The former medical doctor gives up his worldly life, and travelling to the Himalayas, takes the name of Swami Sivananda. It would years before Swami Venkatesananda was to join him and become his disciple.
The inner radiance of the Master as apparent with or without the aid of photography.
When Sivananda first came to Himalayas, he lived a solitary life at the Swarg Ashram, where "No guru!" was the rule, meaning that no residents were allowed to have disciples. For a short time, Sivananda successfully lived a solitary. However, monks living at Swarg began noticing that there was something different about Sivananda. They began to gather each morning, outside his small kutir, awaiting his darshan. In this way, quite unsought, Sivananda found that he had attracted a small following. The small group unsought followers began to grow, and Sivananda was forced to move across the river, where he moved into an abandoned cow shed that eventually became the Sivananda Ashram.
Sivananda regarded humility and compassion as the most essential hallmarks of yogi, and he taught as much the best possible way, by example.
"Close your eyes, and see god. Open Your Eyes and see God!" - Swami Sivananda
Amongst other things, Swami Sivananda was known as the sage of practical wisdom; the emphasis being on the wisdom that would bring about the undyng spirit of service to humanity. No doubt he served humanity as a doctor, before renouncing his worldly life, but after traveling to Rishikesh, and taking sanyas, his service in the spiritual dimension became life-altering for those fortunate enough to sit at his feet.
Swami Venkatesananda and a young friend.
Swami Venkatesananda - early years in Rishikesh
Young Swami Venkatesananda at the Sivananda Ashram, looking over some of his master's books.
Sivananda surveys the future home of the Sivananda Eye Hospital with eye doctor Swami Hridayananda Mataji, Swami Venkatesananda, and Swam Chidananda (far right).
Small study group presided over by Swami Sivananda. Or perhaps proofing a new book on yoga for publication.
Working on the dissemination of spiritual knowledge was a daily occurrence. Here's either another daily study or book proofing session. Swami Venkatesananda (on the left) discussing a book with two swamis, and the master looking over a short text with a then very young Swami Chidananda (on far right), looking at manuscript with Swami Sivananda.
Swami Venkatesananda (far left) next to Swami Sivananda. together with two other unidentified yogis.
From left to right: Swami Venkatesananda, Swami Krishnananda, Master Sivananda, Swami Chidananda, and Swami Vishnu (not Vishnu Devananda), all sitting by Ganges river bank in the Himalayas.
The Master with Swami Venkatesananda, receiving visitors to the ashram.
Swami Sivananda and Swami Venkatesananda sharing a good laugh. Both had a laugh that was highly contagious, and so when they both got started, all bets were off on when it might stop.
Young Swami Venkatesananda in meditation by the Ganges Riverbank.
Swami Venkatesananda and Master Swami Sivananda out for a walk.
Swamii Venkatesananda was often seen traveling about with his Master, ready to serve in any way possible. Here he seen walking behind the master, looking over his shoulder with others behind them.
Here Swami Venkatesananda sits next to his guru, Master Sivananda, waiting to receive and offer refreshments to visitors to the Ashram.
Swami Venkatesananda came the Sivananda Ashram to serve the Master, Sivananda, and that is what he did, day and night. Here he is bringing some drafts of a book of that he had been working on for Swami Sivananda.
Swami Venkatesananda washing the Master's Feet. during a Pada Puga, while another swami (left) looks on.
This happens to be one of Swami Venkatesananda's favorite photos. It's a snapshot of the end of a Pada Puga Ceremony in which the disciple worships the Divine that has come in the form of the Master ... The Guru,and by grace of the Guru, dispels the darkness of ignorance, and once and for all, obliterates the sense of separateness from the One. "Guru Maharaj, Guru Jai Jai"
Master Sivananda in a huge and heavy winter coat given to him as a gift by an ashram visitor. Here he is, the towering giant, who couldn't help standing out, even sitting down.
Master Sivananda never allowed his severe arthritis to keep him from important ashram activities, even though the ashram was built on a steep hill, and even though it was an enormous effort for him to get around. Everywhere he went, he went in good spirits, always uplifting the atmosphere and everyone around him.
As both a Sanksrit scholar and yogi, Swami Venkatesananda was eminantly qualified to assist with the publishing of Sanksrit texts and books by Swami Sivananda. In fact, many of the master's books are the result of disciple Venkatesananda going back to his room, after the master had spoken at evening satsang, and typing out the entire talk from memory. He served in this capacity until Swami Sivananda sent to him to South Africa in 1961 to assist The Divine Life Society there to assist in the publishing of Swami Sivananda's magnificent version of The Bhagavad Gita. Swami Venkatesananda actually set all the type for that beautiful South African edition.
Swami Venkatesananda sitting with his guru, Swami Sivananda happens to be one of the few times a photo was taken with Swami Venkatesananda seated in a special chair. He was much more comfortable sitting in something more ordinary; something which would suggest a more humble posture, especially in relationship to his master. So this this photo of him sitting at the same height as his Master was something of an unusual photo to be sure. As a side note, in later years, Swami Venkatesananda would also forgo accepting an especially comfortable chair if other people in the room were seated in something less comfortable. Instead, he would whispter to his hosts, "Go get me a chair similar to what everyone else is seated in!" and, when given to him, he would sit down on the less comfortable chair, and say: "There, that's more like it."
Swami Venkatesananda crouching down, trying to be somewhat invisible (with sunglasses), perhaps stands out a bit more than intended. Master Sivananda seated on the far right.
Swami Sivananda (in his enormous winter coat), walking with guests, devotees, and disciples (Venkatesa 2nd in from right).
As stories of the "Godman" Sivananda spread far and wide over India, it became increasingly more common for large throngs of seekers to arrive at the small ashram in the distant Himalayas, in search of Sivananda's blessings and the darshan of a "holy man". Swami Venkatesananda was always most curious to see what would happen at such times, and you can even make out a little of that curiosity in this photo, Venkatesananda pictured next to the sadhu with the black beard and his hands folded to left of Master Sivananda.
Another photo of Sivananda at The Sivananda Ashram with new visitors seeking the Master's darshan. Swami Venkatesananda seated on the floor below, next his guru, his favorite position!
Yes another photo of Sivananda with guests, this time strolling with yogis and dignitaries who arrived to meet the great yoga master. Swami Venkatesananda following behind, holding the umbrella, and trying to protect his master.
Swami Sivananda (bottom) in his winter coat, testing the book binding machine at the Divine Life Society Press. (Swami Venkatesananda looking on at the top right, wearing the sweater.
Swami Sivananda (center) examining the operation of the ashram's printing press.. (Swami Venkatesananda looking on far right).
Here putting together one of books on yoga and spiritual life that were either written or dictated by Swami Sivananda, or taken down from (Swami Venkatesananda's) memory. There were actually hundreds of these books and booklets, which were distributed by The Divine Life Society during and after the master's lifetime. The Divine Life Society has published a list, but whether it is complete or not is not known.
Here is a much more common photo, where, as you can see, Swami Venkatesananda is much more comfortable sitting an simple chair without any throne like attributes. This was true back in the early days, as pictured here, and throughout his lifetime.
Here are some visitors taking part in a ceremony along with a young Swami Venkatesananda seated to the left.
Another typical photo of Swami Venkatesananda attempting to shelter his master from the sun.