(Spoken on Swami Sivananda's birthday on September 8th, 1993)
This is the blessed day of the advent of worshipful Gurudev Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, whom we remember and worship. Magnanimous and superb in his personality, Sri Gurudev strode this Earth as a veritable colossus of spirit, awakening mankind to the consciousness of the higher values of life. Without physically moving out of this country he actually stirred the minds of everyone into an awareness of something above the visible phenomena of life. When Sri Gurudev came to this world, the materialistic values of life were tending to gain an upper hand. There was an industrial revolution and a progress of the sciences, technologies, and arts that moved in the direction of greater and greater facility and comfort, so human existence was in, as it may be philosophically called, an outwardly motivated movement of consciousness.
But where does the truth of life lie? Is it outwardly present before our eyes, or is it inside us? This question, which places values which are of a permanent nature as either outside us or inside us, does not seem to have been answered properly, and even today we are trying to discover the location of the higher values of life. Are they outside us, or are they inside us? If the inside is not outside, that would mean that the outside is not inside. Therefore, we would be creating a parochial circumstance of the location of the values of life if any one of us regards the most worthwhile values of life as physical existences located somewhere as a part of physical phenomena outside, or perhaps a content of psychological phenomena within us.
Gurudev Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj brought about a revolution, I should say, or a transvaluation of values to place the values of life in their proper context. Wherever we are, there the values also are. We cannot be somewhere and our values be somewhere else. It is like a wealthy man staying somewhere and keeping his wealth somewhere else, over which he has no control or any say whatsoever, or it is something like keeping our life on the top of a tree and ourselves living somewhere else on another tree. The values of life are inseparable from our own existence. How can we say that our existence is outside us or inside us? Where are you sitting? Are you sitting outside yourself? Are you sitting inside yourself? You will be wondering what sort of question this is. How can you be outside yourself? How can you be inside yourself? Then where are you? This is a deep question which everyone has to answer from within one's own self. A question of this kind was raised by the intelligent lad Nachiketas before the god of death, Yama. A question of this kind was raised, and it was not considered proper by Yama to abruptly give an answer to this question. “What happens to the soul?” was the question. It is another way of asking, “Where are you sitting? Where are you?”
I have put the whole problem in a homely way by raising a question: Are you outside yourself or are you inside yourself? Neither is the position. It is another thing altogether. You are just where you are. Where are you, then? Not inside, not outside. Yamaraj said, “Don't ask questions of this kind. Take the whole world for your satisfaction; have the longest life. Take all the desires available in heaven and don't bother me with this question. Please go from here. Now you want to shackle me by asking that question.”
Gurudev Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj knew this problem. He was not illiterate in spiritual wisdom, and he lived a life which was actually a demonstration of what he taught. It is not the occasion for me to speak a lot on what Gurudev was. Some of you have seen him personally, physically, and some of you who have not been able to see him personally have heard of him adequately, studied his books and absorbed the method of his teachings, and you would not be here in this sacred hall today but for the fact of his attraction that was exerted upon all of you by the magnitude of his spiritual presence. Thus is the great grandeur of Gurudev Worshipful Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, whom we place in our hearts sincerely with a fire which rises from the recesses of our being.