Sanatana Dharma and Yoga

Swami Sivananda Saraswati. Lecture at Birla Mandir, Delhi (Extracts)

At 7.30 am the Meerut Express reached the New Delhi railway station. The Tourist Car was then received at the famous President's Platform by special arrangement. The Secretary of the Birla Temple took Siva in his own car direct to the Birla Mandir.

After giving darshan to the devotees assembled in the hall just beneath the flat which Siva was occupying, Siva went to the pandal erected opposite the Mandir for the public reception. After prayer Siva was introduced to the audience. Then Siva spoke as follows:

"I rejoice heartily because I am in the midst of members of the Sanatana Dharma Sabha, because I am amidst men of great learning and wisdom.

Sanatana dharma and God are one. Bhagavan is an embodiment of dharma. The world is upheld by dharma. The sun, the moon, the stars are kept in their places by dharma.

Dharma has various connotations. There are those codes of conduct which apply only to certain yugas or periods of time. There are others which apply to certain countries; other countries have their own codes of conduct. There are others which are universal. Yamas and niyamas are universal. They are unaffected bydesa, place, and kala, time. Sanatana dharma is eternal dharma. It is based on the Vedas. The principles of sanatana dharma apply to all people of all times. It represents the fundamental code of righteousness.

The West, too, has taken to yoga

The West is generally considered the home of materialism. But today even in European nations and in America you find thousands practising yoga. Hundreds of Americans and Europeans write to me regularly. They are all sincere, diligent and vigilant sadhakas. Go to Sweden; go to Stockholm. How many ladies are practising yoga asanas! How many people are repeating Om Namah Shivaya! In Latvia several groups of men and women have formed Branches of the Divine Life Society and sing the Dwadasakshara Mantra of Lord Krishna, Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya, side by side with the worship of Lord Jesus.

Besides, in the West there are orders of monks and nuns who practise intense austerities. But India, the home of spirituality, the only country where God-realization has always been regarded as the goal of man, is being invaded today by various godless 'isms': Men and women in India are falling victim to the allurements of maya, of materialism. This is indeed a sad state of affairs. This Sanatana Dharma Sabha and other spiritual organizations are rendering inestimable service to humanity by spreading the gospel of dharma among the people of this country and of the world at large."

The function came to a close at 11 pm and Siva retired for the day.

—4 November 1950, Delhi, From Sivananda's Lectures, during All-India and Ceylon Tour – 1950, Chronicler Swami Venkatesananda