15. Swami Sivananda
(Darshan given on February 7th, 1996.)
Swamiji: Swami Sivanandaji came to Rishikesh in the year 1924. For twelve years he did intense tapas, or austerity, on the other side of Ganga. There was no Divine Life Society at that time. It was all a forest. No human beings were here at that time. Twelve years of intense tapas. He used to go to Lakshmanjhula side where he was alone and no people were there, and stand waist-deep in the cold water of the Ganga, facing east and praying to the powerful sun rising in the east. He would take three dips in the Ganga when he took his bath. Why did he take three dips? The first dip was for the salvation and blessedness of all those people who left this world, who have gone to the other world. Another dip he took for the blessedness and welfare of all people who are alive in this world. A third dip he took for his own spiritual salvation. So he took three dips.
In the early morning the first person he would see in his kutir was a sweeper, and he would place some flowers on the head of the sweeper. Every day he would do that. Multifaceted is God – multi-headed, multi-eyed, and so on. “One of the heads of this Infinite Being has come.” He would place a flower on his head. Then after that there will be sweeping of the kutir. Then he will go for his bath in the Ganga and take three dips, as I mentioned.
He will write from 3 o'clock in the morning till 8 o'clock in the morning in a notebook, with his own handwriting. After that, he will take a little breakfast. Then he will come to see people who are waiting to see him to have darshan. Some signatures he will put, as I did just now – some official correspondence, official papers, letters from people outside, queries, questions, and all that. He will attend to all these things. Then he will go back to his kutir.
He never changed his kutir. From beginning to end, he would stick to that only. The kutir in which he was staying does not belong to the Ashram, The Divine Life Society. It is a property of the other side of the Ganga, Swargashram, and people used to say, “Why are you living in a kutir belonging to someone else? You have got your own ashram. Why don't you come?” Swamiji replied, “No, I'm satisfied here because I can see Ganga from that little window in the kutir. I don't want any other kutir.” He would take a little lunch, and take rest, and about 3 o'clock in the afternoon again start writing. Then after one hour or one-and-a-half hours of writing, again he will come a second time to see people in a little office which is now the Post Office. That room in which the Post Office is located was the office of Swami Sivananda. There was no other room. Then in the evening he will go back and take a little fruit or milk, whatever it is.
Then in the night there will be satsang. That satsang was held on the veranda of the kutir. It was not roofed at that time. Now you see a roof. There was no such thing. It was open, perfectly open, and part of it was a tin shed. I was one of the people directly connected with holding satsanga. I am speaking about things so many years back, when I was about twenty-two years of age. I came to the Ashram when I was twenty-two years old. Now I am past seventy, so you can imagine how many years I stayed here continuously, without moving anywhere. Swami Sivanandaji used to say stickability is a good virtue, so we are stickable. We will not go anywhere in search of anything.
At 6 o'clock in the evening I will go to the kutir, spread the carpet, put the portrait of a divinity, light the lamp, give the books for study, and start the kirtan and bhajan. Then others come. There will be kirtan and bhajan, reading of the Srimad Bhagavata or any scripture, then chanting of the Vishnu Sahasranama Stotra, and each one will sing some mantra, some prayer, some kirtan. This will go on for about an hour and a half, or a little more. Then finally Swami Sivananda himself will conclude the satsanga with a prayer and a sankirtan. Then there will be an arati. There will be a little bit of prasad to all people. Then all disperse. By that time it was about 11 o'clock.
At 4 o'clock in the morning he will come and tap at my door: “Are you sleeping?” I would expect him every day. So he will bring a manuscript at about 4:00 or 4:30 in the morning, and he will say, “Please type it. It must be ready by 8 o'clock.” And after 8 o'clock he will bring another bunch of manuscripts.
And I was in charge of many departments in the Ashram: temple, office, membership, satsang, correspondence, and even writing articles, etc. Very tiring. I had to work for about fourteen hours a day, almost backbreaking. It was going on. Sometimes I used to feel fed up. The body will not tolerate the stress and strain of work, and I felt like running away from this place. Yet the power that be, whether it is Guru's power or God's power, kept us happy and healthy, and, I should say, very blessed. Thus we are here in this Ashram, blessed as we are under the umbrella of God Almighty and Swami Sivananda Maharaj. And everything is all right. All is well.