I was browsing a book entitled "Meditations and Mantras" by a Swami Vishnu-Devananda - 3rd edition 1995. Published by Om Lotus Publishing. It is connected to the Swami Sivananda centre. There is a section at the end on sounds experienced during meditation.That section is one page long. I recognized the final paragraph. It is a word for word repeat of a section from The Voice of the Silence - "the first sound is like the nightingale's sweet voice chanting a song...etc".
In the Swami's book that passage is uncredited. That is I can find no reference to the Voice. The entire paragraph is near 100% plagiarism.
The entire end section of the book is said to be drawn from Sivananda's own book "Concentration and Meditation". I've not followed up the reference.
Plagiarism isnt an interesting topic to me.
What is interesting to me, is that a section of the Voice of the Silence has entered the Sivananda yoga tradition and,as it is uncredited in Devananda's book, i presume most Sivananda devotees may not know the true origin of this passage. It may be credited in Sivananda's book, but even if it were, it is still uncredited in Devananda's book from what I can see.
Has anyone located an original Hindu/Buddhist presentation of this section of HPB's Voice? With the same sounds being detailed at each stage.
It is presumably possible that HPB and Sivananda/Devananda drew on an original sanskrit source, though the word for word similarity suggests otherwise.
Does anyone know of any studies on Theosophical influences on Sivananda?
On one hand I am bemused. On the other, it is slightly worrying.
to answer one of my own questions, i see Daniel Caldwell noted a possible source:
though, to voice my real concern. which does not concern HPB specifically. If Devananda drew in uncritically, or unknowingly, a non-Traditional Hindu source into his work, it seems to point to a certain literary and constructed quality and an inauthenticity. But, once one goes down this path, where will it end?
I am not too worried about this. After all, Buddhism is (another) Hindu heterodoxy. Also, HPB drew on many religions to create her version of Theosophy. I expect I may be the only one to believe this. :-)
I asked a friend, who happens to be a Sadhguru, about some Buddhist text being absorbed somewhere into Hinduism, corrupting it/Hinduism. The answer I got was
"In Hinduism one has to remember that the Historical Buddha was (1) viewed as an incarnation of Vishnu and (2) was a "reformer". The Buddha was against the so called "Caste System" which was good because the Caste System is not really based in Vedic Scriptures. So I would not think that including teachings of The Buddha would be corrupting "Hinduism".
just fyi. It is brief but to the point.
Peace - John
(edit to correct 'SatGuru' to Sadhguru)
Regarding Sivananda and "Voice of the Silence", I kindly refer to this text from 1955:
On page 112 you'll find a verbatim extract from the above book(let) by Blavatsky with a header saying "Voice of the Silence" and with the text marked with connotation marks as to specify it as being a quote. The text descibes the various Nada sounds, of which Sivananda was probably (and still is imo) one of the most advanced initiates.
There is absolutely no mention of Blavatsky in the book. But from other books by Sivananda - namely "Sadhana" from 1958 - one can find exactly the same quote, this time without the quotation mark, that is on page 188 of "Sadhana" - this time with the added comments:
"You can experience the tenth sound without the the first nine sounds through the initiation of a Guru"
and (regarding the sounds):
"They all die, and then you will be able to hear the subtle music of the inner Spirit"
Since I have had these experiences myself through the grace of Swami Sivananda, I can vouch for his total grasp of what is written. Why he chose to quote Blavatsky in the first instance - my best guess is that he found the alluring text quite poetic. However, he also freely quotes and rephrases rather long stretches from the "Nada Bindu Upanishad" as well as from the "Hatha Yoga Pradikipa" without naming or referring to them either. I do believe that Sivananda first of all was trying to compile the best instructions and descriptions from wherever good sources could be found. And perhaps he wasn't much of a poetic writer, more like a compiler; his book on "Sadhana" is 719 pages long and full of repetitious stuff in various forms!
In ending: No doubt Sivananda held the Theosophists in rather high regard - as they both were in the business of reinstating the Sanatana Dharma as part of the renaissance in Hindu culture.
Hi J Bluefield
Thanks for your comprehensive comment, which I found compelling. I think you are likely right, and the "" marks would be sufficient. From your reference it seems Sivananda drew on a wide variety of sources, not unlike Blavatsky. His own ideas gradually being drawn into his students and his broader society.
I wonder now, to myself, if I have in my initial ramble not betrayed an anxiety over the status of the Voice as a legitimate text of Asian origin. Why, after all, should an Asian meditator not draw from the Voice?
Perhaps some things are better resolved through practice, as you allude to.