Swami Sivananda is a modern day yoga master who brought yoga to all people.
Swami Sivananda was born on September 8, 1887, in Tamil Nadu, South India. He became a medical doctor and served the poor in Malaysia for several years. He also wrote and published a health journal to spread helpful information on health and hygiene. Later he came to realize that medicine alone could not alleviate the deep suffering of humanity, and that a more profound approach to healing would be needed.
He gave up his medical career and entered into a life of renunciation. He returned to India and spent a year travelling before settling in Rishikesh, in the Himalayas, in 1924. In Rishikesh he practiced intense austerities, and met his guru, Swami Vishwananda. He was initiated into sannyas (monkhood), and given the name Swami Sivananda Saraswati.
For the next seven years Swami Sivananda practiced meditation intensively, but even during this period he continued to serve the sick in a small medical clinic which he created. Wherever he went, he conducted sankirtan (chanting), delivered lectures on Yoga philosophy and taught people how to keep strong and healthy by practicing yoga asanas (yoga poses), pranayama (breathing exercises), and kriyas (cleansing exercises). Most of all he encouraged people to make constant efforts for spiritual development. An increasing number of disciples were drawn to him to study and learn.
In 1932 he opened the Sivananda Ashram, in 1936 he established the Divine Life Society. His teaching organization “The Yoga Vedanta Forest Academy” was started in 1948. Swami Sivananda’s aim was to spread spiritual knowledge and train people in the practice of Yoga and Vedanta. He was a prolific author, publishing more than 200 books, and spread knowledge further through the activities of disciples who he sent all over the world.
Swami Sivananda’s life was an example of service to humanity, both during his years as a doctor and later as a world-renowned Yoga master and sage. He lived by his ideals, to serve all, to love all, to mix with all and to see God in all beings.
Swami Sivananda entered mahasamadhi (left his physical body) on July 14, 1963.