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The spiritual dynamo known to many as Swami Venkatesananda has left behind a great treasure of  spiritual books for those interested not only traditional yoga, but in the path of enlightenment. But in any discussion of his legacy, no matter how brief,  it would be only be fitting to underscore his own contention, which he stated on more than one occasion,  that everything we attribute to him should be attributed to his master, Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh.  Such credit was given by Venkatesananda not purely out of  undying gratitude and indebtedness, but simply and truly meant as a statement of  fact.  He would, therefore, wish this fact reported to you.

In Rishikesh, Swami Venkatesa became, to coin a phrase, the devoted “literary secretary” of   Sivananda Sivananda.  Back before tape recorders were common, back even before cassette recorders had even been invented,  Venkatesananda.would write down,  from memory,  late at night, after everyone had gone to bed, what the Master had said earlier that day, editing and assembling these transcriptions that were to eventually survive as a major portion of the written legacy of Swami Sivananda. .

After leaving Rishikesh, Swami Venkatesa remained ever devoted to Sivananda, so much so that he frequently reminded others:  “I am disciple and not a guru”. In an age when so many wanted to be stars in their own right, and though he had all the qualities to become such a star, Venkatesa was most happy being the disciple of  his beloved master, Swami Sivananda. Of course, being  a worthy disciple was no easier. Until his death in 1982, Venkatesa would continue to travel the globe, never staying in one place more than a couple of months (two to three weeks was the norm), speaking of Sivananda and delivering his message, and most importantly living his life as a yogi.

During these visits, Venkatesa would frequently deliver a series of talks on some aspect of yoga.  Many of these talks were transcribed and edited, and became books.   The publishers were often the same people who hosted Venkatesa's visits. Some of these titles were, for a time, distributed worldwide. Hundreds were published during roughly a fifteen year period. While many of these publications were gems filled with great practical wisdom, very few of them are still being published, and are no longer available.

Fortunately, some books by Swami Venkatesa do remain in print today. Most of these are book projects that Venkatesa was involved in directly, the important Sanskrit spiritual texts which he translated into English, and  which included his own commentary.   His scholarship provided the cornerstone, but the foundation upon which these translations and commentary are built go far beyond traditional forms of scholarship.

This is not to diminish his scholarship. His scholarship was substantial, and encompassed a vast knowledge of  the Vedas. He was very well educated, possessing a grasp of several languages (his Sanskrit was as refined as his English, which is really saying something). He was also the son of the village priest,  and was being groomed from a very young age to take over the position.  He had, therefore, been steeped in Sanskrit and the literature of the Veda from a very early age. Moreover, his relationship with Sivananda, would further transform this earnest scholar into a dynamic yogi. So that, his scholarship became informed by his practice of meditation,  and his deep involvement with the vigilant and free spirit of Jnana yoga. The spirit of Jnana yoga would light his way to see these texts anew, and with fresh eyes see what for most of us lay hidden “in plain sight”.  And in the end, it would give his commentary a decidedly modern, a disarmingly  non-traditional air.

In a sea of  translations  and sacred text commentary littered with more than it's share of  intellectual abstraction and religious cliches, Venkatesa’s commentary offers a vision of the practical nature truth. His commentary constantly underscores that these texts are so universal and of such overwhelming practical value that they are completely worthy of our lifelong attention.

Chief among these book projects are the following works: the Song of God (the Bhagavad Gita - Daily Readings), The Book of God (the Bhagavatam - Daily Readings), Valmiki's Ramayana (Daily Readings), Buddha Daily Readings, The Supreme Yoga (The Yoga Vasistha -   Daily Readings), and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, An Interpretive Translation.

For information on where these books may be obtained, please see our listing by publisher.

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