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Who is God? Selections from “Practice of Bhakti Yoga” by Sri Swami Sivananda Saraswati (vegetarian), Part 1 of 2

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His Holiness Sri Swami Sivananda Saraswati Maharaj (vegetarian) was born in1887, in southern India. He was a respected yoga guru and Hindu spiritual teacher who developed the Yoga of Synthesis method for the harmonious development of the self by combining the four yogas of Hinduism, namely “Karma yoga, the path of action; Bhakti yoga, the path of devotion; Raja yoga, the path of psychic control; and Jnana yoga, the path of self-analysis and knowledge.” His Holiness Sri Swami Sivananda Saraswati expounded on the benefits of vegetarianism both for human health and spiritual development, stating that “flesh eating involves the exercise of cruelty, which is not an elevating virtue. It is a [… brutal] quality which degrades the human.”

Today, it is an honor to present selections from the book “Practice of Bhakti Yoga” by His Holiness Sri Swami Sivananda Saraswati, focusing on Chapter 1 “Gospel of Bhakti.”

“God is Truth, God is love. God is light of lights. He is an embodiment of eternal bliss, supreme peace and wisdom. He is all-merciful, omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent. He has neither beginning nor end. He is the Supreme Being or Paramatma. The Gita styles Him as Purushottama or Supreme Purusha or Maheswara. He knows everything in detail (Sarva-vit). He is the support for this world, body, mind, Indriyas [the senses] and Prana [the life force energy]. Without Him not an atom can move.”

“He has the six attributes of Divine wisdom (Gyana), dispassion (Vairagya) powers (Aishwarya), strength (Bhal), wealth (Sri) and fame (Kirthi). Hence He is called Baghawan. He is the absentee landlord of this world. He is the wire-puller (Sutradhar) of all these physical bodies of beings. He is the Inner Ruler (Antaryamin) of all beings. He dwells in your heart. He is in you and you are in Him.”

“God-Realization alone can put an end to the Samsaric wheel of birth and death with its concomitant evils such as birth, growth, disease, death, sorrow, pain, etc. Eternal happiness can be had only in God. That is the reason why sages and saints, scriptures and Srutis make a very emphatic statement and lay great stress on the importance and necessity of God-Realization. Bhakti or devotion can help one in the attainment of this God-Realization. Cultivate Bhakti and come face to face with God, taste the nectar of God-Consciousness which alone is the summum bonum [highest good] of human life …”
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