About This Book
This book is an epistolary autobiography of Gurudev Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj and contains just 18 lucid and inspiring epistles. Unbelievable as it may seem, it was written by him in just an hour. At the persistent request of his disciples for over a long period, he got down to it in right earnest one fine morning and lo, this masterpiece was produced as if by magic.
It is a most modest self-narration of his momentous life and excels in brevity all the other autobiographies in circulation. It covers within this short compass the entire gamut of the life of an exceptional personality, his character, his activities, his aspirations and philosophy.
The reader can see the crystal purity of his thoughts, the sublimity of his spiritual ideals and the unmatched simplicity of his faith in the one everlasting Reality-Sat-chit-ananda.
Relevant photographs and appropriate commentary were added to make it more presentable.
About the Author
Born on the 8th September, 1887, in the illustrious family of Sage Appayya Dikshitar and several other renowned saints and savants, Sri Swami Sivananda had a natural flair for a life devoted to the study and practice of Vedanta. Added to this was an inborn eagerness to serve all and an innate feeling of unity with all mankind.
His passion for service drew him to the medical career, and soon he gravitated to where he thought that his service was most needed. Malaya claimed him. He had earlier been editing a health journal and wrote extensively on health problems. He discovered that people needed right knowledge most of all; dissemination of that knowledge he espoused as his own mission.
It was divine dispensation and the blessing of God upon mankind that the doctor of body and mind renounced his career and took to a life of renunciation to qualify for ministering to the soul of man. He settled down at Rishikesh in 1924, practiced intense austerities and shone as a great Yogi, saint, sage and Jivanmukta.
In 1932 Swami Sivananda started the Sivanandashram. In 1936 was born The Divine Life Society. In 1948 the Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy was organized. Dissemination of spiritual knowledge and training of people in Yoga and Vedanta were their aim and object. In 1950 Swamiji undertook a lightning tour of India and Ceylon. In 1953 Swamiji convented a 'World Parliament of Religions'. Swamiji is the author of over 300 volumes and has disciples all over the world, belonging to all nationalities, religions and creeds. To read Swamiji's works is to drink at the Fountain of Wisdom Supreme. On 14th July, 1963 Swamiji entered Mahasamadhi.
"At long last, our boon has been granted"-this is the feeling that we, the disciples of Swami Sivananda have in our heart now. We alone know how we have been beseeching him for years to tell us the secret of his success in the attainment of Self-realization. Every time we broached the subject, he would turn away with a smile. Many a time have we felt that we could easier make the Himalayas talk to us of their mysterious grandeur than make our Swamiji talk of himself. We asked ourselves "What might be the reason?" we made guesses. We know him as an incarnation of Truth. We told ourselves: "If he is to talk about himself, he must speak about his virtues, because he cannto, by nature, be untrue to himself or to others. But he may thereby create the impression that he is vainglorious. To him, even the semblance or shadow of self-glorification is repugnant, for he is the embodiment of humility. Therefore, he prefers to be silent." But we persisted in our request, because we know his tender sport. He is so full of love and sympathy that if he denies a request however small it may be, he will be pained. In the end, our persistence has been rewarded. He has now decided to reveal his real inner nature, because he wants us to know what wealth is in store for us if we develop in ourselves the virtues which he has himself practiced. He realizes that even a little bit of his autobiography serves as so much precious spiritual instruction, because it throws the much-needed light on the path that leads to the goal of Self-realisation. None knows better than he that virtues develop in a saint only as a result of severe mental discipline and long and arduous endeavour. Many are the pitfalls to be avoided by the spiritual aspirant and he must be made aware of them. If we, his disciples, are to escape the dangers on our journey to the region of Eternal Bliss, we must walk in the footsteps of the Guru; steep and slippery cliffs can be scaled only by planting our feet with the same steadiness and determination with which our master trod along the rugged weary path before he reached the pinnacle of perfection and purity on which he now stands. To achieve this end, there can be no better guide that his own autobiographical sketch. The inner working of a realized sage are known only to himself and unless he reveals them, they will ever remain unknown. Our Swamiji has, therefore, decided to give us a glimpse of himself. It is nothing more than a briefest glimpse of his inner nature. Yet, the picture is clear, the outline bold and the features stand out very prominent. He who has eyes can see the crystal purity of his thoughts, the sublimity of his spiritual ideals and the unmatched simplicity of his faith in the one Everlasting Existence, Sat-Chit-Ananda. We, his disciples, will for ever and ever treasure in our hearts this rarest of his gifts "THIS SIVANANDA-GITA."
What one man has done, that all can do. Be a real Man and regain thy heritage of Divinity and Immortality. Ral manliness is in breaking asunder the chains of bondage, of births and deaths, of pain and sorrow. May the Lord bless the seekers after Truth with peace and health and divine knowledge.
Here we have something new in autobiographies. Autobiographies are many and varied. Varied too are their genesis. Their genesis, at times, have been abundant leisure in the evening of life, at others sometimes forced confinement in solitude. In solitude too the lone soldier by the sentinal fire, totally uncertain whether he will be alive to see the morrow's sunrise, has jotted down past memories as they rose in heaving waves in his self-communing mind. But this novel self-revelatory piece stands by itself due to its distinctive intriguing form. It is perhaps the first of its kind, to whit, and "EPISTOLARY AUTO-BIOGRAPHY". Containing eighteen self-written letters, it yet covers within this short compass the entire gamut of the life of an exceptional personality, his character, his activities, aspirations and philosophy. This it does with a surprising completeness that makes the reader feel that he has to know everything that is to be known of the author. So intimate is it in its communication that it imprints itself of the reader's heart as if it were quite a familiar matter long cherished by him.
Another point-IT WAS WRITTEN IN AN HOUR. Unbelievable it seems but it is an autobiography in an hour. An idea came to the author at 4 a.m. one morning and the result-this life in sixty minutes. Do the letters, some of them, appear self-adulatory? Yes, and No! Yes, they are adulatory, but No! Not self-adulatory. Why? Here the reader should note carefully this point. This great little document is not an autobiography at all. Amazing you say. It tells you everything about the revered writer, but yet equally true it does not tell about himself. THESE LETTERS REVEAL A PERSONALITY IN ITS ASPECTS AS A REPRESENTATIVE OF AN IDEAL. They are the revelation of a type. A life that has worked out in itself the divine dictates of the Upanishads and the ancient seers of the Orient. It is the narrative of soul's successful self-perfection, of its victory over this illusion of earthly existence. It demonstrates the proof of the truth of spiritual laws. It tells of the pathway to the Divine. It tells the secret of an all-round achievement. It shows Karma, Bhakti Yoga and Jnana in their actual working. It is an example of the working of the Lagos in and through the Monad, of the Divine through the human that this Sivananda-Gita narrates. When you understand this you get a glimpse of what Sivananda-Gita is, namely a Scripture expounding the Perfection of man and the nature of the field wherein the great truths of an ancient spirituality come into play as living verities.
It is even as Sri Krishna gives out through the Gita the working of the eternal spiritual laws and says again and again "I am such and such a Being, I am thus, I contain with myself all the worlds, this is dear to Me, for such and such a reason I have come upon the earth-plane, he who shall act in this way will reap the fruit of Immortality" and thus ad infinitum. The Sivananda-Gita is, as it were, a tablet for all times on the 'Life Divine' standing as a link between the finite and the infinite. The author's personality shows as mirrored in himself a sort of terse analysis of the dynamics of Divine living. As the scientist after deep reflection, prolonged experimenting and continuous research declared the results of his life's endeavours asserting "have done so and so and if you will do likewise you too will arrive at the results that I have done" this savant of the science of the Soul, of the Inner Life, voices forth the findings of his exploration into this higher realm. Now will be understood why Sivananda-Gita is an autobiography and yet is not an autobiography. Now will be understood why it may appear adulatory but yet is not adulatory. In silence these letters speak, in silence they utter the invitation "What I have done, what I have found, I have given out. Come, all ye, that would attain the Life's Ideal, take up this guide and hasten to set foot upon the inner track leading up to the temple of transcendental Bliss."
From a sylvan spot nestling close to the sparkling Ganges as she sallies in all divine majesty out between serene, sacred, Himalayan Hills, this golden guide steps out into the wide world. Take it up, reader, and guide thyself to Glory and Peace!
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