Today we are having a double dose of Divinity. We are celebrating the Jayanthi (Birth Anniversary) of Sri Krishna and Sri Swami Sivanandaji. Krishna is the real Divine Stealer of Hearts. He is a personification of love. And, he is also a thief. He steals not only butter, but also your heart. That’s why he is called Navanitachora—the butter-thief! Of course, butter doesn’t mean the real physical butter that we spread on our bread. It means the cream of your heart.
The purpose of celebrating the Jayanthi of these two great Divine beings, Krishna and Sivananda, is to work on ourselves and to become those kind of buttered, better people. Yes, the butter people and the better people. Many of us had the good fortune of living with such a Krishna-personified soul. Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, the great sage of Himalayas, was just that sort of personification. He also loved to play, just as did Lord Krishna. He just made everybody feel good. He assumed the personality of everyone who came near him.
Most of us know what a crystal is. The crystal has no color of its own. But if you bring a rose close to the crystal, the crystal will look rosy. If you take away the rose and put a blue flower near the crystal, the crystal takes on the color of that blue flower. That means that the crystal assumes the color of the thing that is close to it. But at the same time, it doesn’t get affected by that color. It looks rosy because of the proximity of rose, but it doesn’t become rosy. It only looks that way.
That’s why, when Master Sivanandaji was next to a baby, he looked like a baby. When he was next to someone who was Christian, he was Christian. Next to a Buddhist, he became a super Buddhist. When a magician came, he became a magician. When a tennis champion came, he took up a racquet. We felt so fortunate to be with him, to watch him, to play with him, and to experience what Divine play means. He himself was the Book of Knowledge.
In his own very life, whatever he did, whatever he saw, he brought out the essential truth. He taught through his words and actions, however simple they were. And his words were very simple like that of a child. Even though he never went out of India other than to the little island of Sri Lanka, he was known all over the world. Everywhere around the world people came to know of him. His words spread out all over. He taught without teaching. He spoke without speaking. That is the greatness of Swami Sivananda. He was simply the Supreme Divinity functioning through a form named Sivananda. Though he is no longer functioning through a body, it seems that he is functioning through many hundreds and thousands of bodies.
His teachings were very, very simple: Learn to serve everybody with your body and mind. Love everybody. Give all that you can. Keep yourself pure. And when there is no opportunity to serve, then love, forgive, sit and meditate a little. If you ask him, “What should we meditate upon?” He will answer, “Ask yourself, ‘Am I ready to serve when I get the next opportunity?’ Meditate upon that.” Yes. Meditate on the next opportunity to serve. Serve, serve, serve, serve. Just by doing that you realize. You don’t have to worry about realization. It comes to you.
So these were his words. “Serve, love, give, purify, meditate, realize.” He, of course, talked a lot about Yoga. In a way, the world became aware of the Yoga practices, the asanas and pranayama, because of Sivananda. I can boldly say that. If it were not for Sivananda, the world would not even know the beauty of Yoga. He talked about the highest Yoga. And what is that? “Adapt, adjust, accommodate. Bear insult, bear injury; that is the highest form of Yoga.”
The highest form of Yoga is to learn how to adapt yourself in society. Just because you became a vegetarian, you need not make faces if others around you eat meat. You need not say, “I am a vegetarian!” Adaptability. Or, if you don’t get a comfortable bed to sleep in, or a nice, comfortable long pillow, then adjust. Adjust yourself to the bed and don’t look for the bed to adjust to you.
Let people feel comfortable with you. Don’t pose as a big figure, letting it be known that you are right and they are all sinners. You should feel at home with others and others should feel at home with you. Swim like a fish even in turbulent waters.
The most difficult part of Yoga is to bear insult. Even if somebody looks at you and says, “What kind of yogi are you? You are a rogue! You run around the world cheating people, exploiting them.” Accept it as great advice. Immediately learn to forget that insult. Bear insult, bear injury and do not retaliate. Instead, retaliate with love. What did Jesus say? If somebody gives you a nice slap on one cheek? Turn the other cheek.
There was another great saint in South India. His name is Thiruvalluvar. He goes even one step further. He says that if somebody slaps you on one cheek, immediately hold his hand, take a little butter and smear it. Say, “Ohh, your hand must be hurt. You know my cheek is very hard. Oh I’m sorry, it has pained your hand.” Put a little oil on it and gently rub it. Yes, because if you show the other cheek he has to hit you again and it will be paining again. That is what you call the Supreme Yoga.
Where is the greatness in standing on your head? Even a leech stands on its head. Any gymnastic person can do these things; in the circus we see plenty of bending like a pretzel. Anybody can just sit and meditate for hours and hours. Even a rock meditates. I am not criticizing those practices. They are all right. They have their benefit. But don’t just think, “Oh, because I am doing all these things I am big yogi. I can chant nice chants for half hour, one hour, two hours. I can sing melodiously.” Well, probably you are no better than a cuckoo bird or a nightingale. You can practice a long jump. A tiger can jump longer than you. And you can say, “Oh, I’m a big yogi; I can get buried under the ground for several days.” Your bedbugs do that. What is great in that? These are not the aims of Yoga.
The aim of Yoga is to be at ease anywhere and everywhere. Even if you are thrown into hell, you should feel yourself to be in heaven. And not only that, because of your presence in the hell, other people in hell should feel that it is heaven. Yes, it’s not just enough for you to feel it as a heaven. Make the very life itself a divine life. That’s why Sivanandaji called his organization the Divine Life Society. He said that it doesn’t matter what you do, where you are, make it divine. And what is divine? Just be happy, peaceful and useful.
So, on this auspicious occasion, let us remember that these great sages and saints are all always blessing us. It’s only up to us to open our heart and to receive it. There’s no scarcity of their blessings. You don’t even have to think, “Oh, only when I ask for blessings will He will give them to me.” It’s not that you are getting them because you are asking. But, by asking, you are opening your heart and the blessings come in.
You can stand in front of a holy person and say, “I don’t like you! I don’t want your advice!” But the mere fact that you are standing in front of them is enough to bring their blessings to you. That is the beauty of being in the presence of great masters. And, they don’t have to be in the physical frame to come near you. In a way, their light shines even brighter when they leave the body.
Maybe that is the reason why we celebrate days like this. Because it is a good excuse for us to think some good thoughts. The more you think of it, the more you become that. And I wish you all to have that kind of peaceful, useful, easeful life. May the blessings of the Supreme Lord Krishna and of the great sage of Himalayas, Sivananda, and all the sages and saints, be upon you all.
September 8th marks the Birth Anniversary of His Holiness Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj. Reprinted here is a tribute Sri Swami Satchidanandaji gave to his Gurudev on September 7, 1985 in Zinal, Switzerland.