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The Stature of the Spirit of Swami Sivananda
by Swami Krishnananda

We deeply contemplate at this moment the great stature of the spirit of worshipful Sri Gurudev Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj. To me, the 'stature' of his spirit is the proper word to describe his true personality, his being, and his renunciate mastery over the spirit of God. Some of us who have lived with him physically had this experience of observing that he was, on the one hand, a renunciate par excellence, and on the other hand, one who was rooted in God and thought of nothing else.

He was a great combination, a great blending of apparent contradictions. The world and the spirit came together in his personality. He was a lover of all, but a friend of none. Such great souls are described in the scriptures as Mahakartas, Mahabhoktas, and Mahatyagis. Those who are stationed in the spirit of God are Mahakartas. They can do anything, incomprehensible though it be to the workaday human mind. Mahakartas can do anything in any manner they like, without adhering to the common norms of human conduct and thinking. They are also Mahabhoktas. They can enjoy anything, and there is no norm fixed for that. They are also Mahatyagis, and can renounce anything in utter abandonment; relinquishment of even the notion of belonging to anything is abandoned. We cannot conceive such persons in minds that are small, bound by rules and regulations of human stereotyped creations of what we call a Procrustean bed type of norm.

His meditations were his strength. That was everything. He maintained no connection with anybody in this Ashram, though he maintained an intimate connection with everybody and looked after all as his own children. But it took only a moment for him to renounce everybody and to consider that he had nothing to do with any person. His meditations, as he had told us personally on some occasions, were based on the great Vedic cosmological hymn known as the Purusha Sukta.

The first person that he would see in the morning was the karmachari who came to clean his room, and a few flowers would be placed on the head of this person with a mantra meaning, “One of the heads of the Cosmic Being has come.” Afterwards his attendant would come, and another flower would be placed with a mantra meaning, “Another head of the Cosmic Being has come.”

It is difficult for untrained minds to imagine that the heads of everyone are the heads of God only. All the eyes are His eyes; all the ears are His ears. These ears with which we are listening now are the ears of God. This mind with which we are able to think just now is the mind of God. These feet with which we have walked up to this place are the feet of God. These hands of ours are the hands of God. It is God that pulsates in our hearts, breathes through our lungs, speaks through our mouths, and understands through our intelligence.

We have heard all these things any number of times from the scriptures, and from saints and sages during discourses, but this will never enter the mind of any person. Hard-headed is the human being. Flint-like is the stiffness of the ego, the human nature. It does not permit the entry of any nobility or greatness that is external to itself. If there is anything great, the ego says, “I am great.” Everywhere this “I am” comes in. Because of that affirmation which is so very unfortunate, the great 'I' of the Absolute God does not enter us. Any amount of effort on the part of a frog or a mouse will not permit it to think like this, and if we are like frogs and mice, and are content to be what we appear to be to our own selves, then the true spirit of our stature of Being is not being followed.

We are told that there are three kinds of disciples. Even before the Guru speaks, the first type of disciple knows what the Guru is intending in his mind; the Guru's very existence, being and demeanour become an instruction. The second type of disciple is one who has to be told, “Do this.” If he is not told anything, he will not do anything. The third kind of disciple will not do anything even if he is told to do something. He will have his own way.

This is the attitude we develop towards God also. Even if instructions come that this has to be done, we shall not follow them because we believe that our way of living will continue for a long time, and we can easily be comfortable with all the mechanisms that we have created for prolonging our life and keeping ourselves happy.

There are some who follow the letter of the instruction: the Gita says, the Bible says, the Upanishad says. What does it matter what they say, when the import has not been comprehended properly?

Gurudev was a Godman, to mention briefly. Some call such great beings Mangods. All the gods are within them. Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa Deva was also called a Mangod. At times he could appear as a particular god, and at other times appear as another god. Sri Gurudev Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj used to say to us, “Do you know who I am? I can be Vishnu, and I can be Rudra, both. Lovingly I will take care of all of you, protect you, love you, and caress you as your father and mother. But I can be Rudra; I can turn you out, and I will not look at your face.” He could be highly creative like Brahma, protective like Vishnu, and dispassionate like Rudra.

Many years have passed since he became invisible to this world, and he is remembered more now than even when he was physically observable to mankind. His work seems to be getting more and more accelerated, much more than when he was physically available to us. The discarnate spirit of his universal presence seems to be operating in a more vigorous and expanded manner than the comparatively limited way that the work was going on earlier. You must have seen with your own eyes that there is expansion everywhere—expansion of the comprehension of the values of life, expansion of the very concept of human existence, and expansion of the reputation that this great Ashram has established in the eyes of the committee of nations.

There are liberated souls of various categories. There are those who have managed to maintain a relationship with the Ultimate Reality and with this world at the same time. They are discarnate Jivanmuktas—not incarnate ones, whom we generally call Jivanmukta Purushas. The connection that one can maintain with this world and with God simultaneously is the symptom of a Jivanmukta. This is generally believed to be the characteristic of a person who is physically alive. But there are others who can be discarnate and yet maintain this relationship between the higher and the lower.

There are seven stages of knowledge and Self-realisation. The first three stages are the stages of aspiration, spiritual effort and struggle in sadhana, to which category the people of the world may be said to belong. But there is a fourth stage where the spirit ascends above the world and attains a state called sattvapatti. Flashes of the light of God become the light of day for that perception. They do not see the world with sunlight, but with flashes of another sattva which is emanating from the higher realm. This flash illuminates their own vision as well as the world below, so they can see themselves clearly, as well as the Reality that flashes the light, and the world below. That is the condition where we can contact them directly, even in our meditations. They will descend into our hearts, into our workaday life, and operate by their very thought. Such great Masters are many who can act for us and work for us, and do things for us by the very thought of them. Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj has been operating in this way. We must consider that he is in Brahmaloka, the universal, interconnected, internally organised centre of the universe, which is illuminated by this light of God. Such were his contemplations.

This Purusha, the great mighty Being, is connected with this world, as well as not connected with this world. So are the great Masters. Having enveloped the whole world of perceptibility, they stand above it to a large extent, uncontaminated, untouched, unrelated in any manner whatsoever. Even to contemplate in this manner is to invoke them in their true spirit into our own hearts. The greatest service that one can do is to meditate on the values of life—that which controls the destiny of mankind and the power that operates through nature.

Hands and feet cannot do service adequately. True service arises from the thought of the mind. We are told that there were great Masters who came to this world whose names are not known to everybody. Their names do not appear in newspapers, or even in scriptures. Their names are not mentioned in books. They come and they go. But what do they do when they come? They think. They leave their thoughts, and then go. These thoughts that they leave are the protective forces of this world. They do not advertise themselves; they do not write books; they do not speak. No one can even see them. They are energies operating in the form of what we may call invisible incarnations of divinity.

There are others who work with hands and feet, and so on. What I mean is, there are great people of varieties of intensity of behaviour. Your thought is what you are. What you do with your physical limbs is not what you are. Do not say, “I have done so much. I have been serving so much.” This counts little in the eyes of the higher values of life. Tell me what you are thinking in your mind. The whole day, from morning to night, what have you been thinking? What are the ideas that arose in your mind? That is the service that you have done, not the running about here and there, and seeing and doing many things.

Such is the series of thoughts that occur to my mind at this moment when I recollect my association with the great Master, Gurudev Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj. I offer my humble obeisance to him, and request you to offer your obeisance to him in his great masterly stature of spirit.