The Journey Of a Lifetime – Swami Vishnudevanandaji’s Mahasamadhi
On the occasion of the Silver Jubilee Celebration of Swami Vishnudevanandaji’s Mahasamadhi, who left his body on 9 November 1993, a pilgrimage has been initiated by the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta organization, and the Yatris (pilgrims) today brought their energy and devotion to the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center in Dwarka.
The pilgrimage is meant to honor the life and teachings of Swami Vishnudevananda, yoga pioneer and international peace activist. His unrivaled and courageous mission of bringing yoga to the West and of its revival in India is now recognized as a monumental achievement on a world-wide scale.
Swami Vishnudevananda was born in Nemmara, Kerala, on 31 December 1927.
During his short career in the Indian Army, he happened to see a pamphlet written by Sri Swami Sivananda Saraswati, called Sadhana Tattwa (Spiritual Instructions). He was particularly inspired by these words: “An ounce of practice is worth tons of theory. Practice yoga, religion, and philosophy in daily life and attain Self-realization.” Impressed by the simplicity and directness of this message, Swami Vishnudevananda soon took advantage of a leave to travel to Rishikesh to meet Swami Sivananda. At his visit, he and others waited as Sivananda ascended the stairs from the bank of the Ganges to the ashram. When Swami Vishnudevananda declined to prostrate, Sri Swami Sivananda surprised him by prostrating before him. This lesson in humility was the first given to Swami Vishnudevananda by his Guru.
Swami Vishnu, as he was lovingly called by his disciples, was sent to the West in 1957 by Sri Swami Sivananda, to spread the teachings of yoga and the message of world peace. With only 10 rupees in his pocket, Swami Vishnu worked his way to Montreal, Quebec, Canada, where he quickly established the first Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre in 1959. The centre marked the beginning of what is now a worldwide organization, and less than four years after it opened its doors, Swami Vishnu started the Sivananda Yoga Camp in the Laurentian Mountains, Quebec, the first Sivananda ashram in the west.
To meet the needs of a modern society, Swami Vishnudevananda synthesized the essence of yoga into five principles that could be easily incorporated into daily busy life. He recommended their regular practice for optimal physical and mental health, as well as spiritual growth.
These five principles comprise the core teachings at the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres and ashrams worldwide, and they are:
- Proper Exercise (Asana)
- Proper Breathing (Pranayama)
- Proper Relaxation (Savasana)
- Proper Diet (Vegetarian)
- Positive Thinking and Meditation (Vedanta and Dhyana)
As a result of Swami Vishnu’s limitless energy and ceaseless dedication, there are currently 10 Sivananda ashrams, 30 yoga centers, and over 40,000 TTC graduates worldwide. The founder of one of the largest international yoga organizations, he also authored the bestsellers The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga and Meditation and Mantras, and his teachings remain the driving force behind all of the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres today.
The Janma Samadhi Yatra honors Swami Vishnu’s enlightened life and teachings, and it has begun at his birthplace, Nemmara, South India, on September 24th, and will end in Netala, Himalayas, where Swami Vishnu’s body was consigned to his beloved river Ganges on November 11th.
The Yatra stopped in Delhi and more than 70 people attended it. The Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center in Dwarka has hosted a Special Program, which started with Satsang and a beautiful Pooja to honor Sri Swami Sivanandaji and Swami Vishnudevanandaj, followed by a Yoga class, and a brunch for all the participants to the program.