One of the greatest Yoga masters of the 20th century, Swami Sivananda, is the inspiration behind the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres. The teachings of Master Sivananda are summarized in these six words:
Serve, Love, Give, Purify, Meditate, Realize.
From that time Swami Sivananda became one of the most prolific Yoga teachers who has ever existed. Although he rarely left the little town of Rishikesh (with only 2 India tours and no visits abroad) Swami Sivananda's teachings spread quickly throughout our entire planet. He personally wrote - by hand, no computers at the time :-) - more than 200 books on topics connected to Yoga and Philosophy. He wrote in a style that is very direct and bursting with dynamic, spiritual energy. As a result many who read his books felt their lives deeply touched and transformed and so came from all of India, all of the world, to learn from him directly, and to bask in his holy presence.
In 1957, Swami sivananda sent his devoted and industrious disciple, Swami Vishnudevananda to the West where he then established the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres.
For 10 years Swami Vishnudevananda continued at the Sivananda Ashram and was trained in all aspects of Yoga by Swami Sivananda. Swami Vishnudevananda quickly became an exceptional adept in the path of Hatha-Yoga and was a very keen and tireless Karma Yogi. One day Swami Sivananda gave Swamiji a 10 Rupee note (less than a dollar!) and his blessings to travel to the West and spread the teachings of Vedanta. "People are waiting" were the words of the Master.
SWAMIJI AS A WORLD TEACHER
Swamiji's limitless energy and profound inspiration lead him to found and direct the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres. There are now 20 Yoga centres and 9 Ashrams and many Affiliated centres. Swami created the first Yoga Teachers Training Course which to date has trained more than 26,000 certified teachers in the field of Yoga and spirituality. One of his brilliant touches was to summarize these ancient and vast teachings into five principles of Yoga which are easy to understand and convenient to incorporate in one's daily practice.
THE FLYING SWAMI & THE PEACE MISSIONS
Throughout his whole life, Swamiji was deeply concerned about the well being of the world and the constant disaster of wars. This lead him to learn to fly and then personally pilot a small plane over several troubled areas of the world. Not only did he create discussion and awareness in the news media, but he also "bombarded" these war torn areas with flowers and peace pamphlets while repeating the peace Mantra; Om Namo Narayanaya.
I have given you all I have with all my heart and love. It is for you to give to others. Sometimes I may not know all the answers, and I know that I have a long way to go. If you didn't get anything, that's because of my lower emotional nature. If there was anything good you got, it came from my great Master Sivananda. I don't say that I'm an unemotional person. I scolded and talked endlessly. I acted like a dictator. If I were like my master, or like Jesus, I could wash the feet of my disciples. But for that one must be very high. It can only be done when the ego is gone. If I were to do it, it would be hypocrisy. I'm not that high. Once, some years ago, I prostrated myself before a man to whom I had been rude and impatient. As I was doing it, I was thinking "How humble I am." So don't look for an easy way to overcome your ego. For years I've tried. I watch myself as my ego manifests itself. I analyze. But it clings like a leech. When we can't control ourselves, we should offer it to the Lord: "Oh Lord, I offer it to Thee!" And now, if in any way I hurt your feelings, I ask you with all my heart to pardon me.
- Swami Vishnudevananda