For decades, my family members have been disciples of this lineage, including my great grandfather who in the 1900s was a disciple of Yogaswami. The lineage extends further back past Yogaswami to his guru, Chellapaswami, and beyond. Here, we’d like to share a little more about Yogaswami and Gurudeva.
Yogaswami was Sri Lanka’s most renowned contemporary spiritual master and was revered by both Hindus and Buddhists. Yogaswami found his guru, Sage Chellappan, in 1905 outside Nallur Temple, located in Jaffna at the northernmost tip of Sri Lanka.
In passing the temple one day, the young yogi encountered Chellappaswami shouting loudly: “Hey! Who are you? There is not one wrong thing! It is as it is! Who knows?” Suddenly, everything vanished in a sea of light for Yogaswami.
At a later encounter in a festival crowd, Chellappaswami ordered Yogaswami: “Go within. Meditate. Stay here until I return.” Three days later, Chellappan came back to find the obedient Yogaswami waiting for his master’s return.
This is the first photo ever taken of Yogaswami. There are only five known photos of him. This was taken in 1949 by Samy Pasupati at the then-residence of Dr. & Mrs.V.T. Pasupati in Chilaw, Sri Lanka.
Soon afterwards, 33-year-old Yogaswami gave up everything to follow Chellapaswami for the next five years. His life became filled with intense spiritual discipline and severe austerity.
Following Yogaswami’s ordination (sannyas diksha), his guru sent him away and never received him again. Chellappaswami died in 1911.
Yogaswami urged his students to be on the Sadhana Marga, the “Path of Spiritual Practice.” As opposed to theoretical and intellectual learning, the Sadhana Marga is the path of great effort, spiritual discipline and consistent inner transformation. This was Yogaswami’s prescription to truth seekers. Yogaswami’s teachings are conveyed in hundreds of songs he wrote, called Natchintanai or “good thoughts.”
Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, affectionately known as Gurudeva, was born near Lake Tahoe, California, on January 5, 1927. He was ordained by Yogaswami at 6:21 p.m. on the full-moon day of May 12, 1949, in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, just days after he had attained self-realization in the caves of Jalani in southern Sri Lanka.
Yogaswami ordained Gurudeva after only a few visits, initiating him with a slap on the back and the following instructions: “This sound will be heard in America! Now go ‘round the world and roar like a lion. You will build palaces (temples) and feed thousands.”
Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami is recognized worldwide as one of the foremost Hindu ministers of our time, contributing to the revival of Hinduism in immeasurable abundance. He was simultaneously a staunch defender of traditions as the tried and proven ways of the past, and a fearless innovator, setting new patterns of life for contemporary humanity.
Subra means “the light that emanates out from the central source.” Muni means a silent teacher. Ya means restraint. So together, Subramuniya means a self-restrained soul who remains silent or speaks out from intuition.
“Where awareness goes, energy flows.” ~ Gurudeva