This section is from the "Advices on Spiritual Living" book, by Sri Swami Chidananda.See also A Call to Liberation.
Blessed Seeker After Truth!
Om Namo Narayanaya! Loving Namaskars,
Salutations to you in the holy name of Sri Gurudev Sivananda. May God bless you. This month sees the advent of the New Year according to the Indian Almanac both by the solar calculations as well as the lunar calculations. The Lunar New Years day falls on the 10th April and Solar New Year's day on the 14th. Therefore, before proceeding further I wish to send you first my joyous greeting for this Yugadi or Samvatsara-Arambha and express my very best good-wishes to you for a bright and happy New Year. May you have an auspicious beginning, and good health, joy, prosperity, progress and success in all right undertakings. May this New Year bring you many new opportunities for selfless service, doing good unto others, acts of mercy and love, intensified spiritual Sadhana and service of the country. May you be enabled to walk the path of Dharma and do the right at every step. May this year be full of achievements and blessedness, both material and secular as well as spiritual and Divine.
Now I have a special request to make to you and that is that you should read the Ramayana with meaning completely once before the sacred Ramanavami day. I make it with a special purpose because I believe that through this study you are going to be immensely benefited, and also we have in the Ramayana the real and the right solution for the widespread troubles and sufferings which have invaded our national life in recent years. The guided ideals of national life are provided for us in the two Divine personalities, whose annual worship falls during the current month, I mean Lord Sri Rama and Bhagavan Anjaneya, more familiarly called Sri Hanumanji. Lord Sri Rama is called the Maryada Purushotama or the foremost among the ideal, righteous man as he was Divinity embodied as the paragon of virtue and righteousness. He stands for us as the dazzling and unparalleled example of absolute rectitude in personal conduct and public life. Rarely we do come across such a stirring and inspiring personality to lift us up to a lofty plane of life and conduct. To contemplate a noble personality, to ponder His life, to reflect upon His noble deeds and His words of wisdom and to strive to follow in His footsteps sincerely to the best of one's ability is the sure and certain way of freeing our nation from the clutches of the fell monster of moral corruption and cultural degradation. Lord Rama is the Light of India and His life is true Way to lead Bharatavarsha from darkness to Light.
The misuse and abuse of force and power is the dire disease that is afflicting mankind today. The heroic personality of Lord Hanuman which verily dominates in the Ramayana almost second to Lord Rama Himself is the other great ideal that commands our attention. Sri Hanuman combines in Himself infinite strength and power, with perfect surrender to the will of the Divine. Hanuman is an unconquerable warrior of tremendous prowess, who put himself at the feet of the Lord as an obedient servant, at His disposal. He is always the great Dasa of Rama. His ego was offered up at the feet of the Lord and his strength was utilised in the service of the Lord. This is the finest and noblest use of one's forces. This leads to the highest good. Where power is abused through selfishness, egoism and materialistic motive, it brings sorrow, suffering, turmoil and confusion. Human activities when divorced from the Divine principle swerve one away from righteousness and bring grief. To keep close to God is the secret of right living, and guarantee of lasting and real welfare.
Study the Ramayana, one of the main treasures in our cultural heritage. Study it either in the original or in the vernacular or English. There are two very excellent English versions. One is Rajaji's Ramayana, published by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bombay, and the other is the English translation of Tulsidas Ramayana by F. H. Growse. Both are packed with wonderful wisdom. They will bring a new light into your life and show you the path to joy, peace and highest blessedness. May the Grace of the Lord Sri Rama grant you devotion, discrimination, dispassion and divine illumination. The sacred day of Sri Ramanavami (18th April) marks also the memorable birthday of Sri Samartha Ramadas Maharaj, the great Maharashtrian saint and spiritual Guru of emperor Shivaji. Sri Samarth Ramdas attained God-realisation through the Practice of the Divine Name. Though a Jnani, a Yogi and a Sidhaa Purusha of the highest order, Ramadas proclaimed to all the glory, the greatness and the unfailing efficacy of the Ramayana. He thus set his seal upon the unique trend in modern spirituality wherein the Divine Name occupies the central place in the path of Sadhana. In this Kali Yuga in the midst of diverse modes of Sadhana, the Yoga of Name Japa stands supreme occupying an unrivalled, distinct place of its own. The Divine Name of the Lord is the main support of seekers after God, today. It is an indispensable Sadhana.
Cling to the Divine Name, O beloved seeker, and overcome all obstacles and come out victorious. The Name is Nectar. The Name will confer upon you the Divine bliss and transcendental peace. Repeat the Name. Sing it in Kirtans. Write it in Mantra notebook. Constantly remember the Lord with the help of His Name. Meditate on the Self. Become filled with the Divine Name.
In the present times of unrest, distress, famine conditions and mutual dissension engage yourself in earnestly working to counter these conditions. Help to provide food in the scarcity area. Set up groups to gather and send such help to places in need. Selflessly serve all. Work to relieve distress. Promote harmony and unity amongst people wherever you go. Be a peace-maker and a unifier, in the name of God. Do not think it is the business of the Government only to do this noble task. Do not expect others to do when you can also do it. Let noble Karma Yoga elevate your life to a higher level on the spiritual life.
The almost warm weather here at Rishikesh has once again given place to a spell of chill weather with high winds and rain. There is perhaps snow storm in the upper regions of the Himalayas. Our prayers should indeed be offered for the welfare, comfort and the safety of the shivering soldier-brothers in those regions keeping watch on the border, in the bitter icy-cold weather of the Northern heights. May God bless you all!
With regards, Prem and Om.
Yours in Gurudev
April, 1967Sivanandashram Letter No. XL