Swami Sivananda Saraswati, one of the major catalysts for yoga both domestically and internationally, was an extremely learned man in terms of knowledge about yoga and the spiritual dimension of Hinduism. Not only did he achieve numerous feats in the Yoga society, but he was also the sole propagator at his time, later amassing a huge following including multiple successors and disciples.
But how did Sivananda manage to get Yoga so far and wide through his disciples, and how today, millions of people are still attached to his idea of Yoga and his philosophy on Yoga of Synthesis?
Starting early as an excellent academician and gymnast, Sivananda attended The medical school in Tanjore, later working as a medical doctor in the British Malaya, providing free treatment to the poor.
During this time was when he realised that medicine was healing in people that can be healed in a much more passive and preventive way in the approach of Yoga and meditation.
After returning to India, Sivananda met his Guru and Spiritual Guide, Vishvananda, in Rishikesh, and started his learning curve. He then travelled to many pilgrimages, Ashrams and amassed a huge following as he started to be known far and wide.
As a Wandering monk, Sivananda finally decided to structure his teachings and foundations through his disciples. It was then when he founded the Divine Life Society in 1936, on the banks of Ganga river, where spiritual literature was propagated for free.
Sivananda mainly focused on spiritual teachings and Yogic practices by way of Synthesis, which consisted of four Yogas of Hinduism.
- Karma Yoga
- Bhakti Yoga
- Jnana Yoga
- Raja Yoga
To broadcast and propagate he took help from a number of disciples which ensured that the knowledge was spread far and wide, some of the disciples were as follows.
- Chinmayananda Saraswati, founder of the Chinmaya Mission
- Sahajananda Saraswati, Spiritual Head of Divine Life Society of South Africa
- Satchidananda Saraswati, founder of the Integral Yoga Institutes, around the world
- Satyananda Saraswati, founder of Bihar School of Yoga
- Shantananda Saraswati, founder of Temple of Fine Arts (Malaysia & Singapore)
How did people become so devoted?
Called by his critics as the Swami Propagandanand, he was considered a master in propagating the knowledge of thousands of years in much simpler and easy to understand terms.
Where there was little knowledge regarding Yoga and just a limited reach, he made people realise Yoga is much more than just an art of postures but the way of life and an extremely productive approach towards it in terms of mindfulness.
Much later on, his disciples continue to grow and have now evolved around the same idea of Synthesising Yoga.
Such Yogic practices were unheard of and were more precisely implemented.
In order to amass an audience and practitioners internationally, just having a fruitful idea doesn’t cut it at all. Swami Sivananda acknowledged this at a very early age and then proceeded accordingly to create a syllabus around his own learning which was both easy to understand but time-consuming to master. People were mostly attracted to the idea of looking at Yoga other than by way of just postures.