October 2016 On May 21, 2016, the Government of India released the commemorative postage stamp at the Divine Life Society International Headquarters (Sivananda ashram), Rishikesh, to mark the 100th birth Anniversary of HH Swami Chidananda Saraswati, former President of the organisation. The governor of Uttarakhand, Dr KK Kaul, released the stamp along with the Chief Postmaster General and Swami Vimalananda, the present President of Divine Life Society. The three-year birth centenary worldwide celebration (2014 to 2016) of H H Swami Chidananda Saraswati was formally inaugurated at Sivananda Centenary Boys high school in Bhubaneswar (Odisha) by the Former President of India, the late Dr APJ Abdul Kalam on 25th January, 2014. The late Swamiji was born on September 24th, 1916, in the city of Mangalore, Karnataka, to Srinivasa Rao and Sarojini Devi. His pre-monastic name was Sridhar Rao. His early spiritual life was shaped by Sri Anantayya, his grandfather’s friend and Krishna Rao, his maternal uncle. Later, Sridhar’s spiritual life was deeply inspired by spiritual luminaries like Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Swami Vivekananda, Ramana Maharshi, Papa Ramdas and Swami Sivananda. While studying at Loyola College he gained an understanding of Lord Jesus and assimilated the essential teachings of Christianity. To him, the Bible was the living word of God, as living and real as the words of the Vedas, the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita. Even while he was a student, Swamiji’s natural inclination was to serve the poor, the sick and the downtrodden. He built huts on the lawns of his home and served lepers personally. After joining Sivananda Ashram he continued this service to the needy. His service was not confined to leprosy patients or human beings alone but also extended to birds, animals and plants, as Swamiji saw the presence of God in all. His deep interest in the welfare of lepers impressed the government authorities and he was elected the Vice Chairman of the Leper Welfare Association. He also founded, under the guidance of Swami Sivananda, the Yoga Museum in 1947, in which the entire philosophy of Vedanta and all the processes of yoga are depicted in the form of pictures and illustrations. He delivered lectures, wrote articles for magazines, and gave spiritual instructions to visitors. In August 1963, after the Mahasamadhi of the Master Swami Sivananda, Swami Chidananda was elected the President of the Divine Life Society. He held aloft the banner of renunciation, love and spiritual idealism, not only through his deeds but also personally in the hearts of countless seekers throughout the world, who eagerly sought his advice, help and guidance. In the Western world, Swami Chidananda is famously known as “The Saint Francis of India”. He was a living example of the beautiful prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi. “Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace… It is in pardoning that we are pardoned; It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.”
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