Why Celebrate the Birthdays of Mahatmas?

If the Soul is immortal, why does Swamiji celebrate his birthday which belongs to the body?Swami Sivananda: “I do not celebrate my birthday. It is the devotees who do it. Celebration of such birthdays is equal to worship of Para Brahman. Worship of the Guru is worship of Para Brahman. The devotees take delight in celebrating the birthday, and they are benefited, uplifted. A spiritual wave is created year after year when the birthday is celebrated, and more and more people get a chance of knowing the existence of the Divine Life Society and my teachings. The celebrations of the birthday is an annual reminder to the aspirants of the purpose of their life. It is a fillip to their Sadhana. The pious, receptive attitude prevalent on such an occasion draws forth the grace of the Guru and God upon the devotees. The thoughts of peace, love, devotion, etc., sent out by the innumerable devotees that assemble together to celebrate the birthday go a long way to promote peace, harmony and spiritual well-being in the land.

“It is not without purpose that the Hindus celebrate the birthdays of religious leaders, saints and sages, such as Buddha Jayanti, Sankara Jayanti, Mahavira Jayanti, etc. The Hindu calendar is spotted with many such Jayantis and other holy days, so that the observance of these Jayantis and holy days may give the needed spiritual impetus to people and they may strive with increased zeal for the attainment of the purpose of life, viz., God-realization. The more we have of such special, holy days, the more we have the chance of being inspired to intensify our spiritual progress.” (pg. 44, May I Answer That?)

Swami Krishnananda: “The incarnations of God are supposed to come with a power of divinity, whereas the sages and saints are supposed to go with the power of divinity. As the one comes with Divine force, the other goes with that Divine force. This is why we lay much importance on the birthdays of Incarnations and the Mahasamadhi days of Siddhas and Masters. Such a holy occasion we observe every year on the Punyatithi Aradhana Mahotsava of revered Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj.” (Chap. 9, Spiritual Import of Religious Festivals: Message given on the 3rd of August, 1972, the Ninth Punyatithi-Aradhana of H.H. Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj)

Mata Amirtanandamayi: “…When we celebrate the birthdays of great souls like Christ, Krishna…, there is one prayer that we should never forget to recite, ‘Please bless us to realize the eternal ‘I’ in me.’ This prayer should be part and parcel of our spiritual life. Amma doesn’t want Her children to forget this prayer when they celebrate (them).” (24 December 2007 — Amritapuri: http://www.amritapuri.org/859/eternal.aum)

Mata Amirtanandamayi: “Mother is happy to see her children happy, and happily undertaking service activities on the occasion of Her birthday. Mother gets no speacial joy beyond that from these celebrations. She has agreed to all these only to see the happiness of Her children. Children, what makes Amma truly happy is seeing you love one another and being compassionate to others. Amma is happier to see you clean a nearby dirty sewer than to see you wash Her feet and worship them… What makes Mother truly happy is when Her children consider Her birthday as the day for wiping the tears of those who are suffering.” (Birthday Message [1990], pg. 11, Lead Us to Light, Vol.2)

Swami Sivananda’s 124th birthday Anniversary

Swami Chidananda: “We have been trying to know about Gurudev’s life and his teachings, what he taught us. One of the very, very important, most significant insight that Holy Master Swami Sivanandaji brought into our life and into our understanding is the truth that the spiritual striving, the Yoga-Sadhana cannot be diverted from daily living. You cannot treat them as two things apart having no interconnection. They cannot be treated as watertight compartments. It is impossible that what is going on here has no relevance there. Because, whatever striving you make, whatever Yoga, whatever prayer, whatever meditation or worship you make is within the framework of your life you are living.

“You are engaged in your spiritual Sadhana within the framework of that life itself, it is the scope of your Sadhana. Your daily life is the receptacle or the ground on which your Sadhana is to rest. So these two are inextricably and inseparably bound up together and are closely interconnected; whatever you are doing in living your daily life has necessarily its effect on your inner life, on your Sadhana life. Also, whatever Sadhana you are doing in the inwardness of your own spiritual subjectivity has its impact on your daily living.

“If the inner spiritual life you are living within the spiritual interior of your own subjectivity, does not have a corresponding effect on your outer, normal, day-to-day living, then you better sit up, and take a second look at yourself. There is something fundamentally wrong. Something has been wrong somewhere. The Guru will not be able to tell you what. God may try to make you aware of it in direct and indirect ways, but he does not come and correct you.

“Therefore, it is up to you to take a look at yourself, with very great seriousness, earnestness, sincerity, impartiality and total honesty, and find out what is wrong. If I am entering into that vast silence, that vast Peace in my meditation why do I not have the same peace when I come out of meditation and relate myself to the life around me? What has gone wrong? Why do I not project that Peace outside? I am talking about only one quality of the great Reality. It implies various qualities, fundamental among them are Purity, Truth, Compassion, Sat-Chit-Ananda, Joy, Cheerfulness and Auspiciousness.

“That is an expanded blessed state of the mind when you are content to be alone, you do not require anything to be added onto you, you are full. When you are alone, company of your own self is more than enough for yourself. You have no desire, no inclination to come out of yourself and to get into some company or relationship. Our scriptures call it Swatmarama Avastha or the state of abiding and rejoicing in the Self. This is your permanent ground. This is your continuous, unbroken normal state. Let this grow and you will overcome all your problems…..”

(pg. 214, Swami Sivananda: Saint, Sage and Godman)