Swami Sivananda: Wikis


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Swami Sivananda
Date of Birth 8 September 1887(1887-09-08)
Place of birth Pattamadai, Tamil Nadu, India
Birth Kuppuswami
Date of death 14 July 1963 (aged 75)
Place of death Rishikesh
Guru/Teacher Swami Vishwananda Saraswati
Philosophy Yoga of Synthesis
Quote Be Good, Do Good.

Swami Sivananda Saraswati (September 8, 1887—July 14, 1963) was a Hindu spiritual teacher and a well known proponent of Sivananda Yoga and Vedanta. Sivananda was born Kuppuswami in Pattamadai, in the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu. He studied medicine and served in Malaya as a physician for several years before taking up monasticism. He lived most of the later part of his life near Muni Ki Reti, Rishikesh.

He is the founder of The Divine Life Society (1936), Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy (1948) and author of over 200 books[1] on yoga, vedanta and a variety of other subjects. He established Sivananda Ashram, the location of the headquarters of The Divine Life Society (DLS), on the bank of the Ganges at Shivanandanagar, at a distance of 3 kilometres from Rishikesh.[2][3][4].

Sivananda Yoga, the yoga form propagated by him, are now spread in many parts of the world through Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres, but these centres are not affiliated with Swami Sivananda's original ashrams which are run by the Divine Life Society.


Early life

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Sivananda was born Kuppuswamy in Pattamadai near Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu, India as the third son to his parents on 8 September 1887.[5] As a child he was very active and promising in academics and gymnastics. He attended medical school in Tanjore, where he excelled. He ran a medical journal called Ambrosia during this period. Upon graduation he practiced medicine and worked as a doctor in Malaya for ten years, with a reputation for waiving his fee for poor patients needing treatment.[5] Over time, a sense that medicine was healing on a superficial level grew in him,[5] urging him to look elsewhere to fill the void, and in 1923 he left Malaya and returned to India to pursue a spiritual quest.


Upon his return to India in 1924 he visited Varanasi, Nashik, and then Rishikesh, where met his guru, Swami Vishwananda Saraswati. It was Vishwananda who initiated him into the Sannyas order and gave him his monastic name.[5] However, since Sivananda spent only a few hours with Swami Vishwananda, the full Viraja Homa ceremonies were performed later by Swami Vishnudevananda (not to be confused with his own later disciple, Swami Vishnu-devananda), the Mahant of Sri Kailas Ashram.[5] After initiation, Sivananda settled in Rishikesh and immersed himself in intense spiritual practices. Sivananda performed austerities for many years but he also continued to help the sick. With some money from his insurance policy that had matured, he started a charitable dispensary at Lakshman Jhula in 1927, serving pilgrims, holy men and the poor using his medical expertise.


After a few years, Sivananda went on an extensive pilgrimage and traveled the length and breadth of India to meditate at holy shrines and study with spiritual teachers throughout India. During this Parivrajaka (wandering monk) life, Sivananda visited important places of pilgrimage in the south, including Rameshvaram.[5] He conducted Sankirtan and delivered lectures during his travels. He visited the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and met Maharishi Suddhananda Bharati. At the Ramana ashram, he had the Darshan of Ramana Maharshi on Maharshi's birthday.[6] He sang bhajans and danced in ecstasy with Maharshi's bhaktas. He also went on pilgrimages to various places in northern India including Kedarnath and Badrinath. He visited Kailash-Manasarovar in 1931.


Sivananda Kutir at Sivananda Ghat, and Sivananda Ashram above, Muni Ki Reti, Rishikesh

During Sivananda's stay in Rishikesh and his travels around India, many came to him for guidance in the spiritual path. He permitted some of them to live near him and instructed them. Sivananda asked his students take copies of his short articles and send them for publication. Over time, large numbers of people started coming to him and his circle started growing.

Sivananda founded the Divine Life Society in 1936 on the banks of the Ganges River. The free distribution of spiritual literature drew a steady flow of disciples to the Swami, such as Swami Satyananda Saraswati, founder of Satyananda Yoga.

In 1945, Swami Sivananda created the Sivananda Ayurvedic Pharmacy, and organized the All-world Religions Federation. He established the All-world Sadhus Federation in 1947 and Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy in 1948. He called his yoga the Yoga of Synthesis.


Interiors of the Sivananda Samadhi temple, Divine Life Society, Muni Ki Reti, Rishikesh

Swami Sivananda's two foremost disciples were Swami Chidananda and Swami Krishnananda. Swami Chidananda was appointed President of the Divine Life Society by Swami Sivananda in 1963 and served in this capacity until his death in 2008. Swami Krishnananda was appointed General Secretary of the Divine Life Society by Swami Sivananda in 1958; he served as the institution's chief administrator for the next 43 years until his death in 2001. Swami Krishnananda is widely regarded as one of the most influential theologians and philosophers of the 20th century.[7][8]

Other prominent disciples were Swami Venkatesananda (South Africa, Mauritius, Madagascar, Australia), Swami Pranavananda (Malaysia) and Swami Sivananda Radha (Canada). Another prominent disciple was Sri Swami Sahajananda (South Africa), who was directed by Sri Swami Sivananda to establish the Divine Life Society of South Africa.

Disciples who went on to grow new organisations
  • Swami Chinmayananda founder of the Chinmaya Mission
  • Swami Jyotirmayananda, President of the Yoga Research Foundation in Miami, U.S.A.
  • Swami Lalitananda, Vice President of the Yoga Research Foundation in Miami, U.S.A.
  • Swami Omkarananda, founder of the Omkarananda Ashram Himalayas
  • Swami Satchidananda, founder of the Integral Yoga Institutes, U.S.A.
  • Swami Satyananda Saraswati, founder of Satyananda Yoga movement
  • Swami Shantananda, founder of Temple of Fine Arts(Malaysia & Singapore)
  • Swami Sivananda Radha, founder of Yasodhara Ashram in British Columbia, Canada
  • Swami Vishnu-devananda, founder of the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres, HQ Canada
  • Saint Chot, born Chot Hasabamrer in the Kingdom of Siam in 1900, was a master of yoga in the tradition of Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh with whom he lived for a five-year period from the early 1940s. After WWII he returned to Thailand and began his double career as Newspaper editor and yoga master. He retired from Journalism at the age of 75 and dedicated the final years to teaching at his private ashram in Bangkok where he peacefully died in 1988.


A prolific author, Swami Sivananda wrote exactly 296 books on a variety of subjects: metaphysics, Yoga, religion, western philosophy, psychology, eschatology, fine arts, ethics, education, health, sayings, poems, epistles, autobiography, biography, stories, dramas, messages, lectures, dialogues, essays and anthology.[9] Yet his books emphasized the practical application of yoga philosophy over mere theoretical knowledge. He was known to have said "An ounce of practice is better than tons of theory. Practice Yoga, Religion and Philosophy in daily life and attain Self-realization."[10]


Swami Sivananda died on 14 July 1963 in his Kutir on the bank of Ganges, in Shivanandanagar.[6]


  • Yoga of Synthesis. Published by Yoga-Vedanta Forest University, 1956.
  • Lord Siva and His Worship'. Published by Yoga-Vedanta forest academy, Divine life society, 1962.
  • Practice of Yoga. Published by U.P., Divine Life Society, 1970.
  • Autobiography of Swami Sivananda. Published by Divine Life Society, 1980.
  • The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad: Sanskrit text, English translation, and commentary. Published by Divine Life Society, 1985.
  • Karma Yoga. Published by Divine Life Society, 1985. ISBN 094902705.
  • Lord Shanmukha and His Worship. Published by Divine Life Society, 1996. ISBN 8170521157.
  • Downloadable Books by Swami Sivananda Divine Life Society

Further reading

  • Sivananda and the Divine Life Society: A Paradigm of the "secularism," "puritanism" and "cultural Dissimulation" of a Neo-Hindu Religious Society, by Robert John Fornaro. Published by Syracuse University, 1969.
  • From man to God-man: the inspiring life-story of Swami Sivananda, by N. Ananthanarayanan. Published by Indian Publ. Trading Corp., 1970.
  • Swami Sivananda and the Divine Life Society: An Illustration of Revitalization Movement, by Satish Chandra Gyan. Published by s.n, 1979.
  • Life and Works of Swami Sivananda, by Sivananda, Divine Life Society (W.A.). Fremantle Branch. Published by Divine Life Society, Fremantle Branch, 1985. ISBN 0949027049.
  • Sivananda: Biography of a Modern Sage, by Swami Venkatesananda. Published by Divine Life Society, 1985. ISBN 0949027014. Online
  • Sree Sivananda Lahari: A Sanskrit Kavya by Vanikavi Manomohan(three parts viz. Pranatikaa, Jiivanikaa, Vachanikaa) with English Translation


  1. ^ Sivananda Om Site
  2. ^ Divine Life Society Britannica.com
  3. ^ Divine Life Society Divine enterprise: Gurus and the Hindu Nationalist Movement, by Lise McKean. University of Chicago Press, 1996. ISBN 0226560090. Page 164=165.
  4. ^ Swami Shivananda Religion and anthropology: a critical introduction, by Brian Morris. Cambridge University Press, 2006. ISBN 0521852412. Page 144.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Autobiography of Swami Sivananda
  6. ^ a b His Holiness Sri Swami Sivananda Saraswati Maharaj
  7. ^ Harvard Univeristy Divinity School Harvard Divinity School
  8. ^ University of California at Berkeley Department of Philosophy University of California, Berkeley
  9. ^ Complete Works of Swami Sivananda
  10. ^ See 'Sadhana Tattva': http://www.dlshq.org/download/allsiva.htm#_VPID_122

External links



Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Swami Sivananda (8 September 188714 July 1963) was a Hindu spiritual teacher and a well known proponent of Yoga and Vedanta.


  • Serve, Love, Give, Purify, Meditate, Realize.
  • Be Good, Do Good.

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