Divine Life Society Rishikesh

The best way to understand the purpose of the Divine Life Society Rishikesh is to study the life and teachings of its founder, Swami Sivananda. Swami Sivananda’s life was characterized by generosity, service, and lovingkindness, which provides insight into the heart and soul of the organization that would grow up around him – the Divine Life Society.

Dr. Kuppuswami, who would later be known as Swami Sivananda, left his work as a doctor in Malaya to come to India in search of spirituality. In 1924, he found his way to Rishikesh, where he met a monk named Swami Viswananda.

Although they only knew each other for a short time, the swami could see the potential in the young doctor. Swami Viswananda offered to initiate Dr. Kuppuswami into the holy order of sannyasa, which began a life of renunciation and service. This period of extreme austerities, meditation, and service to others culminated in a spiritual awakening that transformed Swami Sivananda into an enlightened being.

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Swami Sivananda’s desire to continue his medical service led him to open a small clinic near Laxman Jhula. Swamiji performed this service for two hours each morning and afternoon and would continue that work for some years.

In 1924, another small Kutir (cottage) became available in Swarg Ashram, (across the Ganges from the present Sivananda Ashram site). This is where Swami Sivananda would come to reside for the next ten years. During this time, he was engaged in extensive meditation, spiritual practices, and service to others that set him apart from even the most adept and dedicated monks in the area.

Swami Sivananda never spoke directly about his enlightenment experience, but one can assume that at some point during his time spent in Swarg Ashram (1924-1934), he had a direct, life-changing experience with the divine. This would explain why he went from being an ardent seeker to the spiritual giant he became.

As word of his spiritual attainments spread, more and more devotees came to him seeking his teachings and blessings. The limited space provided by the Swarg Ashram authorities couldn’t accommodate all the visitors, so a decision was made to move across the Ganges to the western side. In January 1934, a decisive move was made.

The Divine Life Society

Given the fact that there was no suitable place to stay and no available resources, Swami Sivananda and the people who followed him took up temporary residence in an abandoned cow shed. Later on, the Maharaja of Tehri would become aware of the struggling group of swamis, and he generously gave a parcel of land on which the Ashram would come to be located.

Life was tough and the conditions were demanding, but the disciples still stayed because being in the presence of their great guru was worth it. In the early days of the movement, some of the disciples included Swami Swarupananda, Swami Atmananda, and Swami Paramananda. This core group became the foundation on which the Divine Life Society grew and flourished.

Gurudev (as Swami Sivananda came to be known by his disciples) was occasionally invited to come to Punjab and parts of Uttar Pradesh frequently to lead Sankirtan (devotional singing) conferences. While returning from one of those conferences with some devotees, Gurudev received the advice that he should register his newly developing ashram in some official capacity. The advice was that doing so would add an air of legitimacy and stability to the ashram.

With the grand idea of “do it now,” Gurudev got off the train at Ambala on January 13, 1936, to establish The Divine Life Society Trust. Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh became the headquarters for the Divine Life Society. They strive for spiritual outreach through books.

The first point of the Aims and Objects of the Divine Life Society is: “To Disseminate Spiritual Knowledge.” This was always Gurudev’s top priority, as he wanted to share everything he had.


Namaste! I am Om. I am a licensed Tourist Guide ( Approved by Ministry of Tourism, Government of India), I’m originally from Varanasi. Now, I am living in Rishikesh. I set up this blog to share my tips and experiences for traveling to inspire and help you to travel more. Hari Om

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