With the permission of the Kshetra people, I fixed up a barbed-wire fencing around my Kutir and locked the gate. Before the visitors, I did not show my erudition by discussing high philosophy at length. I gave some short hints on practical Sadhana and disposed of each of them in five minutes. I kept a sign board at the entrance of my compound: “INTERVIEW—between 4 and 5 p.m.—only for five minutes at a time.” During winter, the devotees were not many. I utilised this time for a brisk walk in the compound, singing Bhajans and songs. For some days, I would not come out of my Kutir. For my food, I used to keep some dry bread, remnants from my daily alms. Thus intense Sadhana was my Goal.

11

ON THE ANVIL—SHARING THE TREASURE DIVINE

My joy was indescribable when I spent hours in the evenings on the sand banks of the Ganga or sitting on a fine rock and gazed at wonderful Nature. I became one with Nature. During this period, I established the Swargashram Sadhu Sangha, to obtain redress for the grievances of the Mahatmas, and registered the Institution. I invited great Mahatmas and organised weekly discourses and daily Bhajan and Ramayana Katha for some time. For some months, we had discourses on the Yoga-Vasishtha, Tulasidas Ramayana and Upanishads also. I trained my students in organisational work through the Swargashram Sadhu Sangha.

Out on Divine Ministration
In 1925 I visited Sherkot Estate, Dhampur, in the District of Bijnoor. The Rani of Sherkot, Srimati Phulkumari Devi, gave me a cordial reception. I conducted Bhajan there on several days and gave medical aid to the villagers. The Maharani of Mandi, Sri Lalita Kumari Devi, also attended the Bhajan. Whenever the Maharani met me, even after several years, she used to say: “I cannot forget your melodious, inspiring songs. They are ever green in my memory. I can now feel their influence. They lulled me and elevated my soul.” From Sherkot I returned to Rishikesh by walk after visiting the villages on the way. I gave discourses on Yoga and conducted Kirtans and Bhajans to the groups of devotees I met. Occasional tours helped me to develop all divine qualities and to serve mankind on a large scale. Once during my Parivrajaka life, I visited Rameswaram and saw the sacred places in South India. At this period I stayed in Sri Ramana Ashram for some time. Sri Chand Narain Harkuli, Advocate, Sitapur, accompanied me. On my way I went to Puri and worshipped the Lord Jagannath. I took bath in the sea at Waltair. At Rameswaram I worshipped Lord Ramalinga. I reached the Ashram on the day of Sri Ramana’s Birthday celebration. I did Bhajan and Kirtan in the big Hall before Sri Bhagavan Ramana and the devotees and perambulated the Arunachala Hill and worshipped the Tejas Linga. Whenever I found an opportunity to serve people on a large scale or when people compelled me to preside over Spiritual Conferences, I visited various centres in Bihar, Punjab and United Provinces. I started dynamic centres for Sadhana and organised Spiritual Conferences and Kirtan Sammelans and participated in the activities of many educational, religious and spiritual Institutions. Even while travelling in trains I taught Yoga exercises to the passengers and gave them simple lessons on Japa and meditation. I carried a chest of medicine with me always and gave medical aid to the sick. The important places of my visit were; Lahore, Meerut, Srinagar (Kashmir), Patna, Monghyr, Lucknow, Gaya, Calcutta, Ayodhya, Lakhimpur-kheri, Bhagalpur, Ambala, Aligarh, Sitapur, Bulandshaher, Delhi, Shikohabad, Nimsar, Mathura, Brindavan, Etawah, Mainpuri and many other places in Northern India. In Andhra Province, I visited the Santi Ashram in Totapalli Hills, the Mission of Peace in Waltair and also went to Rajahmundry, Kakinada, Pithapuram and Lakshmi-narasapuram. During my travels, I carried a bundle containing my ink-pot, pens, pencils, pins, study books like Viveka Chudamani, the Upanishads, the Gita and the Brahma-sutras. I kept also some postage stamps to attend to some urgent correspondence work. I used to go to the Railway Station two hours before the scheduled train timings. Instead of looking here and there, I would sit under a

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AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA

tree and attend to my writing work. I never kept any address book with me for meeting devotees or friends at important centres of my travel with a view to getting nice food or financial help. I quickly finished my work for which I was travelling and returned to Rishikesh by the first available opportunity. I visited Kedarnath and Badrinath, Tunganath and Triyuginath. Swami Balananda, Swami Vidyasagar accompanied me. I had a dip in the hot-water springs at Badri Narayan. Throughout my travel I sang Kirtan and Bhajan and did mental Japa. By a steam-boat at Calcutta, I reached Ganga Sagar—the confluence of Ganga with Bay of Bengal. Srimati Maharani Surat Kumari Devi also was with me. There is a small temple of Kapila Muni at the sacred Ganga Sagar. I had a bath in the sea. There was a Mela (fair). I helped the pilgrims in getting up the ladder.

Call of Mount Kailas
In the early years of my Sadhana at Rishikesh, I decided to see Kailas. Mount Kailas is in Western Tibet. On the 12th June, 1931, I started on a pilgrimage to that sacred place with His Holiness Sri Swami Adwaitanandaji, Sri Swami Swayam Jyoti Maharaj, Sri Brahmachari Yogananda, Her Highness Maharani Sahiba Surat Kumari Devi, O.B.E., Singhahi State, and Sri Kedarnath, her secretary. We all had a dip in Lake Manasarovar and went around Mount Kailas. I walked the whole distance. There is no place on all this fair earth which can be compared with Kailas for the marvellous beauty of the everlasting snows. Of all Yatras, the Kailas trip is the most difficult. It is called Mount Meru—the axis of Mountains. At the time I went there, His Highness the Maharajah Saheb of Mysore also visited Kailas. He is the only Maharajah in India who has visited the sacred mount. The total distance from Almora to Kaiias is about 230 miles. In two months one can easily visit the place and return. On August 22nd our party returned to Almora.

Mass Dissemination of Spiritual Knowledge
On the 9th September, 1950, I started on a dynamic Mission of Dissemination of Knowledge, undertaking an extensive tour all over India and Ceylon for a period of two months. I returned to Rishikesh on the 7th November, 1950. I then came in close touch with thousands of sincere spiritual aspirants all over the land. I rejoice heartily that the Almighty gave me an opportunity to serve Him and His children by undertaking the All-India-Ceylon Tour. I recollect with immense delight the deep devotion of the people of India and Ceylon, the reverence they have for the Holy Order of Sannyasa and their eagerness to acquire the Knowledge of Yoga and Vedanta. I visited all the important cities, towns and villages all over India. I addressed public meetings and conducted Kirtans. I delivered speeches in many Schools, Colleges and Universities on ethical culture and Real Education and addressed numerous public meetings on general spiritual topics. Several thousands of rupees worth of valuable books were distributed free of cost to the public during this historic event—the All-India-Ceylon Tour. In keeping with my usual practice, I did not spend any time in preparing fine lengthy speeches on Yoga, Bhakti and Vedanta for such occasions. Along with my Kirtans and songs, I

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I felt that the Tourist Car and the scheduled timings for the travel by Aeroplane. In various centres. To relieve me in the work at out-stations. I drank again and again the Immortal Elixir of the Lord’s Name.” etc. lectures in all High Schools and Colleges with demonstration of Yoga exercises and distributed leaflets on “Twenty Important Spiritual Instructions” and “Importance of Brahmacharya. Lecture Tours Invariably the organisers used to chalk out a tight programme for a week or two. Service gives me Joy. Devotees used to bring a lot of fruits.” “Chidananda-hum. To encourage people. I distributed presents to those who wrote the largest number of Mantras legibly. When I was at Bombay on my return journey. Cars and Steamers imposed a restriction on my method of intense work. I had to stick to ‘time’ in attending to various functions and did not have enough time to attend to the needs of the devotees. Train. and compelled all the devotees to join the collective Sadhana. I bathed again and again in the ocean of the masses’ devotion to the Lord. and Punjab. I saw many devotees sit in public meetings motionless.” “Pilade. going from door to door in every city. periodically I organised Satsangas in the evening hours. town and village and singing Kirtans and Bhajans and repeating Maha-mrityunjaya Mantra for the health and long life of the devotees. which all people sang with Bhava and fervour. At the end I used to take a small bit as Prasad. Everywhere I went. I worked without any rest or relaxation for a period of two months. I gave spiritual books as presents not only to the winners in the competition but also to every one present in the Hall. One Punjabi Mahatma used to conduct classes on the Yoga-Vasishtha and Tulasidas Ramayana and before closing I did Bhajan and Kirtan. and the entire lot used to be distributed to the audience then and there. Meerut and other places in the U. People were thrilled. Even today thousands repeat my favourite Kirtans: “Agada Bhum. That created a wonderful effect on the audience. I was overwhelmed by the love of the people. Spiritual Conferences Though I had a special predilection for deep meditation in seclusion during my stay in Swargashram. There used to be Akhanda Kirtan for 2 or 3 days. I enjoyed at every centre the warmth of the people’s cordiality and devotion. write Mantras and observe Mauna during the period.ON THE ANVIL—SHARING THE TREASURE DIVINE gave practical lessons on Sadhana. I asked people to maintain Likhita-Japa (writing of Mantras).m. Occasionally I visited Sitapur. I cannot live without service even for a second.P. I wanted to carry the Message of Divine Life to each and every aspirant individually. Lakhimpur-kheri. I found a dynamic field in the All-India Tour. I wanted to dispense with the Tourist Car at Delhi and then to continue the tour from Province to Province. I invited the Mahatmas and the Brahmacharis. the devotees also stood up and danced for a long period in divine ecstasy.” I introduced common prayers and silent meditation in the early morning at 4 a. When I was filled with immense joy in the company of devotees. I used to take my 14 . I conducted Kirtans at night. I combined Nritya also—the Dance of Lord Siva and Lord Krishna.

For my expenses I never demanded money from the organisers of the functions. during my tour. wherever I went. meditation. Devotees used to write to me after several years: “Beloved Swamiji. My students who accompanied me in the tours invariably said: “It is all joy to travel with Guru Maharaj for the wonderful treatment he gives. I used to relax through Japa. Sri Swami Svarupananda and Sri Swami Atmananda. Bhastrika Pranayama. Many pamphlets and leaflets were printed for free distribution. During such tours I asked my students in Swargashram and the Post Master at Rishikesh not to redirect my letters.” People who work in the fields even now repeat my popular Kirtans: “Om Namah Sivaya.” The results of the tour were wonderful and lasting. Sri Swami Omkarji and Sister Sushila (Sri Ellan St. The whole town. was charged with spiritual vibrations. People from Punjab compelled me on various occasions and did Satyagraha (strike) at my Kutir and forced me to visit Lahore during their Annual Sankirtan Conferences in December. and Kirtan. Every year. the workers need nutritious food and energy-giving fruits. To bring about a solid and substantial work. I used to keep a few pieces of bread or biscuits in my pocket.AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA students. Unfailing Inspiration During intense work. Govinda. but I asked them to print a large number of copies of leaflets and pamphlets in different languages for wide circulation during the Conference or Sammelans. I kept enough money with me for my return fare. The students in all Colleges and Schools repeat my favourite Kirtan: “Govinda. deep breathing exercises. In 1933 I took up this propaganda tour in Lakhimpur-kheri. People felt the wonderful peace and power for days. we hear your OM chanting and Maha-Mantra Kirtans even today. To various centres I sent my students to attend the Spiritual Conferences at out-stations. Govinda—Don’t smoke. That is my Saguna Brahman. Sometimes I wrote to the organisers: Keep enough fruits and biscuits in my room.” in Sitapur during my visit in 1934. and that energised and galvanised me.” I shared with them all that I had and took great care of their health and made them very popular and well-known. 15 . I did not attend to this correspondence work during my tour and concentrated on a dynamic work for dissemination of knowledge. I visited many villages and gave medicine to the poor village people. Clair Nowald) accompanied me. Though I lived a simple life with ordinary dry bread (Rottis) at Rishikesh. because the work in various places did not allow me any time for my meals or rest. I conducted Nagar Kirtans and Prabhat Pheri in many places. for a week or two I travelled in the Punjab and in Bihar. day and night. In Andhra Districts. Meerut and Hardoi. and Sita Ram Sita Ram.” Dhwanis. Before starting for such Conferences. I started a Medical Relief Campaign. The work at the Ashram was heavy and I gave up the tour life in 1938. I felt the need for energy-giving food and fruits. Chidananda-hum. The former would quickly and ably translate my English speeches into Hindi and the latter conduct melodious Bhajans and Kirtans. during such intense work.

Through Kirtan Movement. Another highly interesting feature was the Group Kirtans. ladies and girls. Local riot and Section 144 are nothing before Ram Nam. students. solid and substantial. I conducted Lorry Kirtans in Bihar. May His Will be done. I selected the Government officers from the audience for doing Kirtan from the platform.” II. After every Bhajan and Kirtan. “My time is spent in delivering thrilling lectures during day and Kirtans at night. thousands used to get up and dance. I went to various places in a Lorry with a party of devotees and did Kirtans. I pour out all my energy in the course of a week. It was a novel feature. I roar like a lion. People are devouring me from all corners. This is the only effective part of the work. doctors. when I sang Agada-Bhum Kirtans. I pump joy and power into the devotees. I am tired now. These two items are important for the peace of the world. Sitapur and Lakhimpur-kheri are Vaikuntha now on earth. You need not be afraid of the curfew orders. “When I travel.” Types of Different Kirtans Even today I can easily visualise how. That created great enthusiasm. Akhanda Kirtan for 3 days on a separate platform is very.ON THE ANVIL—SHARING THE TREASURE DIVINE Dynamic Transformation of the Masses Some of the letters written by me from 1933 to 1936.” III. There is a great revival now. I did Boat Kirtans. It is all His Grace. Then they felt the benefit. People do not leave me even a second. give an idea of the work turned out during my travels: I. After some months they all turned to be staunch Kirtanists and established Kirtan Mandalis in various towns. very necessary. we can revolutionise India. 16 . “Tell the organisers that I am slightly pleased with them now. Do not send any letters to my camps. I had a Virat Kirtan with 3000 people. Then a chance was given to all College Professors. But people compel me to visit Meerut. a thing which Lakhimpur has never seen in its annals. I will have Kirtans with Harijans today. Sankirtan in different centres to thrill and electrify the whole atmosphere is another task. In Rishikesh. It will interfere with my work here. Nothing is definite. I may return to Rishikesh after one or two weeks. India needs this. I gave impressive lessons on Sadhana. reproduced below. on several occasions. At first they all hesitated and felt shy.

Japa and meditation for a systematic progress in the spiritual path. Lay bare the truth. I may not be able to help you much. This body is meant for service. In 1933 the publishers in Madras wrote articles on my life and mentioned me as an “Avatar. Do not give me titles as ‘World Teacher’. I never attempted to be a Guru to anyone.” Reserve and Humility I never said or did anything to tempt people with promises of grand results like Mukti from a drop of Kamandalu water or Samadhi by a mere touch. Further I do not make disciples. I give lessons for a couple of months and ask my students to meditate in some solitary places in Kashmir or Uttarkashi. ‘Mandaleshwar’ and ‘Bhagawan’. I emphasised the importance of silent Sadhana. nor did I work at night at any time. I used to walk through a small foot-path through the jungle. The few lines I wrote to one of my disciples in 1931 convey my attitude clearly:— “I am only a common Sadhu. I combined deep breathing exercises and mental Japa. Service has elevated me. Even now I ask people to do Namaskar to me mentally. Do not exaggerate much about me very often. I take immense delight in service. Then it will be attractive. Service has purified me. When I went to the Kshetra. I used to come out of my Kutir just for an hour in the morning to serve the sick people with medicine.” That is a great obstacle and has caused the downfall of great men in the spiritual path. to bathe in the Ganga and to go to the Kshetra for bringing my food.AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA CHAPTER FOUR THE DIVINE MISSION First Stage How Students Are Trained I always loved silent Sadhana in seclusion.” 17 . Truth will shine. for a brisk walk in the compound. Invariably I asked all aspirants to purify the heart through selfless service to mankind.” Immediately I gave a reply which explains the attitude I have always maintained:— “Kindly remove all ‘Krishna Avatara’ and ‘Bhagawan’ business. This sort of routine has become my habit during my thirty-five years of life in Rishikesh. I am not pleased when people call me: “Sat Guru” or “Avatar. I live to serve everyone and make the world happy and cheerful. I had no ambition to become world-famous by any extensive tour or thrilling lectures from the platform. During the day for a short period I would write some articles and letters to thirsty aspirants. I can be your sincere friend till the end of my life. I do not like to keep persons by my side for a long time.” I am dead against “Gurudom. I never indulged in loose talks with friends. While walking to the Kshetra. I observed Mauna. I lead a simple and natural life. The juice will evaporate. To avoid people. I did not use a kerosene light. “Gurudom” is a menace to society. Keep the publication natural and simple.

and devote their time to study. I do mental prostrations. pitiable conditions—without necessary comforts and conveniences and proper guidance for spiritual evolution. I loved the place and enjoyed the peace. and a clear commentary on the difficult portions of the Upanishads and the Gita. Some were addicted to intoxicating drinks to induce the so-called Samadhi. I welcomed them and encouraged them in carrying on their Sadhana and asked them to take bath in the Ganga and do plenty of Japa and Sravana. I closely observed their faces to see if they liked the work and then carefully selected matter suited to their taste and temperament and entrusted them with the work.THE DIVINE MISSION Even before donkeys and other animals. many earnest students with a burning desire to devote their lives to spiritual pursuits came to me for guidance. Sometimes I had to do the whole work. I attended to their needs. I danced in joy when I saw peace and bliss in their face. I love the students. but in the interest of the spiritual uplift of a large number of educated Sadhakas. To my disciples and devotees. I first do Namaskara. Thus more and more aspirants came to me. They all took great pleasure in copying out my articles. and the Swargashram management could not maintain the increasing number of seekers after Truth. Guiding the Steps of Neophytes From 1930. I asked some educated students to take copies of my short articles and send them to magazines and Newspapers for publication. With a view to training a band of Sannyasins and Yogins on the right lines. I frequently enquired about their Sadhana and gave useful hints for the removal of their difficulties and obstacles in their meditation. I behold the Essence behind all names and forms. Instead of studying the ancient sacred scriptures for decades. Second Stage 18 . Many tortured the body in the hot sun and in the Himalayan cold. I asked them to go from Kutir to Kutir and find out the old and sick Mahatmas and serve them with Bhakti and Sraddha by bringing food for them from the Kshetra and massaging their legs and washing their clothes. I arranged all comforts and conveniences for them. My articles contained practical lessons for controlling the turbulent senses and fluctuation of the mind. I decided to leave the Swargashram. I arranged for their meals from the Kshetra and gave them initiation. That is real Vedanta in daily life. I took special care of their health. Japa and meditation. I permitted some aspirants to live in the adjacent Kutirs. I encouraged them and infused Vairagya in them. as they all contained the essence of the teachings of all sages and saints. In the case of old persons who had no ties in the world. Those were the days when Sadhus and Mahatmas lived in peculiar. Unasked. When they offered their services to me. I had also a burning desire to serve the world. the students spent a few minutes daily in making copies of my articles and thereby learnt Yoga and philosophy easily in a short period.

They all received initiation from me and lived in the adjacent rooms of the Dharmashala and worked day and night. Associations. Graduates. That enabled me to publish some books also for sale. donors and aspirants for the Sannyasa line. and gave them to visitors. Devotees gave me voluntary contributions for the noble cause. I found out the talents and hidden faculties in them and encouraged them to a great extent. Then I found a small Kutir in a dilapidated condition nearby. I stayed in a small room at the Rama Ashram Library. I got a duplicator and a typewriter. That was not suitable for dynamic work. (Nivritti Marga) and sent my books periodically for dissemination of knowledge. For the rest of the students and the visitors I utilised the meagre donation received from a few admirers. Here I give the titles of a few address books: Ashrams. I received dry rations for five persons from the Kali-kambliwala Kshetra at Rishikesh. Books and papers might get damaged by white-ants. I could have easily set up some thatched cottages in the jungle. For the maintenance of the students. all the rooms were converted into residential quarters for the students. Where was I to go? That was a great problem.AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA Planting of the Acorn Sapling Planning and scheming were not in my nature. Divine Life Society Branches. Maharajahs and Zamindars. Advocates. I started various fields of activities suited to their taste and temperament. 19 . I maintained various kinds of addresses—of devotees. I had decided to leave Swargashram. Firms. I depend on the grace of the Lord.” “Forty Golden Precepts” and other pamphlets. The work grew in a steady pace. True seekers of Truth came to me in large numbers seeking my help and guidance. Thus months passed. To save time. Publishers. I received my Bhiksha through an elderly Sadhu from the Kshetra. the visitors and the helpless who could not get Bhiksha from the Kshetra. That was improved a bit by fixing doors and windows. Gradually. For some days I too went to the Kshetra for my Bhiksha. Ladies Section. People evinced great interest in the divine service done for the spiritual uplift of the world. Book-sellers. Libraries. Libraries. Correspondence students. one by one. High Schools. Talents Find Their Best Uses With the arrival of new and able hands. they forgot their past and plunged themselves in attaining evolution through service and Sadhana. A few of my students lived in a small Dharmashala nearby and depended on the Kshetra for their meals. In work. Doctors. The addresses were well-classified under several headings for easy reference. I did not go out in search of students. I saw a series of rooms in a Dharmashala used by a shopkeeper as a cow-shed. To meet the heavy rush of work. These rooms had no doors. For some days. Judges. Brahmacharis and Sannyasi students.” “Way to Peace and Bliss. I utilised the money in purchasing some useful medicines for the treatment of sick Mahatmas and for postage to send articles to newspapers and letters to thirsty aspirants. I occupied the place and lived there for a period of over 8 years. Then a small kitchen was started to provide food for the hard workers. I utilised it in printing leaflets like “Twenty Important Spiritual Instructions. I admired their devotion to me. Magazines and Periodicals. When devotees gave me some money for my personal use.

personal attention.THE DIVINE MISSION Students who have received initiation. Leading newspapers in all countries publish my articles on Yoga. devotees. Half a dozen periodicals are published at the Ashram in English and Hindi for circulation through the world. A Centre of Dynamic Spiritual Regeneration Many foreigners come to the Ashram and spend some weeks or months and admire the wonderful work turned out at the Ashram. Yogins. Even today. pilgrims and the poor people of the neighbouring villages. enjoy the peace and bliss of this Holy Centre and help the world in a variety of ways. Over thirty typewriters work day and night for attending to correspondence and book-work. a separate volume for each country. Now there are several address books. Household Disciples. They all receive my careful. Advanced students start their own Mission in big cities or have their own Sadhana in the Himalayan caves. Essay Competitions are conducted and scholarships offered to prosecute their studies in Colleges and High Schools. Series of articles come out on the practical side of Yoga. Patrons. young and old. Mahatmas. In 1936 when I was returning from Lahore after presiding over a Kirtan Conference. The students become well-versed in all the scriptures. not to mention the school students of the neighbouring villages. I myself used to fill in the correct addresses and note the changes very carefully. Monthly Donors. Professors. Thousands of students received initiation from me into the order of Sannyasa. Kutirs and Guest Houses for their stay. Yogins. poor people and the sick. Wonderful Misers. men and women. learned and cultured scholars. Thirsty aspirants in all parts of the world receive guidance through post. I provide them with all comforts and conveniences and help them in their evolution. in various languages. The Yoga-Vedanta Forest University trains a large number of students through able and qualified professors and teachers. The Ashram is now in a position to maintain about 400 persons. Officers. I established the DIVINE LIFE TRUST SOCIETY in 1936 and registered the Trust Deed at Ambala. Bhakti. Then the Divine Life Society was established for the dissemination of spiritual knowledge throughout the world and subsequently about 300 Branches were opened in all important cities. Health and general spiritual matters. I myself enter the important addresses and permit the students to maintain all the address books in perfect order. There are a number of buildings. Vedanta and Health through leaflets. folding and binding. I just thought of a Trust Society and alighted at Ambala and consulted an Advocate and prepared the Trust deed. For the dissemination of knowledge among youths. printing. Third Stage Birth of a Great Institution Systematically to carry on the Divine Mission on a large scale. So long as they undergo training they stay with me and work. The inhabitants of Shivanandanagar. The Sivananda Hospital is a blessing to the Mahatmas. The University Press is now equipped with several electrically operated automatic machines of composing. pamphlets and bigger publications. Experienced doctors in different systems of medicine attend to 20 .

People come with many motives (such as attaining material and spiritual benefits) and they are all stunned to have their wishes fulfilled in a large measure. That period is highly favourable for deep meditation. and eye cases. Provincial Divine Life Conferences are organised in important cities of India. 21 . They write volumes on the miraculous escapes they had in their lives. They must not waste their precious life in sleeping in the Brahmamuhurta. In addition to the normal activities. used to sleep in the winter cold till sunrise or till 6 or 7 in the morning. Glory to the Lord for bestowing this Ideal Centre for all types of seekers after Truth. I am filled with immense joy when I receive hundreds of letters from devotees who say that their lives were saved through the special prayers conducted in the Temple of all Faiths at the Ashram. This gave me an idea of a common prayer and meditation during Brahmamuhurta. even if people meditate alone in a room. I arranged their night meals before sunset.N. SHYAM SHYAM SHYAM.AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA the Hospital work. It is only those who load the stomach heavily at night that find it difficult to get up early in the morning. One student would ring the bell in front of every Kutir and collect the aspirants in a common place for the collective Sadhana. Leaders and followers of other religions and cults also come and stay at the Ashram and find this an ideal centre—a common platform—to serve the world. I used to chant aloud several times the Mantras: “OM OM OM. That enabled some to get up early morning. I joined the group daily for some months and years. and sleep the whole period in a sitting posture. RADHESHYAM RADHESHYAM RADHESHYAM” and thus made my students get up early for prayers and meditation. I see before me a huge Spiritual Colony with Joy and Bliss in the face of every resident. occasional Blind Relief Camps are organised at the Ashram and at out-stations also. This had no effect on the Tamasic type of aspirants. they get up in the morning only to see that they were overpowered by sleep. Without much effort one can have wonderful concentration at this period. In the beginning stages of Sadhana. The atmosphere also is charged with Sattvic vibrations.T. From my Kutir. Special worship in the Lord Viswanath Mandir has given a new life to the sick persons all over the world. and derive incalculable spiritual benefits. between 4 and 6 in the early morning. The General Hospital is equipped with modern apparatus like X-Ray. Fourth Stage Collective Sadhana Young aspirants. Diathermy and a High Frequency Apparatus for E. Devotees and students come in batches during their holidays and join the daily routine and Satsanga. because of old habit. People get peace and prosperity by such worship done in the name of the devotees.

I teach them a few short sentences in English and ask them to deliver a powerful lecture. In the evening also I organised a “Study Class” between 3 and 4. Trataka and other Yoga exercises. The function came to an end with the chanting of ten Santi Mantras in chorus. like “Eat a little. Even today when devotees come to the Ashram. they should all prepare essays on Yoga and philosophy and write about their own experiences. They all feel happy in receiving my personal attention. I laid great emphasis on ethical perfection. a furlong away from my Kutir. They all specialised in chanting the Mantras of the scriptures. I asked them to forget the past and sing Kirtans with me. and chanted OM several times and made them get up for prayers. instead of talking to them on their family affairs. In the evening class. the Yoga-Vedanta Forest University and the Sivananda Ashram became “watch-words” for all aspirants. I asked one student to read a Chapter from any of my books. Many have learnt my English Kirtans. typing. Thus even in the early stages. Even now many students who attended in those days the common prayer and meditation say how they were inspired by my short speeches on Sadhana.THE DIVINE MISSION Prayer and Study Classes The function started with prayers to Lord Ganesha. I trained the aspirants in a variety of ways. I spoke for half an hour on attaining quick spiritual progress and suggested various methods for destroying the evil tendencies of the mind and controlling the turbulent senses. Guru Stotra and Mahamantra Kirtans. the Yoga-Vedanta Forest University was vigorously in its working. The Divine Life Society. Attention to Visitors When visitors came to me. I asked one student to put questions and others to answer them. delivering short lectures. Some students lived in Brahmananda Ashram. I introduced Likhita-Japa and in the early morning. I ask them questions. I taught them music. maintaining proper accounts managing the affairs of the Society and in attending to the devotees. I permitted them to have their own Sadhana in their own Kutirs. I clear all their doubts and give helpful suggestions for the removal of their troubles and obstacles. conducting Kirtans. Sivananda Ashram and Sivananda School of Yoga. The systematic work done at this sacred centre in the Himalayas on the banks of the Ganga. I prescribe a book for their study and on the next day. I did not compel all the students to join the common meditation. On the next day I used to put questions on the important points. One student would read a Chapter of the Gita and explain the meaning of one Sloka. The students kept up the divine consciousness even during their work in the day. Another student gave some short hints on concentration and meditation. During the day. The Divine Life Society. 22 . Kirtan and philosophy. In the end. Thus I paid all my attention to the spiritual uplift of my students.” I trained my students in organisational work.. Bhajan. visitors and the sick. On many occasions I paid surprise visits to the Kutirs at 4 a. Even today when school boys and young children come to the Ashram. attracted thousands of seekers after Truth from all distant places in India and other countries. Similar work is now organised systematically in various centres with the formation of Branches of the University.m.

for the attainment of Light. Because of the popularity of the Divine Life Society. I carried the Message of the Sages and Saints and taught the world the way for Peace and Bliss. The whole world came to me with all divine glory and splendour. Guru Maharaj. sharing with me the love for selfless service. I do not crave for name and fame. And now this has become a regular feature during the last twenty years. which alone can confer lasting peace and happiness. I introduced saltless diet on Sundays. Many foreign Branches of the Divine Life Society are reprinting parts of my writings and distributing them free in their respective regions. Calcutta and other cities in India. CHAPTER FIVE MY RELIGION. I started the work with a dozen students. Peace. for preparing thrilling lectures. Thus there is a dynamic work for spiritual awakening all over the world. simple boiled potatoes and bread on Ekadasi days or only milk and fruits for some students. Here they have enough to keep themselves quite fit—not for luxury or craving of the senses.” I never planned for any Institution to perpetuate my name. But the Divine Will was different. I never liked to spend time in writing fine essays for publication through books or newspapers. many learned and pious souls from far off lands have come to see me and. I was not pleased when people called me: “Mahatma. They print several leaflets. ITS TECHNIQUE AND DISSEMINATION The Divine Life Movement I love seclusion. but helpful items for progressing in Sadhana. a large number of devotees came to me during holidays from Delhi.AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA I pay much attention to the diet of the aspirants at the Ashram. They invite great men to deliver lectures during these Conferences. Madras. Then I introduced a Collective Sadhana—a special programme with the important items of Sadhana—a kind of Spiritual Conference on the practical side of Yoga. Knowledge and Power. Various Branches of the Divine Life Society in India organised similar Conferences with the routine of the Sadhana Week at the Ashram. I was induced to start the Divine Life Society when I found some facility and useful hands to carry on the work. That may be due to the intense prayers of thousands of sincere seekers after Truth coupled with my own inborn tendencies to share with others what I have and to serve the world on a large scale on the right lines. 23 . In a short period. I have to hide myself at times. pamphlets and books for free distribution on the occasion. I did not spend much time in a deep study of all the scriptures and religions of the world. This took the shape of Sadhana Weeks during Easter and Christmas holidays. are doing valuable work in spreading right knowledge.

and now there is a great thirst for peace all over the world. was felt to be the urgent need of the age. He always thinks of his body. People have become irreligious owing to wrong education and evil influences. Just at this critical juncture. There is universal appreciation of the principles. He is drowned in the ocean of Samsara. It enables people to take easily to the Divine Life even while living in the world and following the teachings of some particular cult or religion. misery. Millions were eagerly looking for such guidance. The fateful epidemic and the world-wide depression that followed it. ITS TECHNIQUE AND DISSEMINATION The Need of the Hour When man gets entangled in selfishness. It has set for itself the task of raising man above the sorrows and miseries of this mundane life by making him see the Blissful Divinity that is hidden behind all outward forms. family and children. Now the whole world seems to be in the grip of materialism. The thought-currents generated by the Divine Life Movement have had their effect upon the people of Europe and America. all-embracing and in accordance with science and reason. drink. It has as its basis the quintessence of the teachings of all religions and of all saints and prophets of the world. lust. It leads people to the spiritual path. I started the Divine Life Society. Materialism and scepticism reign supreme. comforts and conveniences. he naturally forgets all about God. egoism and mine-ness. People have lost faith in holy scriptures and the teachings of the sages and saints. He constantly attends to his food. The invention of new kinds of bombs causes terror everywhere. saints and men-of-God. Its principles are broad. The horrors of world wars moved them greatly. Sannyasins. a life of harmony amidst worldly turmoils and a life of bliss through mental non-attachment and mental renunciation of desires. touched their compassionate heart. panic and chaos everywhere. aims. Millions dread the speedy termination of the race by nuclear weapons. It does not condemn any of the principles or tenets of any cult. universal. Good thoughts pervade and influence all good people. its objects. Universal Ideals for Spiritual Perfection The Divine Life Society is an all-embracing and all-inclusive Institution. There is restlessness. ideals and aims are very broad and universal. It includes all the fundamental principles of all religions and cults.MY RELIGION. He gets irritated by little things and begins to fight. ideals of the society and the 24 . The Society has brought about a vigorous awakening throughout the world and has contributed much to a new life of freedom in action. There are no pet dogmas or sectarian tenets. They saw that the sufferings of mankind were mostly brought on by its own deeds. To awaken man to his errors and follies and to make him mend his ways so that he may enthusiastically utilise his life for attaining worthier ends. passion. The stirring events since the advent of the twentieth century did not fail to have their effect upon all spiritual-minded people. greed. This silent prayer was heard and I saw the birth of the Divine Life Mission with its task of rescuing man from the forces of bestiality and brutality and divinising his life upon this planet. Now people consider it a blessing to the world.

Hatha Yoga to keep up good health and strength and purify the Prana and steady the mind. Experts were sent to various centres to deliver lectures on 25 . charming spot in the Himalayas. Vanaprastha or Sannyasi. I trained many sincere students in Yoga. Officers became materialists. On the banks of the Holy Ganga in Rishikesh. To preach the Yoga of synthesis. Sudra or Kshatriya. Members belonging to various institutions and organisations in all parts of the world become members of the Divine Life Society and write to me for spiritual guidance. I established the Divine Life Mission. The Critical Juncture Students became irreligious. Girls became fashionable. Divine Knowledge is not the sole property of Sannyasins. To revive the Glory of the Lord. be he a scavenger. Brahmin. To instil devotion and faith in people. They began to smoke and gamble. recluses. To bring peace and bliss to every home. I take special care of them and give them lessons through post for their spiritual progress and welfare. They neglected Dharma. Rapid Growth of the Mission I started the Divine Life Society in 1936 for the spiritual uplift of mankind. Raja Yoga to destroy the Sankalpas and induce concentration in meditation. People shunned the scriptures. be he a busy man of the world or a silent Sadhaka of the Himalayas. Health of people deteriorated. be he a Brahmachari. It explains how although the central basis is Jnana Yoga. Under the influence of Science.AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA method of its work. It expounds in a rational and scientific manner the Yoga of Synthesis. In a sacred. Materialism had its sway. I introduced the morning common prayer classes with Group Asana Class. it is necessary for one to practise Karma Yoga for purification of mind and heart. At this critical juncture. They lost faith in religion. It lays great stress on the practical side of Sadhana. Grihastha. And founded the Yoga-Vedanta Forest University. and Jnana Yoga to remove the veil of ignorance and ultimately rest in one’s own Satchidananda Svarupa. For their quick spiritual evolution. The Divine Life Society proclaims that any man can attain Wisdom in his own station of life. To disseminate knowledge of Yoga. To work for the spiritual uplift of mankind. To the local poor people and thousands of pilgrims I gave medical aid by starting a free dispensary. Vedanta.

To help the students all over the world. untruth and deceit. Now the Ashram.MY RELIGION. with a number of machines to do the work automatically. It gives room and shelter for all. with a General Hospital and a building of its own. Lovers of Truth realise its fullness. The small dispensary grew into a big Sivananda Medical Organisation. and thus Sivananda Ashram came into being. No Secret Doctrines The Path of Divine Life Sadhana is no other than the essence of all Yogas and the main essentials of all religions. find that there is scope for spiritual progress both as workers in the different institutions of the Ashram and as silent meditators in the temple precincts or in the jungle retreats of the neighbourhood. Though the Divine Life Society continues to be the Central organisation. The basis of this Movement is adherence to the triple ideal of truth. the followers of the Divine Life try to make conditions of Heaven prevail upon earth. There are neither petty dogmas nor secret doctrines nor esoteric sections in this Divine Life Movement. who wish to rise above sorrow and obtain lasting Bliss. goodwill. the religion of oneness. Yoga and Vedanta. The Yoga Vedanta Forest University came into existence when regular classes began to be conducted on all Branches of Yoga. Spiritual aspirants who come to the Ashram and stay there for months or for years. is the Divine Life Movement. boarding and lodging facilities had to be provided for all the students and visitors. the University Press was established for printing necessary works on the practical side and half a dozen periodicals. the Divine Life Society was established. infinite beauty. a Plan of Life and a Goal that is common and acceptable to all upon earth. Therefore the Divine Life Movement has the willing cooperation of the peoples of all faiths and cultures. Basic Approach More than to strive to reach a Heaven after this life. Hatred and violence. vice and impurity are fast becoming the order of the day. The great need for a vigorous and intense working of its Ideals is more than ever patent today. A small temple was erected for prayers and worship. politics and sociology have tended to bring mankind nearer than ever to the brink of the dangerous precipice of total agnosticism and violent self-destruction. It enables one to realise the religion of the heart. to fulfil the various functions that have developed to carry out organised work. non-violence and purity—the common fundamental tenets of all the religions throughout the world. looks like a huge factory with the wonderful. spiritual fraternity and the realisation of the oneness of Spirit. A strong counter-force alone can possibly balance to some extent this downward trend. majesty and splendour. then. Thus to counteract these baneful influences that are rampant today and to check man’s whirling rush towards ruin. When a large number of students came for training. 26 . and each chooses his line according to his own bent of mind. This. Here everyone finds the features suitable and unoffending to his own faith or belief. I carry the message of peace. because the most recent developments in the fields of science. The tenets of the Divine Life Society are perfectly non-sectarian and universally applicable. a very big Spiritual Colony. many other institutions had to come into existence. indescribable Peace of the Himalayas. ITS TECHNIQUE AND DISSEMINATION Bhakti.

These ideals are included in the mottoes of the Divine Life Society. but those who plod on steadily by 27 . I taught my gospel of DIVINE LIFE. This is what I have found out to be the way for real Peace and bliss eternal. whichever be your language and country. whatever be your age or sex. While following the teachings of his own religion. Truth. and is naturally tempted to relax his efforts half-way. which could be practised by the common office-goer as well as the obscure labourer without undue interference in the performance of their daily round of duties. constitute the fundamentals of true religion. May the Divine Life Movement. Many are the pitfalls. The heart must be purified first. Not by precepts or moral canons alone can you convert a person to be religious. Real Religion is the Religion of the heart. the harbinger of peace. Not by pointing to your loads of sacred literature or the miracles of your Chief can an aspirant be won over. and some of these are even being relegated to the superstitious level. Conquest of the lower nature of man. I am very particular in propagating these ideals on a wide scale. Know that true religion begins when you go above body-consciousness. goodwill. control of mind. the fundamentals of all religions and cults. Therefore I do not try to convince people by heated debates and arguments. senses and mind. I lead a practical life and try to be an example to the students for moulding their lives. cultivation of virtues. Practise religion and live upto its teachings if you want to evolve and attain the Goal of Life. A person who takes to the spiritual path is bewildered before he reaches the end of his journey. love and purity are the basis of real religion. a man can attain quick spiritual evolution by following the principles of Divine Life. to destroy the lower nature of the mind and to have mastery over your body. which is a system of religious life suited to one and all. I do not waste time in finding out suitable authoritative statements from scriptures to satisfy the curiosity of aspirants. whosoever your prophet. The essence of the teachings of all sages and saints.AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA What Is True Religion Not by mere argument or discussion can religion be taught. service of humanity. The modern thinker has neither the requisite time nor the patience to perform rigorous Tapas and austere religious practices. The beauty in “Divine Life” is its simplicity and practical applicability to everyday affairs of the ordinary man. Practical Aspect The average seeker after Truth is often deceived by the caprices of his mind. you can easily grow if you know the way to crush the ego. are the same. Whatever be your religion. In order to give the present generation the benefit that will result from religious practices. harmony and exalted life shed its lustre and glory throughout the world! Gospel of Divine Life The world of unreality is beset with many difficulties at every step that we take to attain the Goal—Nirvana—which the Lord Buddha attained after years of determined and steady struggle. to reveal to them their real significance and also to convince them thoroughly of their efficacy and usefulness. People needlessly fight over non-essentials and miss the Goal. fellowship and mutual amity.

to experience a limitless freedom in the Spirit. cultured men and women all over the world look to the sacred land.e. This age of advancement has been exposed to be in reality an age of degeneracy in the views and values. At this juncture. is an ever free. Discard the barriers of name and form. I have laid great emphasis in all my writings upon disciplining of the turbulent senses. conquest of mind. You are Satchidananda. for light and knowledge. To live in this exalted Consciousness is to experience indescribable joy every moment of your life. Live for peace. purity.’—you are unborn. India. Live for universal love. They do verily declare the universal brotherhood of man under the fatherhood of the Almighty Lord. This is the goal. Feel that you are the Immortal Self. Seek the oneness at the heart of all beings. eternal. Know well that the heart of the Vedas.MY RELIGION. To realise this through a life of truth. to suit the different stages of evolution. ever perfect. Hatred rules the policies of vast sections of the so-called enlightened and civilised mankind. the heart of the Bible. Serve all. the taste and temperament of each individual. Be kind to all. Remember ‘Ajo nityah sasvatoyam puranah.’ Let this message ring freedom from end to end in every land. Self-realisation. imperishable and ancient. The One. Live in the Life Divine. This is your birthright. Include within your spiritual embrace entire humanity. Man is not a sensual animal. The purpose of human birth is the achievement of Divine Consciousness. service and worship. goodness and kindness.” 28 . Man. You have come here to attain supreme and unalloyed Bliss. eternal Being alone. “All great religions of the world do verily declare this divine message of the spiritual basis of man’s life. Love all. blissful Self indwells all beings. attainment of inner peace and spiritual strength. The Message of Divine Life is: ‘See God in all faces. Feel everyone to be your own.. purification of heart. the ideals and morals of the greater masses of mankind. the sacred Gathas and all the world scriptures are in truth one and sing in unison the sweet message of love and concord. in his essential nature. ever pure. Be compassionate. Serve your fellow beings in the spirit of worship offered to the Divine which indwells them. i. ITS TECHNIQUE AND DISSEMINATION leading a Divine Life are sure to reach the goal of their religious aspiration. The Goal of life is Self-realisation. spiritual being. Service of man is truly the worship of God. Role of Divine Life Branches and Spiritual Aspirants My message to individual spiritual aspirants and to the Branches of the Divine Life Society is as follows: “You have come to this earth to attain spiritual perfection. Let this message enter into every home and into the heart of everyone. all this is verily the one. the holy Koran.’ The spiritual oneness of all humanity is a great lesson man needs today. It is your noble task to spread this light of spiritual knowledge and spiritual Idealism to all corners of the globe. “Fear dominates in this era of nuclear weapons of mass destruction. This is the aim of your life.” Oneness of Humanity “The Upanishads say: ‘All this is verily the Atman. service and devotion is the chief purpose of the Divine Life Movement. immortal. Whatever has been and whatever will be in the future.

I gave instructions through letters. Divine Life must be made vigorously manifest in the lives of the people. town and city. Ideals of Divine Life must shoot up into practical realisation. Divine Life is the gift of India to the world at large. (1) Importance of Collective Sadhana “Evolution is quicker through collective Sadhana. Invite friends who are spiritually-inclined. adapt and accommodate.AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA The Clarion Call of Divine Life “A Divine Life Branch is a great blessing to man in the present age. Be adaptable. Spread of Divine Life is the hope of mankind. Work with concord. Inspire all to follow the path of Yoga and attain the Goal of life. Invite learned men of your place to give discourses. pain and suffering and go beyond sorrow into the realms of peace and bliss now and here. in this very life. periodicals and valuable publications to all the students for creating some spiritual vibrations through collective prayers. This will contribute a lot to your own evolution and to the uplift of mankind as well. a field of practical Vedanta. It purifies man. Be sincere. The purpose of Divine Life Branches is not amassing wealth. Divine Life must be practical. ennobles his nature and unfolds his glorious. fine health and long life. It is a field of dynamic Yoga. Divine Life brings peace and brotherhood to mankind. Spread the doctrine of selfless service. it is not number that counts. For spiritual progress. Clear the doubts of the devotees. It is a veritable boon from the Divine.” (2) How to Start a Branch of The Divine Life Society 29 . hidden. It will grow slowly and bring spiritual good to the world. Stage by stage. Let virtue be implanted in every heart and Dharma and the good life be seen in every walk of life. “Perfection of the individual leads to the perfection of mankind ultimately. Thus you can lay the seed for a Divine Mission. mass prayers and common meditation. Therefore dissolve all differences and work together for the cause of a pure life and spiritual perfection. The following letters written to my students between 1936 and 1940 will clearly explain how I started a dynamic campaign all over the world and established over 300 Branches of the Divine Life Society. name or fame. You can have a library with philosophical books. Let the glorious chant of divine Name fill all quarters. common meditation. not personal views and individual opinions. divine personality. Occasionally print my “Twenty Important Spiritual Instructions” and other leaflets for free distribution. Remember always that work is the important thing. Adjust. Organise weekly meetings. Even a single sincere student can move the world and bring light and knowledge to the world. Through Divine Life shall man free himself from ignorance. This is important.” It is not through rules and regulations and restrictions that I tried to help the seekers after Truth. Bhajans and Kirtans. It is just to bring peace and harmony to the world by creating spiritual vibrations at various centres. “Let the clarion call of the Upanishads ring through every village.

There are many who have started a Branch of the Divine Life Society in their own homes. Express your hidden faculties. You can have the Yoga Class in a house. I wish you success. The bees will come by themselves. Much effort is not needed. Ask them to maintain a spiritual diary and Likhita Japa notebook. No effort is necessary.’ I am not interested in gigantic plans and programmes. You can spend the time nicely. faith and devotion. Read a paper if you cannot deliver a lecture. it will flow. freedom and perfection. (c) To disseminate the Knowledge of Rishis and Yogins far and near. Arrange group demonstration of Yoga Asanas. You have got rare things and knowledge and capacities in which you have not sufficient confidence or of which you are not even aware. meditation. Collect some books from your friends and develop a library. Simply press the switch. Do not waver. study of the Gita. (b) To regenerate youths through Yoga Asanas. “Prepare the lessons daily at night. Hold meetings once a week. Take good nutritious food and fruits. Let the flower blossom. It will strike root and bear blossoms soon. ITS TECHNIQUE AND DISSEMINATION ‘Well begun is half-done. Do something among your own selected friends. The spiritual vibrations thus created bring peace and prosperity to the entire family. I wrote to sincere students:— “You have made a wonderful start and a good beginning. the previous day.” I am ever ready to give detailed instructions to enthusiastic aspirants who are desirous of spreading the divine knowledge:— “Collect a few members. If there is a good beginning and if the workers have sincerity. “Have meditation in the open air with select friends. Introduce fasting or Phalahara on Ekadasi days. (d) To develop universal brotherhood. Concentrate and collect ideas. Give whatever you possess. Have the following aims and objects:— (a) To have Self-realisation through Yoga. Make them do some Japa. Have Trataka practice on OM or any of the Lord’s pictures for 5 minutes. 30 . Be hopeful. Recharge yourself with mild Kumbhakas and Japa. The members of the family join together in the morning and evening for common prayers and conduct Bhajans and Kirtans. You can do wonders. Kirtan. I shall send you all my publications. Pranayama and ethical training. in a room. Read some pages of my books. Register and record them on a piece of paper or in a notebook. This will suffice. Clear the doubts of the aspirants. Radiate joy and peace. Speak slowly. Have a definite line of work. usefully. “Never be disheartened or diffident. Form a Group in your own place and start similar activities in different parts of the city. success is assured.MY RELIGION. Give lessons on the various Chakras. The world will be benefited. Work a little. cosmic divine love. Make a signboard also. even with two members. To meet the ordinary expenses you can collect a small subscription from members.

Introduce Malas for Japa. It is all His Grace. give them good ideas and ask them to form such groups in their own places. Initiate many. Through the work you do in schools and colleges spiritual Samskaras become imbedded in thousands of minds. Take rest. during my travels. You can electrify and spell-bind the audience. That will burst forth when the time comes. You will be an Avatar before passionate people. Hide yourself. Do not mix with people. Slowly you will gain the power of oration. When the work taxes you. Assume a different strong personality on the platform. Learn to relax. medicine for the sick and publication work. Eulogise the usefulness of Mantra and Japa. intellect and body. Recharge the battery through silent meditation in seclusion and come out with redoubled energy. Regulate your energy. Talk a little on vital points only. Drink. Take plenty of milk.” (3) Spiritual Current Must Be Kept Alive I carefully watch over the activities of the Branches and continue to inspire and encourage them every now and then. It is His Will that worked through your mind. Throw fire. so-called meditation (sleep and building air-castles combined) done by Vedantins of the present day.” (4) Service Is Greater Than Meditation “The present work you do is a greater Yoga than the important. Congratulations on your noble work done in various Centres. “I am receiving several letters from the Branches you have visited and exhibited the Movie Films in Countless appreciations. Ask every man with whom you come in contact to read a few Slokas daily from the Gita and repeat the Gayatri Mantra. zeal and enthusiasm into your utterances. As you are working hard. No one has done such a work before.P. When you meet good thirsty souls. Do not pour all in at once. Regulate your energy. write an essay and read the paper with emphasis and great force from the bottom of your heart. Take rest for a week. Become a Maha Tyagi and Maha Bhogi. Be bold and talk with nobility. 31 . Even M. Do not wait to become a great Pundit to do this work. I did this work in all schools of Punjab and the U. “Be bold. Kindly send me a report of your activities now and then. Here are my instructions to one of them: “How is the Centre now? Dead or gasping or full of life? Approach all Headmasters of High Schools and arrange for a magic-lantern Show of Yoga Asanas. Be grateful to Him always. take great care of your health. It is a great Yajna. Never make false excuses.AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA “If you cannot give a fine speech. do not refuse it under a false sense of Vairagya. Do not lose any opportunity. Do not be diffident. Feel this. That will facilitate your future work. Take sufficient rest. Roar like a lion. humility and sincerity. Judges and Surgeons are worldly. inhale much ozone. almonds. Work like a lion. Do not overwork. Rest means change of work and not sleeping and wasting time with useless friends or in aimless wanderings.A’s. Do not become a Zanana Vedantin. Whatever you are doing now is sufficient to elevate the world. hide yourself in your own room or go to a solitary place for a change. Money is needed for work. If anything is offered to you by devotees and admirers. Do not fail to do this work. I send able and advanced aspirants to keep alive the current and spur them onward in their activities. Pray for His Blessings and Mercy. It is unprecedented. fruits.

Try your utmost. Convert every motion. You need not meditate. Your present knowledge is shallow. without grumbling. Bear injury and insults. You need not do Japa. every movement of the body into pure Yoga as above described. It is in your hands. Adjust. This is dynamic. You work. Feel oneness. feel that you are in the Ashram here in the Himalayas. He who lives for the service of others is very happy. Then only can you be really strong. If you are still energetic and if you think that you can get on with the work with perfect ease. Dharma leads to God-vision. He attains God-realisation. thy innermost Self or the Atman. Sadhana is needed. Be rooted in the Atman. This the test put by Janaka to Sri Suka. Now you need rest. The first duty before you is to place your head at the feet of all elders. a quiet life. Your inner nature also is not regenerated. See how you have turned out solid work in such a short period.” (5) Integral Yoga I do not encourage lop-sided development. you can remain there for some more time. It is service of the Lord. This is Yoga. God indwells everything. You will have to evolve through work and meditation. Do not stay in cities longer. Meditate on the Eternal. Mere flying visits will not be of much benefit. for doing dynamic work with redoubled energy and vigour. Entertain this Bhav. This is better than a cave-life. It will be detrimental to your interests and progress. Service purifies the heart and brings the divine Light. willingly.MY RELIGION. God is to be realised. Plunge in Sadhana and meditation. but urge my disciples to combine the important branches of Yoga with emphasis on dynamic selfless service and cultivation of virtues. That will be beneficial to you. This is rather difficult. integral Yoga. Become a flame of God. Claim thy birthright amidst typewriting.” (6) All-round Application to the Task I want my disciples to be like myself in applying themselves in an all-round manner to the propagation of the message of the Lord and developing the divine qualities in themselves and inculcating them in others. Remember this point: Work is worship. Scavenging is Yoga when done in the right spirit. Do not forget this. Love leads to God. Long stay in cities must be followed by a frequent change to secluded places. You will have cosmic consciousness soon. God exists. God is the Inner Ruler. editing books. Be cheerful. Spend a long period in study also. Train the mind to be even in all circumstances and places. You need seclusion now. Then it will become pure Yoga. in the Himalayan-Gangetic atmosphere for recharging the battery. “You can come by the end of this month. without showing even an occasional Sunday castor-oil face. untiringly. Or you can say ‘Goodbye’ to the city life. This is real Sadhana. Swamis and everyone in the Ashram. 32 . Though you are in the city. while yet giving the full scope of individual discretion to the aspirant: “I do not press you to remain in cities. “Thou art blessed. Enter the silence. every breath. He is blessed. Persevere in Sadhana. Attain eternal bliss through the Life Divine. You need not close the nostrils for Pranayama. Goodness leads to God. live and breathe for Him alone. Kindly do come and stay here for a long period. writing articles. ITS TECHNIQUE AND DISSEMINATION “Serve people whole-heartedly. Your health and spiritual progress are very important. Work is meditation. be he a scavenger or a Zamindar.

” 33 . Kirtan. give. Atma-Bodha. Give all. It is His work done through your body and mind. study and lecture is the thing needed. solid work through individual talks. Ask nothing. After silent meditation for 5 or 10 minutes. It is a beautiful beginning. Carry these three ideas in your pocket. Your usual routine for meditation and study must be kept up. In the course of five years you will excel many of the professors and renowned religious leaders. I know. Distribute Prasad at the end. This world. give. “On Ekadasi day. the Upanishads. You can do this. Viveka-Chudamani. (b) Introduction of Japa Mala. The whole city will be charged with spiritual vibrations. You will know Nature. (c) Kirtan and Bhajan at night. arrange for a mass Hari Kirtan in a big Hall or Temple. wherever you go. Work in various localities of the city must be taken up. silent. bone. Brahman alone is real. Read my Brahmacharya article in all schools and colleges with demonstration of Asanas and Pranayamas. Always give. It is not business. Minus Indriyas. (e) Printing some leaflets for free distribution. “You are doing wonderful work indeed. Note down all the points you have to attend to. cells. Hammer these ideas on the minds of all. It is a field for preparation and enlightenment for you. Mere study of my writings with a little explanation of the Yogic terms will nicely constitute your Yoga Class. This is a Divine Life Conference in small scale. Thousands will be inspired to do some kind of religious performance. distribute. Broadcast your spiritual feelings. This is an important and sacred work. Keep a memorandum book in your pocket. have Kirtan and OM chanting. (d) Study of the Gita. Her ways. I am not tired of repeating again and again these three ideas. Share with others. you are Brahman “Tat Tvam Asi”. body. mottoes. By such work you can improve yourself. along with Bhakti and Nishkama Karma. “Teach Asanas to thousands. Svapna. Jalam. is shallow. give. Chitta. It is not blind work. You will develop thinking. etc. “You can do real. Have a programme for short lectures by great men. your ideas. Explain the Yogic and Vedantic terms to the members. if you are sincere and do steady dynamic work. Thrill the world. disseminate. Make necessary preparations seven days in advance. They must enter your very nerves. Yoga Asanas.AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA “Wherever you go. It is all purification of heart and Yoga for you. blood. You will be more concentrated also when the mind is fully occupied. I have to remind you of:— (a) Initiation into Mantra of as many thousands of students as possible. This kind of combination of Japa. ideals.

They misguide the people. with high aims and objects in the early stages may get polluted later on by mercenary motives. grand arrangements were made for an extensive tour in the Punjab. I sent a telegram at once and cancelled the programme. If religious institutions are started by selfish people. At every stage. there was splendid development of work. they become fighting centres and a menace to society and bring ruin to those who are associated with the workers. Sometimes selfish persons start spiritual institutions as business undertakings. When there is lack of interest and Sraddha in householders. If it is the Grace of the Lord and if we carry on our Sadhana and service with the right attitude. I did not work with big plans or schemes. it is extremely difficult to get workers with ability and devotion. I found around me a huge Ashram and an Ideal Institution with congenial environment—a big Spiritual Colony—SHIVANANDA NAGAR. Many of the Ashrams suffer for lack of able workers. When the great rush of students and devotees came to me for spiritual guidance. Let me do as much as possible by remaining in my own small Kutir on 34 .SIVANANDA ASHRAM CHAPTER SIX SIVANANDA ASHRAM Problems of Spiritual Organisations Spiritual organisations with high aims and objects should be started only by Mahatmas who are absolutely free. Bhava and Sraddha. Even an Ashram started by a self-realised person. In 1940. people lose faith in God and religion and condemn all Mahatmas as pseudo Yogis. I created some fields of activities for their evolution and for public good. These days aspirants do not appreciate much the value of selfless service. encouraged them much in their studies and their Sadhana. A little help came from the divine source and I carefully utilised every cent of it for bringing maximum spiritual good to the world. In the long run. and arranged necessary comforts and conveniences for their boarding and lodging. in course of time. Then and then alone can real service be done at all times. it becomes difficult to carry on systematic work. perfect and unselfish. using the donations I received from some admirers for my personal use. I did not approach any great person or Maharajah for getting money. Several new palatial buildings crop up every year and yet there is lack of accommodation for the inmates and the stream of visitors. I take delight in giving and serving all. with a view to render help to them and to make them useful to the world. The world appreciated the service done here on right lines. The telegraphic message conveys the attitude with which I manage the affairs of the Ashram: “I do not care if the Divine Life Society flourishes or not. The founders must have extraordinary capacity to serve mankind. Above all. Thus. The Ashram Grew by Itself I never thought of starting an Ashram. help is bound to come from Divine Source. On many occasions devotees pressed me to undertake propaganda tours for collecting money. That was impossible for me. through ill-managed Institutions and Ashrams.

When students come to me. caste or capacity. tread the path of Yoga. Brahmacharya. Through some work. People are staggered. Some orthodox cults have caste-restrictions and insist on the students passing through the four stages of life. People’s wonder knows no bounds when. Any number of persons can come and stay here as long as they like and they can go out the moment they wish. Thousands have felt this. Vanaprastha and then Sannyasa. I permit them to carry on their own study and Sadhana and help them in all possible ways. Today over 300 students live by my side with all comforts and conveniences. and serve the world in a variety of ways. The highly devoted aspirants who appreciate selfless service for their own evolution spend all their time in carrying out useful works and manage the affairs of the Society nicely. Glory to the Lord. I welcome even thieves and rogues. Perfect Freedom The spiritual vibrations of the Ashram have a great beneficial effect in moulding people in the path of Yoga.AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA the banks of the Ganga. Devotees from all parts of India come to the Ashram frequently and join the collective Sadhana and Satsanga. Several hundreds have gone out. service or help from them. When the honey is there. Where Everyone Is Welcome As qualification for first class aspirants. The students are mysteriously helped by attending the Satsanga and taking bath in the holy Ganga. I do not impose any rules or restrictions on the aspirants who desire to stay in the Ashram. living examples and models for the world. Shun ruthlessly the desire for money. Regular classes are now conducted on Yoga. I sanction the purchase of several automatic printing machines for the University Press. It is all Yoga for them. It looks like a miracle to the world. Thousands of aspirants have come to the Ashram. and yet the Ashram is always full and every day at least a dozen highly educated candidates crave permission to live in the Ashram. Students of different cults and faiths come from various countries and stay with me for weeks and months. Bhakti. position. Vedanta and Health. Miracle of Miracles How is it possible to run an ideal Ashram under the above circumstances? It is a great puzzle for many. Blessed are the aspirants. I do not enquire anything about their qualification. persons of tender age and those who are sickly and old also. or 35 . Vairagya. They are all Yoga Bhrashtas.” In a short period the work grew. parentage. viz. after proper training. Shat-sampat and Mumukshutva are prescribed by the scriptures. Grihastha. they all come in close touch with me and learn a lot in a short period. I do not worry even a bit if the Secretaries and Managers of the Ashram come to me frequently with a big list showing a statement of debts extending to a lakh of Rupees. Viveka.. Quickly they develop all divine qualities without much effort and become great Yogis. in spite of such debts. I know very well that they will all become dynamic Yogis when they are put in the company of sages and saints or when they are allowed to stay in a place charged with marvellous spiritual vibrations. the bees will come by themselves. I do not demand any work. either for intense Sadhana in seclusion or dynamic work in cities.

I ask the man to go out and live independently in some other suitable place. I permit useless persons. This one virtue of voluntarily serving the sick. After a short stay. the Bhav. It was not like the service done by egoistic people for name and fame. I forget the past easily. the sick and the poor. But I find that every one who lives in the Ashram is a great saint with wonderful hidden faculties and talents. I give him spiritual advice at the time of his departure and pray for his welfare and enlightenment. the inner feeling and the motive are more important. I give ample scope for all types of people to remain in the Ashram and evolve through Sadhana or work for the spiritual uplift of mankind. I did prostration first and then offered them. The inmates feel very rich and happy. I am highly pleased with those who do Japa. When I occasionally send money or books or eatables to my students at out-stations. When I have serious complaints that a particular Sadhaka disturbs the peace of the Ashram or interferes with the smooth working of the institution. I see joy and bliss in their face. how do you find so many people of talents?” Is there any instance of my having asked any inmate of the Ashram to go out or expressed ill-feelings or used harsh words to him? None at all. I distribute sweets and fruits first to all of them and then take a small portion. How Aspirants Should Be Cared For I have unlimited. For some years I myself carried a portion of my own food to a few hard workers who were taking a meagre diet and had very poor health. I take special care of the old people. young aspirants and the helpless sick persons. Enlargers and Projectors for the Studio. or the construction of big halls.SIVANANDA ASHRAM latest model high class Cameras. spontaneous generosity. I remember now how I carried milk and curd to the old Sadhus in Swargashram and shampooed their legs and gave them medicine when they were sick. they are transformed miraculously. a few may not have had much education. I do not have a vindictive nature. In a few days or weeks. temples and Ghats by the side of the Ganga. and this 36 . People complain that here they get more food and facilities than they need for their living. I had the Bhav that I served the Lord in that form. the poor and the helpless with all humility is my main YOGA. I give him enough money for travelling expenses and a note of introduction to devotees for helping him. I kept two young Brahmacharis by my side always to distribute fruits and biscuits to all the inmates of the Ashram. irrespective of their age or sex. This came to me naturally. Later on. Even now I send a portion of my own food first to some Sannyasi students and visitors in the Ashram. and was not created consciously by any effort. qualifications or abilities. love and affection for all the students of Yoga. admire their capacities and enquire: “Dear Swamiji Maharaj. when the work increased in all directions.” For spiritual attainment. I heartily welcome him. the man feels the Ashram as his own sweet home and comes back with a changed angle of vision and heart. or a little meditation or some kind of service for the society. These were not thrown into the rooms in the way in which worldly people haughtily give charity. pessimistic people and even those who criticise me and attack the management to stay in the Ashram. Some may look as ordinary villagers. Prominent persons who visit the Ashram are stunned to see the wonderful development in the inmates. I invariably say: “May this be kindly accepted.

May Lord bless you. He does not like sweets. In the name of Tapasya. is wonderfully improving. But they all go out only to come back to the Ashram with a thorough change of heart. and therefore do not stand in the way of any one who wishes to go out. Some students who have a pushing nature desire to help humanity and desire to go out on lecture tours. Helpfulness and Love Towards All Due to Prarabdha or Vikshepa of the mind. They all depend on alms for their food. Kindly attend on Sri S. like to gain some experience from meditation in the interior parts of the Himalayas. in the past. 37 .R. I blessed them and prayed for light. That might result a great loss also. He is the senior Acharya of the kitchen nowadays. people try to go away from the Ashram. When people go out suddenly. the work would naturally suffer. knowledge and proper understanding and inner spiritual strength to them. May you ever abide in the Lord. a few students with powerful senses and cravings.AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA one virtue alone helped me to develop all divine qualities and to see the Lord behind all names and forms. You can do just as you like. Some advanced students after some years of stay in the Ashram. There would be a lot of irregularities when new persons handle the work. I welcome them with great love and affection. They all must have convincing experiences of their own. Sri A. write to me at once. or a craving for sensual enjoyments or for some form of luxury. Individual Attention and Consideration Some of the letters written by me to my students at out-stations several years ago explain how I care for my students: I. a fountain pen and a copy of my Practice of Vedanta from my account. III. I care only for the individual’s progress and prosperity. do not spoil your health. Thus a man may go out a hundred times and come back. He has some complaints now. I forget the past quickly. His health is already poor. He is the senior typist also. carefully. It is not through compulsion or rules or regulations that men can be transformed into divine beings. or a curiosity to see various places. In the Ashram. I admire them and give them all facilities. Whenever you are in need of money. Kindly supply him saltish biscuits and fruits. In the Ashram every one is in charge of some important section of work or other. Kindly supply him with one set of the Upanishads. but I also send them enough money for their special milk and fruits. His food is meagre. knowledge and peace. II. My love for the man is greater. Anyhow spend the time usefully. I organise Spiritual Conferences and send such students to various centres.C. criticised me and abused the Ashram and the whole of the Himalayas and left the place in anger.

And you have all the above facilities here in the Ashram. Give up this idea at once. Without worry or anxiety. Do not work hard. On Ekadasi. Never sleep in householders’ houses. How is your health? Record all your experiences and send me a report of how you spend the 24 hours. I value their services immensely and am ever lavish in showering praises. Take milk and tea from the shop on my account. My dear Yogiraj. For uninterrupted Sadhana and perfection. you can return to the Ashram at any moment. It is all His Grace. Apply cooling oil on the head. brisk walk. rest. These ensure quick spiritual progress. RUN AWAY FROM LADIES. (d) Help of elderly persons and guidance from advanced students of Yoga or from Guru. relaxation with agreeable diet and Sadhana. Regulate your energy. You cannot live on grass. May I send you money for your train fare? Cordial greetings. you can then progress nicely in the practice of Yoga. Take rest. Brahma Nishtha is your food. (b) A calm and cool place with spiritual vibrations. You may use my blankets. Never neglect morning meditation and evening meditation. Some years before. This can be kept up along with Karma Yoga. Do Pranayama in the early morning when it is cool. hold Kirtans in different centres. IV. Have silent individual talks. It is all His work. This is your own spiritual home. It is not flattery. Take fruits also. It will recharge you with abundant energy. Take great care of your health. You can influence people more by this method. 38 . Learn to relax. You have done solid work this year in the printing line. Go for a long. Feel this. Do not be afraid of the cold at Rishikesh. This will amply suffice. Hold weekly classes. II. Do not be unnecessarily alarmed. (e) Facility for medical aid in case of need. Do not overwork. I never expected so much from you.SIVANANDA ASHRAM IV. Are you comfortable there? May I send you money for your personal expenses? Milk and nutritious food are needed when people work in the active field of dissemination of knowledge or do rigorous Sadhana in seclusion. Aham Brahma Asmi. You have done miracles. Encouragement and Advice I am always grateful to those who have served the Divine Mission. This is very important. No play and joking with them. The goal of a Sannyasi is Vedantic Realisation. III. drink and all in all. Take rest in suburbs when you are tired. the following items are essential: (a) Fine health through prayers. I also look to the personal necessities of my students—their health and spiritual evolution. May you enjoy the Peace of the Eternal. water and air alone. (c) Simple food at regular intervals. Take nutritious food and plenty of energy-giving fruits. I wrote to one of my students: I.

Their study will seriously be interfered with if the books are not provided. I do not refuse food to any one. Why should you live in cities? Gradually you will lose all your faculties when you are not in touch with work. Even if you look after a little work in the correspondence section. a little. you can be happy here and everywhere.AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA I have great respect for the Sanskrit language and I encourage my students to study Sanskrit—whoever has an aptitude for it—though it may be at the cost of the Ashram itself. We should have mercy and must serve others at the sacrifice of our wants even. mildly. This is God’s Blessing and Grace. independently. The money was returned with the remark: ‘Left the Place. “All sections of work suffer for want of people and proper supervision. You only refuse it.” Who Can Start Ashrams An Ashram is a Glorious centre to ensure World Peace. The starting of new Ashrams by beginners will not bring good results to the world. This is Maya. “If you change your outlook.” Spirit of Accommodation When one of my students had left the Ashram for some reason. without mixing with anybody. He never allows himself to be changed. Be happy and cheerful at all times. vision. it will be a great help to the world. you can live here for six months and six months in cities. Their needs are endless. I can easily satisfy these Sanskrit students. Why should you depend on anybody. That is not enough.’ I am always at thy feet to serve you at all times. when I am here to serve you in all ways? Why should you live in cities with worldly persons? There are various sections here in which you can work. slowly. For beginners. I wish to start a Sanskrit College with a large number of students and arrange all facilities for the Sannyasi students to do research work in Sanskrit literature. I wrote once to my student: “If I posses a ghost or a tree that bears currency notes and coins as fruits. “There is no dearth for food for you here. and for advanced students that will be a downfall. That is the Dharma of a saint. Therefore come at once to Rishikesh. I have to do something for helping them. Take plenty of rest and do a little work. I shall give you money for your expenses. The worldly atmosphere is not congenial to spiritual progress. Many years 39 . You can assist me in a hundred ways. Your food will be placed in your room. It needs special faculties to run an Ashram successfully. You can remain away from the Ashram. So I wrote thus:— “I was sending you money for your pocket expenses. imagination and attitude a bit. that will be a hindrance. Do not work hard as before. having connections with me only. Adjust and adapt. May I send you train fare? If you like. They are doing wonderful research work and have deep study. gently. I at once felt that his valuable experience and faculty should not be lost for the service of humanity. Man suffers on account of his own imagination and his old habit of thinking. Many enthusiastic persons start Ashrams with a fine letterhead. Evolve quickly and become a dynamic Yogi and bring Light and Knowledge to the whole world. You do a little work without any responsibility. It is my inborn nature.

I am serving the world by a variety of ways and work through all Ashrams. must reunite and forget the past. Try not your luck through Derby Sweep. Before one starts an Ashram. one must have been leading an exemplary life. The head of the Ashram and the inmates there should lead a life of Vairagya. every Yogic student has got some defect or other. His very presence must give peace. Even granting that the founders are able to live an ideal life. O Swamiji. It is only a full-blown Yogi who will be absolutely free from evil qualities and defects. too. “Nowadays aspirants do not care to look to their spiritual progress. The Ashram run by such people stands as a centre. Millions all over the world derive inspiration. One must excuse the other. aims and objects are laudable. Only then can one successfully run the institution. Some aspirants who want real spiritual training. They begin to collect money for starting Ashrams for leading comfortable life. leave not the daily routine of Sadhana. absolute renunciation. the ideal is forgotten. their disciples will not be able to manage it with the same spirit later. Sincere. No one is 40 . It is a pity for Sadhus to think of such schemes. The world is always in need of such Ashrams. “There are enough Ashrams and Mutts in India. Ideals Must Not Be Forgotten “Before starting an Ashram. charming and attractive. The objects are abandoned. Generally those who start Ashrams are humble in the beginning and do some service. Your achievements. a nucleus of perennial peace. bliss and joy. Everybody is likely to err sometimes. if people see the spirit of renunciation in you. It becomes a place of quarrel or a business-house. “I do not know any rich Rajah or Zamindar. Slight rupture or friction is bound to come between friends and workers. The spirit of selfless service dwindles away. When they become rich and well established. ambitions and aims are no doubt grand. selfless workers are rare. ambitions. They become arrogant and autocratic. Even after Self-realisation. “If you do public service with a selfless spirit. Become tolerant. You must have a tendency to grasp only the good in others and try to emphasise it in your everyday life. they care not for public service or individual evolution. All are in the path of evolution. indeed. name and fame when you start an Ashram or a religious Society. then they themselves will volunteer to help you in every way. colour their clothes and remain at Rishikesh for some time and then pass for great Yogis. Mutts and religious institutions. the mottoes. power and bliss to all. I cannot help you with money. I have no disciples. comforts. The Founders want to lead a comfortable life with some chosen disciples and followers. I take great care of them. and the reply I gave to one of them is reproduced below. See good in everything. It attracts everyone. Do not move heaven or earth for money. That is all.SIVANANDA ASHRAM ago some Sannyasins wrote to me for financial help and advice for improving the activities of their Ashrams. That clearly explains my attitude and principles: “Beloved Swamiji. consider me as their Guru. aspire not for Gurudom. at times between Sannyasins. even very often. As soon as a little fund and fame come. Beware of temptations and work as a meek Sevak always. They shave their head. “Every Sannyasi.

aspiration and inclination for the path of renunciation and tries to get out of this quagmire of Samsara. One true Sannyasin can change the thought-currents of the world for better. Only then will more workers feel happy to live with you and serve your Ashram. It is quite good to have some peace at the time of death. mind and heart. Grihastha and Vanaprastha stages of life. I shall be always happy to help you. Sannyasins have done sublime work in the past. the order of Sannyasa is mentioned for those who have passed the Brahmacharya. May the noble Mission established by you gloriously prosper. clear vision and extraordinary purity of body. comfort the forlorn and bring help to the hopeless. Sufistic Fakirs in Sufism. strength to the weak. They can be moulded nicely.” CHAPTER SEVEN LIGHT ON THE PATH OF RENUNCIATION The Glory of Renunciation Every Religion has a band of anchorites who lead the life of seclusion and meditation. they get 41 . They are the harbingers of peace and wisdom. Fathers and Reverends in Christianity. as the foremost qualification for the path of renunciation. One real Sannyasin can change the destiny of the whole world. Youth Is the Best Period for Renunciation In scriptures. By the time they develop one virtue or try to remove a single defect or evil in the mind. That means people took Sannyasa in their old age. Viveka. I have all admiration for those young Brahmacharis who do not have any worldly bondage and entanglements. I welcome them with great joy and train them nicely in a variety of ways in the path of Yoga and take care of them until they are able to stand firm in the path. They are working wonders at present. They give solace to the householders when they are in trouble and distress. Have perfect control over impulses. Through prayers and thought-currents I am in very close touch with such students and help them a lot. with abundant energy and mental purity. Vairagya. A real Sannyasi is a mighty potentate of this earth. From experience I find that tremendous energy is needed for purposes of contemplation. They heal the sick. and knowledge to the ignorant. joy to the depressed. It will not be possible to have all the above qualifications when people live in worldly environments with heavy responsibilities. anxieties and worries. You must have adaptability when you mix with others.AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA entirely bad. I dance in joy when I see or hear from an aspirant who entertains genuine devotion. Fakirs in Mohammedanism. The glory of a religion will be lost if there are no monks leading a life of renunciation and service to the world. By this they may get a good birth. Shat-sampat and Mumukshutva are the primary qualifications to students prescribed by the scriptures. on the verge of death. It is these people that maintain the religions of the world. They are all attracted towards me and leave the world quickly with a great hope for the future. I consider youth. Remember this point welt. There are Bhikkus in Buddhism.

They have to spend their entire energy solely in resisting the temptations. the corner-stones of spiritual edifices and the central pillars of the eternal Dharma or religion. Young persons will evolve quickly through a dynamic Sadhana and bring spiritual good to the world. They should not give lenience to the mind. I do not impose too many rules and restrictions on food and dress. they go back and live near the family or a little away and take care of the family with complete detachment and gloriously prosper in their Sadhana. No Rigid Conditions Are Attached I heartily welcome all types of people. The entire voluntary donation I receive from devotees for my personal use is spent in providing comforts and conveniences to the students. for their welfare and peace and in creating hundreds of avenues in which they can quickly evolve and help the world in a variety of ways. guide the nations of the world. in a place far away from the temptations and attraction of sense-objects. ideal Sannyasin who leads an exemplary life. Some students who are not in a position to come to the Himalayas have taken Sannyasa by receiving the sacred cloth and instructions by post. Glory to the true. The rules prescribed by the Order of Sannyasa must be followed. If people only show some symptom of disgust for sensual enjoyment coupled with a taste for the path of Yoga. They. independent Sannyasins are a menace to society. There are many who have taken to the order of Sannyasa when they have a family and children. It is a great surprise to many to see that I give initiation through post also. Necessary qualifications will come by themselves when they tread the path of Yoga. I permit even married people to take to the path of renunciation and live like Sannyasins. Fashionable. the repositories of divine knowledge. The vibrations of the materialistic world are not favourable for spiritual progress in the early stages. I closely watch them. however exalted in the spiritual line. External conformity to rules is not of much value. and when they live in the company of Yogis. This world is in need of ideal Sannyasins who will serve the country and humanity with divine consciousness and disseminate true knowledge and carry the message of the Sages and Saints to every door. in a favourable atmosphere. Who Are Fit to Be My Disciples Though I give much freedom and liberty in dress and external forms. in any dress and yet effectively follow my instructions. the torch-bearers of Truth. After some training here. The people in the world curse such Sannyasins and treat them with disrespect and contempt. Comfortable Sannyasa is very dangerous. the beacon-lights of the world.LIGHT ON THE PATH OF RENUNCIATION entangled in various other directions. Therefore I prefer young persons. I at once give them Sannyasa and share with them what I have and encourage them to a great extent. Old people can take bath in the holy Ganga and spend their time in prayers and Bhajan and enjoy the benefits of Satsanga. should not live in the company of women or 42 . May Sannyasins. They all set an example to the whole world. The point of my method is that I look to the motive and the inner purity of the seeker. In my method of work for the spiritual uplift of mankind. They have made wonderful progress. My students can live in any place. I am very strict with my students with regard to the essentials. Then only can they shine as ideal Sannyasins. I cannot express their joy in full.

served the Rishis. stopping the rising of the sun in the morning and of controlling the elements also. My disciples should have no superiority complex. There is a peculiar religious instinct in them. sweet. In ancient days there were many Siddhas. 43 . avarice. anger. By their purity and perfection they could do miraculous things when there were occasions for utilising their spiritual power. there is no world. They have natural. they learn the way to rivet the mind on the Lakshya. who have renounced the world and taken to the path of Yoga. In olden days. Maya works havoc. Give up selfishness. Brahma Jnanis. Develop Sattvic qualities such as nobility. Eradicate all evil qualities such as lust. magnanimity. Hindu ladies also led the life of celibacy. courage. They perceive the Divinity behind all names and forms. hypocrisy. If they are inspired. the whole world will be inspired. Haridwar. They are not dry philosophers who spend all their time and energy in preaching alone. name and fame by exhibiting spiritual powers. perishable—Truth alone is Real. Become sincere. Maya deludes. Bhaktas and advanced Yogis among women. There are instances of their giving life to the dead. Become humble. They are the backbone of society and upholders of religion. Vairagis. Banaras and other holy places in India. truthfulness. Beware. meditated on the Atman and obtained Brahma Jnana. No doubt renunciation is mental. They are rooted in the idea: “The world is a long dream (Deergha Svapna). Sakti or Kaali. Raga-dvesha and other negative traits which stand in your way of ethical perfection and Self-realisation. who are manifestations of the Divine Mother. In the midst of intense service. Even today you can find many women in Rishikesh. That will bring your downfall. Burning Vairagya with simple living and high thinking must be the ideal at every moment of their lives. straightforwardness. Love all. generosity. That does not mean that you can do anything and live in any way you like. Attitude Towards Women My silent adorations and prostrations to all women. Regenerate your lower nature. greed. Ethical perfection is a pre-requisite to Self-realisation. External observance of the rules will help you to stick to the path. Talk loving. Find out through self-introspection if you want real freedom and liberation or you are just inquisitive about higher things or have a lurking desire for obtaining money. inborn divine qualities. They have self-sacrifice and serve the world with their silent and intense Sadhana. endearing words. pride. love. egoism. Purify the Inner Nature Purify your mind. Be cautious at every step and watch the Vrittis of the mind. No amount of practice can be of any value to the aspirant if he ignores this side of Sadhana. Discipline in food and dress will naturally manifest itself if you have genuine Vairagya and dispassion. All qualifications will come by themselves when you are in the company of evolved persons and live in an atmosphere charged with spiritual vibrations.” For my students. Brindavan.AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA householders and freely mix with others. Strive for perfection by following the traditional rules for discipline and control of mind and senses. Prostrate yourself before everybody.

I have no knack to collect money from the public. The world will worship you if you do so. Specialise in Kirtan and Bhajan. When you advance on the spiritual path. In 1936. This is not safe. I do not mean that you should become a qualified mistress of a school or a nurse. from Rajahs and Zamindars and businessmen. It is just to develop in them a strong Vairagya and help control of their senses and mind. They do not have the same liberty and freedom as men.LIGHT ON THE PATH OF RENUNCIATION I do not detest anybody. But women are greatly at a disadvantage and suffer thereby. I do 44 . Invest it in a Bank. I have great reverence for them. regular Sadhana. you can get a monthly allowance from your brother. or live with some elderly ladies of a religious temperament. This will make you dependent on him and you will develop a leaning mentality. It is a pity that there are not many ideal institutions in India exclusively for women where they can live peacefully. Have perfect trust in God. That is worldly. I regard women as Mother Durga or Divine Mother. “If you are bent upon treading the path of renunciation but cannot manage independent means for your maintenance. Never change your mind. you can go from village to village and elevate the masses and develop Bhakti in them. Though for the sake of inducing Vairagya in men I have given a negative description of women. live in an Ashram where you have advanced souls.P. Many ladies come to the Ashram from Delhi and other places even if they get two or three days’ holidays. I gave a reply to a devotee giving my helpful suggestions: “I cannot safely suggest any Ashram where you can live peacefully and evolve. You can lead a simple life with the interest you get from the deposit. Should Women Renounce the World No doubt it is difficult for young women to get on in the Sannyasa line. and stay within the Ashram for days and weeks. I do not have money. Mahatmas. Religion is sustained through their piety. you can give private tuition to some girls. Even then. are a great need of the hour. You will not be able to keep up the same mind and Bhav as now if you lead a comfortable life and freely mix with worldly persons. serve the world and evolve. Their parents will support you in return. I get letters from some sincere cultured ladies expressing a desire to tread the path of renunciation. You will miss the Goal. Luxury and comforts will creep in. This is the best way. They can go from door to door for alms and maintain themselves. I serve them. Be adamant. I have written a lot about the perishable nature of the physical body of women. They come in groups and join the daily Satsanga and enjoy the peace and bliss. the Gita and to Sadhana. You should get a decent amount from your parents. who are spiritually-inclined. To passionate youths.” Service to Women “This mission of service to sincere women is very dear to my heart. I revere a woman as my own self. I have done Kirtans with them in various Sankirtan Sammelans in the Punjab and the U. Women are dynamic forces on earth. That will take away all your time and you cannot have strength or energy to do intense. If this is not possible. The temptations of the world will affect you in the long run. You must be expecting his sympathy every month. Ideal institutions with all comforts and conveniences for women. Vairagya will slowly vanish. Devote all your time to the study of the Upanishads. this important work has been neglected. Men can live and move about in any way and sleep anywhere. For ages.

Among them.” Some orthodox people and Sannyasis say that women are not fit for the path of renunciation.AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA not go out for collecting money in the name of service. Test your mental strength. liberty and freedom. I do not have resources or facilities at present. Several times I have thought of concentrating more on rendering a real service to mankind by starting an Ashram exclusively for ladies. My view is different. Suppose you remain with me as a Sannyasi. but I do not earn anything from the publications. this Institution has become an ideal centre for their spiritual evolution. I give them initiation into the Order of Sannyasa. From experience I have found that many of those who renounce the world on account of the emotional type of Vairagya. where they have ample scope not only for their own evolution but also for serving womankind. your property and native place. Destroy Moha first. When you remain in the world. They too are eligible to tread the path of Yoga and renunciation. For starting an institution purely for ladies. Bhajans and Kirtans. May they all prosper and enjoy peace and Divine Glory and Splendour. Many have learnt Yoga exercises and derived incalculable benefits. Mere college study cannot make you great. While to those who have genuine Vairagya and burning aspiration. Occasionally I receive a little money from devotees. The Divine Life Society Branches have Ladies’ sections in all parts of the world. I personally attend to their needs and train them in all branches of Yoga. To Those Who Wish to Take Sannyasa Many sincere seekers of Truth in different parts of the world write to me very often expressing their eagerness to take to the path of renunciation or the Order of Sannyasa. wife. in order to give them ample opportunity to develop their Vairagya and prepare themselves for the path:— Worldly greatness is nothing. That will be a boon to the world. which might have been induced special reason or other. eventually fail to keep up to the spirit of renunciation and consequently go back to the world or become a disgrace to the Order of Sannyasa. have you got the strength to face your mother. Remain in the world. but be not worldly-minded. My books are sold in large numbers in many parts of the world. I have permitted many educated and cultured ladies to live in this Ashram. there are many from foreign countries also. it is a child’s play. I am ready to give you Sannyasa at any moment. You have Vairagya. 45 . but you have no experience in the line. I spend this voluntary donation for the spiritual uplift of those who are around me and those who keep themselves in close touch with me from various centres. away from your family and see if your mind often goes to your people. I do not know business. prepare yourself nicely for the path of Sannyasa. In the absence of a separate Ashram exclusively for women. sister and brothers when they weep bitterly with a broken heart in front of my Kutir? Think well and decide this point. I recommend immediate renunciation. They have all facilities. others I advise as follows. Occasionally go out and live in a secluded place for a month or two. In the absence of proper support from the world for an ideal institution exclusively for women. The ladies who stay in the Ashram have all comforts and conveniences. I lavishly give away my books free. You must become a great man in the spiritual field. After some training in the Ashram they go back to various centres and they continue their Sadhana and service to the world.

if you have a strong power of endurance. Downfall comes only when you try to augment the amount and to accumulate a bank balance.LIGHT ON THE PATH OF RENUNCIATION Mere emotion and enthusiasm will not serve you much in the path of renunciation. Financial independence will bring peace of mind and strength during the Sadhana period. They cannot have any influence on worldly minds. Get away from the bustle of cities and 46 . Forget the past and the future. Try to remove your defects and weaknesses. The life of a Sannyasi is the best kind of life in the world. Cogitate and investigate. Beginners cannot spend all the twenty-four hours in meditation alone. When you are young. They should combine work and meditation. What I want to emphasise is that beginners cannot fare well in seclusion. Lead a hard life. They have to work in the beginning for purification of the heart as well. Introspect. There is plenty everywhere for sincere Sadhakas. Fly. You do not know how to get over depression when it manifests itself. This is real Sadhana. Lord Jesus hid himself in solitude for several years. Be bold. He came out for a period of three years to electrify and thrill the world with his spiritual powers and illumination. you need not worry about money. do intense Sadhana in seclusion and a little service to Mahatmas. Realise the glory of living in the Atman. Become a dynamic personality. you do not know how to regulate your energy and adjust your daily routine and spend the time profitably. Combine Service and Meditation There is one difficulty when you live in a jungle or a cave. The words of a man who has no ethical and spiritual development will be like empty bullets. Sit for a moment alone in a quiet room. Do not entertain the idea of a world tour and of becoming a World-Teacher. You can renounce the world even this moment. Do not be tempted by name and fame or comforts and conveniences. patience and fine health. fly away from the company of worldly-minded persons. But it is full of joy and bliss and is smooth for the man of firm determination. Empty bullets in the air cannot influence the birds. All such hopes will only result in a downfall. Do not think of conducting classes on Yoga and preaching and presiding over big Conferences. The path of Sannyasa is beset with many difficulties. Realise that the world is a mere illusion. Even a mere aspirant is an Emperor of the three worlds. and I have come to the definite conclusion that a little money helps the Sadhaka in his Sadhana and evolution. A true Sannyasi is the real monarch of the three worlds. Leave the world quickly. In the early stages of your life. Financial Independence I have closely studied the lives of Sannyasins. the sick and the poor—as much as you can. I have never come across people in all my experiences of this life who always remained in meditation entirely and who emerged from it with flying colours. Enquire. As you are a neophyte. Have courage. if your Vairagya is intense and of a sustained type and if you are willing to do some selfless service to mankind. patience and fortitude. Assert your real Satchidananda Svarupa. Yet. It is not advisable to waste your precious life in trying to earn more and saving a lot. Through pure thought (Satsankalpa) you can revolutionise the materialistic world. do intense Sadhana and have deep study. They become Tamasic and lose their talents and hidden faculties after a long stay in seclusion.

Aspirants need not be afraid of pitfalls and snares in the spiritual path. serving the Sadhus. thirsty spiritual aspirants know me. I prescribe all the important items of Sadhana for a quick spiritual evolution and give them all facilities and comforts. These Sannyasins purify the world. Japa and prayers. The period of training varies according to the evolution and standard of the students. washing. Run quickly to solitary places like Rishikesh. They should learn to adjust and adapt themselves to various circumstances and persons. Let the politicians and scientists work in their own fields. every student should learn cooking. They train their mind to behold automatically the hidden essence behind all names and forms. They must spend hours in deep study. meditation. These days Sraddha is lacking among householders. 47 . They learn to keep a balanced state of mind under all conditions of life. Aspirants should nourish their good Samskaras through Japa and regular meditation. It is a sad mistake. They help the world better. My field is the spiritual path. walk and action. If possible provide for bare necessities or join some Ashram or religious institutions. even though they remain in the caves of the Himalayas. They all must learn typewriting and first-aid also. They forget their body and surroundings. I send them to some cool places for deep meditation. Is Guru Indispensable Only genuine. Sannyasins and Politics In these days of political agitation. Good Sadhus are well looked after everywhere. even Sannyasins are asked by political leaders to join the agitation. Even during work they should do mental Japa. The whole spiritual world is ready to back up sincere students who are trying to lift up their head from the quagmire of Samsara. pleasant or painful. When I find some progress in them. nursing. It is not easy for the public to differentiate Mahatmas from beggars by a mere casual look.AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA the tumultuous world. It may be that you cannot separate politics from religion. This enables them to forget the past entirely and devote their entire energy and time to spiritual pursuits. by their thought-vibrations. All are important and great in their own fields. These leaders have not understood the glory and significance of the life of pure Nivritti Marga. In my method. You will be outside the danger zone. To avoid interruptions in Sadhana I ask the students to keep enough money with them to meet their needs. They should learn Bhajans and Kirtans and must prepare fine essays and articles on Yoga and Vedanta. But it is quite possible to find out real Mahatmas from their talk. Do not entertain the begging mentality. But different people should work in different fields according to their capacity and temperament. Importance of Service As a drastic measure to overcome the vicious nature and worldly Samskaras? I ask the students to drown themselves in active service for some months or years. Mahatmas and the sick in all possible ways. It is only the beggars who come in the garb of Mahatmas that become a nuisance to the public.

want God and God alone. according to their own fancy. If you cannot find a first class type of Guru. First Deserve. family and children. hard and foolish austerities on a weak body. The spiritual path is beset with many obstacles. Many foreigners come to India in search of Yogis and Mahatmas. Then Desire To find out a Guru who may sincerely look after the interests of his pupil is a difficult task in this world. This is a land of sages and saints. for the sake of God-realisation which they regard as the be-all and end-all of their existence. The Guru who has already trodden the path will guide the aspirants safely and remove all sorts of obstacles and difficulties. circumstances and progress. no senior man in the spiritual path wishes to accept disciples for training. ruthlessly. in a mysterious manner. 48 . Glory to India and all devotees.LIGHT ON THE PATH OF RENUNCIATION Even in this materialistic age. They do not want to carry out the instructions of the Guru. Many students. That does not mean that the disciple should sit idle. have entirely ruined many aspirants. They become Gurus themselves in a few days. Thousands of seekers after Truth are in close touch with me from all parts of the world. There is no magic pill for attaining Samadhi. The grace of a Guru is necessary. select their own method of Sadhana without considering the consequences. disobedient and self-willed in these days. A personal Guru is therefore necessary. It is foolish to think that one can have all Siddhis (psychic powers) and Mukti from a drop of water from the Kamandalu of a Mahatma or a Yogi. The rest of the work will have to be done by the aspirants themselves. As disciples are arrogant. India is full of thirsty aspirants who. But to find out a disciple who will act sincerely according to the instructions of his Guru is also a very. They bring only troubles to the Guru. There is no more powerful way of overcoming the vicious nature and old Samskaras in the aspirants than personal contact with and service to the Guru. Therefore a personal Guru is necessary to give timely instructions according to the change of seasons. though it is impossible for the Guru to point out God or Brahman to be this or that. very difficult task. This problem of Guru and disciples is indeed an embarrassing one. It is mere delusion to think so. at least try to find out one who has been treading the path for some years. A Guru can clear the doubts. show the spiritual path best fitted to the aspirants and inspire them. Guru’s Grace will. wrong Sadhana without a proper guide. It is quite true. Initiation Transforms the Mind Initiation (Diksha) is not a mere change in outward forms. torturing the body in the name of Tapasya. Improper diet. enable the disciples to perceive the spiritual power within. Real change of mind and clear vision and understanding come to the aspirant after the initiation by a Brahmavidya Guru. who is compassionate and selfless and who will take a special interest in your welfare and progress. who are ready to give up wealth.

They alone will be benefited in their company. I wrote to them: 49 . I found effective methods to tide over difficulties and obstacles. It is better to receive the Mantra from a Guru. He will draw to himself. For the guidance of so many struggling souls. Every Yogic student. articles and messages. I do not miss a single thought because I record all my thoughts. Thousands came to me in person or through correspondence seeking a remedy for solving their problems. need not wait for obtaining a Guru. Its Mysteries and Control’. There is no use of running hither and thither in search of realised men. a Guru will appear to them. In 1933. ‘Spiritual Lessons’. becomes a centre of spirituality. the publishers gave me a suggestion to have only one volume. I attach great value to the experiences of the students also. You will have to sacrifice the one or the other. Even if the Lord Krishna remains with you. CHAPTER EIGHT JNANA YAJNA Profound Experiences Blossom As Countless Publications When I study scriptures. I constantly think over the points and reflect. through his magnetic aura. Even if one of my disciples lifts up his head from the quagmire of Samsara. I recorded my own experiences. Ignorant. I classify the lessons and publish the same in pamphlet and book form. I mark the important portions. Students who are in the world with responsibilities. worldly-minded persons cannot easily recognise them. He cannot do anything for you. you will have to renounce sensual pleasures. They should select their own Ishta Devata and a Mantra suitable to their taste and do Sadhana and prayers. I gave suggestions and suitable remedies based on my own experiences. At the proper time. Thus my publications become numerous and limitless. Volume Second. If you want to enjoy spiritual bliss. To serve God and mammon at the same time is impossible. I minutely observe and note down the points for the benefit of other students. You cannot have light and darkness at the same time. When once I gave a lot of new material for ‘Practice of Yoga’. I released my experiences as ‘Mind. Only a few persons who are pure and have all virtues can understand realised souls. I take care to see that these reach immediately all aspirants at distant places through my letters. I have justified my existence. through all leading journals and periodicals in various languages. thousands of baby souls for spiritual transformation and regeneration. The greatest service that I can do to humanity is training and moulding aspirants. The Mantra received from the Guru has a mysterious influence. ‘Precepts for Practice’.AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA Realised souls are not rare. when he is purified and elevated. unless you are fit to receive Him.

I repeat the vital points that are to be observed in daily life. mind and body.” In 1935 the publishers sent me a letter from a devotee who complained that my books contain a lot of repetitions. After some years. This is regarded by some as “Repetition. Switzerland. though I am conscious that I do not have a natural taste or inclination for the path. Aspirants are able to grasp the value and importance of such useful repetitions. For a quick spiritual progress of students of different tastes and temperaments. In all my books I emphasise the essential points of the practical side for an all-round development. freedom and perfection of every individual. Indonesia and America. These lessons are intended to create a deep and indelible impression on the minds of the aspirants. Germany. intellect. 5 and so on. as long as I have new messages and lessons for seekers after Truth.” The lessons that I give are the outcome of my own researches and also the experiences of thousands of devotees. The lessons are meant for me and I find them highly useful for my material progress as well. I wrote to them: “Repetition should be carefully avoided. One-sided development is not of much benefit. 3. Let the Divine work grow and bring peace and bliss to the world. They very often write to me: “The one beauty I find in your books is that the lessons create a taste for spiritual progress and tempt me to follow some of the lessons. I call this “Synthesised Yoga” or “Integral Yoga. Its Mysteries and Control’. I give the essence from all sources. The Gita.” The devotee of that letter says that my books are full of repetitions and yet he wants to have a complete list of my latest publications! At the end he adds: ‘It is food and life for me. You will have to sit 3 or 4 nights with full thermos flasks of tea and work hard for removing the repetitions. There is a message for the solace. we can thoroughly overhaul each and every book. I feel a new power and hope in me after reading a few pages of your book: ‘Mind. every para. peace. the Upanishads and other scriptures are full of repetitions. One and the same book comes out from various presses in India. I want the maximum amount of 50 . nature refuses to change.’ It will be a great surprise for the world to see that I authorise any number of publishers to bring out new editions of several of my books. do not omit the important portions. I do not ignore any of the teachings of the sages and saints of various religions and cults. That helps to develop the will-power also. This cannot be avoided. These prove to be very helpful. Let me work as long as my eyes are good. We cannot please the entire world. While describing a particular subject. Without hammering.” They are very helpful to sincere students. Do not omit even a single comma or word. Repetitions are necessary when the lessons aim at hammering the worldly mind. every sentence and improve the book. My love to serve mankind is so great that I will continue the publication work with the help of able stenographers and secretaries even if I lose my eyesight. They hammer the mind that is tossed by materialistic influences. with a view to making the book useful to all the readers. For fear of repetition. 4. Print all that I have given you.JNANA YAJNA “Why do you stop my work? Let ‘Practice of Yoga’ be in several Volumes. when I have brand new ideas and lessons. This world is a sphere of repetition. Devotees have a big library with a complete set of my books and yet they frequently write to me for books that are in the press. when we bring out fresh editions.” Why There Are Repetitions in My Books I believe in the harmonious development of heart.

I shall correct them. Anyhow the bills will be paid.” “Engage several presses for finishing the matter quickly.” * * * 51 . I do not want my readers to wait until a new publication is ready. This is indicated in my next letter. Press people. leisurely. I at once add them in the latest work under print even though they may not have a direct connection with the subject-matter of the book. Any good matter must be shared with the readers at once for their prompt spiritual benefit. Do not confine the book to 125 pages.AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA work in a short space of time. Nor do I wish that valuable time should be wasted in carefully scrutinising every word. They do not stick to their promise. This is both Saguna and Nirguna meditation. Do not rely on one Press alone. They do things very slowly. You need not be afraid of mistakes.” Attention to Details I am also very careful in giving detailed instructions: “You can introduce meditation on OM (figure) itself. Hence. “Do not worry about the mistakes in printing. I am not hesitant about expressing it: “The book ‘Yoga Asanas’ is beautiful.” My object is quick work and rapid dissemination of spiritual knowledge. Can you do ‘Dhana-dhan’ or ‘Fata-fut’ work? Can you take up 3 or 4 books at a time? Engage several presses. insert it and increase the price of the book by a few annas. This is Dhana-dhan work which is being done by a small press here in Rishikesh. Those who do not like to have a Japa Mala can go through this page. If you send me the proof. goldsmiths and tailors belong to the same category. though there are many books in the market. If you have good matter. if any new ideas crop up. Rapid Work Is My ideal I am not restrictive about my publications. My letters written in 1934-36 explain the method of my work in carrying out a dynamic work through the press:— “I like 20 days’ and 10 days’ productions. It has got its own charm in the field. sooner or later. Print some nice OM Charts and as footnote write some instructions on concentration and meditation. I wish to have a Japa leaflet: Print OM 108 times on a page. Mind not about payments. Insert the Four Mahavakyas also on four sides. What harm is there if there are 200 or 300 pages in a book? You can help the world by bringing out substantial and authoritative works.” Where a recognition of merit is due.

Sanskrit words have great. In future. you must reflect over the views of the writer. This is only a wrong imagination. This will suffice. “You can remove some portions. does not help the student much. For dynamic work. etc. it is not the language or style but the power behind the thought that influences people. the publishers thought of omitting some of the portions they did not consider to be apposite or appropriate. beauty and elegance in Sanskrit words. etc. In trying to improve the language. I do not sell those copies and earn any profit. Bimba Ananda’. On account of the contagion from the editor of a humorous Weekly. I distribute the copies to all important libraries. I permit any number of publishers to come forward to print my books for wide circulation throughout the world. But remember. If you insert a thrilling advertisement. Usually they give me 100 copies for every 1000 copies published. Whatever I have written is quite sufficient.” * * * “In ‘Yoga Asanas’.” The following observations would show how I appreciate a good production and also how I am disinclined to deletions: “The book is very beautiful with the Introduction. Nibodhaka fire. I do not like too much of correction and editing. Mere metaphysical or flowery decoration will not make any improvement. Coupled with ‘Practice of Vedanta’. Let them give the royalty or not. the force must be kept up. You have omitted all Sanskrit words like ‘Parichchinna Ananda. It is all Greek and Latin—Mystic. The elaborate description of Pericarp. this will form a fine combination for the study of Vedanta. There is a force. Keep this in view when you think of any improvement in the publications.. It will not in the least break the continuity of thought while reading. kindly do not omit even a single syllable. I ask all the publishers to bring out several editions of my books in different languages. Sometimes. The force of the writer must never be lost. Some newspapers will praise the volume. there is a great difference between the 1st and the 2nd editions. in the following letter I emphasised their importance and also asked them to be careful about preserving the force of the writing which might be lost in the process of changing the language. etc. special power and significance. Do not copy matter from any other source and spoil the beauty of the books.” * * * I carefully watch over the way my books are brought out.” No Attachment to Copyright I do not expect any royalty from publishers. Do not take any matter from any other books. But I do not wish any valuable matter to be lost in this process. Nirvana Sakti.JNANA YAJNA “Herewith a detailed article on Brahmarandhra. Whenever you make a change. Hence. the copies will be sold like hotcakes. you have omitted the Sanskrit words. educational and religious institutions and to 52 . I do not demand anything from publishers as remuneration to the author. You may think that you get some ‘criticism’ from the press.

now I restrict the copyright of all my works to the Divine Life Society or the Yoga Vedanta Forest University. Branches of the Divine Life Society and all religious and educational institutions. and hence the publishers are not so much interested in them. Be a Sakshi. In 1936. They give me 100 or 150 copies (per thousand) liberally. politely I tell the publishers in a convincing manner to give me some copies for free distribution. And yet I permit others also to publish my books. and yet I find fresh stock continuously coming from the Press. the first fruit or vegetable should be offered to God or Sannyasins. I asked one of my disciples to behave well and to maintain a cool mind. Money is nothing. Even so in regard to the Ganesh Pooja copies. Under all conditions. Become fearless. I wish all should prosper. I look to the spread of knowledge. This proves to be an efficient channel for publicity and the copies are sold out quickly and the publishers earn profit. Sitting in a small Kutir in the Himalayas on the banks of the Ganga.” “Do not fight. as offering to the Lord. or for the relief of the sick persons in the Hospital. point out to them the mistake. keep silent. to all devotees. be polite. because I have not entertained any mercenary motive. My liberal views attracted many publishers in all countries like Germany. Never fret yourself. pilgrims and. if they persist and stick to their mistakes. America and Indonesia. I wrote the following lines to a Publisher in India: “Kindly remember the Ganesh Pooja copies. It is in your own interest. your body. Even if I do not demand any royalty copies. your home.AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA daily newspapers for purpose of review. Important works on Vedanta and Health are sold gradually. This was possible. visitors. Go on reasonable lines. Be friendly with the publishers for ever. I utilise the copies in bringing wonderful publicity for the books. When copies are received from the press. I call the ‘royalty’ copies as Ganesh Pooja. In the interest of future generations. I have published hundreds of very useful books in all languages for circulation throughout the world. If they are wrong. So I thought of having my own publications. They want to earn enormous profit by selling books quickly on Magic. Now there are many devotees in all parts of India and Hong Kong who print large number of copies of my books and send me all the copies for such distribution. The publisher attains prosperity. Whenever a tree bears fruit. Some publishers do not like to handle valuable books on high Vedanta. as here I have full freedom. civil and courteous. Attitude Towards Profit Motive When there was some discrepancy in the accounts with a publisher. Be noble.” I am highly pleased if all the books are printed in the University Press. Have no quarrel with regards to the accounts. Be magnanimous and ‘Gambhira’. The whole world is yours. Some of the letters to him reproduced below will explain my attitude to the business people: “Be calm and serene. Watch. Ignore the whole matter even if we have heavy loss. Switzerland. here and hereafter. I give away all the copies free to the inmates. Then the man prospers with grand success. for preservation of valuable books. My joy is great when devotees send me contributions for this publication work and the maintenance of Sadhakas at the Ashram. Miracles and Yoga. by post. Daily I empty all the almirahs in the office. 53 .

subjective. Sound health. which characterises unphilosophical life. nor does it ignore the body and the mind with their downward pull towards an empirical life. powerful will and moral integrity are all parts of the process of the realisation of the Ideal preached by the Vedanta. Do not lose temper. a kind of life where the common notion of life is transcended and where the Supreme Life. are some of the main factors which go to build up my philosophy of life. The meaning of right living depends on how it is defined. the immortality of the soul of man. It is the theory of the divinity of the universe. Consult a lawyer on the point. clear understanding. the great art of the perfect life. In all my writings I have prescribed methods for overcoming and mastering the physical. Philosophy is neither intellectual diversion nor aristocratic pedantry which overlooks the facts of experience in the world. To love all and to see God in all. Philosophy is. there being an essential unity of everything in the universe with the highest Brahman. I insist on an all-round discipline of the lower self. adapt and accommodate. To adjust. and. to realise God as the identity of all in one fullness of perfection are the main canons. The philosophy taught by me is neither a dreamy. It is a life of wisdom. philosophy is the intelligent analysis of the implications of experience and a scientific theory evolved from such wise meditations for the purpose of regulating the functions responsible for the various experiences in the world. All these are blended together as elements constituting a whole in the several states of its experience. the vital. world-negating doctrine of illusion. is realised. because God is all. As against a feat of scholarship or a mere hobby of the care-free mind. Act like a Sannyasi. the mental 54 . Integral Development The one Brahman or the Supreme Self appears as the diverse universe in all the planes or degrees of its manifestation.JNANA YAJNA Do not use any harsh word in your letter. free from the imperfection. therefore. Settle the account without going to the courts.” CHAPTER NINE THE IDEAL OF LIFE The Philosophy of Life The aim of philosophy is right living. which is the only existing Reality. to serve all. Politeness and courtesy must breathe in every line. nor a crude world-affirming theory of humanism. deep knowledge. which is identical with the Absolute Self of the universe. though the province of the Vedanta is supra-mundane. therefore. Bhakti or Karma. to see good in everything and to bring to effective use all the principles of Nature in the process of the evolution of the individual towards Self-realisation along the path of an integrated adjustment of the human powers. the aspirant has to pay his homage to the lower manifestation before he steps into the higher. which is identical with existence itself. The Vedanta does not shut its eyes to the heart-rending pitiable condition of the world. The teachings of the Vedanta are not in conflict with Yoga.

to sing the Lord’s Names for elevating Bhaktas. I keep myself busy. Secret of Energy and Dynamic Work I am now 72 (in 1958). where the universe is realised as identical with the Self. the omnipresent nature of the Self. mind. I personally attend to hundreds of students at the Ashram and manage the affairs of the Divine Life Society. It is my sacred creed to serve sick persons. Have a careful vigil and intense faith. Dance in joy. I can do more work. to nurse them with care. to feel the Brahmic consciousness everywhere. Keep control over the senses. It is all Brahman. to cheer up the depressed. The Vedanta is a philosophy and way of life which teaches the method of spiritual realisation. It is all Satchidananda. magazines and platform lectures is my creed. pamphlets. Healing Through Prayers All over the world. to melt in Brahman and to merge and dissolve in Brahman is my creed. to hear and taste and smell and feel everything as the Atman is my creed. where nothing second to the Self can exist. neither peasants nor kings. to see. and as the result of this high realisation. at all times and in all conditions of life. to feel oneness with each and every creature and to treat all with equal vision. Change the angle of vision and be always happy and cheerful. inner spiritual strength and spiritual power from within. that can make the mind one-pointed and steady. neither friends nor foes. Adopt any method that can make your mind move inward. leaflets. Vikshepa and Alasya (oscillation and laziness) will overpower you. To live in Brahman. The secret of my energy for the dynamic work is the keeping up of the Divine Consciousness throughout. The peace you enjoy now cannot be described in words. See only good everywhere. Develop will-power. Saturate the mind with divine thoughts. By dwelling in union with Brahman. How to expect a permanent and lasting cure when the doctors work with the selfish motive of earning 55 . I am always blissful and happy. the Forest University. the forlorn. the General Hospital and guide thousands of students at far off places through correspondence. to infuse power and joy in all. neither beggars nor emperors. neither Gurus nor Chelas. You will at once feel tremendous. In my creed there are neither saints nor sinners. To be a cosmic friend and a cosmic benefactor. doctors experiment on the poor patients with so many medicines. the realisation of the Absolute. neither males nor females. I can do more. libraries and religious institutions. sympathy and love. Otherwise. senses and the body for the service of humanity. to utilise the hands. the direct experience of the immortal. to give instructions to sincere aspirants and to disseminate knowledge far and wide through books. Sarva-bhuta-hite Ratah.AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA and the intellectual planes of consciousness in order to enable the aspirant to proceed with his Sadhana without impediments towards this great spiritual destination. My Creed To behold the Atman or Self in every being or form. the realised sage becomes the Saviour of the Universe. the helpless and the fallen is my creed. I pay much attention to the Printing Press and the despatches of useful books to the students. a friend of the poor.

I feel the grace of the Lord at every step. 2.THE IDEAL OF LIFE more and more wealth? In the Ayurvedic system experts prepare genuine drugs from Himalayan plants. Sadhana Till the End of Life The Sadhus and Yogis do Sadhana and study for some time and then give up the habit when they get a little name and fame. Before commencing to write anything in a notebook or letters to students. I feel the presence of the Lord at all times. In addition to this. The Lord’s Name is so effective. I write the Mantra. I find necessary support spontaneously coming from the Divine Source. I have great faith in the power of Mantra and grace of the Lord. That will be a fine example and a source of inspiration to others also. I kept the key carefully tied at the end of my cloth. spectacles. I kept enough money with me in two or three pockets. behind all names and forms. The patients also should follow natural methods to a great extent and select suitable food-stuff and follow the instructions of the expert doctors. That is the reason for their downfall. I cannot eat anything in private. there are many big trunks with hundreds of valuable books. I do not keep anything as ‘secret’. articles and dresses. Even today I write OM OM OM and HARI OM TAT SAT Mantras in all my letters. and various articles contributed by all great men and devotees. There are expert doctors in all systems of medicine. It is a great pity. Through special prayers conducted in the Lord Viswanath Mandir. His life itself is a scripture to illumine the world. 56 . I gave separate purses with plenty of money to those who accompanied me. I do not have any keys with me. Yet Careful In my Kutir. seeds and roots. Then only will it be possible to keep up the Divine Consciousness. They study the pulse of the patients and diagnose the case properly and prescribe effective medicines for bringing a permanent cure in the patients. The saint need not talk and preach. Previously when I locked my Kutir for a short brisk walk. I have seen miraculous cures of the hopeless cases even in distant places. The results are wonderful. I have tremendous faith in healing through prayers—healing of diseases by chanting of Mantras and prayers. When I travelled on propaganda tours. I call this NAMAPATHY. I am very careful in keeping things like fountain pen. study books. I do not worry about debts. I fill up half a page of my letter with the Mantra or with philosophical ideas. I may use a torn coat with patches but I must give others the superior quality of articles. Detached. expecting others to keep enough for my personal use. In this Ashram I combine all the methods in the Sivananda General Hospital. CHAPTER TEN MY METHODOLOGY OF THE EVOLUTIONARY PROCESS 1. I do not know the exact contents of the trunks. I do not pretend to be a Vairagi with empty hands. Sadhus and perfected Mahatmas should continue Sadhana till the last moment of their lives.

talking. cows. bringing water from the Ganga for drinking purposes. in meditation. sages and saints. Why So Many Photographs In holy temples the authorities do not permit the taking of photographs of the idols. I pay them liberally. help to Mahatmas. elephants and cheetahs also. study or worship at the temple. with a turban like a school master.AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA I do about five or six items of Sadhana all the 24 hours: Japa. study. I enjoy when I find people around me feel happy and cheerful. Self-reliance I personally attended to my works such as. exercises including Asana and Pranayama. When devotees look at a picture. playing. the sick and the poor. I do not have any restriction. When I go out on tour. meditation. I have included the lively monkeys. I myself carry my luggage. The secret is my systematic Sadhana and the grace of the Lord. devotees. in a motor car. people do not allow cameras to be taken inside the temples. I did not like them to enter my Kutir frequently and disturb my daily routine. They all desire to have a copy of my photo in their company. dogs of the Ashram. I carefully packed the packets and posted them. I have been photographed with my hat and suit. eating. I make no distinction in having photographs with Maharajahs or devotees or coolies at the Railway Station platform. Why should I unnecessarily refuse and displease them? Groups of students who come to Rishikesh during vacation desire to have a group photo with myself in the centre. Sincere devotees from all parts of the world come and stay with me for some months or years. the sick persons in the Hospital and the school children. And yet I feel I can work for another ten hours every day. Ashram workers. walking. When porters carry some of my heavy packages of leaflets and books for free distribution. Thus I charge my mind with divine consciousness at all times. I have been photographed with the great men of the world. swimming in the Ganga. they get inspiration. They think that the spiritual power will be diminished by taking photographs. I myself used to type my articles and letters to aspirants. I just come out of my Kutir for one hour in the morning and manage all the affairs of the Ashram and give work to those who live in the Ashram and think of others who live at distant places. worship. fish. I pity those rich persons who fight with the porters and coolies at the platform for the sake of two annas. writing work and service to the world. I look at the wonderful benefits the world would derive. Some of the sages and great men of India have serious objection to taking their photographs. cats. running. Books and magazines have a special charm with the addition of a series of pleasant and instructive pictures. and in a cycle-rickshaw during my stay at Roorkee in 1953. Maharajahs. I never depended on my students. It is strange. washing clothes and vessels. a loin cloth and an overcoat. 4. I do not believe at all in such things. I nicely combine rest and relaxation with deep breathing exercises. with great Mahatmas of the Himalayas or the scavengers of the Ashram. I do not believe in the statement that my spiritual powers will be lost or influenced by the evil-eye. Great men from all countries come to the Ashram. I maintain a high standard of health and enjoy peace and bliss at every moment. going to the Kshetra for my alms. cleaning the room. I allow anyone to take any number of pictures while sitting. I find only good in every thing. I have thus spent my 35 years of life at Rishikesh and derived wonderful fresh spiritual energy and strength in abundance. aeroplane and a bullock cart in Rameswaram during my All-India tour in 1950. 57 . 3. In Badri and Kedar.

I permitted them to do this work and to serve other Mahatmas and sick persons. When I serve and help others. I use them to please the donors or give them away at once to deserving people. fruits and clothes. giggling and guffaw. automatically. (then there was no electricity). I am very happy when I lead a rough and hard life. even though there are many palatial buildings in the Ashram with all comforts and conveniences. I ask my students to avoid loose talk and to live alone with introspection or work. When they go out to bathe in the Ganga or for meals or for a walk in the evening. But I do not suffer in the name of Tapas. At every step I think of the welfare of the world and the evolution of the aspirants. I find out the taste. 6. Nothing can disturb me from my concentration and peace. a shawl or an easy chair. Sometimes to elevate the depressed. Every action or word has a definite purpose in the evolution of the people around me. through presentation of biscuits. I love the alms I get from the Kshetra and use torn clothes. I await a chance to purchase the items. beds. I have lived for years a hard life by depending on the Kshetra food. I silently sit. I supervise every section of work and give instructions to all the members and fix up able hands in charge of all departments of work. As selfless service brings about purification of the heart. behind every joke. I personally saw that they had their hurricane lanterns. to cheer up the dull.MY METHODOLOGY OF THE EVOLUTIONARY PROCESS When the work in the Ashram multiplied. Even today. I have a limit for everything. I carefully attended to the needs of the visitors and the inmates. coat. When I get a superior fountain pen. Even people without any ability or qualification. I appear to be humorous. When devotees give me valuable items and sweets with great devotion. in their rooms and that they got their timely tea. milk and food. Through fun and humour. There is a special joy in simple living. I can remain blissful and attend to my work steadily under all circumstances. I do not spend much on my personal needs. watch and enjoy the grace of the Lord. as in a growing institution where 58 . I insist on the needful being done immediately. I live in a rented building by the side of the holy Ganga. I always hammer the mind with the words: ‘Kaupeenavantah khalu bhagyavantah’—Blessed are the dispassionate. I ask them to go alone and to do Japa. Now hundreds of students have come to the Ashram. Even today I am very serious in my Sadhana. study and service. cots. fun and humour. When there is a need for certain items for the improvement of the Ashram or any individual’s evolution. I accept them with great love and affection. there is a purpose. I could not find time to attend to this kind of work. temperament and weakness of the students and teach them a way to get over their difficulties and defects. Simple living helps in high thinking and getting mastery over mind and body. immediately I want to give similar items to all the workers and important persons in the Ashram. Sincere students came forward to attend to some of these works. Things go on in an organised method. I want the best quality in everything. 5. Simple Living and Generosity I am economical. A Purpose Behind Everything I am by nature serious. books for study. But. I may joke and play with my students and visitors and make them laugh like children. I am dead against gossip. quickly pick up their work in a short period when I give them full liberty and responsibility and show confidence in them.

It is the product of Maya. it is difficult to find finance immediately. All other qualifications can be developed when one is placed in favourable environments. nursing the sick. delusion. A willing. love and affection. the strength of ego. In the spiritual path any type of student can progress and evolve if he is endowed with Sraddha. typing. I wait for opportunities. and control of the senses of the students from the stories I hear from the kitchen side. two or three varieties to suit the various tastes of the people of different provinces in India and of other countries. I can easily find out the taste. Personal Attention and Liberal Disposition The kitchen is the fighting centre in an Ashram. In my earlier days I never used shoes or umbrella. 9. helping the poor—all these forms of service can be converted as YOGA with the right mental attitude. I used that as Yoga Danda for changing the flow of breath from one nostril to another and thus maintained the Swara Sadhana. talk and behaviour. discrimination and dispassion. 8. Due to the large number of inmates and the heavy rush of visitors. ways and manners become entirely different by the constant use of shoes. Even with my diabetes trouble. Scavenging. the way of the egoistic and the ignorant. hatred and jealousy among workers. I carry the bundle to the Satsanga Hall and distribute them to the people assembled there and then take a small portion at the end as Prasad. weaknesses and the nature of the lower Self. prayers and systematic meditation. sympathy. But it is the best field for a quick spiritual evolution of the workers. sincerity and faith. In Swargashram when I had my evening walk. I attend to the needs of all the inmates of the Ashram. one by one. I am not affected at all. emanate from the kitchen. loving heart is what is needed. 7. I do not live for sensual enjoyment. A strong and sturdy constitution and a fine health are in themselves a good qualification for the student. The student must have a new angle of vision and try to crush the ego at each step by discipline. Not a Slave of Fashion and Style I do not know fashion or style. carrying water. walking stick and umbrella. There is no need also for a deep study for years and Japa on one leg for decades. If milk is not available. temperament and spiritual progress. I kept the long walking stick. There is no need for special talents or qualification. I can easily find out the ego in different persons and prescribe methods to destroy it. All sorts of troubles and misunderstanding. Sometimes I wear a Turban and keep a long walking stick. arrangement has been made for the supply of a common type of food in abundance. That is the main centre of disturbance in an Ashram. One’s attitudes. walk. sometimes I take a lot of sweets brought by devotees with so much of devotion. I always wear my dhoti above my knees.AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA dynamic work is carried on with voluntary donation. writing. In a humorous manner I say to the people: “If you do not get ghee. When I get sweets or fruits. This is a curse. generosity. People are well trained to adjust and adapt themselves here in a marvelous way. for developing cosmic love. mercy. From the way of dress. I do not eat anything secretly in my Kutir. patience. take milk. Charge the mind with Divine Consciousness through constant Japa. Evolution for Everybody Sadhanas differ according to the stage of evolution. ask for 59 .

Particularly in regard to the sick persons. Do not worry unnecessarily about anything. The mysterious influence of the Ashram atmosphere has its own effect also.” They should not murmur. You need not work hard. You are ever free. I allow them to continue their ways for some time. If you stay for a month or two. I will take all responsibilities. That may affect their health and they cannot do any kind of Sadhana if they make a sudden. coffee and smoking. to those who need more nutrition. It is left to you to decide.” “I will not connect your name with the Divine Life Society. Everything is left to your convenience and discretion. When fruits are not available in the local bazaar. mistakes. take plenty of Ganga water. Even if there is some bad habit like that of tea. You can help me if you want without any label. on my head. When they attain mental purity and will-power. If this also is not obtainable. Whatever little help you can do. thus spending a lot. I am very liberal. you can do some solid work.” 60 . whenever you like. I carefully attend on the visitors also. You will have it as soon as the present work is finished. You need not worry anything about the activities of the Divine Life Society. all evil habits drop by themselves. biscuits and butter to their own Kutirs. drastic change in their food and dress and relaxation. You have done enough now. 10. I send a special messenger even to Delhi. you can consider this point or come to Rishikesh at once.MY METHODOLOGY OF THE EVOLUTIONARY PROCESS butter-milk. If your health permits. I serve them unasked. I do not. A stitch in time saves nine. No Compulsion But Full Liberty I permit people to have their own ways and to work in any field suitable to their taste and inclination for some time. There is no hurry. if you want. and create in them a natural taste for the right line of work and Sadhana. Be cheerful and happy. you can return to Rishikesh. Then join the work. They all should constantly think of the all-pervading Brahman. whenever you find time. May I send you some more money for your expenses?” “After finishing one or two books. This sort of freedom given to the aspirants enables even a dull type of aspirant to feel quite at home in the Ashram and to plunge himself in dynamic work and develop his hidden faculties. Some of the letters I wrote in 1938 to one of my students will explain the method of my work and my consideration for the welfare and temperamental preferences of my students: “You are in need of plenty of rest. Their health must not suffer in the name of Tapasya. Take your own time. therefore. I send special fruits. For two years you can remain in Rishikesh without going out. insist on strict rules and restrictions regarding diet for any one. for bringing oranges for the patients in the Hospital. Completely stop all printing work. One has to be very cautious in adjusting and adapting to various circumstances if one wishes to enjoy peace. In the same manner. I do not compel anyone. Take rest for two weeks in a village. you may do in future. I ask them not to think much of their body or bread or beard. But one suggestion. They cannot change their habits in a day at the Ashram. I pay special attention to supplying energising food and fruits to some of the workers in the Ashram who are busy with responsible work or intense silent Sadhana.

please. I am sure people will run after my books for the practical lessons and guidance given there. Do not neglect to maintain the Spiritual Diary. You are Atman (Satchidananda). It is Bhrama (mere appearance). but at the end I added a few lines of advice to make them cheerful and happy. Jaalam. I maintained a Memorandum notebook to enter the items of work I entrusted to various workers. Change your nature and habit gradually. Send me a report of how you spend all the “24 hours of the day. Be regular in your Japa. Do Swadhyaya. For the Tamasic type of persons. Don’t be curious for news. You can go to Uttarakashi next year. I have made you free. you are enslaving me through your real affection. and seeing Him in all faces? Work hard. Don’t talk much. Write ‘Hari Om’ Mantra ten times at the top of your letters. “Hope you are keeping good health with Brahma Chintana. This is easy Yoga for you amidst various activities. Some of the original letters are reproduced below. Even if due to pressure of work. But this was done in a way humorous and charged with affection. But prepare and train able hands to continue your work. Kindly take great care of your health. Meditate. With great effort get yourself established in this Bhav. Politely I used to remind them often.’ Stamp out the hissing Indriyas and Vasanas. do not stop my book work. That is your Guru by your side. students forgot the items. I do not wish anyone to work with me for a long period. remembering God during intense activities.K. Don’t mix. Draw inner energy and peace through silent meditation at least for a few minutes in the early morning. This is an easy Sadhana for Self-realisation. Akhanda Brahman. Have Smaran of Rama. Go for a walk alone in the evening. This is the Upanishadic essence quite sufficient to destroy ignorance. Assert. I called this “WHIP”. Become independent. feeling His presence everywhere. and no one was displeased with me when I sent several reminders for the same work. You will become a Yogi and a Jnani. even amidst various activities in remembering His Name. even though they may have a lot of work to do for the divine mission. I did not leave them until the work was completed. First I enquire about their health and spiritual progress and then ask about the work entrusted: “How do you do? Do you keep up burning the Divine Flame. The Way to Get Things Done In the past. Here is another letter: 61 . I wrote stiff letters also. Deny body. I can help you more when you are away.” “I hope you are O. Don’t have any Moha for this body of mine. There are good persons here who are saturated with and absorbed in the typewriter. meditation and study. Krishna or Siva along with your work. and continuously remind them of the purpose of life and the importance of Sadhana.” I never forget the spiritual interests of my students. Feel: ‘I am One—Ekam. Let there be some series of books ad infinitum.AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA “I am marking. I am Sakshi.” 11. I have to reiterate again and again: World is a dream. Pray. along with Karma Yoga.” “Don’t be afraid of work. What about ‘Science of Pranayama’? Is it ready? Why you are silent on this subject? Kindly send me a set of final proofs. Chidakasa. jugglery of mind. the Self of all beings. You need not attend to any work. I am Akarta.

Just a little trimming repeated portions and selecting of the lessons useful to aspirants. “Even if people advertise you with a lady by your side in daily papers. Bhakti everywhere. bliss. It is vilification. You have to do many ennobling works. This is the positive method of eliminating or eradicating defects. Petty-minded householders only will behave like this. Strength. If you are not inclined to do this work now.” “I have written to you several times for compiling all my letters to you in a book form. In future don’t do any thing of this kind. You are Vyapaka Atma. My letters attest this attitude: “Don’t waste your energy in worrying unnecessarily. Our work is increasing by leaps and bounds. joy. To avoid this boring. say: ‘Yes. Don’t bother. Gird up the loins and preach Vedanta. March on in the path of light. Pardon even the worst sinner. It is not a noble act for a Sannyasi. Acknowledge the article. Proclaim the Truth everywhere. Message of Cheer I don’t believe in scandal-mongering. Be bold. resting on Truth. I want my disciples to be strong. I want them to carry on dynamically the mission of the Lord. Yoga. ‘Sat Guru Mani Mala. Forget the past. There is hope for everybody to improve and progress in the spiritual path.” 13. The slight defects in you will soon vanish. Assert and realise.” 12. peace.’ This will save a lot of time and energy. immortality is your very nature. How is your health?” 62 . I wanted to send you a telegram to cheer you up. Shall we attend to the scandal and criticisms or proceed on with our Yogic activities? Forget. It is the mischief of scandal-mongers. This will not tax you much. I have not received an answer from you. You are invincible. These are all mistakes only in the path and not heinous crimes. “I wish many students like you will crop up in India to help the world. Stick to this idea. Even if I catch you red-handed with a lady. Stand up. I will excuse you. I shall wait. I will tell you.’ If you don’t do this. I won’t believe. You can do it slowly. I have to hammer on this point very often. Don’t worry yourself even a bit. bold and cheerful. received Sat Guru Mani Mala. spotless. ‘Don’t do this in future. Be always cheerful. The impurities will vanish. No one in the world can hurt. I am preparing the ground. Forgive. Be established in this one idea. Thou art Niranjan. In the Atman there is purity. Attitude Towards Vilification Here is a letter addressed in 1937 to one of my students who published a pamphlet attacking the Founder of a famous Ashram in Punjab: “I came to know that you have published a small pamphlet wherein you have indirectly attacked an Ashram in Punjab. Forgive. Roar like a lion on any platform. You ought not to have done this. It indirectly affects me. It is Niranjan. Sannyasa is magnanimity. paving the way for your future spiritual activities. reminders after reminders will be sent to you until I get answer.’ You are unnecessarily bothering yourself.MY METHODOLOGY OF THE EVOLUTIONARY PROCESS “This world is Deergha Swapna.

“Keep quiet. to acquire balance of mind and cultivate the spirit of tolerance and forgiveness. To be moved by trifles. Don’t bring out any such books. Put it into practice. Face difficulties boldly. The matter must be absolutely stopped. you must be sympathetic. This needs your immediate action. Hence my strong exhortation: “This affair is serious. Even though you are in the right. unpleasant occurrence that was worrying you. Rest in peace. Then. That is the balance. Become adamantine. When the party feels a lot. 63 . You are wasting your energy by thinking in wrong directions. I may be partial and unjust. Joy. I want them to have a broad vision. Rise Above Criticism I am not interested in useless arguments but am concerned only with quick action and obedience. Write purely on philosophy. Think you are the emperor of the world.” 14. Bhakti and Vedanta. Do good to that man who wants to poison you and kill you. But kindly see that you act up to my request immediately without fail. What more shall I write to you? Are you the Atman or the mind and body? Even if you have read 1001 times all my writings. Forget everything. brother. You are swayed or tossed by ‘words’. I don’t want to hear your arguments. to worry for months and to waste energy in a useless direction is not wisdom. etc. I do not want my disciples to be upset by criticism. why do you get agitated? You are weak. Let everything end peacefully. Stop selling the remaining copies of the pamphlet and destroy them. Power. Draw inner strength. Now rest in peace and work like a lion. You are still very weak. Out of evil comes good. You are conscious of certain harmful things that are written there.AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA I want my disciples to mind their own business and not to waste their energy and time in cavilling at others. Don’t bring out such pamphlets even if you have good materials. still you identify yourself with the mind and the body. I want you to keep absolute silence in future. To bear insult and injury is the Svabhava of Sannyasins. ‘Tit for tat’ is the nature of householders and not Sannyasins. Rise above criticisms and remarks. Strength. He has made you a Brahmachari and cut off all ties and made you absolutely free. Ignore criticisms. Bliss. You must not do any thing that can affect him in the least even indirectly. meditation and other useful work. Yoga. when the other party is aggrieved. It is not the Dharma of a Sannyasin. jugglery. You need not send me a reply. It was in the grand plan for you to gain some experiences. The Founder of the Ashram is my dear friend. People can criticise your body and mind. Those who criticise your body are your real friends. justification. You can’t have peace of mind. “You have learnt many things from that unhappy. That is spiritual strength. Keep silent and work with undivided attention. Never think of old affairs. how can you poke or rake up the matters again and again. It has given you strength and wisdom. God has given you special favour. Sannyasa is for peaceful and constructive work. This will interfere with our smooth work. How long do you want to continue this sort of business? Keep the mind cool and direct your attention to our publications. Have no connection with anyone. Be careful. Why do you brood over the past? This is a bad habit. Don’t bring out tracts of this nature. You yourself dislike your body and mind. The letter continues: “Your work will suffer if there is even a little agitation. Splendour and Glory are your Divine heritage. Forget everything.

sorrow. It is His mercy. It would have been a nice thing to drop the correspondence concerning the bogus letter altogether and you ought to have talked to me about it privately when you come down here. Cheerfulness. I feel for that man. I won’t leave you. You are dear to me always. well-wisher. I cannot utter any harsh word to anyone. “You ought to have had a strong belief that I will never write such a letter to you. God alone knows the real culprit. Feel His Mercy and Grace. It is very difficult to understand the mind of a man even though you move with him very closely for years together. Some work you can do for the Divine plan. I am always at thy feet to serve thee. The letter continues: “Never change your opinion. yet I cannot leave you or Sri ‘B’ or Sri ‘A’ or Sri ‘Y’. Think and feel that nothing has happened. They continue to live in my heart. You must forget the past entirely. We have to learn many lessons. despair. We will have to show our strength. Man learns and grows by mistakes. Don’t worry about little things. All grow by committing mistakes and blunders. friend. I am grateful to the Lord who has endowed me with at least a ray of this virtue. Many obstacles will come to the growing aspirant at every step. Peace and Strength to all around. divine service. You have to do many great actions yet. We should utilise every second of our life in His service and meditation. Walk like a lion. Be assured.” 15.” 16. You know me full well by close contact. I shall arrange for your residence in Brahmananda Ashram and supply separate food for you. they go away from me. You might have experienced this. Even if you leave me. dissemination of knowledge. peace. You need not mix with anybody. I am myself going to the Post Office and posting this letter. Feel this. “These things have happened. I do not crave for higher attainments. Do not be agitated by little things. The Lord has given me this quality. You always reside in my heart. You Cannot Get Away From Evil “This world is a strange world. and to understand even one’s own mind. for some reason or other. to suspect from the signature and the envelope. Be assured. You have failed here.MY METHODOLOGY OF THE EVOLUTIONARY PROCESS Where then is room for lamentation. worry or depression? Smile. Smile. I want to correct him. You may experience this. brother. Be grateful to the Lord. I do not forget the work done by them. This is all unnecessary botheration to you. Dance in ecstasy. even though you have reason. You are glory to me. Yogic activities. Prakriti is preparing you in a variety of ways. Constancy and Gratitude I can never forget the services done to the divine mission by my disciples. Radiate Joy. Even if. I cannot leave you. “Even if a thousand people poison my ears and mind by speaking ill of you. You cannot eliminate 64 . It does not matter. form part and parcel of you now. One of the disciples of the Lord Jesus betrayed the Lord. I won’t hear. Be assured. “Now the whole matter is clear. Jump in joy. If anyone utters a harsh word. As I have written above. to India and to the world. Walk boldly. I am thy servant. Be cheerful. to me and to all. There is no time for you or for me to look into these matters and to waste our time and energy in these worthless topics.

Even if the whole Ashram is affected. Kindly send me the letter per registered post for my perusal. Then only can you have the unruffled mind of a Sage. Even if students leave me. A Sannyasin is one who feels that he has no body. So I have asked him to leave the Ashram. I have not written any such letter to you.” 65 . come here immediately. You ought to have understood immediately: ‘Swamiji will never write such a stiff letter. their enemy. This is their plan. But have Atma Bhav. We should live amidst people who want to destroy us. As soon as the work is over. You need not wait even for a single moment. I shall make special arrangements for your food. I presume it must be a typed letter. Sri Swami ‘A’ and ‘R’. You will find out the thief. you will have to live amidst them. They have planned this mischief to create some ill-feelings between you and me and to drive out Sri Swami ‘Y’. Here is the letter showing my method of work for establishing peace and proper understanding. even the worst man who wants to destroy you. For this you must have tremendous inner spiritual strength and faith through Sadhana. the nature and method of my work. It is forgery. You need not take meals from our kitchen.’ Then I thought a detailed letter would explain matters clearly. Then only can we grow. That is Sannyasa. I stick to my principle which is underlined as: “I cannot hurt the feelings of anyone even in my dream. and by whom in our group? Some days ago there was a trouble here. The letter was dated the 8th September. “You should try to love all.’ Everything will be all right. Can you make out whether it is typed in our machine or any other machine. I unite the workers with my spiritual glue: ‘Om Namo Narayanaya’ Mantra and Prayers. My Attitude Towards Dissension Among Disciples One of my students wrote a bogus letter with my false signature to another important worker at Madras.” 17. you can live separately in Brahmananda Ashram. Possibly it is some mischief by others. That disturbed and upset the person.” Here is the complete text of my above-mentioned letter outlining my attitude: Beloved Sri Swamiji. This will change the situation. also have left the place. Sri ‘B’ is deadly inimical towards this Ashram and somebody has set fire to the bed of Sri Swami ‘N’ also. The law of Karma is inexorable. Swami ‘B’ created some mischief. I wanted to send you a wire: ‘Don’t worry. He who does wrong action will reap the fruits thereof. It is a mischief by someone. It is the mischief of scandal-mongers. Kindly compare this signature very carefully with others. Wherever you go. 1937. It is a forged letter. It clearly explains my attitude. They are all living now in Rishikesh.AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA evil persons from any part of the world. Be not troubled. Pranams. Letter follows. I love all. his friends. When you come here. I presume now. I cannot leave them. amidst unfavourable surroundings and then work and meditate. even the worst man who aims at my life. Do not worry a bit about the forged letter.

These little difficulties and disturbances come in the way to strengthen you. I allow ‘time’ to improve the situation. Do not be agitated. You need not come here soon. the man will not admit. Even if you have found out that to be my signature even if the envelope was bearing my own handwriting. It is all for your growth and improvement only. I was extremely surprised. Do as much work as possible. some mischief has been done out of jealousy. Be cool.” 19. I could not make out to whom you were writing. “One thing I have found out. Be cheerful. I never leave anything half done. you should have thought that someone has done a mischief. Can you make out the real man from the style of typing? Even if you spot out conclusively. even if such things happen in future. The letter continues: “I called this morning all the inmates of the Ashram and enquired into the matter. You can judge yourself as to who the culprit is. I have intense application to work. you become agitated soon. I made some enquiries on the subject and gave my conclusions in the letter reproduced below. I complete it somehow or other. Whenever I start writing a book. even that man who is injuring me to the extreme.MY METHODOLOGY OF THE EVOLUTIONARY PROCESS 18. I have tenacity and intensity of purpose. Just for the satisfaction of the persons concerned in the ‘plot’. Do not feel a bit anything now. Collect all the rays of the mind and be calm. steadfast and steady. I complete it before taking up another work. Forget the past. if there is work there. I am firm. No conclusion has been arrived at. It is very difficult to find out the mischief-makers. Even supposing I have written such a letter. I finish it at any cost. on account of this perturbed condition of mind caused by this affair. 66 . Do sufficient work. Plunge yourself in work. Way to Success Whenever I take up any work. I am developing this one virtue. because I never wrote to you anything of the kind. Be sure of this always. Everything is false. I would have done it for your own good or for the good of some one. You have hopelessly failed. I concentrate on the subject and Think intensely without distraction. There will be no end for the arguments given by different groups of persons. to strengthen me. All these matters happen only to make us strong. Raking Up the Issue Does Not Solve Problems I do not usually entertain complaints. Whenever I take up a book for study. We should not be disturbed. I cannot hurt the feelings of anyone. I have no clairvoyant powers to find out the culprits. God only knows the real truth. even in dream. I know well that an enquiry will worsen the situation. As soon as I read your letter.

I always keep around me any number of people who would abuse me. This is a way to purify your heart and to elevate him also. My View of Goondas Good people are already virtuous I will have to correct and mould Goondas only. Serve the rogue first. The spiritual vibrations of this Holy Centre Convert them as Divine Beings. It might allow the student a greater freedom to roam a little higher than others. With Tyaga. insult me and even try to injure me. Glory to the Divine Mission.AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA 20. You must sincerely feel that behind the apparent negative quality. he would be ashamed to continue his evil doings. but he is also bound. Treat him as a future saint. Similar is the case with Seva-Abhimana. Acclaim the rogue or the thief as a saint and publicly honour him. Goonda is a negatively virtuous man. 21. With Sannyasa. Destroy Abhimana (Egoism) It is well to remember that Sattva. This is my special work.’ I keep in the Ashram all sorts of students. Egoism takes many shapes. Lord Krishna says in the Gita: ‘Dyutam chhalayatamasmi— I am the gambling of the cheat. Sannyasa. as a saint. “You are a dynamic worker. How to Convert the Nature of a Man Honour those who are bad characters. I address them in the most respectful terms.”—he would be ashamed to lose his temper. The praise should come from the very bottom of your heart. floats the Sannyasa Abhimana. Yogis and Saints! 22. Persistently tell an ill-tempered man: “You are a Santa Murti (a man of peace). as a saint himself.” and he would throw off his laziness and plunge into service. The Sattvic hook is the most subtle of all and therefore most difficult to discern and detect. educate them. Tyaga and even Seva is transformed by it into its cloak. elevate them and transform them. there is a resplendent positive virtue latent in the man.’ Rudri says: ‘Taskaranam pataye namah— Prostrations the Lord of thieves. vilify me. You must give your soul-force to every word. Goonda also is Lord Krishna. This is my method. 67 . He exists to glorify the virtuous. Then both of you will be benefited. almost impossible to get over. The world calls me a Guru for thieves and rogues. The Sadhaka who would like to strive for realisation of the Self would do well to guard himself well and not allow quarters to these subtler forms of Abhimana. I want to serve them. Call a lazy man. creeps in Tyaga Abhimana. I take a special delight in serving such people carefully. Rajas and Tamas have their own “hooks” that keep the Sadhaka back and prevent him from soaring into the realms transcendental. most subtle and most dangerous.

Do not waste this precious life In playing cards and idle gossiping Give up hot debates and arguing Destroy all pleasure centres Abandon the desire for comfort Set fire to the fuel of lust. Destroy the fortress of egoism Be quick. Atma-Samrats. Propagandists. I make my students soon as teachers I am such a teacher. My Friends My Call is irresistible. I treat them as my equals I give them equal seats I am such a teacher. be quick Tarry not. 24. delay not—enjoy the Wisdom Bliss. journalists. divine scavengers. Come. Yoga-kings. ‘Swamiji’. lecturers. Sadhana Ratnas I am such a teacher to all Seekers after Truth. I treat them in respectable terms as ‘Maharaj’. writers. Bhakti Bhushans. come. ‘Bhagawan’. friends! Sing the Lord’s Name day and night Now take a plunge in the Ocean of Bliss And enter the illimitable domain of the Atma within. my friends. An Ideal Teacher I am ever a thirsting student I am not a teacher But God has made me a teacher The students have made me a teacher. health and Yoga Culturists. Be quick. It has transformed countless lives. Come.MY METHODOLOGY OF THE EVOLUTIONARY PROCESS 23. ‘Narayan’. poets. 68 . Typists. Karma Yogi Veeras. I allow them to learn from my own life I make them Mahants and servants of humanity Presidents. Swamis and Yogis Founders of spiritual institutions. take the plunge. Come.

. Revered Brother. They maintain the Spiritual Diary and follow my “Twenty Important Spiritual Instructions. welfare and progress. Study the Gita regularly. showing the way to lead the divine life. etc. in the room. printed lessons in Yoga for coaching up students through post. Spend some money on charity. respect everybody. In the following pages are reproduced some of my typical letters to different aspirants. Speak sweetly. Control anger. Serve. Through such acts. the Gita. Speak the truth at any cost. Have a meditation room under lock and key. I give them lessons through correspondence. You will enter into Peace. Observe Mauna for one hour daily and three hours on holidays.” I help them with advice and remove their troubles and obstacles. That will purify your heart. Training of Students Through Post I have no stereo-typed. The lessons are well graded. Thousands of students in all countries have made wonderful progress through this personal attention. the sick and the saints. delineating the methods of my training in the path of Yoga. Give up Ninda (criticising). Have a Gayatri picture. 16th August. 1930. Sit on Padma-Asana. Try to sit for two hours continuously. tale-bearing. fault-finding. and do not demand any money for their maintenance at the Ashram. I usually send some of my books suitable to the taste of the students. the spiritual perspective. the moral and ethical ideals. Way to Peace Swarg Ashram. Do not allow anybody to enter it. 2. Swami Sivananda 69 . Invariably all students who come to me pay me liberally or take pleasure in voluntarily contributing their mite to the progress of the institution and helping the Society in its dissemination of knowledge. back-biting. Be obedient. Be humble. I do not take any fees from any one for the training given in Yoga. They write to me about their daily routine. Yours fraternally. I emphasise to all. the space between the two eye-brows. Get up at 4 in the morning. I exhort others to emulate—in short. Repeat the Gayatri Mantra with meaning. Thank you very much indeed. I send my thought-currents of peace.AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA CHAPTER ELEVEN PRACTICAL HINTS ON THE SPIRITUAL PATH 1. they obtain Chitta-Suddhi and spiritual progress. Meditate on the Gayatri. Don’t join worldly persons. with closed eyes. Concentrate on the Trikuti. For the advanced courses they come to the Ashram and stay with me for some weeks or months and receive initiation. Your kind line. They all like this kind of individual attention. Serve poor persons. love.

contentment to check greed. cold. scorpions and snakes. if you can control lust. arrogance. It is full of thorns. Be fearless. You are a man of spiritual Samskaras. You are immortal. and if you are quite sure that you will not become a menace to society. service (Seva Bhava) to destroy pride. precipitous. Develop humility. May God bless you. You are the Atma. Om Sat-Chit-Ananda. Swargashram. Never become irritated. but counsel diligent cultivation of a strong urge for spiritual life while yet in the world. Record everything.PRACTICAL HINTS ON THE SPIRITUAL PATH 3. truth-speaking. pain). Nurture them. Mere emotions will not do in the spiritual line. How can you manage a family and children? That will bar your spiritual progress. Have Strong Thirst for Knowledge I advise aspirants against emotionalism and impetuosity in taking to the path of renunciation.” This kind of strong thirst for Knowledge is needed. Protect them. Love all. Live amidst developed persons. Keep a diary of spiritual progress. Titiksha (bearing heat. 1930. My Dear Yogi. Assert the majesty of your Self. Mere juvenile enthusiasm will not do. 70 . It is not a rosy path. I am filled with infinite delight to peruse your line of the 21st instant. Free yourself from the deceptions of the mind and worldly objects. DO NOT COME TO ME If you can manage. excited. love and affection (deep). 29th August. The path is rugged. be a Brahmachari till the end of life (Naishthika Brahmachari). extremely difficult. Increase them. but easy for a man of the strong determination: “I must realise—I will give up life even. Serve elders with enthusiasm. Be kind to all. Develop Sattvic virtues gradually—patience to counteract anger. In future send me a reply post card or postal envelope for my reply. You are not rich. Wishing you peace and beatitude. Kutir 22. Yours Sivananda HARI OM TAT SAT OM SANTI! Get a copy of my Yogic & Vedantic Sadhana. Clear your doubts. Visit the Ramakrishna Mission and serve the Mahatmas.

in the case of the above-mentioned aspirant. Swami Sivananda Hari Om Tat Sat Tat Tvam Asi 5. Sri Swami Purushottamanandaji. I promise you. when I found that he had strong aspiration and unwavering will. steady and intense. Do not be hasty in leaving the world. Change the mental attitude. You will enjoy the solitude and the spiritual vibrations undoubtedly. DO NOT MARRY. I assure you. addressed to one of my disciples. There you will improve a lot. Thus I preferred forgoing my own interest by not availing myself of the services of aspirants. 1930.—advanced souls. Earn and enjoy. It is all Ananda when ego and Raga-dvesha die away. Vizianagaram House. The world is an arena for developing various Sattvic qualities. and always looked to their own welfare and the progress of other religious institutions. Do Not Be Hasty in Leaving the World c/o. Then it will be strong. Come and see all these places and Mahatmas. Look Before You Leap The preceding two letters.AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA 4. Cheer yourself. Your devotion towards God and religion will doubtless elevate you from Samsara. Attain purity and spiritual strength through Japa and meditation. Stick to the Ashram for some years. May God bestow on you spiritual strength and power to attain the Goal of life—God-realisation. It is full of thorns. That is a different point. Have Darshan of Sri Swami Advaitanandaji. when I lived alone and had no Ashram of my own. But when I find that one is endowed with strong Vairagya and unshakable determination. Beloved Self. Vairagya comes out of Bhoga. Wishing you Kaivalya Moksha. Tell my name. Qualify yourself. so that he might improve there rapidly. Camp/Calcutta. OM SAT-CHIT-ANANDA Come to Rishikesh for some time. Kindly join Sri Aurobindo Ashram or the Ramakrishna Mission. Hence. The spiritual path is not all rosy. The world is not a hell. I felt that it would be better for him to stay in an active Ashram. On those days. They are all in close touch with me. Remain for some time longer there. You will have inspiration. People will accommodate you and serve you. Sri Swami Tapovanji Maharaj. would show how I caution aspirants against any hasty decision. I am at once filled with joy and delight. The world is the best teacher for those who want to be benefited. I was very reluctant to have any disciple by my side. You may come here for visiting 71 . 12th December. I did not want anybody to come and stay with me. Lead a divine life when you are there.

Bear difficulties. You have to learn a lot. (b) Grieve not. Consider well. 4. Swargashram 3rd October. Do not be hasty and run away to the Himalayan caves. hazardous path. Further. Kindly go through my book: “Mind. In these days money is needed even by Sannyasin. You are Sat-Chit-Ananda Rupa. Youthful buoyancy. Always be Self-centred. The world is the best teacher. Think. fearless. I do not make disciples. 2. 1. Control anger. Serve. You are Nectar’s son. I can be your sincere friend till the end of my life. Forgive others. 6. Save as much money as possible. Be free. Pray and be virtuous. Tat Tvam Asi—never forget this. Search. I give lessons for couple of months and ask them to meditate in some solitary centres in Kashmir or Uttarakashi.” The lessons will be of much practical use for progress in meditation. 7. Develop Titiksha. Aspire and draw. Its Mysteries and Control. Thy Own Self. Realise (their true nature) and abandon. infinite Ananda. Realise. Negate (body) and Assert (Brahman) 8.PRACTICAL HINTS ON THE SPIRITUAL PATH and not for permanent stay. 5. Have these two important pleasure-centres: STUDY and MEDITATION. Cut off all external pleasure-centres. Analyse (objects). I may not be able to help you much. Speak the truth. Speak a little. as there is lack of support from householders. I reiterate: Join a good Ashram where you will have spiritual gain. 1930. juvenile enthusiasm. You are not this Jada body. courageous. Hari OM Tat Sat. Love. Speak sweetly. I am only a common Sadhu. This line is an arduous. May God bless you. Give. (a) Fear not. 6. Snippets for Evolution Here are some valuable instructions in tablet form—succinct to the point and sorted out for immediate application. may not help you much. Understand. The end is immortality. Know Thyself and be free. 3. I don’t like to keep persons by my side for a long time. SIVANANDA 72 . Amrita Atma. Swami Sivananda Cheer yourself. Stick to the centre. LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP. You may not know how to spend your time usefully here. Develop patience.

Kshama. Stick to the Mission and serve all your elders with respect and sincerity and disinterestedness. and yet continued to be in touch with me. splendour. Practise this unceasingly: ‘Love your enemies.AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA 7. as I consider all Ashrams my own and do not recognise any exclusive monopoly over any aspirant who approaches me for guidance: Swargashram. Feel this. magnanimity (Audarya) and courage. The Ashram is your own. Live in the solid present. This is the secret of his success. cosmic love. Speaking the truth cannot harm anybody. May holiness. You are hope of the world. Don’t revenge. Rishikesh. You have taken a responsible gown. Matthew. I did not deny him my constant care and instructions for evolution. service and Daya. I have returned from a long Kailas trip. May God bless you. Forget the past. Study the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ daily before you proceed to work. The practice is difficult but must be done and can be done. glory attend on thee. I shall quote one passage. If you remember this once daily you will have wisdom. Revered Brother. Unfold the Latent Divine True to my advice. Om Namo Narayanaya. Give up all kinds of fancied expectations. Control anger by developing patience. Bless them that curse you. hate you. You must cultivate humility. Speak the truth at any cost. Six hours of study and six hours of meditation should go on uninterruptedly. Even if people persecute you. Do good to them that hate you and pray for those who despise and persecute you. Unfold the Divinity. It will give you spiritual power. This is being practised by Mahatma Gandhi. You are bound to progress. That is my method. Your humble brother SWAMI SIVANANDA 73 . the aspirant joined the Ramakrishna Mission. I am glad to hear that you have joined the Ramakrishna Mission. Truth can be achieved only by speaking the truth.’ —St. keep quiet. mock at you. My heartfelt congratulations. You are the Sun of suns. You have cut asunder all the earthly ties. Now you can proceed unhampered in your way. Stick to the Ashram with leech-like tenacity. With regards and Prem.

Don’t ask with the begging spirit. Utilise it when needed. Manifest these virtues while talking. I never forget the object of life and the purpose with which one renounces the world. Do you feel this? Away from ladies. That ‘tomorrow’ will never come. Crush all sorts of meanness. Realise Truth. Don’t become a lazy Zenana Vedantin or a moustache-lady Sannyasin. AWAY FROM LADIES. That is foolishness. Watch every thought: There is no play. Live in a closed room. No joking and laughing with them. Everything will come. Live in Truth. Yet. Feel Truth. These are all manifestations of lust only. The whole world is your own home. Concentrate. Control Indriyas. The Bane of Sensual Life I once again emphasise the importance of Sadhana and the necessity of shielding oneself from the baneful effects of a sensual life: 74 . Give up back-biting. Don’t beg. Conserve it. Never be arrogant. Command. Regeneration of the Asuric nature is imperative. Don’t fight for petty trifles. Don’t beg with the begging spirit. Scrutinise your motives. Have tolerance and patience. which was then in its initial stages and which was soon to assume gigantic proportions and astound the world with a tremendous whirlwind of spiritual revival and divine inspiration among millions of aspirants all over the world. systematic study. and he immediately plunged himself into the arena of the divine work. You are a zero in that direction. Make hay while the sun shines. Be polite. You are a glory to India and the world at large. Divine Splendour and Glory shine in you for ever. Meditate. I have great hopes in you. Read the Upanishads and the Gita. Feel this. in every word.’ That is wrong. Method and discipline must be there in your daily routine. Master them well. You should have regular. I know you will do wonders within a short time. May the Divine Light. The whole world is your home. meditation and Japa. Destroy selfish motives. Feel this. Don’t mix much. Show me a report of your systematic Sadhana. and. OM SIVOHAM 9. Winnow the corn when the wind blows. repeatedly exhorted him to pay attention to practical Sadhana and self-discipline: SIVOHAM SIVAH KEVALOHAM. Become noble in every inch of your action. Command and get whatever you need. Don’t think: ‘I will study in Uttarakashi when I am alone without work. Meditate well. Live alone for some hours. Prakriti and nine Riddhis are ready to serve you with folded hands. therefore. You must have the daily habit. There must be fire in every cell. Regeneration of the Lower Nature In spite of my reluctance and initial objection when the aspirant subsequently came to me and made a strong impression about his spirit of renunciation and adamantine will-power. Do not multiply friends. One real and sincere friend is quite sufficient. I willingly initiated him into the Order of Sannyasa. Disseminate Truth. You have taken a responsible garb. Be fiery. Regulate your energy. tale-bearing. May God bless you.PRACTICAL HINTS ON THE SPIRITUAL PATH 8.

What to speak of further glories if you blossom fully through Yoga. Sakshi. You should have regular. as much as you can. the Lord will arrange everything for you. Beware. Hide yourself in a room or come back to Ananda Kutir at once. It is an enemy of peace. In the advanced stages you must have the personal guidance and supervision of the elder’s who have attained mastery and perfection in the path of Yoga. Don’t think: “I will study and meditate when I finish all my responsibilities.AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA Don’t look at the filth again. Purity of heart. If you are fit to serve humanity. Never forget this. Reduction or giving up of food may not help you at all. Do Sadhana. Introspect and meditate. sensual life becomes a burden. resting in the indwelling. with the right mental attitude and spirit. Get some useful medicines and distribute to the sick persons or nurse them nicely. Stop all activities.” Live alone for some hours and study the mind. Maintain yourself by getting alms from 4 or 5 houses. when I am alone in the Himalayan Caves. Do service according to your ability. congenial company. Troubles Through Pranayama I have received similar reports of troubles from many students who try to awaken the Kundalini Power by forcible methods of Pranayama and Kriya Yoga. capacity and means. 10. favourable atmosphere and environments charged with spiritual vibrations play a vital part in your 75 . The field must nicely be prepared by regular daily practice. it is better you leave the city at once. Beware. systematic meditation. you may stay there for some time more and finish the work. The Essence is the solid Reality. Nishkama Seva This does not require big funds. correct understanding of the scriptures. The world is a dream. You have sufficiently enjoyed a life of joy and bliss in the spiritual path. Give education to the poor boys in your village. Sadhana Should Be a Daily Habit The following are some of the important hints on the path of Yoga which are culled from my different letters to aspirants. Do not expect anything from anybody for the service you do. Live in seclusion. building castles in the air. I do not care for work at all. Japa. Don’t ruin yourself. * * * Without ideal life. interpenetrating Presence. Don’t come out of your room. Destroy Manorajya. 12. I pity them for their over enthusiasm and incomplete knowledge. * * * If you cannot resist Moha. Proofs will take care of themselves. and which will be found very useful to one and all for a correct knowledge of some of the practical aspects of the spiritual path. You are the Atma. study and service. Anyhow make arrangements for coming to Rishikesh soon. Akarta. Don’t become a slave to your senses. Prepare now slowly for the life in seclusion. If you are strong enough. It is tantamount to brutal life. 11.

do as much as you comfortably can. You can gain more by silence. Avoid Extremes in Yoga In Yoga exercises. Yoga is the science that teaches you the method of uniting the individual will with the Cosmic Will. The benefits are incalculable. breathe in and out very. Create spiritual vibrations wherever you go.PRACTICAL HINTS ON THE SPIRITUAL PATH quick success. Do mild Pranayama. Try to increase the power of concentration. What Is Actual Yoga Yoga does not consist in sitting cross-legged for six hours or stopping the beatings of the heart or getting oneself buried underneath the ground for a week or a month. Do not tax yourself. very slowly. vitality. It is a harmless exercise for advanced students. This is the way for harmony. For some months. happiness and prosperity. and bestows longevity and a high standard of health. 76 . retention and exhalation. Do not be hasty or impatient. Bear insult and injury. Adjust and adapt. Sing with devotion. 16. One-sided development will not help you. Apply Amalaka oil on the head. Do not retain the breath (Kumbhaka). Soak a few Badams (almonds) overnight in water. Chant OM. Then you will find peace. When You Are Agitated Do not leave Japa and Sadhana even for a day. Dance in ecstasy. People in foreign countries find it difficult to do Padmasana (folding the legs in lotus pose) and Sirshasana (head-stand pose). Tactfully move with people. Learn to forget trifles. nutritious food. Take them in the early morning with sugar-candy. Love all and serve all. Close your eyes. Japa will help you to have a one-pointed mind. These are all physical feats only. You must select a fine pose in which you can sit for a long time comfortably. The only condition is that your neck and back should be erect. That will weaken your system. Remain silent. vigour. You will enjoy great peace and acquire inner spiritual strength. Avoid extremes. take to Japa or leave the place for some time. Yoga transmutes the unregenerate nature and increases energy. Do not spoil your health by too much fasting. move to a cool place during summer and have three sittings in Pranayama. Overcome Depression and Gloom Run in the open air. Take plenty of energy-giving. breathe in and out very slowly and mentally repeat the Mantra OM OM OM and think of the divine qualities of the Lord. Take Huxley’s Syrup also. 13. When you are agitated and irritated. Train everyone in Bhajan and Kirtan. It is very efficacious as a brain-tonic for Sadhakas. easily digestible. Now you will enter into silent meditation. you can have any comfortable position. You are Ananda Svarupa—where is gloom and depression? They are mental creations only. When you advance a bit. Depression will vanish soon. There will be joy in all faces. For prayers and meditation. and fruits and milk. joy. 14. 15. Follow the proportion 1:4:2 for inhalation.

More and more yearning for liberation. laziness and depression. I had Satsanga with Mahatmas And imbibed their nectarine instructions. Freedom from disease. unruffled state of mind. I roamed far beyond the world of good and evil I came to the border-land of stupendous silence And caught the splendour of the Soul within All my sorrow is over now My heart is now brimming up with joy Peace has now entered my soul I was suddenly lifted out of my life There was a dawn of new life. Dawn of New Life I was tired of this illusory life of sense-pleasures I became quite disgusted with this prison of body. sweet. vim. alertness of mind. vigour and vitality. I was bathed in a flood of effulgence ineffable And saw the Lord behind all names and forms And realised that I am the Light. Fearlessness. Lustre in the eyes. Powerful Jatharagni or digestive fire Eagerness to sit and meditate for a long time Aversion to worldly talks and company of worldlings Feeling of Presence of God everywhere Love for all creatures.AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA CHAPTER TWELVE SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCES 1. cheerfulness. good smell from the body. Preliminary Spiritual Experiences I More and more dispassion and discrimination. 2. Wonderful health. Beautiful complexion. Peace. I crossed the dire forest of love and hatred. Lightness of body. Feeling that all forms are forms of the Lord That the world is Lord Himself Absence of Ghrina or dislike to any creature 77 . I experienced the inner World of Reality The Unseen filled my soul and head. contentment. powerful voice.

78 . Then comes cosmic consciousness or Savikalpa Samadhi Which Arjuna experienced. As I rest in That non-dual State.SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCES Even to those who despise and insult Strength of mind to bear insult and injury To meet dangers and calamities Are some of the preliminary spiritual experiences. superhuman experiences. II Balls of white lights. I Have Won the Game of Life Through the Grace of the Lord and Sat-Guru I am unattached and free. I am Brahman-intoxicated. coloured lights Sun. hears nothing He becomes one with the Eternal. stars during meditation Divya Gandha. I have won! I have won!! I have won!!! 4. The Grace filled the cup of my heart. I am free and ever blissful I am free from fear. Fear is due to duality. 3. These indicate that one advances In the spiritual path. All doubts and delusions have vanished. leper or out-caste in rags Talking to the Lord. Vision of the Lord in the dream Extraordinary. In Him I Find My All At last His Grace descended on me I gazed and gazed at Him I was lost in that wondrous Vision of the Lord. I have won the game of life. I have attained perfection and freedom. Vision of the Lord in the human form Sometimes in the form of a Brahmin Old man. Eventually the aspirant enters Into Nirvikalpa Samadhi Wherein there is neither seer nor seen Wherein one sees nothing. Divya Taste. I live in the pure consciousness. Are the preliminary spiritual experiences.

6. Mind is unreal. Freedom comes through knowledge of the Self Freedom is Perfection. O Kesava By the sword of Thy Grace I have cut off all my bonds I am free. I had Thy wondrous vision I was lost in ecstasy I was at once transformed I was drowned In the Divine Consciousness In the ocean of bliss Hail. it cannot die. the Bestower of Salvation! 5. All knowledge is locked up in His bosom The whole creation rise and fall in Him He is the Supreme Reservoir of all that appears. I am blissful All desires have disappeared Now I aspire nothing But Thy blessed Feet I have lost all my thoughts In Thee. O Narayana. Soul is real. Hail. it cannot exist Bliss is Real. My Lord. O Vishnu. In the Ocean of Bliss O Mahadeva. The cause of this world.AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA The ecstatic thrill overwhelmed me In His Will is my peace His Name is a heaven of repose In Him I find my all. it cannot exist. nor body This whole world is my body 79 . it cannot die. He is the Holy One. Immortal Self I Am One eternal. infinite Being alone exists Jiva is identical with this Being Pain is unreal. He is the Mainstay of all the worlds. Perfect in Wisdom. Immortality and Bliss Freedom is direct realisation of the Self Freedom is release from births and deaths I am neither mind.

I Have Become That The Maya-made world has vanished now Mind has totally perished The Ego has been entirely powdered The watertight compartments have been broken down Names and forms disappeared All distinctions and differences have melted Old Jivahood has entirely fused The flood of Truth. thoughts subsided Intellect ceased functioning The senses were absorbed I remained unawakened to the world I saw myself everywhere It was a homogeneous experience There was neither within nor without 80 . 7. nothing belongs to me Immortal Self I am. 9. In the region of matterless. thoughtless space In the transcendental abode of Sweet Harmony I united with the Supreme Effulgence The thought that we are one or two vanished I crossed the sea of birth for ever. This is all due to the Grace of the Lord Who danced in Brindavan with rhythmic jingle Who raised Govardhan as umbrella for the cowherds. formless Void. I have become That. Sivoham. Speechless Zone In the perfect nameless. In the unlimited expanse of bliss. Sivoham.SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCES The whole world is my home Nothing exists. Sivoham. Wisdom and Bliss Has entered everywhere in abundance Brahman alone shines everywhere One homogenous Joy-essence pervades everywhere I have become That. The Great Bhuma Experience I merged myself in great unending joy I swam in the ocean of immortal bliss I floated in the sea of Infinite Peace Ego melted. 8. spaceless. mindless joy In the realm of timeless.

10. Soham Sat-chit-ananda Swaroopoham. 11. Sivoham—Sivoham—Sivoham I have realised the identity Of individual soul and Supreme Soul Sat-chit-ananda is my essential nature My mind is withdrawn from all external objects I am deeply God-intoxicated All sorrow and pain and fear have vanished I am ever peaceful and joyful I am Truth. Sivoham. Rasagulla or Laddu I meditated on Brahman. Sivoham. words are impotent. the Immutable I attained the stage that transcends finite True light shone in me Avidya or Ignorance vanished in toto The doors were totally shut The senses were withdrawn Breath and mind merged in their source I become one with the Supreme Light A mysterious experience beyond speech indeed Sivoham. Mysterious Experience Brahman or the Eternal is far sweeter than honey Jam. Realise this yourself and be free. In all living beings I am tasting the Bliss of the Eternal I have attained the Goal of Life In that Brahman am I! That Brahman who is Satchidananda Who is the Indweller and Inner Ruler Who is the womb of the Vedas 81 . sugar-candy.AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA There was neither ‘this’ nor ‘that’ There was neither ‘he’. Pure Consciousness and Bliss I shine forth as a Divine Flame. ‘you’ nor ‘I’ nor she There was neither time nor space There was neither subject nor object There was neither knower nor knowable nor sight How can one describe this transcendental experience? Language is finite.

deathless. State of Samadhi O What a Joy! What a Bliss! All desires are now fulfilled Everything is attained I am Immortal. I am Eternal Consciousness I am the Great and the High All this is mere Moksha Moksha alone is everywhere It is to be known And experienced by everyone.SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCES Who is the creator of this universe Who is the substratum for everything Who gives light to the intellect Who is hiding himself in all forms Who is adored by the Rishis Whom the Vedas proclaim Whom the Yogins wish to attain Samadhi Who is terror to Indra and Agni Who is sweet to the disciplined Yogi That Brahman verily am I Sivoham Sivoham Sivoham! 12. 13. That ego has melted now The Vasanas are burnt up In the fire of wisdom There is Manonasa Or annihilation of mind All distinctions have vanished All differences have disappeared There is neither ‘I’ or ‘you’ All indeed is Brahman This is one homogeneous bliss This experience-whole is ineffable Words fail to describe this state Feel it yourself in Samadhi. Through the Grace of Guru I know my essential nature I have reached the peak of perfection I am pure Immortal Atman. All my desires are gratified 82 .

I never die I always exist. I am that I am. I am everywhere. All-pervading Brahman. 83 . I Am That I Am Timeless and spaceless is this goal Painless and sorrowless is this seat Blissful and peaceful is this Abode Changeless and boundless is this Dhama I know that “I am He” I have neither body. Knowledge-Absolute and Bliss-Absolute. I am never born. I have neither friends nor enemies I have neither parents nor relatives I have neither home nor country I am that I am.AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA I am Apta Kama I have attained everything I have done all my works I have nothing more to learn The Vedas have nothing to teach me The Smritis have nothing to instruct me The world has nothing to attract me Maya is hiding herself modestly As I know all her tricks and ways She blushes to appear before me This is all due to the Grace of the Lord And the Grace of the Guru He made me like Himself Prostrations to the Guru Obeisance to the Guru! 14. full of Bliss and Knowledge Chidananda-rupah Sivoham. nor growth nor death I am the Immortal. mind nor senses I have neither change. I have neither fear of death nor fear of public criticism I am Siva. Sivoham. Neither virtue nor sin can touch me Neither pleasure nor pain can affect me Neither likes and dislikes can taint me I am Existence-Absolute.

but pray. The same is the case with the PRACTICE OF YOGA. If you show or exhibit your foolish obstinacy like a child. 2. The first bound copy should reach me by registered post. Regarding A Strong Packing Case With Thick Nails “Thy parcel received in due order. Advertisement has been going on for 5 weeks now and yet not even a smell of the book for me. kindly cram a few lines from my books. People should learn to express their thoughts. Hammering was not able to remove the cover. The Way of Business People “In Samaradhana or Brahmana Bhojana. The books reached me in good condition. Training of Students in Lecturing “You will have to lecture at least for 5 minutes in English and Hindi and do Kirtan also with Nritya whether your body is willing to bend and move or refuses to move.P. Thanks to the Brahmic packer of the parcel.” Many students were turned into wonderful orators and Kirtanists after such compulsion by me in the early stages. It was a Brahman packing with Brahmic screws which had Brahma Nishtha. leaves are spread at 10 o’clock in the morning but the food is served at 4 in the evening. I want everyone to be a fiery lecturer. even if you find it a repetition. just to suit your purpose in making the book grand and thrilling. there is no other course for me than to carry you and put you on the platform. a residue copy is sent to me.” 4.SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCES CHAPTER THIRTEEN WISDOM IN HUMOUR The following excerpts from my letters to an aspirant clearly portray my temperament which is at once humorous with flashes that convey a deep philosophical bent of mind and extreme tolerance of other people’s defects and weaknesses combined with broad liberalism and a profound understanding of the habits of people and the nature of things: 1. keep a small tuft—according to Narada Parivrajaka Upanishad. But when V.” 84 .P.” 3. When Important Points Are Omitted by Publishers “I have given you full permission or power of Attorney to remove whatever portion you deem fit to remove by your new long razor. The first fruit of a tree is always offered to God. After all it was broken into pieces. read from a piece of paper. Do not remove even a single important word from my writings. orders are executed in full. If cramming also is difficult. Don’t give room for this extreme manoeuvres in these cold days. If there is difficulty in lecturing. This is the way of business people.

8. The candy has melted and made the Kajoo soft. quiet and noble. select exhibit. so also this BHAKTI YOGA does not attract you much. 85 . which will be nice for veteran Swami Jnanananda. In future do not send sugar-candy with cashew-nuts. Care About Manuscripts I think you say ‘goodbye’ when the book RAJA YOGA is over. KUNDALINI YOGA. That will save much time and energy. Method of Sending Reminders Kindly advise me by a postcard: “Yes. 10. It is a form of ‘Hu-Hu’ Mauna. Let him keep off his castor oil or quinine face. It will not surely interfere with your deep Mauna. I know that you will not take up this work. etc. Feel His Presence. 9. 7. It is quite ordinary. II of PRACTICE OF YOGA at the end of the book is not a thrilling one. You will not be able to take up BHAKTI YOGA. I shall transfer it to some other press. He who throws light on the Winter season and the stove is the Self-luminous Para Brahman. He is Sakshi always. You have nicely done before for YOGA ASANA. Correcting the Ways of Students Take special care of Poorna. He is Asanga. Invitation for Formality Kindly come to Ananda Kutir after fixing up everything there. I have despatched books for Libraries” or some code word. On Attractive Advertisement The Advertisement of Vol. Just as Sankirtan cannot enter your ears. Kindly bring the manuscripts with you very carefully. It is not Kaashtha Mauna or Maha Mauna. the support for seasons and all names and forms. Why not for this? Perhaps the Thermos Flask was empty. 6.’ 11. He never drinks and talks. You may be feeling the cool breeze also. My respects to him. My teeth are quite sound and strong. in Northern India. Invitation for Birthday is just for information but ‘not to come. It does not give a full. He is simple. Over the Damaged Parcel of Cashew-Nuts Received Kajoo (cashew-nuts) in a damaged condition on account of the admixture of sugar-candy in hot summer. The stove which was sleeping is now turning its face towards the Railway Station to receive you with great joy. Philosophy Over the Call of Coffee The Winter of Rishikesh is sending invitations.AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA 5.

Hundreds of students write to me from all countries for spiritual guidance and I spend a lot in giving prompt replies to all the letters. Kirtan and lectures if all goes well. You can take good milk. Ideal Tonic for Brain-workers (An Attack on the Coffee Habit) Take Badams (almonds) and Huxley’s Syrup. and Sri Swami Poorna who prepared the coffee. He brings his ingenious arguments for his using the snuff. Work is progressing on all directions. One cow is coming to the Ashram. My Respectable Guests Received all letters and parcels of coffee. Mukhya—chief snuffer 2. The nose has become like a machine-gun through repeated usage of snuff. You can take the same quantity or even more of Coffee. An Attack on Weakness in ‘Walking’ The Divine Life Society may send you as the head of a group of Sannyasins and Brahmacharins for propaganda. There is no ‘Pathyam’—(restriction) on diet. Maha-snuffer—terrible snuffer Sri ‘V’ Sri ‘N’ Sri ‘G’ Sri Mauni and Tyagi of Swargashram. Let this be your charity towards a Virakta Mahatma. 16. Rich Despite Debts “Everyday new spiritual aspirants are coming to the Ashram. 86 . 17. Sanatan snuffer—old snuffer 4.WISDOM IN HUMOUR 12. 15. that Mauni. You can send him a small tin. Ways of Virakta Mahatmas Your friend. Even in that case you will have to walk 12 miles a day. The first respectable guests for the ‘tin’ of coffee were Sri Swami Omkar who carried the bundle from the Railway Station. Put Badam oil or Amalaka oil on your head.” 13. 14. Philosophy Over Snuff Snuff parcel received and distributed among: 1. Probably barber Balla will be my next guest. Some Kutirs are under construction. has asked me to request you to send him one pound of snuff. This is very good for brain-workers. Virakta boy of Swargashram who was with a towel only. Adi Snuffer—Guru snuffer 3. This is also a kind of Vairagya. We are becoming rich nowadays despite debts.

I will also get a share. a small portion of Punya for relieving a bit of their suffering. Teacher Indriyas—Senses. sense-organs 87 . But ‘Aham Brahma Asmi people’ are above Papa and Punya.AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA You will get some Punya and Papa also. a holy day for observance of fast Gambhira—Dignified. Papa for making them continue their habit. seeing the Lord or holy persons Daya—Mercy. a householder Grihasthi—A householder Guru—Preceptor. continuous. So you are now freed by knowing your own Svarupa. Had we not supplied snuff. partless Alasya—Inertia. grand. subconscious mind Dand—An Indian physical exercise Darshan—Insight. Gods Dharma—Righteousness Dharmasala—Charity house Dvaita—Duality Ekadasi—The 11th day of full-moon or new-moon. magnanimous Grihastha—Householder’s life. compassion Devas—Celestial beings. GLOSSARY Acharya—Preceptor Advaita—Non-duality. monism Akarta—Non-doer Akhanda—Unbroken. a monastery Bandha—A group of exercises in Hatha Yoga. Idleness Ananda-bhashpam—Tears of bliss Arhats—The perfect souls Asana—Yoga exercises Ashram—An ideal centre for Sadhana. a bondage Bhagavatas—Those illumined souls who recite the stories of the Lord Bhaitak—An Indian physical exercise Bhajan—Praise of the Lord singing in chorus songs in praise of the Lord Bhakti Yoga—The Path of devotion Bhakti—Devotion Bhav—Feeling of devotion and love Bhikkus—Monks Brahma-muhurta—The period from 4 to 6 in the morning which is highly favourable for spiritual practices Brahmachari—A Celibate Brahmacharya—Celibacy Chitta—Mind-stuff. their habit would have been destroyed.

mostly the shell of a hard fruit Karma-Yoga—The path of selfless action Karma—Action. work without selfish motive Nishtha—Deep meditation. fate Kirtan—Loud singing of the Name of the Lord in different tunes Koran—The holy scripture of the Mohammedans Kshama—forgiveness Kumbhaka—Retention of breath Kutir—Hermitage. a monastery Namaskar—Prostration Nirguna—Without attributes. high souled ones Mantra—A sacred formula expressing obeisance to the Lord Mauna—Observance of silence Maya—Illusive power of the Lord. where a renunciate or Yogi lives Likhita-Japa—Writing of Mantras or the Name of the Lord Mahant—The Founder or the president of a religious institution Mahatmas—Great men. an idol Mutt—The institution of monks. a mendicant Pooja—Worship Prabhat Pheri—A religious procession early in the morning Prana—Vital force or breath in the body Pranayama—Breathing exercises. which is responsible for ignorance and bondage Moha—Attachment to things and beings Mudras—A group of exercises in Hatha Yoga Mukti—Liberation. full dedication to a holy undertaking Nivritti Marga—The path of renunciation Parivrajaka—A Wandering monk. hut or cottage. release from the bondage of birth and death Mumukshutva—Intense longing for liberation Murti—Image. one in the path of knowledge. Regulation of the vital breath Raga-Dvesha—Feelings of attachment and aversion 88 . holy persons. A state wherein one’s identity with the Universal Reality is realised Nishkama—Selfless service. liberation Nirvikalpa Samadhi—Complete absorption in Reality.GLOSSARY Ishta-Devata—A particular incarnation of the Lord which appeals most to a person Jaalam—Jugglery Japa—Repetition of the Name of the Lord Jnana-Yajna—Dissemination of knowledge Jnana-Yoga—The path of knowledge Jnana—Wisdom Jnani—A Vedanti. the Absolute Reality Nirvana—Final emancipation. the illumined Kaashtha Mauna—Silence wherein one does not make even gestures and signals Kamandalu—A vessel used by Sadhus for carrying water.

Titiksha (forbearance. A personal God Sahaja-Avastha—Superconscious state that has become natural and continuous Saiva—The worshipper of Lord Siva Sakshi—Witness. inertia Tapasya—Austerity. a spiritual practitioner Sadhana—Spiritual practices Sadhu—An anchorite Saguna—The Absolute conceived with form. Sraddha (faith and sincerity) and Samadhana (balanced state of mind) Siddha—A perfected sage Siddhi—-Psychic powers Svabhava—one’s own nature Svapna—Dream Svarupa—Form Swami—One who is devoted to the path of renunciation Tamas—Ignorance. penance Titiksha—Forbearance Trataka—Steady gazing Vaikuntha—The abode of Lord Vishnu Vairagi—A man of dispassion Vairagya—Aversion to sense-objects Vaishnava—Worshipper of Lord Vishnu Vanaprastha—Householders leading a life of a hermit Vedas—Scriptures of the Hindus Vikshepa—Tossing of mind Viraja Homa—Religious rite for entering the Order of Sannyasa. the principle of dynamism in nature Sadhaka—An aspirant. the self who acts as a witness Samadhi—Superconscious state Sammelan—A Religious Conference Samsara—The process of worldly life through transmigration Samskara—Impressions in the mind Sannyasa—Renunciation Sannyasi—A Monk Sastra—Scriptures of the Hindus Satchidananda—Existence. the path of renunciation 89 . an expression suggesting the indescribable Absolute Reality Satsanga—Association with the wise and sages Sattva—Purity Sattvic—Pure Seva—Service Shat-Sampat—Sixfold virtues: Sama (balance in pain and pleasure). Dama (control of senses). bearing heat and cold). Uparati (tranquillity).AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SWAMI SIVANANDA Rajas—One of the 3 qualities producing passion and restlessness. knowledge and bliss.

A student in the path of Yoga Zenana—womanfolk 90 .GLOSSARY Viveka—Discrimination Vyapaka—All-pervading Yajna—A sacrifice Yoga Bhrashta—One who has fallen from the high state of Yoga Yogi—An aspirant going through a course of spiritual discipline.

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