These talks were delivered during the Spring of 1975 at Yasodhara Ashram in Kootenay Bay, British Columbia. Were he here today, I'm sure he would say that the opportunity to give these lectures would not have been possible without the generosity and understanding of Swami Sivananda Rhada and the entire staff and occupants of Yasodhara Ashram. I wish to thank those who recorded the morning and afternoon sessions throughout the ten weeks time that the lectures were given. Others have helped in numerous ways, including Swami Lakshmi of Western Australia. Thank you all.
I would like to briefly discuss the Sanskrit as it appears in this electronic edition. Unfortunately, we have no Swami Venkatesananda to proof read what has been posted to the Web. Venkatesa's mahasamadhi (in which he departed this world), occurred in December of 1982. On my own, without such a capable Sanskrit scholar and yogi to light the way, I felt it best to avoid committing to print the frequent Sanskrit quotes that were a natural part of his discourse.
For those of you who never had the opportunity to meet him during his lifetime, it is worth noting that in addition to being a true yogi (and I can think of no greater tribute than to say he was a true yogi, except perhaps to say that he exemplified Swami Sivananda's motto: Be Good, Do Good, Be Kind, Be Compassionate" better than any I have known), Venkatesa was also an untiring Sanskrit scholar of the highest magnitude. Here we can let history record that Swami Venkatesa was, in fact, the mysterious yogi who informed J. Krishnamurti that the word "Vedanta" had really been misunderstood to mean "culmination of knowledge," (as proposed by academicians the wide world over) and suggested that to the contrary Vedanta meant "the end of knowledge;" or "that which comes into being when knowledge (or the stronghold of knowledge) comes to an end," or, "that which remains when knowledge ceases to dominate." While he respected the traditions of others, for (the sake of ) truth he would compromise nothing. He was learned, and well educated, and was fond of finding merit in ancient civilizations. Yet his scholarship engaged a yogic vantage point, grounded in his own sadhana, a yoga vantage point which, strangely enough, has proven surprisingly lacking in most of the better known Sanskrit scholars of the Twentieth Century. Go figure!
I have attempted to include Sanskrit terms, and often quote passages wherever I am certain what they are, or where I have been able to spot them in the many books that were published under his guidance. This, no doubt, could be nothing more than a feeble attempt at best, because throughout these talks, Venkatesa not very frequently quoted the ancient Sanskrit texts without always mentioning the source. In any case, it is hoped that most of the important terms given by him in Sanskrit terms have been included, because, he used them so wisely and so appropriately; not to impress, but to express notions that didn't always have an English equivalent. The conscious vigilance which illumines the truth had become not only his watchword, but certainly the most abiding aspect of his nature. This same unyielding vigilance which was directed at everything within his vision, was therefore, also applied to his own study of Sanskrit. He could not do otherwise. This was the factor which illuminates much of the Sanskrit you will encounter here. Towards that end, the yoga student with an interest in Sanskrit can rejoice.
Venkatesa's talks at Yasodhara illustrate Swami Sivananda's notion that the classical yogic paths, often thought of as different are really one yoga, and not distinct and separate paths, as some scholars and yoga teachers would have us believe. Towards that purpose, I am certain that these lectures will serve all serious students of yoga everywhere.