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Introduction

Who is a saint? He who lives in God or the Eternal, who is free from egoism, likes and dislikes, selfishness, vanity, mine-ness, lust, greed and anger, who is endowed with equal vision, balanced mind, mercy, tolerance, righteousness and cosmic love, and who has divine knowledge, is a saint.

Saints and sages are a blessing to the world at large. They are the custodians of superior divine wisdom, spiritual powers and inexhaustible spiritual wealth. Even kings bow their heads at their lotus feet. King Janaka said to Yajnavalkya, “O venerable sage! I am grateful to your exalted holiness for obtaining the ancient wisdom of the Upanishads through your lofty and sublime instructions. I offer my whole kingdom at thy feet. Further, I am thy servant. I will on thee like a servant.”

Such is the magnanimous nature of saints and sages. Their very existence inspires others and goads them to become like them and attain the same state of bliss achieved by them. Had it not been for their existence, there would not have been spiritual uplift and salvation for you all. Their glory is indescribable. Their wisdom in unfathomable. They are deep like the ocean, steady like the Himalayas, pure like the Himalayan snow, effulgent like the sun. One crosses this terrible ocean of Samsara or births and deaths through their grace and Satsang. To be in their company is the highest education. To love them is the highest happiness. To be near them is real education.

The saints wander from village to village and disseminate divine knowledge. They move from door to door and impart wisdom. They take a little for their bare maintenance and give the highest education, culture and enlightenment to the people. Their very life is exemplary. Whether they deliver lectures or not, whether they hold discourses or not, it matters little.

Saints and sages only can become real advisers to the kings, because they are selfless and possess the highest wisdom. They only can improve the morality of the masses. They only can show the way to attain eternal bliss and immortality. Shivaji had Swami Ramdas as his adviser. King Dasartha had Maharshi Vasishtha as his adviser.

Study the lives of saints; you are inspired at once. Remember their sayings; you are elevated immediately. Walk in their footsteps; you are freed from pain and sorrow. There fore, the book “Lives of Saints” must be your constant companion. It must be in your pocket always. It must be underneath your pillow.

Do not superimpose defects on the saints on account of your Dosha-drishti or evil eye. You cannot judge their merits. Be humble and sit at their feet. Serve them with your heart and soul, keep them in your garden, clear your doubts. Get instructions and practise them in right earnest. You will certainly be blessed.

Every school, every college, every boarding-house, every jail, every institution, every house, should have a saint for guidance. Saints are in abundance. You do not want them. You do not wish to approach them. You do not wish to serve them. You do not aspire for higher things. You are perfectly satisfied with some broken shells and glass-pieces. There is no thirst or spiritual hunger in you for achieving higher divine knowledge and inner peace.

There is no caste among saints and sages. Do not look to their caste. You will not be benefited. You cannot imbibe their virtues. In higher religion, there is neither caste nor creed. Cobblers, weavers and untouchables had become the best saints. Wisdom and Self-realisation are not the monopoly of Brahmins alone. South Indian Brahmins pay respects and give food only to the Brahmin Dandi-Sannyasins. This is a serious mistake and a grave blunder. What a sad state! That is the reason why saints do not wish to visit South India. Punjab and Gujarat have devotion to all saints. Hence the saints move in those parts and people there derive much spiritual benefit from them.

In placing this book before the public in general, and the aspirants in the spiritual path in particular, it seems proper to write a few lines on the glory of saints, to whatever clime they may belong, have left their footprints on the sands of time, so that others, who are true and faithful, may follow their track in search of the Eternal Truth. Their lives have ever remained an inspiration to us. Their glory has ever been green in our memory. Their teachings have ever flowed with the tide of life. May they inspire us and guide us for ever!

The present work has been divided into thirteen sections. Saints do not strictly belong to any clime or country and no geographical limits can stop their influence from overflowing the boundaries. They belong to the whole world. Hence, to attach to them any provincial basis is to facilitate the easy understanding of the spiritual current started by each separately and by all conjointly for the spiritual regeneration of the land.

Man feels that he is weak and helpless. He has to counteract such evil tendencies through right exertion and through proper lead. To such persons the lives of saints serve as a guide. They mould their life, their character and their future. They change their mental outlook and convert them to the faith and teachings of their guide. Such true and reliable guides are the saints who have come and gone.

May this world be filled with good saints and sages! May you all attain the supreme goal through their Satsang and advice!! May the blessings of saints and sages be upon you all!!!

Sivananda
Ananda Kutir
8th January, 1947.


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