Swami Shivapremananda was born on 26 July 1925 in the state of West Bengal, India, in the town of Berhampore (now Bohorompur) about 100 miles north-northwest of Kolkata. His education was informal and self-taught to the extent that he was considered knowlegeable enough to be invited to lecture on comparative philosophy at the Pusey Institute of the Oxford University in the summer of 1973.
On 10 January 1945, he was accepted by Swami Sivananda to join his Ashram at Munikireti on the bank of the river Ganga (Ganges) two miles north of Rishikesh in the district of Dehra Dun, Uttarakhand, in the North-Central India.
Swami Shivapremananda was born in a Brahmin family and was given the name Sukhendu Ranjan Ray. His Brahmin surname is Deva Sharma which he does not use. His father's name is Sudhendu Ranjan Ray. He was an educationist. His mother's name was Swarnalataa Bagchi who came from a wealthy commercial family dealing in silk.
At first Swamiji worked in the circulation department of The Divine Life
magazine, of which he became the editor and publisher in January 1949. In the same month Swami Sivananda started a monthly magazine, Wisdom Light
, for the members of the Divine Life Society, and appointed Swami Shivapremananda its editor.
Deputed to the West
In this position Swamiji continued for over 12 years until August 1961, when he was deputed by Swami Sivananda to go to Western Europe and North America at the invitation of groups interested in the major branches of Yoga.
On 10 November 1961, Swami Shivapremananda founded the Sivananda Yoga-Vedanta Center at Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
From April 1964 to April 1970 he was the President and Director of the Sivananda Yoga-Vedanta Center of New York, founded earlier by the late Swami Vishnudevananda.
In India Swami Shivapremananda took part in Eye-Relief Camps in Saurashtra now absorbed in Gujarat, which were conducted by eye-surgeons in December 1957 and January and March 1956.
Earlier, Swamiji visited the sanctuary of Kedarnath in the summer of 1952, situated at 14,200 feet in the Central Himalayas.
In July 1953, he went with two companions (the late) Swami Vishweshwarananda and (the late) Swami Raghavananda from the Sivananda Ashram to the famous sanctuary of Badrinath at 12,000 ft, and then on to Western Tibet. They crossed the border ahead of the village of Garbeyang, and adjascent to the frontier of Nepal, walking on foot and crossing over Lipulekh pass at 17,600 ft, and the Gurla Mandhata pass even higher. They descended into the village of Taklakot at over 14,000 ft. There they stayed at the Similing Gompa (monastery).
Then Swamiji hired a local Tibetian guide and walked northward on the right side of the sacred Lake Manas Sarovar. They walked farther north to even more sacred Mount Kailash.
Just on the left side of the bridle path is Rakshas Tal (lake), a little smaller than Manas Sarovar. Between two lakes they walked to Farkha at 16,000 ft., for 15 miles, and began the parikrama or circling around Mount Kailash. On the way they went up to 18,600 ft. to the snow-bound small lake, Gauri Kund. The total ciculing distance is 27 miles, which they covered in three days. On the way they stayed at three Gompas. The monks gave them their traditional hospitality.
They returned back to Parkha and went to the frontier and crossed over the two passes already mentioned, and to the border village of Garbeyang in India. It had a single narrow road, deep in mud.
Walking on foot towards Rishikesh, they stayed at the Narayan Ashram near Ashkot. Finally, they reached Rishikesh by bus.
In 1953, for the Indian pilgrims no visa was required. Now group visas are given by the Tourist Department of the Chinese Government.
In 1968, Swamiji went around the world from New York. Invited by groups interested in yoga, he stopped at same places to give lectures, such as at Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, Bangkok in Thailand, Phnom Penh in Cambodia, Hong kong, and Tokyo and Osaka in Japan.
Meanwhile, in May 1961, (now late) Dr. Mateo Magariños, then Deputy Foreign Minister of Uruguay, contacted the Uruguayan ambassador in New Delhi, Dr. Orlando Nadal, to find out the possibility of inviting a comprehensive yoga teacher to Montevideo. Similarly, another group was interested in Buenos Aires to co-sponsor the invitation. Among them was Dr. Moscera Eastman, president of the Argentine Society of Writers and Editors, who was later to serve as ambassador in New Delhi. Also interested was Dr. Fernando Fernández Escalante, who served as ambassador in New Delhi, as well.
These two groups asked Dr. Nadal in New Delhi to enquire on the subject. In New Delhi he was directed to the well-known Ashram of Swami Sivananda near Rishikesh.
The Ramakrishna Mission is a much more famous organisation founded by Swami Vivekananda in 1893, but it does not teach Hatha Yoga. It has branches all over India, in Western Europe, and North and South America.
Dr. Nadal drove from New Delhi to Sivananda Ashram near Rishikesh in May 1961. He was introduced to Swami Sivananda who asked that his principal disciple (now late) Swami Chidananda, at that time the General Secretary of the Divine Life Society, to be invited.
Thus, Swami Chidananda was sent to Montevideo in July 1961. He informally formed the Sivananda Yoga-Vedanta Center in the same month with a group of a dozen persons. However after four months of comprehensive teaching, Swami Sivananda recalled Swami Chidananda to India and take charge of the Divine Life Society, which he did.
Shivapremananda in South America
In June 1962, when Swami Shivapremananda was in Milwaukee, as per the instruction of Swami Sivananda, the two groups in Buenos Aires and Montevideo already mentioned, invited Swami Shivapremananda to found a Sivananda Yoga-Vedanta Center in Buenos Aires and reorganise and expand the small group in Montevideo.
Thus, on 24 June 1962, Swami Shivapremananda came to Buenos Aires. On the Guru Purnima day, 17 July 1962, Swamiji asked the then Indian ambassador in Argentina, Lt. Gen. (Rtd.) Tara Singh Bal, to inaugurate the Sivananda Yoga-Vedanta Center in Buenos Aires in the presence of local dignitaries.
The Center was constituted as a non-profit charitable institution as per the Argentine juridical laws. After three months of teaching there, Swamiji went to Montevideo to reorganise and register the Sivananda Yoga-Vedanta Center as per the Uruguyan laws. There he stayed for two months.
Then Swamiji returned to Milwaukee in the United States.
In the spring of 1965, Thomas Merton (Father Luis) invited Swami Shivapremananda to visit the Trappist Monastery in the village of Gethsemane, in the state of Kentucky. There Swamiji gave a lecture on comparative mysticism in religions.
Change of Designation
Since 1992 the name of the Sivananda Yoga-Vedanta Center has been changed to Swami Shivapremananda Foundation. It donates annually more than US$ 16,000 to the local Childrens Hospital, and is a patron of it along with the Citibank and Hongkong Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC).
In Montevideo the present name of the Center is Centro Shivapremananda de Yoga-Vedanta del Uruguay.
In Santiago the current name is Centro Shivapremananda de Chile.
In Montevideo, the Center partly supports the Escuela Secundaria de la República de la India.
Swami Shivapremananda Foundation is situated on 1261-1279 Gallo street in the Palermo district of Buenos Aires (Tel. 4962-5999), where more than 20 Hatha Yoga classes are conducted by instructors trained by Swamiji. When Swamiji is in town, on Wednesday evenings he gives courses on philosophical and psychological subjects, such as Nuestra Identidad
as at the end of 2012. The lecture is followed by questions and answers.
On Saturday evenings, Swamiji conducts the Integral Meditation in five steps devised by him, and is similarly followed by questions and answers.
Similar activities are conducted at the Shivapremananda Yoga-Vedanta Center of Uruguay at 1503 Avenue of Uruguay, Montevideo, in the Cordon district (Tel. 2401-6286). In the absence of Swamiji, besides the Hatha Yoga classes, the Center conducts satsanga (chants, reading from spiritual literature and meditation) once a week.
Swami Shivapremananda Center in Chile is situated in the Providencia district of Santiago at 759 Antonio Varas (Tel. 223-4856).
Swami Shivapremananda's book Yoga for Stress Relief
has been translated and published from his English original into French, German, Danish, Spanish, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish and Polish.
His book An Insight into Yoga
, published by the Divine Life Society, Rishikesh, is being partly serealised in the British monthly magazine Yoga and Health
. It is expected to be published in England in a revised version.
Swami Shivapremananda's other books in Spanish are:
- Pláticas sobre Yoga (1965, 1990)
- La Filosofía Universal del Yoga (1969, 1991)
- Introducción a la Filosofía Yoga (1971, 1975)
- Aspectos Filosóficos y Sicológicos del Yoga (1971, 1984)
- La Inmanencia de lo Eterno (1973)
- Ventana del Alma (1983, 1988, 1988, 1989, 1993)
- Yoga Integral (1992)
- Cita con mi Destino (2000)
- Yoga, una Actitud Hacia a la Vida (2000)
- Yoga para el Estrés (1998)
- El derecho al Conocimiento (2002)
- Vivir es ser Feliz (2004)
- Meditación Integral (2005)
- Kirtans & Mantras (2009)
- Practicamos Yoga (2010)
- Progresamos en Yoga (2011)
Swami Shivapremananda's booklets in Spanish are:
- Satsanga (1972, 1973, 1990, 1998)
- Meditación e Ideales Espirituales (1987)
- Primero Pasos en Raja Yoga (1994)
- El Legado Filosófico de la India (1994, 1998)
- Reflexiones I, II, III (1994, 1996, 1998)
- Criterio y Equilibrio Interior (1996)
- Como Comprendo Yoga (1998)