Sri Gurudev is a spiritual giant of our times. His magnetic, fearless and divine personality, his aura, his compassion and love for all, irrespective of caste or religion, and his vast gifts to the world are unparalleled in modern spiritual history.
The teachings of the Master can be summed up in the words of Sri Swami Krishnananda, one of the Master's foremost disciples, who writes the following in the book, The Mighty Godman of our Age, "The purpose of Sri Gurudev's coming into this world and the intention behind the coming of any sage and saint, is the waking of the slumbering soul of mankind. Gurudev Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj was an incarnation of this unending, incessant, eternal human aspiration for perfection. His teaching is usually summed up in a pithy statement: 'God first, world next, yourself last'. This statement, this little message, this one-sentence teaching perhaps sums up the great gospel of life which brings God to the Earth, into our kitchen, into the very room in which we live, into this vestment of our physical personality".
Intimate glimpses of the Master's last days are revealed in the book, From Man to Godman, authored by Sri N. Ananthanarayanan. "The clearest indication came early in 1963, when at the night Satsang, the Master openly invited all who wanted Sannyas to get initiated on the Sivaratri day in 1963 itself. 'Who knows what might happen next Sivaratri?', he said. About April 1963, the Master became unaccountably serious minded in his attitude to men and matters. His deeds began to take on an unusual complexion – for instance, the economy drive which he instituted in the Ashram administration. But the Master did everything so jokingly. 'Economy sir, economy!' he used to say, whenever anyone went to him with an expense. No one, however, could sense a deeper purpose behind his actions. The truth was that the Master was preparing to leave and wanted the Ashram to be free from financial problems.
"On several occasions during May and June that year, the Master called for the calendar, each time from a different person. Once he flung the sheets up to June at one stroke and started looking into July. When a disciple wondered what it was all about, the Master exclaimed, 'Oh, you don't know!' And after fingering through the dates, he returned the calendar to him. Few could guess at that time that the Divine Master was fixing the auspicious date and time for his own Mahasamadhi. Starting from May 1963, the Master began to give daily tape recordings on returning from the office. Unmindful of the strain, he would read loudly, forcefully and inspiringly from his printed books and typed sheets, and a disciple would record them on the tape.
"As the Master was signing letters one day, he said rather jokingly, 'Sight is getting dim. Hereafter I can't sign, sir,' and he glanced at the disciple who held the signature pad, as if to ascertain whether the latter had understood the implication of what he had said.
"'Happiness comes when the individual merges in God.' This was the last dictated sentence of Swami Sivananda, author of hundreds of inspiring books on man and his destiny. The peerless teacher had summed up his great teachings in that one sentence and he was soon to practice what he preached. He was to totally merge in God, within weeks of the above sentence.
"In health and in sickness, the Master's gracious manners and natural kindness suffered no change. All who went to him during his last illness felt his irresistible love the same as ever. On July 10, the Master expressed a desire to see the Ganges from where he lay in bed. An intervening wall obstructed the view. So, the direction of the bed was suitably changed to enable him to view the holy Tirtha, which he loved so much, on whose banks he had lived for almost forty years, and on whose glory, he had written a book. On 14 July, the Master developed fever and began to shiver. The Master wished to have Ganges water, pure and simple. The water was brought. The Master, who had experienced difficulty in taking the smallest quantity of solid or liquid, gulped down half a glass of Ganges water without apparent trouble ─ and with that the Being that was Swami Sivananda laid aside its mortal vesture".
In the DVD entitled "Swami Sivananda's Message", the Master spoke to us about the benefits of Yoga. "Yoga helps in the co-ordination and control of the subtle forces within the body. Yoga brings in perfection, peace, and everlasting happiness. Yoga can help you in your business and in your daily life. You can have calmness of mind at all times by the practice of Yoga. You can have restful sleep. You can have increased energy, vigour, vitality longevity and a high standard of health. Yoga transmutes the animal nature into divine nature, and raises you to the pinnacle of divine glory and splendour. The practice of Yoga will help you to control the emotions and passions and will give you the power to resist temptations and to remove the disturbing elements from the mind. It will enable you to keep a balanced mind always and will remove fatigue. It will confer on you serenity, calmness and wonderful concentration. It will enable you to hold communion with the Lord and thus attain the summom bonum of existence." This was followed by a delightful session of instructing children and youth on how to practice the various Yoga Asana postures. The Master's unique method of teaching was integrated with the "Govinda" song which outlined the advantages of each pose, after each demonstration and enhanced the lesson with this melodious and inspirational inclusion.
We end this report with a message from the Board of Management of Divine Life Society of S.A., "Let our lives be dedicated flowers at the feet of Sri Gurudev and Pujya Swamiji. During this pandemic, we are given the best opportunity to turn to Gurudev within, and to surrender our lives to Him. Let us not lose this rare opportunity, when there is so much fear and uncertainty all around. On the auspicious occasion of Sri Gurudev's 58th Mahasamadhi, we thank our Divine Master for his compassion and love; the moral, emotional, and spiritual strength he provides; and all his bounteous gifts to us, his children. May Sri Gurudev and Pujya Swamiji shower all with good health, peace, happiness and spiritual enlightenment".