Our Gurus

The Satguru

The Satguru Master SIVANANDA

A great figure in the XX th Century. Born the 8th of September to an illustrious family, Sri Swami Sivananda had a natural flair for a life devoted to the study and practice of Vedanta. Already from early childhood on he was gifted with an immense sense of generosity and an intense desire to serve: he invited monks and beggars to eat, and he shared all sweets he received with his friends. His natural selfless spirit led him to a career in the medical field, which he performed in countries where the need was the greatest. This is how he came to spend numerous years in Malaysia. This is how he came to spend numerous years in Malaysia. A tireless worker, on top of taking care of the sick, often done free of charge for those most needy, he wrote numerous articles on matters of health and for four years he directed a medical journal! However, he quickly came to realize that medicine can only heal the body. It cannot remedy the ignorance of minds, the misery of souls and the fearful mystery of death. As he came from a family where devotion was intense and religion strictly abided by, it is toward sacred texts, spiritual practice and a solitary quest that he turned to in order to find answers to his questions on the meaning of life, poverty and suffering. Cutting off all contact with the outside world, he embarked on an Odyssey, both internal and geographical, that led him from Madras to Rishikesh, with only two items of clothing. At the end of this "initiation" journey the doctor Kuppuswami officially renounced the world by adopting the orange robe of the Sanyasins. He became known as Swami Sivananda. It was the 1 st. of June 1924.

A man of prodigious energy and strength, he published 300 books, pamphlets, and journals, bringing the authority of his medical background to bear on the teachings of yoga, while explaining the most complex philosophical subjects in simple, straightforward terms. Besides establishing an Ashram and a Yoga Academy, Sivananda founded the Divine Life Society in 1935, dedicated to the ideals of truth, purity, non-violence and self-realization. The purpose of these organizations was to spread spiritual knowledge and to form teachers capable of transmitting it: in fact Swami Sivananda considered that the world of today, irrespective of race and nation, not only needed this knowledge, but had a right to it. Among the modern day Teachers and Masters who marked our time in the field of yoga and Vedanta philosophy, numerous are those who come from this illustrious family founded by Swami Sivananda. The list of "heirs", from the first or second generation, is very long. In every one of their chosen areas, they have contributed, and still do, to this spreading of knowledge.

At his Ashram Rishikesh, he trained many exceptional disciples in yoga and Vedanta – among them, Swami Vishnu Devananda, who he sent to spread the practice of Yoga in the west. Swami Vishnu arrived in San Francisco in 1957 and traveled for several years throughout the United States, lecturing and demonstrating asanas, before establishing an international network of Sivananda Yoga Centres and Ashrams. He entered Mahasamadhi in 1963.