Swami Sivananda: The Godly Man of Science


By Dr Mohunlall Soowamber

Once in a while we are blessed with the emergence of a man who manifests such divine qualities that we regard him as an incarnation of the Lord. One such man was Swami Sivananda who by his exemplary life of universal love and selfless service transformed the lives of millions throughout the world. Born on 8th September 1887 in India, Swamiji became a doctor and worked away from his homeland in Malaya where he served the sick and the poor with zeal and determination. He was a fast learner and would occupy different positions – as a sports writer and administrator during his college years.

To those who were striving for happiness and a better life he exhorted them to look within. He pointed out that the fountain of joy and happiness lies within us and not in outward things. Within us lie light, peace and bliss. He taught purity of mind through yoga asanas, prayer, meditation, repetition of God’s name. Without this disposition of mind it is difficult to cultivate love for one’s fellowmen, and without love we cannot serve others in a detached spirit, without regard to any prize, name and fame. What is lacking in our modern society is this kind of attitude. When we offer help to others, we should expect no medals attached to it. To Swami Sivananda all beings are manifestations of the same divinity and in the final analysis we are all alike whether rich or poor, educated or illiterate, sick or healthy. He said “never feel I have helped that man, always think the Lord has given me an opportunity to serve him”.

“One thinks of culture as something abstract and above our reach. Swami Sivananda regards culture as the discipline of head, heart and hand. True culture is the attainment of wisdom through right thinking, right speaking, and right living…”

Swamiji founded the Divine Life Society in 1936 in order to disseminate the ideals of love, service, control of mind and, above all, the belief in a purpose in life. Swamiji also founded the All World Religious federation in 1945 in order to bring about unity among all nations. He said: every faith, every religion is a path to God; so, everyone should grow and develop in whatever faith he or she is brought up without infringing on the freedom of others.

In his book ‘Conquest of mind’, Swamiji teaches various ways of controlling the mind which according to him is the cause of both bondage and liberation. He advocated control of mind through self-discipline, self-surrender, self-sacrifice, negation of what is evanescent and fleeting, through discrimination and dispassion, self-examination, and above all by eradicating our worldly desires which bring turbulence to the unreflective mind.

One thinks of culture as something abstract and above our reach. Swamiji regards culture as the discipline of head, heart and hand. True culture is the attainment of wisdom through right thinking, right speaking, and right living.

In a world where man is dazzled by the glitter of material goods and comfort, it is not easy to keep a calm and balanced mind. Swamiji, through his numerous books, discourses and practical teachings on yoga, on the nature of our true self, on self-discipline, and the need to go beyond human effort can help us become better individuals which in turn will create better homes and a more stable society and, above all, a peaceful and secure world.

In Mauritius, Swami Venkatesananda, one of the foremost disciples of Swami Sivananda, was been the driving force in spreading the message of universal love and service through yoga, self-discipline, control of the mind and always enquiring: who am I? What is the purpose of life? And, in what direction am I headed?

* Published in print edition on 8 September 2020

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