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A Messenger of Peace and Wisdom
A Souvenir released on Swami Krishnananda's 75th Birthday


A Living Gita in Sivananda Ashram

by Viveka Lundstrom Mataji

In a mysterious manner I came under the spiritual influence of the Great Satguru Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj. It happened in San Francisco in 1991. I was invited by a friend of mine to attend a Puja being conducted by a Swami from the Sivananda Ashram of Rishikesh at Wesley Zineski's house in San Francisco. The Puja was in progress and the Swami, Sri Karthikeyan, had just finished Abhisheka to the Holy Sandals (Padukas) of Swami Sivanandaji and he handed over one of the Padukas to me to wash and dry. As I received the Paduka, a strange and powerful spiritual current permeated me from head to foot. I was transported to a different realm of Consciousness. This was my first 'encounter' with the Great Master, and I was struck by his radiance, compassionate Sakti, a gentle yet firm and powerful magnificence. Thus I had his Darshan in the form of the Paduka Puja which fulfils the aspirations of everyone's heart without fail. Since then there had been a great transformation in my life.

After the Puja, Swami Karthikeyan talked about his Satguru Swami Sivananda and the Sivananda Ashram, the activities there and the great Saintly souls who continue the tradition of the Master. He also extended an open invitation to visit the Ashram for anyone who wishes to experience the Ashram life, on the banks of the holy Ganga in the Himalayas. This inspired me and I decided to visit the Rishikesh Ashram.

I travelled with Wesley Zineski to Rishikesh, and arrived in the Ashram in time for the sacred Navaratri and the Skanda Shashthi Celebrations. The spiritual atmosphere generated during these Celebrations by the ceremonial Pujas, chantings and the presence of the President Swamiji Maharaj and Swami Krishnanandaji Maharaj is something to be experienced for oneself.

The morning meditation session of the Ashram graced by the President Swamiji Maharaj is a beautiful, precious light to kindle in the early mornings. And Swami Brahmanandaji's warm presence and teachings of the Scriptures are an unsurpassed and indispensable diet for the soul which I truly treasure.

But the crowning glory of the Ashram is to be found in the precious presence of revered Swami Krishnanandaji Maharaj, who is easily available for "Darshan" for everyone, without any distinction, in the forenoon of each day and the hour-long period of silent meditation, every afternoon. It is amazing to watch Swamiji attend to various persons and businesses at the same time and with such swiftness that one wonders what is the secret of his powers. Perhaps it is the Cosmic Consciousness in which he is established all the time! Often he says: "Nothing is and can be outside the Virat or the Cosmic Being." And what we hear during the 'Darshan' time in the forenoon, is experienced during the period of silent meditation in the afternoon when, in the meditative presence of Swamiji, everyone present there is lifted above their little individualities to the fringe of an all-inclusive Cosmic Awareness, at least for the time being. I have never experienced such meditations before. Swamiji's presence in daily meditations and Darshans is an unending source of inspiration and instruction on practising the living of the Life Divine. In these sessions with Swamiji, like the Ganga Herself, we are swiftly moved by Swamiji's spiritual currents to the final goal of beatitude and God-realisation, found in an all-inclusive Divinity.

Swami Krishnanandaji Maharaj is an invaluable asset to The Divine Life Society and the Sivananda Ashram. I have read the life of Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj and also the Bhagavad Gita. I feel that the Supreme Spirit Itself has bestowed the greatest of Blessings upon us in the personality of Swami Krishnanandaji – a living Gita in Sivananda Ashram. The great Being of Gurudev Sivananda is seen working through Swami Krishnananda in many a respect – his punctuality; his promptness in the disposal of problems, both mundane as well as spiritual; his clarity of understanding; his easy accessibility to one and all without distinction; his mother – like soft heart and concern for everyone's welfare; and above all, a total freedom from any kind of malice towards anyone, even those who try to offend him, belittle him, etc. I find in him a true and living example of the qualities of a Jnani and Bhakta given in the Gita, like: Sarva bhuta hite ratah – interested in the welfare of every being; Adveshta sarva bhutanam maitrah.... – friendly and compassionate to all and hating none; and Abhayam sarva bhutebyah, fearlessness to all beings. I have not the least doubt that Gurudev Sivananda would be proud of this disciple of his, who has maintained his spirit of renunciation and also an undivided dedication to the Master's Mission, till this date. I am endlessly grateful to the Holy Master, who has brought me into personal contact with such a living Saint, through the visit to the West by another of the Master's worthy and dedicated disciple, Swami Karthikeyan. And it is my sincere and heartfelt prayer to Gurudev that he may keep Swami Krishnanandaji Maharaj in good health and well-being that he may continue to guide us for many more years to come.