Page sized inspirational teaching from the writings of Swami Sivananda, compiled by Swami Venkatesananda. These teachings are content progressive and cover the entire width of Yoga and Vedanta in a practical and easy to follow format. Messages are sent daily for the next day to accommodate different time zones.
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
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.
Three R’s of Sivananda Yoga, viz.,
.…are dealt with in sparkling detail in this volume.
A FOUNTAIN OF SIVANANDA YOGA
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….
nekshurakam hi veekshate
shall my mind, which has entered the sweet arbour of thy lotus feet, wish for
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
May Sri Gurudev live forever and guide us along
the path of divine life.
MARCH TO AUGUST 1948
25th March, 1948
LOVE OF NATION: FIRST STEP TO LOVE OF GOD
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
‘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
MIRA BEHN AND SADHU ORGANISATION
‘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.
THE ALL-PERVADING SIVA!
‘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
24th April, 1948
‘Constant reflection on the great utterances of the
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
‘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
‘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
25th April, 1948
MONSIEUR BOGROFF OVERPOWERED BY LOVE
‘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
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.
IT IS OUR OWN HOME
‘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.
I AM THOU
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
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
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
TO FOLLOW AND TO ADORE
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
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
SIVA WORKS THROUGH MANY
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
THE BUTTER OF ATMA
‘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
‘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.’
CLEANSE THE MIND
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
REAL KARMA YOGA
‘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
‘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.
MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS
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
‘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.’