Such was his burning passion and desire to realise God, that the Master, having worked as a doctor in Malaya, resigned from his lucrative profession and left for India. Upon arrival at his home in Pattamadai, while his goods were being offloaded, the Master went missing-indicative of his dispassion for the world. He commenced his journey to Varanasi, the abode of Lord Siva, but to his dismay, the Master discovered that Varanasi was a big crowded city and not the best place for his spiritual growth. He was advised by a kind hearted stranger to go to Pandharpur.
The reading further recounts that the Master visited a number of holy places and the wandering life helped him to develop equal vision, forbearance and serenity of outlook in pleasure and pain. He spent a few months with the postmaster of Dhalaj, and thereafter was requested by another postmaster of nearby Dixal, M.V. Datta, to be his guest for a while. Datta suggested the Master should go to Rishikesh, a place which could be congenial for rigorous austerity. Soon the Master was in Rishikesh, the abode of Saints. At dawn he saw numerous Sadhus, but one elderly Sannyasin immediately arrested his attention. His name was Swami Vishwananda. Later in the day, the Master went for alms at Baba Kalikambliwala Kshettar, but was refused food as he was not a Sannyasin. On his way back, Swami Vishwananda happened to meet him. Straightaway the old Sannyasin felt an urge to initiate our Master into the holy order of Sannyas. That very day he gave the Master the Ochre Robe. It was on this day, the 1st of June 1924, 99 years ago, that Swami Sivananda Saraswati was born.
Pujya Swami Sahajananda, in an audio message, addresses the Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, in the first-person, and says, "Today, you are sharing with us the nectar of your teachings". Pujya Swamiji recounts the Master's fashionable life-style, with silk turbans, his opulent manner of dressing with many rings and jewellery, his fashionable suits, and having amongst his possessions, many typewriters and harmoniums. However, he gave all this up-an indication of the Master's intense and burning dispassion. He even begged for alms as a Madrasi Brahmin. Pujya Swamiji's poignant question to us is, "Do we have that dispassion today when we want to seek God"? He says, "We go to the Ashram with various motives, except, very rarely, to realise God. That is a story by itself, if you see what is happening in the different Ashrams and why people go there, and what they seek, it is really shocking".
Referring to the Master's non-conventionalist nature, Pujya Swamiji says that other Sadhus did not like the Master, because the Master wrote in English. Indeed, the Master was different. Pujya Swamiji continues, "You didn't follow anyone, you didn't copy anyone. Everything you did was original. Your whole Sadhana was original. Your whole character was original. You didn't follow the traditional path."
The presentation by our youth boys encapsulated the Master's life and teachings in a creative and stimulating manner, through beautiful pictures and quotations of the Master, a song by the Master, and relevant commentary.
The following are excerpts from the power-point presentation:
- Today we celebrate a momentous occasion in the life of a great spiritual luminary, Sri Swami Sivananda. It is with great joy and reverence that we commemorate Sri Gurudev's 99th Sannyas, the formal initiation into the monastic order.
- Swami Sivananda's life was a radiant example of service to humanity, both during his years as a doctor and later as a world-renowned sage and Jivanmukta. To serve all, to love all, to mix with all and to see God in all beings were the ideals he taught and lived by.
- Swami Sivananda Saraswati lived a humble existence. He "dressed to clothe himself, ate to live, and lived to serve humanity".
- Sivananda's emphasis was on living a life of vitality, but ultimately the goal was not about the mind or the body-it was of self-realization and pure consciousness.
What does celebrating Sri Swami Sivananda's 99th Sannyas Anniversary mean to us? It means that we should follow the noble footsteps of the Master and Pujya Swami Sahajananda, his exemplary disciple. The best way to show our gratitude to the Master and Pujya Swamiji for the bountiful gifts they have showered upon the world and our country, is to implement their teachings into our daily lives. We can show gratitude by intensifying our Sadhana, living a life of spirituality and divinity, by distributing the Master's books, and treading the path of spirituality in earnest. Sri Swami Sivananda's contribution to the world in the fields of religion, health care, education, culture, free literature, service to humanity and promotion of human values seem unequalled in modern spiritual history. These fill us with reverent awe and exalted admiration.
Sri Swami Sivananda, a man amongst men, a jewel amongst saints, a teacher, a Guru, and a friend of the forlorn, downtrodden and oppressed! Will the world see such a remarkable giant and spiritual genius in the near future? Only time will tell....