The mind is responsible for the feelings of pleasure and pain. Control of the mind is the highest Yoga.
Sri Swami Sivananda Saraswati
Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati in his book, Development of Satyananda Yoga states that Swami Sivananda developed yoga as a therapy, he said that yoga is not just a science; rather it is a sadhana to realize the divinity within you…..you follow the philosophy to alter your mentality and you adapt yoga as a sadhana to enable you to reach into the depths of your mind. When you are able to reach into the deeper layers of your mind and recognize this process as a sadhana, then you will be able to get rid of the negative qualities of your personality and make space for divinity. He said: Make your life divine, Divinity is your birthright.
Sri Swami Sivananda Saraswati, was a great spiritual master of the 20th century who inspired thousands of people all around the world to practice yoga and lead a divine life. Born on 8 September, 1887 in Pattamadai, India, he grew up in an orthodox Brahmin family. After studying medicine, he went on to work as a medical doctor in Malaya. A decade later, he renounced his lucrative practice to search for his guru in the foothills of the Himalayas. On reaching the sacred valley of Rishikesh, he met Swami Vishwananda Saraswati who initiated him into the Dashnami Sannyasa tradition in 1924.
During his wondering monk life (parivrajaka), he travelled all over India meeting other luminaries, giving lectures, and uplifting thousands of people who came into contact with him. Apart from the hundreds of books and articles on yoga and spirituality which he wrote, it was his eightfold path- serve, love, give, purify, be good, do good, meditate, realize- which became the foundations for spiritual aspirants worldwide.
In 1936, he founded the Divine Life Society at Rishikesh which grew into a world-wide society whose goal has been to disseminate spiritual knowledge and promote selfless service to humanity. Other important institutions founded by Sri Swami Sivananda were the Sivananda Ayurvedic Pharmacy in 1945, the Yoga Vedanta Forest Academy in 1948 and the Sivananda Eye Hospital in 1957. Sri Swami Sivananda attained Maha Samadhi on 14th July 1963.
The foundations of the Divine Life ashram
Having worked as a successful doctor in Malaya, Sri Swami Sivananda Saraswati renounced the world in 1923 and traveled back to India where he began a pilgrimage visiting many enlightened souls (Mahatmas) and holy places. On reaching Rishikesh, he encountered Swami Vishwananda Saraswati, and immediately recognised him as his guru. After a brief exchange of words, Sri Swami Sivananda was initiated into Dashnami sannyasa tradition of Adi Shankaracharya by Swami Vishwananda Saraswati in 1924.
In 1936, after rigorous sadhana, intense tapas, fasting and periods of silence, Sri Swami Sivananda went to live in a crumbling little cowshed on the banks of the Ganga. Although he never intended to start an ashram, nor did he intend to have disciples and become a guru, spiritual aspirants began to flock around him, attracted by his luminosity, his selfless nature and his genuine love for one and all. It was at this time that the foundations of the Divine Life Society were sown, whose aim was the dissemination of spiritual knowledge worldwide and service to humankind. From his small kutir on the banks of the Ganga, Sri Swami Sivananda’s influence spread throughout the entire world.
He never came to the West and he never went to the East but today he is everywhere. Swami Satyananda Saraswati
Yoga practices revealed to the modern world
Sri Swami Sivananda was a visionary. He recognised that the practices of yoga were necessary for the modern world as they would mitigate the imbalances and distress that people were confronting. Traditionally, the deepest spiritual truths were not accessible to all as the scriptures were written in Sanskrit, usually known only by the Brahmin caste, to which he belonged. His profound knowledge of Sanskrit enabled him to devise simple yoga practices from the ancient texts making them available to both Indians and people from all over the world. Yoga was no longer shrouded in mysticism, but became a daily practice for every single human being regardless of cast, creed, religion or race. Integral Yoga.
Sri Swami Sivananda taught a synthesis of practical Vedanta and integrated yoga, as a means to cultivate virtues, develop one’s personality and self, and obtain excellence in life. Yoga was presented as a set of practical tools for the practitioner to use to develop and expand the faculties of “head, heart and hands” – the faculties of the mind and intellect; emotions, feelings and sentiments; and action, performance and creative expression.
Sri Swami Sivananda’s yoga of synthesis or integral yoga combined the four principal paths of yoga: karma yoga (the path of action) bhakti yoga (the path of devotion) raja yoga (the path of psychic control) and jnana yoga (the path of self-analysis and knowledge).He taught that for real spiritual evolution to take place these four categories of yoga sadhana had to be integrated into one’s daily life.
Practise karma yoga for purification of mind and heart, hatha yoga to keep up good health and strength and purify the prana and steady the mind, raja yoga to destroy the samskaras and induce concentration in meditation, and jnana yoga to remove the veil of ignorance and ultimately rest in one’s own satchidananda swarupa. Swami Sivananda Saraswati
The eight-fold path was taught and lived by Sri Swami Sivananda: serve, love, give, purify, be good, do good, meditate, realize. This is the real expression of yoga. It is a unique road-map for all spiritual seekers, which continues beyond the personal attainments of raja yoga. When one applies the ashtanga yoga of Sri Swami Sivananda, one moves into the positive, creative expression of yoga in external life improving and uplifting the family, society and the environment.
Call to Divine Life
Yoga is complete life. It is a method which overhauls every aspect of the human nature. Yoga shows you the way. Swami Satyananda Saraswati
Sri Swami Sivananda showed people that God-realization was the true and real purpose for human birth, and the yogic path was the way to achieve that. By embracing the Divine Life, the practitioner brings spirituality into their everyday life. Sri Swami Sivananda advocated spiritualizing daily activities so that the whole of one’s life becomes divine. He taught this most powerfully through his own example. He saw God in every being and treated the poor, the sick, the suffering and the needy with the sincerity of worship. To serve others and share whatever he had was his true nature.
Sri Swami Sivananda initiated many aspirants into the Dashnami tradition. He trained and created sannyasins of an extraordinary calibre, some of whom became great luminaries in their own right. Twelve of his sannyasin disciples were given mandates whose mission it was to propagate different aspects of yogic and Vedantic culture in different parts of India and the world. One of these was Sri Swami Satyananda, to whom Sri Swami Sivananda entrusted the mission to “spread yoga from door to door and shore to shore”.
Just thinking of Swami Sivananda is yoga. Swami Satyanannda Saraswati