Thursday, 1 November 2012

Swami Sivananda

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Swami Sivananda

Krishnananda and Sivananda (right), circa 1945
BornKuppuswami
(1887-09-08)8 September 1887
Pattamadai, Tamil Nadu, India
Died14 July 1963(1963-07-14) (aged 75)
Rishikesh
GuruSwami Vishwananda Saraswati
PhilosophyYoga of Synthesis
QuotationBe Good, Do Good.
Swami Sivananda Saraswati (September 8, 1887 – July 14, 1963) was a Hindu spiritual teacher and a proponent of Yoga and Vedanta. Sivananda was born Kuppuswami in Pattamadai, in the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu. He studied medicine and served in Malaya as a physician for several years before taking up monasticism. He lived most part of his life near Muni Ki Reti, Rishikesh.
He is the founder of The Divine Life Society (1936), Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy (1948) and author of over 200 books on yoga, vedanta and a variety of subjects. He established Sivananda Ashram, the headquarters of The Divine Life Society (DLS), on the bank of the Ganges at Shivanandanagar, at a distance of 3 kilometres from Rishikesh.[1][2][3]
Sivananda Yoga, the yoga form propagated by him, are now spread in many parts of the world through Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres, which was spread by Swami Sivananda's disciple, Swami Vishnu Devananda, who he sent to the west to spread yoga. Unfortunately, these centres are not affiliated to Swami Sivananda's ashrams which are run by the Divine Life Society.

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[edit] Early life

Sivananda was born Kuppuswamy in Pattamadai near Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu, India, as the third son to his parents on 8 September 1887.[4] As a child he was very active and promising in academics and gymnastics. He attended medical school in Tanjore, where he excelled. He ran a medical journal called Ambrosia during this period. Upon graduation he practiced medicine and worked as a doctor in Malaya for ten years, with a reputation for providing free treatment to poor patients .[4] Over time, a sense that medicine was healing on a superficial level grew in him,[4] urging him to look elsewhere to fill the void, and in 1923 he left Malaya and returned to India to pursue a spiritual quest.

[edit] Initiation

Upon his return to India in 1924, he visited Varanasi, Nashik, and then Rishikesh, where he met his Guru, Swami Vishwananda Saraswati. It was Swami Vishwananda who initiated him into the Sannyasa order, and gave him his monastic name.[4] However, since Sivananda spent only a few hours with Swami Vishwananda, the full Viraja Homa ceremonies were performed later[when?] by Swami Vishnudevananda, the Mandaleswara of Sri Kailas Ashram .[4] After initiation, Sivananda settled in Rishikesh, and immersed himself in intense spiritual practices. Sivananda performed austerities for many years but he also continued to nurse the sick. With some money from his insurance policy that had matured, he started a charitable dispensary at Lakshman Jhula in 1927, serving pilgrims, holy men and the poor using his medical expertise.

[edit] Travels

After a few years, Sivananda went on an extensive pilgrimage and traveled the length and breadth of India to meditate at holy shrines and came in contact with spiritual teachers throughout India. During this Parivrajaka (wandering monk) life, Sivananda visited important places of pilgrimage in the south, including Rameshvaram.[4] He conducted Sankirtan and delivered lectures during his travels. He visited the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, and met Maharishi Suddhananda Bharati. At the Ramana Ashram, he had the darshan of Ramana Maharshi on Maharshi's birthday.[5] He sang bhajans and danced in ecstasy with Maharshi's bhaktas. He also went on pilgrimages to various places in northern India including Kedarnath and Badrinath. He visited Kailash-Manasarovar in 1931.

[edit] Foundations

Sivananda Kutir at Sivananda Ghat, and Sivananda Ashram above, Muni Ki Reti, Rishikesh
During Sivananda's stay in Rishikesh and his travels around India, many came to him for guidance in the spiritual path. He permitted some of them to live near him and instructed them. Sivananda asked his students take copies of his short articles and send them for publication. Over time, large numbers of people started coming to him and his devotees started growing in numbers.
Sivananda founded the Divine Life Society in 1936 on the banks of the Ganges River. The free distribution of spiritual literature drew a steady flow of disciples to the Swami, such as Swami Satyananda Saraswati, founder of Satyananda Yoga.
In 1945, Swami Sivananda created the Sivananda Ayurvedic Pharmacy, and organized the All-world Religions Federation. He established the All-world Sadhus Federation in 1947 and Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy in 1948. He called his yoga the Yoga of Synthesis.

[edit] Disciples

Interiors of the Sivananda Samadhi temple, Divine Life Society, Muni Ki Reti, Rishikesh
Swami Sivananda's two chief acting organizational disciples were Swami Chidananda and Swami Krishnananda. Swami Chidananda was appointed President of the Divine Life Society by Swami Sivananda in 1963 and served in this capacity until his death in 2008. Swami Krishnananda was appointed General Secretary of the Divine Life Society by Swami Sivananda in 1958 and served in this capacity until his death in 2001. Swami Krishnananda is widely regarded as one of the most important theologians and philosophers of the 20th century.[6][7]
Other prominent disciples were Swami Venkatesananda Saraswati (South Africa, Mauritius, Madagascar, Australia), Swami Pranavananda Saraswati (Malaysia) and Swami Sivananda Radha (Canada). Another prominent disciple was Swami Sahajananda Saraswati (South Africa), who was directed by Swami Sivananda to establish the Divine Life Society of South Africa.
Disciples who went on to grow new organisations

[edit] Authorship

A prolific author, Swami Sivananda wrote 296 books on a variety of subjects: metaphysics, yoga, religion, western philosophy, psychology, eschatology, fine arts, ethics, education, health, sayings, poems, epistles, autobiography, biography, stories, dramas, messages, lectures, dialogues, essays and anthology.[8] His books emphasized the practical application of Yoga philosophy over mere theoretical knowledge. He was known to have said, An ounce of practice is better than tons of theory. Practice Yoga, Religion and Philosophy in daily life, and attain Self-realization.[9]

[edit] Death

Swami Sivananda died on 14 July 1963 in his Kutir on the bank of the Ganges, in Shivanandanagar.[5]

[edit] Bibliography

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ Divine Life Society Britannica.com
  2. ^ Divine Life Society Divine enterprise: Gurus and the Hindu Nationalist Movement, by Lise McKean. University of Chicago Press, 1996. ISBN 0-226-56009-0. Page 164=165.
  3. ^ Swami Shivananda Religion and anthropology: a critical introduction, by Brian Morris. Cambridge University Press, 2006. ISBN 0-521-85241-2. Page 144.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Autobiography of Swami Sivananda
  5. ^ a b His Holiness Sri Swami Sivananda Saraswati Maharaj
  6. ^ Stephen Phillips Ph.D, Professor of Philosophy University of Texas at Austin Department of Philosophy University of Texas at Austin
  7. ^ Francis Clooney Ph.D, Professor of Divinity and Comparative Theology Harvard University Divinity School Harvard Divinity School
  8. ^ Complete Works of Swami Sivananda
  9. ^ See 'Sadhana Tattva': http://www.dlshq.org/download/allsiva.htm#_VPID_122

[edit] Further reading

  • Sivananda and the Divine Life Society: A Paradigm of the "secularism," "puritanism" and "cultural Dissimulation" of a Neo-Hindu Religious Society, by Robert John Fornaro. Published by Syracuse University, 1969.
  • From man to God-man: the inspiring life-story of Swami Sivananda, by N. Ananthanarayanan. Published by Indian Publ. Trading Corp., 1970.
  • Swami Sivananda and the Divine Life Society: An Illustration of Revitalization Movement, by Satish Chandra Gyan. Published by s.n, 1979.
  • Life and Works of Swami Sivananda, by Sivananda, Divine Life Society (W.A.). Fremantle Branch. Published by Divine Life Society, Fremantle Branch, 1985. ISBN 0-949027-04-9.
  • Sivananda: Biography of a Modern Sage, by Swami Venkatesananda. Published by Divine Life Society, 1985. ISBN 0-949027-01-4. Online

[edit] External links

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