1. SIVANANDA'S LIFE
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.
2. SIVANANDA'S HOROSCOPE
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.
3. SIVANANDA'S BED EXERCISES
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.
4. SIVANANDA'S FAVOURITE ASANAS
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.
5. SIVANANDA'S PRANAYAMA
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.
6. SIVANANDA'S METHOD OF MEDITATION
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.
7. SIVANANDA'S KIRTAN
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.
8. SIVANANDA'S DANCE
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.
9. SIVANANDA'S PRAYER
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.
10. SIVANANDA'S ROUTINE
"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.
11. SIVANANDA'S METHOD OF WORK
Siva's method of work is methodical. His is a system that is designed to surmount all kinds of unsystematic activity of the workers who "help" (!) him. His own manuscripts and the various articles that are received for publication, get themselves triplicated at his hands, so that "even if one is lost the others would be same". Besides ensuring that the Ashram Library and "reprint shelf" are invariably provided with several copies of every new book, he maintains a Library of them himself, and he would laughingly reveal that "even if all these are lost, the Public Libraries in India would lend me a copy for reprint! I don't fail to send them a single book published by us.
To Siva all work is play and all play is work. His atonement with the Divine Will, his extraordinary sense of humour, and his disarming sense of oneness which he creates in everyone around him, make all his work look like a divine play. Those who have watched him very very closely know that he has a hidden, inward seriousness that transforms all play into work; a joy ride in a car would bring Divine Life to more people; a pleasure trip to Hardwar, Dehra Dun or Mussoorie would prove to be a round of Satsangas, and would culminate in a precious volume of his lectures and talks.
As a wise and efficient administrator, he trusts everybody and lets each office bearer of the institution handle his responsibility. He tolerates any amount of inefficiency. But the vital departments are under his immediate supervision; distribution of books free, attention to guests, holding of medical camps, etc. By his own example in the management of these departments, he gives the best lead to others in charge of other departments. With the insight of a Master, he would point his finger just at the spot where there has been a lapse!
Siva's method of work is incomparable.
12. SIVANANDA'S DURBAR
There sits His Holy Majesty, Siva, with mighty "Generals" of his Adhyatmik army, rulers of the mind and conquerers of the senses, at his feet, having been robbed of their heart. Siva has dethroned the little self which had so long reigned supreme in their heart, and enthroned himself there. No crown adorns his cleanshaven head; but the crowns of thousands of devotees' heads vie with one another for a dust of his feet.
Siva's Durbar is incomparable. Milk and honey flow; and fruits and sweets are offered to him and instantly distributed to every-body. Poets and musicians, talented artists and learned pandits, are all honoured.
Is it like Janaka's Durbar? Janaka was a royal sage; Siva is a sage royal. Janaka had enormous wealth; and he gave rich presents to those who deserved them. We don't hear that Janaka was involved in debt and yet was charitable! And, that is precisely what we find in Siva. When the Ashram is in debt to the tune of Rs. 80,000 Siva personally ensures that no item of expenditure is curtailed!
Is it like Karna's Durbar? Karna approaches Siva very close in charity. Whoever approaches Karna never returned empty-handed. But Siva never waits to be approached! He runs to you, to give you everything-food for your body, mind and soul!
Akbar, perhaps; he was famous for his lavish support of artists and poets. But the poor songster or poet who did not come up to his expectation forfeited his head; in Siva's Durbar, he gains almost equal recognition with the best of musicians and poets!
Above all, which King gave away such a wealth of wisdom? Apart from the dinners and entertainments, apart from the music, dance and drama, apart from the titles and presents awarded, Sivananda's Durbar will forever raise before our inner vision the inexhaustible spiritual treasure that Siva gave everyone, in plenty.
13. SIVANANDA'S TRAITS
The predominant feature of Siva's personality is the perennial inspiration that he radiates everybody who approaches him. Diffidence and gloom dare not get anywhere near him. In his presence "the lame climb hills and the dumb wax eloquent". The "artist" who has just learned to hold the brush, the "musician" who has found the first-lessons a nightmare, a doctor who can prescribe "Saridan" for headache, the "engineer" who is sure that bricks and mortar go to make a wall, and the "writer" whose assets is the luck which brought him to Siva, would all feel for the period they are in His Presence that they can perform better than the experts in their field!
Siva is all-optimism. He excels Churchill here: Churchill was sure of "ultimate victory" but to Siva every moment is success, and successive moments can only surpass each other in the glory! Problems and difficulties, obstacles and impediments, are as straw before the godly gale of Siva.
Siva is the positive pole in relation to the negative one-every distressed person on each. When they meet, a wonderful current of joy is generated and the bliss completes the circuit! Negative thoughts, negative feelings and negative (destructive) activities dare not approach him. In and around him thrive love, compassion, service, selflessness and unbounded dynamism.
"Seeing good in everything" is the material of which Siva's eye-balls are made. Serving all respectfully, worshipfully, lovingly and with all compassion is the power that animates his hands. Love is the predominant trait in this God among men. Sarva-bhutahite ratah-devoted to the welfare of every-body this divine being dwells on this blessed earth.
14. SIVANANDA'S BEHAVIOUR
Siva's behaviour is a model for every gentleman in the world to copy. The poise and dignity of bearing, the nobility and serenity of demeanour, the grace and compassion of his look, the sweetness and kindness of his speech, the majesty of his gait, and the politeness of his commands these are the qualities of Siva that ought to be closely watched, learnt and assimilated.
The sage who is worshipped by the foremost saints of the world as Lord Incarnate, bows to everyone and greets even a child with folded palms. He always uses the respectable mode of addressing everybody. By his own example he has revived the glorious "Namaskara-Yoga" which Lord Krishna taught to Sri Uddhava (vide the Bhagavata).
Siva is a Universal Being in which every person sees his own reflection. An American Businessman finds that Siva's polished manners and efficient administrative ability, would obtain for him a front-rank among the businessmen of America. Europeans crowd round his lotus feet, claiming that, by virtue of his etiquette and cultured behaviour, he belongs to them.
Towards his own disciples and everyone who comes to him with an afflicted heart; Siva behaves as though he is their grandmother,-loving, indulgent, consoling and kind. There is no limit to his tolerance and forbearance in their case. But he does not merely want to heal their sores: he infuses strength into them. Occasionally he would show that is heart is full of compassion, but not weak: and for a brief moment now and then he would reveal that he is a divine taskmaster, stern and exacting.
Siva has no codified behaviour: it is the spontaneous expression of his divine nature.
15. SIVANANDA'S SISHTACHARA
The devil finds it convenient to quote the scripture: for he has information without the responsibility to know, the true spirit to assimilate and to put it into practice. An Upanishadic Mantra is parodied to pamper pride: "who is to bow to whom?" asks the false Vedantin. Yagnavalkya was instructing Maitreyi on the state of Absolute Consciousness where one is not conscious of a second thing! The false Vedantin's doctrine is laconically expressed by Siva in his famous Sutra: "Teen Kaalme Jagat nahim, daal me nimak nahim" (He prattles 'there is no world in the three periods of time', but he is angered when there is no salt in the soup!). To such Vedantins, Siva is an eye-opener. His Sishtachara is intended to awaken them to the right way to qualify themselves for the descent of Vedantic realisation.
Siva honours all Sannyasins, Sadhus, Pandits, Artists and Leaders. He greets them with a Namaskara that portrays the divine humility and devotion of his heart. He offers them fruits and milk, while giving them the Prasad or his own books free he stands up, bows down before them and gives with reverence. While receiving them and when they take leave of him, he expresses his gratitude for their visit. If they deliver a lecture Siva gives them a special seat of honour, garlands them and introduces them in glowing terms to the audience. After the discourse, he thanks them and surprises them saying "I am the foremost student".
Entertainment of guests is a divine art which ought to be learnt from Siva. In it is found a paradoxical synthesis of reverence, familiarity and oneness. In his presence and in his attitude towards them, they are not awed by the reverence nor pampered by his familiarity, nor do they take undue advantage of the spirit of oneness. There is a perfect balance which he alone is able to achieve and sustain. There is something inexpressibly grand in his Sishtachara which levels all-quells the Pandit's pride and uplifts a baby-soul.
16. SIVANANDA'S AURA
Discussing Siva's aura. Dr. Audrey Kargere, Ph.D., of America, a noted authority on the subject concludes: "I believe he is the Avatar of this new age". According to her, "the main theme of his auric picture is that of a photographic lens, which can see human beings and what is happening in the world. But it is focussed towards the Atma and it brings and materialises sparks of genius and inspiration to the earth-plane. This is very important as it designates the world teacher of this age. The blue in his aura transmutes the rose of love into the spiritual and idealistic; his nature is warm full of love, his heart is like a house and he invites everyone to move in. The violet signifies the religions-that he might be the Columbus of the spiritual field and has uncovered and will uncover many lands spiritually unknown to man, unless he treads the path that Swamiji outlines. The flame seen in his auric film was given to me in an uplifted moment, represents the purified state of man and gives the power of electricity to influence and inject all with Atma's energy. Swami Sivananda's reserve of power comes from this source. His expression comes under the red ray. Its planet is Mars and it gives power. He has positive reconstructive thinking and has the ability to heal himself through will-power. The red ray when used in the expression field means leadership. His life path colour is the blue ray: that gives him an insight into the scientific. Therefore, as a doctor he will have tremendous insight in the healing of man".
Siva's aura creates a powerful divine field around him; all those who enter this field are instantly transformed from beasts into human beings, and from human beings into divinities. The hopeless regain hope, the grief stricken find solace, the dying spirit is revived and the lamp of love, light and life is lit in every heart.
17. SIVANANDA'S PHYSICAL APPEARANCE
To saints have been ascribed a spiritual radiance that eludes the eye, and a resplendence that invisibly attracts the heart. But in the matter of physical appearance, very few of them could claim attractiveness; on the contrary, aspirants are warned that great saints might often have a repulsive exterior! Not so with Siva. Like Lord Rama and Sri Krishna, his physical appearance is as charming as his manners, and as attractive as the magnetism of his spiritual personality.
Swami Paramanandaji said once: "It is not necessary for Swami Sivananda to be advertised in the European Press; nor for him to deliver lectures nor even to talk to the people. Let him merely walk along the streets of a big city: there will be a crowd following him". Dr. Sivananda-Saroj's description is ecstatic: "That broad back, that skin with pigment moles, always red somewhere, with bruise or from the bite of a lucky insect. Those legs with shining skin; those feet we decorated with flowers: I have concentrated so much upon them that I can see them in solidity and relief" (though she is in Bombay). "At times the Figure turns his back and now comes in view that sweet child-like face shining with divine Ojas. How happy do we feel to see that face! How much do I wish to be there, to put on Kumkum and Akshat on that broad forehead which looks so beautiful with it. A Christian-devotee in South Africa after experiencing a miracle of Siva's saving Grace, asked for a photograph so that she could "Kiss the big belly".
Majestic, tall, handsome and gigantic personality, with broad shoulders, powerful limbs, well-proportioned in every detail-Siva's physical appearance is a sculptor's idol, the masterpiece of the divine artist.
18. SIVANANDA'S CLOTHING
Siva's clothes and his radiant personality, belong to a Mutual Admiration Society. They enhance each other's charm.
The summer style is as delightful as the winter style is majestic. The dhoti he wears is the usual 54" cloth; but he rolls it up at the waist so that it barely covers the knees. That is the mark of Sannyasin. The dhoti is held in position by a belt of simple, coarse, towel. It is a cheap variety cloth; but around Siva's waist it is gorgeous and colourful. A thin piece of cloth is thrown around the shoulders, partly covering the chest; one end left loose and the other stuck into the dhoti at the waist. While walking in the sun, and occasionally when a fan is not at hand, the cloth serves as a soft fan! The sight attracts many "fans", eagerly watching the graceful movements of Siva's hand.
During winter, a great coat prevents the cold wind from hampering Siva's work; whatever be the weather, the service must go on. The gigantic personality appearing in the overcoat seems to be quite different from the simple Swami of summer months......Till he smiles and reveals: "the blanket you use is clumsy and hinders your work; I have made it into a coat and it doesn't interfere with my work". Sages do not advertise themselves; they are hidden in caves or coats.
Siva's clothes proclaim that a Sannyasin need not let dirty clothes proclaim his indifference to the world; the clothes he wears anyhow, should be neat and clean. They should be such as would serve the purpose, without increasing the wearer's vanity; deeply coloured ochre robes are to a Sannyasin what gaudy dresses are to modern men and women. As in everything else, Siva pays neither too much nor too little attention to clothes.
19. SIVANANDA'S FOOD
Siva's food sustains humanity. Blessed are the shopkeepers that supply him the food stuffs! Blessed are the cooks that prepare the food!! Blessed are the devotees who contribute funds to the Annakshetra!! They provide the material food for Siva's physical body; and in return get from him indispensable food for their soul, viz., his grace.
See with your inner eye. Every particle of the food that Siva takes is vitalised by the prayer of a devotee somewhere in the world; prayer for Siva's long, long life on earth. Our prayer is his food.
For hours on end, Siva would sit consoling a heart-broken devotee, listen patiently to the tale of woe of a destitute widow or even to the pointless peroration of a proud Pundit; but he is extremely hasty while taking food. He can't waste a minute more on it.
The fish in the Ganges, the monkeys of Muni-kireti, visitors and disciples, by turns, get first attention; Siva must assure himself that they all had their share, before he can dine. When the food is best, he gets the least! The "Distribution List" would swell so.
Siva's diet is regulated by an extraordinary rule of tongue-control. The menu is constantly changed, so that the world seems to rotate round his dinner. This is the ideal he places before all Sannyasins. "Never demand a particular kind of food; take whatever comes-whether there is too much or no salt, too much or no chillies, too much or no sweet, in the food". Fasting on Ekadasi, saltless diet on Sundays, fruits and milk on some, rotti-dhall on others, and sumptuous South Indian dinner on occasions,-thus Siva offers a pattern for his disciples to adopt.
20. SIVANANDA'S DRINK
Lord Siva drank poison to save universe. Our Siva too, drinks away through his divinely graceful eyes, all our sins, all our evil Samskaras, the poison that has entered our heart and is ruining our life. A benign look; and the poison escapes our being through our eyes, as silent tears. Lo! when he has thus drunk the poison and saved our souls, how happy he is! For the sake of our well-being, he the Saviour is ready to sacrifice all his time, all his energy, his life itself. Ready to drink our poison, he the Lord joyously wears us-venomous cobras, full of sin and sinful tendencies-on the crown of his head, around his neck and his powerful arms. We become his ornaments, when he has drunk away our poison! That is the most favourite drink of Siva.
Ganges sprang out of Lord Siva's head; and Ganges-water is our favourite drink. For years during his Svarga-Ashram days Ganges-water was his milk, coffee, dhall, soup-everything-for he would merely soak dry bread in Ganges water and take. Even today, he likes Ganges water; and asks for fresh water, cold and nice.
Milk and fruit juices come next in order; and they sustain his divine physical sheath for us-for humanity's sake. This supreme embodiment of infinite patience, has not the patience to provide his overworked instrument-the body-with proper nourishment. Therefore, his devotees thought of the juice as a common friend that satisfied both; it didn't demand much of Siva's precious time, nor deny our prop (his body) the minimum material requirement.
Rasanam Rasatamam: the supreme essence of all essences, he drinks constantly. It is the nectar of jnana. He is the fountain-source of this nectar, being the Self or all. Uttering his sweet Name-Om Namah Sivanandaya-we, too, can share this drink with him.
21. SIVANANDA'S TONIC
Our talents are his tonic. Our spiritual evolution is his sweetest elixir. Our determination to lead the divine life will make him dance in joy. Our growth in dispassion and discrimination gives him the greatest delight.
A young child repeating the Guru Stotra; a good Sadhak singing Siva's inspiring philosophical song; a pious family devoutly singing the Lord's Names; you and I sitting on Ganges bank in silent meditation-these are the tonics that instantly replenish him with inexhaustible energy. Give him a "dose" and see for yourself.
The buoyant body battered by persistent neglect and ceaseless overwork since his youth doesn't dare to strike work; his mighty will whipping the divine horse makes it gallop on and on. The all compassionate heart is least compassionate towards itself. The loving Lord who brings the whole world within the warmth of his embrace is cold and indifferent towards himself.
Very recently, doctors who happened to get the privilege of examining the blessed instrument of this incarnate divinity found a remedy. They appealed for his mercy upon themselves! They asked for his recognition of their talents. They prescribed some tonics for keeping up his physical strength. To satisfy them, he acceded to their request.
Chyavanaprash of the Sivananda Ayurvedic Pharmaceutical works and Sanatogen are the principal tonics he takes. Phospho-Lacithin and Multivite tablets, too, sometimes. What tonics are good for the cosmic benefactor who is the strength of the world? Our devout, ardent, heartfelt, and humble prayers to Him to live long, radiating the same bliss and peace that he has been radiating all these years of his most fruitful life on earth.
22. SIVANANDA'S HEART
Sivananda's Heart is the Almighty's Compassion. It is the universal organ through which the cosmic life-blood of all beings flows, getting purified and infusing life in all beings. There are chambers, too, in this Great Heart: the Love chamber expands and into it flow the evil tendencies of everyone, drawn irresistibly by the divine impulse of His Sat-Sankalpa. The worldly man is received in the heart and then begins the wonderful process of transformation. The Divine Life Society (with ail its Branches) is a Great Lung. It contains innumerable air-cells (departments of divine activity) which purify everything that comes in their contact. Siva makes the worldly man take part in the Mission. Through selfless service to humanity, performed with Narayana-Bhav all impurities are burnt away and the person becomes divine. This saintly soul finds a place in Siva's Great Heart. He becomes one with Siva. He partakes of Siva's compassion and cosmic love. He carries Siva's life giving message to the entire world and vitalises all humanity with Divine Life.
A praiseworthy doctor at Trichinopaly examined Siva's heart, during his epochal All-India Tour in 1950, and declared that Siva was "suffering from a large heart". The sage's loving smile was eloquent enough a comment on this!
Col. Rikye and Major General A.N. Sharma have been astounded that in spite of such overwork, shouldering such responsibilities, and such neglect of physical needs, Siva's heart is perfect and very healthy. They know that Siva's large heart is the main source of his joy (and does not make him "suffer"!)
Every beat of this divine heart of Siva assures us that our salvation is his first concern.
23. SIVANANDA'S ART
Siva's art is the expression of the beauty of his soul. There is in it no artificiality. His artless smile is the consummation of the divine art of radiating the Bliss of Self-realisation which fills his heart. The gracefulness with which he hands you the priceless gift of his inspiring books expresses several Bhavas at the same time-the Bhavas of humility, worshipful service, generosity and true magnanimity. His gait is majestic yet not proud; fast yet not clumsy; rhythmic yet not regimental; there is music in his walking.
Like the blossoming of the rose, like the joyous morn of the spring, and peaceful dawn of the day-Siva's art is part of divine nature. There it is in every detail of his daily habit. The way in which he ties the dhoti and the towel round his waist; the ease with which he gracefully adorns himself with muslin Angavastram (upper-cloth) or adjusts his gown. The way he takes a quick glance at his apparel before the ardent devotee clicks the camera to take a picture of the Creator's Master-piece, Siva's radiant form. The way in which he picks up a little of a devotee's offering, put it into his mouth and then dips his fingers in a bowl of water and wipes them with a towel. There is art in everyone of these every-day actions.
When he delivers a lecture, when he raises a finger in admonition or sweeps his arm in cosmic identification, when he throws up his hands and dances in ecstasy or with hands on his hips performs Nritya, there is inexpressible art in every movement of his limb.
While taking bath in the Ganga or while retiring to bed; or as he rests in bed with the left sole planted on it and the right ankle placed on the left knee, occasionally shaking the right foot-Oh, it is a joy to stand and watch him.
24. SIVANANDA'S MANO-VIJNANA
(Sivananda' s Psychology)
Siva's psychology is, unlike the Western psychologists', a practical recognition of the soul's supremacy over mind and intellect, and not a mere intellect's guess-work of the workings of the mind (which is the foundation of the ever-changing pattern of Western psychology). From his day-to-day actions, psychologists have great lessons to learn.
For the control of the mind, or augmenting the mind's power of perception and creative thinking, and for the purification of the mind, Siva gives a remarkable two-pronged weapon: discriminative reasoning to quell the turbulent mind, and Japa of the Lord's Name to let the latent soul-force transform the mental substance itself into a purer reflection of the Divine Light within.
Siva studies another person's mind, not with a finite intellect but with the all-penetrating microscope of his spiritual insight. In an instant, by a mere look, therefore, the other person's mind becomes apparent to him; and a volume can be written on the tactful way in which he deals with diverse people. Adapt, adjust, accommodate, he has said; and his dealings with all is an illustration on this.
Unlike the psycho-analysts of the West, Siva assures us that it is waste of time brooding over the past. "Positive overcomes the negative" is his emphatic assurance. Satsanga, Sankirtan and light unselfish service is the wonderful mixture he administers to the worst mental cases and as the patient recovers, Siva infuses healthy ideas into him, makes him do Japa and meditation. The past is completely forgotten and over the foundation of the Eternal Present a magnificent edifice of positive happiness, peace and power is erected, under the guidance of this master Psychologist, Siva.