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Registered User
(5/26/03 11:11 pm)
Swami Sivananda Radha
I don't know if people who use this site are familiar with Swami Sivananda Radha (1911-1995) but I thought I'd bring her name up because I found her personal story and her teachings to be very inspirational. According to the jacket info on one of her books, she is the first Western woman to be initiated into sanyas. (She was a German woman who emigrated to Canada after WWII and became a Canadian citizen.) This perspective of being a self-realized (?) Western woman following an Eastern tradition allowed her to address issues in a unique way that I found personally helpful. One of her books that I strongly recommend is her diary account of her first physical meeting with her guru Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh and her training leading up to her being assigned to start her ashram in Canada.

I was also surprised to find out about her Yogananda connection even though she never met him in person, just a close encounter in reincarnated (?) form during her Divine Light Invocation practice in front of some SRF (?) devotees who happened to be in the audience and recognized him suddenly standing by her during some of her US tours. Its a rather tongue-in-cheek story in her usual self-deprecating style which I can post if there's interest. Incidentally, she gives an account in her diary that this Divine Light Invocation was taught to her directly by Babaji in a mystical meeting with the avatar. I also like the fact that she really was resistant to starting an ashram because she knew all about the people problems that were bound to happen but her guru ordered her to. To quote, "There were times when there were so many scandals about gurus and disciples that I felt I just didn't want to be Swami Radha."

She also mentions that she first heard about Anandamayi Ma in reading AY and subsequently met her in person and was greatly helped by her spiritual support when trying to build her ashram.

I haven't found out much about her on the internet and her only official web address is her publishing company's website , Timeless Books which is mostly about her books of course and the yoga retreats at her ashram.

If there's anyone who's met her in person or been to her ashram, I'd love to hear. (I'm not in any position to verify whether any of her claims/credentials/mystical experiences are true or not and personally I think such things are not that relevant to the value of her advice on spiritual growth in general, so please no debates.) Some of the topics that are covered in her books that interested me was her account of her own initial fault-finding attitude towards her guru, trying to overcome her Western prejudices against a male-dominated, tradition-bound Indian culture, and dealing with doubts/emotions/differences between the sexes in spiritual practice and learning to apply her sense of discernment correctly to weed out the true meaning of a troublesome situation. In short, its the examples in the process of "change in attitude" that I found helpful. In that sense, I think someone following the Kriya path of Yogananda can find her books useful during everyday living. (Swami Radha's lineage follows her guru Sivananda's and emphasizes Hatha/Kundalini Yoga and Mantra Yoga.)


Registered User
(5/28/03 10:20 pm)
Re: Swami Sivananda Radha
Although I have never met her I have a deep liking for Swami Radhananda which is her sannyas name that was given to her by her guru, Swami Sivananda, who instructed her that she should be known as Swami Sivananda-Radha.

I recently also discovered that she was attending SRF group meetings in Canada, "just 2 years after PY's mahasamadhi, where she saw not Yogananda, but Sivananda in a vision. Having found out who he was she wrote to him at his ashram in Rishikesh. He invited her to visit and she arrived in August 1955 for a six months stay which is recorded in Radha: Diary of a Woman's Search." (1)

"But perhaps her most powerful experience was only indirectly linked with Sivananda. One day, she went to a ruined temple near the ashram. She never visited it before but felt 'an overpowering sense of familiarity.' She began to meditate and then 'suddenly became aware that there was someone nearby...He radiated great dignity and presence and in a flash I knew this was Babaji'--the Mahavatar who is the adiguru of Yogananda's line of kriya yoga gurus and can assume a body whenever he wishes to. Babaji taught her a mantra (in both Sanskrit and English, though she only remembered the English) for a technique known as the Divine Light Invocation."

"I could see very clearly the Light flowing into me while my eyes were closed. Babaji explained that I should practice this Invocation in order to help others and also to break the habit of thinking of myself either as the mind or as the body. He further told me that I should teach this to others. Then we fell silent. When I opened my eyes Babaji was gone. The sight of the Himalayas were dazzling--the same Light that I had seen flowing through my body was streaming forth from the living rock of the mountains.

When I beheld this awe-inspiring vista my consciousness was suddenly swept up as if by an enormous, overpowering wave to a plane far beyond anything I had ever experienced. Word could never describe this state of consciousness." (3)

1) The Book of Enlightened Masters
Western Teachers in Eastern Traditions
Andrew Rawlinson, author
Open Court, Publishers
2) Ibid
2) Radha: Diary of a Woman's Search
Swami Sivananda-Radha
Timeless Books, Publishers

She suffered from a type discrimination from her brother Sivananda swami's in that did not recognize her, or support her spiritual efforts, because of their cultural bias that sannyas is for men only. Thus her guru told her that she should return to the West to teach, found ashrams, and initiate disciples in her guru's name.

She passed away in 1996. Her's is a remarkable story, very inspiring. Her group's website is as follow:


Registered User
(5/30/03 9:08 pm)
Re: Swami Sivananda Radha
Yes, I MAY have briefly met Swami S-R back in the early 1970's. She was grey haired (like me:-), beautiful, full of energy AND loving. She was not giving any lecture at the time and I could have cared less WHO this yogini was I saw her as just IS. She did say that she had an ashram in Canada.

NOW, some time afterwards our meeting, I obtained a copy of "Divine Light Invocation" and had a feeling that this Swami Radha was the lady I had met

In my understanding, notice the Invocation contains 5 lines:

I am created by Divine Light
I am sustained by Divine Light
I am protected by Divine Light
I am surrounded by Divine Light
I am ever growing into Divine Light

Swami, in DLI, says the 5th line is not part of the original. She added it "as an affirmation for the direction of the will." The Mahamantra, Om Namaha Shivayah, in Sanskrit excluding the OM, is known as a panchatara mantra or mantra of 5 syllables which leads me to believe that the mantra she was given by Babaji, a Shiva Avatar, is Om Namaha Shivayah. One line for each letter of the mantra.

Registered User
(5/30/03 11:37 pm)
Re: Swami Sivananda Radha
The following is the anecdote with PY's appearance previously referred to from Ascent magazine published by Timeless Books, special issue dedicated to the late Swami, pages 34-5:

"At the time that I was given the Divine Light practice, Babaji said to me, "Teach it to everybody." I kept my word and I have taught everybody the Light Invocation. But it took me two years after he had taught me to know what I was doing, and it wasn't until I experienced my body as mass of Light that I felt I could teach it to others. In the first few years after coming back from India I often thought that it was not possible for me to teach this practice because I thougt to myself, I am not good enought, I am not honest enough, I am not pure enough, and I am certainly not holy enough. How can I do this? I am not even a member of the SRF nor am I a Yogananda disciple. It is crazy for me to think I can do this. People are quite right in asking me, "Who are you to make such claims?"

As a woman I went through all the traps that all women go through. So I really teach everybody from experience. I know how a woman feels.

Then I happened to visit the First Congregational Church in Los Angeles and I was asked if there was anything I could give the congregation. There was only ten minutes left in the service and I thought of the Light Invocation! I said to the congregation, "You always come here to get from your minister, but I have something you can give back, and it will also help you not to criticize your minister. Criticism is like lead - it pulls him down. You would like him to grow, but it is your criticism that holds him."

So I taught them the Light Invocation right there in the church. Four or five people came up to me afterwards and said, "Have you ever read Autobiography of a Yogi?"

I said I was familiar with it but I wanted to know what prompted them to ask about it.

They said, "While you were explaining the Light Invocation we saw a yogi standing next to you looking like the picture in Autobiography of a Yogi. We just wanted to know."

With a great sigh of relief I said to myself, So, it wasn't the fabrication of my own mind.

In Phoenix the same thing happpened, and again after I presented the Light Invocation to a group in Salt Lake City. After that I said, "OK, I don't need any more confirmation. I know I am not doing crazy things out of ambition, and now I will accept gratefully what is given."

Wonder what SRF would make of this...dare I need to ask?

Registered User
(5/31/03 10:29 am)
Re: Swami Sivananda Radha
Suttamonda, you end with:

"Wonder what SRF would make of this...dare I need to ask?"

Nope, if you've been reading the posts on this board, you shouldn't need to ask:-) SRF would blow this off probably by quoting a footnote from AY to the effect that Babaji doesn't appear in public and all Babajis are not SRF's Babaji.

Of course, this type of assurance is VERY consoling to devotees who with lessons, techniques, etc., already have plenty enough on their plates.

Personally, I believe Babaji has no limitations. Why SRF would teach otherwise can be learned from some critical analysis and reading the posts on this list.

Registered User
(5/31/03 1:10 pm)
Re: Swami Sivananda Radha
If you read the above article closely, I think Swami Radha meant that the figure that appeared next to her in Los Angeles was not Babaji but PY himself, hence my rhetorical question on SRF's reaction. Not that the reaction would be any different, probably more outrage and indignance.

I wonder what would happen if PY did appear in any of the services in one of his own temples? How would SRF react to such "sightings"? Especially if not everyone could see him? If it was one of the monastics, would they accept it or cast him/her out for causing unneccessary uproar? Of course if it was a group of devotees, I'm sure it would be out right denial (unless they were expecting/received a huge monetary donation). Okay I should stop being so cynical... this was not the intent of bringing the subject of Swami Radha anyway. Hers was a message of surrender, disciplined self-investigation and discrimination in the spiritual path.

So if the shoe was on the other foot, so to speak, what if PY did appear to someone we knew and we couldn't see him? What feelings would it stir in me? I wonder if I'd react much like the ones we criticize in SRF but try not to show it while feeling somehow in spiritual competition, or would I be genuinely happy for that person? A twinge here, a twinge there.

Another unrelated anecdote from Swami Radha I found interesting (from Time to be Holy pgs.42-5)
"I once met a Catholic nun who had a round, heavy build. She did not have a cultured face and beautiful hands. But the young nuns around her looked like little madonnas. This was because they hadn't started learning about themselves yet. The pain of self-awareness had not yet carved any lines into their faces. They were not as innocent as they looked-they were just ignorant."

"You cannot find self-worth in your personality aspects. They are just a bunch of traitors, screaming and throwing tantrums, and competing with each other. You can be a good wife and a bad doctor. You can be a marvelous teacher and a bad husband....Personality aspects come and go in our lives. Some we don't have when we are younger; they come as we get older. Some leave when we are in our middle age, and some go when we are even older. The personality aspects are not the immortal part. And everybody knows the body is born and has to die... 'Just as in this body the Embodied passes into childhood, youth, old age, so also does it pass into another body. The firm man does not grieve' (Bhagavad Gita, Second Discourse, verse 13)

This last quote from the Gita reminded me of the story of PY's father quietly accepting the death of his eldest son Ananta. (Mejda pg.69)

The above were just some rambling quotes that I felt like sharing, not meaning to lecture anybody. I just find that I like to flip back and forth between PY's teachings and SR's and make connections as I find them. Kind of indulging in the masculine and feminine expressions of wisdom I suppose.

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