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Spiritual Import of Religious Festivals

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Chapter 9: Saint – A Blend of Righteousness and Godliness


Message given on the 3rd of August, 1972, the Ninth Punyatithi-Aradhana of H.H. Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj.

The incarnations of God are supposed to come with a power of divinity, whereas the sages and saints are supposed to go with the power of divinity. As the one comes with Divine force, the other goes with that Divine force. This is why we lay much importance on the birthdays of Incarnations and the Mahasamadhi days of Siddhas and Masters. Such a holy occasion we observe every year on the Punyatithi Aradhana Mahotsava of revered Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj.

Divine grace gets gathered up gradually through the lives of such Masters, and they leave this world like shooting stars or blazing comets, with a trail of glories. It is this glory, the lustre of divinity which they enshrined in themselves, that keeps up the humble followers of these Masters in their spiritual pursuits. These Masters come with a commission from God, as it were, and they have their missions to fulfil in their lives. As lustre of light is spread around a luminous star, they keep spreading around themselves a lustre of this divine Power, to propound and proclaim which they descend into this world. Spiritual seekers who have the blessed opportunity of serving them and receiving from them the blessings in the form of knowledge, the grace of the Spirit, are in one sense their representatives, vital links in the chain of Guru-parampara, who keep flowing their spiritual message. Never will this world be in dearth of such great Messengers of Truth. They reveal themselves occasionally and withdraw themselves at other times, but this revelation and withdrawal are like the rising and setting of the sun. Whether the sun rises or sets, it makes no difference to the sun itself; for, the sun neither rises nor sets. To the eyes of the world, God's manifestations appear to come and go, exactly like the rising and setting of the sun. But these manifestations are neither present nor absent as they appear before our eyes in this physical world. The radiance of God is impossible to avoid in our day-to-day life. It is a perpetual presence, like the energy of the sun that vitalises the whole earth, whether the sun shines in the sky or has set. The earth receives the energy of the sun all throughout the twenty-four hours, irrespective of the difference between day and night. So is the energy of God, the grace of the Almighty, perpetually charging the whole creation with its various forms of manifestations. Sometimes we call them Avataras; sometimes we call them Saints, Sages and Masters; and sometimes Yogis or Siddhas. But, all this difference in the names is drawn only by us, in our own way, from our own point of view, and according to our perception of Reality.

Great personalities and geniuses of the Spirit have a double duty to perform – the negative and the positive. While one of their functions is to lessen and mitigate the evils in the world, to remove the darkness of ignorance by initiation into the Spirit, the other function of theirs is to reveal the greatness of God to the world. So our Master, Sadgurudev Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, was here before us not merely to dispel the darkness of ignorance of those who were eager to know God and tread the spiritual path, but also to proclaim the glory of God to the whole world. We are reformed not merely by the teachings of such great Masters, but also by their personal examples. They are themselves the embodiments of righteousness. Freedom from evils is their essential character. They have risen above sin and error, but at the same time, their personalities reveal Divinity. Goodness and Godliness are the two aspects of a saintly character. While goodness is a characteristic of freedom from error, evil and ignorance, Godliness is the positive aspect of it by which that which really Is, is revealed through them. While goodness and righteousness are the outcome of having arisen from that which is not, Godliness is the result of having entered into what actually Is. Attachment to what is not, is Samsara; and entering into what Is, is God-realisation. So, Samsara and God are the obverse and reverse of the coin of human experience. On one side, it is Aptakamatva, Akamatva and Kamahatatva, i.e., righteousness or Dharma is one aspect of saintly life; and on the other side, it is Isvaratva, i.e, Godliness, which is the concomitant factor, the invariably associated factor with this Dharma or righteousness of the saintly life. So, we may safely say that though these great men may appear to belong to our own group of mankind, i.e., seeing things as we see, speaking to us in our own language and understanding our human foibles for the sake of our benefit and spiritual growth, they really belong to what is called the Isvara Koti or the divine group. While Sadhakas belong to the Jiva Koti, Siddhas or Masters belong to the Isvara Koti.

Thus, a luminous star shot through the firmament of the spiritual world in the personality of Sadgurudev Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj. It rushed forth, shed its luminance for a while and rushed away, leaving, as I said, a trail of glories behind it. The luminosity of its presence has been maintaining its impact even till this day, not only in the hearts of all seekers and followers, but also in the whole world. His name is known almost everywhere today in the world of seekers. His writings, his messages, his dispassion and love of God, reverberate through the ears and feelings of all Sadhakas and seekers. Great would be the glory of that blessed seeker who would dedicate himself or herself for fulfilling the mission of this Master, by personal example, by ideal conduct in daily life, by manifestation in practical life that ideal for which the Master lived and which he taught. Following this ideal and living it is regarded as a real Guru Seva, service of the Master. The Guru expects a Sadhaka to become a Siddha and to realise God. The purpose of all teachings and the service performed, on one side by the Master and on the other side by the Sadhaka, is God-realisation. Detached, unselfish service combined with an unceasing flow of God­consciousness, is the spiritual message of Sadgurudev Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj. Pure in heart and divine in status, righteous in conduct and spiritual in aspiration, completely detached from the evanescent show of the world of sense-objects and wholly absorbed in that ardent longing and yearning for God – such is the nature of an ideal follower, disciple or devotee of Sadgurudev Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj.

May we make this an object of our meditation and contemplation. The spiritual message is here through his personal example as well as his precepts. May we endeavour to live it by absorbing it into our own nature, so that we become moving temples of God and mobile branches of the Divine Life Society in our own selves. May we embody in ourselves, through our personal lives and examples, this spiritual message of Sadgurudev. May we become inseparable, living embodiments of the Divine Life Society also, which is only an expanded form of the Master's own personality. The Divine Life Society and Swami Sivananda are inseparable, like the soul and body. The body is not, when the soul does not express itself; and the soul also does not express itself, except through the body. So, while belonging to the Divine Life Society as its members, we are simultaneously asserting our spiritual relationship with a Guru who never made a distinction between the soul within and the world without. For him, spiritual Sadhana and social service meant one and the same thing, because the world without is only an expression of the Self or the Atman within. The Supreme Isvara reveals Himself as the Atman on the one side and as the world on the other side – as the Pancha-Maha-Bhutas, the five great elements, from the objective point of view and as the Self from the subjective point of view. Hence, to lead a spiritual life is to entertain Isvara-Bhavana, God­consciousness. God should be enshrined in our hearts. This is the integral message, the all-comprehensive teaching of Sadgurudev Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj. Let this become not only an objective of our meditation daily, but also a living force to sustain us throughout our life. Let us not make a false distinction between the inner and the outer, between Sadhana and secular work, between the Atman and the world, between God and His creation. May we be in a position to take together these various phenomena which are manifestations of God Himself and may we be in a position to assert with confidence that great universal truth of the all-comprehensiveness of God, without a distinction of a within or a without, without the distinction of the Jnana and Karma, knowledge and activity, as taught in the great Purusha Sukta of the Veda which says, "Purusha evedam sarvam, yadbhutam yaccha bhavyam": All this is the Purusha – the past, the present and the future. To serve Him is to love Him; to love Him is to meditate on Him; to meditate on Him is to know Him; and to know Him is to realise Him. All means one and the same thing. 'Sadhana' is thus a very comprehensive term. To lead a life of the Spirit is to enshrine God in creation, which is our goal.