Surya Namaskara

Swami Sivananda Saraswati

Amalsad is a beautiful place. It is neither a city nor a village. There is only one cinema house here, even that would find lesser and lesser cinema-goers from today, for today you have practically experienced the glory of sankirtan.

Civilization has not contaminated this town. It is, therefore, pure. The people are simple and noble. Fashion, cunningness, crookedness and other symbols of modern civilization have not touched them. It is a very healthy place because sanitation is ingrained in the people.

You should all strive to maintain good health. Good health is very, very necessary for spiritual and material progress. Surya namaskara is a unique system. All that is good has been combined in surya namaskara. The genius of the sages has evolved this perfect synthesis of culture of body, mind and soul – surya namaskara. The sage had intuitive insight into the nature of the mass mind. He therefore cleverly wove into every man’s daily routine this unparalleled system of all-round self-culture. Along with faith in the religion of the ancient seer, the system of culture evolved by him has also been forgotten by the modern civilized man. You should revive this faith. It is the need of the hour. From today, be regular in the practice of surya namaskara.

Physical culture

A harmonious development of the body, mind and soul alone can enable you to fulfil the glorious role for which you have taken this birth here; you can attain self-realization. A sickly body acts as a dead weight preventing the mind from soaring high into the divine realm. An excellent, well-built body, strong and healthy, if it serves only to house an undeveloped or diseased mind, is capable of much harm and little good to anyone. A good body and a keen mind, with the soul entirely dormant, is likely a lovely mansion without foundation; it is bound to topple over any moment. A perfectly harmonious development of the body, mind and soul makes one a sage, a seer, a saint and a godman. Surya namaskara achieves this harmonious development.

As a system of physical culture it is beyond comparison. It is a combination of vigorous physical exercise, yoga asanas, pranayama and sunbathing. One round of surya namaskara done in the open air facing the sun would do you more good than hours at a gymnasium. The external muscles and the internal viscera are nicely exercised. The lungs are made to work rhythmically and fully. At the same time, the sun’s life-giving rays play on your body, sucking away the toxins along with perspiration, invigorating circulation, and imparting life to the human organism – the life that only the sun can give you.

The influence of the sun

The sun is the presiding deity of the eyes. Practising surya namaskara facing the rising sun strengthens the eyes, removes all sorts of eye defects, and you enjoy good eyesight even in old age. There is some peculiar affinity between the sun and the eyes that the scientist cannot discover in his laboratory or by vivisection. It is known to (and seen by) only the rishis who possess the eye of intuition. Then you will enjoy the incalculable benefits of their wisdom which no amount of vain argumentation will bestow on you.

Facing the morning sun, you are witnessing the daily miracle of God’s creation. Night follows day and day follows night. The sun rises to dispel the darkness that enveloped the earth; all people rise with Him and feel thankful that God has granted them yet another day of health and strength to serve Him and His children. The mind is at once elevated to the realm of the divine. What a glorious example the sun sets before us! He shines equally upon all. He is unaffected and unattached to any thing. He is regular and systematic. He does the Lord’s will unquestioningly and with perfect self-surrender. As you perform surya namaskara, meditate on these sublime ideas. Pray to the sun to illumine your intellect and enable you to lead the divine life.

Before you commence the practice, recite the Surya Dhyana and the upanishadic prayer to the sun. Before doing each namaskara, recite the names of the Sun and, while you do the namaskara, repeat Om or your ishta mantra. This is very important. This provides the foundation for the magnificent edifice of surya namaskara. This is the culture of the soul. Pray to the sun: ‘O Lord! Kindly illumine my intellect. Remove the ignorance that veils the true nature of myself. Let me behold my own self.” The Lord who indwells the sun will listen to your prayer. Your prayer will be answered. You will realize that just as there is not a pinpoint of darkness in the sun which is Absolute Light and Light alone, so also the self is Absolute Knowledge, Absolute Truth, Absolute Bliss, Perfection, Immortality, Infinity. So, kindly be regular in the practice of surya namaskara from today.

From Sivananda’s Lectures, During All-India and Ceylon Tour – 1950, chronicler Swami Venkatesananda, Address given on 30th October 1950, in Amalsad, Gujarat)