This section is from the "Advices on Spiritual Living" book, by Sri Swami Chidananda.See also A Call to Liberation.
Worshipful Immortal Atman!
Beloved Seeker after Truth,
Om Namo Narayanaya. Salutations and my loving greetings to you in the name of Gurudev Sivananda. This letter brings my very best wishes to you all, for this present letter, in a way, constitutes a Jubilee in itself because it is the 60th Sivanandashram Letter and it has entered therefore its Diamond Jubilee, numerically speaking. I give thanks to Sri Gurudev at this juncture of its Jubilee number for having prompted me to commence this letter when I did. It has enabled me to convey to you my thoughts and feelings, my ideas and prayers and my views and wishes to you and thus seek to serve Gurudev's spiritual children in His name. Being quite unable to correspond individually with the numerous devotees of Gurudev, I have found some satisfaction and solace by these Sivanandashram Letters because they have enabled me, to some extent at least, to make up for this regrettable shortcoming.
Gurudev has taken this servant onward into other circles of his devotees since writing to you the last letter. From Rhodesia after a brief visit to Malawi (the former Nyasaland) at the loving invitation of Sri Gordhandas Mathuradas, we travelled to Zambia for a week's programme of public lectures and Satsangas from 11th Nov. to 16th Nov. The Zambia programme was arranged by Sri Uttam Ranched, an ardent Bhakta who had recently returned from India after a week of retreat in Sivanandashram in Rishikesh. We had Satsangas in the main towns of Livingston, Lusaka (the Capital City), Luanshya, Ndola, Mufilera and Chingola through the various Indian centres in these places. On the 17th of November flying from Ndola this Sevak landed in Mombasa the same evening through an extraordinary working of Gurudev's grace. Actually there was no flight to Mombasa that day and the Air Zambia place was bound for Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania where I was supposed to spend the night. Mombasa was all organised for programmes the very same evening. It looked inevitable that they were all to be terribly disappointed. In this situation, just at the last moment when the plane approached Dar-es-Salaam airport for landing, the ground control refused permission to the pilot for landing saying that recent rains had made the air strip temporarily unsafe. The pilot was instructed to fly to Mombasa Airport instead. And for the first time ever the Zambian Airways jet went on and landed there bringing this Sevak wonderfully in time to start with the Mombasa programme as though everything had been pre-planned with perfect timing! This is but one of the many ways at many times that the mysterious workings of Gurudev's grace has been manifesting itself throughout.
Mombasa people could hardly believe the occurrence when the facts dawned upon them. The devotees' rejoicing knew no bounds. Dr. J. R. Sharmaji had organised a busy programme for the three days 17th, 18th and 19th November. On 20th we arrived at Nairobi and had the joy of meeting two well-known devotees of Gurudev, namely Sri D. N. Sodha and Sri C. J. Patal whom I had known through correspondence for many years. It was such a happiness to see the torch of Indian Culture being kept brightly burning in this distant outpost across the ocean by the Indian community at Nairobi. A learned scholar and educationist, Shri Shantilal Thakar had taken great pains to organise an excellent programme and with the willing selfless Seva of Sri D. N. Sodha he had given fullest possible publicity to the various meetings, etc. The High Commissioner for India in Kenya, Sri Prem Bhatiaji, presided over the main meeting in the city. Sri Bhatiaji I found to be a highly cultured gentleman with great humility and devotional temperament. He was indeed a worthy representative of Bharatavarsha's culture and possessed the true Bhava of a Bhakta and a Grihasthashrami of noble nature. Sri Shantilal Thakar I saw was an evolved Sadhaka and Yogi and was centre of inspiration and spiritual light to the Indians in Nairobi. He is doing yeoman service in spreading the knowledge of the lofty Upanishads and the Bhagavadgita. Sri Ramanbhai Patel who was our host in Nairobi is a noble soul who served us with great sincerity and devotion during our stay with him.
From Nairobi Sri Gurudev took his servant to Kampala in Uganda to the pious home of Sri Bepin K. Vadgama, who is a great Bhakta and Satsanga-Premi. He is the life and soul of the Divine Life Society in Kampala and he had organised the entire tour of East Africa. We had busy engagements in Kampala, Jinja, and then at Kisumu and Nakuru and finally concluded the tour at Nairobi again on the 30th before flying to West Germany that night. Mr. & Mrs. Hans Franke of the Divine Life Society Branch of Porz-Eil have put their home at our disposal during these ten days of the W. German programme. Meetings at Cologne, Erlangen, Dortmund and at Porz-Eil were very satisfactory and the Satsangas at the Branch wonderful. Winter has well set in. It is extremely cold. Last night the temperature was minus and there was frost upon the ground. At the Franke's home they put out rice and bread crumbs on the open balcony outside the window and numerous sparrows and blackbirds crowd. The river Rhine flows by the town at about a mile's distance from the house. Gurudev's books and photographs fill their home. Devotion pervades it. Recordings of Kirtans, Bhajans and Mantras are played here every day. My only difficulty here has been accustoming myself to delivering discourses sentence by sentence and waiting for each sentence to be translated into the German language for the German audience. I have to keep hold of the emerging ideas and prevent them from running away.
There is a distinct awakening and a rapid spreading of spiritual values in all countries in the West. This is evident in every place this servant has been visiting during this tour. As in Germany, even so is in France and in England, too. At this moment, right here in Paris, there is evidence of great interest in Yoga, not only Hatha Yoga but also Raja Yoga and the inner spiritual life. Genuine and earnest spiritual aspirants among the French people I have had the happy privilege to meet. A great many of them have been directly or indirectly influenced and inspired by Sri Gurudev's spiritual teachings.
Like Sri Hans and mother Margarete Franke in Porz-Eil in W. Germany, here in Paris Mr. Guy des Pinardes conducts a D. L. S. Branch under the name of Centre de Yoga Vedanta Sivananda. Mr. Des Pinardes got his training from Yogiraj Sri Swami Vishnudevananda, Montreal, in 1962-63 and from Swami Sharadananda at Rishikesh Ashram in 1965. He was blessed by Sri Gurudev in 1962.
There are many other Yoga Centres working here. The spiritual discourses of the recent Paris programme were very attentively received, with great earnestness. Though the process of speaking through an interpreter who translates your talk sentence by sentence makes you feel rather crimped and stiffed at times, yet it is satisfying and rewarding to the heart when one considers the spiritual service that it implies and the response that it evokes in the listening souls. Who can say that Sri Gurudev is gone and that he does not actively continue his spiritual ministry. Sri Gurudev is very much active indeed and his work is certainly moving forward and gaining momentum. To witness this is itself a benediction and an inspiration.
This servant leaves for Belgium on 2nd February, 1969, for a two weeks' programme in that country where there is a very strong movement of Yoga quite widespread with various centres in many towns and cities including its capital Brussels. The Divine Life Society Branch in the town of Aalst is being conducted by the Kiekens family with very great sincerity and loyalty to Sri Gurudev to whom all the members are deeply devoted. They are endowed with much spiritual Samskaras. After Belgium, a pressing request from Greece by our old friend Mother Lila Vlaouch of Athens takes me there for a week's tour. Then the important programme of Holland by Dr. L. Eversdyk Smulders, writer and traveller well known in North India, who had visited Sri Gurudev in 1958-59, will bring me to Holland in the first week of March for 10 day's engagements. Then this servant will have to cross the Atlantic where work awaits through Yogiraj Sri Swami Vishnudevananda Maharaj, Sri Swami Shivapremananda Maharaj, Bill Eilers & Mrs. C. Sheldan, etc. who expect this Sevak on the other side.
I am filled with immense joy to learn from the glowing reports received from my beloved brothers at the Ashram about the wonderful and enthusiastic way in which the two sacred Silver Jubilee events were very successfully celebrated under the gracious and able guidance of most revered Sri Swami Krishnanandaji Maharaj and Sri Swami Madhavanandaji Maharaj with the loving and enthusiastic help of the numerous Ashram Sadhakas and visiting devotees. They are indeed most blessed and extremely fortunate, who took part in the festival of spiritual joy which these two sacred Jubilees occasioned. The Divine Name Temple (Divya Nama Mandir) will become a centre of tremendous attraction to draw all souls towards the Spiritual Path and the Sadhana of the practice of the Divine Name of God. It will infuse power into the hearts of those who behold it and approach it. Those who worship the NAME enshrined therein will obtain the boon of Bhakti.
From here I send my special felicitations to Sri Swami Vivekananda of Sivanandashram who contributed half a lakh (50,000) of Likhit Japa towards the Mahamantra Yajna, this figure being the highest among the Ashram residents. Divine Mother endow him with such Sadhana Sakti and such Nishtha and Dharana always and take him rapidly towards the goal of God-realisation.
Akhand Nama Sankirtana should increasingly become a very regular feature of the activities of all Divine Life Society Branches all over the country and the world at large. They must all adopt Akhanda Kirtana as a prominent feature in their programmes. Even where there is no D.L.S. Branch, devotees and disciples of Sri Gurudev wherever they are living should take a keen interest in having such periodical Akhanda Nama Kirtanas organised for varying durations as in within their capacity. Dawn to midday is one method. Sunrise to sunset is another form. From midday to 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. is another method which people will find suitable to participate in on Saturdays. When you wish to combine vigil, then the pattern of sunset to sunrise is to be followed. Some arrange such continuous chants from sunset until midnight upon special festival days or holy days. Sri Gurudev Sivanandaji Maharaj always encouraged and enthused devotees to arrange Akhanda Kirtana upon occasions of marriage, birthday, any auspicious inauguration, New Year, etc. and also upon all holy days like Sri Rama Navami, Sri Krishna Janmashtami, etc. The state of things in the present day world calls for the infusion of spiritual force into the stream of human life in this universe today. The supreme method of doing this in this age is by generating and releasing the indescribable Power of the Divine Name into the life stream of contemporary mankind. This will help greatly in creating goodwill, erasing of tensions, overcoming hatred and pacifying conflicts and hostilities. It will bring about peace and change the hearts from Tamas into Sattva-Guna. Thus will you help restore order and harmony to a world that seems bent upon heading towards disharmony and chaos by its deliberate wilfulness. Spiritual power is positive force and is certain to overcome negative forces. For, this is the Law. Join ranks and co-operate in evoking this spiritual force through the potency of the Divine Name.
Loving greetings to you all in the name of the Lord of the universe, the great God, Lord Siva, for whose devout worship the entire country is preparing itself upon this most auspicious month. May the choicest blessings of Bhagawan Vishvanath be upon you all. May He bestow upon you all auspiciousness, Divine Bliss, supreme Peace, Spiritual Illumination and Highest Blessedness.
The sacred day of Mahasivaratri I shall observe with our Hindu brothers in the Indian community in London on the 15th February. My prayerful thoughts will be with everyone of you who are in the holy land of Kashi, Rameshwar and Baijyanath Dham. May Lord Siva grant you all Bhakti, Vairagya, Jnana and Kaivalya! May you be ever absorbed in the worship of Siva manifest as Jiva and strive for union with Him manifest within you as the Self, the Antaryamin, Pratyagatman!
With love, regards and Om Namah Sivaya, Om Namo Bhagavate Sivanandaya.
Yours in Sri Gurudev