Autobiography of Swami Sivananda by Swami Sivananda

By Swami Sivananda

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I trained the aspirants in a variety of ways. They all specialised in chanting the Mantras of the scriptures, conducting Kirtans, delivering short lectures. I asked one student to put questions and others to answer them. In the evening class, I introduced Likhita-Japa and in the early morning, Trataka and other Yoga exercises. During the day, they should all prepare essays on Yoga and philosophy and write about their own experiences. Even today when school boys and young children come to the Ashram, I teach them a few short sentences in English and ask them to deliver a powerful lecture.

This kind of selfless service gave me purification of heart and mind, and led me to the spiritual path. In my youth I had a great liking for high class dress, collection of curious and fancy articles of gold, silver and sandalwood. Sometimes I used to purchase various kinds of gold rings and necklaces and wear them all at a time. When I entered shops, I never used to waste any time in selection. I gathered all that I saw. I did not like haggling and bargaining. I paid the shopkeepers’ bills without any scrutiny.

I started the work with a dozen students. In a short period, a large number of devotees came to me during holidays from Delhi, Madras, Calcutta and other cities in India. Then I introduced a Collective Sadhana—a special programme with the important items of Sadhana—a kind of Spiritual Conference on the practical side of Yoga. This took the shape of Sadhana Weeks during Easter and Christmas holidays. And now this has become a regular feature during the last twenty years. Various Branches of the Divine Life Society in India organised similar Conferences with the routine of the Sadhana Week at the Ashram.

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