Siva’s life is God’s Guarantee to mankind. It is the Sadhaka’s Guide, an open scripture for all to learn from. It is a divine bridge, linking the finite with the Infinite, connecting the land of mortals with the Realm of Immortality.
As a student, he exemplified in himself the ideals of obedience and reverence. The Young Dr. Kuppuswami showed that selfless and dynamic service paved the way to material prosperity, too! He set an example in indiscriminate charity and proved that it invited wealth, peace and happiness. As a flourishing doctor in Malaya during the 1920′s, his cheerful countenance and robust body, proclaimed that intense work done with the correct mental attitude strengthened the body, lengthened life, and infused peace into the heart and bliss into the soul of man.
By the single act of renunciation of all that riches and a prosperous career, Siva had taught more than any scripture could, that realisation of the Self is dearer than wealth, dearer than everything, than life itself. Awe-inspiring austerities, begging and pennilessness caused-not unhappiness nor suffering in the heart of the zealous seeker Dr. Kuppuswami, but-an intensification of the faith in God and His Unfailing Mercy.
To mankind blinded by the cataract of materialism, faithlessness and egoism, Siva extended his helping hand-the Divine Life Society. He gave asylum to aspirants in his Ashram. In the Forest Academy, Siva’s students have their inner vision unveiled.
This God has clothed himself in human garb. He has come amidst us as a Divine Invitation to a perennial Forest of Immortal Bliss.
I have watched Siva listen with great enthusiasm to palmists and astrologers praising and admiring his life and mission. Blessed are the palmists who have held the divine hand for few minutes; and blessed are the astrologers who have meditated upon His Divine Life for a while. Siva too, is interested in them, in encouraging them to express themselves and in making them known to the public at large. The creator of creation and the ordainer of the orbit of heavenly bodies; does he need to be told about his own traits and forewarned about his future?
He was born in 1887 to live for nearly another century. His birth-star was Bharani, which has made him rule the Dharani (earth). What need have we to analyse his horoscope? He has re-arranged our birth chart and changed the very course of our life. Blessed are we that we live in His Time.
The core of Siva’s teachings is sincerity, earnestness and aspiration. He is firm in his declaration that if one is eager to do Sadhana, it will be impossible for him to find excuses not to do it! If one wishes to do some exercises, he says, he will do them, even if he is bed ridden, on the bed itself. He has given the following easy exercises, which every one, however old and infirm, can practise.
Exercise No 1: Catch hold of your ankles behind your back while squatting. Now bend forward and touch the ground with your forehead. Release the hold on the ankles and in one backward motion swing back, resting the two palms on the ground. Keep the right palm on the ground and swing the trunk to the right and touch the ground on the right side with the left palm also. Twist the trunk to the left side and place both the palms on the ground on the left side.
Exercise No 2: Stretch the legs forward. Catch hold of the toes with your hands. Try to bend forward and touch the knees with your forehead, without bending the knees.
Exercise No 3: Sit cross-legged again. Breathe out completely and slowly. Draw the belly in (Uddiyana Bandha).
Exercise No 4: Release the abdomen. Breathe normally. Now, draw the belly in and release in rapid succession. Do not hold the breath. Do not shake the body also violently. This is an exercise exclusively for the stomach. This is called Agnisara.
Exercise No 5: Close the fist and raise the forearm, bending at the elbows. Throw the arms forward; then again draw the forearm backward, bending at the elbows. Repeat this three or four times. Stretch the arms sideways and resume the normal position. Similarly, stretch the arms upwards and bring them back to the normal position.
You can similarly evolve your own exercises, to suit your needs.
Siva began practising Yogasanas even while he was serving as a doctor in Malaya. He was so enthusiastic about them that he taught them to his cook (who later became his disciple, Swami Shraddhananda, and attained Mahasamadhi at his lotus-feet). Sirsasana is undoubtedly the most favourite Asava of Siva. He regards it as the King of Asanas. It is a tonic to the brain, a cure for many ailments of the eyes and ears, a blessing for Brahmacharins and brain-workers, and an indispensable friend of spiritual aspirants. In fact, Siva likes Sirsasana so much that even to those who plead inability to do it, he prescribes the “Rabbit-Pose” (sit in Vajrasana, bend forward and touch the ground with the crown of your head, resting the palms a little away on either side) or at, least, letting the head “hang out” of the bed for a while. Sarvangasana is the next important Asana which Siva likes very much and prescribes to everyone who wishes to maintain good health and enjoy a long life. “Even if you can’t do Sirsasana and don’t do other Asanas, practise Sarvangasana for a few minutes a day,” says Siva.
Paschimottanasana completes the trio. It exercises the abdomen and the spine, thus warding off a host of diseases and preserving perfect health. Sarvangasana exercises the thyroid gland and enables you to enjoy everlasting youth. Sirsasana makes you shine with Ojas Shakti.
Vajrasana Siva prescribes to all to help digestion; sit in it for fifteen minutes after meals and you will never suffer from indigestion.
Siva is very very regular in the practice of Asanas; and he emphasises that even if you select two Asanas and devote three minutes to the practice, if you are regular, you will derive immense benefit.
Technique: Sit comfortably on a chair, sofa or easy chair. Draw the air through both nostrils, as long as comfortable. Retain as long as comfortable. Repeat your Mantra or ” OM” while retaining the breath. Then exhale as long as comfortable. You need not observe any ratio between the inhalation, exhalation and retention; but let the inhalation and exhalation be deep and full.
Benefits: The benefits of this Pranayama are incalculable. All the muscles are relaxed. All the nerves are toned. Rhythm and harmony are established in the entire being. Mind is calmed. Circulation is promoted. An inexpressible peace and bliss come to reign within you.
You can do it in the morning while lying in bed. Your mind will become alert for commencing Japa and Dhyana. You can do it when the mind is about to lose balance on account of the setting in of lust, anger or other evil Vrittis; the mind will be filled with a great power that will prevent the evil Vrittis from disturbing it. You can do it just before commencing your study; the mind will be concentrated easily and what you study will be indelibly impressed in your mind. You can do it during your office work; you will get new strength every time and you will never be tired. When you return home from the office you can practise this Pranayama and you will be recharged with fresh energy.
The greatest advantage is that once you start doing it you will do it very often; and your mind can never find an excuse for not practising this Ati-Sukha-Purvak Pranayama, very very easy and comfortable Pranayama which has all the advantages of Pranayama, without its “rules and regulations”. Do it from now without fail.
Siva is the living illustration of “Brahma Karma-Samadhi” which Lord Krishna has described in the Bhagavad Gita. He is a life-long ceaseless meditation on the Absolute. It is Siva who has fulfilled the mission of the sages of the Upanishads and who has synthesised meditation and life itself into a divine unbroken experience of God-consciousness.
His life demonstrates his teachings. And, he instructs his disciples to practise what he has aptly termed “battle-field Pratyahara”. The aspirant should be able to shut-in the mind on the battle-field of daily life, anywhere at any time. At the same time, Siva insists upon the first attempt at meditation in the quiet early morning hours-Brahmamuhurta. This is when the Sadhaka fixes his mind on God: Dharana. The rest of the day is to be meditation, unbroken God consciousness in the midst of endless routine of variegated activity.
Siva is synthesis, every inch of him. He cannot see difference among the Yogas, religions or systems of philosophic thought. To prove this, this Bee-God has gathered the essence from all Yogas and from all religions and in his own honeycomb, the Sivananda Literature, given us the honey of Divine Life, the Yoga of synthesis.
He wants us to be Bhaktas and Yogins, Dhyanins and Jnanins, dynamic selfless workers and detached Vedantins, all at the same time. He leads the way. The continuous meditation during the day that Siva practises and preaches is, thus, made to run through all the grooves of the Yoga of Synthesis. God in the man makes us His servants, God in the shrines makes us His devotees, God within us beckons to us to close our eyes and remain self forgetfully absorbed in him. God in all reveals the Cosmic Consciousness that pervades all creation and transcends it. This is the method of meditation that Lord Sivananda exemplifies in himself for our emulation.
Siva’s Kirtan, like Krishna’s Flute is enrapturing. In it mingle melodiously the plaintive prayer of a meek devotee, the eager comradeship of a loving friend, the humble submission of a loyal servant, and the total surrender of a conquered beloved. In the sweetest nectar of his Nama-Sankirtan, Siva has mixed the Nava-Rasas; and in his mode of singing he beautifully expresses all the Bhavas.
Siva adores all Gods, knowing that there is only One God. He sings the following invocatory San-Kirtan Dhvanis invariably at the commencement of every auspicious undertaking.
Jaya Ganesha Jaya Ganesha Jaya Ganesha Pahi Mam
Sri Ganesha Sri Ganesha Sri Ganesha Raksha Mam
Jaya Sarasvati Jaya Sarasvati Jaya Sarasvati Pahi Mam
Sri Sarasvati Sri Sarasvati Sri Sarasvati Raksha Mam
Saravanabava Saravanabava Saravanabava Pahi Mam
Subramanya Subramanya Subramanya Raksha Mam
Jaya Guru Siva Guru Hari Guru Ram
Jagad Guru Param Guru Sat Guru Shyam
Adi Guru Advaita Guru Ananta Guru Om
Chit Guru Chidghana Guru Chinmaya Guru Om
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Namah Sivaya Namah Sivaya Nama Sivaya
Namah Sivaya Namah Sivaya Nama Sivaya
Dattatreya Dattatreya Dattatreya Pahi Mam
Dattaguru Dattaguru Dattaguru Raksha Mam
Anjaneya Anjaneya Anjaneya Pahi Mam
Hanumanta Hanumanta Hanumanta Raksha Mam
Ganga Rani Ganga Rani Ganga Rani Pahi Mam
Bhagirathi Bhagirathi Bhagirathi Raksha Mam
Om Tat Sat Om Tat Sat Om Tat Sat Om
Om Shanti Om Shanti Om Shanti Om.
Was it to remove a Puranic misconception that Siva danced? Lord Siva’s Tandava-Nritya even now evokes dreadful awe in the heart of the devotee; it signifies the end of a world-cycle, a Pralaya. Before our very eyes Bhagavan Sivananda has often danced; we now realise that Lord Siva’s Tandava-Nritya, too, should have been a bliss-radiating spectacle, transporting those who are fortunate to witness it, to realms of bliss and peace. Siva’s dance does signify the end of a world-cycle; those who have witnessed it are liberated here and now from the cycle of birth and death.
On the lecture platform Siva would sing:
Sunaja Sunaja Sunaja Krishna!
Tu Gitavala Jnana Sunaja Krishna
Agad Bhum Agad Bhum Bhaje Damaru
Nache Sadasiva Jagad-Guru
Sivananda would dance like Krishna, with a countenance radiating bliss; and change the Sankirtan Dhvani and with a serenely peaceful expression do the Tandava-Nritya. Why did he combine the two? Is it to reveal to us that Krishna’s Rasa-Lila, Siva’s Tandava-Nritya and Sivananda’s Dance had the same message to mankind, and led man, through self-surrender and annihilation of the little individual self, to liberation from Samsara?
Young and old, men and women, rich and poor, and high officials and haughty leaders-would dance with Siva. Siva’s bliss is highly infectious. Once he danced in Lahore; people who had no faith in Saguna-Upasana, in His Name, began to dance, too, and their headgears rolled on the ground; so blissfully self forgetful were they. Siva’s dance liberates us from our own little self’s vanities.
To what sort of a God does this incarnate Divinity pray? Read the first line of Siva’s Universal Prayer: (text is given below)
“O Adorable Lord of Mercy and Love”
Well, where does this Lord reside? Read further:
“Thou art the Indweller of all beings”.
If you read between these two lines, you get at the secret. Siva, Lord Incarnate, prays to YOU the real Godhead in you-and Godhead this God defines as Mercy and Love-to awaken you to the reality that God is Mercy and Love. Why has he called this the “Universal Prayer”; not only because people belonging to all religions and creeds can repeat it, but because this prayer will bring universal peace and prosperity. And, what doubt is there if all are merciful and loving?
O Adorable Lord of Mercy and Love!
Salutations and prostrations unto thee
Thou art Omnipresent, Omnipotent, Omniscient,
Thou art Satchidananda.
Thou art the Indweller of all beings
Grant us an understanding heart,
Equal vision, balanced mind,
Faith, devotion and wisdom.
Grant us inner spiritual strength
To resist temptation and to control the mind.
Free us from egoism, lust, greed and hatred,
Fill our hearts with divine virtues.
Let us behold Thee in all these names and forms,
Let us serve Thee in all these names and forms,
Let us ever remember Thee.
Let us ever sing Thy Glories.
Let Thy Name be ever on our lips,
Let us abide in Thee for ever and ever.
“Routine” suggests a colourless life and insipid existence. But Siva the Master-Juggler is able to produce from his ordinary “routine”-box remarkable wonders that surprise and delight the world. Siva does not step out of his routine to work a wonder: he makes working wonders a routine job! The strong rope of his daily routine is composed of a thousand elastic bands of variegated activity. Early great thought is immediately acted upon; and the resultant action is assimilated into the routine, instantly creating room for the next wonder!
Here is the sage’s routine. He wakes up at 3 a.m. He concludes the recitation of morning hymns and Guru Stotras by 4 when he commences his morning meditation. At 6 he is ready for Asanas and bed exercises. Study and writing follow. After a light breakfast, the sage attends to his office-work,-interviewing visitors, instructing Sadhakas, inspecting Ashram-work, etc. At about midday he returns to his Kutir for his lunch and a brief rest. Study and writing follow again; and the evening is spent in studying the incoming letters and interviewing visitors again. After a spell of evening meditation, the sage goes to the Satsanga Bhavan for the Satsanga. He is not only the Sat (the reality, the Good, the wise) whose Sanga (association) people come to have, but he himself conducts the programme, and makes it highly interesting for everybody. The Satsanga concludes at about 10 p.m. and, after ensuring every guest has been properly served and every inmate is comfortable, the sage retires for the night.
Siva lives for the good and for the spiritual uplift of mankind. This divine task forms his daily routine. Regularity in his habits, systematic work and punctuality in his attention to every item of his programme-these are the qualities that characterise his daily life and contribute to the success of his Mission.
-In His own words-
One man puts his title as M.Bh. This is not a doctor’s title; it means only “Madras Brahmin”. One man has his title S.S.O. It is not a sub-divisional officer. It means “Simply Sitting Officer”-i.e., an idler, loafer or a falthu. One man uses the title M.R.K.D. It means a “Member of the Rice-Killing Department’-i.e., a glutton or Sappattu-raman, who fills his belly with rice or rotti up to the mouth. Another calls himself I.C.S. in Summer and P.C.S. in Winter; it means Ice Cream Seller in summer and Potato Chop Seller in Winter.
Such title-holders are plenty in this world. Please do not aspire to own such big titles and come to limelight. Shun all such titles, hide yourself; you will be peaceful. Sincerity, simplicity, humility, generosity and devotion to God-these you should own and not self-deluding and world-cheating titles of the above type.
Half a dozen monkeys sat on a mango tree and discussed certain things. One monkey said: “Now listen to me. People say that man descended from us. No monkey ever divorced his wife. No monkey ever starved his children. No monkey abandoned his children and took Sannyasa. No monkey smokes, gambles, drinks and dances in a club. No monkey suffers from syphilis and takes 606 injection. No monkey marries a fourth wife at 80. No monkey takes another monkey’s life with a gun or knife or atom bomb. Be quite sure that he did not descend from us. Darwin is incorrect in his statement”.
Siva sometimes reads such pieces to infuse wisdom into casual visitors to the Ashram. In personal discussion and conversations, Siva is full of humour, though his lectures are more serious and serene, full of the fire of wisdom and Vairagya.
-In His own words-
Think well before you act: The doctor said: “Shake the bottle before use”. The attendant had by mistake giving the mixture to the patient without shaking the bottle. He then saw the label. He thought of a bright idea. He shook the patient several times. The feeble patient died immediately. Always be on the alert. Hear the instructions with rapt attention. Think well before you act.
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing: The Ayurvedic teacher said: Bhedikki Eduthatu Vaalam. Bhedi means cholera. It also means “motions”. Vaalam means croton. The teacher meant that Croton is very useful in constipation-to induce good motions.
The student adminstered it in cholera: the patient died at once.
English Laddu: Europeans like immensely this Laddu. They die for this Laddu. They eat it with avidity, cupidity and stupidity. Bhramin children throw this away. Some Indians also take this Laddu with the same avidity and stupidity. Its shape is different from Hindu Laddu. Its composition also is different. Its colour is different. Its property also is different. This Laddu is Tamasic. It hinders meditation. It is an enemy of Naturopaths. It cannot be broken lengthwise. It is not man-made Laddu. This famous English Laddu is Anda or egg.
With one doctor there is prescription. With two doctors there is consultation. With three doctors there is cremation.
In a few words Siva gives the most sublime truth and life-transforming advice, in a highly interesting manner.
In less than thirty years, Siva has done what would have been difficult for even a man of success to do in 90 most active years. Starting from scratch, Siva has himself done what (i) he and his immediate associates, (ii) his direct disciples, and (iii) their disciples ought to have done in due course of time.
This itself is proof positive of his divinity that Siva the mendicant, just a Sadhu living on alms obtained from the Swarg Ashram could give shelter to a good devotee-pilgrim to Badrinath for one night, and the next morning give him a piece of paper on which Siva had jotted down twenty points, suggesting to him (the pilgrim) that he should print and distribute the “Twenty Instructions” widely. This leaflet of Twenty Instructions guides millions all over the world today. How Siva’s works could spread so wide, so fast, is a mystery which no one but he could explain.
Siva has combined in himself (a) the sage who is beyond all “organisations” and “institutions,” ever eager to give, give, and give everything away, (b) the President or Secretary of an institution who is eager to create, to build, feeling it is his for whatever he wishes to do with it, and (c) a servant of the society, bound to serve the institution, to save its properties, which he does not regard as his, but towards which he has specific responsibilities because mysteriously Siva has been able to play triple role simultaneously, has he been able to turn out such enormous work.
Siva has delivered the message, demonstrated its practicability and its glory, founded an institution to perpetuate this, and strengthened this with his own divine Sat-Sankalpa and the spirit of dedication of his immediate disciples.
Details of this gigantic work are given in the following page.
Siva’s Mission in this incarnation is to re-establish Dharma. Siva’s Mission is just this; turning man’s gaze towards God, opening out a window in his consciousness through which man would perceive God, immanent in all creation, through transcendent, too. Siva has effectively proved by his glorious life and illuminating teaching that when man’s gaze is directed towards the world, his heart generates the undivine current of egoism, desire, hatred, and the like: and that when the gaze of the same man is turned towards God, from him flows the current of love, harmony, peace, selfless service-in short divinity.
Siva’s Mission is thus not proselytization but purification. He makes a Jew a real Jew, a Christian a true Christian, a Hindu a real Hindu, a Moslem a faithful Moslem, a Buddhist an ideal Buddhist. He reminds the followers of all the religions, of the ethical bases of the religion they profess, the spiritual goal they have to achieve. Standing on the Supreme Common Ground of all faiths, viz., God-consciousness, Siva roars his message of Divine Life so that people belonging to the various sects and sections might pay attention to their ranks and strengthen their force by rousing themselves to the full realisation of their glory.
Remoulding man in the image of God is Siva’s mission. Constantly he reminds each man of his divine nature, raises him to his divine stature, so that he can regain his spiritual heritage. To spiritualise the every-day activity of man, and to make Man’S Life on Earth a Life Divine-is Siva’s Mission. The Sivananda Ashram with its multifarious activities is itself Siva’s Mission on exhibition. There Sadhakas and Saints may be either cooks or clerks, typists or teachers, doctors or devotees, Sankirtanists or Scavengers, professors or proof-readers. All Work is worship if the angle of vision is changed: to proclaim this Truth is Siva’s Mission.
Lord Siva had his Trisula ready at hand, even Yama, the Lord of Death, trembled before It. Our Siva (Bhagavan Sivananda), holds a Trisula which saves us from death, save us from rebirth and makes us immortal.
Siva’s Trisula is “Regular Sadhana”. Regularity in Sadhana is more easily professed than practised. Therefore, the first prong of the Trisula is THE RESOLVES FORM. Every New Year’s Day, the earnest disciple of Siva takes “Resolves” to do a certain minimum Sadhana, to have some control over his habits, etc.
Resolves are as easily broken as they are taken! It won’t do to postpone all the Japa and all the meditation, etc., that we have “Resolved to do” per day, to the last hour. There must be a DAILY ROUTINE which contains in it the elements of positive Sadhana that the resolve forms “promised”. The resolves are now “pinned down” to fixed hours of the day.
Avoidable and unavoidable obstacles, inevitable omission and wilful remissness-find “lame excuses” why “I Just couldn’t adhere to the routine”. We discover how rigidly one day follows the other in its routine, only when we have loosened the reigns of the mind, and let our evil tendencies have the upper hand. Soon we roll down to a depth where we have never been in this birth. THE SPIRITUAL DIARY prevents this. It is a record of our spiritual assets and liabilities. It is a Divine Master that keeps us vigilant and watchful. One day an item is missed: unavoidable. The Diary points out that there is no reason for the repetition of the fault. Siva raises the finger of warning from the columns of the diary. “Beware”. We can’t err twice if we maintain the diary.
The Three together-the Resolves, the Daily Routine and the Spiritual Diary-save us from ourselves !
Siva’s Discipline is a unique, bold experiment at self-discipline. Siva’s discipline is an experience of Self-realisation at every step.
Siva’s discipline is comparable to a fond mother’s eagerness to make her young son walk. She hopes he would eventually win a marathon race. But she knows the tiny legs aren’t strong enough to provide a firm and steady support for the body. She makes the child walk, but would not let it overexert itself or overtax its capacity.
Siva asks his disciples to keep the ideal before them, of perfect Vairagya, absolute spirit of renunciation, supreme control over mind and senses. But he makes generous allowances to cover each aspirant’s defects and shortcomings.
Siva’s discipline is the disciplined of the spirit. It is the readiness, the eagerness and the willingness that count. Sincerity is the greatest virtue. Rarely does he “test” his disciples to see if they are sincere in their sincerity!
Siva’s discipline is the discipline of love and spirit. By loving the most indisciplined, and by forgiving even the incorrigible, Siva “touches” their heart and in an extremely subtle way makes them feel the discipline is delight.
Siva’s Discipline is discipline inspired by personal example. The rigid discipline which he demonstrates in his own personal life, and the supreme compassion which he shows towards the recalcitrant disciple but the latter to shame which generates a spirit that disciplines the disciple in spite of himself.
Siva’s Discipline is Discipline by Choice, where the disciple is allowed absolute freedom to make or mar his career, but with resplendent Sivananda, illumining the path of Discipline by the Light of His Life, thus leading the disciple to self-discipline the disciple cannot go astray.
The Sivananda Ashram is Paradise on earth, a real Vaikuntha, Kailasa, Saket-Puri of Lord Rama, Go loka of Lord Sri Krishna, heaven and the Param Dham, in truth. It is the abode of the Living God, the shrine of His Incarnation.
The Sivananda Ashram is a world in miniature. A month’s stay there will enable you to gain more experience than a life time elsewhere. You will meet these people of multifarious temperaments, from all parts of the world, seeking after a wide range of goals.
The Sivananda Ashram is the loving bosom of a Cosmic Mother, Sivananda. It is the refuge of the destitute and the desperate. It is the last resort of everyone who has lost all hope and interest in life-where the hope and the interest are revived.
The Sivananda Ashram is the retired officer’s spiritual home, the Sadhaka’s Tapovana, the devotee’s Temple, and the Karma Yogi’s Yajnashala. It is the fountain-source of the Yoga of Synthesis, at which the thirsty aspirant might drink deep the nectar of wisdom that, perennially wells from the heart of Sivananda.
The Sivananda Ashram is an asylum. Those on the verge of a nervous breakdown, they who might go insane any moment, those who cannot find peace and harmony in their own home or the society they live in-they are welcomed, looked after, and transformed into useful citizens and householders.
The Sivananda Ashram is the place in which to search for a “lost son”; every young man whose previous good Samskaras generate dispassion at heart goes straight to Siva, the only modern sage who joyously welcomes such young men. So parents immediately wire to Siva: “Please look after my son who has run away from home and who, I am sure, has come to you.”
Sivananda Ashram is what its name implies: the place, which affords refuge to those who seek auspiciousness and spiritual bliss.