Swami Sivananda Saraswati
There are Sages from India who have realized the highest goal in life which is to know their Real Self, who are like a Spiritual Beacon, a LightHouse that stays fixed in one place but guides and shows the path to any one who seeks to reach the shore and destination. They teach through their Silence or Words of Wisdom when asked for, to those who seek spiritual guidance and peace of mind. Sri Ramana Maharshi is a classic example of such a Sage.
However, there are also enlightened Sages from India who are very active, travel from place to place, install monasteries, set up missions and thus give spiritual guidance in several ways. They write a lot of books and treatises, participate in debates, destroy erroneous interpretations, and spread the right way of Hindu living. Sri Adi Sankara is a classic example of such a Sage.
Swami Sivananda Saraswati seems to fall into the second category.
Sivananda was born in India. As a child he was very active and promising in academics and gymnastics. He attended medical school, where he excelled. He ran a medical journal called Ambrosia during this period. Upon graduation he practised medicine and worked as a doctor in Malaya for ten years, with a reputation for providing free treatment to poor patients. Later he felt a void in his life, and so he left Malaya and returned to India to pursue a spiritual quest.
Becoming a Sanyasi
Sivananda was initiated into Sanyasa order by his Guru, Vishwānanda Saraswati. After initiation, Sivananda settled in Rishikesh, and immersed himself in intense spiritual practices. Sivānanda performed austerities for many years but he also continued to nurse 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 travelled the length and breadth of India to meditate at holy shrines and came in contact with spiritual teachers throughout India. At the Ramana Ashram, he had the darshan of Ramana Maharshi on Maharshi’s birthday. He sang bhajans, and danced in ecstasy with Maharshi’s devotees.
Institutions he established
Many seekers came to him for spiritual guidance. Over time, large numbers of people started coming to him and his devotees started growing in numbers. As a result he founded the Divine Life Society in 1936 on the banks of the Ganges River. Sivananda’s motto of this Society is “Serve, Love, Give, Purify, Meditate, Realize.”
In 1945, Sivananda created the Sivananda Ayurvedic Pharmacy, and organised 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.
The incredible greatness of this spiritual giant is that about 15 of this disciples went on to grow their own successful organizations, including the Chinmaya Mission founded by Swami Chinmayananda.
A prolific author, Sivananda wrote 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. His books emphasised the practical application of Yoga philosophy over theoretical knowledge.
In a nutshell
One is indeed extremely fortunate to come across such a great Sage of Spiritual Brilliance. To make use of his teachings and obtain inner peace is wisdom.