- Krishnananda, Swami
- (1922–2001)philosopher of advaita VedantaSwami Krishnananda was a great scholar of San-skrit scripture, who shared his learning in many books and lectures. He served the Divine Life Society in Rishikesh as secretary for 40 years.Subbaraya, later named Swami Krishnananda, was born on April 25, 1922, the eldest of six siblings in an orthodox Madhva BRAHMIN family. Raised through the example of his father’s holiness and piety, Subbaraya learned to maintain his family’s religious tradition with earnestness. He became versed in SANSKRIT as a young boy and was a passionate learner of scripture. Subbaraya attended school in Puttur, where he excelled in all subjects, rising to the top of his class. Aside from his usual studies, he spent time reading and memorizing Sanskrit scriptural texts. At age 16 he memorized the entire BHAGAVAD GITA by heart, reciting it each day.Subbaraya’s self-study of major Hindu scrip-tures led him to an acceptance of ADVAITA (non-dual) philosophy. His growing interest pushed him toward a renunciation of the material world, even as he was pressured by his father and uncle to seek employment and earn money. Subbaraya accepted a government post at the Hospet Govern-ment Training School in Bellary District in 1943 but soon fell ill and returned home. Succumbing to his desire for the religious life, he traveled to Rishikesh in 1944 to join the Sivananda ashram. In 1946 Swami SIVANANDA initiated Subbaraya into SANNYAS (renunciation), giving him the name Swami Krishnananda.Swami Krishnananda was employed at the ashram as a letter writer and editor of books. Sivananda later gave him the job of handwriting and typing manuscripts. In 1948, at Sivananda’s request, Krishnananda began to write books on philosophy and religion. He accepted the task with great zeal and wrote his first book, The Real-ization of the Absolute, in a mere two weeks. He spent the remainder of his life writing commen-taries on Hindu scriptures and delivering lectures on Eastern and Western philosophy and religion.In 1957, Krishnananda became secretary of the ashram and focused his attention on managing finances. In 1961, he was nominated by Sivananda to the position of general secretary of the Divine Life Society. Krishnananda retained this position for the next 30 years until his death on November 23, 2001.Swami Krishnananda is recognized for his knowledge of scriptures, his balance of KARMA (action) and JNANA (learning) YOGA, and his ability to communicate complicated concepts to students. He was a regular lecturer, teaching three-month-long courses at the Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy of the Divine Life Society. His literary skill was used in varying degrees throughout Sivananda’s organizations. He was made president of the Siva-nanda Literature Research Institute because of his understanding of all 300 of his guru’s works. He was later made president of the Sivananda Lit-erature Dissemination Committee, which worked on translating Sivananda’s books into the major Indian languages.Swami Krishnananda wrote over 40 books of his own, including works of poetry. His topics included yoga, MEDITATION, traditional scriptures, mysticism, and philosophy. Many of these books convey an essential message of peace, wisdom, and SELF-REALIZATION, which the Divine Life Soci-ety continues to spread.Further reading: Swami Krishnananda, An Introduc-tion to the Philosophy of Yoga (Shivanandanagar: Divine Life Society, 1982); ———, Meditation, Its Theory and Practice (Shivanandanagar: Divine Life Society, 1974); ———, The Philosophy of the Bhagavad-Gita Swami Krishnananda (1922–2001), scholar, teacher, and secretary of Divine Life Society, Rishikesh (Courtesy Divine Life Society, Rishikesh) (Shivanandanagar: Divine Life Society, 1980); ———, The Realization of the Absolute (Rishikesh: Divine Life Society, 1972).
Encyclopedia of Hinduism. A. Jones and James D. Ryan. 2007.