- Shivananda Saraswati, Swami
- (1887–1963)founder of Divine Life SocietySwami Shivananda Saraswati was an Indian saint, YOGA teacher, and author of more than 200 books on spirituality. Through his disciples, he played a major role in spreading Hinduism and YOGA throughout the world.Kuppuswami Iyer was born on September 8, 1887. His father was a pious Hindu government official who sent him to college and to medical school. His father died before he finished medi-cal training and Kuppuswami was forced to leave school. Nevertheless, he maintained his interest in medicine and began a medical journal that specialized in preventive medicine and the Indian AYURVEDIC system of health. He administered a hospital in Malaya, where his meeting with a wandering holy man inspired his own spiritual search.Returning to India he began a pilgrimage around the country. He settled in the holy city of RISHIKESH, where he was initiated into SANNYAS (renunciation) by Swami Viswananda Saraswati and given the name Swami Shivananda Saraswati. Living at Swargashram on the GANGES River, he devoted himself to MEDITATION, study, and giving of spiritual guidance to a growing group of disci-ples. He emphasized BHAKTI YOGA and KARMA YOGA and opened a dispensary to serve the residents of the ASHRAM.In 1934 he established his own ashram, Ananda Kutir (Abode of Bliss), across the river in Rishikesh. It had a dispensary and meditation rooms for silent retreats. In 1936 he founded the Divine Life Trust with the goal of spiritualizing all of India. The Divine Life Society was begun as an auxiliary to the trust, and a monthly periodi-cal was begun. Swami Shivananda also began the Forest Academy to train students in his teaching. He died on July 14, 1963.Although Swami Shivananda’s health pre-vented him from visiting the West, he became one of the most influential forces in the dis-semination of Hinduism and yoga throughout the world through his students and disciples. His student Swami Shivananda RADHA (Sylvia Hill-man) founded the YASODHARA ASHRAM SOCIETY in Vancouver. Another student, Swami Vishnude-vananda, founded a chain of SHIVANANDA YOGA VEDANTA CENTERS in the United States and Can-ada. In 1959, Swami Chidananda, Shivananda’s successor as head of the Divine Life Society, orga-nized the society in the United States. Another student, Swami JYOTIRMAYANANDA, founded the Yoga Research Society in 1962, and SWAMI SAT-CHIDANANDA created the Integral Yoga Institute in 1966. His disciple and secretary of the Divine Life Society, Swami KRISHNANANDA, although he did not travel to the West, wrote extensively and welcomed seekers from the West to the ashram in Rishikesh.Further reading: Wami Krishnananda, Swami Shiva-nanda and the Spiritual Renaissance (Shivanandanagar: Divine Life Society, 1959); Shiva Shivananda, Sadhana (Shivanandanagar: Divine Life Society, 1958); ———, Science of Yoga, 18 vols. (Shivanandanagar: Divine Life Society, 1977); ———, Yoga Asanas (Shivanandanagar: Divine Life Society, 1969); Swami Venkateshananda, Gurudev Shivananda (Shivanandanagar: Divine Life Society, 1961).
Encyclopedia of Hinduism. A. Jones and James D. Ryan. 2007.