Dawn of a New Vision

From the Autobiography of Swami Sivananda Saraswati

“Is there not a higher mission in life than the daily round of official duties, eating and drinking? Is there not any higher form of eternal happiness than these transitory and illusory pleasures? How uncertain is life here? How insecure is existence on this earth-plane, with various diseases, anxieties, worries, fear and disappointments! The world of names and forms is constantly changing. Time is fleeting. All hopes of happiness in this world terminate in pain, despair and sorrow.”

Such were the thoughts constantly rising in my mind. The doctor’s profession gave me ample evidence of the sufferings of this world. For a vairagi with a sympathetic heart, the world is full of pain. True and lasting happiness cannot be found merely in gathering wealth.

With the purification of heart through selfless service, I had a new vision. I was deeply convinced that there must be a place – a sweet home of pristine glory and purity and divine splendour – where absolute security, perfect peace and lasting happiness could be had through Self-realization.

I frequently remembered the sruti vakya: “Yadahareva virajet tadahareva pravrajet – The day on which one gets vairagya, one should renounce the world.” I constantly thought of: “Sravanartham sannyasam kuryat – On hearing the srutis, one should take sannyasa.” The words of scriptures have great value.

I reached India in search of an ideal centre for prayer and contemplation, study, and a higher form of service to the whole world. In 1923, I renounced a life of ease, comfort and money-making and took to the life of a mendicant, a true seeker of truth. I left my luggage in Malaysia with a friend. A school master in Malaysia who came to the ashram in 1939 told me: “Mr S. is still keeping all your articles intact, awaiting your return!”