Swami Sivananda Saraswati (1887 – 1963) is a known spiritual teacher of India, doctor – scientist, who later became an ascetic and preacher of Yoga and Vedanta systems.
He was born under the name of Kuppuswami in Pattamdai town of Tiruvannamalai district, Tamil Nadu region, in a family already famous for its numerous sages, ascetics and scholars, starting with Apoaya Dikashitar, who wrote a precious study in the sixteenth century on the four Vedantic schools – Chaturmatahara Sangraha.
Swami Sivananda is A GENUINE DIVINE MODEL, demonstrating a superior human condition, creating a challenge for everyone in the modern era:
- He finished medical school with exceptional results, brilliantly practicing medicine, often free of charge and achieved very good results in hopeless cases;
- He became a swami and acted as a sadhu for a long time and afterward, gaining the supreme spiritual achievement, he formed and guided many disciples who, in turn, had exceptional results;
- He wrote around 300 books, living in a poor country such as India, during a period when printing a book was considered a special event even in rich Western countries.
Since adolescence he has shown amazing qualities having a pleasant voice and an excellent memory, also being a brilliant student with very good results at school. After graduating high school he decided to study medicine in Tanjore, where he quickly became known for his intellectual abilities, sometimes far surpassing teachers due to his very extensive knowledge.
In 1913, after graduating medical school (during which he won a reputation for athlete, and good comrade), the young doctor Kuppuswamy, who didn’t lack the spirit of adventure, decided to go to Malaysia where he began working as a resident doctor at the Estate Hospital in Singapore.
Swami Sivananda was reborn spiritually by renouncement
After an intense activity, doctor Kuppuswamy gave up all material possessions and became a monk wandering beggar, training in austerities, learning from the wise, visiting the great pilgrimage sites. In 1923 he arrived in Rishikesh, the upper valley of Gange.
On June 1st 1924 he was initiated by Paramahamsa Vishwananda Saraswati in the Order of Sannyas and given the name of Swami Sivananda Sarasvati. Swami Vishnudevanandaji Maharaj, the leader of Sri Kailas ashram, officiated the Viraja Homa ceremonies and Swami Sivananda remained at Swargashram to practice sadhana (a spiritual exercise).
Meditating 12 hours daily
Swami Sivananda lived to serve humanity. A small and beat-up hut full of scorpions protected him from the rain and wind, away from the world. There he held powerful tapas, listened to the silence and practiced fasting. Sometimes he would fast for days. All he had in the house was bread and that was it for a week, along with Gange’s water.
During the cold winter mornings, he would sit in the icy water of the sacred river and began his Japa, coming out from the water only after the sun appeared. He would spend more than 12 hours in meditation daily. With all his tapas Swamiji did not neglect his service to patients.
He practiced all types of yoga and studied the scriptures. After years of intense and uninterrupted sadhana, he enjoyed the blessing of the Nirvikalpa Samadhi state, thus reaching the end of his spiritual journey.
He awoke people’s souls
In 1936 he founded the Divine Life society, on the banks of the holy river Gange. Today it is the center and headquarters of an international organization with a large number of branches both in India and other countries and its main objective is to spread spiritual knowledge and selfless service offered to humanity. Free distribution of spiritual writings attracted a steady stream of disciples for Sivananda.
As he felt the need to help people with ayurvedic preparations derived from plants of the Himalayas, in 1945 he founded the Sivananda Ayurvedic Pharmacy which had a huge impact on the population, in no time hardly dealing with the demands. Swami Sivananda’s little dispensary has developed slowly and became a permanent hospital. Sivananda Hospital for eye diseases was opened in December 1957.
In 1950 Swami Sivananda undertook a spiritual journey through India and Ceylon, to deliver his divine message. He awoke people’s souls to a new life, a truly divine one. The effect was overwhelming. Since then the ashram continually received a stream of spiritual seekers and countless letters from aspirants all over the country, who demanded a greater spread of his teachings.
His divine message was widely spread by his disciple Swami Vishnudevananda, after investing him to teach yoga in the western world under aegis of Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres.
The yoga style taught by Swami Sivananda, called the “Yoga of Synthesis” is a complete spiritual and scientific perspective of this system. This type of yoga aims the effects of a harmonious development of the human being as a whole, reuniting the practices of Karma Yoga with Janana Yoga and Bhakti Yoga and is the basis for non-dualistic Abheda practices – Yoga in Life.
Swami Sivananda left this world, entering Mahasamadhi on July 14th 1963.
Swami Sivananda’s code of ethics (extracted from Sivananda Gita)
- Karma Yoga (the yoga of action or work) has elevated and purified me;
- At any moment I had an eye to be a relay for the Divine;
- I have never left a job before finishing it;
- I helped everyone with joy;
- I have never postponed a job;
- I prayed and practiced meditation for world peace, for health and peace of sick people, for the peace of departed souls and the souls all over the world;
- I helped the poor;
- I cared for the feet of the Sadhu and sick people;
- I waited and greeted guests with great care and joy;
- I kept my promises;
- I responded very quickly when I was asked for help;
- I please everyone with sincere and disinterested services;
- I do my work with gratitude, humility, respect and love for the Divine;
- I am constantly in tune with Macrocosmic Harmony;
- I am humble and simple;
- I am truthful and sincere;
- I am brave and wary;
- I don’t bend my ear to angry words and insults;
- I speak less. I think more. I meditate a lot. I aim to achieve and to participate as uplifting as possible at the work of the Divine.
- I love the Divine;
- I love everything;
- I respect the elderly and the Sadhu;
- I respect all saints and prophets of all religions. I respect all religions, all cults and all authentic beliefs;
- I am always happy and merry. I make others happy and merry as well;
- I always speak nice;
- I am tolerant and understanding;
- I am always content, optimistic and humorous;
- I am like a child in my purity and innocence;
- I am forgiving and compassionate;
- I am not vindictive;
- I lovingly correct those who are wrong.
- I love to give. I always offer something;
- I have a spontaneous generosity and without restraint or petty calculations;
- I love helping my students and the poor without expecting anything in return;
- I aim to be like a real mother to my students;
- I offer with grace and compassion;
- I don’t keep anything useless.
- I have always served my teachers with great sincerity and intense faith and devotion;
- I practiced asceticism and held diets when necessary. Thus, I gained many virtues;
- I held tenaciously to my ideals and principles;
- I fast two days a week. I do not speak bad words;
- I practice Yama and Niyama;
- I always look deep inside myself, I introspect, analyze and examine honestly and lucidly;
- I am very persistent with asanas and meditations. I also practice Pranayama regularly;
- I lead a simple and methodic life;
- I respect everything. I am the one who greets others first;
- I do not speak much. I live in silence;
- I study holy books.
- I have always adored Atma, the individual Self. I worked for the good of others without expecting any reward;
- “AHAM BRAHMA ASMI; SHIVOHAM; SO-HAM; SAT-CHIT-ANANDA SVARUPOHAM”. This is my favorite formula for Vedantic meditation;
- I have been to mountain or seaside resorts for a spiritual vacation. Changing work gives rest, but meditation gives plenty of rest;
- My joy is unspeakable. My treasure is immeasurable. I have achieved this through asanas, pranayama, renunciation, karma yoga, laya and meditation.
- I explain to others things I have practiced and verified;
- I practice and support yoga scientifically;
- I am not just a Vedantic speaker. I am a Vedantic practitioner;
- I identify myself with Everything. I start with Everything;
- I see God in everything around me.