Daily Readings from the Works of Swami Venkatesananda

Insights and Inspirations - Sivananda's Integral Yoga

January 23, 2022

Sivananda's Integral Yoga

Swami Venkatesananda with Swami Satchidananda     These questions are often asked: "How can you say that the body is impermanent, not real, and yet practice Hatha Yoga which seems to assume that the body is important? How can you consider God omnipresent, nameless and formless, and yet indulge in some kind of singing, chanting and worshipping?" There is a beautiful verse which is attributed to Hanuman. Hanuman was a great devotee of Rama in the legend called The Ramayana. In that, it is said that even Rama depended upon Hanuman to win a victory over his enemies. One day it is said that Rama asked Hanuman: "Thank you for all that you have done for me. Tell me, what do you think our relationship is?" The answer that Hanuman gave was very beautiful: "When I think I am this body, I am your humble servant. When I feel I am a living soul, I feel I am part of you.  When there is an awareness that I am a personality, I am part of you and therefore at that moment I feel tremendously strong; I feel grace flows from you to me, and therefore I am able to work wonders. Then when the body-consciousness is completely lost, in that super-conscious state I am you, you are me, there is no difference. I don't exist at all, only you exist."

    We are aware of these three states in our own daily life. Sometimes the ego-consciousness is very strong; sometimes it is nearly not there, there is just a shade of ego-consciousness; and sometimes it is not there at all. The inner light must observe this parade. When there is strong body-consciousness, that must be utilized and also attacked by doing Karma Yoga. Karma Yoga in that sense includes asanas, pranayama and all the rest. When there is just a trace of ego sense, of ego-consciousness, one must engage oneself in prayer, in chanting, in meditation. When the ego-consciousness is completely absent, what happens ... happens as He wills it.

    To realize that there is no contradiction at all in this synthesis, one must see it in action. It was my good fortune to have seen this in my guru Swami Sivananda. He could combine what one normally thinks of as contradictory points of view without any conflict at all. He was extremely humble, but not meek or weak. He was soft like butter, but when you tried to crush him he was like granite. He could be a very strict disciplinarian, and yet extremely generous and loving. One could see in his daily life that he literally saw God in everybody, and yet he was very regular in his own spiritualistic worship. He lived in the realization that the world doesn't exist as one sees it.

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