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.
May the Divine Grace of the Lord of the Universe, the all Auspicious Great God, Mahadeva Siva, the blue-throated, wielder of the trident, be upon you all upon this eve of the holy Mahasivaratri. Let us for a while repeat together the most sacred Divine Name of Five-letters that is pleasing to the Lord.
Om Namah Sivaya Om Namah Sivaya (five times)
Glory be to the Lord of gods, the destroyer of the poison of spiritual Ignorance (Ajnana), the all-compassionate and the bestower of Supreme Liberation to those who take refuge at his feet. You are blessed indeed to have uttered His Divine Name with faith, reverence and love.
The Cuttack session of the Second All Orissa D. L. Conference commenced with a procession of Gurudev's holy Padukas accompanied with Sankirtan Party. After flag-hoisting at the avenue the session commenced with the Lord's Name, followed by the opening of the exhibition of spiritual literature, photographs and Ayurvedic products. Then a beautiful portrait of Gurudev was unveiled. Next Mr. D. Sahu, the Advocate-General, delivered his thought-provoking address welcoming us all. The chief guest was Swami Ramakrishnanandaji of Bhuvaneshwar who gave his Upadesh now. Next Sri Radhanath Rath, editor of The Samaj, spoke beautifully in Orria. The Proceedings came to a close after my talk and concluding Kirtan.
The second session also was very well attended and marked by enthusiastic Sankirtan, Bhajan, prayer, exposition of Yogas, a discourse on Indian culture, a period of silent meditation and concluded with an excellent film show, wherein the assembled devotees had the Darshan of Gurudev, Ganga, Himalayas, etc. It was well organised and the sincere devotees of the Cuttack Branch had made all necessary arrangements with care and love. A very nice bilingual Souvenir has been published and some useful spiritual tracts were distributed free to the public. The two day's programme at Puri was drawn upon the same pattern as that at Cuttack. There was also a brief programme at Bhuvaneshwar on the 23rd January on our way from Cuttack to Puri.
Before leaving Puri however, I went to the famous Math established by Sri Sankaracharya to have Darshan of the present Jagadguru Swamiji Maharaj of the Peeth, who was then on the 65th day of his long fast, on the cow-slaughter issue. As we went up to His Holiness' room numerous devotees were going in line up the staircase leading to his room. The Swamiji Maharaj was lying on a cot covered with a warm rug. After paying my respects I enquired about his health and prayed that the Lord may fulfil his cherished desire and that he may soon be enabled to return to normal diet. He spoke to me for a little while stressing upon the point that in our Sanatana Dharma there is no separation between the spiritual and material and that Sannyasins should not hesitate to take part in seemingly secular matters when these have a direct connection with the religion and its time-honoured traditions. We silently listened to his brief discourse and noticing that he was very weak, we withdrew from his presence after offering our salutations. The ancient Math premises need strengthening and renovation very badly and I feel it a duty, especially of the adherents of this particular Peetha to come forward with generous contributions and take up this task of effecting all the needful repairs and improvements to this eastern seat established by Adi-Guru Sri Sankara Bhagawatpada.
One feature of the Puri session of the Orissa D. L. Conference that I particularly liked very much was the item of Sankirtan before the Divine presence of Lord Jagannath inside the sacred precincts of the great temple. This was the opening item on both the afternoons. We felt supremely blessed to have this opportunity of chanting the Lord's Name in that sacred place. The Orissa Conference was well arranged through the efforts of Sri H.K. Kar, working President of the Cuttack Branch, the able secretary Sri Chintamani Pati, Sri Kanhucharan Mahapatra of Puri and Prof. D.C. Choudhry. Sri Chitta Ranjan Mohanty and Sri Satyajnanam offered their most valuable co-operation and seva in contributing to the success of the arrangements. Of course it goes without saying that the revered Sri S. C. Debo looked after us throughout our entire stay and tour within the Orissa State territory, right from the night of the 16th January, when we reached Berhampur until the midnight of 25th January, when he took leave of us on the platform of Berhampur Railway Station and saw us off on our way to Gujarat and Saurashtra. Sri S. C. Debo's help in the able management and supervision of all programmes throughout our tours is inestimable. Our grateful thanks are due to all the Office-bearers and members of the D.L.S. Branches of Berhampur, Cuttack, Bhuvaneshwar and Puri including friends Sri Dharma Rao, Ramana Murty and Sri Gandhiji.
Leaving Puri on 25th night and after some programmes at Tanuku, Relangi, Undarjavaram (Sri Sankara Sivananda Kshetram) and Hyderabad I leached Rajkot on the morning of 31st Jan., 67, and drove to Virnagar, the Headquarters of the Gujarat-Saurashtra Divine Life activities. Here I was very happy to participate in the inauguration by the Swiss Consul. General Mr. Othmar Rist, of the new Surgical Block of the Saurashtra Central Hospital, where Dr. Sivananda-Adhwaryoo is the Chief Medical Officer. It was a very colourful function conducted with great enthusiasm and sincerity. Numerous prominent people from Rajkot were present at the function on 1st February. Mr Perrie Oppligar, the Representative in India of the Organisation Swiss Aid Abroad also come for this occasion.
Now for the 20th All India Divine Life Conference at Rajkot. This Rajkot Conference had been a triumph of good organisation, wonderful co-operation, coordination and intelligent management. The ten sessions on the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th of February together with the three early morning prayer meetings at 6 a.m. were all well attended by the public of Rajkot. Delegates from more than ten D. L. S. Branches within Gujarat Saurashtra and from Maharashtra (Bombay Branch), the Chief Organiser of Andhra Pradesh D. L. S., from Rasipuram D. L. S Branch (Salem-Madras State) and about 15 Sadhus and Sadhaks from Rishikesh Headquarters participated in the Parishad. All the Office-holders and members of the Rajkot Divine Life Society had worked earnestly under the tireless active help and guidance of Dr. Sivananda-Adhwaryoo. The venue was the well know Rashtra-Shala where the late revered Mahatma Gandhiji stayed while he was at Rajkot during the freedom-struggle days. A very huge Shamiana had been erected with an imposing double-gate leading to it. The flag hoisting on the morning of 5th was an impressive ceremony. The speaker's dais was a huge stage that could easily accommodate fifty persons and was tastefully decorated by the local artists in conjunction with Sri Saunder Rajan of Ashram and Sri Mansukhlal of Patan. The Shamiana could easily accommodate five thousand persons and was filled to capacity daily.
H. H. Jagadguru Sankaracharya of Dwarka inaugurated the Cbnference on the 5th morning and gave his blessings after speaking upon the principles of Divine Life and their importance to the people of the present time. Revered Sri Popatbhai Malaviya, a veteran citizen of Rajkot city sent his address through his worthy son Sri Vasant Bhai, who read it. Learned speakers gave their wise deliberation upon important subjects, like Spiritualisation of Human Society, Education and its Problems, Vedanta in Actual Practice, essence of Religion, Saints of Bharatavarsha, Gospel of Bhagawad Gita, Education, Teacher and the Students, etc. Chief among the speakers were H. H. Sri Swami Atmasthanandaji Maharaj of the Sri. R. K. Mission; the venerable Harjivanlal Mehta of Bhavnagar, the veteran and leading Theosophist of Western India; Acharya Sri Nalin Bhatt of Bhartya Vidya Bhavan, Bombay; Pujya Pandit Deena Nath Dinesh of Manava Dharma, Delhi; Yogiraj Sri Manuvaryaji Maharaj of Ahmedabad; revered Sri Swami Bhadra of Prarthana Samaj, Surat and Sri Paramanand Gandhi as representative of Sri Panduranga Sastri Sadhvi Sri Sadguna Shree Ji, a Jain Sannyasini also spoke twice. The second day's afternoon session was exclusively a seminar on Education and Students, attended by numerous High School students besides the general public. The first prize in Essay Competition was won by Sri Bakul, a student of the High School at Palanpur. The night session of the 6th February was made over to Padmasri Sri Dula Kag Baba, the renowned folk-poet who thrilled the vast audience with his wonderful compositions and recitations. The huge gathering sat spellbound for two hours listening to his poetical discourse on the Ramayana. On the final day we had the unique good fortune to have at the Conference worshipful Shri Baba Ranchoddassji, who came at midday and graced the function. He addressed the people spiritedly urging them to break the chains of selfishness and take to the life of selflessness, self-sacrifice and dedication to the service of the distressed and relief of the suffering everywhere.
A beautiful cut-out of Sri Gurudev in sitting pose was at the background of the dais. It was a life-like painting. The entire Shamiana was hung with ethical and spiritual mottoes. The organisers of the Parishad had arranged to have one pamphlet having Gurudev's teachings to be freely distributed to the public during each session on all the days of the Conference. A different leaflet was given at each one of the ten sessions of the Conference. In addition to this, free literature in the form of two books and a booklet, namely, So Says Sivananda', Education, Teacher & Student' and Sadhana Tattva' were freely given to everyone attending the Conference.
The local press at Rajkot gave fullest possible co-operation to the organisers of the Conference while the local educational institutions too responded favourably and appreciatively their efforts in rousing the students towards the higher idealism in life and greater devotion to Dharma. As a result of the Conference (which became the talk of the town) the weekly Saturday Satsanga of the Rajkot Divine Life Society Branch is having a packed Hall with numerous new comers participating. We await the issue of the valuable Conference Souvenir. My warmest congratulations to all associated with the D. L. S. Branch of Rajkot. They are determined to follow up the Conference with enhanced activity and earnestly hope to make its impact lasting and permanent.
My heart-felt sincere thanks to the D.L.S. organisers and devotees in the different places visited for their loving, and noble help in enabling me to bring the spiritual message and the teachings of Gurudev Sivanandaji Maharaj to the people of Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Gujarat. It is through their devout efforts alone that I am able to serve all and thus fulfil my seva to the sacred memory of Satgurudev. In each State there must be some one or two persons from among the Branch organisers themselves who will be able to tour round that State, once in a while, sharing Gurudev's teachings with all people in different places. My capacity to do this task personally is necessarily limited. This limitation must be made up by my lay-brothers in the field of Divine work. Such is my thought at this moment. In the spreading of Gurudev's teachings alone there is hope for restoring India to the path of Dharma in daily life. Everywhere I have travelled I have been hearing the doleful complaint of break-down of Dharma and the prevalence of immorality. Gurudev's teachings of the purification of personal life and spiritualisation of home environment is the one effective foundation of basing a changed order of our Nation's social life. I pray to the Lord that He may help us all to live a pure life, to practise the Divine Life precepts and to spread the Divine Life teachings throughout the nation at this crucial hour. Now let me conclude with this ancient prayer of the Rig Veda: May our purpose be common, common our assembly and common the mind; let thoughts be united too. I give for you a common objective. Worship with unison, worship with a common offering and dedication.
By the time this letter reaches you the Sacred day of Maha Sivaratri might have already come and gone. Here I share my thoughtful views in this connection. While this letter is posted from Rajkot I am close by the shrine of Somanath which is just 15 miles away and which is one of the 12 Jyotir Lingas, Maha-Sacred will be observed with due solemnity here as in thousands of other shrines of Lord Siva throughout the country. Fasting and vigil are the two main disciplines of this all-night-worship that culminates in the dawn of new morn. How wonderfully and how very aptly does this signify the very essence of spiritual life and bring out its true inner content! Spiritual life is movement through the darkness of primal spiritual ignorance towards the light of Divine experience. The earnest keeps close to God and in continuous worship he moves through the long drawn dark night of his soul towards the dawning of Divine Wisdom. In this period of constant endeavour to commune with God, he has to exercise great dispassion and self-restraint and keep ever awake while the world sleeps. Unremitting vigilance is the price for liberation. Fasting actually signifies the denial of sense-appetite and refusing to feed the desires and cravings of the lower self in man. Renouncing all sense-indulgences, controlling senses and subduing desires the seeker exercises vigilance keeping himself ever in a state of spiritual wakefulness and aspiring for the dawn of God-realisation. He is ever awake to his grand goal of life, the ethical and spiritual ideals, and the higher principles that guide the soul from the unreal to the Real and from death to Immortality. He achieves the goal through unshakable faith and continuous worship, despite the surrounding loom of phenomenal life. Lord Siva Himself embodies this ideal of abstinence, awareness and adoration. He is the great God ever immersed in absorbing adoration of the supreme SELF-REALITY in a state of unbroken inner awareness and totally dead to the objective-sense-universe through a perfect subdual of desires. All cravings are burnt up and the ashes adorn the divine body of this Lord of Yogis. Such is the God we adore upon the Maha Sivaratri day. Both the worship and the worshipped one thus bring out very essence of spiritual quest in and through their outer form.
O beloved seeker, control your senses. Conquer your mind. Sublimate your desires. Reject the lower food of gross sense-experience. Become a Maha Upavasi, starve the Vasanas. Be alert and awake through constant Vichara and Viveka. Be up and doing continuous unbroken worship of the Divine. Never mind if darkness now prevails. Like dazzling lightning manifests brilliantly through the densest dark clouds, like the bright sun ending the darkness of night, the light of the Divine wisdom will flash forth in your life and illumine it forever.
Stick to your vows. Be established in worship. Surmount all obstacles. You will triumph. May success attend thy efforts and crown thy quest with supreme fulfilment. May you attain the other shore of this ocean of Samsara and reach supreme blessedness.
To lead the spiritual life is your sole purpose here on earth; all else is but meaningless delusion. Pursuit of goals other than God-experience is a hopeless failure to understand the very purpose of existence and a deplorable waste of most precious life. Time flies. Come now. Waste no more time. Seriously take up to spiritual life and progress upon the inner path that leads to God-realisation. Live every moment for realising God. Waste not time in vain matters. This world is vanity fair of brief duration. All things perish and pass away. He who is wise is vigilant and careful. He attains the goal and makes life fruitful. May God bless you.
With regards, Prem & Om,
Yours in Gurudev.
Sivanandashram Letter No. XXXIX