Swami Satchidananda: Apostle of Peace

by Sharon Gannon |
June, 2008
Swami Satchidananda: Apostle of Peace
Who will be the happiest person? The one who brings happiness to others.
Swami Satchidananda

His holiness, Swami Satchidananda, affectionately called Gurudev by many, is one of the most revered Yoga masters of our time. He exemplified the teaching of yoga by living a peaceful, ease-filled life. The term jivanmukta can most certainly describe this modern sage. He lived as a liberated being, joyfully dedicated to bringing happiness to others. Although he is credited with the founding of the Integral Yoga Institute, where his yoga method is taught world-wide, Gurudev remained free from any sense of ownership, as he was dedicated to the principle that “Truth is One, Paths are Many.” “I am not a Catholic, a Jew or a Hindu, I’m an un-do! My religion, if you can call it that, is anything that will make you healthy and happy,” he merrily proclaimed.

His vision of love was way too big to be contained under just one religion, and it inspired him to build a shrine in 1986, dedicated to universal peace, love and understanding. The Lotus Temple, at the Satchidananda Ashram in Yogaville, Virginia, USA, is a living monument to peaceful co-existence, where all forms of worship are honored under one roof in the shape of a lotus blossom, symbolizing the unfolding of the soul.

Gurudev taught us to find God in our own hearts by surrendering to His will, recognizing that each moment of life is an opportunity to let go and let God. Stop trying to fight against the world. Instead, join forces and accept each moment as a gift from the Divine. Everything and everyone is God, so serve them all. God doesn’t just live in heaven, or on an altar. Serve the dogs, the pigs, the cows, the sick, the poor and the needy. Although this was an ancient yogic message, he was able to make it seem new because of his deep passion and commitment to living in this way.

A well loved teacher, known for his combination of practical wisdom and spiritual insight, he was also clever to infuse his teachings with puns and humor. Here are a few examples: He and His art make the heart (he+art=heart). He and His ad make the head (he+ad=head). “The head“, says Gurudev, “is only an advertisement: it is the ego looking for recognition. If we want to get well then let’s start by looking at illness, and we will find that if we take the “I” out of illness, and replace it with a “we”, we will get wellness. So, if we can stop being so self-obsessed and instead do our best to make others happy and well, we will also benefit. Peace will come to the earth when each one of us begins to live peacefully.”

Swami Satchidananda was born in 1914 in South India. As a youth, he worked in the fields of mechanics, electronics and cinematography. After the untimely death of his wife, he directed his life toward intense sadhana, and in 1949, was initiated into the order of sannyas by Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh, receiving the name Satchidananda, meaning truth, knowledge and absolute bliss. For the remainder of his bodily existence, he devoted his life to the embodiment of this concept as a means to uplift others. He revealed the value of yoga as a living integrated lifestyle permeating into the modern fields of healthcare, education, politics, vegetarianism and ecology. He attained mahasamadhi (an enlightened soul’s final exit from the physical body/mind container) in 2002.

His radiant presence continues to inspire millions and his valuable, insightful teachings have been preserved by his students and admirers in the form of alternative medicine techniques (Dr. Dean Ornish), art (Peter Max), and music (Alice Coltrane), as well as Integral Yoga Centers, health food stores and Ashrams, and through the Integral Yoga Magazine (editor Dr. Premanjali), also through recorded talks, books, and film (Living Yoga – The Life & Teachings of Swami Satchidananda).

Please visit: www.swamisatchidananda.org.