Sri Swami Sivananda, the guru of Sri Swami Satyananda, was initiated into Dasnami sannyasa in 1924 in Rishikesh. Due to his luminosity, his fiery inspiration and selfless nature, an incessant flow of spiritual aspirants was attracted to him and an ashram quickly grew up around him.
In Rishikesh in 1936 the foundations of the Divine Life Society were laid with the aim of worldwide dissemination of spiritual knowledge and service to mankind. From his small kutir on the banks of the Ganga, Sri Swami Sivananda’s influence spread throughout the world.
“He never came to the West and he never went to the East but today he is everywhere.”
Sri Swami Satyananda
Sri Swami Sivananda was a visionary who was able to foresee the future needs of human society. Seeing the potential of yoga to alleviate the imbalance and distress of life in modern society, he took yoga from the secret realms of mysticism and into practice and daily life. Sri Swami Sivananda gave the yogic practices and teachings to one and all – to the postman, milkman, traveller and beggar, to the businessman, the housewife, and the thief. Rendered into simple practices for the cultivation of virtues, the betterment of character and the development of personality and self, Sri Swami Sivananda taught a synthesis of practical Vedanta and integrated yoga, as a means to obtain excellence in life.
Sri Swami Sivananda expounded yoga as a practical subject which could be applied to improve and uplift people’s daily lives. Yoga was presented as a set of practical tools to develop and expand the faculties of “head, heart and hands” – the faculties of the mind and intellect; emotions, feelings and sentiments; and action, performance and creative expression.
Sri Swami Sivananda’s yoga of synthesis or integral yoga was the integrated combination of the four principal paths or foundations of yoga: karma yoga, the path of action, bhakti yoga, the path of devotion, raja yoga, the path of psychic control and jnana yoga, the path of self-analysis and knowledge. Sri Swami Sivananda taught that for real spiritual evolution these four categories of yoga sadhana have to be integrated in daily life. “Practise karma yoga for purification of mind and heart, hatha yoga to keep up good health and strength and purify the prana and steady the mind, raja yoga to destroy the sankalpas and induce concentration in meditation, and jnana yoga to remove the veil of ignorance and ultimately rest in one’s own satchidananda swarupa.”
Through his teachings and own example, Sri Swami Sivananda taught that the real expression of yoga in life took the form of his eight-fold path of yoga: serve, love, give, purify, be good, do good, meditate, realize. A unique road-map for all spiritual seekers, this ashtanga yoga continues beyond the personal attainments of raja yoga towards the positive, creative expression of yoga in external life for the betterment of family, society and the environment.
Call to Divine Life
“Yoga is complete life. It is a method which overhauls every aspect of the human nature. Yoga shows you the way.”
Sri Swami Sivananda
Sri Swami Sivananda raised the goal of God-realization before people’s eyes as the true and real purpose for human birth, and laid out the yogic path that must be followed in one’s life to achieve that.
Calling one and all to embrace the Divine Life, Sri Swami Sivananda propagated the bringing of spirituality into daily life. He advocated spiritualizing daily activities so that the whole of one’s life becomes divine. He taught this most powerfully through his own example. To serve others and share what he had was his inborn nature. Sri Swami Sivananda saw God in every being and treated the poor, the sick, the suffering and the needy with the sincerity of worship.
Sri Swami Sivananda initiated many aspirants into the noble order of sannyasa in the Dasnami tradition. He trained and created sannyasins of an extraordinary calibre, some of whom also became luminaries. Twelve of his sannyasin disciples were given specific missions in different parts of India and the world to propagate different aspects of yogic and vedantic culture. One of these was Sri Swami Satyananda, to whom Sri Swami Sivananda entrusted the mission to “spread yoga from door to door and shore to shore”.
“Just thinking of Swami Sivananda is yoga.”
Sri Swami Satyananda