Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Guru’ Category

Sri Ramakrishna
18 February 1836- 16 August 1886

Sri Ramakrishna, who was born in 1836 and passed away in 1886, represents the very core of the spiritual realizations of the seers and sages of India. His whole life was literally an uninterrupted contemplation of God. Sri Ramakrishna is now regarded as the Prophet of the Modern Age by a large number of people in different parts of the world. Nobody can deny the fact that he is the greatest spiritual personality born in the modern age. No other religious leader has exerted so profound and pervasive influence on modern thought as Sri Ramakrishna did, although much of that influence has been indirect and unrecognized as such. Among the contributions that Sri Ramakrishna has made to modern thought, three need special mention. They are: re-establishment of the supremacy of the spiritual ideal, harmony of religions, and spiritualization of the humanistic impulse.

The modern world is characterized by the dominance of the materialistic outlook and the multiplication of the objects of enjoyment. Mechanization of life’s activities and the endless quest for material enjoyment has alienated man not only from nature but also from the source of power and joy in the soul within him. As a result, modern man’s life has come to be characterized by a sense of futility, meaninglessness and boredom. There is also an enormous increase in acts of violence, crime, immorality and strange new diseases. It is in this context of the predicament of modern man that we can understand the true import of Sri Ramakrishna’s central teaching, Ishvar-Iabh-i manush jivaner uddeshya “God-realization alone is the great purpose of human life”. By God, Sri Ramakrishna meant the Supreme Self, the Ultimate Reality, of which the individual Selves are parts of reflections. This means, as Swami Vivekananda put it, each soul is potentially Divine; every person has in him or her the power to attain Supreme Knowledge, power and happiness. Religion is a discipline, which enables a person to unfold and manifest the infinite possibilities that he holds in his soul. Thus, religion for Sri Ramakrishna is not mere subservience to certain social customs and external observances but a process of inner growth known as spiritual development, which enables man to overcome his limitations, solve the problems of life, and attain supreme fulfillment and immortally. This is actually the central principle of Vedanta, the ancient system of philosophy and spirituality, which forms the foundation of Indian culture. Sri Ramakrishna reestablished this ancient ideal through his life and teachings.
   

Sri Ramakrishna rediscovered forgotten spiritual paths and revalidated the authenticity and practicability of the spiritual traditions of India. Not only that. By following the spiritual paths of other religions, Sri Ramakrishna, revalidated the spiritual authenticity of the other world religions as well. This has enabled millions of people to recover faith in God and eternal verities. No less a person than Mahatma Gandhi has borne testimony to this fact. ‘The story of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa’s life, wrote Gandhiji, ‘is a story of religion in practice. His life enables us to see God face to face.’ Through his God-intoxicated life Sri Ramakrishna proved that the revelation of God takes place at all times and that God-realization is not the monopoly of any particular age, country, or people.

The second major contribution of Sri Ramakrishna to world thought, for which he is more famous, is the principle of harmony of religions. This principle was derived from the profound realization of the oneness of the Ultimate Reality, which Sri Ramakrishna attained by actually following the spiritual paths of different religions. He did not subscribe to the popular notion that all religions are the same. On the contrary, he recognized the differences among religions, but held that, in spite of these differences, every religion has an essential core of spirituality, which constitutes the common ground of all religions. The differences among religions pertain to their nonessential aspects. As regards the Ultimate Reality, just as the same water in a pond is called pani, jal, etc, by different linguistic groups, so the same God is known by different names.

   

This idea had been expressed more than four thousand years ago by the Vedic sages in the dictum, ekam sad vipra bahudha vadanti, ‘Truth is one; sages call it by various names’. What Sri Ramakrishna did was to validate this ancient Truth through personal experience and apply it in the field of inter-religious relations. Thus he declared, “As many faiths, so many paths.” The paths vary, but the goal remains the same. Harmony of religions is not uniformity; it is unity in diversity. It is not a fusion of religions, but a fellowship of religions based on their common goal — communion with God. This harmony is to be realized by deepening our individual God-consciousness. In the present-day world, threatened by nuclear war and torn by religious intolerance, Sri Ramakrishna’s message of harmony gives us hope and shows the way.

Yet, another important contribution of Sri Ramakrishna to world thought is the spiritualization of human relationships. He saw God in all people-in the poor, the sinner, and the suffering as well as in the rich, the virtuous and the joyful. He treated all with respect. He did not like the idea of showing compassion to people, which implied an attitude of condescension. Instead, he taught that man should be served as God. It was this idea of service as worship that Swami Vivekananda later on developed into his famous Gospel of social service and made it the basis of all social service activities carried on by the different institutions of the Ramakrishna Movement.

Source: http://srkmys.org/ramakrishna.html

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Sri Aurobindo
15 August 1872- 5 December 1950
(1950-12-05)
Sri Aurobindo (born Aurobindo Ghose; 15 August 1872 – 5 December 1950) was an Indian nationalist, freedom fighter, philosopher, yogi, guru, and poet.He joined the Indian movement for freedom from British rule and for a duration became one of its most important leaders, before developing his own vision of human progress and spiritual evolution.
Central theme of Sri Aurobindo’s vision is the evolution of human life into life divine. He writes: “Man is a transitional being. He is not final. The step from man to superman is the next approaching achievement in the earth evolution. It is inevitable because it is at once the intention of the inner spirit and the logic of nature’s process.”
Sri Aurobindo synthesized Eastern and Western philosophy, religion, literature, and psychology in writings. Aurobindo was the first Indian to create a major literary corpus in English. His works include philosophy; poetry; translations of and commentaries on the Vedas, Upanishads, and the Gita; plays; literary, social, political, and historical criticism; devotional works; spiritual journals and three volumes of letters. His principal philosophical writings are The Life Divine and The Synthesis of Yoga, while his principal poetic work is Savitri: A Legend and a Symbol.
Sri Aurobindo was born in Calcutta, India, to Dr. Krishna Dhan Ghose, District Surgeon of Rangapur, Bengal, and Swarnalata Devi, the daughter of Brahmo religious and social reformer, Rajnarayan Basu. Dr. Ghose chose the middle name Akroyd to honour his friend Annette Akroyd.
Aurobindo spent his first five years at Rangapur, where his father had been posted since October 1871. Dr. Ghose, who had previously lived in Britain and studied medicine at King’s College, Aberdeen, was determined that his children should have an English education and upbringing free of any Indian influences. In 1877, he therefore sent the young Aurobindo and two elder siblings – Manmohan and Benoybhusan – to the Loreto Convent school in Darjeeling.
Aurobindo spent two years at Loreto convent. In 1879, Aurobindo and his two elder brothers were taken to Manchester, England for a European education. The brothers were placed in the care of a Rev. and Mrs. Drewett. Rev. Drewett was an Anglican clergyman whom Dr. Ghose knew through his British friends at Rangapur. The Drewetts tutored the Ghose brothers privately. The Drewetts had been asked to keep the tuitions completely secular and to make no mention of India or its culture.
In 1884, Aurobindo joined St Paul’s School. Here he learned Greek and Latin, spending the last three years reading literature, especially English poetry. Dr. K.D. Ghose had aspired that his sons should pass the prestigious Indian Civil Service, but in 1889 it appeared that of the three brothers, only young Aurobindo had the chance of fulfilling his father’s aspirations, his brothers having already decided their future careers. To become an ICS official, students were required to pass the difficult competitive examination, as well as study at an English university for two years under probation. With his limited financial resources, the only option Aurobindo had was to secure a scholarship at an English university, which he did by passing the scholarship examinations of King’s College, Cambridge University. He stood first at the examination. He also passed the written examination of ICS after a few months, where he was ranked 11th out of 250 competitors. He spent the next two years at the King’s College.
By the end of two years of probation, Aurobindo became convinced that he did not want to serve the British, he therefore failed to present himself at the horse riding examination for ICS, and was disqualified for the Service. At this time, the Maharaja of Baroda, Sayajirao Gaekwad III was travelling England. James Cotton, brother of Sir Henry Cotton, for some time Lt. Governor of Bengal and Secretary of the South Kensington Liberal Club, who knew Aurobindo and his father secured for him a service in Baroda State Service and arranged a meeting between him and the prince. He left England for India, arriving there in February, 1893. In India Aurobindo’s father who was waiting to receive his son was misinformed by his agents from Bombay (now Mumbai) that the ship on which Aurobindo had been travelling had sunk off the coast of Portugal. Dr. Ghose who was by this time frail due to ill-health could not bear this shock and died.
In Baroda, Aurobindo joined the state service, working first in the Survey and Settlements department, later moving to the Department of Revenue and then to the Secretariat, writing speeches for the Gaekwad. At Baroda, Aurobindo engaged in a deep study of Indian culture, teaching himself Sanskrit, Hindi and Bengali, all things that his education in England had withheld from him. Because of the lack of punctuality at work resulting from his preoccupation with these other pursuits, Aurobindo was transferred to the Baroda College as a teacher of French, where he became popular because of his unconventional teaching style. He was later promoted to the post of Vice-Principal. He published the first of his collections of poetry, The Rishi from Baroda.He also started taking active interest in the politics of India’s freedom struggle against British rule, working behind the scenes as his position at the Baroda State barred him from overt political activity. He linked up with resistance groups in Bengal and Madhya Pradesh, while travelling to these states. He established contact with Lokmanya Tilak and Sister Nivedita. He also arranged for the military training of Jatindra Nath Banerjee (Niralamba Swami) in the Baroda army and then dispatched him to organise the resistance groups in Bengal. He was invited by K.G. Deshpande who was in charge of the weekly Induprakash and a friend from his days in Cambridge to write about the political situation. Aurobindo started writing a series of impassioned articles under the title New Lamps for the Old pouring vitriol on the Congress for its moderate policy.[15] He wrote:
    “Our actual enemy is not any force exterior to ourselves, but our own crying weaknesses, our cowardice, our selfishness, our hypocrisy, our purblind sentimentalism”
further adding:
    “I say, of the Congress, then, this, – that its aims are mistaken, that the spirit in which it proceeds towards their accomplishment is not a spirit of sincerity and whole-heartedness, and that the methods it has chosen are not the right methods, and the leaders in whom it trusts, not the right sort of men to be leaders; – in brief, that we are at present the blind led, if not by the blind, at any rate by the one-eyed.”
The Congress which practised more mild and moderate criticism itself, reacted in a way which frightened the editors of the paper who asked Aurobindo to write about cultural themes instead of Politics. Aurobindo lost interest in these writings and the series was discontinued.[13] Aurobindo’s activities in Baroda also included a regimen of yogic exercises and meditation, but these were minor in comparison to the work he would take up in his later life. By 1904 he was doing yogic practices for five-six hours everyday
Aurobindo used to take many excursions to Bengal, at first in a bid to re-establish links with his parents’ families and his other Bengali relatives, including his cousin Sarojini and brother Barin, and later increasingly in a bid to establish resistance groups across Bengal. But he formally shifted to Calcutta (now Kolkata) only in 1906 after the announcement of Partition of Bengal. During his visit to Calcutta in 1901 he married Mrinalini, daughter of Bhupal Chandra Bose, a senior official in Government service. Sri Aurobindo was then 28; the bride Mrinalini, 14. Marrying off daughters at a very young age was very common in 19th century Bengali families.
In Bengal with Barin’s help he established contacts with revolutionaries, inspiring radicals like Bagha Jatin, Jatin Banerjee, Surendranath Tagore. He helped establish a series of youth clubs with the aim of imparting a martial and spiritual training to the youth of Bengal. He helped found the Anushilan Samiti of Calcutta in 1902. When the Partition of Bengal was announced, there was a public outpouring against the British rule in India. Aurobindo attended the Benares session of Congress in December 1905 as an observer, and witnessing the intensity of people’s feelings decided to throw himself into the thick of politics. He joined the National Council of Education and met Subodh Chandra Mullick who quickly became a supporter of Aurobindo’s views. Mullick donated a large sum to found a National College and stipulated that Aurobindo should become its first principal. Aurobindo also started writing for Bande Mataram, as a consequence of which, his popularity as a leading voice of the hardline group soared. His arrest and acquittal for printing seditious material in Bande Mataram consolidated his position as the leader of aggressive nationalists. His call for complete political independence was considered extremely radical at the time and frequently caused friction in Congress. In 1907 at Surat session of Congress where moderates and hardliners had a major showdown, he led the hardliners along with Bal Gangadhar Tilak. The Congress split after this session.[17] In 1907–1908 Aurobindo travelled extensively to Pune, Bombay and Baroda to firm up support for the nationalist cause, giving speeches and meeting various groups. He was arrested again in May 1908 in connection with the Alipore Bomb Case. He was acquitted in the ensuing trial and released after a year of isolated incarceration. Once out of the prison he started two new publications, Karmayogin in English and Dharma in Bengali. He also delivered the Uttarpara Speech s:Uttarpara Speech hinting at the transformation of his focus to spiritual matters . The British persecution continued because of his writings in his new journals and in April 1910 Aurobindo signalling his retirement from politics, moved to Pondicherry.
Aurobindo’s conversion from political action to spirituality occurred gradually. Aurobindo had been influenced by Bankim’s Anandamath. In this novel, the story follows a monk who fights the soldiers of the British East India Company. When in Baroda, Aurobindo and Barin had considered the plan of a national uprising of nationalist sannyasis against the empire.[18] Later when Aurobindo got involved with Congress and Bande Mataram, Barin had continued to meet patriotic youngsters for recruitment for such a plan. In 1907, Barin introduced Aurobindo to Vishnu Bhaskar Lele, a Maharashtrian yogi.
Aurobindo had been engaged in yogic discipline for years, but disturbances to his progress following the recent events surrounding the Congress had put him in the need of consulting a yogi. After attending the Surat session of the Congress in 1907, Aurobindo met Lele in Baroda. This meeting led him to retire for three days in seclusion where, following Lele’s instruction, Aurobindo had his first major experience, called nirvana – a state of complete mental silence free of any thought or mental activity. Later, while awaiting trial as a prisoner in Alipore Central Jail in Calcutta Aurobindo had a number of mystical experiences. In his letters, Sri Aurobindo mentions that while in jail as under-trial, spirit of Swami Vivekananda visited him for two weeks and spoke about the higher planes of consciousness leading to supermind[citation needed]. Sri Aurobindo later said that while imprisoned he saw the convicts, jailers, policemen, the prison bars, the trees, the judge, the lawyers as different forms of one godhead, Krishna
The trial (“Alipore Bomb Case, 1908”) lasted for one full year, but eventually Sri Aurobindo was acquitted. His Defence Counsel was Chiitaranjan Das. On acquittal, Sri Aurobindo was invited to deliver a speech at Uttarpara where he first spoke of some of his experiences in jail. Afterwards Aurobindo started two new weekly papers: the Karmayogin in English and the Dharma in Bengali. However, it appeared that the British government would not tolerate his nationalist program as then Viceroy and Governor-General of India Lord Minto wrote about him: “I can only repeat that he is the most dangerous man we have to reckon with.” The British considered the possibilities of a retrial or deportation, but objections from Lord Minto, or the Bengal government at different instances prevented immediate execution of such plans.
When informed that he was sought again by the police, he was guided to the French territory Chandernagore where he halted for a few days. On April 4, 1910, he finally landed in the French colony of Pondicherry.
In Pondicherry, Sri Aurobindo completely dedicated himself to his spiritual and philosophical pursuits. In 1914, after four years of concentrated yoga, Sri Aurobindo was proposed to express his vision in intellectual terms. This resulted in the launch of Arya, a 64 page monthly review. For the next six and a half years this became the vehicle for most of his most important writings, which appeared in serialised form. These included The Life Divine, The Synthesis of Yoga, Essays on The Gita, The Secret of The Veda, Hymns to the Mystic Fire, The Upanishads, The Renaissance in India, War and Self-determination, The Human Cycle, The Ideal of Human Unity, and The Future Poetry. Many years later, Sri Aurobindo revised some of these works before they were published in book form. It was about his prose writing of this period that Times Literary Supplement, London wrote on 8 July 1944, “Sri Aurobindo is the most significant and perhaps the most interesting…. He is a new type of thinker, one who combines in his vision the alacrity of the West with the illumination of the East.He is a yogi who writes as though he were standing among the stars, with the constellations for his companions.”
For some time afterwards, Sri Aurobindo’s main literary output was his voluminous correspondence with his disciples. His letters, most of which were written in the 1930s, numbered in the several thousands. Many were brief comments made in the margins of his disciple’s notebooks in answer to their questions and reports of their spiritual practice—others extended to several pages of carefully composed explanations of practical aspects of his teachings. These were later collected and published in book form in three volumes of Letters on Yoga. In the late 1930s, Sri Aurobindo resumed work on a poem he had started earlier—he continued to expand and revise this poem for the rest of his life. It became perhaps his greatest literary achievement, Savitri, an epic spiritual poem in blank verse of approximately 24,000 lines. During World War II, he supported the allies, even donating money to the British Government, describing Hitler as a dark and oppressive force.
On August 15, 1947, on his 75th birthday, when India achieved political independence, a message was asked from Sri Aurobindo. In his message, which was read out on the All India Radio, Sri Aurobindo dwelt briefly on the five dreams he has cherished all his life and which, he noted, were on the way to being fulfilled. Sri Aurobindo died on December 5, 1950, after a short illness.
Sri Aurobindo’s close spiritual collaborator, Mirra Richard (b. Alfassa), came to be known as The Mother simply because Sri Aurobindo started to call her by this name. On being asked by why he called her the Mother, Sri Aurobindo wrote an essay called The Mother in order to shed light on the person of Mirra.
Mirra was born in Paris on February 21, 1878, to Turkish and Egyptian parents. Involved in the cultural and spiritual life of Paris, she counted among her friends Alexandra David-Neel. She went to Pondicherry on March 29, 1914, finally settling there in 1920. Sri Aurobindo considered her his spiritual equal and collaborator. After November 24, 1926, when Sri Aurobindo retired into seclusion, he left it to her to plan, run and build Sri Aurobindo Ashram, the community of disciples that had gathered around them. Some time later when families with children joined the ashram, she established and supervised the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education which, with its pilot experiments in the field of education. When Sri Aurobindo died in 1950, the Mother continued their spiritual work and directed the Ashram and guided their disciples. In the mid-1960s she personally guided the founding of Auroville, an international township endorsed by UNESCO to further human unity near the town of Pondicherry, which was to be a place “where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities.” It was inaugurated in 1968 in a ceremony in which representatives of 121 nations and all the states of India placed a handful of their soil in an urn near the center of the city. Auroville continues to develop and currently has approximately 2100 members from 43 countries, though the majority consists of Indians, French, and Germans. The Mother also played an active role in the merger of the French pockets in India and, according to Sri Aurobindo’s wish, helped to make Pondicherry a seat of cultural exchange between India and France. The Mother stayed in Pondicherry until her death on November 17, 1973. Her later years, including her myriad of metaphysical and occult experiences, and her attempt at the transformation at the cellular level of her body, are captured in her 13-volume personal log known as Mother’s Agenda.
One of Sri Aurobindo’s main philosophical achievements was to introduce the concept of evolution into Vedantic thought. Samkhya philosophy had already proposed such a notion centuries earlier, but Aurobindo rejected the materialistic tendencies of both Darwinism and Samkhya, and proposed an evolution of spirit along with that of matter, and that the evolution of matter was a result of the former.
He describes the limitation of the Mayavada of Advaita Vedanta, and solves the problem of the linkage between the ineffable Brahman or Absolute and the world of multiplicity by positing a hitherto unknown and unexplored level of consciousness, which he called The Supermind. The supermind is the active principle present in the transcendent Satchidananda as well in the roots of evolution: a unitary level of which our individual minds and bodies are minuscule subdivisions.
Sri Aurobindo rejected a major conception of Indian philosophy that says that the World is a Maya (illusion) and that living as a renunciate was the only way out. He says that it is possible, not only to transcend human nature but also to transform it and to live in the world as a free and evolved human being with a new consciousness and a new nature which could spontaneously perceive truth of things, and proceed in all matters on the basis of inner oneness, love and light.

Read Full Post »

Swami Sivananda
8 September 1887-14 July 1963
 

On Thursday, the 8th. of September, 1887, in the early hours of the morning, when the star Bharani was in the ascendant was born a boy-child in the village of Pattamadai on the bank of the river Tamraparani in South India. Sri P.S. Vengu Iyer, a revenue officer and a great Siva Bhakta (devotee of Lord Siva), and Srimati Parvati Ammal, an equally great god-fearing lady, were the fortunate parents of this child. The happy couple christened this last and third son of theirs Kuppuswamy.
Boy Kuppuswamy was intelligent and mischievous. In his boyhood itself he showed signs of Tyaga (renunciation) and love for fellow-beings. He used to pity the poor, feed the hungry at the door, and make his father throw a pie into the hands of pauper passing by. He often got cakes and sweetmeats from his mother and distributed them liberally to his younger companions, dogs, cats, crows, and sparrows, himself not eating a bit. He used to bring flowers and bael leaves for his father’s Siva Puja.
At the Rajah’s High School, Ettayapuram, where he studied, Kuppuswamy always topped the class and won prizes every year. He had a sweet voice and wonderful memory. When His Excellency Lord Ampthil, the Governor of Madras, visited the Kuru Malai Hills in 1901 for hunting, Kuppuswamy sang a song of welcome on the Kumarapuram railway platform. After the completion of the Matriculation examination, he studied at the S.P.G. College, Tiruchirapalli. In the college he used to take part in debates and dramas. He played the part of Helena beautifully when Shakespeare’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream” was staged in 1905.
After the completion of the First Arts Examination, Kuppuswamy went to the Medical School in Tanjore to study medicine. He used to be tremendously industrious and never went home during the holidays. He would spend the entire period in the hospital. He had free admission into the operation theater. Kuppuswamy was first in all subjects. He possessed more knowledge than doctors with covetable degrees, and in the first year itself he could answer the papers which the final year students could not.
Kuppuswamy completed the course and earned the title of M.B.,C.M. He practiced at Tiruchi. While practicing, he started a medical journal called “The Ambrosia”. He got one hundred rupees from his mother for the initial expenses of running the journal. Later, when his mother wanted a hundred and fifty rupees for celebrating some festival, Dr. Kuppuswamy had the money ready for her. Even then he used to distribute the journal freely; he was very shy to ask people for contribution.

A call came to Dr. Kuppuswamy from Malaya, soon after the death of his father. He used to have an adventurous spirit in him. In 1913 he left India in the “S.S. Tara”. Kuppuswamy belonged to an orthodox Brahmin family and was afraid to take non-vegetarian food in the ship. So he carried with him a good quantity of sweets which his mother had prepared for him. When he arrived in Singapore, he was almost half dead!
Dr. Kuppuswamy describes his experiences in Malaya: “Immediately after disembarking, I went to the residence of Dr. Iyengar. He gave me a letter of introduction to his friend, Dr. Harold Parsons, a medical practitioner in Seremban. When I arrived there, Dr. Parsons introduced me to Mr. A.G. Robins, the manager of a nearby rubber estate which had its own hospital. Fortunately for me, Mr. Robins was just 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 to start with”.
The young doctor worked very hard. Unusual handicaps began to tell upon him and he felt like resigning the job after some time, but Mr. Robins would not allow him to go.
Dr. Kuppuswamy was very kind, sympathetic, humorous, witty, and sweet-speaking. Hopeless cases came to him, but success was sure. Everywhere people declared that he had a special gift from God for the miraculous cures effected in the patients and acclaimed him as a very kind and sympathetic doctor with a charming and majestic personality. In serious cases, he kept vigil all night. In his private practice, Dr. Kuppuswamy used to attend to the poor and often not charge them even visiting or consulting fees. Instead he would give them money for special diet or to cover their own expenses after discharge from hospital. He gave money like water.
Once a poor man, drenched to the skin, came to the doctor at night. His wife was in birth pangs. The doctor went there at once to her aid, and after attending to her, stayed outside the hut in spite of the heavy rain. Only after the save delivery of the child did the doctor return home the next morning.
In spite of his busy life, Dr. Kuppuswamy served the Sadhus, Sannyasins, and beggars. He attended marriage functions, parties, and other social gatherings. Once a Sadhu gave him a book “Jiva Brahma Aikyam” by Sri Swami Satchidananda. It ignited the dormant spirituality in him. He began to study the books of Swami Rama Tirtha, Swami Vivekananda, Sankara, Imitation of Christ, the Bible, and literature of the Theosophical Society. He was very regular in his daily worship, prayer and Yoga Asanas. Study of sacred scriptures like the Gita, the Mahabharata, the Bhagavata, and the Ramayana was done with great devotion. Sometimes he conducted Nandan Charitam and sang Bhajans and Kirtans. He practiced Anahat Laya Yoga and Swara Sadhana.
High-class dress, and collection of curious and fancy articles of gold, silver, and sandalwood always attracted the doctor. Sometimes he purchased various kinds of gold rings and necklaces and wore them all at the same time. He used to wear ten rings on ten fingers! When he entered shops, he never wasted his time in selection, haggling, and bargaining. He gathered all that he saw. He paid the shopkeepers’ bills without scrutiny.
Nothing could tempt the doctor. His heart was as pure as the Himalayan snow. His immense philanthropy and spirit of service and renunciation endeared him to all. People lovingly called him the “Heart of Love”.
The rich doctor did not engage a cook permanently. He was his own cook though he had work that gave him no leisure. Occasionally he engaged a cook. One such cook of his one day wanted to have a photograph of himself taken. The doctor took him with great joy to a first class studio, made the cook put on his own suit, shoes, and hat and had a photo taken.

As days passed, he reflected more and more and wanted to renounce the world. His heart was purified through loving service. At last, Dr. Kuppuswamy, enjoying a lucrative practice, renounced the world like Prince Siddartha, in 1923. He left Malaya for India.
At Madras he proceeded to the house of a friend and left his luggage there. He began his pilgrimage. At Benares, he had the Darshan (vision) of Lord Visvanath. He visited Mahatmas (great souls) and temples. At Dhalaj, a village on the bank of the Chandrabaga river, he met a postmaster and lived with him. He acted as the postmaster’s cook, and when the latter arrived home in the evening, the doctor was ready to shampoo his legs in spite of his remonstrances! It was the postmaster who suggested Rishikesh when the aspiring doctor wanted a place for solitary meditation.
Dr. Kuppuswamy reached Rishikesh on the 8th of May, 1924. On the 1st of June, 1924, there came His Holiness Sri Swami Visvananda Saraswati. The doctor saw a Guru in the monk and the monk saw a Chela (disciple) in the doctor. After a brief exchange of words, Dr. Kuppuswamy was initiated into the Sannyas order by Swami Visvananda. Swami Vishnudevanandaji Maharaj, the Mahant of Sri Kailas Ashram, performed the Viraja Homa ceremonies. The Guru named the doctor Swami Sivananda Saraswati. Swami Visvananda wrote the necessary instructions about Sannyas Dharma from Benares. Swami Sivanandaji stayed at Swargashram for Sadhana.

Swami Sivananda dressed to clothe himself, ate to live, and lived to serve humanity. A small dilapidated Kutir (hut), not resorted to by others and infested with scorpions, protected him from rain and sun. Living in that Kutir, he did intense Tapas (austerities), observed silence, and fasted. Often he fasted for days on end. He would keep a good stock of bread in his room, and for a week have this, together with Ganges water. He would stand up to the hips in the ice-cold Ganges in winter mornings and commence his Japa, coming out only when the sun appeared. He would spend more than twelve hours in daily meditation. With all his intense Tapas, Swamiji did not neglect service of the sick. He visited the huts of the Sadhus with medicines, served them, and shampooed their legs. He begged food on their behalf and fed them with his own hands when they fell sick. He brought water from the Ganges and washed their Kutirs. He attended upon cholera and small-pox cases. If necessary, he kept vigil through the night by the side of the bed of the ailing Sadhu. He carried sick persons on his back to the hospital. With some money from his insurance policy that had matured, Swamiji started a charitable dispensary at Lakshmanjula in 1927. He served the pilgrims and saw Narayana in them.
Swamiji practiced all the various Yogas and studied the scriptures. After years of intense and unbroken Sadhana, he enjoyed the bliss of Nirvikalpa Samadhi. He had come to the end of his spiritual journey.
He used to gather bits of paper and used envelopes, and stitch them into little notebooks. He entered some self-instructions in them. Some of the instructions found in them read thus: “Give up salt, give up sugar, give up spices, give up vegetables, give up chutnies, give up tamarind”. In another we read: Serve Bhangis, serve rogues, serve inferiors, remove faecal matter, clean clothes of Sadhus – take delight, carry water”. In another page: “Do not revenge, resist not evil, return good for evil, bear insult and injury”. On some neat little pages we again read: “Forget like a child any injury done by somebody immediately. Never keep it in the heart. It kindles hatred. Cultivate Maitri (friendship), Karuna (compassion), Daya (mercy), Prema (love), Kshama (forgiveness)”. In another paragraph we see: “Develop good manners, extreme politeness, courtesy, etiquette, good demeanour, nobility, gentleness, mildness. Never be rude, harsh, or cruel. There is nothing to be hated in the world. Hatred is ignorance. All contempt for anything or being must be removed through love and Vichara (enquiry)”.
Swamiji traveled the whole length and breadth of India during his Parivrajaka (wandering monk) life. He visited important places of pilgrimage in the South, including Rameswaram. He conducted Sankirtan and delivered lectures. He visited Aurobindo Ashram and met Maharishi Suddhananda Bharati. At Ramana Ashram, he had Darshan of Sri Ramana Maharishi on the Maharishi’s birthday. He sang Bhajans and danced in ecstasy with the Bhaktas of Ramana. Swamiji went on a trip to Kailas-Manasarovar and Badri.

He returned after the pilgrimage, to Rishikesh, and in the year 1936 sowed the seed of The Divine Life Society on the bank of the holy Ganga. He found an old Kutir, dilapidated and disused, which looked like an abandoned cowshed. To him it was more than a palace. It had four ‘rooms’. He cleaned the Kutir, and occupied it. Then, the increasing number of disciples who sought his lotus-feet, undaunted by forbidding conditions of living, necessitated expansion. They found more cowsheds, vacant, but uninhabitably filthy. In one room, an old cowherd was living; the others were full of hay and dung. In about a year or so, the old cowherd also vacated his ‘room’, and the Divine Life army completed the occupation. Thus began the early life of The Divine Life Society.
From this small beginning the Society grew imperceptibly and it is now the headquarters of a world-wide Organization having a large number of Branches both within the country and outside. He got the Divine Life Society Registered as a Trust in the year 1936, with the main objects of dissemination of spiritual knowledge and selfless service of humanity. The free distribution of spiritual literature drew a steady flow of disciples of Sri Swamiji. With the getting of able hands, he started the various departments of the Society to provide suitable fields of activity for the purification of their hearts and to grow spiritually. The publication of the monthly journal, ‘The Divine Life’, was commenced in September 1938, to coincide with the celebration of his birthday. The world was in grip of the 2nd world-war and in order to release a continuous stream of peace-current in the whole world, to help the distressed minds of the people, he started the Akhanda Mahamantra Kirtan (non-stop chanting of the Mahamantra, Hare Rama Hare Rama; Rama Rama Hare Hare; Hare Krishna Hare Krishna; Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, round-the-clock) on the 3rd of December 1943, and also instituted the Lord Sri Visvanath Mandir with three-time regular worship, daily, on the 31st December 1943.
Swami Sivananda believed in synthesis in everything, in Yoga as well as in the alleviation of human suffering. The Allopathic treatment was inseparable from him and the Society, even from the earliest days of his life at Swargashram. He now felt the need to serve the people with genuine Ayurvedic preparations out of the rare Himalayan herbs. He therefore instituted the Sivananda Ayurvedic Pharmacy in 1945, which now has grown to such an extent that it is even unable to cope up with the increasing demands from people.
Swami Sivananda organized the All-world Religions Federation on the 28th December 1945 and established the All-world Sadhus Federation on 19th February 1947. The year 1947 saw a great expansion in the activities of the Society. It was the year of the Diamond Jubilee of the Great Soul, when a number of buildings sprang up. The Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy was established in the year 1948 to give a systematic spiritual training to the resident Sadhaks, and also to benefit the visiting seekers.
Swami Sivananda undertook a lightning All-India and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) tour in 1950 to deliver his divine message throughout the length and breadth of the country. He virtually awakened the moral and spiritual consciousness in the hearts of the people. The effect was tremendous. Since then there was an incessant flow of seeking souls to the Ashram, as also a greater inflow of letters from aspirants from the entire country, which demanded more intense dissemination of knowledge. The Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy Press was established in September 1951, a powerful means of wide dissemination of knowledge. Sri Swamiji convened the World Parliament of Religions in 1953, at the Sivanandashram.
The small dispensary that was inseparable from Swami Sivananda, grew slowly and became regular Hospital with X-Ray and other facilities. The Sivananda Eye Hospital was formally opened in December 1957. The Hospital has 10 beds for in-patients at present and is being expanded to have 30 beds.
The Publication League had published almost all the writings of the Master and a need was felt by his disciples to do research in his works. This gave rise to the establishment of the Sivananda Literature Research Institute in 1958, which, among many things, decided to get the works of the Master translated and published systematically in all the regional languages in India. Thus the S.L.D. Committees was established in 1959 which has Regional Committees for each language.
The Society’s Silver Jubilee was celebrated in 1961, by which time the Master saw the fulfillment of his mission in his own lifetime.
Swami Sivananda radiated his divine and lofty message of service, meditation and God-realization to all parts of the world through his books, running to more than three hundred, through periodicals and letters. His devoted disciples are drawn from all religions, cults and creeds in the world.
Swami Sivananda’s Yoga, which he has significantly called the ‘Yoga of Synthesis’, effects a harmonious development of the ‘hand’, ‘head’ and ‘heart’ through the practice of Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga and Bhakti Yoga.
On the 14th of July 1963, the Great Soul Swami Sivananda entered Mahasamadhi (departure of a Self-realized saint from his mortal coil) in his Kutir on the bank of Ganga, in Shivanandanagar.
 

Rishikesh(1963-07-14)

Read Full Post »