This section is from the "Advices on Spiritual Living" book, by Sri Swami Chidananda.See also A Call to Liberation.
Beloved Immortal Atman!
Blessed Seeker after Truth!
Om Namo Narayanaya! Om Sri Mahalakshmyai Namah!
Salutations and greetings of the season to you all. In the holy name of Sri Gurudev I wish you all a most happy Dipavali and pray that the radiant Goddess Lakshmi may shower Her Grace upon you and grant you prosperity, plenty, success and all-round blessedness. May auspiciousness attend upon you at every step. May health, beauty, virtue and spiritual progress accrue to you. I wish you and all your near and dear ones health, joy and advancement in life.
This bright Festival of Lamps comprises a Universal collective expression of the spirit of our ancient Vedic prayer TAMASO MA JYOTIR GAMAYA, - from darkness lead us unto Light. Upon this Dipavali night every year we affirm our determination to banish darkness with bright lights. Spiritual ignorance is darkness. Anger is darkness. Hatred is darkness. Greed is darkness. Illiteracy and lethargy is darkness. Deceit and treachery is darkness. Disloyalty and subversion is darkness. Unrighteousness is deep darkness. So is gross materialism. The opposite of these comprises light.
Through virtue and wisdom, through purity and truthfulness, through unselfishness and service awaken the Light of Divine Life and banish darkness. Let the light of virtue and goodness shine bright in your character and conduct. Let thy thoughts be noble, thy feelings sublime, thy speech polite and friendly, all the actions kind and good. Let every noble word and deed be as so many bright lamps in this darkness of selfish materialistic earthly life. Become a centre of Light.
My special greetings this month to all devotees and votaries of Lord Kartikeya or Skanda Bhagavan, the warrior-son of Uma-Maheshvara. The devotees of Velayudha Muruga everywhere in India will be observing the holy Skanda Sashti this week. Places like holy Palani, Tiruchandur, Tiruttani and similar Kshetras will be overflowing with Subrahmanya Bhakti and the praise of the youthful wielder of the Divine Spear. Earnest devotees in our country's Capital will be worshipping on 7th November at His shrine at Uttar Swamimalai. Bhagavan Kartikeya bestows success in Sadhana to spiritual aspirants! He is the embodiment of Daivi Sampatti and Sadhana Shakti. He personifies the power of Divine Grace as the irresistible inner force that ultimately overcomes all unspiritual and ungodly factors in the seeker's life. His Divine Spear is the power of sustained meditation which overcomes all obstacles and pierces the veil of Ajnana bringing the Sadhaka face to face with God.
We bow to the exalted memory of the great Sage Yajnavalkya, the most towering spiritual personality of the Upanishadic era. His Birth Anniversary falls on the 11th of this month. He was the grand old man of Divine Wisdom who shone resplendent in the great royal court of the philosopher-king Raja Janaka of Mithila. Some of the most precious wisdom-gems from the priceless Upanishadic treasure are the illuminating words of Sage Yajnavalkya. In his immortal discourse to his perceptive wife Maitreyi, the venerable sage expounds the Atman as the one and the only supreme value in all existence. In this inspiring dialogue between the sage-husband and aspiring wife, we find the essence of India's spiritual genius and the central concept of the Indian vision of man and his life's goal. In this we have the keystone to the invisible structure of our sublime spiritual heritage. I salute that great soul Yajnavalkya who gave us this inspiring and electrifying truth. O children of Bharatavarsha, lose not this vision of life. This is the very life-impulse in Indian culture.
A unique worship takes place in this month. It is the worship of sacred Tulasi (holy Basil) exclusively conducted by ladies only. It is a woman's worship of a Holy Lady, who has been sanctified and elevated to the status of a celestial being. There is significance in this worship. For Tulasi personifies the lofty virtue of feminine chastity. Tulasi is the ideal of faithful and unswerving loyalty to the chosen Lord of one's heart. It is a singleness of devotion, and dedicated adoration of the one and only chosen partner of your life. Tulasi is Maha Pativrata. She ranks with Anasuya, Sita and Tara. Feminine chastity is a Divine Virtue. It is the glory and resplendence of Bharatya Samskriti (Indian Culture). It is a rare fragrance in woman's personality. It is a real power possessed by a lady, which makes her a Goddess in her family and a shining light of the home. A chaste woman is worthy of worship. The gods themselves bow at her feet. A woman who is firmly established in this lofty virtue of chastity is verily a Divine being, though in human garb. She purifies the entire society in which she lives. They can overcome the whole world. All men are as mere children before such an exalted soul. This is the true glory of real Indian womanhood. Hail to Devi Tulasi! Hail to all ideal women of chastity, purity, spotless morality, nobility and sublime dignity. My silent prostrations and adorations at their worshipful feet again and again.
I should not conclude without recalling to your mind two great religious reformers and spiritual leaders who have left their mark upon the Indian Society and given to us a heritage of wisdom and worship. The great Guru Nanak in Punjab and the extraordinary Sant Jnaneshvar Maharaj of Maharashtra opened up new era of religious toleration, broad-mindedness and universality. They form a common heritage of the whole of this nation. The teachings of Guru Nanak Dev are incorporated in the holy Guru Granth Saheb'. The teachings Of Sant Jnaneshvar Maharaj are enshrined in his immortal classic The Jnaneshvari Gita. These great leaders brushed aside empty forms and rituals and brought out the spiritual essence of real religion. They strove to root out blind superstition and gave back to man a living faith in and love for the Universal Godhead. They boldly proclaimed the spiritual oneness of all men. They challenged the claim of selfish orthodoxy to a monopoly of man's approach to his Creator. They expounded the indescribable greatness of God's Divine Name and the importance of leading a pure life of good conduct and service unto others. They stressed upon the spiritual meaning and purpose of man's life on earth. The culture of this country has been indeed enriched by the lofty contribution made by the life and work of these noble two sons of Bharatmata namely, Sant Jnaneshvar Maharaj and Sadguru Nanak Dev. May their teachings spread. May their name live forever. May they be ever enshrined in your heart. Glory to Guru Nanak. Glory to Sant Jnaneshvar. O you resplendent sons of Mother India, may you guide the people of this blessed land towards unity, selflessness, mutual co-operation and a life of purity, service and sacrifice. May your inspiring teachings guide us all along the path to a Good Life and God-vision.
I close now with some good news to all lovers of Divine Life. The Society's Branches in Andhra Pradesh have finalised the plans for the holding of the Eleventh Andhra Pradesh Divine Life Conference. Shri P. Ramalingeshwar Rao, advocate, is organising the Conference and the venue is Kovvur, (in West Godavari District) which is his hometown. The dates are made to coincide with the Makara Sankranti or Pongal holiday, that is the 13th, 14th and 15th January, 1968. I wish the Conference glorious success.
Another happy event is the Fourth International Yoga Convention at Gondia, Maharashtra, organised by the International Yoga Fellowship of Monghyr under the able guidance of my spiritual brother His Holiness Paramahamsa Swami Satyanandaji to whom the institution and all its admirable activities are devoutedly dedicated by its holy Foundress Ma Yogashakti, the dynamic chief disciple of Paramahamsa Satyanandaji Maharaj. The Convention is meeting from the 1st November to the 7th November and is attracting Yoga enthusiasts from many countries. This is a developing Yoga Movement which promises great future possibilities, holding much benefit to people all over the world. I wish this Yoga Movement all the success that it richly deserves.
With my prayer to the Lord for your highest happiness and welfare and with my best Dipavali good wishes and greetings I close this letter. Accept my best regards and Prem.
Yours at Sri Gurudev's feet,
1st November, 1967
Sivanandashram Letter No. XLVII