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Swami Sivananda was Unique
by Swami Krishnananda

(Spoken to a group of guests and visitors on January 16th, 1999.)

There is some power in this ashram, there is some power. It cannot be seen with the eyes. It is like the wind, the air that blows here. You cannot see it. But the air that is moving here is a little different from the air that moves in Delhi. It is not the same. Great masters, great sages lived here. That is why people flock to this place – Rishikesh, Rishikesh. People can go to Hollywood. Why should they come to Rishikesh? But they are attracted to this little mofussil area called Rishikesh, and hundreds and hundreds of people write to us that they want to come and stay here for a few days.

There is a solacing and constructive power operating through the atmosphere itself here because of the great masters who lived here. Vasishtha, the great sage, Vyasa, Sukadeva Maharishi – all the great masters of yore, you can’t even remember them – they have all trod this sand. This locality is called Muni-ki-reti. Muni means sage, reti is the sand which these great masters trod. All the sands here, all the particles are holy. They walked on this earth, on this sand.

I went to Dvarka once. Even before entering Dvarka city I felt: “Oh, I am entering the glorious surface of the earth which was trodden by the feet of Lord Krishna!” The very particles of sand on the seashore were the foundational ground on which Krishna built his palace. I expected to see something wonderful there, but people were so callous. There was no indication of any devotion by people to that great master who lived there. I went to Kurukshetra. I thought there must be a great statue of Lord Krishna, but there was nothing. Only sand was there, dirt. People are so callous.

I wrote a diary of my tour to these places. I was feeling happy inside that I am walking on the very sands which were once trodden by Krishna. They are all vibrating with his power. Likewise, this Muni-ki-reti here, great masters trod this earth; otherwise, why is this Rishikesh so famous? Commissioners come, judges come, ministers come, presidents come – everybody comes here. What is the importance of this Rishikesh?

Two presidents of India came here. One was Rajendra Prasad; the other was Dr. Radhakrishnan. Radhakrishnan came twice – once as Vice President, and as President the other time. So many ministers have come, so many officials. When they come and sit with us, they become different persons. They do not behave or speak in the way they would do in their office or in their jurisdiction. That is what I am saying. There is a power in this place. It will do you good also.

What else can I tell you? You are sitting here in this universe. Don’t say you are coming from Delhi, and all that. You are coming from the universe. What do you feel at that time? The energy of the whole cosmos is pumped into you. You will walk on the road like a colossus: “I am not a judge or anything. I represent the whole universe as I am walking. With the weight of the whole cosmos I am walking on the road.” Feel like that. Then sympathetic vibrations will flow into you from the world at large.

Swami Sivananda was a unique person, and we are all unique disciples. We lived with him; we rubbed shoulders with him, I should say. Mighty stalwart was Swami Sivananda. His teaching was his being, his message was his gesture. He did not give lectures. If any one of us would go there, “Please instruct us, speak to us,” he will say, “What are you asking me? You see what I am doing from morning till evening. See what I am doing. That is my lecture to you.”

Very large-hearted person, very compassionate he was. Always he will give. He will not take anything. Anything you offer, he will distribute: give, give, give, give, give. Humorously, local people used to say: “It is not Sivananda, it is Givananda.” Give, give, give, give, give. His only one teaching is give, give, give, give. The more you give, the more you will receive. This philosophy must be borne in mind. In giving, we don’t lose anything, though people think that they are going to lose certain things: “If I give something, part of my property goes away.” No, it is not like that. Part of the selfishness goes away, really. It’s not money that goes, because the possession is part of the selfishness of the individual, so when you give something, a little bit of the selfishness goes. Then immediately it is filled in by the cosmic powers, so blessing comes.

Give, give, give. If anybody brings some baskets of fruits to him, he will give to everybody – distribute, distribute. He was a genius. Utter renunciation – he does not want anything. He had no house to stay in also. Though the Ashram is so big and he could have stayed in any of the buildings, but he did not want to occupy any building here. He wanted to stay in a small, cave-like room on the bank of the Ganga, which they call Gurudev’s Kutir nowadays. There is no sunlight also, and there is no proper fresh air entering. Only he can see Ganga, that’s all. He said, “I want to see Ganga only, Ganga.” “I will go to Ganga only,” he will say. Want nothing, but give everything. This is like God Himself. God will not expect anything from anybody, but He will give everything.

With such a great master we lived long, long years. He passed away in 1963, leaving a vacuum in the Ashram because a person of his stature is difficult to find. You cannot find a person like him easily anywhere. There are so many ashrams – everywhere ashrams, ashrams – but they will not give anything. They will only receive offerings from devotees. They will not give anything.

The universe is not poor at any time. It is highly resourceful. Its treasures will never get exhausted. Give, and it shall be given back to you. Whatever you give will come back to you a hundredfold because you give with two hands, but when God gives He will give with millions of hands. You will have no place to keep the gifts that you have got. God does not want any prasad from you. He wants you only. When you give yourself wholly, He will offer Himself wholly to you. This is the simple psychology of God. You have to offer yourself wholly, and He will come to you wholly. This is the mysterious secret of divine dispensation, quite different from man-made rule.

He has also got His own government. So many gods are there, like officials, managing His departments of function in the world, but He can dismantle the parliament in one second if He wants, and take up the rein in His own hand if the necessity arises to protect you. He may send some messenger to protect you, but in some cases He may Himself come and do the work.

There is a story in the Srimad Bhagavata Purana. There is a passage called Gajendra Moksha. An elephant which was born as such by the curse of some sage in the previous birth was caught by an alligator, a crocodile. It had the memory of the previous birth. That elephant was a king in the previous birth. When a sage was passing by that way, this king did not do namaskar. That sage got angry. “You are like a mum elephant sitting. You become an elephant,” he said. And he was born as an elephant afterwards. But this king had the memory of what he was, and he cried when the crocodile was holding his leg in a reservoir. These elephants went in a herd to drink water, and then one of the elephants, the main one, this leader, was caught by an alligator; however much he tried, it won’t come out because the crocodiles in water are very powerful. Outside they are not powerful. Inside the water they are powerful. So he cried, and Narayana ran to him. It’s mentioned in the Srimad Bhagavata Purana. He didn’t bring his weapon and all that, no attendants with him, no Sudarshan Chakra, nothing. Simply he ran.

Birbal told this story to King Akbar: “God Himself came.” Then, when Birbal was saying this, Akbar pooh-poohed the whole story. “What kind of God you have got? For a little thing He Himself runs. If somebody wants protection, will the President of India run to take care of him? He has got attendants, officers, and so many people and paraphernalia, and what kind of God you have got? For a silly thing He runs like this, forgetting Himself also. His upper cloth fell down, they say, with such force He came. What kind of God Hindus have got?” he said.

Then Birbal said, “I will tell you after some days what it is.”

Akbar had a great fondness for his little child. He entrusted the child to Birbal to take care of it and take it for walking on the lawn, and everywhere. One day, Birbal wanted to teach a lesson to Akbar for having talked so blasphemously about Hindu gods. At dusk, when things are not visible properly, Akbar was sitting in his palatial seat, and at a little distance Birbal was moving about with Akbar’s little child, and nearby there was a well also. Birbal cried out, “Oh, Your Highness, your child has fallen into the well!” Akbar ran. “No, no, no. You bring your attendants. Why are you running yourself? You have got so many people, police are there, anybody can dive into the well and bring him. Why are you running?”

“Hey, don’t talk to me! It is my child!” he said.

“This is the answer. I have not thrown your son down. Only an image I have made. Your son is safe. But see how you have got so much love. You have got so much paraphernalia, army and all that, but ‘I myself will go’. Why did you do that? This is the answer to your doubt.” He Himself comes. Great mystery. God is a mystery. The more you speak about Him, the less you will understand what it is.