Hindu Ashrams and Hindu Organizations
The Divine Life Society, Rishikesh
Even though the
Ashram welcomes anyone at any time, yet, unfortunately the very pragmatic
problem of space and accommodation compels its management to state frankly
that visitors must come for shorter/longer stay only after writing and
obtaining a written permission in reply from:
The Divine Life Society is a shining example of the creative aspect of the Divinity within man. It is a remarkable achievement of the Founder, His Holiness Sri Swami Sivananda, who from the year 1936, has built up the wonderful mansion of 'Divine Life' brick by brick, on the firm foundations of purity, integrity, nobility and magnanimity. The ideals of the Society are lofty, most practicable and within the reach of every human being, irrespective of position, caste, colour, country and creed. The Institution caters to the cultural needs of all ranks of people, to whatever class they may belong. Each one can tap whatever suits him the best according to his stature and intellectual or spiritual attainments. The holy river Ganga flows by the side of the Ashram, coming down from the icy regions of the Himalayas, carrying with her the message of seers and sages of the past and the present, thus in a way keeping intact the connection between the ancient and the modern and nourishing the body and the mind of the wearied soul in its earthly sojourn. There is also available a Jnana Ganga (river of knowledge) emanating from the prolific pen of the Great Master Sri Swami Sivananda and his direct disciples, whom the Master has chiselled and moulded into his own pattern with the laudable idea of enabling them to continue and further the cause of his lofty mission.
The lofty ideal of 'Divine Life' has its humble beginning in the building of a true human being, even as the fine superstructure has its small start in the foundation. Just as the strength of a building depends on its foundation which remains silent and invisible, so is the achievement of the Divine dependent on the strenuous preparation of man, to annihilate the animal in him, to develop the human nature and to allow it to blossom into Godliness. Thus there is no Divine Life without one being, or trying to become, human first, and one cannot claim to be a human being merely because he walks on two legs and talks with his tongue. It is our attitude, our behaviour and our dealings with others that go to decide whether we are humans, sub-humans or superhumans. What is our attitude to our fellow-beings, to ourselves and to the Creator? This will decide what we are. Hence the noble Mission of Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj was to bring about the needed transformation in man, to gradually eradicate the animal in him and to unfold the Divinity within to its perfection. This transformation is needed by everyone, irrespective of caste, creed, colour, country, sex, position high or low, and the Society therefore attracts seeking souls from all walks of life and from every country.
The Divine Life Society carries out its object of a world-wide revival of spirituality through publication of books, pamphlets and magazines dealing scientifically with all the aspects of Yoga and Vedanta, universal religion and philosophy, and ancient medicine; holding and arranging cultural and spiritual conferences and discourses; establishing training centres for the practice of Yoga and the revival of true culture; and taking such other steps from time to time as may be necessary for bringing about a quick moral and spiritual regeneration in the world.
This institution serves as a place of preservation of the ancient traditions and cultural practices that has come down as a time-honoured heritage. It has been built up to serve as a model of many-sided, altruistic activity, an ideal to copy, intended to bring about a complete unfoldment of the human personality, and to reveal the essential blending together of all sides of human nature. The Society also functions as an ideal place of spiritual retreat for the educated citizens of the world, wherein he can renew himself and recreate and refresh his being, physically, mentally, morally and spiritually.
Sivananda Ashram, the Headquarters of The Divine Life Society, is housed at Shivanandanagar, on the right bank of the Ganga, at a distance of 3 kilometres from Rishikesh Town, (Distt. Tehri-Garhwal, U.P., India) and is served by 3-wheeler Autos and taxis. Rishikesh is about 24 kilometres from the renowned pilgrim centre, Haridwar, and is linked by rail and road. Regular buses and taxis are available throughout the day, at any time. Haridwar is situated on the banks of the river Ganga at a distance of 263 kilometres to the north of Delhi (Capital of India), and is served by rail and road. Haridwar Railway Station is on Delhi-Dehra Dun line.
Here labour a band of Sannyasins (renunciates) and Sadhaks (spiritual practitioners), whose life are entirely dedicated to the service of humanity, to learn and put into practice the Yoga of Synthesis and to function actively as dynamic centres of spirituality. The Society has as its aim the awakening of humanity to the true and lofty purpose of life, enlightening them on the various means and methods of attaining the Goal of life, and inspiring them and urging them to strive for its attainment.
Visitors to the Ashram
The Sivananda Ashram,-the Headquarters of the international organisation, the Divine Life Society,-is situated in sylvan surroundings, with multihued hills all around and the beautiful and holy Ganga flowing majestically by its side. The setting is so alluring and capturing that all physical and mental ailments are forgotten for a moment, and there appears to be a standing invitation by the hills and dales and the sacred Ganga for periodical visits by people from all countries and from all strata of society for recoupment and conditioning of both body and mind. Added to this is the healing balm of the generous reception accorded by the Ashram to the visitors from all parts of the world, and to the travellers proceeding to the sacred Himalayan shrines, viz., Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri, who intend to make a brief halt at the foot of the Himalayas, which takes one to sublime heights of exhilaration.
Even though the Ashram
welcomes anyone at any time, yet, unfortunately the very pragmatic problem
of space and accommodation compels its management to state frankly that
visitors must come for shorter/longer stay only after writing and obtaining
a written permission in reply from:
Departments of Service
The following are the principal departments of The Divine Life Society:
The Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy trains seekers in the knowledge of India's Culture and in the practice of Yoga as a general discipline for developing integral personality as well as human welfare. The Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy Press prints the cultural and spiritual books as well as the periodicals and other literature of the Society. The Sivananda Publication League caters to the public this valuable literature. The Free Literature Section distributes freely books and other literature to deserving seekers and aspirants the world over. The Charitable Hospital renders free medical service to the public and conducts periodical medical relief camps freely. The Annapurna Annakshetra, which is the common kitchen of the Ashram, feeds about 600 permanent residents, daily visiting Sadhaks and guests and pilgrims. The Guest House looks to the needs of the many visitors and guests (visiting Sadhaks) who come to the Ashram for spiritual guidance and Yoga training. The Temples of worship hold prayers for the peace of the world, conduct regular worship and continue the recitation of the Divine Name throughout the 24 hours of the day, for the welfare of mankind. The two Monthly periodicals ('the Divine Life' in English and 'Divya Jeevan' in Hindi) consist of articles on sublime philosophy and provide guidance of topical value to all the seekers and students of Yoga. The Library furnishes reading of some the most precious books in philosophy, Yoga and culture in general. The Correspondence Section provides proper replies to countless queries that come from seekers all over the world in the various walks of life. The Daily Satsanga held in the Ashram is a perennial source of inspiration to the souls that seek communion with inner peace. The Yoga Courses held in other parts of India, outside the Headquarters, in other Institutions and Organisations, are, again, channels of the much-needed inspiration to students, officials and people in general, the work which the Society carries on through its Yoga Instructors who travel for this purpose. The Divine Life Conferences held indifferent places in India have become effective means of mustering in the moral and cultural forces of people and bringing them together for the purpose of achieving individual and social solidarity. The Cultural Tours conducted by the senior Swamis of the Ashram have become a byword to anxious seekers in India as well as in other countries, who are benefited immensely by the teachings, discourses and personal guidance provided by the Swamis travelling for this purpose. The Personal Guidance which the senior Swamis at the Headquarters render in a paternal way to hundreds of people coming to the Ashram from the various countries in the world has been ever giving a healing touch to the tension-ridden personalities in society. The Daily Meditation sessions are a practical mobilisation of mental and soul-force for re-construction of the human personality towards the various noble purposes in life. The Annual Sadhana Weeks are Spiritual Camps held in the Ashram, to which hundreds flock in eagerness for cultural and spiritual rejuvenation of their minds and hearts. The Educational Activities of the Society consist in helping poor and deserving students, about a thousand in number right from the primary standard to the post-graduate level, by providing them free with the requisite facilities in their studies, as a gesture of the Ashram's goodwill towards the welfare of people. The Leprosy Relief Work of the Society is so well-known that it has always been regarded as part and parcel of the love extended by the Society to some 200 or more leper-patients who are rehabilitated and taken care of in a suitable manner. The Social Service Wing attends to such services as medical aid to the poor and needy, contribution towards different relief works in the country, and such other gestures of charity as would relieve the sufferings of people, in some measure, from poverty, disease and ignorance.
The Society has several Branches, functioning in India as well as in other countries.
The Daily Programme of the Ashram at the Headquarters include Group Prayers and Meditation early in the morning; Worship in the temples three times daily; Practise of Yoga Exercises in the forenoon and in the afternoon; Discourses on Yoga, Vedanta and the Bhagavad Gita, daily; regular Meditation Session in the evening; and General Satsanga at night; in addition to the Services rendered through the Departments of Activity mentioned above.
These services and activities of the Ashram are so conceived and conducted that they form a vehicle for the expression of the spiritual aspirations of seekers and become a venue for manifesting in practical life the broad-based spiritual ideal of the Oneness of God, the brotherhood of creation and the immortality of the Soul.
The fundamental aims and objects of the Divine Life Society, as a whole, are purely spiritual, entirely non-sectarian, universally applicable and perfectly tolerant. The Society offers a peaceful haven wherein is provided ample opportunity and actual help for the restoration of peace to the troubled, conflict-ridden and psychologically traumatised personality of the modern man.
The Aims and Objects
The Divine Life Society has been established
I. To Disseminate
(b) By propagating the Name of the Lord, and by holding and arranging spiritual discourses and conferences and frequent Sankirtans (singing the Lords name) or spiritual gathering for singing and glorifying the Name of the Lord;
(c) By establishing training centres or societies for the practice of Yoga, for moral and spiritual Sadhanas (spiritual practices) and the revival of true culture, to enable aspirants to achieve regeneration through worship, devotion, wisdom, right action and higher meditation with systematic training in asanas (postures), pranayama (breathing exercise), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (superconscious state); and
(d) By doing all such acts and things as may be necessary and conducive to the moral, spiritual and cultural uplift of mankind in general and to the attainment of the above-mentioned objects in Bharatavarsha(India) in particular;
II. To Establish and Run
III. To Help Deserving
Orphans and Destitutes
IV. To establish and Run
V. To Take Such Other
Steps from Time to Time
The Society was registered as a Trust in the year 1936 and has been actively functioning since then to fulfill the above aims and objects in the world.