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,
Greetings in the name of Sri Gurudev. Om Namo Bhagavate Sivanandaya. This letter brings to you my heart-felt spiritual good wishes on the eve of the sacred SIVANANDA JAYANTI. The 8th of September is a day that shall ever be regarded by countless thousands of souls as a supremely blessed and auspicious day because it gave them that great and noble saint who brought a new awakening into their lives and whose teachings came as a great shining light to illumine their path towards Divine peace and blessedness. To all Gurudev's disciples the 8th September is a great day, which gave to them their spiritual Master, Divine guide and loving saviour. May this Sivananda Jayanti now bring into your hearts the Illumination, Realisation and the Divine bliss and Wisdom that is Gurudev. This Divine Light and Wisdom which enlivened the outer from of Swami Sivananda is the Eternal Gurudev, who has never ceased to be and who now is enshrined in your heart as a light within at every moment. Whenever you move and act upon the lofty principles of Divine Life, then and there is Sivananda born anew into your life.
To walk along the holy path of truth, purity and universal love is to celebrate his Birthday. To practise selfless service, devotion to God, daily meditation and enquiry into the nature of Reality is verily a perennial Sivananda Jayanti. Gurudev lives in all and is ever born afresh in all those, who are practising and perpetuating his gospel of Divine living. Gurudev is Divine Life. He is in Divine Life. Divine Life is rooted in him. He lives vibrantly active in those, who earnestly strive to live in the spirit of his sublime spiritual teachings. May God give us the strength and inspiration to make Gurudev a living force in this present-day world, where the crying need is idealism. Gurudev is personified idealism in a living way. May His Birthday impart a fresh and vigorous impulse to your aspiration towards an ideal life of virtue and spiritual quest. This is my special prayer to the Almighty Lord upon this holy Anniversary of Gurudev's earthly birth. May his life shine for ever.
May every day, each sunrise see Sivananda being born anew in countless thousands of hearts and countless lives everywhere in the world in the form of ideal daily life. Let each rising sun see the lotus of Divine Life blooming out in the hearts of Gurudev's innumerable disciples and devotees the world over. Thus may the beauty of the Divinity within manifest in this world as Auspiciousness and Bliss. SIVANANDA.
Beloved Atman! the essence of life is the fulfilment of the duty that stands before you. It is the proper doing of that which requires your attention at this moment. Reflecting too much about the future, speculating too much about the future are deceptive processes that deprive you of the present, which is in fact the only true time that you have got. Now is what you have. Recognise this vital fact about life and be wise. Be up and doing on the path of virtue and actively fulfil Dharma and move towards perfection. It is not to say that forethought and intelligent planning are useless and to be discarded. But the point is while you exercise forethought and you are planning, at the same time be up and doing in the present. The planning has its place but it is not a substitute for action in the Now! They are to be carried on simultaneously. Action initiated is by itself the valuable factor that points out the lines on which the right planning is to be done. Learn to live in the NOW. Recognise the value of the Present. Money that has been lent away to another, time that has been allowed to go by and become the past, - these two will not be available to you when need for them arises. Let not fanciful tomorrows rob you of the most important today. Strive to make each day as perfect as you can. Live each day ideally and fill them with spiritualised activity. Do this and your future will be safe and contain a harvest of blessedness for you.
There is no need to unnecessarily keep waiting for some wonderful opportunity or extraordinary opening to prove your worth to God or man. No need to keep on thinking and speculating what your true work or life's mission is, or how you can commence a task in the most proper way and do it in the best manner it can be done. The important thing is to take circumstances as they are and start doing the thing that is before you to do. As you are, as things are now, do what you can here. If you do this, God will open up new avenues for you and take you towards bigger and better tasks. For He has seen, is seeing that you are DOING what He has already put before you in life for your hands to do. Use what opportunities you have. Do not wait for imaginary opportunities to present themselves. You are where you should be. What you have to do that verily is given to you. Therefore, where you are, there do what you are called upon to do. Longing for great achievement is all right. But working for it is the very essence of its ultimate attainment. And this working is neither done in the past nor done in the future. Work is only done NOW. This is the truth. Recognise this and you make your life a success.
In spiritual life and in spiritual evolution it is the little things in every day life that have tremendous importance. It is through doing little things in an ideal way day after day, that one ascends the spiritual way up towards perfection. To forget little things of every day life and await for some great opportunity and keep preparing for some unique and tremendous act is a great Maya which deludes and leads astray many really sincere seekers and aspirants. They are deceived by their own mind. The ordinary little things of your day-to-day life, by their very littleness begin to seem insignificant and thus they fail to arrest your attention and thus you lose the hundred golden opportunities that you daily come across hour by hour and minute by minute on every side. Be aware of this. Remember! myriad tiny strands they are that go to make up a mighty strong rope. Every day, all day long, through the years, use every little opportunity moment by moment in your ordinary life. This is the essence of Yoga. This is the secret of attainment. This is the key to progress and success. There is a wise Sanskrit saying, By the falling of drops of water the pot is gradually filled up. In the same way verily is it the case with wealth, with learning and with Dharma, too. Precisely thus indeed your spiritual life also.
On a little hillock stands this Durban Sivanandashram of the Divine Life Society of S. Africa, from where Chidananda sends you this letter. About a furlong away down the slope of this hill flows the river Umgeni which I have named as our local Ganga. We have been having very strong winds from the interior which herald the approaching summer season. Winter has started to take leave. In India the fierce summer would have given place to the monsoon rains. At Rishikesh the holy river Ganga must be in floods, reaching the upper banks of Muni-ki-reti and Swargashram with its rushing torrent. She was always the beloved Mother to Sri Gurudev and doubtless she has risen close to the verandah of our holy Master's Ganga-Kutir. May the Grace of holy Mother Ganges grant you all long life, health, happiness and highest spiritual blessedness. Mother Ganges is verily an aspect of Divine Mother Para Shakti Herself. She is a visible manifestation of Mother's sin-destroying, life-purifying and liberation-bestowing power of Adi-Shakti. The holy Ganga is Vidya-Maya manifest in tangible from in this world of ours. Glory to the Mother. Blessed are those who are privileged to live on her holy banks. Their lives will be crowned with Divine Illumination.
The auspicious worship of the Divine Mother is to take place in this very month. During the quarter of a century, that this servant has had the privilege to live at Gurudev's sacred feet, he has rarely missed the annual Navaratra Puja. This time, however, Gurudev has wished my presence in another part of his spiritual estate. Very many Hindus here in S. Africa are Devi worshippers. They all observe the Navaratra Puja.
Beloved Sadhakas, pray fervently to the Divine Mother Durga to inspire you with inner spiritual strength to progress onward upon the spiritual path with courage, wisdom and firm determination. Observe strict discipline during the entire period of the Puja, from September 23rd to the 30th. Get up at 4 a.m. in the morning, take bath and sit and do Japa of Mother's Name. Glorify her through Stotras and Bhajans. Pray fervently from the bottom of your heart. Ask her the boons of discrimination dispassion and true devotion. Pray to her to bless you with a pure character, ideal good conduct and the grace of Divine Life. Seek from her the strength to control your senses, conquer desire, curb the egoism and stick to the vows of truth, purity and loving kindness into all beings. Observe partial fast (taking only milk) throughout the day and break your fast at sight only after worshipping the Divine Mother. After Puja take only some very light, pure diet as her Prasad. Sleep only six hours at night. Look upon women as veritable manifestations of Divine Mother. Take the vow of adhering rigidly to the great Eka-patni-vrata. Let the Vijaya Dasami day see triumph victoriously over all unspiritual Samskaras, sinful tendencies and wrong habits of the past. Be gloriously reborn into shining new light of spiritual purity, sublime idealism and lofty Divine Life of Yoga and Vedanta and highest Dharma. Become for ever established in discipline, austerity, self-control and spiritual practice. Strive towards a worthy ideal and ever more towards the Supreme Goal. May the blessed Divine Mother shower upon you her abundant Grace and grant you peace, bliss and immortality. Jai Bhavani.
This beautiful country, half a century ago, gave to India a transformed and inspired Mahatmaji (Bapuji) who came to Bharata as an apostle of freedom and a friend of the masses, converted by the lofty life and the stirring teachings of Leo Tolstoy and John Ruskin to a life of simplicity, service and sacrifice. The youthful patriot returned home as a saviour to dedicate himself for the emergence of Svatantra Bharata. His noble life, his idealism, his selfless dedication and patriotism shine as great example for the people of India today. The youths of India must turn to his great life and inspiring example if they really would be worthy sons and daughters of Bharatavarsha.
The nation is preparing to pay homage to his memory at the centenary of his birth, next year. The whole of India, young and old, rich and poor, non-officials and officials, will take a pledge to walk in his footsteps and to carry out his ideals and this should be the most important feature of observing his sacred Birth Centenary. On a nationwide scale, everyone must take up the devout study of his Autobiography (My experiments with Truth). Study circles must be formed everywhere for this purpose. All must purchase a copy of this book immediately and commence reading. The Nav-Jeevan Trust could do well to bring out an easy and simplified, abridged edition of it for young folks to read. From October this year a great movement must be set a foot to fill people with Gandhi-consciousness all over the country. All journals must join hands and help in this task. His 18-point constructive programme should receive countrywide attention. Earnest leaders and other persons must approach the holy Acharya Vinobhaji and request for his guidance and advice as to how best Bapuji's Centenary should be observed and his advice must be heeded.
The holy memories of his noble life rose up before my mind when I went on a humble pilgrimage to the Phoenix Settlement here, near Durban, which he founded in 1904 and when he lived a simple life of service and formulated the concept of Satyagraha and published the Newspaper Indian Opinion, this simple wooden cottage set in the country-side and surrounded by farm land is still preserved as it was during his time. There were no cots. Gandhiji and his children slept on the floor. His daughter-in-law (his son Manilal Gandhi's wife) received us courteously and we were shown round Pujay Bapuji's cottage. Many old photographs are there which recall long by-gone events and occasions. Gazing at them one is transported into an era of courageous idealism, towering moral stature, real greatness and far-sighted wisdom. I was thrilled to find in one of the rooms a series of unform paintings placed in a row along the walls, each painting depicting visually the central meaning of each line of Sant Narsibhakt's well-known Gujarati song Vaishnava jan to tene Kahiye. The full text of this song itself appeared in bold script by the side of the first picture in the series. Upon enquiry I learnt that it was probably purchased by Mrs. Manilal Gandhiji. Phoenix Settlement still carries vibrations of peace, spiritual beauty and serenity of Gandhi's spiritual personality. This visit was memorable. May his life and lofty example be to our country as a great shining light to guide its people along the upward path of honour, dignity, virtue, truth and purity.
Before closing let me appeal to each one and all of you individually and collectively to prepare to observe Pujya Mahatma Gandhi's Birth Centenary year that is close approaching. Please commence this task from the 25th of September, one full week in advance of Bapuji's Birthday on 2nd October. Draw up a yearlong programme of silent, yet ceaseless activities to bring about a total revival of Bapuji's teachings and the Gandhian way of life throughout the length and breath of Bharatavarsha. Herein lies your supreme welfare and the future good of the nation. Flood the entire country with the light of Gandhi-Vad. This is the special duty of the youth of India. Let Yuvak Bharathi wake up to this noble task awaiting them now. God bless you all!
Jai Sri Gurudev! Jai Bapuji!
Regards and Prem,
1st September, 1968
Sivanandashram Letter No. LVII