Chidanandaji in conversation with Shakun Narain
Divine Life Society
Divine Life Society was founded by Swami Sivananda In January
1936. Its cultural and spiritual message has been spread far
and wide by the selfless efforts of Swami Chidananda, a more
than worthy disciple of Swami Sivananda.
Chidananda or young Sridhara was born in Mangalore in South
Karnataka. His parents were cultured, educated, pious,
well-known and well-respected.
mother Sarojini Devi was a curious blend of Oriental tradition
and Occidental living. She was a good piano player, could sing
English hymns and was excellent at tennis.
father Srinivasa Pao was a prosperous Zamindar (land-owner)
and had inherited several villages in the Coimbatore district
of South India and sprawling houses in the seaside city of
Is more important Is that both young Sridhara’s mother and
father were religiously inclined, and both had a lasting
impact on the future Swami Chidananda.
Sridhara was born on 24th September, 1916 at 10.35 a.m. The
astrologer who prepared the horoscope of the child recorded
that the child was an enlightened soul. Another famous
astrologer confirmed it and declared that he had been a great
saint In his previous life and that this was his last birth.
Sridhara's thread ceremony was performed at holy Tirupati. As
he was returning he beseeched his elders to buy him a
beautiful wooden idol of Sri Rama to which he felt
miraculous thing would happen at the time young Sridhara would
worship his beloved idol of Sri Rama.
idol seemed to shine with an extraordinary effulgent halo and
a celestial smile used to wreathe the divine countenance.
was only a young ten-year old when death snatched away his
beloved mother. While he lamented her loss, he realised all
worldly life is unreal and that saints only show the right
path from attachment and misery. Later, the Gospel of Sri
Ramakrishna had a lasting, permanent effect on him. He
visualised the form of the Divine Mother in every woman.
often visited and engaged himself in selfless service in the
Sri Ramakrishna math at Mylapore in Madras. He took care of
lepers, diseased creatures and stray dogs. He endeavored to
behold the same atman in all.
though he was brought up in the midst of plenty, he calmly
took to a life of austerities. Now he was thirsting for a Guru
who would lead him to a world of pure spirituality. He longed
to set out in quest of the ideal life at a Master’s feet.
maternal grandmother however made him promise that he would
not renounce family ties as long as she lived.
Sridhara had consideration for his relatives and did not
possess the selfish kind of. spirituality which makes people
callous to other’s needs and expectations.
though he served he never permitted himself to become
attached. He was in the world but not of the world. Bapuji
Mahatma Gandhiji’s life taught him the secret of “anaasakti"
in the world.
he finally decided to renounce home, he explained to his
younger sisters and aunt that God would take care of them like
no brother or nephew could, but he asked them to make the
decision. The sisters and aunt were powerless before such an
earnest appeal and so allowed him to leave home.
6th March, 1943 young Sridhara stepped out of the house for
the good of the world. He worked at a construction site to put
himself into a test and erase his ego just as his master Swami
Sivananda had done before he renounced the worldly ties.
the 19th of May. 1943 (Buddha Purnima), he reached Rishikesh.
That evening under a full moon, he prostrated at the feet of
his Master. He had arrived
I took my book 'Symbolisms in the Ramayana' (It is up on
my website www.dalsabzi.com
under 'Books' for free perusal to Lonavala where the Divine Life Society was
holding a spiritual sadhana camp.
Chidananda was sitting under the larger than life picture of
remembered the long-ago Swami Sivananda’s words to me, to
serve Sri Rama even though my Ishta (personal deity) was Sri
Chidananda called me and blessed the manuscript and said,
continue the Bhakti of Sri Krishna and spread Ram’s word
through the Ramayana.
felt Swami Sivananda blessing me through the words of Swami
Chidananda and I felt fulfilled.
I found in Swami Chidanandji a
divine combination of gentleness, strength and humility.
His gestures expressed care and
love; even when he folded a letter, he seemed to fold it just
enough. It was like he did not want to hurt it, crease it.
To educate the untouchable, to
love the lepers, to banish illiteracy were some of Swamiji’s
wishes. Despite his busy schedule he found time for everyone.
“Nothing is my own, not even my
time, it all belongs to God”
I once asked him to bless me
that I should live by what I believed. To be true to myself.
Swamiji told me that the easiest
way to do that is to remember that one is only an instrument
through which God does His work!
I was reminded of Krishna’s
flute. It is hollow (egoless) and that is howHe can play such
enchanting music through it.
disciple once had a vision of Swami Sivananda and Swami
Chidananda merging into one.
disciple later said: “you worship Lord Krishna and write on
Sri Rama — It is like you have been given the Maha Mantra
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare, Hare Krishna Hare
Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare.” I felt blessed.
Swami Sivananda’s own words:
is Jeevan Mukta (a liberated soul) a great saint, and ideal
yogi, a Para Bhakta (devotee) and a sage.” Swami Chidananda
is all this and much more. ...
was born to fulfill a great mission.
is the torch-bearer of my mission.