Saturday, September 7, 2013

Inspiring Talks, Message 1

Om Sahana Vavatu,
Sahana Bhunaktu,
Saha Veeryam Karvaavahai,
Tejasvinavadhitamastu Maa Vidvishaavahai,
Om Shaanti Shaanti Shaantih.  

To Sri Swami Sivananda   

Born on the 8th September 1887, in the illustrious family of Sage Appayya Dikshita and several other renowned saints and savants, Sri Swami Sivananda had a natural flair for a life devoted to the study and practice of Vedanta. Added to this was an inborn eagerness to serve all and an innate feeling of unity with all mankind. Though born in an orthodox family, Swamiji was broadminded and catholic, pious and devout.  

His passion for service drew him to the medical career; and soon he gravitated to where he thought his service was most needed. Malaya claimed him. He had earlier been editing a Health Journal and wrote extensively on health problems. He discovered that people needed right knowledge most of all: dissemination of that knowledge he espoused as his own mission.  

It was divine dispensation and the blessing of God upon mankind that the doctor of body and mind renounced his career and took to a life of renunciation to qualify himself for ministering to the soul of man. He settled down at Rishikesh in 1924, practised intense austerities and shone as a great Yogi, saint, sage and Jivanmuktha.  

In 1932 he started the Sivanandashram. In 1936 was born the Divine Life Society. In 1948 the Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy was organised. Dissemination of spiritual knowledge and training of people in Yoga and Vedanta were their aim and object. In 1950 he undertook a lightning tour of India and Ceylon. In 1953 he convened a World Parliament of Religions. He is the author of over 300 volumes and has disciples all over the world, belonging to all nationalities, religions and creeds. To read his works is to drink at the fountain of wisdom and grow spiritually.  

The Three R’s of Sivananda Yoga, viz.,  

.…are dealt with in sparkling detail in this volume.  

by Swami Venkatesananda
From Sivananda Jnana-Gangotri: (Gangotri is the sacred origin of the Holy river Ganga; Jnana-Ganotri is the Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy Press, from which issues the perennial sacred River of wisdom - Jnana Ganga).  

A day with Gurudev Sivananda is better spent than a year in the study of scriptures or a life-time in a library. A word—always appropriate to the occasion, and to the person addressed—a look, a smile, an action seemingly trivial—all these are (and only they truly are) ‘Living Scriptures’. The inner truth which scriptures often hide from the gaze of the immature: the easy path to God-realisation which the complicated mind of the ‘modern’ man, fails to see: the fountain of wisdom which the educated man’s vision, blinded by the cataract of faithlessness, fails to perceive—are revealed like the apple on one’s palm, by a simple word from the Sacred Lips.  

For a period of just over two years, Gurudev had granted me the boon of gathering these pearls of wisdom, as they fell from his lips. Those were the years of hectic divine life activity at the Ashram, too. They were the years during which the Ashram and the Divine Life Society had just emerged from their ‘teething troubles’ and the Mission began to take shape. Gurudev’s pronouncements of this period, therefore, assume the importance of a divine gospel. With open eyes and ears and with the mouth shut—Oh it was a joy, a privilege, an unrivalled education to hear him, to hear more, and to hear nothing else. One who heard him, one who saw him, one who had spent an hour with him, would exclaim with Sage Alavandar….   

Tava-amritasyandini pada pankaje
Niveshitaatmaa katham-anyadichchati
Sthitheravinde makarandanirbhare
Madhuvrato nekshurakam hi veekshate

(How shall my mind, which has entered the sweet arbour of thy lotus feet, wish for anything else?)  

I offer that undiluted nectar at the feet of my Gurudev, enshrined in the heart of millions of seekers after Truth, all over the world. I have in my own humble capacity endeavoured to give the reader a pen-picture of the setting: in order that he may ‘live at Gurudev’s feet’ while reading these talks. Cold print misses something very vital—the gestures, etc., which often convey a lot. In such instances, I have taken the liberty of explaining a Talk. To those who have had his Darshan, this will call up the indelible picture of Ananda Kutir: if you have not yet had that good fortune, please have it now. Words cannot equal the Presence!  

These inspiring talks have been recorded then and there, and published now as they were recorded, chronologically. They are not to be read as a textbook is read: but they are to be resorted to as a fountain—to quench the spiritual thirst. Any page and every page is laden with inspiration: and the usual ‘contents’ have been omitted in this volume, as it was felt that that would be confusing and cumbersome.   

This book has been completed by the Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy press in record time! To all those who made this possible, my spiritual brothers Swamis Amaranandaji (the Manager) and Jnananandaji (on whose patient shoulders feel the selfless job of proof-reading), Sri Vasudev, Sri Chary, Sri Sevakram, and Sri Buddhi—my grateful thanks.  

May Sri Gurudev live forever and guide us along the path of divine life.  


25th March, 1948

It was a lovely evening. The sun was lingering over the Western hills to catch a glimpse of an epoch-making event.  

Dr. K.N. Gairola, Health Minister of the Tehri-Garhwal State was addressing a mammoth gathering on the Ganges bank. The local municipality had erected a flag-staff just in front of the Ashram and had invited the Minister to hoist the National Flag. Even during the course of his inevitable political speech, Dr. Gairola made touching references to Siva, to the glory that the presence of saints like Siva brought to the entire State, and the profound spiritual influence that Siva exerted in the people. Even as he concluded his speech, Dr. Gairola requested Siva to give them his Upadesh.  

As the flag went up, Siva roared OM OM OM. The entire gathering joined him and it looked as though the powerful current of the Pranava-chanting raised the flag up!  

‘Vande Mataram, Vande Mataram, Vande Mataram                                                                                 
Jai Hind Jai Hind Jai Hind Jai Hind Jai Jai Jai Jai Hind’  

….sang Siva and the multitude echoed his Kirtan. Siva has a Kirtan for every occasion!  

‘Glory to Mother India. No other nation in the world has produced such heroes. No other nation in the world can claim to have given birth to illustrious saints and sages. No other nation in the world has had among her children mighty intellectuals and great mystics who could rise to great spiritual heights, who could display such intuitive wisdom and who could leave as a rich heritage unsurpassed philosophical treatises. No philosopher in any other land has been able to solve the riddle of creation, the mystery of birth and death and the problem of life itself as effectively as the sages of India have done.’  

‘Such a spiritually mighty nation has achieved her political independence also in an unprecedented manner. Thanks to the Apostle of Ahimsa, Mahatma Gandhiji, India has conclusively proved to humanity that there is indescribable Shakti in non-violence. Gandhiji has demonstrated to the world that love is power, that love conquers. Such a demonstration of spiritual power would not have been possible in any other nation in the world. The national leaders in the West must now sit up and think; they must learn the lesson of non-violence; they must abandon at once violence in all its forms. The path of violence leads to destruction; the path of love leads to peace, plenty and prosperity.’  

‘Our national leaders are all the trusted lieutenants of Gandhiji. They have sacrificed their all in the cause of the liberation of the motherland. Even though they have not embraced Sannyas formally, they are true Sannyasins at heart.’  

‘Patriotism is the first step to universalism. Love of one’s own nation in time leads to cosmic love or the love of God. The main thing is to crush the low, mean-minded selfishness. A selfless servant of the nation will soon become a selfless servant of humanity; he will soon transcend his individual ego and realise God.’  

Then Siva sang the Maha Mantra Kirtan. He thanked Dr. Gairola for giving him this opportunity of singing the Lord’s Name. Siva showered his blessings on the Minister: ‘May Lord bless Dr. Gairola and the other Ministers with health, long life, peace, prosperity and Kaivalya Moksha! May God bless you all!’ After chanting the Shanti Patha, Siva resumed his seat.  

Padmanabhan was all the time busy on the roof of neighbouring buildings ‘shooting’ the whole proceedings with his movie camera.  

Siva then led the minister to the Ashram where the Ministerial party was entertained to tea. 
28th March, 1948

‘Om Namo Narayanaya! I am grateful to you for coming. Are you all right?’ enquired Siva affectionately as Kumari Mira Behn came up the Ashram steps on the Ganges bank.  

For over half an hour Mira Behn discussed with Siva her Pashulok scheme and the object with which she started it. She also acquainted Siva with the views of Mahatma Gandhiji on the position of Sadhus in Indian society. She thought that there was a lot of work that should be done among Sadhus to organise them so that they could become an integral and useful part of the society. She asked for Siva’s blessings and for his moral support to her plans for organising the Sadhus of Rishikesh.  

Mira Behn is a close follower of Mahatma Gandhiji to whose mission she has dedicated her life.  


‘Wherever I have been, Swamiji, I have found that your name and your soul-elevating writings have gone ahead of me!’ said Goswami Ganesh Duttji, a well-renowned public benefactor of Punjab. Sri Goswamiji had come to pay his respects to Siva whom he has known for a long time. The object of his visit was to discuss with Siva the question of Sadhu Seva (Sadhu reform). 
24th April, 1948


‘Constant reflection on the great utterances of the Great,

Sarva dukham vivekinah

and developing Mithya-drishti or Dosha Drishti in relation to the objects of the world through discriminative thinking—these will help you to develop true Vairagya,’ said Siva when Sri Jayadayal Goenka of the Gita Press, Gorakhpur, sought Siva’s Darshan today.  

As soon as Sri Jayadayalji came in, Siva noticed a wound on his foot, immediately got the necessary dressing from the dispensary and applied the bandage.  

There they were—Sri Jayadayalji and his party in Siva’s Kutir on the lap of the Ganga—listening to Siva’s words of wisdom on Bhakti, Yoga, Jnana and Vairagya.  

A member of Sri Jayadayalji’s party gave expression to his admiration of Siva’s work and added that the excellently got-up Diamond Jubilee Commemoration Volume had enabled Siva’s message to spread far and wide. This led to a discussion of Guru-worship, and Siva said:  

‘Some say that we should not worship a living saint. But, the wise say that whereas no one need be fanatical in his desire to celebrate the Jayanthi of any saint, he need not go to the other extreme, either. Those who like to celebrate, let them. It ill-behooves a Sannyasin or saint who has gone above likes and dislikes to abhor the idea of such celebration. Vairagya-Abhimana is as dangerous as Abhimana for worldly possessions.  

‘Worship of saints has been taken more or less as a necessary Sadhana in the life of an aspirant in India. Even the Upanishads declare that a Sadhaka should have the same devotion to his Guru as he has to God. The idea is that by constantly thinking of his Guru, the Sadhaka is kept on the right path away from evil, and moulds himself on the pattern of his teacher.  

‘Thus even a third-class teacher is fit to be worshipped by the fifth-class aspirant! The latter is sure to be benefited.  

‘When a Sadhaka superimposes on his personal Guru the characteristics of the Impersonal Absolute—as in the case of idol-worship—the Sadhaka’s devotion reaches the Supreme! God, the Indweller knows the Sadhaka’s devotion and guides him along the proper path.  

‘Even wise men sometimes lack this broader outlook and argue that the human figure of a saint should not be adored with devotion due to God! As with God, so with Guru—the way to the Impersonal likes through the personal.’ 

25th April, 1948

‘A Guru is necessary. But you must first prepare the ground for the reception of the seed of knowledge from the Guru. He cannot do this for you. Simple living, simple food, simple clothing, aversion to sensual pleasures, speaking the truth, developing a heart of love, continence, endurance, self-control, all these you will have to develop.’   

‘You should have a keen longing to meet a Guru and be initiated by him. Then God Himself will provide a Guru for you. God books written by realised Yogis who have trodden the path will greatly help you. Mere talking will not do. You must practise!’ thundered Siva, as Mon. Bogroff listened spell-bound.  

Mon. Bogroff, a Russian businessman in France, was on a flying visit to Ananda Kutir, prompted to see Siva, by one of Siva’s admirers in Delhi—Sri B.L. Nehru. He came in to say ‘How do you do?’ but stayed most part of the day under the spell of Siva’s love.  

Bogroff admitted that Indian Yoga largely meant to the French either black magic or tall talk! And, he felt that Siva’s message of practical synthetic Yoga for Self-realisation was badly needed by the West.  

Bogroff told Siva that he was interested in Raja Yoga and requested Siva to select a place for him where he could practise. Siva said: ‘Any cool place will suit you. You can go to Uttara Brindawan to Sri Krishna Prem (Mr. Nixon),’ and then briefly described the glory of Sri Krishna Prem and gave his address also. And, quietly Siva autographed a copy of ‘Sayings’ and handed it to Bogroff. The latter took leave of Siva with perceptibly great reluctance; took a number of snaps of Siva; took a number of Siva’s books; and took, most of all, Siva’s potent blessings.  


‘Do not feel shy. Be quiet at home in this Ashram. It is our own home.’ Thus instructed, Sri Rao Saheb A.V. Raman of the Government of India when his young daughter was pondering over the acceptance of the proffered cup of coffee. He had lost his heart to Siva even on his first visit to the Ashram last year on his way to Badrinath.  


With Sri Raman, Siva was long conversing on Delhi affairs rejoining here and there with his own practical philosophy.  

A youth who had accompanied Sri Raman found Siva lending an ear to his eloquence on the general principles of office organisation and organisation of squadrons and air force ranks. In this youth’s opinion, the huge organisation of the Divine Life Society deserved to be a directorate with Siva as two-thousand rupee Director! A hearty laugh of encouragement from the Director of the Universe whose salary is the wealth of the world!  

Sri Annapurna’s mouth was watering as Siva the ‘mountain recluse’ was recalling to her some of the delicacies served in costly urban hotels. To her discomfiture, Siva knew more of the culinary art than she herself knew!  

Srimathi Liliane sits there entranced as the dexterous fingers of Siva play the keys of her piano. ‘This simple looking Sannyasin long secluded from urban life, knows this, too.’  

Siva’s divine eye pierces into the very soul of every one, and he at once finds out the other man’s interest. Conquest of hearts is then child’s play. 
28th April, 1948

What a flower of devotion—this Sri C. Alavandariah! Guru Siva is verily God unto him. He has known Siva from the latter’s Swarg Ashram days.  

Sri Alavandariah and I went to Siva’s Kutir at about 8 a.m. and sat outside the Kutir, meditating on the lotus feet of Siva. What bliss, what peace pervades the entire atmosphere! No wonder: we were even physically so near the omnipotent dynamo. Time sped.  

Siva came out of the Kutir punctually at 8 a.m. as previously arranged. Sri Alavandariah had with him four pieces of white silk, and a Gerua-Tiruman paste. (Tiruman is a kind of plaster of Paris used by Vaishnavites to put on their caste-mark. Gerua is the ochre powder.)  

Siva then seated himself on a chair outside his Kutir. A small wooden plank was placed just near his feet. Over this were spread one small four-folded blanket and a small piece of cloth—to serve as padding.  

With indescribable, but visible, joy Sri Alavandariah smeared the gerua paste on the soles of Siva’s lotus-feet, as Siva sat diving deep within and bringing up his real Swarupa.  

Then, Siva placed his feet squarely on the silk cloth spread over the padding and stood up, uttering ‘Sivoham: Satchidananda Swaroopoham’. He then reclined in his chair again as we were busy removing the silk cloth with the precious, divine impression of Siva’s lotus feet (indeed so even by their appearance on the cloth) and applying the gerua paste again, for the next impression.  

When the four prints had been taken, Siva enquired in his own child-like simplicity: ‘What will you do with these?’ Even a trace of Gurudom was absent: and I felt that he had lost all identity with the foot-prints which he deemed to be ‘Sivananda’s’.  

Alavandariah explained: ‘Swamiji, Vaishnavites revere this greatly. They take the foot-prints of their Acharyas and worship them as the very Lotus Feet of the Acharyas themselves. Then the devotees place these foot-prints on their head and do their Japa or Dhyana. They derive wonderful benefits by this practice. They get concentration of mind more easily; their thoughts are noble, pure and sublime.’  

‘Especially, Swamiji, when the foot-prints are those of a living sage like yourself, the effect is bound to be miraculous. Even when I touch these foot-prints I am transported to realms of peace and joy. The moment we press these foot-prints to our eyes or place them on our head, or worship them, we are bound to feel your divine spirit working within us, and the yearning will be awakened in us to follow thy footsteps. Only, I need your blessings.’  


Srimathi…., a Punjabi lady who had migrated into India on account of disturbances in Pakistan, recollected the work she had been able to do in Pakistan before the riots, under the auspices of the Divine Life Society. All this she had to discontinue. All the materials had to be left behind in Pakistan. Siva at once said: ‘Start your work afresh in Dehra Dun.’ She replied: ‘Yes, Swamiji, I must do some work. Your spirit, a spark of which works in me, does not allow me to remain idle even for a day. I want to do some work at Dehra Dun also. But, before the start is made, I want your blessings.’ When she got this, she took the dust of Siva’s feet with reverence and left with the great joy of satisfaction at heart. 
2nd May, 1948

‘I am glad you take so much interest in agriculture and dairy-farming. They are very essential for maintaining the health of every man in India. But there is another, a supreme type of butter, a knowledge of which is essential for every man, especially in India. That butter is that of Atma! Do you know how to churn the Koshas and take the butter of Atma?’ said Siva, when Sri Ramdas (M. Sc. in Agriculture) informed Siva of his forth-coming visit to the U.S.A. for prosecuting his studies in agriculture and dairy-farming.  

‘Swamiji, I have not even heard of this churning and how to obtain this butter of Atma. Please let me know the process.’  

‘You have to go to the Forest University to obtain a knowledge of this butter.   

The five sheaths of the body represent the vessel that holds curd. OM is the churning rod.   

Practise meditation on OM with Brahma Bhavana. You will soon get the butter of Atma which will make you immortal and ever blissful.’ The scientist said: ‘Thank you very much, Swamiji, you have really opened my eyes now. I shall practise this spiritual churning to eat the butter of Atma and become immortal.’  


Sri H. Ram Ram Ram, D.Sc. (Botany) had just returned from America after getting his D.Sc. at an American University. He elaborately described the glories of life in America.  

Siva quietly remarked: ‘You must be tired after such a long journey. Throw off your ‘America’, the suit and your D.Sc., and then take a bath in the Ganga and attend the worship at Viswanath Mandir.’  

He was a bit surprised and asked: ‘Swamiji! How to remove America? I can very well remove my suit.’  

Siva then explained: ‘Remove American habits and thoughts of America and the D.Sc. Abhiman which is more dangerous. Forget about the glamour of America; give up this D.Sc. Abhiman.’  

He laughed heartily and resolved: ‘I shall try to remove these two. But it is rather difficult, for they are ingrained in me for a very long time.’ 
5th May, 1948

‘In youth itself man should try to lead a simple life, to repeat God’s name, to practise Yoga, to do Vichar, to study Gita and other scriptures, to control the Indriyas. Singing Kirtan and Japa of Nam will bestow perennial joy and supreme inner peace on you; but you can realise this only if you practise.’  

‘Yet, youth will not hear! Only when man gets knocks and blows in the daily battle of life will he turn to God. Why not thank God for His mercies and adore him in every form.’  

‘Do selfless service….’  

‘Yes, Swamiji, we are in a way doing this. We earn money, we work and support the family. So, we are all Karma Yogins.’  

‘This is a serious mistake. What do people know about the secret and technique of Karma Yoga? They are attached to their families; they waste their lives on earning for the sake of their bellies, and imagine that they are doing Karma Yoga. What do they know of Karma Yoga? Karma Yoga is different. You should give up Abhimana. You should renounce Kartritwa and Bhoktritwa: you should identify yourself with the Atman.’  

‘Even a little of this selfless service imperfectly done is good. It will purify you. Combine this with Japa, Kirtan, Dhyana. Then you will realise the Bliss.’  

‘Next time come here and stay at least for a week. Then you will have ample opportunities for doing intense Sadhana.’  

The above conversation between Siva and an American businessman is revealing.  


Dr. Sri Pattawardhan, Ph.D. (Chemistry) of Roorkee came to have Swamiji’s Darshan. Swamiji remarked: ‘Dr. Saheb, everybody wants to become a Ph.D. or D.Litt., or I.C.S., or M.B., B.S., or Bar-at-Law: no one wants to know the nature of the Atma! The play of Maya, and the Gunas; what happiness is; what the mind is; what the relation between man and Brahman is; how to get eternal bliss; how to free oneself from bondage. He does not believe in the life everlasting, beyond the senses, in transcendental matters. Everybody wants to have wife, some children, bungalows, gardens, a car and money in the bank. His mental current naturally flows towards objects. He is not able to believe that the repetition of Nam can produce joy and inner peace.’  

‘I suppose there is a period of life for such beliefs and practices, Swamiji.’  

‘This is the best period—youth. What will you do in old age? You will be deaf, how can the sound of Lord’s name enter your ears: how can you enjoy Kirtans or Kathas? You will not be able to see; how can you read holy books like the Gita and other scriptures? You will not be able to sit at a place and do Japa; you will not be able to control the Indriyas; Sadhana will be impossible. You will waste all your life in useless pursuits and turn when it is too late to the proper path.’  

The Doctor asked: ‘Swamiji, if all become Sannyasins, what will become of this world?’  

Siva replied: ‘This can never be. Why do you bother about this? Your mind tricks and wants to dupe you. The Omnipotent Lord will create another batch of people in a minute. Mind your business! Enquire and remove your ignorance.’  

The Doctor became silent. He was convinced.