Swami's Lineage - his gurus and teachers
Swami Sivananda Saraswati (1887-1963) is a modern-day saint of India, renowned as an influential teacher of yoga and spirituality. He was author of over 300 books and founder of the Yoga Vedanta Forest Academy and the Divine Life Society in Rishikesh. He popularized yoga as the ‘yoga of synthesis’, effecting harmonious development of the ‘hand’, ‘head’ and ‘heart’ through the practice of Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Raja Yoga and Bhakti Yoga.
From his early years as a doctor his life always centered on serving others: “Every type of work that served to heal and relieve human suffering filled me with great joy.” For him, service was “love in expression”. His work as a doctor was ultimately unfulfilling though, as he noted that his patients were suffering from something more fundamental than what he had been equipped to aid with. This, along with a deep knowing that there was something more profound at work in this life, and that it was possible to transcend this suffering, led him to a deeper commitment, and to Rishikesh.
Swami Sivananda wrote all of his books in English because it enabled him to reach the largest audience around the world. He also maintained regular correspondence with thousands of his yoga students worldwide, who turned to him seeking answers and advice.
He lives on in his books and in all whom he has touched, both directly and indirectly (many of his disciples have also become great saints in their own right). Service and love were the weapons he used to conquer the hearts of mankind. Swami Sivananda did not found a new religion, nor did he develop any new rules of ethics and morality. Instead, he helped the Hindu become a better Hindu, the Christian a better Christian, the Muslim a better Muslim. There was an enduring power in Swami Sivananda – in his thoughts, his words and his deeds. He was and remains today a divine power of truth, purity, love and service.
"Serve, Love, Give Purify, Meditate, Realize.”
Swami Chidananda Saraswati (1916 - 2008) is a direct disciple of Swami Sivananda and succeeded him as the President of the Divine Life Society, Rishikesh, India. Swami Chidanandaji, right from the beginning, worked and served the Divine Cause of Sivananda’s mission tirelessly, spreading his Divine Life message far and wide not only in India, but around the world. Author of dozens of books, Swami Chidananda toured the world to spread the teachings of Divine Life, Yoga and Vedanta.
His mode of service to all demonstrated that he had no idea of his own separate existence as an individual. It seemed as if his body clung loosely to his soul. Nor was all this service confined to human beings. All of the created beings claimed his attention as much as human beings. He understood their language of suffering. His service of a sick dog evoked the admiration of his Guru, Sivananda. He would raise his finger in grim admonition when he saw anyone practicing cruelty to animals in his presence. He became known by many as a modern Saint Francis.
Quite early in life, although born in a wealthy family, he shunned the pleasures of the world to devote himself to seclusion and contemplation. In the matter of study, it was the spiritual books which had the most appeal to him, more than college books. Even while he was at college, text-books had to take second place to spiritual books such as the works of Sivananda, Ramakrishna, and Vivekananda.
He shared his knowledge with others, so much so that he virtually became the Guru of the household and the neighborhood, to whom he would talk of honesty, love, purity, service and devotion to God.
He wrote dozens of spiritual books, including his magnum opus 'Light Fountain', an immortal biography of his Guru Sivananda. Right from the beginning of his involvement with Sivananda’s Ashram, he worked and served the cause of Sivananda's mission tirelessly, and to spread his Divine Life message far and wide.
“Love more than you desire to be loved. Serve more than you desire to be served. Give of yourself more than you demand of others.”
Swami Premananda Saraswati (1945 - ) is one of only a few remaining embodied direct disciples of the great Yogi Sri Swami Sivananda. Born in a small village in the south of India, he studied engineering and came to visit the great master at the age of 25, in 1960. Told by Sri Swamiji, “come to me, I’ll make you a saint”, he quickly settled into the Divine Life Society Ashram in Rishikesh, participating in the daily programs, serving in the main offices, and having regular darshan of the master.
He continued his service under Swami Chidananda, who became the President of Divine Life Society when Swami Sivananda left his body in 1963. By 1970 he had settled into a very simple life in the heavily forested Himalayan mountain region between the holy cities of Uttarkashi and Gangotri, in Uttarakhand, in the North of India. He was a good cook and made the acquaintance of several Swamis in the region.
In 1977 he was asked by Swami Chidananda to begin an Ashram in the area to the North of Uttarkashi on the Gangotri road, and with land being offered he began stewardship of Sivanand Seva Samiti in the small village of Ganeshpuri, on the banks of the Ganga. The Ashram has grown under his stewardship (though he puts his hands in the air, and with a big grin says, “I do nothing! Everything is done for me!), and remains in the same location, with a world class medical and optical hospital which serves many of the communities in the region.
Jovial and loving beyond words, teaching from Yoga Vasishta, the story of Lord Rama’s awakening through a series of discussions with the great sage Vasishtaji and one of the highest books of Vedanta, he has held class nearly every day for over 40 years in this location. He is adored by many around the world, who come to be at his feet and to learn about the real life from him. Mahatmas (great souls) from across India visit Swamiji for his darshan, and he is a great servant of all in the cause of Peace and Self Realization.
“I will but my will is never done. He never wills but His will is ever done."
Swami Ramaswarupananda Saraswati (1951 - 2021). Swamiji’s parents were disciples of Swami Chidananda, and he knew from an early age that he was here in this world to serve Mahatmas; he joined Swamiji in 1969 at the age of 18. Born in Orisha, in the east of India, he settled into Ashram life quickly. Without any specialized training, but with absolute devotion and willingness to do whatever Swamiji asked of him, he quickly became Sri Swami Chidananda’s personal assistant. He served in this capacity for 27 years, during which time he supported Sri Swamiji and Divine Life Society in every conceivable capacity.
He learned all of the Yoga paths at the feet of Swami Chidananda and the other saints who had been gathered, trained and liberated by the great master Sivananda. He came to know many of the famous saints through this association, such as Swami Chinmayanda, Swami Krishnananda, Swami Satchidananda, Anandamayi Ma, Father Bede Griffiths, and many more. He accompanied Swami Chidananda on world travels, as Sri Swamiji had been guided to expand and strengthen the Divine Life Society mission, which is centered around the propagation of Yoga and sharing of the way of Divine Life, around the world. Swamiji continued these travels, both on his own and with Sri Swamiji, until 2000, when he experienced a major stroke while on a teaching and fellowship mission in Australia. He was then asked to discontinue his world travel when he returned to India. He continued to travel India, and is adored by countless thousands of disciples of Swami Chidananda and Divine Life Society throughout India and the world.
Sri Swamiji has hosted countless groups at his kutir in Ganeshpuri, near Swami Premanandaji’s Ashram; he has been a tour guide and dear friend for so many. He regularly hosted “Tea and Gita” at his kutir in Ganeshpuri, an Ashram that he tended in Haridwar, and wherever he might be visiting those who wished to have the company of this simple saint. He was and is a master of himself, and of the practical teaching of the Bhagavad Gita. Fiercely loyal and devoted, accepting and deeply loving, he lived it, and he shared it, in every breath that he took. Sri Swamiji is also a great friend to all. Sri Swami Rama Swarupanand Ji took Maha Samadhi (merger) in early August of 2021.
"Love is a noun, not a verb. It is not what you do, it is who you are."
Peace Pilgrim (July 18, 1908 – July 7, 1981), was an American saint who walked throughout North America for 28 years in the cause of peace. In 1952, she became the first woman to walk the entire length of the Appalachian Trail in one season. She related that her pilgrimage walk began after having experienced a spiritual awakening, following several years of dedicated service. She said that this awakening was a direct, mystical experience of the "creator's" love. She received a mystic vision which spurred her decades-long walking pilgrimage for peace.
Her pilgrimage began January 1, 1953, in Pasadena, California, during the Korean war. She continued walking, spanning the American involvement in the Vietnam War and beyond. Peace Pilgrim was a frequent speaker at churches, universities, local and national radio, and television.
Peace Pilgrim's only possessions were the clothes on her back and the few items she carried in the pockets of her blue tunic which read "Peace Pilgrim" on the front and "25,000 miles walked on foot for peace" on the back. She had no organizational backing, carried no money, and would not ask for anything, including food or shelter. When she began her pilgrimage she had taken a vow to "remain a wanderer until mankind has learned the way of peace, walking until given shelter and fasting until given food."
By the time she left her body in 1981 she had walked through every state in the USA and Mexico plus every province in Canada, including every town in North America with a population of 10,000 of more. She shared her simple and profound message of the way of peace, “Overcome wrong with right, falsehood with Truth, and hatred with Love”. A non-profit, all-volunteer organization called “Friends of Peace Pilgrim” continues to this day distributing books with her writings, speeches, and news articles completely free of charge. A pair of Peace Pilgrim’s simple and well worn pilgrimage shoes sit on a dedicated altar at Divine Grace Yoga Ashram.
"Prayer without ceasing is not ritualized, nor are there even words. It is a constant state of awareness of oneness with God.”
---> Discover more about Peace Pilgrim on our page dedicated to her.