Living Swami Sivananda’s Teachings

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

The month of September is dedicated to our paramguru Swami Sivanandaji for he represents the ideal nature and ideal personality which can help us overcome the limitations of life and attain transcendence.

In the sannyasa tradition there have been many luminaries who have come through the ages to tell us, “Transcend your limitations, overcome your negativities, connect with the good, the positive and the divine.” This has been the main focus of all the teachings of sages and saints throughout history. Though they may have shown different paths and given different thoughts according to the need of the people and the times, the goal and the aim has always remained the same.

In this lineage of illuminated beings, three persons hold special significance and importance for us: Adi Guru Shankaracharya, who is the inspiration of the sannyasa tradition, Swami Sivananda, our grandfather, and Swami Satyananda, our father. We have direct connections with Swami Sivananda and Swami Satyananda, and it is their teachings that we follow.

The war within

The birthday or the incarnation day of our paramguru Swami Sivanandaji falls on 8th September and we dedicate this month to live his teachings, to live and apply the guidance he has given. What has been his guidance? What has been his direction – to overcome the negatives and to connect with the positives. There is a continuous war between the negative and the positive, the bad and the good, and this conflict, this war happens within everyone. Since the negatives are many, we fail to see the few positives, however if we try to understand this in a specific manner then something may become clear.

You have heard of the Mahabharata war, the war between the Pandavas and Kauravas which was instigated by Sri Krishna. The Kauravas are the one hundred brothers and they represent all the negatives of life. When they appear in our life, we lose our own balance, harmony and peace. The Pandavas are five and they had to struggle to maintain their connection with positivity and to maintain their harmony and balance. The Pandavas are guided by the teachings of Sri Krishna, the Kauravas are not guided by the teachings of Sri Krishna. The negatives are not guided by the teachings of God, only the positives are guided by the teachings of God for they make us positive and help us overcome the negative.

If the Kauravas represent the negatives, which are many, and the Pandavas represent the positives connected to the divine, what are the five within us that can connect with the divine? Our senses, manas, buddhi, chitta and ahamkara. These five are like the Pandavas which are guided by Sri Krishna, the inner spirit, to maintain positivity in life. If these five Pandavas of our life – the senses, mind, intellect, chitta and ego – stay connected with the source of divinity in spirit, we are able to confront all challenges in life and emerge victorious.

To remain connected to positivity of the inner spirit, Swami Sivanandaji has said, “Live pratipaksha bhavana and change the negative into positive.” It is not a small effort, it is a huge effort as negatives are hundreds and positives are few. Just imagine five people fighting against a multitude of negatives. The conflict is hard and difficult, five fighting against many, however these five derive their strength from Krishna, the inner spirit. As long as these five remain connected to that inner spirit, the atma, they will always emerge victorious in the war with the negatives.

The way to remain connected with the positive and with the inner source is through the practice of pratipaksha bhavana the continuous and constant effort to change the negative into positive. Once the negative changes into positive, one becomes good and one does good, which is the instruction of Swami Sivanandaji, “Be good and do good.”

Sankalpa for September

This is a simple thing, however we have to make a constant effort to live it, practise and apply it. That is the sadhana we should undertake this month to honour Swami Sivanandaji, his descent into our midst and the teaching that he has given to all so freely. Let us start with this and for the limited mind to follow the direction of the divine, there has to be conviction, faith and will. People can have faith and conviction, however they lack will.

Everybody has gone through that and everybody has experienced it: you can have faith, you can have conviction but no will. It is the will that has to be developed and generated, that has to be our effort this month – Become aware of the Kauravas and the Pandavas, the conflict between them in your own life, and try to connect these five Pandavas with Krishna who is your inner spirit. Derive strength from the inner spirit to manage the senses, mind, intellect, memory, impressions and the expressions of ego.

Just as October is the month of happiness, September has to become the month of living the teachings of our paramguru, moment-to-moment, hour-to-hour, day-to-day. The choice is yours. Take the sankalpa to live the teachings of Swami Sivananda this month, one hundred and eight percent.

4 September 2020, Ganga Darshan, Munger, India