Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Patience and Waiting, in Exerting Growth and Resolving Contradictions

As a teacher of tireless effort and vision, Swami Vishnudevananda founded and led the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre for many years. Coming from a humble rural background, Swami Vishnudevananda studied in his early years under Swami Sivananda Saraswati, described in The Great Vision (1995) as “a living saint in action.”

Swami Sivananda Saraswati advocated looking inward to find resolutions to seemingly intractable problems. Swami Vishnudevananda once asked his master what he should do should he find himself in a situation where his duty to the ashram comes into conflict with obedience to the Guru. Swami Sivananda Saraswati counseled that being obedient to the Guru takes precedence.

Swami Vishnudevananda then asked what would happen if the duty were not fulfilled properly. In this case, said his master, it is adharma, or unethical. He went on to say that if a contradiction between dharma, or duty, and obedience to the Guru arises, then the best approach is to “pray and wait.”

This ties into the internal nature of many profound decisions, as well as pathways toward resolution. In another instance, Swami Vishnudevananda expressed a desire to change by traveling to Uttarkashi and learn advanced hatha yoga kriyas. His master questioned this choice, however, opining that changing the mind and the mental attitude was all that was necessary to achieve necessary growth.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Swami Vishnudevananda’s Yearlong Spiritual Mission

Swami Vishnudevananda was a spiritual leader who taught and practiced in the classical yoga tradition, spreading his message of peace and unity worldwide through the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre. In 1950, having trained with Swami Sivananda Saraswati, Swami Vishnudevananda toured the breadth of Northern India as a wandering monk.

The rules of this yearlong quest were very strict. He was not allowed to use money and had to beg for meals when hunger struck. Despite this hardship, as he recounted in the book The Great Vision (1995), he never truly fell into despair.

One memorable experience involved traveling through the snow, deep into the Himalayas to Badrinath, which lay 16,000 feet above sea level. Walking barefoot 15 to 20 miles each day, he experienced acute hunger and encountered villages so poor that no one had food to spare for him. But after spending a night under a tree without eating, tired and dispirited, he met a pilgrim who shared a small amount of food from his 30-day supply.

With renewed life and vigor, Swami Vishnudevananda went to a river to wash off and make an offering to God before partaking of the dried beet. At that moment, his clothing caught on a branch and the food fell into the water and was gone. Despite intense suffering, he had no choice but to press on.

As he traveled to his next destination, he came across an old swami who provided him with a meal and gave him the wise advice that he could not continue wholly on his own. From that day on, he had a supportive companion on his spiritual endeavor. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

What Is Prana? The Science of Vitality

Karma Yoga – The Path of Action That Leads to Meditation

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