The Divine Life Movement
I love seclusion. I have to hide myself at times. I do not crave for name and fame. I did not spend much time in a deep study of all the scriptures and religions of the world, for preparing thrilling lectures. I never liked to spend time in writing fine essays for publication through books or newspapers. I was not pleased when people called me: "Mahatma, Guru Maharaj." I never planned for any Institution to perpetuate my name. But the Divine Will was different. The whole world came to me with all divine glory and splendour. That may be due to the intense prayers of thousands of sincere seekers after Truth coupled with my own inborn tendencies to share with others what I have and to serve the world on a large scale on the right lines, for the attainment of Light, Peace, Knowledge and Power.
I was induced to start the Divine Life Society when I found some facility and useful hands to carry on the work. I carried the Message of the Sages and Saints and taught the world the way for Peace and Bliss. Because of the popularity of the Divine Life Society, many learned and pious souls from far off lands have come to see me and, sharing with me the love for selfless service, are doing valuable work in spreading right knowledge, which alone can confer lasting peace and happiness. Many foreign Branches of the Divine Life Society are reprinting parts of my writings and distributing them free in their respective regions.
The Need of the Hour
When man gets entangled in selfishness, greed, lust, passion, he naturally forgets all about God. He always thinks of his body, family and children. He constantly attends to his food, drink, comforts and conveniences. He is drowned in the ocean of Samsara. Materialism and scepticism reign supreme. He gets irritated by little things and begins to fight. There is restlessness, misery, panic and chaos everywhere. Now the whole world seems to be in the grip of materialism. The invention of new kinds of bombs causes terror everywhere. People have lost faith in holy scriptures and the teachings of the sages and saints. People have become irreligious owing to wrong education and evil influences.
The stirring events since the advent of the twentieth century did not fail to have their effect upon all spiritual-minded people, Sannyasins, saints and men-of-God. The horrors of world wars moved them greatly. The fateful epidemic and the world-wide depression that followed it, touched their compassionate heart. They saw that the sufferings of mankind were mostly brought on by its own deeds. To awaken man to his errors and follies and to make him mend his ways so that he may enthusiastically utilise his life for attaining worthier ends, was felt to be the urgent need of the age.
Millions were eagerly looking for such guidance. This silent prayer was heard and I saw the birth of the Divine Life Mission with its task of rescuing man from the forces of bestiality and brutality and divinising his life upon this planet.
Just at this critical juncture, I started the Divine Life Society. Now people consider it a blessing to the world. It has as its basis the quintessence of the teachings of all religions and of all saints and prophets of the world. Its principles are broad, universal, all-embracing and in accordance with science and reason. It has set for itself the task of raising man above the sorrows and miseries of this mundane life by making him see the Blissful Divinity that is hidden behind all outward forms.
Good thoughts pervade and influence all good people. The thought-currents generated by the Divine Life Movement have had their effect upon the people of Europe and America, and now there is a great thirst for peace all over the world. Millions dread the speedy termination of the race by nuclear weapons.
Universal Ideals For Spiritual Perfection
The Divine Life Society is an all-embracing and all-inclusive Institution; its objects, ideals and aims are very broad and universal. It does not condemn any of the principles or tenets of any cult. It includes all the fundamental principles of all religions and cults. There are no pet dogmas or sectarian tenets. It leads people to the spiritual path. It enables people to take easily to the Divine Life even while living in the world and following the teachings of some particular cult or religion.
The Society has brought about a vigorous awakening throughout the world and has contributed much to a new life of freedom in action, a life of harmony amidst worldly turmoils and a life of bliss through mental non-attachment and mental renunciation of desires, egoism and mine-ness. There is universal appreciation of the principles, aims, ideals of the society and the method of its work. It lays great stress on the practical side of Sadhana. It expounds in a rational and scientific manner the Yoga of Synthesis. Members belonging to various institutions and organisations in all parts of the world become members of the Divine Life Society and write to me for spiritual guidance. I take special care of them and give them lessons through post for their spiritual progress and welfare. The Divine Life Society proclaims that any man can attain Wisdom in his own station of life, be he a Brahmachari, Grihastha, Vanaprastha or Sannyasi, be he a scavenger, Brahmin, Sudra or Kshatriya, be he a busy man of the world or a silent Sadhaka of the Himalayas. Divine Knowledge is not the sole property of Sannyasins, recluses.
It explains how although the central basis is Jnana Yoga, Vedanta, it is necessary for one to 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 Sankalpas and induce concentration in meditation; and Jnana Yoga to remove the veil of ignorance and ultimately rest in one's own Satchidananda Svarupa.
The Critical Juncture
Students became irreligious,
They lost faith in religion,
Under the influence of Science,
They neglected Dharma,
They began to smoke and gamble,
Girls became fashionable,
Officers became materialists,
Health of people deteriorated,
People shunned the scriptures,
Materialism had its sway.
At this critical juncture,
To revive the Glory of the Lord,
To disseminate knowledge of Yoga,
To preach the Yoga of synthesis,
To instil devotion and faith in people,
To work for the spiritual uplift of mankind,
To bring peace and bliss to every home,
I established the Divine Life Mission,
And founded the Yoga-Vedanta Forest University,
In a sacred, charming spot in the Himalayas,
On the banks of the Holy Ganga in Rishikesh.
Rapid Growth of the Mission
I started the Divine Life Society in 1936 for the spiritual uplift of mankind. I trained many sincere students in Yoga. For their quick spiritual evolution, I introduced the morning common prayer classes with Group Asana Class. To the local poor people and thousands of pilgrims I gave medical aid by starting a free dispensary. Experts were sent to various centres to deliver lectures on Bhakti, Yoga and Vedanta. A small temple was erected for prayers and worship. When a large number of students came for training, boarding and lodging facilities had to be provided for all the students and visitors; and thus Sivananda Ashram came into being.
The Yoga Vedanta Forest University came into existence when regular classes began to be conducted on all Branches of Yoga. To help the students all over the world, the University Press was established for printing necessary works on the practical side and half a dozen periodicals, with a number of machines to do the work automatically. The small dispensary grew into a big Sivananda Medical Organisation, with a General Hospital and a building of its own. Though the Divine Life Society continues to be the Central organisation, to fulfil the various functions that have developed to carry out organised work, many other institutions had to come into existence. Now the Ashram, a very big Spiritual Colony, looks like a huge factory with the wonderful, indescribable Peace of the Himalayas. Spiritual aspirants who come to the Ashram and stay there for months or for years, find that there is scope for spiritual progress both as workers in the different institutions of the Ashram and as silent meditators in the temple precincts or in the jungle retreats of the neighbourhood, and each chooses his line according to his own bent of mind.
More than to strive to reach a Heaven after this life, the followers of the Divine Life try to make conditions of Heaven prevail upon earth. The tenets of the Divine Life Society are perfectly non-sectarian and universally applicable. The basis of this Movement is adherence to the triple ideal of truth, non-violence and purity-the common fundamental tenets of all the religions throughout the world. Therefore the Divine Life Movement has the willing cooperation of the peoples of all faiths and cultures, a Plan of Life and a Goal that is common and acceptable to all upon earth, who wish to rise above sorrow and obtain lasting Bliss. This, then, is the Divine Life Movement.
No Secret Doctrines
The Path of Divine Life Sadhana is no other than the essence of all Yogas and the main essentials of all religions. Here everyone finds the features suitable and unoffending to his own faith or belief. The great need for a vigorous and intense working of its Ideals is more than ever patent today, because the most recent developments in the fields of science, politics and sociology have tended to bring mankind nearer than ever to the brink of the dangerous precipice of total agnosticism and violent self-destruction. Hatred and violence, untruth and deceit, vice and impurity are fast becoming the order of the day.
A strong counter-force alone can possibly balance to some extent this downward trend. Thus to counteract these baneful influences that are rampant today and to check man's whirling rush towards ruin, the Divine Life Society was established. I carry the message of peace, goodwill, spiritual fraternity and the realisation of the oneness of Spirit. There are neither petty dogmas nor secret doctrines nor esoteric sections in this Divine Life Movement. Lovers of Truth realise its fullness, infinite beauty, majesty and splendour. It gives room and shelter for all. It enables one to realise the religion of the heart, the religion of oneness.
What is True Religion
Not by mere argument or discussion can religion be taught. Not by precepts or moral canons alone can you convert a person to be religious. Not by pointing to your loads of sacred literature or the miracles of your Chief can an aspirant be won over. Practise religion and live upto its teachings if you want to evolve and attain the Goal of Life. Whatever be your religion, whosoever your prophet, whichever be your language and country, whatever be your age or sex, you can easily grow if you know the way to crush the ego, to destroy the lower nature of the mind and to have mastery over your body, senses and mind. This is what I have found out to be the way for real Peace and bliss eternal. Therefor I do not try to convince people by heated debates and arguments.
Real Religion is the Religion of the heart. The heart must be purified first. Truth, love and purity are the basis of real religion. Conquest of the lower nature of man, control of mind, cultivation of virtues, service of humanity, goodwill, fellowship and mutual amity, constitute the fundamentals of true religion. These ideals are included in the mottoes of the Divine Life Society. I am very particular in propagating these ideals on a wide scale.
I do not waste time in finding out suitable authoritative statements from scriptures to satisfy the curiosity of aspirants. I lead a practical life and try to be an example to the students for moulding their lives. Know that true religion begins when you go above body-consciousness. The essence of the teachings of all sages and saints, the fundamentals of all religions and cults, are the same. People needlessly fight over non-essentials and miss the Goal.
May the Divine Life Movement, the harbinger of peace, harmony and exalted life shed its lustre and glory throughout the world!
Gospel of Divine Life
The world of unreality is beset with many difficulties at every step that we take to attain the Goal-Nirvana-which the Lord Buddha attained after years of determined and steady struggle. The modern thinker has neither the requisite time nor the patience to perform rigorous Tapas and austere religious practices; and some of these are even being relegated to the superstitious level. In order to give the present generation the benefit that will result from religious practices, to reveal to them their real significance and also to convince them thoroughly of their efficacy and usefulness, I taught my gospel of DIVINE LIFE, which is a system of religious life suited to one and all, which could be practised by the common office-goer as well as the obscure labourer without undue interference in the performance of their daily round of duties. The beauty in "Divine Life" is its simplicity and practical applicability to everyday affairs of the ordinary man. While following the teachings of his own religion, a man can attain quick spiritual evolution by following the principles of Divine Life.
The average seeker after Truth is often deceived by the caprices of his mind. A person who takes to the spiritual path is bewildered before he reaches the end of his journey, and is naturally tempted to relax his efforts half-way. Many are the pitfalls, but those who plod on steadily by leading a Divine Life are sure to reach the goal of their religious aspiration, i.e., Self-realisation. I have laid great emphasis in all my writings upon disciplining of the turbulent senses, conquest of mind, purification of heart, attainment of inner peace and spiritual strength, to suit the different stages of evolution, the taste and temperament of each individual.
Oneness of Humanity
"The Upanishads say: 'All this is verily the Atman. The One, blissful Self indwells all beings.' The spiritual oneness of all humanity is a great lesson man needs today. Whatever has been and whatever will be in the future, all this is verily the one, eternal Being alone. The Message of Divine Life is: 'See God in all faces. Serve all. Love all. Be kind to all. Be compassionate. Feel everyone to be your own. Serve your fellow beings in the spirit of worship offered to the Divine which indwells them. Service of man is truly the worship of God.' Let this message ring freedom from end to end in every land. Let this message enter into every home and into the heart of everyone.
"All great religions of the world do verily declare this divine message of the spiritual basis of man's life. They do verily declare the universal brotherhood of man under the fatherhood of the Almighty Lord. Know well that the heart of the Vedas, the heart of the Bible, the holy Koran, the sacred Gathas and all the world scriptures are in truth one and sing in unison the sweet message of love and concord, goodness and kindness, service and worship. Discard the barriers of name and form. Seek the oneness at the heart of all beings. Include within your spiritual embrace entire humanity. Live for peace. Live for universal love. Live in the Life Divine."