Swami Sivananda Saraswati, one of the greatest Yoga masters of the 20th century, is the inspiration behind the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers. He was born in 1887 in Pattamadai, South India. His name was Kuppuswami.
His naturally selfless spirit lead him to a career in the medical field, and he moved to Malaysia where he felt there was great need. Soon after, he was given the responsibility of running a hospital. During these years, Dr. Kuppuswami was renowned as being both an excellent doctor and a true humanitarian. One day, Dr. Kuppuswami had the opportunity to cure a wandering Sannyasin (renunciate or Monk) who then gave the doctor instruction on Yoga and Vedanta.
From that day on, his life changed and Dr. Kuppuswami gradually became more introspective.
He could not stop pondering the great questions of life. He felt the need to help people on a more profound level, not just healing their physical body but helping them to find a cure for all suffering.
Filled with a tremendous desire for spiritual growth and enlightenment, Kuppuswami went to North India in search of his guru, who gave him Sannyas (a monk's vows of renunciation). After taking these vows, Swami Sivananda Saraswati, as he would henceforth be known, started an extremely intense daily Sadhana (spiritual practices) and Tapas (austerities) for the next 10 years or so. By the end of this period, many co-Sadhus felt moved by Swami Sivananda’s instruction and spiritual inspiration.
From that time on, Swami Sivananda became one of the most prolific Yoga teachers ever to exist. Although he rarely left the little town of Rishikesh, his teachings spread quickly throughout the world. He wrote more than 200 books related to Yoga and Philosophy in a style that is very direct and bursting with dynamic, spiritual energy.
The teachings of Master Sivananda are summarized in the following 6 words:
"Serve, Love, Give, Purify, Meditate, Realize."
His most important contributions include helping to expand yoga to the whole world by making English the official language in his ashram. He also liberally taught and initiated students of all castes, countries, and creeds - men and women alike.
In 1957, Swami Sivananda sent his disciple, Swami Vishudevananda, to the U.S. where he established the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers (SYVC). This has been one of the most visible groups representing the great master.
Swami Sivananda left his physical body on July 14, 1963.
Sivananda Yoga Table of Contents