THOUGHT OF THE MONTH
It is in the nature of man to strive for happiness, but all the happiness which he can gain by his actions is only of limited duration. The enjoyments of the senses are transient and the senses themselves are worn out by too much enjoyment.
– Sri Swami Sivananda
We are glad to inform you that a great project, undertaken by Swami Sivadasanandaji, to present Swami Vishnu-devanandaji’s available recorded lectures, at a count of over 2000. More information about this can be found at
Know the value of time. You cannot salvage a second spent in worthless ways. – Sri Swami Sivananda
Frequently Asked Questions
Q 1: Do you believe in heaven and hell existing as some independent planes apart from this earth-plane of ours?
A: Why not? They are also planes of existence just like ours. They are as real as the earthly plane. All the worlds (Lokas) and all the Tirthas (sacred rivers) are existent in the human being him/herself, if he/she has belief in the scriptures. One can enjoy heaven or hell in this birth, on this planet, if he/she so wishes. The greater the grossness, the more intense will be the torture and suffering until such time as the individual is refined and fit for the descent of the Lord’s grace by repeated calcinations or purification processes.
If you want to enjoy heaven on earth, go on purifying yourself by controlling the lower mind, the desires and cravings. All is bliss, all is joy, all is happiness then. If you allow a free rein to the horses of the senses and yield to the prompting of the devilish mind, if you follow the path of Adharma, then hell itself will prevail, not elsewhere in some incredible region, but here on this earth itself.
Q 2: If we are tools in the hands of God, are not men free?
A: Man becomes free only when his individual will becomes merged in the Divine Will. Licentiousness and autocracy must not be mistaken for spiritual freedom. By becoming a tool (Nimitta) in the hands of God, the Bhakta destroys the egoism or the little false ‘I’, but gains all the Divine Aisvarya or the Siddhis of the Lord. He becomes perfectly free. He has become one with God now.
Beloved aspirant! Detach yourself mentally from everything else. Intensify your Vairagya/dispassion. – Sri Swami Sivananda
HATHA YOGA TIP
GOMUKHASANA – Cow Face Pose
Sit in Dandasana (Staff Pose), then bend your knees and put your feet on the floor. Slide your left foot under the right knee to the outside of the right hip. Then cross your right leg over the left, stacking the right knee on top of the left, and bring the right foot to the outside of the left hip. Try to bring the heels equidistant from the hips: with the right leg on top you’ll have to tug the right heel in closer to the left hip. Sit evenly on the sitz bones.
Inhale and stretch your right arm straight out to the right, parallel to the floor. Rotate your arm inwardly; the thumb will turn first toward the floor, then point toward the wall behind you, with the palm facing the ceiling. This movement will roll your right shoulder slightly up and forward, and round your upper back. With a full exhalation, sweep the arm behind your torso and tuck the forearm in the hollow of your lower back, parallel to your waist, with the right elbow against the right side of your torso. Roll the shoulder back and down, then work the forearm up your back until it is parallel to your spine. The back of your hand will be between your shoulder blades. See that your right elbow doesn’t slip away from the right side of your torso.
Now inhale and stretch your left arm straight forward, pointing toward the opposite wall, parallel to the floor. Turn the palm up and, with another inhalation, stretch the arm straight up toward the ceiling, palm turned back. Lift actively through your left arm, then with an exhalation, bend the elbow and reach down for the right hand. If possible, hook the right and left fingers.
Lift the left elbow toward the ceiling and, from the back armpit, descend the right elbow toward the floor. Firm your shoulder blades against your back ribs and lift your chest. Try to keep the left arm right beside the left side of your head.
Stay in this pose about 1 minute. Release the arms, uncross the legs, and repeat with the arms and legs reversed for the same length of time. Remember that whichever leg is on top, the same-side arm is lower.
YOGA SANSKRIT GLOSSARY
Navaratri is the festive occasion of the ‘nine-day-worship of Maha-Kali, Maha-Lakshmi and Maha-Saraswati’ the Divinity of the Universe adored in three ways.
Saraswati is Cosmic Intelligence, Cosmic Consciousness, Cosmic Knowledge. Worship of Saraswati is necessary for Buddhi-Shuddi, Viveka-Udaya, Vichara-Shakti for Jnana for Self-illumination. Lakshmi does not mean mere material wealth like gold, cattle, etc. All kinds of prosperity, glory, magnificence, joy, exaltation or greatness come under the grace of Goddess Lakshmi. Final Liberation is “Moksha Samrajya Lakshmi.” Hence worship of Lakshmi means the worship of Divinity, the power that dissolves multiplicity in unity. The worship of Devi is therefore the explanation of the entire process of spiritual Sadhana in all its aspect.
During Navaratri, observe strict anushthana, and purify your inner spiritual nature. This is the most auspicious time in the year for Mother-Worship. Read Sapthasathi, or Devi Mahatmya and Lalita Sahasranama. Do Japa of the Mantra of Devi. Perform formal worship with purity and sincerity and absolute devotion. Cry for the Darshan of Mother Devi. The Divine Mother will bless you with the knowledge, the peace and the joy that know no end. May the Divine Mother bless you all! – Sw. Sivananda
The different stages of spiritual progress are reflected in the sequence of celebrations during Navaratri. During the first three days, Durga is worshipped. She personifies that aspect of shakti which destroys our negative tendencies. The process of trying to control our senses is akin to a war for the mind which resists all attempts at control. So the stories in the Puranas symbolically depict Devi in the form of Durga as waging war and destroying the asuras.
However, getting temporary relief from the clutches of vasanas does not guarantee permanent liberation from them. The seeds of the vasanas will remain within in latent form. Therefore, we should supplant them with positive qualities. The Bhagavad Gita refers to these qualities as daivi-sampat, literally “Divine wealth.” Correspondingly, we worship Lakshmi during the next three days. Lakshmi is not just the giver of gross wealth or prosperity; She is the Mother who gives according to the needs of Her children.
Only one endowed with daivi-sampat is fit to receive the knowledge of the Supreme. Accordingly, the last three days of Navaratri are dedicated to worshiping Saraswati, the embodiment of Knowledge. She is depicted as wearing a pure-white sari, which symbolises the illumination of the Supreme Truth.
VIJAYA DASAMI or DUSSERA”10th Day” – is celebrated on the tenth day, which follows nine days of Durga Puja. Durga Puja or Navaratri commences on the first day and ends on the tenth day of the bright half of Aswayuja (September-October). It is held in commemoration of the victory of Durga over Mahishasura, the buffalo-headed demon. In Bengal her image is worshipped for nine days and then cast into water. The tenth day is called Vijaya Dasami or Dussera (the “tenth day”). Processions with Her image are taken out along the streets of villages and cities.
The mother of Durga (that is, the wife of the King of the Himalayas) longed to see her daughter. Durga was permitted by Lord Shiva to visit her beloved mother only for nine days in the year. The festival of Durga Puja marks this brief visit and ends with the Vijaya Dasami day, when Goddess Durga leaves for her return to Mount Kailas. This is the view of some devotees.
Sri Rama worshipped Durga at the time of the fight with Ravana, to invoke Her aid in the war. This was on the days preceding the Vijaya Dasami day. He fought and won through Her Grace.
In days of yore, kings used to undertake ambitious expeditions on the day of the Vijaya Dasami. Those kings who did not go on such expeditions used to go out hunting in the deep forests. Even up to this date India people arrange mock attacks on a fort on Vijaya Dasami in Rajputana.
The tenth day, Vijaya Dasami, marks the triumphant ovation of the soul at having attained liberation while living in this world, through the descent of knowledge by the Grace of Goddess Saraswathi. The soul rests in its own Supreme Self or Satchidananda Brahman. This day celebrates the victory, the achievement of the goal. The banner of victory flies aloft. Lo! I am He! I am He!
On the Vijaya Dasami day, all aspirants are given initiation into various Mantras according to their tutelary Deities. Deserving aspirants are initiated into the holy order of Sannyas. Initiation in the study of the alphabets is given to young children. New students commence their lessons in music, etc. During the morning Satsang the books which were worshipped on the ninth day are worshipped again. A chapter from each of the principal scriptures like the Gita, Upanishads, Brahma Sutras, Ramayana, and Srimad Bhagavatam is recited.
Cling not to the intellect. Enquire. Transcend the intellect. Enter the realm of Illumination and Enlightenment.
– Sri Swami Sivananda
From Chapter II: ” Sadhana Pada – On Spiritual Disciplines ”
II.23. SVA-SVAMI-SAKTYOH SVARUPOPALABDHI-HETUH SAMYOGAH.
‘The purpose of the union of Purusha and Prakriti is that the former gains awareness of true nature and realizes the powers latent in him and in Prakriti’.
Here Patanjali answers the very basic question as to why the sole must pass through the trials of worldly existence at all. Purusha here refers to the Soul which, though universal, has its individual manifestations. The Soul incarnates in order to experience Prakriti, to learn its lessons, and to comprehend and actualize its natural powers. Do your duties well. Study the scriptures again under your Guru. Aspire intensely for Self-realization. Serve your Guru whole-heartedly. Then alone will you attain Self-realization.
– Sri Swami Sivananda
02 – Onam
04 – Full Moon
08 – Master Swami Sivananda’s Birthday
15 – Ekadasi
18 – New Moon
19 – Navarathri starts
28 – Vijaya Dasami
29 – Ekadasi
Dispassion and faith are pre-requisites for spiritual Sadhana.
– Sri Swami Sivananda