“Health is Wealth. Peace of Mind is Happiness. Yoga Shows the Way.”
Swami Vishnudevananda was born on 31st December in Kerala, India. Swami Vishnudevananda was a disciple of Swami Sivananda. His first meeting with Swami Sivananda is a story that is both inspiring and explains to us the true meaning of humility. When Swami Vishnu was in the army, he coincidentally found interest in the teachings of Swami Sivananda through a copy of Sadhana Tattwa(Spiritual Instructions). Its introduction read, “An ounce of practice is worth tons of theory. Practice yoga, religion and philosophy in daily life and attain Self Realisation”. Impressed by the simplicity and directness of the words, he took a few days leave from the army and travelled to Rishikesh to meet the author and the meeting, taking place on the stairs of the ashram leading to the Ganges, would change his life. Swami Sivananda was walking up the stairs and according to the custom, people were prostrating. The young army officer did not want to bow his head to anyone and hid in a doorway out of sight. A moment later, Swami Sivananda appeared unexpectedly, and prostrated to the arrogant young man. This lesson in humility was the first given to Swami Vishnudevananda by his Guru.
Swami Vishnudevananda entered the Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh in 1947 at the age of twenty. He took Sannyas and was appointed the first professor of hatha yoga at the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Forest Academy, and eventually trained scores of Indian and western students. At the same time he continued his own practice, mastering advanced hatha yoga techniques. When asked how he perfected these ancient practices, some of which had become obscure in modern times, Swami Vishnudevananda answered, “My master touched me and opened my eye of intuition. All this knowledge returned to me from past lives”. For ten years, he lived and worked under the direct guidance of his master. One day in 1957 Swami Sivananda placed a symbolic 10 rupees in Swami Vishnudevananda’s palm and instructed him to bring the ancient teachings of yoga (Vedanta) to the West. He said “People are waiting” and thus with the blessings of his Master, he founded the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres and Ashrams. He established the Sivananda Yoga Teachers’ Training Course, one of the first yoga teacher training programs in the West, and is the author of the bestselling The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga, as well as Meditation and Mantras, which have established him as an authority on Hatha and Raja Yoga. Swami Vishnudevananda condensed the teachings of classical yoga into five principles: Proper Exercise, Proper Breathing, Proper Relaxation, Proper Diet (vegetarian), and Meditation and Positive Thinking. Swami Vishnudevananda was a tireless peace activist and conducted several peace flights over the world’s trouble spots, including over then-divided Berlin.
Swami Vishnudevananda attained Mahasamdhi on November 9th, 1993. Mahasamadhi is the final stage of a realised yogis Sadhana (Spiritual Practice) where they consciously leave their physical body. During this stage of their practice, the Yogis expire and this occurs only once in a life time when all the mortal karma has been burnt and fulfilled. The Yogi thus attains full enlightenment and becomes one with the supreme being or Brahman. On November 11th, 1993 Swami Vishnu-Devananda’s body was placed into the River Ganges, merging the body with the holy river. This rite is called Jalasamdhi.