Embody Lofty Principles when harsh Realities of the external world make feelings to run high. Be brave in Goodness. Be Righteous in Adversity and Humble in Virtue.

BELOVED IMMORTAL ATMAN!
Blessed Seekers of Truth.

Om Namo Narayanaya. Loving Namaskars.

Peace be unto all. May all individuals, groups, communities, countries and the entire Universe be blessed with the Grace of Peace and Love. At this holy Ashram of Gurudev Swami Sivananda we pray every day for peace and goodwill amongst all men and nations. In this fair land may peace, goodwill and understanding prevail from the Himalayas to the distant Cape and from the eastern hills of Assam to the westernmost deserts of Sindh and Baluchistan. May the nation be once again left free to pursue its serene tenor of peaceful constructive activities for progress in its economic, social and cultural life!

The present year is now drawing to a close and all seekers should be taking a glance back in retrospect to examine the year that has gone-by and to evaluate what each one has done during this period and how much has been achieved. A great question that stands before everyone of you is verily, how much time has been well utilised? And how much time has been ill spent or wasted away, for verily upon this question hangs the very problem of life and of living. What is your life, if it is not the time at your disposal? Life is time! Your life is nothing but the time you have got. As you use time even so is your life utilised. Waste of time is destruction of life. Abuse of time is the degradation and ruin of life. Good and proper utilisation of time is the glorious fulfilment of your life. Time well and wisely spent is life grandly lived. It brings joy, beauty and achievement. Has this year been thus utilised? Thus will you examine the last eleven months gone by upon this last month of the year as it now speeds past you to soon end and bring in the new year 1966. Retrospect, reflect and resolve rightly for the year ahead. May God bless you.

With the coming of December, winter has set in and the advent of cold days has brought about the season of cold-misty mornings, late sunrise over the mountain across the holy river Ganges, biting winds, long nights and short days. Everyone has now to bring out sweaters and blankets. And the miracle of God's creation is such that while human beings shiver, the water-fowl has appeared before the Ashram and happily and nonchalantly swim about on the Ganges and dive again and again into the cold sparkling waters to hunt after the fleeing fish. They live on the water all the 24 hours of day and night and I see them and simply marvel at God's wonderful world. The Ganges water is crystal clear. When I occasionally go in the boat to visit our venerable Yograj Gaur Prasad, on the other shore, I clearly see the sands and the boulders of the river bed and the shoal of fish crowding under the boat to receive bits of bread thrown by devotees to feed them. A dip in the Ganges at this time is at once a challenge, an adventure and an act of austere endurance. But it can also be wonderfully invigorating and vitalising and enjoyable when it is bright and sunny upon a clear day, specially at mid day, when the morning winds have stopped.

When I contemplate the increasing cold here, my mind goes to our heroic and brave jawans, encamped in the forbidding icy regions of the Himalayas border lines much above the snow lines in high altitudes, beyond 18000 or 20000 feet. It is terrible indeed, the cold there, much more than any thing that the people in the plains can even imagine. To expose the hands and feet would be just agonising and yet they have to endure this terrible bone-cutting cold and freezing weather and be alert and active to safeguard your freedom and to protect and defend your country and all that you hold dear and holy in it. I request you all to ceaselessly remember these brave sons of India, your brothers in arms, in your daily prayers. May you all pray to the Lord to graciously look after these brave souls who are risking their very lives to safeguard Dharma and to keep sacred Bharatavarsha free and secure. Let us not forget these people. Let us pray for them. They who are out of sight, let them not be out of your heart. Remember them and work hard to do your part of this noble task. Save for them and also dedicate a member of Mahamrityunjaya Mantra Japa to these toiling ones in the snowy fastnesses of the remote North. They are much closer to me here and hence I feel much for them whenever the cold wind of Rishikesh catches me and makes me suddenly shiver.

Yes, you must learn to pray for others. Was this not one of the deepest lessons that Lord Jesus taught through His life and teachings? Ever and anon Jesus prayed to the Almighty for the sake of mankind. His prayers were as much for others as it was for himself. This sublime truth He demonstrated right up to the last moment of His life when He uttered the supreme prayers to the Lord on behalf of those very people who were putting Him to death. He prayed for others, nay He verily lived for others. In times such as these, when harsh realities of the external world make feelings to run high, and you are apt to forget basic principles and ideals in which our lives should be rooted, it becomes vitally important to remember and draw inspiration from such lofty lives, as of Jesus Christ. Nothing that happened to Him in His short yet intense life, was ever allowed to divert Him from His ideal of perfect goodness. He embodied the goodness that He taught unto others. As a nation and a people we too must strive at all times to evolve and to embody those lofty moral principles which we wish to raise aloft and hold before other nations for their guidance. While never fearing or hesitating to do that which is good and right, we should ever be at the same time steadfast in goodness and in righteous conduct.

The Gospel of the Bhagavad Gita whose Jayanti falls on 4th December proclaims such conduct as the ideal for the man of action to follow. The life and personality of Christ is indeed a living exposition of the message of the Bhagavad Gita. Jesus personified the ideal of the Gita. To be brave in goodness, to be righteous in adversity and to be humble in virtue - this embodies the great teachings. Commence a very systematic and regular study of the sacred Bhagavad Gita from the day this letter reaches you. Absorb the life uplifting philosophy of the grand Gita Gospel. Try and receive the Gita into your heart. Practise its wise precepts. Live the teachings of immortal wisdom. He who follows the Gita will understand Jesus really. And he who adores Jesus and tries to follow Him is really a votary of the Gita.

Upon the 8th of December take out your copy of the Srimad BHAGAVATAM, the MAHA-PURANA. Turn to the Eleventh Skandha. Read therein the chapters dealing with the teachings of the Avadhoota Dattatreya. Sublime and inspiring at once deeply instructive are his talks with king Yadu in the chapters 7, 8 and 9. They impart wonderful lessons on Life. We have the Dattatreya-Jayanti on the 8th and the Ashram will worship at the little shrine in the forest upon the Dattatreya Hill, beside the Ashram upon this day. May the great soul's benedictions be upon you all!

Before closing this letter I like to send my very best GOODNESS FOR A MOST HAPPY CHRISTMAS and A VERY BRIGHT AND JOYOUS NEW YEAR TO ONE AND ALL OF YOU IN EVERY part of the world.

HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO YOU!
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU!
AND GOD BLESS YOU!

On the 31st December you know that the Vishwanath Mandir was consecrated in 1943. The 22nd Anniversary worship will be conducted with due ceremony and solemnity. I shall remember you all on that day and worship on your behalf and send you the sacred Prasad of that special worship of New Years Eve.

Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare.

JAI GURUDEV! Regards, prem, pranams,

Yours in Gurudev,
Swami Chidananda
D.L.S. Hqs.
Sivanandanagar

December 1965

Sivanandashram Letter No. XXIV