The video of 125-year-old Swami Sivananda receiving Padma Shri from President Ramnath Kovind has been doing the rounds of social media and it is possibly one of the most heart-warming videos one has seen in recent years.
It is certainly an emotional moment to see the dhoti-clad centenarian walking up to receive the Padma but it was even more emotional to see him doing namaskars as both PM Modi and President Kovind returned the gesture as those present greeted Swami Sivananda with applause. Swami Sivananda has been a resident of Varanasi’s (UP) Bhelupur since 1979. He had earlier appealed to the citizens to get vaccinated.
Swami Sivananda was born in present-day Bangladesh’s Sylhet district on August 8, 1896. His mother passed away when he was 4 and two years later he lost his father at the age of six years. Reports state that his parents would feed him boiled rice water during his childhood days owing to poverty.
He states that he doesn’t have any sorrow in his heart about the passing away of his parents while citing the Bhagavad Gita which says if someone takes birth then are bound to die in order to take rebirth. Following the passing away of his parents, he was brought to Guru Omkarananda Goswami Ji’s ashram in West Bengal’s Nabadwip. It was his Guru who imparted practical and spiritual education including training in yoga.
“The world is my home, its people are my fathers and mothers, to love and serve them is my religion” is the philosophy Swami Sivananda lives by since a young age. It is his disciplined life that has helped him lead a happy and healthy life. His day begins with yoga early in the morning and his oil-free boiled diet as well as service to the people get his going. According to him, yoga helps one to lead a healthy life as well as the path to divinity since it controls the senses, mind, and will.
He says “Guru is my visible God. God has to take the form of a Guru to grant you liberation from the bondage of birth and death”. His diet comprises of dal, sabzi (occasionally potatoes), along with 2 rotis during the day and 2 at night. He also practices yoga for two hours daily. “God is the whole, you are the infinitesimal part of the whole and so you are God. God is omnipresent. The whole world is the manifestation of God”, Swami Sivananda says detailing his concept of God.
His simplistic life is explained by the goal Swami Sivananda has set for himself. He says his only aim is to reach God and attain freedom from the cycle of birth and death. He also opines that he hasn’t come into this world to earn money. He also believes true wealth lies in gaining knowledge and not earning money. Outlining how one can lead a happy life, Swami opines “no desire ensures no disease and no depression”.
“Swami Sivananda has been serving leprosy-affected people at Puri for the past 50 years. It has been reported that he has served at least 400-600 leprosy-affected beggars with dignity at Puri by personally meeting them at their hutments”, FirstPost notes regarding his social service work.
As per the official statement issued by Rashtrapati Bhavan, “he stands strong enough to perform yoga for hours. Swami Sivananda sleeps on a mat on the floor and uses a wooden slab as a pillow. Fit without any medical complications, he practices Yoga every day and performs all rituals on his own”.
He has traveled around the globe to familiarize people with his way of living and life lessons. He admits that he is not just the oldest but also the happiest living man in the world. His humility and simplicity are definitely worth emulating. Swami Sivananda surely personifies the saying age is just a number.
(Featured Image Source: The Economic Times)