Swami Chidananda to the Divine Life Society
Sridhar Rao, as Swami Chidananda was known before taking Sannyasa, was born to Srinivasa Rao and Sarojini on 24th September, 1916, the second of five children and the eldest son. At the age of eight his life was influenced by one Aantayya, a friend of his grandfather, who used to relate to him stories from the epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata. Doing Tapas, becoming a Rishi, and having a vision of the Lord became ideals which he cherished.
His elementary education began at Mangalore. In 1932 he joined the Muthiah Chetty School in Madras where he distinguished himself as a brillant student.
In 1936, he was admitted to Loyola College. In 1938 he emerged with the degree of Bachelor of Arts. This period of studentship at a predominantly Christian College was significant. The glorious ideal of Lord Jesus, the Apostles and the other Christian saints had found in his heart a synthesis with all that is best and noble in the Hindu culture. To him study of the Bible was no mere routine; it was the living of God; just as living and real as the words of the Vedas, the Upanishads, and the Baghavad Gita. His innate breadth of vision enabled him to see Jesus in Krishna, not Jesus instead of Krishna. He was an adorer of Jesus Christ as he was of Lord Vishnu.
Service to lepers became his ideal. He would build them huts on the vast lawns of his home and look after them as though they were deities.
The final decision came in 1943. He obtained Swamiji's permission to join the Ashram in Rishikesh.
On Guru Purnima day, 10th of July, 1949, he was initiated into the holy order of Sannyasa by His Holiness Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, as Swami Chidananda, a name which connotes "One who is in the highest consciousness and bliss".
In August 1963 he was elected as President of the Divine Life Society.
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