Inspired Life: a message from Swami Sivananda

A few years ago, during one of my many moments of perceived aimlessness in life, I came across a talk which was given by Swami Sivananda in Rishikesh many decades ago. I found it profoundly uplifting, and because Swami Sivananda's teachings are most of what sustains my own yoga teaching, I'd like to share this talk with you today.

Swami Sivananda was a born in south India he served for many years as a medical doctor before renouncing worldly life and establishing an ashram in Rishikesh, north India in 1932. His mission was to serve humanity through yoga and in 1936 founded the Divine Life Society. He developed the Yoga of Synthesis, an amalgamation of the Four Paths of Yoga that he summarised as: ‘Serve, love, give, purify, meditate, realise.’ He is the author of more than 300 books on all aspects of yoga providing spiritual guidance to millions around the world.

His key points in the speech I've transcribed below are:

  • Destiny is formed by a bundle of habits you create, therefore you are the master of your own destiny

  • By self-exertion (purushartha) you can work on changing your thoughts and therefore your habits

  • Do not let life get the best of you, stand like the lion that you are and assert your will. Do not let your mind get the best of you, stand like the lion that you are and exert yourself to gain control over the mind. Everything that you need to succeed is already within you.

To listen to the entire speech, you can click on this link. Part of it I've transcribed below:

"You are the architect of your own fate. You are the master of your own destiny. You can do and undo things. You sow an action and reap a tendency. You sow a tendency and reap a habit. You sow a habit and reap your character. You sow your character and reap your destiny. Therefore, destiny is your own creation. You can undo it, if you like. Destiny is a bundle of habits.​

Purushartha is self-exertion. Purushartha can give you anything. Change your habits, change your mode of thinking, and you will conquer your destiny. You are now thinking 'I am the body'. Start a spiritual anti-current and think 'I am immortal, diseaseless, sexless Atman'. By virtuous deeds and right thoughts you can disarm destiny. You have a free will to act. By self-exertion, Ratnakar became Valmiki. By self-exertion, Markandeya conquered death. By self-exertion alone did Uddalaka attain Nirvikalpa Samadhi.

Do not yield to fatalism. Do not become impotent. STAND like a lion! Exert and attain independence. There is a magazine of power within you! There is a vast ocean of knowledge within you! All faculties are latent in you.

Unfold them and become a Jivanmukta." - Swami Sivananda Saraswati

I hope this message gives you as much guidance and encouragement in life and yoga practice as it did for me.

Om shanti,


Yvonne is specialised in Yoga Therapy with over 800 hours of Yoga Alliance recognised training. With her you can practice an intense yet balanced yoga, always aimed at providing ease in body and mind.

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