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Swami Sivananda

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This is an article on Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh. For Swami Sivananda, the disciple of Sri Deep Narayan Mahaprabhuji, see Swami Sivananda (Rajasthan).


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Swami Sivananda Saraswati (1887-1963), as he is known under his monastic name, was born Kuppuswamy in Pattamadai, Tamil Nadu, India. A Hindu by birth, he is a well-known proponent yoga and vedanta. He is reputed to have written over 300 books, on these and related subjects, during his life.

He went to medical school in Tanjore and worked as a doctor in Malaya.

In 1923 he left Malaya for India on an extensive pilgrimage. At Banaras, he had the Darshan (vision) of Lord Vishvanath. Dr. Kuppuswami next went to Rishikesh where met his guru, Swami Vishwananda Saraswati. It was Vishwananda who initiated him into the Sannyas order and gave him his monastic name. However, since Swami Sivananda spent only a few hours with Swami Vishwananda, the full Viraja Homa ceremonies were performed later by Swami Vishnudevananda, the Mahant of Sri Kailas Ashram.

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 Lakshmanjula in 1927. He later created the Sivananda Ayurvedic Pharmacy in 1945.

Sivananda traveled the whole length and breadth of India during his Parivrajaka (wandering monk) life. He visited important places of pilgrimage in the south, including Rameshvaram. He conducted sankirtan and delivered lectures. He visited the Sri Aurobindo ashram and met Maharishi Suddhananda Bharati. At the Ramana ashram, he allegedly had the darshan of Ramana Maharshi on Maharshi's birthday. He sang bhajans and danced in ecstasy with Maharshi's bhaktas. He also went on pilgrimages to Kailas-Manasarovar and Badri.

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Swami Sivananda in his official Divine Life Society portrait

He returned to Rishikesh and in 1936 founded the new religious movement the Divine Life Society on the bank of the holy Ganges River. The free distribution of spiritual literature drew a steady flow of disciples to the Swami, one of which included the young U.G. Krishnamurti, who studied with him for seven summers.

Swami Sivananda organized the All-world Religions Federation in 1945 and established the All-world Sadhus Federation in 1947. He called his yoga the Yoga of Synthesis.

He wrote excellent books on Hinduism and closely followed Advaita philosophy. Many of his books are available on the web. They are located at http://www.dlshq.org/download/download.htm.

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Topics in Hinduism
Shruti (primary Scriptures): Vedas | Upanishads | Bhagavad Gita | Itihasa (Ramayana & Mahabharata) | Agamas
Smriti (other texts): Tantras | Sutras | Puranas | Brahma Sutras | Hatha Yoga Pradipika | Smritis | Tirukural | Yoga Sutra
Concepts: Avatar | Brahman | Dharma | Karma | Moksha | Maya | Ishta-Deva | Murti | Reincarnation | Samsara | Trimurti | Turiya
Schools & Systems: Schools of Hinduism | Early Hinduism | Samkhya | Nyaya | Vaisheshika | Yoga | Mimamsa | Vedanta | Tantra | Bhakti
Traditional Practices: Jyotish | Ayurveda
Rituals: Aarti | Bhajans | Darshan | Diksha | Mantras | Puja | Satsang | Stotras | Yajna
Gurus and Saints: Shankara | Ramanuja | Madhvacharya | Ramakrishna | Vivekananda | Sree Narayana Guru | Aurobindo | Ramana Maharshi | Sivananda | Chinmayananda | Sivaya Subramuniyaswami | Swaminarayan | A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
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