Immortal Atma Swarupa!
Blessed Seeker after Truth!

Om Namo Narayanaya! Salutations in the name of Gurudev Sivananda. I greet the Lord in you all and pray that the blessings of the Lord of the Universe, Bhagawan Vishwanath, may ever be upon you and fill your life with auspiciousness, joy and prosperity. I write this to you in the fond belief that the first month of this year has been for you one of peace, good health, harmony and Spiritual progress. May this month be a blessed one too. Similarly also be the months coming ahead.

I want to express my thankfulness to the numerous good friends in India, as well as from several countries abroad, who have remembered me with so much love, and sent in their Christmas and New Year's greetings, and expressed their great goodwill towards this servant of Gurudev, as well as, other Ashramites of this abode of Gurudev. Trying though I am to acknowledge all of them individually, I still take this opportunity of saying, “Thank you very, very much indeed” to every one of these gracious souls. May they ever dwell in the remembrance of the Supreme Lord, who is the sublime connecting link between us all here. Those of you who constantly endeavour to remember God and to be aware of His ever-Presence, with such I am always close in Spirit. I say that we are together when we strive to keep ourselves in the presence of the One Reality. True spiritual brotherhood is wrought by the oneness of our common goal and the common centre of our abidance, namely, God. Man's true relationship is with God and God alone. All other relationships are transient, fluctuating and essenceless. He who loves mankind for the sake of the Divine that indwells man, such a one has verily established oneness with humanity. This relationship is based upon the eternal essence of our existence. Could not this also be the basis of the universal weal and world peace?

You will be glad to know about some specially interesting Divine Life activities that took place in the closing month of the recent year. This servant has been absent from the Headquarters Ashram practically whole of December and a good part of last month, i.e. January 1965. Soon after returning from Aligarh at the end of November last, I left on tour on my way to Mehboobabad, near Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. The first halt was at Delhi, en route to the South, to fulfil a few engagements at the Capital. On December 6th, there was a wonderful Satsang arranged by our devoted Gurbehn Srimati Vanibai Ram (known here as “Sivananda Vani”) at the house of the Honourable Reddy Ji. That evening, H.H. Sri Swami Parvathikar Maharaji held the audience spell-bound and thrilled, by a wonderful musical recital upon the Svara Mandali and rare Rudra Vina. He lifted our hearts into sublime heights by his music, which in places was almost all-inspiring in its solemnity and subtle and ethereal melody. It was a rare spiritual treat offered in worshipfulness at the feet of Lord Badri Narayan by this unique Nada Yogi, Parvathikar Maharaj. During that Satsang, Sir K C. Reddy Ji made a beautiful speech. Next day I had the joy of visiting the Swami Sivananda Rehabilitation Centre which is being conducted by another noble Gurbehn, the very sincere Mrs. Varalaxmi Rao. She has established it for the training of members of lower-scale income group families in different handicrafts, so that they are enabled to supplement the main wage-earner's income. This is very beautiful enterprise and I wish it success and much future development.

On the morning of the 8th December, this servant arrived at Hyderabad and my heart still heaves with joy, when I remember the wonderful welcome and the love that was showered upon this servant by all those devotees in Hyderabad that day. The devoted Sri Sivananda Kumndini Devi, Sri B. Ramadasji (or the A. I. R.), the very earnest seeker Sri Vijayarangamji, Sri Rajeswara Rao, Sri Gautam and numerous others came and met me in the name of Gurudev's work. Revered Sri Subba Rao Garu, Gitavyas, was graciously present in all affection. We had some public lectures, morning prayer-gathering at “Sivananda Griha”, and also visited the Leper Colony run by Rani Kumudini Devi at Kukkutapalli. I still remember the nice visit to the Bolaram Branch, whose members meet near the Hanuman temple.

Then we all went to Mehboobabad for the Eighth Andhra Pradesh Divine Life Conference. It was in every way a very satisfactory and successful conference. Very inspiring programmes of spiritual discourses, thrilling Nama Sankirtan, religious music, Asana demonstrations, etc. provided a spiritual feast for crowded audience. Dr. Menon from Warangal conducted Prabhat pheri with his party and filled the town with divine vibrations of the Lord's Name. Sri Avadhutendra Swami's Kirtan was unforgettable. So was Sri Sadhu Janabai's discourse on Gita. All the arrangements were perfect. Due to Shri Surendra Reddy's earnest selfless efforts, numerous delegates were looked after excellently. But for his wonderful thoughtfulness and consideration, coupled with the great kindness and care of blessed mothers Kumudini and Niranjani, this servant of Gurudev would never have been able to stand the strain of the Conference programme. So bad indeed was his physical condition at that time, but these three were veritable angels. They took care of every little detail of his physical requirements and comforts. God bless Surendra Reddy. This young man is an inspired Karma Yogi. I must also congratulate Sri B. N. Guptaji whose pious Sankalpa was the very root of the Conference. Other Branches cooperated very beautifully and nobly in guiding the three-day programme. I was happy to meet (as I had eagerly expected to meet) good friends like Sir N. S. V. Rao, Dr. Gopal Krishan Murthy, Tettali Ramachandra Rao, etc., from Tanuku. Gita-Vyas Sir Subba Rao Garu was of immense help to this servant in interpreting English talks in Telugu to the assembled people. The Conference was, indeed, an expression of Sri Gurudev's Achintya Sakti. All glory to the living Spirit of Gurudev Sivananda! He continues to inspire us to awakening.

On December 14th, we drew back to Hyderabad, reaching there at 2 P.M. That evening there was a visit to Medichal for a Satsang at that Branch at the pressing request of young Subba Rao. From Medichal we went to Trimulgherry E.M.C. for a Satsang arranged by Sri Gautam of the Centre. It was a great joy to visit that beautiful temple with its big Satsang Mantap and speak to the assembled Army personnnel, who listened with rapt attention. That night we left by train for Kurnool, where we arrived next morning. There, the foundation-stone was laid for a Sivananda Ashram close to the river Tungabhadra. Sivananda Sirnivasa Rao had arranged nice programmes which included an address at the local Mahila Mandal. We stayed at the home of the pious and noble Mr. Pasupati, retired Headmaster of the local High School. During this period we were taken for a visit to nearby Alampur across the river, to see the very famous temple of Lord Siva, where Adi Sankaracharya has established a Sakti-peetha by doing the Sri Chaka Sthapana. Here, Sri Anasooya Mata, our Gurubehn, a Vendantini, entertained the entire party at her ancestral home.

From Kurnool we were taken to Hospet at the earnest insistence of Gurudev's great devotee and disciple Sri G.T. Veeriah. This devotee's Bhakti-bhav is unique and wonderful. He had arranged his son's marriage on the day after our arrival (17-12-64) and invited all his friends. This wonderful man converted his marriage house into a Satsang Bhawan and a veritable temple of Sivananda Gurudev. Gurudev's picture shone resplendent on a beautifully decorated altar. The marriage was performed at this altar, under the gaze of Gurudev as it were. And your Swami Chidananda was made to bless the young couple as the representative of Gurudev. To this wonderful family, Gurudev is living reality. The entire family is simply filled with Guru-prem. Their devotion, their faith, their Bhav is some thing which I cannot adequately describe, and the special point about this marriage was that this alliance was personally blessed by Sri Gurudev himself seven or eight years ago, when both the families had come on pilgrimage to this Ashram, and the betrothal was solemnised at Sri Gurudev's Kutir on the Ganges bank. Gurudev placed both his hands on the head of the boy and the girl who were young children at that time. The photograph taken at that time is still treasured in their home and it was very much on display during the auspicious event. At Hospet, Sri Murlidhar took us to the Tungabhadra Dam Project where the Engineer-in-Charge very kindly took us round and explained all the workings of the power plant. We also visited the famous ruins of Hampi. This Sevak had the privilege of addressing the public of Hospet that evening and giving a talk to school and college students. It seemed that the entire town cooperated in the two-day functions. Hospet was a feast of love. Gurudev's name spread everywhere.

The next halt, Kirkee, Poona, Sri Sirvaramakrishnan and Sri Srivinasanji of Kirke Branch had arranged a very nice programme of Satsangs, public lectures and talks to students. The most blessed event here was the unique opportunity I had of placing my head at the holy feet of our beloved and worshipful Dadaji Sadhu T.L. Vaswani Maharaj. I was filled with happiness. I considered myself most sanctified by this holy God-man's Darshan. I treasure the warm embrace of divine love in which he graciously enfolded this servant of Gurudev during the prayer gathering in the sun-lit garden of his Mira Centre. My thanks go to Sri J. P. Vaswani who arranged for this spiritual meeting and to Sri Gangaram Sajandasji, his beloved colleague. They are rare flowers in the spiritual garden of adorable Dadaji.

We left for Bombay on 20th December. Sri G. V. Parameswaranji of Divine Life Society Branch had arranged a Satsang that night at his home in Khar. I was glad to meet there H. H. Swami Sivananda-Krishnananda Mata and also to listen to the beautiful Bhajans by Premanand of Ananda Ashram, Kanhangad. Thence, the Chandigarh D. L. S. Canference summoned me North once again. This Conference, conceived by H. H. Sri Swami Premanandji Maharaj, executed with the wonderful help and noble efforts of Sri Ravindra Nath Ji, Sri L. R. Magon, Sri Suraj Prakash, Sri Har Datt Sharma and others was a grand success. It was inaugurated by Comrade Ram Kishan, the Chief Minister of Punjab, who gave a thrilling speech upon the need for ethical values of public life. The full report of this Conference appears in the Branch Gazette as well as in the Divine Life Magazine. The highlight of this Conference was the thrilling speeches by H. H. Sri Swami Nirmal Maharaj of Amritsar. He is a wonderful man. En route to the Conference, we had very nice Satsang at Delhi at the residence of Sri K. C. Reddy Ji, now Rajyapal of Madhya Pradesh.

Your servant was able to be back at the Ashram on the 31st December, just in time to participate in the holy worship to celebrate the Anniversary of the Pratishtha ceremony of the Ashram Viswanath Temple. There was a grand Maha Puja at mid-day. We had a special Satsang at 3 P.M. in the afternoon on that day; and that night the usual Satsang went on till 12 mid-night (it was the last Satsang of the departing year 1964!) when we marked the advent of the New Year with chanting of the Divine Name and prayers for the world welfare. Thus we moved into 1965. We wished one another “Happy New Year” and retired to sleep. December was practically a month of travels and the carrying of Gurudev's message and the Divine Name into distant corners of Bharatvarsha.

Beloved Seekers, I send you greetings of joy and auspiciousness for the occasion of the beautiful and colourful BASANT. February 6th is Basant Panchami. May the Gods smile upon you and rain down blessings to make your life flower forth into gladness, rejoicing and plenty. This month also celebrates the holy and inspiring memory of the great Guru of the heroic Shivaji Maharajah. You will know the name of this august saint SAMARTHA RAMDAS, a God-realised soul who spread the message of Dharma and courageous faith in defence of sublime principles against all odds. He preached the gospel of Ram Nam and Ram Bhakti as the supreme path for your welfare, here as well as hereafter. Ramdas stood for sterling character, devotion to duty, service of mankind and dedication to divine worship. Study his wonderful books Dasabodha and Manache Shlok. May His blessings be upon you all!

Now, just before I conclude, I exhort you all to prepare to observe the most holy and sacred Sivaratri festival that falls on the last of March. Meditate on Lord Siva. He is the embodiment of perfect mastery over external nature (Prakriti or lower self) and perennial abidance in the Divine Reality within. All Siva Bhaktas should commence a Purascharna of the Panchakshari Mantra from the moment that this line is read by them. Make up your mind to complete five lakhs of Japa (Aksharalaksha Japa) by the first of March. Perform a Havan on Sivaratri Day. If not, repeat some extra Malas of Japa in lieu of Havan. Lord Siva will be immensely pleased and will shower His divine grace upon you. May all health, prosperity, joy and blessedness be unto you. Om Namah Sivaya! Jaya Gurudev Sivananda! God bless you.

With regards, Prem and Om,

Yours in Sri Gurudev
Swami Chidananda
Ananda Kutir, Rishikesh
1st Feb. 1965

Sivanandashram Letter No. XVIII