Thursday, August 30, 2007

(12) Swami Vishnudevananda Saraswati

Swami Vishnudevananda Saraswati

Disciple of Swami Sivananda Saraswati

Born : December 31, 1927,Kerala 
Passed away : November 9,1993; Mangalore
His Holiness Sri Swami Vishnudevananda Saraswati Maharaj

Born on the 31st of December, 1927, he was known as Kuttan Nair. He hails from Kerala, where he had his school education. After completing school, he was engaged in teaching for sometime, after which he joined the Indian Army. While searching for a misplaced paper, he happened to lay his hand on a pamphlet entitled ‘Sadhana Tattwa’ by Swami Sivananda. The practical instructions in that pamphlet attracted him to Sivananda. He took leave, went to Rishikesh and had Darshan of Swamiji. Subsequently he visited the Ashram a few times and finally when he came to the Ashram in 1947 to attend the Diamond Jubilee of Swami Sivananda, the Master told him, "Stay here," and he stayed. The Master initiated him into the holy order of Sannyasa, on the sacred Mahasivaratri, in February 1949, and gave him the name Swami Vishnudevananda.

When he entered the Ashram he was specially interested in the Hatha Yoga techniques, knowledge of which he brought with him even when he came from Kerala. The Master, knowing his abilities, made him the Professor of Hatha Yoga in the Forest Academy of the Ashram which was the only work he did for several years. It was during a period of absence from the Headquarters of Swami Madhavananda, the Secretary, that Sri Gurudev nominated Swami Vishnudevananda as the Secretary of the Ashram, sometime in the year 1955-56. During those very hard days when the financial strength of the Ashram was not much, Swami Vishnudevananda worked hard not merely as a managing Secretary but took immense interest in seeing to it that a temple is built in the name of Sri Gurudev, called Sri Guru Mandir. He had to struggle hard to achieve this purpose which of course he completed. In the year 1957, devotees who were attached to him due to the teaching they got through him got interested in him to such an extent that they invited him to countries outside, which invitation he accepted with the permission of Sri Gurudev and went to Malaysia, Hong Kong and Japan and from Japan he went to America fixing his permanent Centre in Montreal, in Canada. He opened other Centres in the United States and also several other Yoga Centres in Europe.

Today Swami Vishnudevananda is a very well-known name and his work is of international reputation and very few in the field of Yoga in the world would be unacquainted with the name of Swami Vishnudevananda. He has also a Centre in India in Nayyardam near Trivandrum, South India. Swami Vishnudevananda is a very simple man, though, like a magician, he worked a miracle in the West, where tirelessly he worked to bring together many complex elements, group of devotees and participants in his work. He maintained a simplicity of his own and almost not caring for himself, only caring for the welfare of his mission and his devotees. He lives the life of a desireless, unselfish and simple man, working very hard vigorously for sometime and completely severing himself from work at other times and rushing back to the Himalayan peaks, Uttarakashi and Gangottari often times for retreat and personal prayer and meditation. He has taken several rounds of trip through the world and through India in the name of Sri Gurudev and it is a great praiseworthy quality of his that even after earning such a reputation as a Yoga Teacher throughout the world, even today he considers himself as the humble servant of the great master Swami Sivananda and never does he forget to mention the name of the Master when he speaks whether in Satsangas, retreats, seminars or conferences. He is an extremely good person, simple to the core, very hard working and immensely devoted to the name of Sri Gurudev and his Mission.

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Founder of the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres, Swami Vishnudevananda, was a world authority on Hatha and Raja Yoga. Swamiji was also known as the "Flying Swami" for the different peace missions he accomplished around the world.

Swamiji was born in Kerala, South India, in 1927. As a young child one of his main character traits was a strong will and determination. His mother, now known as Mataji who later took Sannyas (vows of renunciation) from Swami Sivananda, said that whenever her son wanted something, nothing or no one could stop him. An interesting anecdote tells how as a 5 year old youngster he had the strong desire to go to school and learn. When told that it was not possible since the nearest school was located more than 5 miles away, the child took upon himself to pack and go early the next morning for the long 5 mile walk through the jungle. He walked back that evening and would do the same for many years to come.

As a teenager without financial resources for University, he turned to joining the army to receive the scientific education he yearned for. During this time as he looked for a lost paper in a waste basket, his eyes fell upon a paper entitled "20 Spiritual Instructions" by Swami Sivananda. The pamphlet began: "An ounce of practice is better than tons of theory". The practicality and inherent power of these simple words lead Swamiji to travel across India during a 36-hour leave to meet Swami Sivananda in far away Rishsikesh in the Himalayas.

This short visit left such an impression on the young boy's mind that he resolved to return as soon as possible.

On his second visit, the young disciple received 2 powerful lessons from Swami Sivananda. The first lesson came when Swami Vishnudevananda felt too timid and a bit arrogant to bow to the Guru Swami Sivananda. So the Master Swami Sivananda prostrated fully before the young student demonstrating the lesson of humility. The second lesson came during Arati (worship ceremony) to Ganga (Ganges river). Swamiji was perplexed and doubtful as he pondered why intelligent people would worship what scientifically is merely H2O. The Master then smiled subtly and gazed at Swamij who instantly beheld the river as a vast, bright, cosmic light. Swami Sivananda then invited the young boy to remain at the Ashram to study and become a Yogi. Swami Vishnudevananda spontaneously replied "Yes".

For 10 years Swami Vishnudevananda continued at the Sivananda Ashram and was trained in all aspects of Yoga by Swami Sivananda. Swami Vishnudevananda quickly became an exceptional adept in the path of Hatha-Yoga and was a very keen and tireless Karma Yogi. One day Swami Sivananda gave Swamiji a 10 Rupee note (less than a dollar!) and his blessings to travel to the West and spread the teachings of Vedanta. "People are waiting" were the words of the Master.

Swamiji's limitless energy and profound inspiration lead him to found and direct the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres. There are now 20 Yoga centres and 9 Ashrams and many Affiliated centres. Swami created the first Yoga Teachers Training Course which to date has trained more than 26,000 certified teachers in the field of Yoga and spirituality. One of his brilliant touches was to summarize these ancient and vast teachings into five principles of Yoga which are easy to understand and convenient to incorporate in one's daily practice.

Throughout his whole life, Swamiji was deeply concerned about the well being of the world and the constant disaster of wars. This lead him to learn to fly and then personally pilot a small plane over several troubled areas of the world. Not only did he create discussion and awareness in the news media, but he also "bombarded" these war torn areas with flowers and peace pamphlets while repeating the peace Mantra; Om Namo Narayanaya.

I have given you all I have with all my heart and love. It is for you to give to others. Sometimes I may not know all the answers, and I know that I have a long way to go. If you didn't get anything, that's because of my lower emotional nature. If there was anything good you got, it came from my great Master Sivananda. I don't say that I'm an unemotional person. I scolded and talked endlessly. I acted like a dictator. If I were like my master, or like Jesus, I could wash the feet of my disciples. But for that one must be very high. It can only be done when the ego is gone. If I were to do it, it would be hypocrisy. I'm not that high. Once, some years ago, I prostrated myself before a man to whom I had been rude and impatient. As I was doing it, I was thinking "How humble I am." So don't look for an easy way to overcome your ego. For years I've tried. I watch myself as my ego manifests itself. I analyze. But it clings like a leech. When we can't control ourselves, we should offer it to the Lord: "Oh Lord, I offer it to Thee!" And now, if in any way I hurt your feelings, I ask you with all my heart to pardon me.

- Swami Vishnudevananda

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