Gurudev Swami Sivananda - "The Man for the Mankind"  
by 
Swami Adhyatmanada

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Gurudev Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj was the Man for the Mankind. Each breath of His life He breathed to serve, love and give the best what He could give or the best He could do for the mankind. He was a Godman, filled with wonderful love in His heart. From head to toe He was oozing with divine nectar of love, love and love only. He lived all his life for the good of mankind and He became a person beloved by countless people all over the world. He was himself a personification of joy and enjoyed to laugh and make other people laugh too. He was a man of wit and radiated cheerfulness, made visitors forget all their sorrows and troubles and brought joy and hope into their lives.  He did not discriminate between East and West, this country or that country, this race or that race, this religion or that religion. He was also a person of great compassion, understanding and sympathy. His personality was such that he immediately made everyone feel that they belonged to him and he belonged to them.   

To Sri Gurudev none was stranger to him. For him, everyone and everything belonged to Him. He simply showered his love upon all. He was a person of very simple nature. People from all walks of life came an offered their homage & respect to him. He was just natural and simple, almost childlike in his behavior but together with this absolute naturalness and simplicity deep wisdom was there in his heart for he had attained this nature through years of great penance in seclusion. Of course, he had sanskara from his young age. He was kind and serviceable even during his childhood.

After qualifying in medicine when he became doctor, he traveled across the ocean to the Far East. For about ten years he served as a doctor in Singapore and Malaysia. This medical service-period brought a great change in his nature. He served the poor and the suffering people without any expectation of gain or reward. In those days, Malaya was the land of British Rubber-Planters. People of the East slaved and laboured for them in their great Rubber plantations. There were also tin-mines in which people worked. They were Indian, Chinese and Malaysian labourer. He lived and worked near one such very big plantation and he grew in compassion, kindness and sympathy. The pains and sufferings of these poor people moved him. His large hearted nature went out to them in great sympathy and friendliness. He became a brother to all and was something like a great Samaritan. His door was open to all people at all times. Whenever a suffering man called on him, immediately he went to his side and sometimes, because they were very poor, he went and treated them freely and at times  even offered them some money from his own pocket.

This contact with disease, human sorrow, human pain, suffering and death brought an inner awakening into him. He found the real nature of life on earth. He found it was neither beautiful nor sweet experience. He found it was full of pain and suffering, disease and death. This brought in him the awakening of a religious consciousness. He felt that life here was painful and human body was an abode of much suffering and sorrow and the soul within was in a state of bondage and imprisonment in human body. So his mind turned to philosophy. He read the lives and teachings of Saints and Philosophers and he began to search for a way out of sorrow and pain. 

“Is there not a way by which man can transcend this present state? Is this the only state of experience available to man? Or is there another state of experience also within the reach of man, - another state where the imperfections, sorrows and pains of this present state will not be present, a state which will be marked by peace, joy by true happiness which is absent here now?” This questioning and this quest drew him into the study of philosophy and the study of thought. He reflected and contemplated upon these questions. Ultimately it dawned upon him that there was a state full of blessedness, full of beatitudes, full of peace and joy, and that state was within the reach of all human beings. And that state is attainable by one who strive for it. Thus, he decided to dedicate himself to this attainment. Suddenly a day came when he gave up his very successful practice, his popularity, his wealth, everything, and came back to India. He came as a wandering seeker and he turned his footsteps to North, towards the Himalayas.  

After weeks and months of travel he reached a quiet little village on the banks of the sacred river Ganga. It was a little place on the slope of hills close to Ganges, surrounded by Mountains, amidst the forest, away from modern so called civilized India. 

And here he made it the place of his silent seclusion, penance, prayer and inner meditation. He reached this place sometime in 1923-24. For ten years he plunged himself in quiet meditation. He spoke very little, practiced self-control, lived a simple life, and served the neighboring people with compassion and kindness. Most of the time, he was sunk in prayer, meditation and study. This intensely lived life brought about spiritual illumination to this wonderful man. From that time onwards began his mission of calling to mankind towards this great attainment. He wanted to share his joy and peace with everyone. So he called to all people and said “O friends! O beloved children! There is a way by which you can transcend all the sorrows and all the sufferings of this life and attain true peace and happiness in this life here. You have come only for this attainment. That is the main purpose of your life. And this is true life, a life that leads you to this great attainment where sorrow vanishes and joy comes into your heart, where all the restlessness of the mind subsides and there comes peace, where there is no more inner darkness, where comes light within and life becomes no more a thing of sorrow, true life becomes a thing of great joy.” 

This message, which he brought into the life of countless beings, he gave the simple name of “Divine Life”. He gave a simple universal name, which did not have the label of any particular religion. A life that takes you towards divine experience, a life that was lived in the knowledge that within this physical body and this restless mind there is an all-perfect, Divine Principle. That eternal divine principle is of the very nature of absolute peace and radiant bliss. There is this hidden divinity within you. Within you is this immortal spirit. That is eternal existence. That is radiant, pure consciousness. That is bliss. That is peace. There is this fountain of joy within you. And leaving this, neglecting this, we are searching here and there, wandering in this world of external objects. We are trying in vain to seek for happiness in objects, which are temporary, which are changeful, which are finite full of defects. How can perishable, changeful, finite objects bring real happiness and satisfaction? This is impossible. Man ever seeks for happiness where it is not to be found. And then he weeps and wails. He weeps and wails and does not know what is the reason of his sorrow. The reason of his sorrow is in him only. It is this primary state; this great error of thinking, that this imperfect world can give real happiness is the root of all sorrow in this world. There is no mistake in this outside world. The world does not stand up before you and say: “Come O man, I will give you happiness!” The various things and objects in this world do not declare and say: “Yes, we are the source of happiness. We can give you happiness.” It is you who is expecting something and then cause the disappointment. So mistake lies not in the world but in man. And thus, from birth to death man wanders in this planet earthly life, in this desert wilderness of perishable, changeful objects, ignorantly imagining that through these objects he can attain true happiness These pleasant little experiences of taste, smell, touch, hearing and sight only give a little sense satisfaction. This sense of satisfaction is not true happiness. It is only at physical body level. Happiness is an inward state of being. It is an inward state of mind and heart and sometimes it just fountains up from within, even when there is no object present at all. When you are sitting alone at times, when no desire troubles your mind, when there is no particular wish or want felt inside, and you are sitting at peace with yourself, you can experience a rare joy from within. This joy comes in the absence of any object or thing whatsoever. 

This great truth, that joy is within, happiness is the very center of your true being, and it has to be sought for inside and not outside, and that the more one runs outside it increases desire, the further one gets away from happiness and peace. This truth was given to every one by the teachings of our Holy Master. But he was a realist and a practical man. Even though he gave this great ideal of Self-experience, he knew man has to live his normal life also. And he gave some practical suggestions and rules for daily living through which, even while living and fulfilling the duties of normal life and carrying on one’s normal domestic, social and professional duties, man gradually can grow into this state of self management and inner control. . This graduated discipline that he gave to man was the very essence of his Divine Life teachings. And he gave these rules and regulations of an utterly non-sectarian character, so that they did not interfere with the religion in which one was born or the religion and faith which one practiced. These rules of Divine Life were such that anyone could incorporate it within one’s own life without affecting one’ belief and religious practices. He embodied these teachings in twenty simple instructions. And in these Twenty Spiritual Instructions he put the essence of the teachings of all saints and sages. He said that this is religion in daily life. He said that this is the practice of religion; this is the science of religion and the adoption of these rules makes one move towards happiness and peace and move away from suffering and sorrow. 

Be kind and friendly. Hate none, Dislike none. See only the good points in others and do not look into the defects of others. No one is perfect and no one is responsible as God made him what he is. Therefore, take things with a charitable view. See the good and ignore the false. If you want to see the false, see the false that is in you. And try to remove it and become a perfect person. Thus, practice kindness in daily life. Let your speech be free from anger and harshness. Speak sweetly and speak softly. Forgive people. Ever try to serve. Stick to the truth. And thus, through selfless service of all, through the practice of kindness and compassion, through the practice of sweet speech, purify your heart. Develop a great love  for the supreme universal principle that is the source of this entire universe. That is the very basis and source of your being as well as the existence of this universe. Seeing that, attaining that, one attains fullness. In this present state of separation from that source of your being you are incomplete. Completeness and wholeness comes into your life when you retain once again your inner spiritual contact and relationship with that. And therefore, generate a great aspiration and a great longing for attaining the experience of that. Develop this inner hunger, this inner devotion through practice of inner life. Be alive in your interior and grow in your inner life. Progress through prayer, progress through daily contemplation, progress through inner adoration and try to practice ceaseless remembrance of that supreme divine principle. Do it in the midst of your daily life. Let your interior rest in that Eternal Substance. Such a life is called Divine Life, for it is a life that takes one towards divine experience. It is a life that unfolds the divine nature that is inherent within you. It is a life that is lived in the awareness of the spiritual purpose of your life. It is a life where, through your thoughts, words and daily activities, you express the Divine within you. It is a life where you manifest beauty, love and joy from within. Life is no longer a process of giving expression of your petty little selfish nature. It is not a process of petty selfish action, of anger, irritation, sharp words, fights and quarrels, petty enmities and jealousies, temper and restlessness, but it is a life which radiates compassion and kindness, friendliness and love, the spirit of selfless service, the desire to make others happy, the wish to be more and more useful to others. Such a life is called Divine Life. You become blessedness to yourself. You bring joy into your home. You cause happiness to your parents and your own kith and kin. You bring friendliness, love and joy in your own neighbourhood amidst your friends, in the society in which you move. In short, in all fields of your active life. You move as a center of blessedness. You fill yourself with joy and peace. You bring joy and peace to others also. But to do this you require self-control. If you are a slave of your own senses, you cannot live such a life. So, you require sense control, Control over; your mind and its desires, control over this ego and its selfishness. But you should not think that this discipline of control is something puritan. You should not think that this is only the austerity of monks and nuns. On the contrary, such discipline and such control is the symptom of real civilization. These are the signs of true education. Such control and self-governance over oneself and such denial of one’s own desires and the higher desire to make others happy is the very essence of true culture. Civilization, education, culture - all are based upon such rational self-control. It is such self-control only, which makes life worth living. A society or a community is truly rich and wealthy if it has men and women of such self-governance. This is not a world-denying philosophy. For, don’t forget and always remember that out of this temporary denial you are moving towards an abiding state of true joy and happiness. It is not a control and denial for its own sake. You know, because this is the way to the attainment of true happiness. Thus, the goal is to attain perfection & peace. This is the way of Divine Life. Swami Adhyatmananda

 

O Adorable Lord of Mercy and Love !
Salutations and prostrations unto Thee.
Thou art Omnipresent, Omnipotent and Omniscient.
Thou art Existence-Consciousness-Bliss Absolute.
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, hatred, anger and jealousy.
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.
 

Swami Sivananda

 

 

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