Swami Sivananda

Swami Sivananda

Swami Sivananda Saraswati (Sep 8, 1887Jul 14, 1963) was a Hindu spiritual teacher and a well known proponent of Yoga and Vedanta. Sivananda was born Kuppuswami in Pattamadai which is in the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu. He studied medicine and served in Malaya as a physician for several years before taking up monasticism. He lived most of the later part of his life in Rishikesh. He is the founder of The Divine Life Society and author of over 200 books [ [http://www.sivananda.org/teachings/teachers/sivananda/sivananda.html Sivananda Om Site ] ] on yoga, vedanta and a variety of other subjects. He established Sivananda Ashram, the location of the headquarters of The Divine Life Society (DLS), on the bank of the Ganges at Shivanandanagar, at a distance of 3 kilometres from Rishikesh Town.

Early life

Sivananda was born Kuppuswamy in Pattamadai near Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu, India as the third son to his parents on 8 September 1887. [http://dlshq.org/download/autobio.htm "Autobiography of Swami Sivananda"] ] Kuppuswami the boy was very active and promising in academics and gymnastics. He attended medical school in Tanjore, where he excelled. He ran a medical journal called "Ambrosia" during this period. Upon graduation he practiced medicine and worked as a doctor in Malaya for ten years, with a reputation for waiving his fee for poor patients needing treatment. Over time, a sense that medicine was healing on a superficial level grew in him, urging him to look elsewhere to fill the void, and in 1923 he left Malaya and returned to India to pursue a spiritual quest.


Upon his return to India he visited Banaras, Nashik, to Rishikesh in 1924 where met his guru, Swami Vishwananda Saraswati. It was Vishwananda who initiated him into the Sannyas order and gave him his monastic name. However, since Sivananda spent only a few hours with Swami Vishwananda, the full Viraja Homa ceremonies were performed later by Swami Vishnudevananda (not to be confused with his own later disciple, Swami Vishnu-devananda), the Mahant of Sri Kailas Ashram. After initiation, Sivananda settled in Rishikesh and immersed himself in intense spiritual practices. Sivananda performed austerities for many years but he also continued to help the sick. With some money from his insurance policy that had matured, he started a charitable dispensary at Lakshmanjula in 1927 and served pilgrims, holy men and the poor using his medical expertise.


After a few years, Sivananda went on an extensive pilgrimage and traveled the length and breadth of India to meditate at holy shrines and study with spiritual teachers throughout India. During this Parivrajaka (wandering monk) life, Sivananda visited important places of pilgrimage in the south, including Rameshvaram. He conducted Sankirtan and delivered lectures during his travels. He visited the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and met Maharishi Suddhananda Bharati. At the Ramana ashram, he had the Darshan of Ramana Maharshi on Maharshi's birthday. [http://dlshq.org/saints/siva.htm His Holiness Sri Swami Sivananda Saraswati Maharaj ] ] He sang bhajans and danced in ecstasy with Maharshi's bhaktas. He also went on pilgrimages to various places in northern India including Kedarnath and Badrinath. He visited Kailash-Manasarovar in 1931.


During Sivananda's stay in Rishikesh and his travels around India, many came to him for guidance in the spiritual path. He permitted some of them to live near him and instructed them. Sivananda asked his students take copies of his short articles and send them for publication. Slowly, large number of people started coming to him and his circle started growing.

Sivananda founded the Divine Life Society in 1936 on the banks of the holy Ganges River. The free distribution of spiritual literature drew a steady flow of disciples to the Swami, including the young U.G. Krishnamurti, who studied with him for seven summers, and Swami Satyananda Saraswati, founder of Satyananda Yoga.

In 1945, Swami Sivananda created the Sivananda Ayurvedic Pharmacy, and organized the All-world Religions Federation. He established the All-world Sadhus Federation in 1947 and Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy in 1948. He called his yoga the "Yoga of Synthesis".


Swami Sivananda's disciple Swami Chidananda is the current President of the Divine Life Society in India and was appointed by Swami Sivananda.

Other prominent disciples were Swami Krishnananda, Swami Venkatesananda (South Africa, Mauritius, Madagascar, Australia), Swami Pranavananda (Malaysia) and Swami Sivananda Radha (Canada).

Another prominent disciple was Sri Swami Sahajananda (South Africa), who was directed by Sri Swami Sivananda to establish the Divine Life Society of South Africa. The formation, growth and present status of Divine Life Society of South Africa is due entirely to the grace of Sri Swami Sivananda.

Disciples who went on to grow new organisations (in alphabetical order):
Swami Chinmayananda founder of the Chinmaya Mission

Swami Jyotirmayananda, President of the Yoga Research Foundation in Miami, U.S.A.
Swami Lalitananda, Vice President of the Yoga Research Foundation in Miami, U.S.A.
Swami Omkarananda, founder of the Omkarananda Ashram Himalayas

Swami Satchidananda, founder of the Integral Yoga Institutes, U.S.A.

Swami Satyananda Saraswati, founder of Satyananda Yoga movement

Swami Shantananda, founder of Temple of Fine Arts, Siva Family (Malaysia & Singapore)

Swami Vishnu-devananda, founder of the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers, HQ Canada


A prolific author, Swami Sivananda wrote exactly 296 books on a variety of subjects: metaphysics, Yoga, religion, western philosophy, psychology, eschatology, fine arts, ethics, education, health, sayings, poems, epistles, autobiography, biography, stories, dramas, messages, lectures, dialogues, essays and anthology. [ [http://www.dlshq.org/allbooks.htm Complete Works of Swami Sivananda ] ] Yet his books emphasized the practical application of yoga philosophy over mere theoretical knowledge. He was known to have said "An ounce of practice is better than tons of theory. Practice Yoga, Religion and Philosophy in daily life and attain Self-realization." [See 'Sadhana Tattva': http://www.dlshq.org/download/allsiva.htm#_VPID_122]


Swami Sivananda attained mahasamadhi on 14 July 1963 in his Kutir on the bank of Ganges, in Shivanandanagar.


External links

* [http://www.divinelifesociety.org/ Divine Life Society]
* [http://dlsaus.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=5&Itemid=6 Swami Sivananda's influence in Australia]
* [http://www.yogamag.net/archives/1980/gjuly80/swsiv.shtml Swami Satyananda describes Swami Sivananda]

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