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.
Eating, drinking, sleeping! A little laughter! Much weeping! Is that all ?
Do not die here like a worm. Wake up! Attain Immortal Bliss.
Sri Swami Sivananda Foundation
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.
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