Life of Swami Venkatesananda

Sadasiva - A Tribute

The Divine Life Trust Society

Om Namah Shivaya

Om Namah Venkatesaya

On December 29, 1921, into a middle-class Brahmin family, in Meena Lagnam, Tanjore District in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, during pouring rain, Parthasarathy was born. The star Poorvashada was ascendant on this last Amavasya day of the dark lunar fortnight of the month of Margashirsha. His parents were Srinavasan and Lakshmi Devi. His name honours Krishna and his parents, householder devotees of Lord Venkatesa, offered his prasad to all. There was strong Venkatesa-influence in Swamiji from birth.

The child cried not at all and was largely raised by his aged paternal grandfather in their Tamil-speak household until schooldays in Madras. Following his grandfather’s death when he was seven, Parthasarathy took to devotion of Lord Venkateswara (Venkatachalapati), including strict fasting on Saturdays, and went to his temple at Tirupati in the Tirumalai Hills frequently, where He received the sacred thread.

Parthasarathy had been attracted to the teachings of Swami Sivananda since the age of 13, when He began daily sadhana of yoga asana, pranayama, japa, and meditation and started a correspondence with the Master. He first visited Rishikesh in October 1944 with office colleagues and thereafter whenever He had leave from His government position. Swami Sivananda instructed Him to come to live permanently at the ashram after a few more years living in the world. When His mother suggested marriage, He rejected it with great resolution. Parthasarathy came to live at Sivanandashram only eight months later.

Swamiji wrote, “I clearly see Gurudev’s mighty divine hands ‘obstructing and saving’ me in a thousand ways…, almost from my childhood.”

Just prior to taking sannyas, then - Parthasarathy noted, “Ananda Kutir is my abode. Sri Swami Sivananda is my mother, father, friend, philosopher, and guide. He is my Master - I have only one Guru, and He is God on earth.”

At Sivananashram, Swamiji became expert at yoga asana, bandha, particularly nauli, and mudra, and could hold these postures for 30 minutes. He could float in Mother Ganga in matsyandrasana (fish posture) and padmasana (lotus posture) without movement. In fact, his humble cottage was called Ganga Kutir. Excelling in equanimity, “showing absolute indifference to both praise and censure,” and scholarship of the Bhagavad Gita and Yoga Vasistha, Swamiji became an expert pujari in two years at Sivanandashram before taking sannyas on the 60th Sivananda-jayanthi September 8, 1946 from the Master.

On his All-India Tour in 1950, Swami Sivananda traveled 7,775 kilometres in India and 318 kilometres in then Ceylon in 61 days, addressing 144 lectures, and receiving 35 pada-pujas. All these events were recorded, frequently from memory, and edited by Swami Venkatesananda in cars and, often, the latrines of moving trains, in several book volumes in 1951 and 1952, published at Rishikesh.

Every three days, Swamiji sent eight to ten typed pages to Sivanandashram so that those not on tour could feel a part of it. Back at the Ashram, Swamiji often typed in the dark for eight hours at a stretch…with carbon copies! He alone typed all the Master’s personal correspondence, 1,200 letters a month, for Sivananda’s signature.

There is also a chapter by Swami Venkatesa Himself, an allegory of His Guru as Avatara Purusha, “God in human form, whose every breath is Dharma.” The avatara influences all to righteous living and thinking.

Master Sivananda accepted sannyas in 1924 from His Guru, Vishwananda Saraswati, with whom the Master spent only a few hours. By 1936, when He founded the Divine Life Society, He was widely known as a Jagat-Guru.

Swami Sivananda distributed all his spiritual teachings, which He called the Yoga of Synthesis, for free and all these works were typed and edited by his closest disciple and personal secretary, the true sevaka, Swami Venkatesananda Saraswati Maharaj, starting in 1946 with the Sivananda-Gita. In all, 296 books by Swami Sivananda were published; most are still available today and widely read by spiritual aspirants.

Swamiji’s complete devotion and surrender to the Master are exemplified by a small anecdote. Sivananda asked Swamiji to prepare an article for “Women’s Light and Guide”. To do so, Swamiji dressed Himself as a woman, styled Himself “Venkateswari,” and had His picture used for the cover in complete humility.

Swami Venkatesananda writes, “Even if birth after birth, I live to serve as Gurudev’s slave, I cannot repay the debt I owe.”

Swami Sivananda called Him “Crest-Jewel of my Mission, the resplendence of my work - will I ever see anyone shine brighter than He, Swami Venkatesanandaji? Surely none I have seen so far.” One cannot imagine higher praise from one’s Guru.

The book includes tributes by numerous god-men, including Sri Ramakrishna, Ramaswamy, numerous Sivananda swamis, including Krishnananda, Vishnudevananda, Omkarananda, Sadananda, Narayananda, Ramananda, Atmaswarupananda, Harisharananda, Chidananda, Turiyananda, and Swamiji’s own father, Srinavasan.

Brother-Swami Vishnudevanada wrote most movingly: “Really, he is the pet child of Gurudev. His main Sadhana is seeing the greatness in others _ not only in all human beings but in animals and birds.”

Swami Omkarananda wrote in fulsome tribute that Swami Venkatesa was “the one great flawless medium for the flow of Sivananda’s Light, Peace, and Grace, into all mankind.” Swami Sivananda encouraged Swami Omkar to write Swami Venkatesa’s biography, though he never did, blaming his own “personal indolence”. However, Omkar wrote a pamphlet on Swamiji prior to this volume which seems to have been lost. Pity. The Master told Omkar Swami, “Venkatesa is a tower of strength to me, and the very life of my mission.”

Brother-Swami Saswathananda notes “Never before…have I seen a young man with so much devotion to God and Guru.”

Brother-Swami Chidananda praises Swamiji’s “one hundred percent harmony and attunement with Gurudev.”

Swami Vishnu recounts Swami Venkatesa’s embrace of homoeopathy under renowned Doctor-Mahatma Swami Achintyananda. “His very presence is a glory to his Guru Maharaj.”

However, by far the most moving tribute comes from the Master himself. Sivananda calls Swami Venkatesananda “the ideal of a sadhaka” and conferred Venkatesa’s title, “Siva-Pada Renu”, “dust of Siva’s Feet”.

Swamiji’s entire life was always Siva-Pada-Renu. “He shines like the sun.” In this lovely, little book, Siva’s light is reflected by the full moon who is Swami Venkatesananda.

Flowers offered at the Guru’s Feet