Today’s A Journey through Aesthetic Realms will be presented in Hindi and English, with subtitles in Arabic, Aulacese (Vietnamese), Aulacese (Vietnamese), Chinese, English, French, German, Hindi, Hungarian, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mongolian, Persian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

Welcome, esteemed viewers, to A Journey through Aesthetic Realms. Today, we will travel to Rishikesh in India. This city at the foothills of the Himalayan mountains in northern India brings thousands of pilgrims each year. Supreme Master Ching Hai has spoken about some of her own pilgrimage experiences in this holy region, as during a discussion with our Association members in the US in July 1997.

Another time when I stay also near the Himalayas, another place called Rishikesh, they also rent these kinds of mud houses. And because the house inside is stuffy, they don't make a very big deal, like a big window with screen door and all that. So most of the time, I climb up the roof and sleep.

And after a while, many other people, neighbors, the pilgrims like me, or sometimes Westerners, they go there and meditate. Because there are a lot, a lot of ashrams around there. One of the masters, very famous, this master from the Beatles, Transcendental Meditation? Yogis! He is one, originated from there, too. The place is called Rishikesh. A lot of masters went there.

Now, let’s visit one of the ashrams at Rishikesh, India. It’s the world-famous Sivananda Ashram, the headquarters of the Divine Life Society. The Divine Life Society was founded in 1936 by Swami Sivananda, and has branches in many parts of the world, including Europe, the United States, Canada, South America, South Africa, and Australia.

Swami Sivananda was born in 1887 in Tamil Nadu, South India. His birth name was Kuppuswami. He studied to become a physician and practiced medicine in Malaysia. In 1924, he returned to India and met his guru, Swami Vishwananda Saraswati, with whom he spent only a few hours.

Swami Vishwananda initiated him into sannyas (monkhood). Thereafter, Swami Sivananda went to Rishikesh, which was at that time still in the midst of a jungle, and immersed himself in intense tapas (spiritual austerities). At the same time, he continued to help the sick, and in 1927, he started a charitable dispensary near Lakshman Jhula.

At the Sivananda Ashram, we were kindly greeted by His Holiness Sri Vimalananda Saraswati, the current president of the Divine Life Society. In 1953, when he was 23 years old, Swami Vimalananda came to Rishikesh. He served his guru Swami Sivananda for 10 years until his mahasamadhi (passing) in 1963. After that, he served Swami Sivananda’s successor, Swami Chidananda Saraswati, who became the second president of the Divine Life Society.

Swami Vimalananda Ji shared with us more about Swami Sivananda and his teachings.

In the year 1924, a lone doctor, his name was Dr. Kuppuswami, he came to these parts, and then for nearly 12 years, he plunged himself in a series of austerities, and attained God-vision. Afterwards, he broadcast to the whole world the Divine Life message. In the year 1936, he established the Divine Life Society, and then he formulated, organized this ashram. The ashram runs on the basis of volunteer donations. We never charge anything here. We have two monthly magazines, one is “The Divine Life,” and another one, “Yoga Vedanta.”

Swami Sivananda, the founder of this esteemed institution, wrote more than 250 books, covering all fields. He wrote books on yoga, bhakti (devotion), gyana (wisdom), and also on health. And also, he has written “Practice of Nature Cure,” how one can improve one’s health by adhering to simple principles of nature. And this he did for 40 years, and in the year of 1963, he attained the Lord. Afterwards, the wonderful work that he has left behind us, his disciples are getting on today, and even today, the ashram is propagating the ideals from that.

Swami Sivananda advocated a combination of selfless service, devotion to God, meditation, and deep philosophical enquiry.

Unless you are good, you cannot do good to others. He used to sing, “Serve, love, give, purify, meditate, realize. Be good, do good, be kind, be compassionate. Inquire, “Who am I?” Know thyself, and be free. You’re not this body, not this mind, immortal Self you are. Sri Ram, Jaya Ram, Jaya Jaya Ram Om, Sri Ram, Jaya Ram, Jaya Jaya Ram.”

Every day, we used to have evening get-together, so holy master Swami Sivananda used to conclude his everyday get-togethers with these wonderful prayers. He admonished man, “Oh, man you are not this cage of flesh and body, immortal spirit you are. That is your essential nature. Divinity is your essential nature.” That you have to discover how by practicing the synthesis of yoga. He drew the essence, some from Bhakti yoga, from Raja yoga, Jnana yoga and Karma yoga.

Even it is not necessarily for the each and every one to come to the Himalayan caves to meditate. Wherever God has placed you, and whatever environment you are in, from that environment you must take the progress. Everyday actions that you do… See, you got so many duties every morning. You have to get up, you have to wash your clothes, you have to vacuum your home, wash your cutleries, right from the morning until you go to bed. All the actions that you perform through various acts, limbs, organs, offer to God as His worship.

When you perform all of your duties in this spirit, then it will become worship of the Divine, and you will be in yoga, you’re a yogi. So, awareness. So, that is how one has to function in the world.

Regarding meditation, Swami Sivananda spoke at great length, saying, “Meditation is the only royal road to the attainment of salvation or Moksha. Meditation kills all pains, sufferings and three kinds of Taapas (fevers) and five Kleshas or sorrows. Meditation gives the vision of unity. Meditation produces sense of oneness. Meditation is an aeroplane that helps the aspirant to soar high in the realms of eternal bliss and everlasting peace. It is a mysterious ladder that connects Earth and Heaven and takes the aspirant to the immortal abode of Brahman.”

Swami Sivananda also encouraged doing good deeds. The Sivananda Charitable Hospital provides free medical service to the public, and in the Brahmapuri Colony, patients with leprosy are provided a home.

Swami Sivananda Ji himself was a doctor, and when we came here, all the lepers, they were sitting right from Rishikesh until Lakshman Jhula, begging. Holy Master told them, “You stop begging, I shall try to find a home.” You’ll find three leper colonies, one is Brahmapuri.

And it is a well-equipped leprosy hospital. Now, they got a weaving factory. From the solar light and a solar heating system they have got everything. They’re self-sufficient, like that, three colonies. And also, we have Sivananda Home, where destitutes from the street, they’re picked up and they’re looked after. And also we got a hospital here.

So all these treatments and medicines and everything is free of charge So we don’t charge anything, it is running all these 60 years upon voluntary donations. We never demand anything. If it comes, it’s all right, if it doesn’t come, we’re the monks, we sit under the tree and meditate.

At the ashram, the food is always vegetarian. In fact, the city of Rishikesh is officially vegetarian and alcohol-free, as well as having banned plastic bags from shops.

Because vegetarian diet is a condition to yoga, condition to health. So, our ancients who practiced severe austerity here, they had wonderful stamina and strength to practice severe austerities, standing up on one leg, living on the air – they knew the technique of absorbing energy from the cosmos.

That we have forgotten. So they lived always on fruits and herbs. They know the value of it, because if you live such a life, totally vegetarian, and conducive with the nature, then it’s not necessary for us to go to any doctor, it cuts down the doctor bill, you will be always healthy.

Many devotees from India as well as all parts of the world come to the Sivananda Ashram to immerse themselves in the peaceful atmosphere, visit the master’s mahasamadhi (resting place) and study his teachings.

He [Swami Sivananda] was an educated physician, and he knew how an old and ill patient feels. So it’s better to serve the patient in such a manner that as if you’re serving to God, because serving to humanity is serving to God. So we have come here to learn something for that also.

Swamiji spent his whole life behind serving the poor and the ills and all that, so this is the goal of my life, to serve whomever I can.

Now about 15 years I’m here, and I come here for prayer, for remembering my God. That is my guru, and his guru also, Swami Sivanandaji. And I am fully satisfied. I got peace of mind, and fulfilled my search.

Now, as we conclude the program, let’s listen to an excerpt of Swami Sivananda’s lecture, “Practical Ways to Self-Realization.”

Om, greetings to Divine master Sivananda

Practical ways to self-realization. Thou art the immortal Self. Thou art Divine. Live up to it. Feel and realize thy Divine nature. Thou art the master of your destiny. Do not be discouraged when sorrows, difficulties and tribulations manifest in the daily battle of life.

Draw up courage and spiritual strength from within. There is a vast inexhaustible magazine of power and knowledge within you. Learn the ways to tap the source. Dive deep within. Sink down. Plunge in the sacred waters of immortality – the holy Triveni within.

You will be quite refreshed, renovated and vivified when you go to the Divine Source and realize: I AM THE IMMORTAL SELF, OR ATMAN.

Om, greetings to Divine master Sivananda

Our respectful gratitude to His Holiness Swami Vimalananda and the Divine Life Society, for welcoming us at the Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh, India. May your noble service to truth seekers and those in need continue to be blessed.

For more information and books about the Divine Life Society, please visit

Thank you, blessed viewers, for joining us today on A Journey through Aesthetic Realms. Coming up next is Our Noble Lineage, here on Supreme Master Television. May your life be filled with remembrance of the Divine.