Swami Sivananda Saraswati, the great spiritual luminary of the 20th century, was born on the 8th September 1887 at Tirunelveli (Tamil Nadu). From his early childhood he exhibited the gift of divine vision, renunciation, compassion for the poor, and the uncommon gift of sama drishti or equal vision and love for all.
As the desire to serve and help others was foremost in Swami Sivananda’s heart, it was natural that he chose to study medicine and later started his medical practice. This inborn spirit of service led him to Malaya where he worked at a rubber estate hospital for seven years. In spite of his extremely busy life, Swami Sivananda was always regular in his daily worship, prayers, yogasanas and study of sacred scriptures. This ignited his innate spirituality and with a heart purified by selfless service, he had a new vision. In a state of total renunciation, he gave up his practice and all his belongings and came to India in 1922, to live the life of a penniless sadhu. In 1924 he arrived at Rishikesh to live on the banks of Ganga and on 1st June in the same year was initiated into sannyas by Swami Vishwananda Saraswati. Ganga remained an important feature in the life of Swami Sivananda and he remained beside this sacred river throughout his life.
Although, as per the tradition of sannyas, he lived a life of self imposed austerity and simplicity, he never neglected selfless service. He started a charitable dispensary to help and serve the poor and needy as he saw this as a worship of God who dwells in each being. From 1927 he started sharing his spiritual experiences through writing articles and books and his divine lustre started influencing people from all over the world. People began to experience that every word he uttered, every sentence he wrote, was charged with a rare spiritual power. From his small kutir on the banks of the Ganga, Swami Sivananda’s influence spread throughout the world and The Divine Life Society was founded in 1936 with aim of world wide dissemination of spiritual knowledge and service to mankind. It did not take long for seekers to be drawn to his magnetic personality. His tenfold path – Serve, Love, Give, Purify, Meditate, Realise, Be good, Do good, Be kind, Be compassionate, became a road map for spiritual aspirants world wide. Swami Sivananda never let anyone forget that their spiritual salvation lay in helping and serving others.
Swami Sivananda raised the goal of God-realization before the eyes of the people as the only real purpose for human birth. He acquainted millions with the facts and details of spiritual life and trained many sannyasins of extraordinary calibre through whom his mission is carried on this day. To spread yoga ‘from door to door and from shore to shore’ was a mission that Swami Sivananda entrusted to one of his brightest disciples, Swami Satyananda, who developed the ancient systems of Tantra and yoga to their highest potential and literally took them to each and every corner of the world. Through his dedicated sannyasins, Swami Sivananda saw the fulfillment of his mission before attaining Mahasamadhi in 1963. To this day and for ages to come, his light spreads far and wide for the spiritual upliftment of humanity.