123 The Happiest Man
Ageless & Agile
A lifespan of 13 decades across two centuries. Witness to one of the most action-packed eras in human history. People always ask Swami Sivananda for the secret of his health and longevity. His answer is deceptively simple: simplicity. He adheres faithfully to prescribed principles of yama-niyama, the famous dos and don’ts laid down for a yoga practitioner or sadhaka. Things to do and things to avoid. The rigour seems natural on him, utterly unforced. He radiates a contentment that can only come from sharp clarity of purpose.
There is no doubt his discipline and restraint have served him well. For a human body that has seen the wear and tear of over a century and a quarter, what an impressive sight it is to see him bend, ever so easily, into balasana, the supple ‘child’ pose!
A Meandering Life
The venerable yoga guru caught the imagination of the people in March 2022, when he walked up at Rashtrapati Bhavan to accept the Padma Shri from President Ramnath Kovind. Barefoot, clad in his habitual dhoti-jubba, his disarming humility endeared him to millions who heard about him for the first time. His long years of service to society now widely acknowledged… at the age of 125.
Swami Sivananda was born to an extremely poor family in 1896, in Sylhet, which is now in Bangladesh. Tragedy struck early. By the age of six, he had lost both parents and a sister. He was handed over to Swami Onkarananda Goswami in Nabadwip, and from then, in his Master’s wake, he travelled first to Vrindavan and then to Varanasi, where he would stay for the rest of his years.
The lack of roots and family led him to treat the whole world as his home, take everyone as his own… true inclusiveness that yoga is essentially all about. Apart from spreading the technology of yoga, his particular project is to provide relief to those affected by leprosy, which he has been doing for over 50 years.
By the Ganga