Swami Krishnananda Saraswati | Biography & Teachings Of Spiritual Scholar

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Today we will talk about Swami Krishnananda Saraswati, a yogi, philosopher, and theologian who lived from 1922 to 2001.

Swami Krishnananda was an author and an important figure in Rikihesh’s Divine Life Society1 The Divine Life Society. (n.d.). Www.dlshq.org. https://www.dlshq.org/.

He approached spirituality as science and had a profound knowledge of Hindu sacred texts.

“Yoga is a process of rejoicing. It is a movement through happiness. From one state of joy, we move to another state of joy.”

Swami Krishnananda with hands in prayer and a mandala behind him

Swami Krishnananda’s Early Life & Studies

Swami Krishnananda (Swamiji) was born on 25 April 1922 into a Brahmin2 Brahmin. (2021, December 17). Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brahmin family in Puttur, India. 

He started his study of Sanskrit at a very early age and began reading and memorizing Hindu scriptures.

Although he was certain he wanted to go on a path of renunciation and dedicate himself to spirituality, his father had persuaded him to accept a government job.

However, that didn’t last long, he got ill on the job, and in 1944 he went to visit the Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh.

There he worked as an editor and typed out many handwritten manuscripts of his guru, Sri Gurudev.  Four years later, wrote his first book called The Realization of the Absolute. 

Swami Krishnananda’s Monastic & Literary Life

He was initiated as a Sannyasa or a monk in 1946 and spent the rest of his life in the Ashram.

He wrote over 40 books on yoga, meditation, philosophy, and Hindu scriptures. He was also a general secretary of Divine Life Society. 

Although he studied all Sanskrit works including the Bhagavadgita and the Upanishads, his heart led him to the Advaita philosophy, where most of his teachings are rooted. 

Still, due to his incredible knowledge of the scriptures, he was also called to offer courses and classes, through which he introduced his students to various aspects and disciplines of yoga and Hinduism. 

By the end of his life, Swami Krishnananda published 43 books. After his passing 32 more of his books were printed, and there are also 19 unprinted books on his website. 

This amount of work is incredible for any man, especially when we know he also had many other commitments as the general secretary of the Divine Life Society.

Due to his literary skills and the understanding of all of Sri Swami Sivananda’s work, of which there are around three hundred texts, he was also appointed as the president of the Sivananda Literature Research Institute. 

His guru, Sri Gurudev, was so stunned by Swami Krishnananda, that he wrote an article, titled “He is a Wonder to Me!”, where he talks about Krishnananda’s mastery of practically all Indian and Western philosophical systems.

He said, “Many Sankaras are rolled into one Krishnananda”. 

Swami Krishnanandaji passed away through the process of Mahasamadhi on 23rd November 2001. 

an open sanskrit book with prayer beads and a chime

Teachings On Vedanta

Although Swami Krishnananda had profound knowledge of many philosophical systems, he felt particularly tied to the Advaita Vedanta philosophy.  

He taught his view of the system in the Yoga Vedanta Forest Academy.

He called the yoga and Vedanta he practiced “the yoga of synthesis”. 

He taught his students that thought precedes every action – we first think and then try to do something. In this sense, the thinking is Vedanta, and the practice of it is yoga. 

In essence, he said that we can’t only jump into a spiritual practice, we first need to have a foundation, we need to understand it.

He showed that in his practice -first getting incredibly well accustomed to the scriptures and Advaita Vedanta, and only then putting it into practice. 

Teaching Meditation on Om

It was difficult for me to select only a few teachings from Swami Krishnananda since he knew and taught so much.

However, since the mantra Om is very popular today, I think it’s useful to share his views on it.

He encouraged his students to meditate on Om, but to not see it as a word.

Rather, it is the universal vibration, the sound of the whole universe. It is vibrating everywhere, both around you and within you.

In this way, meditating on Om can give you the experience of being a part of everything.

As you chant Om, you will begin to feel a sense of joy in the body, every cell will regenerate. Swami taught us to do it slowly, being aware both in the mind and in the heart. 

a watercolour om symbol

Teachings On Sadhana

Another practical teaching by Swami Krishnananda that may prove useful on your path is his thoughts on consistent daily practice or Sadhana

He taught us how discontent is what first pushes us into action. We don’t want to suffer, which motivates us to learn and grow, to achieve greater joy in our lives.

However, what brings true content is not self-sufficiency, but rather the understanding we are connected to the universe.

In this sense, he doesn’t see sadhana as a selfish practice of an individual, but rather something that leads us to adjust to God and all that is.

But to realize this connection, to realize the Self, we need self-discipline. We are averse to discipline as we are too attached to other people and sense pleasures.

A daily sadhana and in general, a daily routine, can help us release all burdens of everyday life, calm our lives, and allow us to dedicate to what is truly important.

Following the same spiritual practice, without trying to skip to the next level or being in a hurry, allows us to truly enjoy the simplicity of the highest Truths.

What is meant by that is that a complex sadhana is not important, regardless of the type of meditation you choose, it is simply an act of focusing your energy, which leads you to attaining higher states of consciousness and understanding.

someone sitting cross legged in meditation with hands in prayer

Teachings On Renunciation

Sri Swami Krishnananda understood the path of renunciation is his calling from a very early age.

He explained his motivation for this path with a simple sentence: “The distance between you and God is the same as the extent of your desire for the world.”

He taught that the sense-desire is truly our craving for union with the outside reality. However, the body sees separate objects, and they stand as obstacles to a true union.

However, if we try to silence our desires, we will get closer to true union with God and all that is.

 This overcoming of desires brings us to a spirit of service, which is the secret to true joy – we don’t suffer if we have no desire, and only wish to serve. 

Teaching On Attaining Knowledge

Here is another interesting teaching by Swami Krishnanada which I believe is useful for anyone on the spiritual path. 

Especially today, when so much knowledge is offered to us, it is important to be aware of where certain knowledge is coming from and understand the root of our beliefs.

He said: “Perception, inference, and verbal testimony are the primary ways of right knowledge.”

So he explains three different ways in which we will acquire knowledge throughout our lives.

Perception is a way of acquiring knowledge through direct sensory contact. You know there is an object in front of you because you can see it. 

The second way is inference, which he explains with an example: “When we see muddy water in a river, we suppose that there must have been rains uphill.”  In a way, it means we acquire knowledge through deduction. 

The third way is hearing something from another, whether from a book or hearing something from a friend we trust, which is verbal testimony. 

an upturned hand resting on a knee

Teachings On God-Realization

One of the core teachings of Swami Krishnananda was the Brahmavidya, the thought that the goal of our lives is God-realization.

He started his every speech and many of his books with the sentence: “The goal of life is God-realisation”.

Through repetition, he constantly reminded us of the core of everything. All other teachings, scriptures, and practices are simply a path towards attaining this final goal. 

Teachings On God = Love

Swami also taught that all scriptures lead to the principle of Godhead, who is utter perfection, who is Love. 

He described God as a powerful parent, friend, ruler of all, one to whom everything is dependent. 

God seeks man before man seeks God; he knows we need him before we realize we do.

He said this compassionate and intimate side of the relationship with God is particularly highlighted in the Purana texts. 

Religion serves as a way of concourse with God, who is always by our side. He taught the most intimate relationship with God is the one described in the Bhagavata Purana, through the story of the Gopis of Vrindavana

This story sees our relationship with God as romantic, an ecstatic connection, which is the highest form of love and devotion.

This idea goes hand in hand with the yogic goal of uniting our souls with the Divine. 

He calls this the “God-possession” which is not attained by many, as we get lost in daily occupations and needs.

However, it is a wonderful goal to set for oneself, if you want to reach the highest level of love and ecstasy. 


Swami Krishnananda authored so many works and had such profound knowledge, that it was very difficult to pull only some of them in this article.

However, if you resonate with these teachings and feel called to learn more, you can find many more on the official Swami Krishnananda website3 A Messenger of Peace and Wisdom – A Souvenir released on Swami Krishnananda’s 75th Birthday. (n.d.). Www.swami-Krishnananda.org. Retrieved January 25, 2024, from https://www.swami-krishnananda.org/wise_00.html.

You can also get some of his many books.

And if you would like to get inspired by other Indian sages, check some of our Yogi profiles:

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Sara lives in Croatia, near the sea, with her dog. She enjoys exploring nature, and making art. She is currently developing a series of children’s/YA stories and comics in her native language, which she feels complements her work and allows her to live her dream life – having yoga, writing, art, and nature in her every day.

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