Masters


Swami Sivananda

(1887-1963)

Swami Sivananda

Swami Sivananda, one of the greatest masters of modern times, is the spiritual strength behind the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres.

Born in India, his life was a radiant example of service, both as a doctor and later as a world-renowned sage. As a doctor, for many years he served the poor in Malaysia. During this time he became acquainted with the teachings of yoga and Vedanta and it became his innermost desire to follow the path of the sages and to help people, not just their physical bodies as before, but their minds as well. In order to dedicate completely his life to yoga, he renounced the world and spent many months as a penniless, itinerant monk, finding his way to the solitude of the Himalayas. There, Swami Sivananda practised yoga and meditation intensely and attained self-realisation.

In 1932 he started the Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh and in 1936 the Divine Life Society was born.

Swami Sivananda’s teachings crystallised the basic tenets of all religions, combining all yoga paths into one – The Yoga of Synthesis. This he summed up with, ‘Serve, Love, Give Purify, Meditate, Realise’. His own life was a shining example of the ideal of selfless service, of Karma Yoga. To Swami Sivananda all work was sacred no task was too menial. He searched tirelessly for opportunities to serve and to help others, never postponing what needed to be done.

Swami Sivananda was the author of over 200 books, which spread his message of love and service. He had disciples around the world, belonging to all nationalities, religions and creeds.



(1927-1993)

Swami Vishnudevananda

Swami Vishnudevananda is the founder of the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres.

Born in India, after a short career in the army, he ‘accidentally’ came to know of the teachings of Swami Sivananda through a copy of Sadhana Tattwa (Spiritual Instructions) which began with, ‘An ounce of practice is worth tons of theory. Practice yoga, religion and philosophy in daily life and attain Self-Realisation’. This impressed him so much that he went to Rishikesh to meet his master. There he had an intense experience that changed his life. In 1947 he entered the Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh and in 1957 Swami Sivananda sent him to the West with the words, ‘people are waiting’. He reached the coast of California carrying with him ten rupees, a few English phrases and a great mission: to spread yoga, the spiritual ‘roadmap’ to inner peace. In the climate of the Cold War and unbridled capitalism, Swami Vishnudevananda realised just how much his work was needed. His goal was to set into motion a holistic evolution towards peace, carrying on in the tradition of Gandhi and Martin Luther King.

The five basic pillars of the yoga practice according to Swami Vishnudevananda are:

    • Proper exercise (Asanas)
    • Proper breathing (Pranayama)
    • Proper relaxation (Savasana)
    • Proper diet (vegetarian)
    • Positive thinking and meditation (Vedanta and Dhyana)

All yoga techniques culminate in meditation, the experience of unity with one’s self. In 1969, Swami Vishnudevananda laid the cornerstone for the systematic spread of yoga by conducting the first Yoga Teachers’Training Course (TTC) in the West. Author of the long-time bestselling The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga, Swami Vishnudevananda was recognised as world authority in hatha and raja yoga. Amongst other books, he is also the author of Meditation and Mantras and of a commentary on the Hatha Yoga Pradipika.

Swami Vishnudevananda