- Swami Vishnu-devananda
Swami Vishnudevananda (
December 31, 1927, Kerala, South India— November 9, 1993, Uttarakhand, India) was a disciple of Swami Sivananda, and founder of the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres and Ashrams. Considered by followers an authority on Hatha and Raja yoga, he is the author of The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga.
A close disciple of Swami Sivananda, Swami Vishnudevananda, a
Nair, was born in Kerala, South India on December 31, 1927. After a short career in the army, he coincidentally found interest in the teachings of Swami Sivanandathrough a copy of "Sadhana Tattwa" (Spiritual Instructions). Its introduction read, “"An ounce of practice is worth tons of theory. Practice yoga, religion and philosophy in daily life and attain Self-realization"”. Impressed, he travelled to Rishikeshto meet the author and the meeting, taking place on the stairs of the ashram leading to the Ganga ( Ganges River), would change his life. Swami Sivananda was walking up the stairs and according to the custom, people were prostrating. The young army officer did not want to bow his head to anyone and hid in a doorway out of sight. A moment later, Swami Sivananda appeared unexpectedly, and prostrated to the arrogant young man. This lesson in humility was the first given to Swami Vishnudevananda by his guru.
Swami Vishnudevananda entered the Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh in 1947 at the age of twenty. He took "sannyas" (became a monk) and was appointed the first professor of hatha yoga at the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Forest Academy, and eventually trained scores of Indian and western students. At the same time he continued his own practice, mastering advanced hatha yoga techniques. When asked how he perfected these ancient practices, some of which had become obscure in modern times, Swami Vishnudevananda answered, “"My master touched me and opened my eye of intuition. All this knowledge returned to me from past lives"”. For ten years, he lived and worked under the direct guidance of his master.
According to stories, in 1957, Swami Sivananda placed 10
rupeesin Swami Vishnudevananda's palm, and urged him to take all he had learned and bring to the people of western culture, with the words “"People are waiting"”.
Swami Vishnudevananda travelled throughout North America, teaching yoga and observing the western life style. His mobility then and later in life would earn him the nickname "The Flying Guru". He would eventually decide to create several settlements, choosing to begin this process in
Canada, with the first Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre in Montreal. The first Yoga camp, in 1961, was at the summer home of some students, who opted to surrender material comforts, to sleep on the floor and take cold showers.
*In February 1962, Swami Vishnu-devananda saw the present site of the Yoga Camp in Val Morin,
Quebec, and intuitively chose to settle in the dense forest area near the Laurentian Mountains. By summer the "Sivananda Ashram Yoga Camp" had opened. From the modest beginning of a few small cottages and tents,there has been considerable expansion. It consists of several temples, a yoga hall, guest lodges and offices, swimming pool and sauna.
*In 1967, Swami Vishnudevananda went on to establish the "Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat" in
Bahamas. Situated on four tropical acres on Paradise Island, a short boat ride away from Nassau.
*In the foothills of California’s
Sierra Mountains, "Sivananda Ashram Yoga Farm" was established on an 80 acre area.
*A fourth ashram, located in
Woodbourne, New York, a 77 acre plot near the Catskill Mountains. Swami Vishnu-devananda named it the "Sivananda Yoga Ranch Colony", hoping it would grow into a colony of families in a yogic environment.
*In February 1978, Swami Vishnudevananda inaugurated the "Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Dhawanthari Ashram" in Neyyar Dam, near
Thiruvananthapuramin Kerala. The ashram is set on ten acres in the foothills of the Sahyadri Mountains.
*A small Himalayan ashram, known as "Sivananda Kutir", was established in Netala, just outside of Uttar Kashi. It is situated on the banks of the Ganges and was to become the site of Swami Vishnudevananda’s "jala-samadhi" (sacred drowning).
In reaction to a vision (seeing people running in terror from a giant ball of fire) conceived during meditation at the Nassau ashram, Swami Vishnudevanand was prompted to found the T.W.O. (True World Order), aimed at promoting
world peaceand understanding. Feeling the need to train future leaders and responsible citizens of the world in the yogic disciplines, he founded the Sivananda Yoga Teacher Training Coursein 1969, intent to create a chain of students who turn into teachers perpetually.
Swami Vishnudevananda attained "
mahasamadhi" on November 9, 1993. His body was then placed into the Ganges at the Sivananda Kutir, and the rite named "jalasamadhi" was performed, merging the abandoned body with the water. His motto was, "Health is Wealth. Peace of Mind is Happiness."
*"The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga"
*"Meditation and Mantra" (A Commentary on the Hatha Yoga Pradipika)
*"Karma and Disease"
* [http://www.sivananda.org/teachings/teachers/swamiji/swamiji.html www.sivananda.org]
* [http://www.yogafarm.org/swamis/preceptors.html www.yogafarm.org]
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