Spiritual Import of Religious Festivals
by Swami Krishnananda

About Swami Krishnananda

Swami Krishnananda was born on the 25th of April, 1922 into a highly religious and orthodox Brahmin family, and was given the name Subbaraya. At an early age, he had become very well-versed in the Sanskrit language and its sacred texts. Through the study of scriptures such as the Bhagavadgita and the Upanishads, he was drawn more and more to the Advaita philosophy of Sri Shankaracharya.

The longing for seclusion and the unknown call from the Master pulled him to Rishikesh, where he arrived in the summer of 1944. When he met Swami Sivananda and fell prostrate before him, the saint said, "Stay here till death; I will make kings and ministers fall at your feet." The young man wondered how this could ever be possible, but the prediction would eventually prove true. Swami Sivananda initiated the young Subbaraya into Sannyasa on the sacred day of Makara Sankranti, the 14th of January, 1946, and gave him the name Swami Krishnananda.

Gurudev Swami Sivananda found that the young disciple, Swami Krishnananda, as well-suited to general writing tasks, the compiling and editing of books, and other sorts of literary work. In the beginning Swami Krishnananda confined himself mostly to his work and study and did not have much contact with visitors, so that many visitors to the Ashram did not know of his existence. Eventually Gurudev asked him to do more serious scholarly work. His first book, The Realisation of the Absolute, was written in a matter of weeks when he was still only a young man in his early twenties.

Swami Sivananda nominated him as General Secretary of the Divine Life Society in 1959, and which position he held until his resignation in 2001 due to poor health. Swami Krishnananda handled this demanding position with great skill, and at the same time was able to serve as a teacher and guide to the thousands of people who came to him over the course of many years. He was a master of the scriptures, and he gave inspired lectures in the Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy as well as extensive talks in the Ashram itself. Swamiji is the author of over forty works, and these books cover a wide variety of subjects – primarily in the areas of Sadhana, philosophy and yoga. Only a genius of the highest calibre would be able to accomplish this intellectual feat, given the enormous volume of work which came to him as General Secretary of a large institution.

Swamiji was a rare blend of Karma yoga and Jnana yoga and a living example of the teachings of the Gita. He was a master of practically every system of Indian thought and Western philosophy. "Many Sankaras are rolled into one Krishnananda," Swami Sivananda would say of him. Swamiji continued his service to the Ashram for forty years as it grew from a relatively small organisation into a spiritual institution widely known and respected throughout the world. Despite failing health in his later years, he continued to devote himself to Ashram administration and to providing spiritual guidance to the many devotees who flocked to him. Swami Krishnananda attained Mahasamadhi on the 23rd of November, 2001.