25. SIVANANDA'S PHILOSOPHY
Siva's philosophy can be compared only to Lord Krishna's. It has a place for all the philosophies of the world!
It recognises the Real and the unreal, and that which makes the unreal appears as Real. It awakens the worldly man, guides the Sadhaka, serves as a touchstone for a sage's realisation, and proclaims the Truth which transcends all these.
Here are some of the salient features which bear out the above:
"The world is not unreal; but is a lesser reality than Brahman."
"That which hides the Real and makes the unreal appear as real is Maya."
"The various religions of the world are the different viewpoints of the same Truth."
"Dvaita, Visishtadvaita, Advaita and Ajata-Vada are the progressive realisations of the Reality."
Siva's universal philosophy has in it a philosophy for every person. This itself proves that he is God Incarnate. He does not preach the same philosophy to two persons, but being their Antaryamin (Inner Ruler) knows the 'viewpoint' of each person and guides in a manner best calculated to effect the person's rapid spiritual evolution.
The fundamental principle of Siva's philosophy is that philosophy itself has the only purpose of providing the foundation for the spiritual endeavours of the Sadhaka. Therefore, Siva's philosophy is indistinguishable from his teachings: he is practical, dynamic and, therefore, leaves philosophical wranglings to spiritual bankrupts who delight in discussing the magnitude of unacquired wealth!
26. SIVANANDA'S DOCTRINE
Siva has no doctrine of his own. He redelivers the divine message that has time and again been given to us by God. He speaks for God; for he is one with God. Yet, if we can audaciously read a doctrine into his teachings, it is "The Doctrine of a Little". It is otherwise known as the Yoga of Synthesis. Siva warns us that only the harmonious development of the entire being of man can take him easily to the goal. A weak spot anywhere in the structure would ruin the whole. Moreover, specialisation in any one branch of Sadhana would rob one of the spirit of understanding and tolerance, would breed contempt and hatred, and ultimately fatten one's egoism. Siva's "Doctrine of a Little" completely avoids all the pitfalls on the path and leads the Sadhaka along the smooth, easy, pleasant road to the Lord's Feet. Here is the Doctrine, in Siva's own words. He has put it in the form of a small song which can be sung in the Mahamantra tune. Siva himself sang this "Song of a Little" at every meeting he addressed during his all-India-Ceylon Tour in 1950:
Eat a little, drink a little,
talk a little, sleep a little
Mix a little, move a little,
serve a little, rest a little
Work a little, rest a little,
study a little, worship a little
Do Asana a little, Pranayama a little,
reflect a little, meditate a little
Do Japa a little, do Kirtan a little,
Write Mantra a little, have Satsanga a little.
Do a little of each; you will have time for all. God-realisation is thus brought within your easy reach; and you are saved from the fear of a fall.
27. SIVANANDA'S CREED
The fundamental article of Siva's creed is that Truth is universal. He has declared in unmistakable terms that the Truth can be realised through a diligent practice of the methods prescribed by any religion and by any of the Yogas. He does not want to abolish the variety in religions and in the Yogas, nor to unify all mankind under the banner of a Universal Religion. He sees the need for diversity to suit diverse minds and differences in the mental equipment and stage of evolution of individuals. He points out (to the philosophers and those who encourage and "feed" on such non-essential differences) that all the religions have the same Truth as their substratum, prop and goal.
In the matter of the Yogas, however, Siva exhorts the earnest aspirant to synthesise in his daily routine all that is best in all the approaches to self-realisation and practise the Yoga of Synthesis.
Siva affirms that God is both immanent and transcendent. Naught but God exists. While, therefore, God is the substratum for all that appears to be, He is not just that much: He transcends the mind and the intellect and that transcendental Being can only be realised by the sage in the highest super-conscious state.
The adoration of the Immanent Divinity is what Siva lays the greatest stress upon: service of humanity with cosmic love and a feeling that it is God that pervades every being here. When meditation is combined with this, Siva assures us that realisation of the transcendental Reality is only a matter of course.
The most joyous assurance Siva gives us is that God, "knowing" the evil that is rampant in Kali Yuga and the weaknesses that a human being is heir to in this age of Materialism, makes Himself more readily available to all than in previous Yugas: "a little Kirtan and meditation, service and Sadhana will enable you to realise Him here and now", Siva declares. His creed is the Word of God.
28. SIVANANDA'S IDEALS
Siva is the ideal for all sages and saints. Yet, in order to bring home to us the need for "ideals" to provide a pattern for our life, he has chosen some for himself!
Just as Lord Buddha did in days of yore, Siva promises that till the last of us is liberated from Samsara, he will continue to guide us and forego the personal delight of getting absorbed in the Infinite. It is our greatest good fortune that birth after birth we shall be his disciples and followers.
In forgiveness, Jayadeva is Siva's ideal. Jayadeva procured pardon and salvation for those who cut off his limbs. Siva's first prayers of the day are offered for the health, long life, peace, prosperity and enlightenment of those who consider themselves his adversaries.
In cosmic love, Ranti Deva is Siva's ideal. Who else could be such a perfect exemplar of the famous declaration of Ranti Deva:
I desire not kingdom, pleasure nor liberation.
I pray that the misery of the afflicted be relieved.
In forbearance, Siva's ideal is the Avanti Brahmin. Often he would refer to it in his talks. The story occurs in Bhagavata and illustrates the nature of the saint: he calmly endures all insults, dishonour and calumny. Siva turns a deaf ear to those who indulge in them and radiates cosmic love and divinity.
Lord Gauranga is Siva's ideal not only for the unrivalled zeal in the dissemination of Sankirtan-Bhakti-Yoga; but also for the great ideal embodied in the following Sloka, of which Gauranga and Siva have been the greatest examplars:
Lord Hari should be adored by one who is humbler
than the blade of grass, more forbearing than the tree,
free from vanity but who respects everybody.
29. SIVANANDA'S MOTTOS
Serve, Love, Give, Purify, Meditate, Realise
Be good; do good; be kind; be compassionate.
Enquire "Who am I ?", know the Self and be free.
Practise Ahimsa, Satyam, Brahmacharya;
This is the foundation of Yoga, Vedanta.
Adapt, adjust, accommodate;
Bear insult; bear injury; (this is the highest Sadhana).
Detach the mind from the objects.
Attach it to the Lord.
Nothing exists; nothing belongs to me;
I am neither mind nor body; Immortal Self I am.
Work is Worship;
Dedicate it to God.
Even this will pass away;
Balance your mind in pain and joy.
Tat Tvam Asi: That Thou Art:
Realise this and be free.
30. SIVANANDA'S VIEW OF LIFE
As with everything else, Siva's view of life is an analytical synthesis! A paradox that perplexes the pandit. But a conundrum that caters to the needs of everybody.
"Life is a mystery" he declares. Its origin and its end are enshrouded in a cloud of ignorance. The fleeting period in between is a mystery, too: otherwise, why should one man's life be so different from another's?
"Life here is the fruit of your past Karma", he says. Primordial ignorance prompts the Jiva to seek the bliss which is its own nature, in the outside objects. Good and bad actions that are performed in this quest have to return to him as pleasure and pain; to enjoy them he has to take birth here. Self-realisation fries the seed (Karma) and prevents rebirth.
"Life is a great blessing and gift of the Lord, to be utilised well in Sadhana to attain Self realisation," he asserts referring particularly to birth as human being. Neither the celestials nor the sub-human species can practise Sadhana and attain Him. Only man can. God's compassion has so arranged the Karmas that the gift of human birth could be bestowed on the Jiva.
"Life is an opportunity for the Jiva to recover Supreme Knowledge by selfless service, cosmic love, meditation and Self-realisation", proclaims Siva. It is waste of time arguing about the "why" and "wherefore" of life. It is wisdom to utilise the Present in such a way that Time itself could be conquered and immortality attained here and now.
Siva Himself views life from all the angles at the same time; and lives in the Consciousness which sanctions infinite views of life to suit different people at different stages of evolution. His philosophical view of life is that "Life is the indicator of Immortality. Man wants to live. No man wants to die. That itself shows that the Self is Immortal.
31. SIVANANDA'S WAY OF LIFE
Siva's way of life is the way paved by the great Avataras or incarnations of the Lord. He lives to relieve the aches of the human heart.
Siva's Life is an ever-green banyan which has its roots deep in the ageless earth. His ways are modern; but his ideals are ancient. He uses the most modern methods to re-deliver the message of the Maharshis of yore. Like the banyan, he has spread the cool shade of his life divine to give shelter to the whole world. This universal banyan, Siva the Cosmic Benefactor, has stuck deep roots in a hundred places all over the earth! He is ready to assimilate all that is good everywhere. He is the eternal student's way of life.
Siva's way of life is the royal road to the human heart. He is an unopposed reformer. By his splendorous personality, radiant smile, ready wits, inspiring books, gracious looks, thrilling letters, and tireless service, he wins the hearts of all into which he instils his ideals and implants his philosophy. This peerless sage of fearless; for he knows he is rooted in the Supreme Reality.
Siva's way of life is laid with the lustrous golden bricks of love and goodness. Righteousness is his breath; but love is his life; and service his very soul. Along the straight and narrow path of Yoga he leads mankind; but his broad heart and selfless love have smoothened and widened it considerably.
Siva's way of life is God's Reassuring Grace spread out before humanity. If we tread the path of Siva, his own life is the guarantee that we shall soon reach the goal. In the dark and dangerous, wilderness of worldly life, Siva's way of life is our luminous guide. "Lead, kindly light, lead thou me on".
32. SIVANANDA'S ETHICS
Siva is a reincarnation of Sage Vyasa, where his ethics are concerned. In his works he has treated elaborately of all aspects of ethics-social, personal, national etc. But the ethical principle that he holds dearest to himself and which he exemplifies in his daily life is this: "It is a great sin to harm others, to injure any being, to wound any one's heart, to think ill of anybody on earth or to insult or abuse anyone. It is a great virtue to serve others, to love others, to be good and to do good to all".
Siva's Sannyasin-disciple should selflessly and egolessly serve all and love all, meditate and strive to attain Self-realisation. He should be an embodiment of Ahimsa, Satyam and Brahmacharya.
Sivananda's lay-disciple should lead an ideal divine life, develop the heart through charity and service, grow in devotion through Sankirtan and worship of the Lord, serve saints and Sadhus, and serve humanity at large in every way possible.
A doctor should treat the poor free and even look to the comforts of his patients. The worst crime a doctor can commit, according to Siva is "to demand more fee when the patient is on the table". The doctor should serve the Lord in the patient.
An advocate should be thoroughly honest and truthful and plead for the poor, free.
A government official should work hard for the prosperity of mankind. "To take bribe is heaven-closing", says Siva.
A student should study his lessons well, and treat his parents and his preceptor with reverence due to Divinity.
A businessman should eschew greed from his transactions, serve the people, do a lot of charity and work for the minimum of profit.
Be good; do good-these four words sum up Siva's ethics. They are of universal application.
33. SIVANANDA'S TEACHINGS
The very cream of Siva's teachings, you will find in the following pages. On this, therefore, shall we peep into Siva's pulpit, to see with what weapon he drives his teachings into the very core of our heart? What a wonder, there at his holy feet we find our heart! He has stolen them. That, then, is the greatest secret. He steals our heart before talking to us or approaching us with his books. With the two universal arms of "Selfless Service" and "Universal Love" he embraces you and becomes one with you. Then a mere gaze would do to enlighten you.
The greatest sermon is his own divine life. Watchful eyes would see a scripture every second in his presence; his smiles are eloquent; and from his glittering eyes gushes forth Grace. The greatest lessons are contained in his life, which is an open book.
Love lends divine power to his words-spoken or written. Practicability characterises every precept. Practice is what he insists upon. He doesn't fail to warn you that theoretical wranglings invariably leave you dangling in mid-air, neither here nor there!
Through his writings he speaks to you; you see him before you when you read his books. Through his personal talks, he "wakes" you up; a few moments in his company most assuredly make you healthy, spiritually wealthy and wise. You are awakened to the glory of the Self, to the talents hidden in you, to the strength and the wisdom that you possess, and to the foundation of joy that waits within you to be tapped! Siva's teachings transform your life-beastiality yields to humanity and humanity is lifted up to Divinity.
34. SIVANANDA'S YOGA
Siva's Yoga is the Yoga best suited to you. He is the Indweller of all and is, therefore, aware of our talents and difficulties. He does not ask us to change our religion, or relinquish our avocation in life. He makes us feel that we have already been practising Yoga; and that all that we have to do is to go on vigorously with it, adding a few details here and there! Mysteriously and miraculously, he supplies the vital need in us, divinises our life, and from where we are he leads us to God, making us feel all the time that we are going our own way and are not led by the ear by him.
Siva recognises that every man has his own religion, that there is a Yoga for each man. Therefore he has expounded all the religions of the world and all the Yogas that have so far been given to man. All of them have found their fulfilment in Sivananda Yoga. The sage of cosmic vision, cosmic love and cosmic consciousness has dealt with all Yogas, and given us their very essence in his writings. What is remarkable, however, is that while glorifying the particular Yoga, treated in a particular work, he has quietly slipped in a few vital factors belonging to other Yogas, thus bringing about a synthesis, with one speical Yoga predominant.
That in brief is Sivananda Yoga; the Yoga of Synthesis. He is emphatic that a lop-sided development of any aspect of the human personality is to be avoided. Everyone has a head, a heart and the hands; everyone thinks, feels and acts. In some one aspect is predominant and in others, another. Sivananda Yoga takes this into account, and is, therefore the Yoga for everyone.
35. SIVANANDA'S INTEGRAL SADHANA
"Vedanta must come from within". "The Truths of the Upanishads must be realised in your inmost heart", says Siva. He does indeed encourage the threefold "Jnana Yoga practice, of hearing, reflection and meditation." But meditation is not an easy matter. You attempt to meditate now. The heart must be thoroughly purified and made steady, before real meditation is possible. It may take several births. But you should go on purifying the heart", says Siva. And, he places his own life as the most inspiring example.
Ceaseless, untiring, dynamic, selfless service, egolessly performed with Atman-bhava regardless of rewards, silently searching the heart for old, old Samskaras, and sublimating all feelings and emotions-this is the lesson that Siva's glorious life has for us. This is true Karma Yoga which takes us to the threshold of the Kingdom of Sivanandam, the realm of all auspiciousness and Supreme Bliss.
At the same time, constant remembrance of the Lord's Name, Japa and Sankirtan, seeing, greeting, and loving God in all, and thus living in perpetual God-consciousness-this the Bhakti Yoga that Siva's attitude teaches us. This lends the strongest foundation of Sivananda Yoga, the greatest momentum to our march, the best purifying agent for our heart.
Asanas and Pranayama to keep the body and nerves healthy; study of sacred scritpures and meditation to maintain mental alertness and keenness of vigilant discrimination-these are part of Siva's own daily routine.
This is the Sadhana, Siva assures us that if we are earnest and sincere, we can attain Self-realisation with in the twinkling of the eye. "The Vedantic aroma will waft around you, and you will radiate peace, bliss and love. You need not advertise; everyone will know you are a sage."
36. SIVANANDA'S SOCIOLOGY
Siva's Sociology is based on the doctrine of the unity of humanity. He does not stop with "Do as you would be done by" motto. Though he lays great stress on "Be good; do good", yet he points out that goodness is the gateway to God who dwells in all.
Thus, in politics, Siva regards patriotism as a stepping-stone (on which the patriot shall not pause, however) to universalism. God is the father of all mankind; the entire universe is the Fatherland, devotion to which marks Siva's patriot. Man is not bound by boundaries: "break down the walls that separate man from man by cultivating cosmic love and spirit of selfless service", says Siva.
Siva's economics is a headache to auditors and accountants. To him theft and cheating may be a moral mistake, but not a financial loss! Extravagance might mar the spirit of simplicity in the seeker, but is not as bad as hoarding. Indiscriminate charity is a great virtue in his eyes. Siva's economics gives the right place to wealth, as the slave of man and not as his master.
Siva's society is one in which every person is free to express one's talents, pursue one's aspirations, grow in goodness, serving one another and bound by the strongest invisible chords of cosmic love. He recognises the infinite diversity of men's minds and, therefore, exalts adaptability, forbearance and understanding as the greatest among virtues.
Siva's Ashram itself is a bold experiment in Siva's ideals in sociology. It is well worth the study of the sociologists of tomorrow, who would like to lay the foundations of an enduring social order uniting the whole world in a common bond of brotherhood.
37. SIVANANDA'S COURAGE
Siva's courage is not like a Dictator's daring, warrior's valour or hillmen's heroism. It is the inevitable fruit of his identity with Truth. He knows what is good and what is not; because he is the Supreme Good. Hence he is undaunted by undermining influences. In every case he has always proved he was right!
In Malaya, his friends felt that he didn't know how to "enjoy life". He stuck to his righteous ways of self-restraint. Today while they lead a life of misery, his is a life of glory.
As a Sadhu in Svargashram, he used to carry with him four cloth-bags wherever he went. They contained: medicines, fruits, spiritual literature, and writing material (note-book, etc.,). The first three for distribution to any-one he might meet while walking along the road, and the fourth for recording sublime thoughts as they occurred. "Great" Sadhus would whisper among themselves that Siva was carrying a household with him! Service has today enthroned Siva in the heart of humanity and even they who mocked at him meekly bow down to him in reverence.
During his propaganda tours, Siva danced and sang Kirtan. Sannyasins belonging to the Sankara School of Advaita Vedanta, with their little heads laden with ill-digested philosophy, jeered at him. Siva didn't mind and he didn't retaliate either. They are today his unacknowledged followers! Though late in their career, they, too, have begun to sing His Names in sweet Sankirtan.
Siva, the Prophet of the New Age, has a provision of the shape of things to come. He has the supreme courage to give a hold to humanity along the road to Divinity.
38. SIVANANDA'S MIRACLES
Devotees of Siva, all over the world, have recounted the astounding experiences they have had of the divine powers of Bhagavan Sivananda; how he appeared in their dream and gave them wholesome advice, how they saw him in a vision and got his blessings, how he saved them from calamity and healed them of their illness. These experiences have been published in a number of volumes issued by the Forest Academy.
Even to a great Yogi, space and time are no great impediments. If the X-ray can see through flesh and the meteorological instruments can probe into the weather of tomorrow, what cannot the spiritually enlightened mind of a Yogi do? Clairvoyance, thought transference, distance healing, etc., are so commonplace with Siva that he might not even be aware of them!
The conduct of the Divine Life Society's affairs is a great miracle. Without a budget, without a reserve fund, without a bank balance and without a regular source of income, to run a big institution on such a lavish scale is a miracle.
To recruit everyone with the least inclination and lesser qualification into his fold and to transform everyone into a saintly personality without the rigours of austerity of regimented life of Sadhana; that is a miracle of the highest order.
To sit in his simple Kutir on the banks of the Ganga in a corner of the Himalayas and to spread the light of divine knowledge to the four corners of the world, to let his life-transforming message resound in every nation of the world-this is the greatest miracle of this all-pervading Divinity who appears before us as Swami Sivananda.