Born on the 8th September, 1887, in the illustrious family of Saga Appayya Diskhita and several other renowned saints and savants, Sri Swami Sivananda had a natural flair for a life devoted to the study and practice of Vedanta. Added to this was an inborn eagerness to serve all and an innate feeling of unity with all mankind.
His passion for service drew him to the medical career; and soon he gravitated to where he thought that his service was most needed. Malaya claimed him. He had earlier been editing a Health Journal and wrote extensively on health problems. He discovered that people needed right knowledge most of all; dissemination of that knowledge he espoused as his own mission.
It was divine dispensation and the blessing of God upon mankind that the doctor of body and mind renounced his career and took to a life of renunciation to qualify himself for ministering to the soul of man. He settled down at Rishikesh in 1924, practiced intense austerities and shone as a great Yogi, Saint, Sage and Jivanmukta.
In 1932 he started the Sivanandashram. In 1936 was born The Divine Life Society. In 1948 the Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy was organized. Dissemination of spiritual knowledge and training of people in Yoga and Vedanta were their aim and object. In 1950 he undertook a lightning tour of India and Ceylon. In 1953 he convened a 'World Parliament Reliogions'. He is the author of over 300 volumes and has disciples all over the world, belonging to all nationalities, religions and creeds. To read his works is to drink at the fountain of Wisdom Supreme. On 14th July, 1963 he entered Mahasamadhi.
"Prayer is the key of morning and bolt of evening": In these terse words, Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj sums up the entire significance of what may be appropriately called the spiritual Sadhana with universal scope. For, the rich and the poor, the healthy and the disabled, young and old-all alike can pray, any time, anywhere. Prayer is a luxury to none. It is a necessity for all
There is no gainsaying the fact that if the day is begun with a few moments of communion with God and ended up with a few more moments of thanksgiving, life's burdens will be largely lessened. It will introduce a certain stability and balance in our daily lives by enabling us to draw on the fount of a higher wisdom.
What are called prayers in common parlance are no better than personal appeals to God for relief from suffering. Genuine prayer, on the other hand, must be offered in weal and in woe, not merely for one's own welfare but for the welfare of all. Such a prayer is typified by "Protect the Poor" (Vide page 50), where Swamiji prays not for himself, but for the poor, the atheists, the widows and orphans, the invalids, the birds and the animals and even the crops and the trees.
Prayer must not only be unselfish; it must also spring from the heart. It is only pure love which can give birth to a beautiful prayer. Where Swamiji calls Lord Rama as his "eighth brother" and Mother Sita as "Manni dear" (In the Tamil language, 'Manni' is an endearing tem used to signify the brother's wife), he is not merely uttering so many flowery words, but is giving expression to that supreme and enviable state of attunement which he has reached with regard to the Almighty.
Even Swamiji did not reach that state in a day. He had to struggle and struggle hard. At every stage in the spiritual battle, his heart poured forth its feelings of agony, of joy, of surrender and separation, of thirst for liberation. These our-pourings of the Sage of Rishikesh form a major attraction of the present volume
The book is divided into five sections. Section One contains Swamiji's cryptic aphorisms on the technique of prayer and its benefits. In the next three Sections are included his prayers, in prose and in verse, classified under suitable heads. Section Five contains short essays on the subject.
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