This great book immediately captivates
the heart of any spiritual seeker or reader,
as he is transported into the midst of a
galaxy of Saints and Sages. The saintly
author, Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, in
a unique style of down-to-the-earth
simplicity and love for the mankind to
benefit by the company of the wise, has
beyond doubt made it to happen! When you
go along with him, you will feel it. While one
after the other, the amazing life and
teachings of great masters are revealed,
you cannot miss the warm touch of the
great spiritual benefactor, somewhere in
your own heart.
About the Author:
Born on the 8th September, 1887, in the illustrious family of Saga Appayya Diskhita and several other renowned saints and savants, Sri Swami Sivananda had a natural flair for a life devoted to the study and practice of Vedanta. Added to this was an inborn eagerness to serve all and an innate feeling of unity with all mankind. His passion for service drew him to the medical career; and soon he gravitated to where he thought that his service was most needed. Malaya claimed him. He had earlier been editing a Health Journal and wrote extensively on health problems. He discovered that people needed right knowledge most of all; dissemination of that knowledge he espoused as his own mission. It was divine dispensation and the blessing of God upon mankind that the doctor of body and mind renounced his career and took to a life of renunciation to qualify himself for ministering to the soul of man. He settled down at Rishikesh in 1924, practiced intense austerities and shone as a great Yogi, Saint, Sage and Jivanmukta. In 1932 he started the Sivanandashram. In 1936 was born The Divine Life Society. In 1948 the Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy was organized. Dissemination of spiritual knowledge and training of people in Yoga and Vedanta were their aim and object. In 1950 he undertook a lightning tour of India and Ceylon. In 1953 he convened a 'World Parliament Reliogions'. He is the author of over 300 volumes and has disciples all over the world, belonging to all nationalities, religions and creeds. To read his works is to drink at the fountain of Wisdom Supreme. On 14th July, 1963 he entered Mahasamadhi.
Swami Sivananda's "Lives of Saints" was first published in 1941 and reprinted in 1943 and 1944. A companion second volume, under the same title, followed in 1947, the year of the Master's Diamond Jubilee. It contained life-sketched of may more saints not covered in the original publication.
In the current edition, we have endeavoured to consolidate, not only the stories included in the above two volumes, but also those written by Swami Sivananda in other miscellaneous books. As such, the present publication has verily turned out to be treasure trove of inspiring spiritual biography, instructive anecdotes and lofty admonitions of men and women of the highest realisation. For sheer variety and range, this book perhaps has no equal.
Here, two points deserve special mention. Firstly, this book is totally non-sectarian and free from prejudice of any kind. It thus manages with marvelous success to draw out the very best from each subject it touches. Secondly, as these sketches come from the pen of a spiritual personality, they present all the lives in a distinctive spiritual personality, they present all the lives in a distinctive spiritual perspective, which a layman writing the same biographies would hardly be able to do. This fact, in itself, enhances the worth and utility of the book a great deal.
We feel privileged to be able to offer this book to the reading public. May the light of these saints guide and illumine the path of the readers. May their blessings shower upon the readers and the whole mankind!---Shivanandanagar, February 19,1993.---THE DIVINE LIFE SOCIETY
Who is a saint? He who lives in God or the Eternal, who is
free from egoism, likes and dislikes, selfishness, vanity,
mine-ness, lust, greed and anger, who is endowed with equal
vision, balanced mind, mercy, tolerance, righteousness and
cosmic love, and who has divine knowledge, is a saint.
Saints and sages are a blessing to the world at large. They are
the custodians of superior divine wisdom, spiritual powers and
inexhaustible spiritual wealth. Even kings bow their heads at their
lotus feet. King Janaka said to Yajnavalkya, "o venerable sage! I
am grateful to your exalted holiness for obtaining the ancient
wisdom of the Upanishads through your lofty and .sublime
instructions. I offer my whole kingdom at thy feet. Further, I am
thy servant. I will wait on thee like a servant."
Such is the magnanimous nature of saints and sages. Their
very existence inspires others and goads them to become like
them and attain the same state of bliss achieved by them. Had it
not been for their existence, there would not have been spiritual
uplift and salvation for you all. Their glory is indescribable. Their
wisdom is unfathomable. They are deep like the ocean, steady like
the Himalayas, pure like the Himalayan snow, effulgent like the
sun. One crosses this terrible ocean of Samsara or births and
deaths through their grace and Satsang. To be in their company is
the highest education. To love them is the highest happiness. To
be near them is real education.
The saints wander from village to village and disseminate
divine knowledge. They move from door to door and impart
wisdom. They take a little for their bare maintenance and give the
highest education, culture and enlightenment to the people. Their
very life is exemplary. Whether they deliver lectures or not,
whether they hold discourses or not, it matters little.
Saints and sages only can become real advisers to the kings,
because they are selfless and possess the highest wisdom. They
only can improve the morality of the masses. They only can show
the way to attain eternal bliss and immortality. Shivaji had Swami
Ramdas as his adviser. King Dasaratha had Maharshi Vasishtha as
Study the lives of saints, you are inspired at once. Remember
their sayings, you are elevated immediately. Walk in their
footsteps, you are freed from pain and sorrow. Therefore, the
book "Lives of Saints" must be your constant companion. It must
be in your pocket always. It must be underneath your pillow.
Do not superimpose defects on the saints on account of your
Dosha-drishti or evil eye. You cannot judge their merits. Be
humble and sit at their feet. Serve them with your heart and soul,
keep them in your garden, clear your doubts. Get instructions and
practise them in right earnest. You will certainly be blessed.
Every school, every college, every boarding-house, every
jail, every institution, every house, should have a saint for
guidance. Saints are in abundance. You do not want them. You do
not wish to approach them. You do not wish to serve them. You do
not aspire for higher things. You are perfectly satisfied with some
broken shells and glass-pieces. There is no thirst or spiritual
hunger in you for achieving higher divine knowledge and inner
There is no caste among saints and sages. Do not look to their
caste. You will not be benefited. You cannot imbibe their virtues.
In higher religion, there is neither caste nor creed. Cobblers,
weavers and untouchables had become the best saints. Wisdom
and Self-realisation are not the monopoly of Brahmins alone.
South Indian Brahmins pay respects and give food only to the
Brahmin Dandi-Sannyasins. This is a serious mistake and a grave
blunder. What a sad state! That is the reason why saints do not
wish to visit South India. Punjab and Gujarat have devotion to all
saints. Hence the saints move in those parts and people there
derive much spiritual benefit from them.
In placing this book before the public in general, and the
aspirants in the spiritual path in particular, it seems proper to write
a few lines on the glory of saints. Saints, to whatever clime they
may belong, have left their footprints on the sands of time, so that
others, who are true and faithful, may follow their track in search
of the Eternal Truth. Their lives have ever remained an inspiration
to us. Their glory has ever been green in our memory. Their
teachings have ever flowed with the tide of life. May they inspire
us and guide us for ever!
The present work has been divided into thirteen sections.
Saints do not strictly belong to any clime or country and no
geographical limits can stop their influence from overflowing the
boundaries. They belong to the whole world. Hence, to attach to
them any provincial basis is to facilitate the easy understanding of
the spiritual current started by each separately and by all
conjointly for the spiritual regeneration of the land.
Man feels that he is weak and helpless. He has to counteract
such evil tendencies through right exertion and through proper
lead. To such persons the lives of saints serve as a guide. They
mould their life, their character and their future. They change
their mental outlook and convert them to the faith and teachings
of their guide. Such true and reliable guides are the saints who
have come and gone.
May this world be filled with good saints and sages! May
you all attain the supreme goal through their Satsang and advice!!
May the blessings of saints and sages be upon you all!!!
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