The habit of giving was ingrained in him. When Sivananda advanced in his spiritual practices and tapped the mine of spiritual wisdom at greater and ever greater depths, he shared the wealth of his spiritual experience with others through conversation, lectures, letters, leaflets and articles in periodicals.
Pilgrims who met Swamiji began to correspond with him when they returned home. Others who read his tracts wrote to him. Sivananda replied to those letters and gave spiritual advice.
Swami Sivananda considered the gift of knowledge, as the greatest gift.
For this, Swamiji felt the printing press to be more important than the platform. What was heard might be forgotten in a day, but recorded knowledge would be of lasting benefit.
Everyone who wrote a letter to Swamiji or sent the smallest donation got some leaflet or pamphlet. Whenever Sivananda went out on tour, he made it a point to have spiritual literature printed for free distribution.
But Swamiji was not quite content with this method of leaflet distribution. With the growing of the Society, he felt that something must be mailed regularly to his correspondents. In September, 1938 was born “The Divine Life” the monthly magazine of the Divine Life Society.
Then in 1939, Sivananda got his first book published. “Practice of Yoga—Vol I” was printed in Madras. For more than two decades, Swamiji had to have his books printed by outside presses. Even after the Ashram press was started, it could not at first cope with all the production jobs that he wanted undertaken.
Swamiji attached so much importance to this work of dissemination of spiritual knowledge that even when there was a financial crisis in the Ashram, he refused to slow down the tempo of work on the publication side. He was willing to shut down the kitchen, but not the press. “We can all go to the Kshetra and live on alms” he would say, “but the Jnana Yajna must go on”.
The speed with which Sivananda brought out books was phenomenal. Generally he worked on three or four volumes at a time. Between his first publication in 1939 and his Mahasamadhi in 1963, he wrote over three hundred books. They included commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita, the Principal Upanishads, the Brahma Sutras, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, Sandilya Bhakti Sutras and Narada’s Bhakti Sutras; scores of books on the practice of Yoga and Vedanta, and many volumes on health and vigour.
Questioned as to how he found time to write so much with his tight daily routine, Swamiji told a disciple:
“You should allot one hour to each subject every day or once in two days. Then in six months, you are amazed with the progress you have made in all these works.
“There should be a system and method first arranged in your mind. Then the action proceeds smoothly.”
Swamiji had an extremely facile pen. Effortlessly, sentences became paragraphs, paragraphs turned into pamphlets and pamphlets into books.
Ashram workers sometimes delayed the return of the manuscript notebooks entrusted to them for typing. Swamiji had to use more and more notebooks. He kept some in the writing room and some in the office, so that any moment he would be able to write. He kept several pens ready. He kept a pair of spectacles in the writing room, another in the almirah, a third in the office. No time should be lost in searching for them, work was of paramount importance. He kept several flashlights too—one near the bed, one near his writing desk, one near the easy chair on which he rested. Even at dead of night, if a good thought came, it must at once be recorded. It must not be lost to the world.
Sometimes Swamiji did the typing himself. The entire book “Sure Ways for Success in Life and God-realisation” was typed by him directly onto a machine without draft. For Sivananda, moments of inspiration were not interspersed with moments of depression. It was all a chain of inspired moments for him. His knowledge welled up from within. His difficulty was that he did not find time to express all his thoughts. Once he said to a student: “I cannot stop writing. I will write till I become blind. If I become blind, I will dictate and somebody will write for me. Thus I will continue my mission of dissemination of spiritual knowledge till the end of my life.”
Sivananda did not look to grammatical perfection or high literacy standard. His main concern was to disseminate as much spiritual knowledge in as short a time as possible. “I believe in maximum spiritual good to the public in a short space of time” wrote the Master, in a letter to his disciple.
Sivananda wrote to serve. The pen was his weapon, and he used it lovingly. He did not criticise; only coaxed. He wrote with both spiritual depth and intellectual persuasion. He did not condemn the scientific mind of the Space Age, but interpreted Patanjali Maharshi and Bhagavan Krishna in the spirit of the Age of Science.
He used every form of literary expression to convey his point to the reader. Poetry and drama, letter and essay, story and parable, aphorism and lecture—all media were adopted by him to spread knowledge of Divine Life.
Swamiji’s style was aphoristic and his language simple. His writings were lucid, sparkling and pure like a mountain stream springing from a mighty rock.
To the earnest spiritual aspirant who asked, “What should I do now? When I get up tomorrow morning, what do you actually want me to do?” To such a Sadhaka, Sivananda’s books were like manna dropping from heaven. They were 100% practical.