Life of the master
Swami Sivananda was born in 1887 in a village called Pattamadai, in the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu.
He was born as Kuppuswami Iyer, to PS Vengu Iyer, who worked as a Revenue officer in British India.
Born in a spiritual environment, his father was a great devotee of Shiva and his mother was a very religious woman.
As a child he was very active in academics and gymnastics. He studied in a medical school and after graduation he practiced medicine in British Malaya for 10 years.
During his stint in Malaya he was reputed to give treatment to the poor for free.
As he had a realisation that the medicine was healing people at a supernatural level, he decided to give up medicine and started looking inwards.
In 1923 he left Malaya and came to India in search of a spiritual teacher.
He reached India in 1924 and he found his guru in Rishikesh, Vishvananda Saraswati, who initiated him into the Sanyasa order. From that point onwards Kuppuswami was named as Swami Sivananda Saraswati.
He settled in Rishikesh and practiced severely. During his stay in Rishikesh he continued tending to the sick.
In 1927 he started a charitable dispensary in Lakshman Jhula, while continuing his practices.
After 12 years of austerities, he began the divine life society in 1936.
In 1950, he began touring all over India and Ceylon. He visited Kedarnath, Badrinath, Kailash Mansarovar, and many places in the south, besides other places.
In Ramanasramam, he had a darshan of Ramana Maharishi on his birthday.
After leading a vibrant and energetic spiritual life, he entered mahasamadhi in 14 July 1963, on the banks of Ganga, in his ashram.
He established multiple institutions, trained many spiritual stalwarts and wrote hundreds of books.
Sivananda led a very energetic and active spiritual life.
He authored over 250 books in yoga, found multiple spiritual institutions, and trained great disciples who went on to have spiritual institutions of their own.
In 1936, he founded the Divine life society on the banks of the Ganga river.
In 1945 he founded the Sivananda Ayurvedic Pharmacy and All world religions federation.
In 1947 he established the All world sadhus federation.
In 1948 he established the Yoga Vedanta Forest Academy.
Out of all the major organisations found by him, the first and most famous is the DLS.
Divine Life Society
Divine Life Society was built in the year 1936 by Swami Sivananda as a trust, along the banks of Ganga, in Rishikesh.
In 1936, when Sivananda returned from a pilgrimage, he stayed in an old hut in Rishikesh. His disciples also stayed with him but under very difficult circumstances.
The king of Tehri Garhwal granted him a plot of land on which he began the construction of the ashram.
According to the official website dlshq.org, the ashram was built by Sivananda “brick by brick”….
Divine life society now has its presence in 18 countries worldwide and has a following of millions of seekers.
The headquarter of the ashram is the Sivananda ashram, located in Hrishikesh, where Sivananda himself lived.
There are different arms of the DLS which carries out its different objectives:-
- The Yoga Vedanta Forest Academy – – established in 1948, it provides three 2 month residential training programs on yoga and it’s philosophy.
- The Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy Press– prints the cultural and spiritual books as well as the periodicals and other literature of the Society.
- Sivananda publication league – it is responsible for the publication of spiritual literature for the public. They have a e-bookstore from which you can order various publications of the ahsram. There is a free ebooks section in the website in which many of the publications are available for free to download.
- Sivananda Charitable Hospital — initially began as a dispensary in 1927 in Laxman Jhula(Rishikesh), it became a hospital in 1950. Gradually it developed and now it has a 30 bed ward and it treats 500 patients everyday on an average, for free. Every week the hospital arranges a medical camp for free in rural areas.
- Annapurna Annakshetra – the common kitchen of the ashram
- Guest House – visitors and guests who come for training, stay there.
- The temples – of worship , hold prayers for peace of the world.
- Monthly Periodicals – Two monthly periodicals,Divine Life( Divya Jeevan in Hindi)
- The correspondence section – Provides proper replies to the enquiries of seekers from all over the world.
- Library – provides options to read spiritual books in the ashram
- The daily satsanga – is held in the ashram as a source of inspiration
- Yoga courses – held in other parts of india through its yoga instructors
- The divine life conferences – held in different parts of india
- The cultural tours – conducted by senior swamis
- The personal guidance – given by senior swamis
- Daily meditation sessions
- Annual sadhana weeks – held at the ashram to which thousands visit
- The educational activities of the society includes helping poor students in their education from primary to post graduate level
- The leprosy relief work – of the society ensures taking care of 200 or more lepers
- The social service wing – provides medical aid, relief work for the needy
He had very illustrious students who went on to develop their own institutions which were not directly affiliated to DLS, but provided the same teaching in their own way.
Swami Chinmayananda Saraswati – Founder of Chinmaya mission
Swami Satyananda Saraswati – Founder of Bihar School of Yoga
Swami Jyotirmayananda Saraswati – Founder and President of the Yoga Research Foundation, USA
Swami Sahajananda Saraswati – Spiritual Head of Divine Life Society of South Africa
Swami Satchidananda Saraswati – founder of the Integral Yoga Institutes, around the world
Sivananda Radha Saraswati, founder of Yasodhara Ashram, British Columbia, Canada
Swami Vishnudevananda Saraswati, founder of the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres, HQ Canada
Sivananda called his yoga the Yoga of synthesis, combining the 4 yoga’s of Hinduism. He was a prolific writer and wrote a whooping 296 books on various aspects related to yoga, mysticism and spirituality.
Some of his famous books are “What happens to the soul after death” and “Mind, its mysteries and control”.
Some of his books are now available for free on the website of Divine life society.