I was a young girl my maternal grandfather took me to Haridwar
and Rishikesh, famous pilgrimage centres for the Hindus, on
the banks of the Ganges River.
me to describe the River Ganges. I have to use the name that
Hindus so lovingly use, Ganga-Mata (Mother Ganga). She is
surely a happy bubbling Loving Mother who takes her children
endearingly in her lap and cleanses them physically,
emotionally and spiritually.
today, sitting by her side seems to me one of the most
fulfilling, cleansing experiences a trusting, and believing
Hindu can have.
her, in Rishikesh, is the Ashram of Swami Sivananda, one of
the most revered Hindu sages Modern India has known.
Sivananda came from a well-known family of yogis and saints.
One of his ancestors Appayya Dikshltbar wrote over a hundred
original texts in Sanskrit dealing with philosophy.
Sivananda, as a boy, was versatile both in the classroom and
on the sports field. He had a charming and magnetic
personality. He was an expert musician and dramatist. He
studied tropical medicine and surgery. He left for Malaysia to
serve the sick and afflicted.
Swami Sivananda was a blend of the knowledge of Buddha and the
compassion of Florence Nightingale.
Sivananda was influenced by great Sanyasis and Sadhus (holy
spiritual men). As his religious instincts developed he felt a
pull for the grandeur of the Himalayas to meditate and know
Grand Mountains and Sacred Mother Ganga beckoned him to
Rishikesh where he became known as Swami Sivananda Saraswati.
time passed between serving the sick and needy and practicing
deep meditation standing in the icy cold water of the Ganga.
prolonged, diligent sadhana Swami Sivananda merged with the
Divine and he heard a Voice from within which said,
And fill the cup of your life with this nectar,
Share it with all
I shall give you strength,
Energy, power and wisdom.”
Sivananda obeyed the command. God did fill his cup, and he did share It with all, in the form of the
Divine Life Society which provides many a service to suffering
a graceful suspension bridge across the Ganges nearby his
ashram has been named Sivananda Jhoola.
I visited Rishikesh as a young teenager with my family, we
expressed the desire to have Swami Sivananda’s Darshan (to
see him). His devotees turned us away as it was not his time
for meeting people. As we were moving away dejectedly, the
devotees came running up to us saying that he would meet us.
Happily we went towards the small room In which was his custom
room was peace itself. I remember looking into a pair of
twinkling, kind and knowing eyes. Catching my gaze he urged me
to serve Sri Rama.
found that strange, as my Ishta (the deity I worshipped) had
always been Sri Krishna.
through the years explained to me that Sri Rama and Sri
Krishna were the same, but somehow I was not satisfied, and I
always wondered about his bidding.
years passed. I got interested in things spiritual.
was driven by an unseen hand to write my second book, which I
called, Symbolisms in
of the devotees of Swami Sivananda said to me, ‘Strange,
Shakun. Isn’t your Ishta Krishna? How come you have written
on Sri Rama first?”.
remembered Swami Sivananda’s words and in my heart, I felt
pleased that I had been an instrument in following his
Swami Sivananda was asked why he had secluded himself on the
banks of the Ganges and not engaged himself in politics like
Gandhiji to serve humanity.
answered that his writings were his field of service that
would inspire thousands to evolve towards perfection.
believed that though one could thrill audiences through
lecturing, it was books that would provide people with
permanent inspiration. Swamiji stated that God had endowed
each man with a certain talent and marked out his field of
service for him. It was man’s duty to delve deep into
himself and find out his God-gifted talent and mission and
devote his life to it.
am reminded of what Mother Teresa had told me when I had the
good luck to spend a few minutes with her in Calcutta in Nov,
had said to me, Listen to your inner voice and follow what it
tells you. Everyone in this life is born to accomplish a
mission. What I can do you may not be able to do, but what you
can do, I may not. Follow the Inner command and you will
always be happy.”
Sivananda founded the Divine Life Society in 1936. Its motto
is: Serve, Love, Give, Purify, Meditate. Realize, Be Good, Do
Good, Be Kind, Be Compassionate, Know thy Self and Be Free.
Practice Non-Violence, Truth and Chastity, Enquire, ‘Who am
is the road on which Swami Sivananda traveled towards his goal
and this is the path on which the Great Master urges his
followers to travel upon. Nay, he urges all modern humanity,
everyone to traverse upon. This is the path, the path of
I learnt and gained from Swami Sivananda, his life,
personality and his noble teachings.