Sivananda Yoga FAQ
Q 1: Is a realized soul selfish, as they seek emancipation only?
A:. A saint purifies the whole world. A saint is not selfish. Sankara, Ramanuja and others worked for the entire mankind. Even those saints who live in seclusion or lead an ‘Incognito’ life, influence the world with their thought-currents. Even novices in the spiritual path does great good to the world by their pure thoughts. These things, the ways and actions of saints and saintly people, cannot be understood by an impure mind.
Q 2: ‘Kala’ is often seen in the Indian scriptures. What exactly is meant by it?
A: It is the Great Time personified. It is the destroyer of name and form. In the Hindu pantheon, there are various gods and goddesses who are members of the divine hierarchy. Just as we have our government here composed of various ministers and officers, the celestials who rule the world, too, have their own deities who control the various aspects of creation, preservation and destruction of this world. Some are in charge of the various elements like air, fire and water; some are in charge of birth, death, preservation of life and disease. Kala or Yama or Dharmaraja is the Lord of Death. The entire universe is under his control in a way; for, when the time comes, he brings about the end of the earthly sojourn of all beings. It is only the man of Self-realization who transcends this Kala and realizes his own Self. All Sadhana is meant to help us transcend this Kala, to conquer death, to go beyond time.
Q 3: Swamiji, please give a very simple, but very impressive proof for the existence of the soul.
A: You say in daily life, “My body”, “My Prana”, “My mind”, “My Indriya”. This clearly denotes that the Self or Atman is entirely different from the body, the mind, the Prana and the Indriyas. The mind and the body are your servants or instruments. They are as much outside of you as these towels, chairs, cups are. You are holding the body just as you are holding a long walking stick in your hand. You are the possessor or proprietor of this body. The body is your property or possession. The body, the senses, the mind, etc., are not the soul, but belong to it.
Everything happens for a reason. Develop faith that you will understand everything and see the bigger picture in due time. – Sri Swami Sivananda
04 Vijaya Dasami
Far more precious than many gold and diamond mines, is the spiritual wealth of Self realization. – Sri Swami Sivananda
NAVARATHRI – the nine days of worship of Devi, or the Divine Mother, in the form of Maha-Kali, Maha-Lakshmi and Maha-Saraswati.
These nine days of triumph are offered to the Mother for Her successful struggle with the formidable demons led by Sumbha and Nisumbha. Navaratri is divided into sets of 3 three days to adore different aspects of the Supreme Goddess. In its cosmic aspect it epitomizes the stages of the evolution of Man into God, from Jivahood to Sivahood.
The Divine Mother, Supreme Shakti of Brahman, has to operate through the aspirant. On the first three days Mother is adored as Power, Force – Durga the Terrible. You pray to Mother Durga to destroy all your impurities, your vices, your defects. She is to fight with and annihilate the baser animal qualities in the Sadhaka, the lower Asura in his nature. Also, She is the Power that protects your Sadhana from its many dangers and pitfalls. Thus, the first three days aim is to worship of the Destructive aspect of the Mother, Durga, marking the first stage of destruction of Mala (impurities) plus, embody the determined effort of the sadhaka to rout out the evil Vasanas, propensities and old habits in the mind.
The next step is to build a sublime spiritual personality, to acquire positive qualities in place of the eliminated Asuric qualities. The Divine qualities, Daivi Sampat, “Divine wealth”, that Lord Krishna enumerates in the Gita, have to be acquired. The Sadhaka must cultivate and develop all the auspicious qualities. He has to pile up immense spiritual wealth to enable him to pay the price for the rare gem of divine wisdom (Jnanaratna). If this development of the opposite qualities (Pratipaksha Bhavana) is not undertaken in right earnest, the old Asuric nature will raise its head again and again. Hence, this stage is as important in an aspirant’s career as the previous one. This stage of the aspirant’s Sadhana is depicted by the worship of Mother Lakshmi. She bestows on Her devotees the inexhaustible wealth of Daivi Sampat. Lakshmi is the Sampat-Dayini aspect of Brahman. She is Purity Itself. Thus worship of Goddess Lakshmi is performed during the second set of three days.
Once the aspirant succeeds in routing out the evil propensities and in developing Sattvic, pure qualities, he becomes an Adhikari. He is ready now to receive the Light of Supreme Wisdom. He is fit to obtain Divine Knowledge. At this stage comes the devout worship of Sri Sarasvati, Who is Divine Knowledge personified, the Embodiment of Brahmajnana. The sound of Her celestial Veena awakens the notes of the sublime Mahavakyas and the Pranava. She bestows the Knowledge of the Supreme Naada and then gives full Atmajnana as represented by Her pure dazzling snow-white apparel. To propitiate Sri Sarasvati, the Giver of Jnana, is therefore the third stage.
The tenth day—Vijaya Dasami—marks the triumphant ovation of the Jiva at having attained Jivanmukti through the descent of knowledge by the grace of Goddess Sarasvati. The Jiva rests in His own Supreme Self of Sat-Chit-Ananda (Existence-knowledge-Bliss Absolute). This day celebrates the victory, the achievement of the Goal.
The Banner of Victory flies aloft. Lo! I am He! I am He!!
Chidananda rupah sivoham, sivoham chidananda rupah sivoham, sivoham
VIJAYADASAMI – Vijayadasami is the crowning day of the success of Vidya shakti over the negative lower nature of nescience. See NAVARATHRI above.
PRAHLADA – Prahlada is a character from the Puranic texts of Hinduism, wherein he is famed for his exclusive devotion (bhakti) to Vishnu, despite attempts in the story by his father, Hiranyakashipu to turn him to the contrary. The story of Prahlada gives a number of moral instructions: God will always save his devotees, constant faith in God leads to devotion.
DHRUVA – Dhruva was an ardent young devotee of Vishnu. He was a prince blessed to eternal existence and glory as the Pole Star in the constellations. The story of Dhruva’s life is often told to Hindu children as an example for perseverance, devotion, steadfastness and fearlessness.