Sri Swami Sivananda's contributions to the world in the fields of religion, health care, education, culture, literary charity through his writings, service to humanity and promotion of human values, is almost unparalleled in modern spiritual history.
The Master was an optimist. A negative attitude had no place in him. Every word he uttered, every sentence he wrote, was charged with a rare spiritual power, because he taught what he himself practised. The Divine Master radiated peace and serenity because he was himself filled with the peace and serenity of God. He radiated love because he was filled with the love of God. He shed the light of joy because his heart was filled with the Light of God. His practical life taught us that we, too, can realise God in and through life, without having to resort to caves and jungles. His life was a perfect example of the teachings of the holy scriptures.
In respect of renunciation, our Divine Master wrote in Bliss Divine, "Every religion has a band of anchorites who lead a life of seclusion and meditation. The glory of a religion will be absolutely lost if you remove the hermits and Sannyasins or those who lead a life of renunciation and divine contemplation. It is these people who maintain and preserve the religions of the world. They give solace to the householders when they are in trouble and distress. They bring hope to the hopeless, joy to the depressed, strength to the weak and courage to the timid".
In Yoga Lessons for Children our Master says, "When a man becomes a Sannyasin, he gives up all his possessions, all distinctions of caste, all rites and ceremonies, and all attachment to any particular country, nation or religion. He spends his time in meditation. The Master continues, "When he attains the state of deep meditation, he rejoices in God. He is quite indifferent to sensual pleasures. He is free from likes and dislikes, desires, egoism, lust, anger, greed and pride. He has equal vision and a balanced mind. He loves all. He moves about happily and spreads the knowledge of God everywhere. He is the same in honour and dishonour, praise and insult, success and failure. He is now above the rules of society and stages of life. He is quite a free man. He is not bound by any social customs and conventions. Such a Sannyasin is an ideal man. He has attained peace, bliss, freedom and perfection. He is like God Himself. He is a liberated sage".
Such a liberated sage is our Divine Master. Sri Swami Sivananda's life was one of supreme renunciation. In one swift stroke he gave up a life of luxury in Malaysia, to lead a life of severe austerity in Rishikesh. During prolonged periods of meditation in the early days at Rishikesh, he subsisted on dried rotis for days. Through the power of his rigorous Tapas, the Master influenced thousands the world over to tread the path of renunciation. We in South Africa, through his beloved, illustrious disciple, Sri Swami Sahajananda, are enjoying the fruit of Sri Gurudev's Sadhana and teachings.
Two readings were done that night, taken from the book, Sivananda's Gospel of Divine Life. In the reading on "Only Misery in the World", and in answer to the question, "Is there happiness or pain in the world?", the Master said to one of the visiting disciples, Mrs Hellman, "There is only misery in the world. Worldly happiness is the cause of pain. If you want to avoid pain, you should avoid pleasure". In the next reading entitled, "Four Ideal Disciples". The Master said, "An ideal disciple watches how the Guru acts, and does as the Guru does. If a disciple patiently watches and studies his Guru, and tries to follow his teachings, all his doubts will be automatically cleared".
In the pre-recorded audio message, Pujya Swami Sahajananda said, "Whatever is destined for us, that life will be chalked out for us by God. Even though a great deal is said about the life of a Sannyasin, the main thing depends on our duty. If we don't perform our duty according to our Dharma, then it is a failure. It is not the yellow cloth that is important at all. It is the character that is more important. When I first took Sannyas from Gurudev I did not put on the orange-coloured robe, but for a long time, I used to wear the Western clothes. I found that people were supporting Gurudev's work whole-heartedly and even when I wore the robe, they still supported the work. Whether you are a householder (or a Sannyasin) you must discharge your duties in the best possible manner. It is by discharging your duties satisfactorily that the mind gets purified."
From the DVD presentation entitled, "Wisdom of Sivananda", we selected the section on "Self-Analysis". The Master said that daily self-analysis and introspection is indispensable. "Then alone can you grow rapidly in spirituality. Find out your defects and eradicate them through suitable methods. If you are not vigilant, your dispassion wanes and you will begin to slacken in your daily spiritual practices."
We conclude this Sannyas Anniversary report with the Master's words on renunciation, "Many have not understood what true renunciation is", says our Master in the book, Bliss Divine. "Renunciation of physical objects is no renunciation at all. True renunciation lies in the abnegation of the mind. It consists in renouncing all desires and egoism, and not merely renouncing the world. Real renunciation consists in the renunciation of egoism. If you can renounce the ego, you have renounced everything else in the world. If the subtle ego is given up, then identification with the body automatically dies".