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Chidananda


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Swami Chidananda (D.L.S.)

One of the holiest persons I ever had the good fortune to meet a couple of times was Swami Chidananda Saraswati. The first time I read about him was in a Dutch book, called "A Year with the Yogis from India and Tibet", by Mrs Lily Eversdijk Smulders. That was in 1969. The book also mentioned a nun, called Radha, and who is now better known as Swami Shivananda Radha. Both are chelas or pupils of one and the same Guru, the late Swami Shivananda Saraswati, founder of the Divine Life Society in Rishikesh. I must say that few Swamis have impressed me with their sincerity and humility - in my humble opinion the outstanding characteristics of the true Yogi - as did Swami Chidanandaji. He was born in the affluent home of a landowner in South India on 24 September 1916, and was named Shridar Rao. He was deeply interested in Hindu scriptures from an early age. One day he decided to become a Rishi. His education in Christian school and particularly in Loyola College, Madras, provided ample opportunity to study Christianity. The life of Christ, the apostles and Christian saints made a great impression on his gentle personality. Like Jesus, he took great interest in the sick. On the vast lawns of his home he built huts for lepers and attended them personally. His compassion reached out to sick animals as well. The teachings of Shri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda and Swami Shivananda were most influential in determing his faith and life. Leaving home in 1943 he became a member of Shivananda Ashram. Soon he was delivering lectures, writing articles and counselling seekers. By 1948 he was made the Great Secretary of the Society and was initiated into the order of Sannyasa. Shridar Rao became Swami Chidananda ("one who is in the highest consciousness of bliss"). His foreign tours began in 1959. Since then he has been to most of the main cities of India, Asia, Europe, South Africa, Australia and North and South America. Shri Swami Chidananda has become the President of the Divine Life Society.

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