Life of Swami Venkatesananda

Swami Lakshmi Ananda - A Tribute

The Divine Life Trust Society

Om Namah Shivaya

Om Namah Venkatesaya

Guru brahma guru vishnu gurur devo maheshwara

Guruh sakshat parabrahma tasmai sri gurave namah

Guru Brahma

'Guru is Brahma the Creator'

From people scattered allover the world, Swamiji created a 'family' of seekers, dedicated to His work and the search for truth; through His devotees He created Trusts to publish His books, every page of which is illumined by His wisdom and His own unique way of presenting the Eternal Truth. Revered Swami Jnanananda once remarked: "His lectures flowed like the Ganges"; and, like the Ganges, each time the 'water' was fresh and new, with his own unmistakeable flavour.

In Mauritius and Australia, ashrams were created with lus own special touch the murtis and statues were placed outdoors in the garden so they were always surrounded by fresh flowers; he didn't like to see flowers plucked unnecessarily. In Mauritius there are Sivanancla schools, Sivananda roads and streets and a beautiful Sivananda stamp.

It is said in the Varaha Purana, Part 1, Chapter 58

Mata 'ntara pravistanam api bhaktir bhavisyati

'All people from all over the country and abroad, people belonging to different faiths, too, will participate in Lord Venkatesa's festivals and will develop devotion to Him.'

Swamiji was the instrument in making this possible. In his centres all over the world there are murtis of Lord Venkatesa, and Venkatesa Puja is done regularly.

Swamiji 'created' the idea of satsang without a master present, so that wherever he was, satsang in the various centres would go on just as if he were there. His wonderful translations of the major Indian and Buddhist scriptures, presented as they are in the unique form of daily readings, made this possible as also the fact that he never allowed his personality to intrude into the satsang atmosphere so that there was no feeling of loss when he was not there; but, of course, when he was present there was that extra light and inspiration which was an inseparable part of him!

Swarniji rarely gave instructions or made requests .except about mundane day matters; but he would drop a hint. If we picked up the hint the full unstinting flood of his attention would be there. Not the smallest most insignificant factor would be overlooked. (If we did not pick up the hint his love was unchanged. If we tried but did not succeed, or abandoned the project, there was never the slightest reproach or disappointment. It might have worked out it didn't; he dropped all thought of it.) For instance, when we were planning to present Swami Madhavananda with a cake at his birthday satsang, Swamiji wanted to know every detail of the planning of the actual cake making; he supervised the construction of the frame which supported the cake; he supervised and made suggestions for the decoration, candles, etc; he taught us a chant and made us rehearse it several times (with much laughter); and we had to rehearse also the carrying of the heavy cake, planning the easiest route to the Samadhi Hall. He worked out the timing so that we arrived. at the most appropriate moment, he organised a messenger to keep us informed of the events in the satsang and he checked that the person who was deputed to light the candles had a fresh dry box of matches. He asked us to dress in our best clothes for the event, he even arranged us in order of height shortest at the front and he made the whole proceedings such fun that we felt as if it were our birthday celebration! (If the cake toppled and the decorations caught on fire it was because of our incompetence at carrying out his instructions, not because of any oversight on his part.)

Sometimes, however, his grace alone enabled things to happen. For instance, in 1971 he dropped a suggestion that Perth should have an ashram. When the idea was taken up his grace enabled the Sivananda Ashram in Perth to grow and flourish, so that in a few years we have a magnificent building, a beautiful big new hall and a press all of which grew without drives for funds, and seemingly without much effort.

Gurur Vishnu

'Guru is Vishnu the Preserver' in all His aspects:

As Krishna the irresistible delighter of hearts Swamiji's love flowed unstintingl y to all; and, as in the case of Krishna, his 'lilas' sometimes bewitched, bemused and confused us. His wisdom, laughter, humour, thoughtfulness, compassion and that particular 'something' that radiated from him delighted all who knew him. In those whose hearts were troubled he created peace and acceptance. No-one could remain in his company for long without feeling their worries fade into insignificance and then one wondered what the problem had been!

Like Krishna, what he was in essence was hidden from all. The longer one knew him the more one realised that one knew him not at all. He made everyone feel special, yet no-one was special to him; or everyone was!

As Rama the embodiment of righteousness all the virtues effortlessly had this abode in him. His loving care and foresight towards all his friends never failed. He did nothing that was not for our ultimate good, even if at the time it seemed to our small minds to be incomprehensible. Mostly we discovered his wisdom only in retrospect. If we had problems and wrote to him about them he usually answered promptly, though sometimes he would give no written reply but the answer would come without the need for physical communication from him, transcending time and space. Often before even mailing the letter the answer would come in some mysterious way either in a letter that day from him, from .a chance conversation, from a passage read at satsang or a sudden inspiration in meditation.

Swamiji gave us lots of work to do once we had shown that we were eager to serve him, and the only reason he created the work was to enable us, through service, to be on the same 'wave ..l.ength', so that communication was possible. He could have easily had his books professionally typeset and beautifully printed, but that would have meant that so many people would not then have had an opportunity to serve him while he travelled extensively. But with the bookwork we were always kept busy in his service and in tune with him. What blessings he showered on us through this bookwork! We were (and are) constantly dwelling on his thoughts, constantly feeling his presence, and at the same time slowly growing in spirituality while becoming familiar with the scriptures and philosophy of yoga.

As Venkatesa the destroyer of sins he looked at us 'through the corner of his eyes' (only with love). And even without complete surrender to him his compassion protects us so that our troubles come only to 'thigh level'. We do not drown in our troubles. (Lord Venkatesa, after whom Swamiji got his sannyas name, is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. There are two extraordinary features - the face is covered and one hand points to the feet while the other gracefully rests at thigh level which denote that God can only look at. his devotee through the corner of his eyes, and if one surrenders to Him one's troubles come only to thigh level.)

Gurur devo mahesh warah

'Guru is Maheshwarah (Siva), the destroyer or redeemer.'

Swamiji destroyed all our misconceptions and illusions; he had none of his own. If one were to say (with a long face), "Swamiji, I am disillusioned," he would be delighted: "Wonderful. That is the best thing that can happen. Throwaway all your illusions and look for the Reality." He constantly saw the Reality behind the names and forms; his every action flowed from that realisation. He lived in that Reality.

The aspect of Rudra was seen very rarely. Only if someone was misguided enough to try to manipulate him or do something against Swami Sivananda's mission, was this aspect manifested (and his 'hiss' was something terrible to witness!), but if he was misunderstood or badly treated there was no reaction except perhaps a gesture of absolute humility and self..effacement. He could be a very stern disciplinarian, but it was always what the recipient needed for his spiritual growth, never because wamiji was angry.

Guruhsakshat parabrahrna

'Guru is verily the supreme Brahman Himself'

We saw the beauty of his form; we basked in his love and laughter; we were stimulated by his wisdom and clarity of thought; we were enchanted and delighted by his play on words to make obscure spiritual concepts clearer; but in all that, we glimpsed only a ray of his Light, and only occasionally were we aware of the depth of the Ocean that he was.

Tasmai sri gurave namah

'Prostrations to that Guru.'

May our hearts be purified that he may dwell there always.