Om Namo Bhagavade Sivanandaya

Established in 1949 by Sri Swami Sivananda

It is very easy to overcome depression. It is not at all as difficult as one imagines. Mind has the mysterious power of magnifying a problem and making it appear formidable. Do not listen to the promptings of the mind. Reject them ruthlessly and throw them out.

Here are some practical hints that will enable you to triumph over this malady once and for all:

1. First try to analyse yourself thoroughly and find out the cause of the problem. Do not be hasty. Sit calmly and think over the matter. Spend some days over it if necessary. Put your thoughts down on paper and reflect over them. If necessary get the assistance of someone whom you love and trust and who will be sympathetic to your feelings. Pray to God within to lead you to the right person.

2. Do not listen to promptings from within that your problems cannot be solved and overcome. The Guru or the Divine within you, and the loved ones around you, can effectively solve or dissolve all your problems.

3. Know that for every problem that confronts you-however difficult and complicated it may seem to be-there is the requisite guidance, strength and wisdom readily available to you from the Divine dwelling in the chambers of your heart. God is nearer to you than your life-breath. Turn to the Lord with a childlike faith and experience the miraculous results.

4. The easiest way to tap the divine power within is to repeat God's holy Name. Select any Divine Name from the scriptures and repeat it constantly, without a break. In this one method of spiritual practice all the holy scriptures of the world are unanimous. The power latent in the Divine Name is like the power latent in the seed. Just as the seed needs soil and water to enable it to germinate, so also the Divine Name needs to be constantly repeated to make its power manifest.

The Divine Name is the one sovereign, infallible remedy to get rid of depression once and for all. Take any Mantra, like Sri Ram, Om Namasivaya, Om Namo Narayanaya, Om Namo Bhagavade Vasudevaya, Om Sri Ram Jaya Ram Jaya Jaya Ram, the Mahamantra: Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare, Hare Krishna Hare Krishnna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, and repeat it throughout the day and also just before you go off to sleep and the first thing when you wake up in the morning. It will protect you from all dangers and calamities.

5. Keep the body fit by doing regular physical exercises, and by participating in healthful activities. A hike in the countryside will be refreshing and invigorating both mentally and physically.

6. A pure, nourishing diet is very important for the health of both the body and the mind. Take more of fresh fruit and vegetables. Take health tonics. They are available from the health stores. Vitamin tablets from natural products will be found highly beneficial.

7. The nervous system must be strengthened by means of exercise, relaxation, pure food and regular prayer. A useful nerve and brain tonic may be prepared as follows: Soak 8 dates, a similar quantity of almonds and 4 cardamoms in a bowl overnight. In the morning remove the skin from the almonds. Reduce the ingredients to a paste, add honey and butter and take with warm milk. This delicious tonic rejuvenates the nervous system quickly. A teaspoonful of Amla powder mixed with a glass of warm water and taken twice a day will help trememdously in strengthening the nervous and physical system. Amla is one of the most important ingredients in the well-known Chyvanaprash tonic.

8. Attend regular prayer services in a temple or Ashram. The holy vibrations will give you added mental and spiritual strength to cope with your problems.

9. Study the scriptures daily. This will give you discrimination, which will give dynamic strength to the mind. It will be your most effective weapon to deal with the promptings of the mind.

10. Check undesirable habits. Overcome them by developing virtuous qualities. Lead a life of purity and righteousness. Such a life will free you from all worry, fear and depression.

11. The constant repetition of some beneficial formulae will strengthen the mind considerably. Such repetition is called auto-suggestion. Here are some proven formulae for this purpose. Repeat them as many times as possible during the course of the day, and when you are just about to fall asleep at night:

(a) I am Thine. All is Thine. Thy Will be done, O Lord.

(b) Let go and let God.

(c) What cannot be cured must be endured.

(d) Whatever has happened has happened for the best; whatever is happening now is happening for the best; whatever is to happen in the future will happen for the best.

(e) Through the Grace of God, I am getting better and better every day in every way.

(f) Even this will pass away.

12. Serve the sick and the needy through a service oriented institution. If you take up some useful activity for the good of others, you will have no time to think about yourself. Losing oneself in selfless service is one of the most dynamic methods of overcoming depression. If you give cheer, joy and happiness to others, you yourself will receive cheer, joy and happiness in return.

13. Do not try to evade or run away from your problems, difficulties and trials. Face them bravely through calm reflection and discrimination, knowing that the Divine within is ever your guide, protector and saviour. Know also that everything in this world that you now hold so dear is not lasting, and will soon disintegrate and pass away. You are only a passing pilgrim on this earth plane. If you constantly reflect and discriminate thus, then all such emotions and feelings that have such a tenacious hold on your mind will be loosened, and an inexpressible freedom, lightness and joy will fill your heart.

14. Be content. Adopt a life-style of "simple living and high thinking". A great deal of unhappiness today may be traced to unfulfilled desires. There is no end to desire. Each desire breeds a host of new ones. Modern man longs to own TV sets, video recorders, dishwashers, expensive cars, swimming pools and other items of luxury. Reduce your desires and lead a life of contentment and simplicity.

15. A constant attitude of gratitude to God for having provided you with your physical and material needs, will give you an abiding sense of contentment and peace, and free you from depression, cares and worries.

16. Select any suitable method, or a combination of methods, and put them into immediate practice. You will succeed without difficulty, Nil desperandum. Never despair. There is a magazine of enormous power within you. Tap that power diligently and come out victorious. Then share your knowledge with others.

17. Strictly avoid viewing scenes of violence, sex and murder on TV. Avoid places of gambling and liquor, evil company, and literature that deals with violence, sex and crime.

18. Performance of daily Agni-Hotra and recital of the all-powerful Sri Hanuman Chalisa are very effective remedies to overcome depression and suicidal tendencies.


Blessings in Disguise

Adversities, trials, difficulties, calamities, diseases, afflictions, pains and sufferings are all blessings in disguise. They strengthen the will and increase the power of endurance. They turn the mind more and more towards God. They instil in us discrimination and dispassion. They draw out all our latent faculties. They force us to perform even beyond our ability. They develop all talents and capacities lying dormant within us.

It is easy to bask in the sunshine of prosperity. The crucial test is your reaction under adversity and hardship. God wants us to enjoy eternal bliss and peace. For this purpose the body and mind have to be thoroughly purified and strengthened, so that they may be able to bear the pressure of His matchless bliss and peace. This process of purification and strengthening cannot be effected without one confronting adverse conditions and circumstances.

Furthermore, nature's law of cause and effect operates with relentless precision. The wise and discriminative person will allow the effects of this past actions to bear fruit by meeting all the conditions of life with patience, good cheer, calmness and faith in God.

Depression is very common today. Many are not able to overcome this negative state of mind. They seek medical and psychiatric treatment, and in extreme cases even resort to suicide, thinking that such a step will solve their problems.

Hindu scriptures like the Dharma-Sastras and Manu-Smiriti condemn the act of suicide. Vedic texts state that anyone who commits suicide is an "Atmaham" (killer of the soul). Saints and sages also have vehemently condemned the act of suicide. They declare emphatically that absolutely nothing is solved or gained by getting rid of the physical body. On the other hand, the results of suicide are disastrous in the extreme.

Scientists and psychologists today, researching in psychic phenomena, have corroborated some of the teachings of the sages.

The sages state that at the time when the soul is to depart from the body, the dying person sees, as on a cinema screen, all the actions done by him during the present lifetime, from childhood up to the moment of death. And from all these varied scenes, the most prominent one arrests and engages the soul's attention, and the soul leaves the physical body in that state.

If there is intense attachment to someone, then the soul will depart with that person's image in mind. Intense hatred means that the hated person's image will remain in the mind as the predominant thought at the time of death.

A person who had been strongly addicted to liquor and drugs will leave the body with thoughts of liquor and drugs. One with intense attachment to money will have thoughts of his wealth at the time of death.

A person who had led a pious and virtuous life, with thoughts of God, will depart from the body with thoughts of God.

The last thoughts determine the condition and nature of the next birth. This is what the sages have said about the phenomenon of death.

This argument seems reasonable, because the last dominant thought in our mind at the time when we just drop off to sleep, is the thought that dominates our mind the next day. It is for this reason that we are advised to sing the Divine Name or hymns at the time of death in order to focus the attention of the dying person on holy, noble thoughts.

It is needless to add that if the soul departs from the body with thoughts of anger, hatred, jealousy, worry and fear, or in a state of great mental turmoil, then such thoughts and turmoil will be carried over and immediately experienced on the other plane also. That is why sages say that suicide does not solve anything whatsoever. On the contrary, it makes the condition of the soul very much worse.

They give an analogy to explain this truth. When we experience a nightmare during sleep, we wake up abruptly with a shock. But we feel a sense of great relief at the same time, because the consciousness has rushed back to the safe refuge of the physical body. In suicide the soul does not have a physical body to return to as in the case of the nightmare. Hence, it undergoes great misery and suffering, perhaps more than during its sojourn in the physical body. Furthermore, it is said that such a soul has to roam about as a ghost for a long time.

Sri Aurobindo, one of our great contemporary sages, says about suicide: "Suicide is an absurd solution. If one throws away the body wilfully, one suffers much in other worlds and, when one is born again, it is in worse, not in better conditions."

As the body is a precious instrument given to us by God for realising Him, voluntarily discarding it will bring in its train very adverse reactions. The repercussions may last for a long time and the soul may encounter adverse conditions for many births. Hence, under no circumstance should one resort to this most thoughtless and rash action of suicide.

Our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, has written how the demoniacal forces are playing their part in this Kali Yuga by opposing the divine forces. Sri Aurobindo, the great sage of India, said that today the Asuras (demons), have taken human form. Mother Mirra of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, who was one of the greatest occultists of this age said that these Asuras cause many accidents, suicides, calamities and domestic and other conflicts.

The Asuras possess a person when the nervous system becomes weak, due mainly to wastage of the vital force, or if the person is filled with fear, depression and other negative qualities. 

Depression causes pessimism. It discourages effort and kills initiative. It produces despair and sickness in the mind and body. It infects others also. It makes one a prey to all kinds of negative thoughts. It makes one resort to rash and thoughtless actions.

The causes of depression in each individual may be different. It should be found out and intelligently analysed and understood. The method of overcoming it will be easy and effective.

Here are some of the factors that cause depression in people:

1. Sometimes the cause may be physical; it may be due to indigestion.

2. A cloudy day sometimes causes depression in people.

3. Ill health is a contributory factor. Sometimes one may be lacking in certain essential vitamins, and this may be the cause of the depression.

4. The revival of old bad habits, the unpleasant memories of which recur in the mind again and again.

5. Hatred, revenge, anger, jealousy, envy, the guilt complex-all these bring about a morbid state of mind and depression.

6. Inability to face difficulties, trials and setbacks. Inability to face failure. Lack of initiative and will-power.

7. Unnecessary fear, worry and anxiety are great contributory causes of depression.

8. A weak nervous system makes one a prey to depression. Sexual excess, fear, worry, jealousy, hatred, anger, overwork and tension are some of the causes of a depleted mental and nervous state.

9. Inhibitions resulting from inadequate parental upbringing may surface in later life and torment one mentally.

The above are some of the causes. There are also occult causes which are referred to further on. 

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Written by Swami Sahajananda, Divine Life Society, Durban, South Africa


Here is an entertaining and educational play of how one youth got rid of his TV.

Scene: The lounge of Mr Softiwalla's home. Mr T.V. is anxiously awaiting Gopala, the son of Mr Softiwalla, who has gone to attend a discourse given by Swamiji. Gopala enters, humming the tune of "Apadbandhava Narayana".

Mr TV: Come, my sweet slave. Come with that enchanting zombie look! I have some good news for you. Because you have great love and devotion to me, I have decided to give you the title "Addictananda".

Gopala simply walks past, without so much as giving Mr TV a sideways glance. He pauses at the exit.

Gopala: Wait, blockhead! I'll deal with you just now.

Exit Gopala

Mr TV: What has come over him now? He is behaving rather strangely. He seems to be possessed by some good spirit. If that is the case, I am surely doomed.

Gopala returns. With his left hand on his hip, he raises his right fist at Mr TV.

Gopala: I am not your slave anymore, Mr TV. Those days are over. I will be soon busy with my Sri Ram Mantra, and afterwards I shall be helping Daddy in the garden. (He wags his finger at Mr TV.) So Mr TV, kindly keep your eyes closed and your big mouth shut!

With that he switches off Mr TV.

Mr TV: O my Lord! What is this world coming to? If you behave like this Gopala you will surely go to the dogs.

Gopala: Nearly right, blockhead. Not dogs, but Gods. I am going to God now. I'm through with you. You are not my boss anymore. I am your boss now.

Mr TV: Oh no!

It is evening. Mr TV is sitting in the corner gloomily. Enter Mr Softiwalla, father of Gopala.

Mr TV: O Mr Softiwalla! I have been waiting all afternoon for you. You have been very good to me, Mr Softiwalla. I have been happy as long as you have been soft with Gopala. It was you who allowed him to sit in front of me for hours on end, neglecting his school lessons and deprived of exercise. It was the long hours in front of me that has given him his beautiful zombie look. This afternoon, however, he was very rude to me, Mr Softiwalla.

Mr Softiwalla: Why, what was the problem, Mr TV ?

Mr TV: He actually showed me his fist in a threatening manner, Mr Softiwalla. What a cheek! What an insult! And this, after giving him the beautiful title "Addictananda"! I am very much afraid of him now, Mr Softiwalla.

Mr Softiwalla: What makes you think in that manner, Mr TV.

Mr TV: You know what these modern children are like, Mr Softiwalla. With all the hypertension in the world today, he could smash me to pieces in no time. My life is in great danger in this house, Mr Softiwalla. Is this what I get for all the good times I gave Gopala?

Mr TV bursts out crying.

Mr Softiwalla: You have a lot of poison in your system, Mr TV. You are spilling this out and spoiling the atmosphere. You need a very strong divine drug to put you right.

Mr TV: Please, Mr Softiwalla, if you give me such a drug, make sure it does not have any side effects! Oh! I feel so insulted, humiliated and disgusted. I just can't take it any more. I feel so depressed that I have a good mind to jump into the Ganga with a concrete slab tied to my neck.

MR TV bursts out sobbing again.

Mr Softiwalla: Yes, that might do you some good. It is said that anyone taking a dip in the Ganga is destined to have a better birth. Maybe you will be reborn as a more evolved TV, who knows?

Mr TV: What does that mean, Mr Softiwalla?

Mr Softiwalla: It means that you may then devote more of your time to showing God's wondrous creation through His beautiful landscapes and waterfalls, sweet-smelling flowers and colourful birds. His majestic animals, like the sinewy tiger and the fleet-footed cheetah, also proclaim His glory and majesty. You may even give up your bad habit of playing out disco music and violent scenes, which attract evil forces. You can then give more attention to singing the praises and glories of the Lord.

With that Mr Softiwalla picks up another box labelled, FRAGILE, DELIVER DIRECT TO THE GANGA, and walks towards Mr TV.

Mr TV: Oh! You, too, Mr Softiwalla. How can you let me down like this? Henceforth you should be called "Hardywalla", not "Softiwalla".

Terrified, Mr TV flees. He is last seen with his suitcases packed, heading in the direction of the North Pole-who knows, perhaps to drown himself in the North Sea instead of the Ganga, to avoid disgracing the TV world!

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Gurudev Centenary 2024

Sri Swami Sivananda

(1887 - 1963)

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