The life of a master – his Holiness Swami Sivananda
One of the greatest Yoga masters of the 20th century, Swami Sivananda, is the inspiration behind the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers. The teachings of Master Sivananda are summarized in these six words: Serve, Love, Give, Purify, Meditate, Realize.
His early life
Born in 1887 in Pattamadai, Tamil Nadu, South India, Swami Sivananda whose name was then Kuppuswami, was a brilliant boy at studying as well as gymnastics and naturally inclined toward spiritual and religious practices.
He chose a career in medicine and after his studies went to Malaysia where he felt there was great need. In a short time he was given the responsibility of running a hospital. During these years Dr. Kuppuswami was renowned as being both an excellent doctor and a true humanitarian.
One day Dr. Kuppuswami had the opportunity to cure a wandering Sannyasin (renunciate or Monk) who then gave the doctor instruction on Yoga and Vedanta. From that day on his life changed, and gradually Dr. Kuppuswami became more introspective and could not stop pondering the great questions of life. Now he felt the need to help people on a more profound level, not just healing their physical body, but helping them to find a cure for all suffering.
The great Sannyasin
Filled with a tremendous desire for spiritual growth and enlightenment Kuppuswami went to North India in search of his Guru. After some time he travelled north to the Himalayas. There in the holy town of Rishikesh (which means “the abode of the sages”). Kuppuswami discovered his Guru who gave him Sannyas (a monk’s vows of renunciation). After taking these vows, Swami Sivananda Saraswati, as he would be known henceforth, started an extremely intense daily Sadhana (spiritual practices) and Tapas (austerities) for the next 10 years or so.
From that time Swami Sivananda became one of the most prolific Yoga teachers who have ever existed. From the early 30s onwards, Swami Sivananda embarked on frequent and extensive tour of India and Sri Lanka, stirring the hearts and souls of thousands with his spiritual magnetism, strong vibrant voice and power of oratory.
Wherever he went, he conducted sankirtan (chanting), delivered lectures and taught people how to keep strong and healthy by practicing yoga asanas, pranayama and kriyas. Above all, he encouraged his audiences to strive constantly for spiritual development. Swami Sivananda’s teachings spread quickly throughout our entire planet. He personally wrote – by hand, no computers at the time 🙂 – more than 200 books on topics connected to Yoga and Philosophy.
In 1957, Swami Sivananda sent his devoted and industrious disciple, Swami Vishnu-Devananda to the West where he then established the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers.
In 1963 Swami Sivananda entered maha-samadhi (left his physical body) on July 14, 1963.