This section is from the "Advices on Spiritual Living" book, by Sri Swami Chidananda.See also A Call to Liberation.
Immortal Atma Swarupa!
Blessed seekers after Truth!
Om Namo Narayana! Loving Namaskars, Greetings and goodwill to you in the name of holy Master Swami Sivananda. My prayers to the Divine Mother, whose auspicious Annual Worship (Navaratra Devi Pooja) we have concluded a week back, to shower upon you Her choicest blessings and to grant you joy, peace and Immortality. May all your days be filled with auspiciousness and may success attend all your undertakings.
Through this letter I wish you a bright and happy DIWALI, and send to you, and all, my greetings for this season of illumination. To all members and friends of Gujarat, Saurashtra, I send my best and good wishes for a very happy New Year. May this New Year be full of auspiciousness, blessedness, prosperity, success and happiness. Together with outer lamps lit by human hands, let there also shine forth the bright Lamp of Divine Life, lit by the hand of God, within the mansion of your heart. Let the supreme joy of virtue, goodness and service sweeten your days and grant you Divine happiness.
With the approach of Diwali, my thoughts are drawn to our ancient prayer Tamaso ma Jyotir Gamaya which expresses the central concept of our culture and constitutes the very essence of our sublime idealism, namely a reaching out towards Light. Verily, how great indeed is the need to reinstate this concept into its lawful place in our country and its life today!
The Divine essence is symbolized by light. Its negation or rejection is darkness. Dharma or the rule of righteousness is an emanation of the Divine expressed upon the human place. Dharma is the God-Light in man's life. When this light is denied expression, then the darkness of falsehood, selfishness, greed and hatred come to prevail. Pride, violence and hatred hold sway over affairs of men. The beauty of goodness gives place to the ugliness of vicious wickedness. From this darkness man must seek relief and realise into the Light of pure living, for sorrow and suffering, misery and degradation grow in such spiritual darkness. The darkness of Amavasya at Diwali time is insignificant before the great darkness of Godless Hedonism that is gathering around the present generation of mankind, enveloping life in its dire folds. The Light of Dharma alone can banish it. This Light has to be invoked from within you. Dharma is the radiance emanating from the soul of man, who is essentially Divine.
Every citizen of Bharata-Desa is potentially the custodian of Dharma, and as such responsible for its active evolution and dynamic manifestation. Will you fail in this duty? Or will you awake from this slumber and Light up the lamp of Dharma in your life, right now this Diwali day?
As I write these lines I am suddenly aware that the very name of this journal carries particularly appropriate significance for this occasion! This the Wisdom Light' that enters into the midst of darkness to banish it with its luminous message of spiritual life, Dharma and ethical idealism. The resplendent light of Gurudev's noble spiritual teachings has taken the darkness out of the life of many a soul all over the world during these past two score years. The flaming torch of Yoga, and Vedanta, of Niti and Sadachara, he has handed down to you, that you too may be a bringer of light wherever you go, by your Divine Life of Seva, Bhakti, Dhyana and Jnana. Beloved seeker, light up the bright Lamp of selflessness and service, of devotion and worship, of discipline and meditation and luminous God-awareness. May this Light of Divine Life bring relief to humanity suffering the bitterness and pain of its own thoughtlessness and Godlessness. May God speed you across this vale of this gloom and speed you on towards that Immortal Light. This is Supreme Bliss and Infinite Peace. A number of significant days of annual national observance occur within this current month, and you should give some thought to each one of them without fail. I therefore touch very briefly upon them here for your information and benefit. Advent of great men and of great days serve to bring about in us a renewed awareness of our duties and the ideals upon which our concept of duty in its manifold aspects is based.
Besides Diwali, the festival of Lamps, you have the auspicious Lakshmi PUJA (12thNov), the Govardhan and Go-puja (13th), The Skand Shashthi Puja (13th to 18th), the Yajnavalkya Jayanti (22nd), and Hari-Prabodhini Ekadashi (23rd) and Utthana Dvadshi (24th) as also Tulsi Puja (24th) and last, but not least Sri Guru Nanak Jayanti (27th). These great sacred days of deep significance sanctify this month and render it a period of reflection and meditation. Time and space permit of only brief mention of their central message to us today. And here I state them for you.
Lakshmi Puja; Money is the root of all evil thus say the prophets and the sacred scriptures. LAKSHMI is the GODDESS of Wealth. Why then worship this Goddess of the root of all evil? Money is evil because man is wicked. Money turns good when man becomes good himself. The quality assumed by money mechanics is acquired from the nature of the use thereof. Man ennobles or corrupts money equally as money is capable of corrupting man if evil is inherent in him. Money is power potential par excellent. Use or abuse of this power decides whether it elevates or degrades society. Election time demonstrates its vile abuse. Flood and famine relief activities show its noble higher use. To present to us the right attitude towards money its sacred status is vividly brought before our gaze by revealing to us the deity presiding over this power, namely Lakshmi Devi. Annual Lakshmi Puja is the solemn occasion to relive this Bhav and to pledge yourself to handle money with reverence and humility, knowing that it is to be treated as a manifestation of Divine power given to you to elevate and ennoble yourself through its right use. It is to be used as a means of protecting Dharma and an aid of attaining Moksha. This is the lofty role of Artha If this is forgotten then it verily becomes Anartha. Viewed thus money should evoke not greed but an attitude of hallowed worshipfulness in the heart of the one who handles it with high purpose. It is verily Vishnu-Shakti.
GO-POOJA: Even today 80% of Bharatavarsha is rural in India and the nation is mainly agricultural. In spite of advent of modernism and technology, cattle still constitute the main wealth of the farmer and his family. Second to a piece of land Go-dhana' is the Indian's Moola-dhana. To safeguard the welfare of the country's cattle and to improve their condition is therefore a vital national service of utmost importance and very great significance. The Go-Puja day, far from being just a day of religious worship amongst pious people, should be elevated to its rightful status as a national festival of Pan-Indian significance, even as the Van-Mahotsava. Go-mata is not just a mere sentiment. It is a socio-economical fact further sanctified by a spiritual aspect. Ponder this angle of approach to this seemingly simple and even superstitious worship.
SKANDA-SHASHTHI: Skanda also known by the names Karthikeya and Subrahmanya is mentioned in the scripture as the brother of Lord Ganesha. He is the embodiment of Divine power triumphantly subduing and overcoming demonical forces. The world today is seen to be in the grip of such forces on a wide-spread scale. Human actions have assumed a dire nature in numerous countries of the world. India being no exception. Hatred, hostility, belligerence, falsehood, treachery, cunningness, subversion, destruction, violence these are indulged in with relish and avidity.
Wickedness with deliberate intent is fast becoming a normal characteristic of countless men today. To invoke Divine power is evidently only the last resort in seeking to deal with this state of affairs. This traditional six-day annual worship of Lord Skanda constitutes such an appeal to and propitiation of the darkness destroying Divine power.
YAJNAVALKYA JAYANTI: Bharatvarsha is one of the unique nations in whose culture the fundamental value is the spiritual reality and the ethical ideal that leads to the realisation of the former. The widespread ills and distress of our nation is directly the result of our having rejected this Supreme eternal value and substituted it by vain shibboleths and slogans of an empty age. Yajnavalkya, the towering man of Divine wisdom who strides across the ancient Upanishadic scene asserts with his thunderbolt authority the unassailable supremacy of these eternal values. Come, read the immortal dialogue between Yajnavalkya and Maitreyi, wherein this great sage imparts his wondrous teachings to his aspiring wife, who seeks to know the highest value on earth. This day should inspire you to seek more of this wisdom personified in Maharshi Yajnavalkya.
PRABODHINI EKADASI, UTTHANA DWADASI AND TULSI POOJA
When the Chaturmasya period ends, its conclusion is announced by Prabodhini Ekadasi, which embodies at once a spiritual truth, as well as a message. When the Divine within man slumbers then his life becomes a tale of endless sorrow and suffering. To awaken the Divine within is to put an end to all sorrow and suffering. Prabodhini Ekadasi indicates such awakening. Ekadasi is the day of fast, penance and prayer. This conveys the very significant spiritual law that the awakening of the higher self can only be brought about when the lower self is denied and mortified through the wide austerity. Denying sensual food to the gross appetite in man is the condition prerequisite to inner spiritual awakening which alone leads to the true attainment. Once awakened this higher consciousness must be given dynamic manifestation in your life. This is the message of Utthana Dwadashi. In every Indian home this great awakening and this setting into dynamic motion of the awakened spiritual force has to be brought about in our nation from a spiritual regression and if our culture is to be converted into a living a force that would make Bharatavarsha move forward into a glorious tomorrow. This essential movement towards a lofty destiny has to be brought about by the Matri-Shakti of India's women. In it their lies the key to a resurgent India and their power is the sublime, all-inspiring Shakti of Pativrata-dharma. Tulsi is a Mahapativrata in your sacred tradition. The nation invokes this ideal and we affirm with faith in the Pativrata-Dharma by this worship of Mahapativrata Tulasi.
GURU NANAK JAYANTI
Virtue is the very essence of spiritual power. God is the source of all virtue. To be linked with him is to radiate virtue. The Divine Name and His constant remembrance is the means of thus remaining linked with Divine. Such unbroken communion with God is the very essence of life and the secret of all success and fulfilment in life. Thus taught the great Guru Nanakdev, whose Jayanti will be observed upon the full moon day at the end of this month. Glory to Guru Nanak and his immortal teachings. The true welfare of India lies in honouring such saints and following their teachings.
The Summer departs and we see the shorter day and morning winds rendered chill by the snow-falls upon the heights of the holy Badrinath, Kedarnath and Gangotri. Sacred Mother Ganges who nearly entered Gurudev's holy Kutir on her banks has now receded, and the Kutir is once again as it was during His life-time. The Sadhaks and Sannyasins of Sivanandashram have to come wrapped up in their shawl or chaddar for the early dawn prayer and meditation meeting at 4.30 am. The evenings too are gradually becoming quite cool, bringing a pre-indication of the approaching cold season. While for the Ashrama this is a prelude to comparatively quieter period with lesser bustle of Yatris and visitors until next April, yet for this servant this is the other way. Because this coming Winter starts a period of strenuous touring in different parts of India where Divine Life Conferences are organised. You will be glad to know that Rajkot Divine Life enthusiasts have decided to make their proposed Conference the All-India Divine Life Conference for 1967, instead of the Gujarat State Divine Life Conference as originally announced. They have my hearty congratulations and my best good wishes for fullest success. All those interested are requested to contact Sri Pranlal B. Mehra, Divine Life Society, Foldage Industries premises, Rajkot, Saurashtra; or Dr. Sivananda Adhwaryoo, Virnagar (Via Atkot), Dt. Rajkot, Saurashtra. Then, the Orissa Divine Life Central Committee has now announced the dates of their two conferences for the next year, D.L.S., Conference, at Puri to be on 21st and 22nd Jan. and D.L.S. Conference at Kutak 24th and 25th Jan. 67. Those who wish to attend may contact Shri. S.C. Debo, Ramachandra Bhavan, Khallikote, Distt. Ganjam (Orissa). The tenth Andhra Pradesh Conference stands confirmed for Dec. 31st, 1st and 2nd Jan. 67 at Nellorepalle, Kothapalam, about 10 miles from Gudur railway station Madras-Bezwada line. You may contact Sri T. Venugopala Reddy, D.L.S. Opp. St. Jones Sardar Patel Road, Maradipalli, Secunderabad A.P. By the way I must not forget to tell you that the All-India D.L.C. is to take place in the first week of Feb. 67 the dates of which are 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th. The conference will conclude of 8th Feb. Before departing for the South A.P. & Orissa programmes I shall be, when this issue reaches your hand, with Yogi Purush Sri Karuna Maharaj and Yoga teacher Swami Sivananda, and shall also be required to tour the Punjab D.L.S. Centre in the beginning of Dec. The A P. tour will be for about three weeks and the Orissa tour ten day. It is thus that Sri Gurudev observes a higher kind of Diwali by awakening the bright light of virtue, goodness, spiritual living and love of God in the darkness of Kaliyuga. May His Light shine forever and illumine the path of life to lead humanity to the great goal of God-realisation and human perfection. May God bless you all. A bright and happy Diwali to you all.
With regards Prem and Om,
At the feet of Gurudev,
1st November, 1966
Sivanandashram Letter No. XXXV