Gurugram December 2020 | Preface
Om Namah Sivaya
Greetings from all staff in the Sivananda Centres and Ashrams!
It is another month of adjustment for all as the COVID pandemic situation continues. Some Centres and Ashrams around the globe went back into lockdowns and curfews while others remained open or reopened. Rest assured, during these ever changing schedules, many of our TTCs, courses, classes, Satsangs, spiritual festival and special programmes are still available online.
One of the highlights of November was the celebration of Diwali. The European Centres had a very lovely online celebration with over 500 students participating from their homes. The programme started with an explanation of the meaning of Diwali, celebrating the victory of light over darkness, symbolized in the Ramayama by Rama defeating Ravana in battle. It was followed by a short Puja to Goddess Lakshmi, invoking her energy of compassion, abundance and generosity. It continued with a guided meditation on the inner light. The story of the victory of Rama over Ravan was then narrated. Then came a 15 minute repetition of the «Sri Rama Rama Rameti» mantra for world peace. We also shared powerful Kirtan dedicated to Lakshmi and Lord Ram, as well as carnatic singing. Finally we enjoyed watching a wonderful slide show of the decorated altars from the Centres as well as many of the students private altars. Some had made beautiful rangoli patterns, intricate decorations made of coloured powders in the midst of many candle lights or oil lamps. The whole event generated much joy and happiness for all who attended, reminding us of the power of joining together with a positive intention in mind.
We also shared another celebration, an interfaith symposium on the occasion of November’s American Thanksgiving weekend, shared between the Yoga Farm, the Yoga Ranch, the Yoga Retreat and the DaLat Ashram in Vietnam. Alongside the Acharyas from the North American Centres, as well as Swamis from various Ashrams and Centres worldwide, several guests speakers from the Buddhist, Christian and Jewish tradition were part of the event, making it an exciting time of sharing and connecting. It was a precious moment at this time of lock down. Students were deeply appreciative of the efforts made by the Ashrams to continue sharing the teachings during these challenging times.
Please accept this invitation to join us again this month for the Unite for a Healthy Planet worldwide meditation on Sunday December 6 at 2pm CET for 30 minutes. https://sivanandaorleans.org/unite-for-a-healthy-planet Let us all connect and create a powerful wave of peace and harmony. It will be streamed on youtube. Information on www.sivanandaorleans.org
May we stay strong in our faith and determined in our commitment to our Sadhana. We share our energy and love with all those who suffer in these hard times. May all be healthy. May all find relief, peace and stay in balance.
With Om and Prem,
The Acharyas of the International Sivananda Yoga Centres
Donations: With many of the International Sivananda Yoga Centres and Ashrams teaching online. Finances are a concern, so if this is at all possible for you, your financial support would be very gratefully received by contacting your local Ashram or Centre.
Nothing can shake you. Difficulties will make you more strong and endow you with more endurance. – Sri Swami Sivananda
SIVANANDA Yoga Teachers’ Training Courses are currently available both Online (TTCOL) and in-person in residence, depending on the location of the Ashram. View all 2021 TTC courses on the Sivananda website https://sivananda.org/teachers-training/programme-calendar/, then check with your chosen TTC/ATTC location is online or in person. If the Ashram is closed the online Teacher Training Course (TTCOL) has been a popular solution.
See the full list of other international courses and events: https://www.sivananda.org/
Spiritual progress is not measured by Siddhis or powers, but only by the depth of your bliss in meditation. – Sri Swami Sivananda
From Discourse IV: “Kaivalya Pada – On Realization”
IV.11. HETU-PHALASRAYALAMBANAIH SAMGRHITATVAD ESAM ABHAVE TADABHAVAH
‘Desires are held together by cause, effect, support and objects; and when these
disappear, so do the desires.’
What gives momentum to desires is cause and effect, past Karma, the activity of
the mind which creates the desires and the objects of the desires. When these
foundations are removed so are the desires.
Peace, cheerfulness, contentment, dispassion, fearlessness and an unperturbed state of mind under all conditions indicate that you are advancing in the spiritual path. – Sri Swami Sivananda
Bhagavad Gita Quote
The Bhagavad Gita is a dialogue between Lord Krishna and Arjuna, narrated in the Bhishma Parva of the Mahabharata. The Bhagavad Gita is comprised of eighteen discourses, with a total of 701 Sanskrit verses. The timeless scene takes place on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. Sri Krishna, through a swift conversation with Arjuna, reveals profound, sublime and soul stirring spiritual truths, plus, rare secrets of Yoga, Vedanta, Bhakti and Karma. Those who study, and endowed with Faith, can reap the full benefits of the Bhagavad Gita, and the science of the Soul.
We continue reviewing Swami Sivananda’s summary of each chapter of the Bhagavad Gita.
The Yoga of the Supreme Spirit. Summary of Fifteenth Discourse.
This discourse is entitled “Purushottama Yoga” or the “Yoga of the Supreme Person”. Here Lord Krishna tells us about the ultimate source of this visible phenomenal universe from which all things have come into being, just like a great tree with all its roots, trunk, branches, twigs, leaves, flowers and fruits which spring forth from the earth, which itself supports the tree and in which it is rooted. Sri Krishna declares that the Supreme Being is the source of all existence, and refers allegorically to this universe as being like an inverted tree whose roots are in Para Brahman, and whose spreading branches and foliage constitute all the things and factors that go to make up this creation of variegated phenomena. This is a very mysterious “Tree” which is very difficult to understand, being a product of His inscrutable power of Maya; and hence a marvelous, apparent appearance without having actual reality. One who fully understands the nature of this Samsara-Tree goes beyond Maya. To be attached to it is to be caught in it. The surest way of transcending this Samsara or worldly life is by wielding the excellent weapon of dispassion and non-attachment.
In verses four and five of this discourse the Lord tells us how one goes beyond this visible Samsara and attains the supreme, imperishable status, attaining which one does not have to return to this mortal world of pain and death.
Lord Krishna also describes for us the wonderful mystery of His Presence in this universe and the supreme place He occupies in sustaining everything here. The Lord declares that it is a part of Himself that manifests here as the individual soul in each body. He Himself is the indwelling Oversoul beyond the self. He is the effulgence inherent in the sun, moon and fire. He is present as the nourishing element in the earth. He is the inner witness of all beings. He is the supreme Knower even beyond Vedic knowledge. He is the resplendent Person who is beyond both this perishable phenomenal creation as well as the imperishable individual soul which is a part of His eternal essence. Thus, because He is beyond perishable matter and superior to the imperishable soul (enveloped in Maya), He is known in this world as well as in the Vedas as the Supreme Person.
Live in the Centre. Live in Om. Live in Truth. – Sri Swami Sivananda
NISHKAMA KARMA YOGA
desire-less action, selfless action. nish: without; kama: desire.
More generally, it means action performed without desiring or fearing the consequences; action performed with indifference to the outcome. It is used to describe the practice of doing actions without any expectation of the fruits (results or reactions or effects).
“In the practice of Nishkamya Karma Yoga, there is no loss of effort. There is no harm.” – Swami Sivananda
Nishkama Karma Yoga is another name for Karma Yoga, which is one of the main themes of the Bhagavad Gita. The practice of Nishkamya Karma Yoga destroys sins and impurities of the mind and causes Chitta Suddhi or purity of the Antahkarana. Knowledge of the Self dawns in a pure mind. Knowledge of the Self is the only direct means to freedom.
In the mind there are three Doshas, viz., Mala (impurities like lust, wrath, greed, etc.), Vikshepa (tossing of the mind), and Avarana (veil of ignorance). Mala is removed through Nishkamya Karma Yoga; Vikshepa by means of Upasana (worship); and Avarana by means of study of Vedantic literature and Jnana. Nishkamya Karma Yoga purifies the heart and prepares the mind for the dawn of knowledge (Jnana Udaya).
The following passage records how Sri Ramana Maharshi once demonstrated Nishkama Karma Yoga:
Mr. Rangachari, a Telugu pandit in Voorhees’ College of Vellore, asked about Nishkama Karma. There was no reply. After a time Sri Bhagavan [Ramana] went up the hill and a few followed him, including the pandit. There was a thorny stick lying on the way which Sri Bhagavan picked up; he sat down and began leisurely to work at it [sic]. The thorns were cut off, the knots were made smooth, the whole stick was polished with a rough leaf. The whole operation took about six hours. Everyone was wondering at the fine appearance of the stick made of a spiky material. A shepherd boy put in his appearance on the way as the group moved off. He had lost his stick and was at a loss. Sri Bhagavan immediately gave the new one in his hand to the boy and passed on.
Love all equally. – Sri Swami Sivananda