Swami Vishnudevananda- A Dynamic Yogi
Swami Vishnudevananda was sent to spread the message of Yoga and Vedanta in the West in 1957 by his Master, Swami Sivananda, with the words “People are waiting”. For 37 years he worked tirelessly as an active and dedicated spiritual teacher travelling around the world establishing city Centres and Ashrams where his work could be accomplished.
The Early Years
Swami Vishnudevananda was born in the south Indian state of Kerala on December 31, 1927. After completing school he entered the Engineering Corps of the Indian Army. It was while he was in the army that he first met Swami Sivananda, one of the great saints of modern times. After being discharged from the army, Swamy Kuttan Nair, as he was then known, was a schoolteacher in his native Kerala for a short while, before leaving his life behind and entering the Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh in 1947. Within a year, he took the monastic vow (sannyas) with the name of Swami Vishnudevananda. Swami Sivananda saw in his young disciple special tendencies towards Hatha Yoga. With his training directed towards this discipline he became an expert, mastering many of the most difficult and advanced Hatha Yoga techniques (asanas, pranayamas, mudras, bandhas and kriyas). How did he learn these ancient practices which to a great extent had been lost in modern India? He often said, “My Master touched me and opened my intuitive eye. All this knowledge returned to me from past lives”. Remaining at the Ashram for ten years, he was appointed as the first Professor of Hatha Yoga at the Yoga Vedanta Forest Academy. He held a number of other positions at the Ashram, including personal secretary to Swami Sivananda.
How Swami Vishnudevananda met his Master
Swami Vishnudevananda remembers his very first contact with Swami Sivananda: “I first heard about Swami Sivananda in a strange way. Looking in the waste paper basket for a lost paper, I found one small pamphlet called Sadhana Tattwa. His teachings were so simple and straightforward, ‘an ounce of practice is worth a ton of theory.’i I got a couple of days’ leave of absence from the army and went to see him. There was no kind of religious hypocrisy, no sitting on a tiger skin with ashes smeared all over his body. He had an extraordinary spiritual glow. The second time I saw him, Swami Sivananda was coming up the stairs in my direction. I didn’t want to have to bow my head to him. I was young and arrogant and never wanted to bow my head to anybody. But it is the tradition that you should bow your head to a holy man. To avoid the situation, I just moved out of his path. Master saw me and headed in my direction. He asked me who I was and where I was coming from. Then he bowed down and touched my feet!! My whole body began to shake violently. With all my heart, with all my life and love, I learned to bow without any type of reservation. He touched my heart not with miracles or shows of holiness, but with his perfect egoless nature. He didn’t consider that I was just a stupid boy standing there, although I was just that. He touched my heart and broke that egoism in me. I didn’t think anything else in this world would have broken this ego. That was my first lesson, and if I could attain one millionth of the state of egolessness of the Master, it is His Grace.”
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