This section is from the "Advices on Spiritual Living" book, by Sri Swami Chidananda.See also A Call to Liberation.
Beloved Seeker of Truth,
Om Namo Narayanaya. Namaskars.
May the Sunshine of Joy, Health and Well-being illumine your life with the advent of bright Spring season with its beauty and fragrance of colourful flowers and fresh leaves upon the waking branches of wind-swayed trees. I am happy to tell you that several earnest disciples of Sri GURUDEV felt it their duty to respond to the Sivanandashram Letter No: 4 and so I have their valuable thoughts and suggestions upon the question of - The duty of individual Disciples towards Gurudev and how, the disciples all over the world can each serve the cause of Dissemination of Spiritual Knowledge and the spread of Divine Life - sent in by them after reading the January issue of Wisdom Light. This present issue is therefore, going to bring to you their sincere views upon this all important subject of the practical implication of true discipleship and its active expression in the form of earnest Guru-Seva. All letters received here, cannot naturally find sufficient place for inclusion in the pages of this publication, but this certainly does not at all mean that some were considered as of less value or importance and not given place. Far from it. Actually, whether published or not, all the responses received are being given our close attention and every idea placed before us, is being considered carefully. I am most thankful indeed to the many good friends and well-wishers to will thus graciously given their time and thought, to have responded to the previous letter. In doing this very act they have indeed fulfilled a vital part of their spiritual obligation towards their Guru's spiritual Mission. They have verily exercised the privilege of their discipleship by their guru's genuine interest in the progress of life-work and his handiwork namely, the Divine Life Society. An appreciable number of earnest disciples taking keen interest in their Guru's good work will ensure the enduring progress of this holy movement which he has left to them as a heritage. He has left this work to their hands as a part of their spiritual evolution and an essential part of their Yoga and their Jivana-sadhana.
Gurus are of two kinds. The one lives a lofty spiritual life and living thus he continuously instructs and guides his disciples to individually practise and live this ideal life themselves and attain the experience which he reached. The other lives a lofty life, instructs and inspires disciples to do likewise AND UNDERTAKES A GREAT HUMANITARIAN TASK AND LEAVES THIS IDEAL WORK TO HIS FOLLOWERS TO CONTINUE and bless others and bless themselves thereby.
Why certain sages develop into one type and certain others into the other type is a matter we have no knowledge about. May be it is that the needs of particular times call forth men suited to fulfil them, may be it is the prarabdha that decides this. Whatever it be, it is God's will that brings this about and the world is the gainer for it. Jagadguru Adi Sankaracharya was an uncompromising Absolute Monist Kevala Advaitin. He declared the Atman alone to be the sole Reality. Yet, he undertook to clean up Hinduism of all malpractices and launched a great revival and established a well-conceived institution to carry on this work in an organised and systematic manner. And the great following of his Monastic and lay disciples have been keeping alive this institution and furthering his work through this centuries since his day. Thus we see that this twofold trend in the Gurus upon the Indian spiritual scene is not in any way new nor by any means unusual or contrary to previous tradition.
Our worshipful GURUDEV has been indeed a very combination of both this trend, making himself a confluence of a powerful spiritual ideal, at once lofty and sublime, and a most significant spiritual work at once noble and great. You, my blessed Sadhak, are a disciple of Satguru Sivananda, the holy saint and loving helper of all mankind. Ideal discipleship would be manifested in you when you live the Divine Life and also further the Divine Life work in the service of mankind. The first part of this is an individual process. The second part of it requires the harmonious co-ordination with other D L members in your own city, town or village. Contact fellow-members. If there is a branch of the Divine Life Society in any place, it is the scared duty of each and every individual member of that place to get in touch with the branch workers and to participate and to actively help in the programmes of the branch. Many a time the branch people do not know of the presence of enrolled members in their own town or city. This would not be. Also disciples even if they are non-members in the formal way, must take joyous interest in making contact with other disciples who are known to be in the same town or locality. And to further Gurudev's work one does not necessarily have to constitute a Branch (though it is good to do so) but may arrange Satsangs, discourses, Asan classes even upon the individual level. In short, let me tell you this, an integral part of your spiritual life and Yoga Sadhana is propagation of the Divine Life Gospel and spreading Gurudev's teachings in selfless spirit of Karma Yoga and Guru-seva and Ishwara-arpana. Jai Gurudev:
Regards, prem and Om:
- Swami Chidananda
1st March, 1964
Sivanandashram Letter No. VII