The fundamental aims and objects of the Divine Life Society, as a whole, are purely spiritual, entirely non-sectarian, universally applicable and perfectly tolerant. The Society offers a peaceful haven wherein is provided ample opportunity and actual help for the restoration of peace to the troubled, conflict-ridden and psychologically traumatised personality of the modern man.
Swami Sivananda, a great, kind-hearted saint with a passion to help all beings established The Divine Life Society in 1936 with its headquarters at the Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh, India. He declared that the goal of life is Self-realisation. Man is a part of the supreme spirit and has a spark of that divinity in himself. It is the birthright of every human being to attain the supreme divinity that is intrinsic in the human condition.
The basic ideal of the Divine Life Society is to make known the inherent divinity in all human beings. The ethical foundations of the Society are purity, integrity, nobility and magnanimity. It is the endeavour of the Society to bring the lofty ideals of the great seers and sages of the past and the ancient scriptures within the reach of the common man.
He summed up his teachings in few words: Serve, Love, Give, Purify, Meditate, Realise, Be Good, Do Good, Be Kind, Be Compassionate, indicating the four main yogic paths of attaining supreme divinity. He called this approach 'Synthesis of Yoga' or 'Integral Yoga.' Thus The Divine Life Society aspires for the spiritual awakening of individuals, but leaves the choice of the path of yoga to each person. Everyone should find the combination that suits him for the onward march to the state of perfection and bliss.
Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj affirms that the fundamental principles of all the religions are the same. All the religions and all the sages are trying to explain the same Truth. Swami Sivananda's life and teachings are based on this universal Truth and are equally useful to people of all religions, faiths and countries. The Divine Life Society is based on this broad vision and the lofty universal values common to all religions. So, the membership of The Divine Life Society is open to all spiritual aspirants, irrespective of their faith and nationality. The goal is to make a man a true human being - a Hindu a true Hindu, a Christian a true Christian, a Muslim a true Muslim.
Membership of the Society is open to any person whose endeavour it is to develop in himself the divine qualities of universal love, selflessness, purity, integrity, nobility, etc. through the practice of truth, purity, non-violence and universal love. The Society has about 400 branches and many sub-branches and centres spread all over the world.
Swami Sivananda was known as a practical vedantin. Though the Divine Life Society is founded on the loftiest ideals, it has a practical approach:
It is catering to the spiritual thirst of aspirants through publication of spiritual books and audio and video contents.
It is providing an ideal atmosphere for spiritual practice and guidance at the Ashrams run by the Society.
It is undertaking community welfare activities to alleviate the misery and suffering of sick, poor and destitute people.
The Society runs charitable hospitals and dispensaries providing free modern medical care to the poor. It extends aid to underprivileged students for education and undertakes many community welfare programmes and philanthropic activities.
Swamiji assures that spiritual practice and the attainment of the supreme state of bliss, peace and happiness are possible even for the householder, while living in the world and carrying out his duties and obligations. The true field of activity of the Divine Life Society is not restricted to its headquarters and branches but is also extended to the home of each spiritual seeker. The real success and grandeur of this Institution is in inspiring millions of people all around the world on the upward path, kindling within them divinity and transforming their personality and approach to life.
The basic tenets of the Divine Life Society:
Understanding that life is divine in its origin, content and meaning.
Striving to attain perfection by unfolding the divinity hidden within.
External conduct should be noble. Not only thoughts should be sublime, but also speech and actions should be selfless.
Social well-being is not opposed to individual salvation. Even after attaining perfection, selfless service should be continued.
The Divine Life Society has been established
I. To Disseminate Spiritual Knowledge
(a) By publication of books, pamphlets and magazines dealing with ancient, oriental and occidental philosophy, religion and medicine in the modern scientific manner, and their distribution on such terms as may appear expedient to the Board of Trustees;
(b) By propagating the Name of the Lord, and by holding and arranging spiritual discourses and conferences and frequent Sankirtans (singing the Lords name) or spiritual gathering for singing and glorifying the Name of the Lord;
(c) By establishing training centres or societies for the practice of Yoga, for moral and spiritual Sadhanas (spiritual practices) and the revival of true culture, to enable aspirants to achieve regeneration through worship, devotion, wisdom, right action and higher meditation with systematic training in asanas (postures), pranayama (breathing exercise), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (superconscious state); and
(d) By doing all such acts and things as may be necessary and conducive to the moral, spiritual and cultural uplift of mankind in general and to the attainment of the above-mentioned objects in Bharatavarsha (India) in particular;
II. To Establish and Run Educational Institutions
On modern lines and on right basic principles and to help deserving students by granting them refundable and non-refundable scholarships for doing research work in the various branches of existing scriptures and comparative religion, as also to train them to disseminate spiritual knowledge in the most effective manner;
III. To Help Deserving Orphans and Destitutes
By rendering them such assistance as the Society may deem proper, whether in any individual case or in any particular class of cases;
IV. To establish and Run Medical Organizations
Or any other medical institutions and hospitals or dispensaries for the treatment of diseases and dispensing medicines and performing surgical operations, etc., to the poor in particular and to the other public in general, on such terms and in such manner as may be deemed expedient by the Board of Trustees;
V. To Take Such Other Steps from Time to Time
As may be necessary for effecting a quick and effective moral and spiritual regeneration in the world and in Bharatavarsha in particular.
The Society was registered as a Trust in the year 1936 and has been actively functioning since then to fulfill the above aims and objects in the world.