This section is from the "Advices on Spiritual Living" book, by Sri Swami Chidananda.See also A Call to Liberation.
Blissful Immortal Atman!
Beloved Seekers after Truth,
Om Namo Narayanaya. Om Namo Bhagavate Sivanandaya!
Accept my salutations and good wishes in the holy name of Gurudev Sivananda. May the Lord's grace be upon you. I write with great joy because I have had the unique privilege of offering my devout worship on behalf of your good self and each and every individual member of the Divine Life Society, to our beloved Gurudev upon the solemn occasion of the 3rd anniversary of His Mahasamadhi. This worship was done on the 12th of July, the sacred Punyatithi and this Aradhana Puja took about four and half hours time. It commenced at about 9 a.m. and concluded at 1.30 pm. During the sacred Abhisheka I entered the holy shrine with all of you in my mind and making a Sankalpa for Gurudev's choicest blessings, performed the worship. May joy, peace and plenty fill your life.
You know, July has been momentous month, the high lights of this eventful period has been the most holy GURU PURNIMA day, the eight-day-period of SPIRITUAL SADHANA, the Annual General Body meeting of the Divine Life Society (on 11th July, 1966), the release of the previous year's Sadhana Week Special Souvenir and to crown all of this, the auspicious and most inspiring PUNYATHITHI ARADHANA. You will see the graphic report of these sacred observances in the Ashram News in Divine Life Journal. I may state that this year's Spiritual Sadhana period has been the most satisfying and gainful one. The earnestness, the co-operation and the eager participation on the part of the numerous Sadhaks was most gratifying and I must congratulate each and every one of them for the spiritual quality and Bhav which they manifested. May they progress upon the same pattern!
One important decision that has been taken is to make available to all the members (I am referring to you, dear friends) of the Divine Life Society a substantially enlarged and improved Divine Life Magazine every month and to simultaneously raise the annual Membership Fee. One suggestion for the new figure was Rs. 6 per year. But this was reconsidered by the General Body and the enhanced Annual Fee of Rs. 5 was readily agreed upon by the meeting. This will come into effect next year from 1st January, 67. All of you will very kindly bear this in mind when you are renewing your Membership towards the close of this present year and remember to send two and a half rupees extra with the usual two and half rupees. Because henceforth five rupees will be the Annual Fee. However, the admission Fee for new members will be the same as it has been previously. I wish to draw your attention to the increased benefits you are going to derive as a member from the next year. Now please follow me.
At present you are only receiving Wisdom Light alone every month. From next year receive the monthly Divine Life Magazine also as well as Health and Long Life and the Branch Gazette too, all in one. All these you will get due to the fact of your membership alone, without having to subscribe separately for these other journals. As it is, if any one subscribes for all four journals, his aggregate payment will have to be approximately Rs. 12. But a member will get these included in his Annual Fee of Rs. 5 only. How we shall be able to do this you will just now see. It has been proposed to include the contents of these four journals in a single magazine, namely the Divine Life monthly which will consequently be considerably enlarged, thus giving place to the combined matter now appearing separately in the other three journals, i.e., Health and Long Life, Wisdom Light and Branch Gazette. The Divine Life' will be the sole Official Journal of the Divine Life Society. All members of the society will receive it; all the D.L.S. branches too. Though the other three journals will be stopped, yet in fact, you will continue to get all of them in and through the Divine Life Magazine. You may please look out for detailed announcement in this regard published elsewhere in this journal. The matter is being finalised at the headquarters. The enlarged monthly D.L. journal that you will get from January, 1967 onwards will be double the size of the Wisdom Light in dimension (namely Divine Life' size) and will contain approximately 50 pages. In terms of your present Wisdom Light journal that you are just now reading at this moment that new journal would contain nearly 100 pages.
This year you might have seen from last month's letter, I had decided to restrict the feeling on the 12th July and confined it to the attending Sadhakas, Bhaktas and Guru Bandhus instead of a general Bhandara. Why this was done was made perfectly clear in page 200. I shall make a slight diversion here and tell you the criticism sent in by one revered reader. The worthy reader writes:
The Sivanandashram Letter No. 30 (in the July issue of the Wisdom Light) gives rise to a mixed feeling of comfort and sorrow. Comfort at the idea that solemnity and simplicity will be the mark of the Aradhana Celebrations and sorrow at the foot that this great spiritual Institution has chosen to woo the Government by a donation to the Prime Minister's Relief Fund in preference to the mass-scale feeding of the poor, on the most solemn occasion of the Aradhana day...... May Gurudev guide us to better times and rational functioning in consonance with the lofty ideals of the D L. Mission. Pranams.
I wish to thank the reader for presenting so frankly his point of view. But at the same time I must confess that I had not even the remotest idea of wooing the government or agency in what I did. This notion never entered my head and came as a surprise to me when the above mentioned letter was received here. The only idea that was present in my mind as well as the minds of my revered brother, Swamis here was the thought of poor people on the brink of starvation in areas under famine conditions. This is a fact. And actually this proposal when put before all the assembled devotees here was hailed by every one as a very proper and timely measure and the spirit in which it was done to be laudable. I have even received another letter conveying Grateful thanks for this thoughtful gesture. I thought I might share with you these views and opinions and just give you an idea how a self-same matter is viewed differently by different people. I might just as well draw the attention of all readers including the kind writer of the aforesaid letter to the significant fact that the alternative purpose for which a sum of money was diverted in lieu of Bhandara here was practically and identical purpose as, the Bhandara, namely feeding of poor people. Let me end this matter now. This year the Badrinath Yatra has been unprecedented with many hundreds of thousand of devout pilgrims crowding to visit the holy Himalayan Shrines of Badrinath and Kedarnath. There has been a continuous stream of pilgrims pouring into Rishikesh since April. Road has been taken right up to Badrinath township and so the bus transport brings the pilgrims very near to the temple of Lord. While this is extremely convenient to all people and saves a lot of time (today you can leave Rishikesh for Badrinath and be back at Rishikesh on the fifth day after having Darshan) yet this has taken away a good deal of the spiritual elation and inspiration that the Yatri used to get when he trekked 20 miles from Joshimutt to Badrinath. But change is the nature of things. One comes to accept it ultimately. There is a lull in the Yatra just at present due to the onset of rains last month. Torrential rains in the hills flood the Ganges and the waters rose so much last week that Shri Gurudev's Kutir which is sacred and a holy monument to countless disciples, had to be totally vacated of all things. The waves splashed water on to the verandah. However, this was a mild thing compared to the flood of September, 1963 when precisely 60 days after His passing, the holy Ganges entered the Kutir and flooded it with her waters to a height of nearly four feet.
You are having this month two Annual holidays, the Kalki Jayanti on the 21st and Sri Tulsidas Jayanti on the 22nd. Kalki Jayanti is actually the anticipation of a future advent. It makes the date foretold in the scripture, of the birth of the tenth and final incarnation of Lord Narayana. Kalki is the irresistible Divine power manifested to annihilate the forces of darkness that have gathered volume in the Iron age. It is an Avatar of hope for all humanity weighed down and crushed under the tyranny of evil and godless wickedness. Dharma prepares man to merit the protection of this power Divine.
The sublime theme of the Sri Rama-avatara brings out in significant symbology this aforementioned process of the initial triumph of dark-Wickedness over chaste-Virtue and the ultimate vanquishing of the former by the Divine Power for the vindication of goodness and its release from the cruel thraldom under demoniacal evil. The great saint poet Sri Tulsidas has brought this truth home to millions through his Immortal, Exquisite poetic rendering the Ramacharitamanasa. May the whole world work for the advent of victorious Divinity that may end the rule of Adharma and restore the kingdom of righteousness upon this world of God.
When this letter reaches you there would be approximately 30 days for the auspicious Birthday Anniversary of Sri Gurudev. This year the sacred Krishna Janmashtami falls on the 7th Sep; which means 8th September is Navami Tithi. A significant coincident indeed. For the Navami Tithi is the day of Gurudev's Mahasamadhi in the month of Shravan. So, this year the exit as well as the advent dates are both Navami. It is, as though to indicate to us that He is always present. If he left us on Navami, he has come amongst us on Navami too. True indeed is this, for though he left us in the body yet the same moment he was born in spirit within our hearts as the Immortal ideal to live for and to strive for and realise in our very life. Such a conjunction this significant occurred once twenty years ago in 1946 when 7th of September was the sacred and joyous Sri Krishna Janmashtami day. I would like to suggest to all devotees of Lord Krishna who worship Him as their Ishta Devata that they may commence a special 30 days Anushthana from 7th August to 7th Sep. of the sacred Dwadashkshari Mantra OM NAMO BHAGAVATE VASUDEVAYA. Repeat it every day at least a minimum of 12 Malas, which means 108xl2 1296 times. You may repeat more Malas like 24 or 36 daily. This would constitute a befitting, solemn preparation for observing that great annual day sacred worship. And how very significant indeed does beloved Gurudev's Birthday seem in the context of the forth-coming two holy Anniversaries of Kalki Jayanti and Tulsidas Jayanti! For Gurudev's advent and his noble life of sublime spiritual work did verily constitute this process of a determined attempt to oppose the forces of Godlessness, Adharma and wanton wickedness of the present day world and establishing the Divine Life in human society. Truly we may say that Gurudev Sivananda has been one of the foremost amongst messengers of the Divine in the 20th century, who proclaimed the Gospel of goodness and brought in a better balance between good and evil in this age that seems to be turning away from the Light. As long as the memory of such great ones is cherished actively by modern mankind there is still great hope of emerging from darkness into the light of goodness and Godliness in the not too distant future. May the hand of God help us and the Light of God guide us in working towards such a day. OM NAMO BHAGAVATB VASUDEVAYA. OM NAMO BHAGAVATE SIVANANDAYA. Beloved seekers, may God bless you and all.With regards, Prem and Om,
Yours in Sri Gurudev
Sivanandashram Letter No. XXXII