Importance of Archival

The course of life does not change arbitrarily, it evolves. Innovations do not occur in a vacuum, but are informed by an awareness of the past and are inspired by a vision of the future. History is not what happened in the past. It is, as the word itself suggests, a story, written by subsequent generations. The veracity and accuracy of the account, however, is totally dependent upon the surviving record at hand—documents, manuscripts, letters, publications, photos, audio recordings, video recordings, etc.—from which the story must often be pieced together and reconstructed, item by item, clue by clue. This is true whether the work is medical research done by scientists, a family genealogy sought by a curious individual, whether it is from students to scholars, business professionals to creative artists or religious and spiritual seekers, all are in constant need of access to information, not only from the past, but also of the present.

From the earliest annals of recorded civilization, archives have served personal and public in practical and symbolic uses. Thus, these archives are able to tell the story of our lives and those of our ancestors in a full, truthful, and unbiased manner. We need to not only ask What did we do? and How did we

do it?, but also Why did we do it? and What were our thoughts and motivation as we did it? The answers to such questions are necessary to give depth and texture to the dry details of existence and fill in the gaps between the known and the speculative. Though such answers may have their genesis in the past, the insight they offer is crucial to give meaning and direction to our future. These answers survive in our archives.

Every person born on this earth plane has to depart one day as per the law of nature. The Present generation will become the past. But, the only thing that may remain is the documented history. Behind each documented history, in the form of letter, manuscripts, or photograph, each Audio or Video recording, there is a personality, a legacy, a tradition. Hence, it becomes a big challenge and great responsibility of the present generation, to collect, preserve, and protect the past as well as the present history for the future generation.

As individuals, we frequently choose what we need to use at a particular moment, and discard the rest. But everything we create in the act of communication, formal or informal—every memo, snapshot, blueprint, magazine article, audiotape, videotape, cds, dvds etc. — is part of a gigantic puzzle, forming a picture of our civilization that changes according to one’s perspective and potential use. How much of that picture will be available for future generations to know us and learn from us—just as we attempt to reconstruct a picture of the past for our own enlightenment? Each piece of the puzzle becomes invaluable, and what is not saved is lost, possibly forever. To whom do we trust the care and safe-keeping of this treasure? According to the type, value, and significance of the archival material, this responsibility of maintenance and safe-keeping falls to administrators, scholars, religious figures or spiritual Luminaries.

Without any doubt, such a one was our Worshipful Paramagurudev Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj—all-rolled-into one. He was a visionary well ahead of his times. Because of such futuristic vision he was very particular in properly recording history in the form of Manuscripts, Articles, Magazines, Audio Recordings, Video Recordings. He utilised all the form of available medium at that time to its fullest capacity keeping in view the preservation of the present for the future yet to come. The technology was not so advanced, there were very few people in the ashram, yet, in spite of these adverse situations, he did everything he could to record each moment, each second, every word. Such was the scarcity in the ashram during those days that sometimes there was no money to buy food ration. But, he had the best available Photo camera, Film Camera and Audio Spool recorders of that time. He never compromised on the quality and he always provided the best according to the standards of that period of time.

Times have changed now. It is been more than 50 years that He left this earth plane. However, even today, most of the effort that he and his disciples did to preserve, is still in a condition to be gifted to the future generation. Thanks to his futuristic vision that today, the 3rd and 4th generation of devotees and disciples of his, who did not have the good fortune to have his direct darshan, are able to have indirect satsang with him through his pictures, through his voice, through his films and through his literature. Today’s generation will be ever grateful to all those persons who were involved in typing the manuscripts, clicking pictures and recording audio and videos.

Now, it is our biggest responsibility of preserving the physical integrity of the existing material and protecting it from further loss, deterioration, or unauthorized disposal. At the same time we must organise the collected material in a coherent and systematic way so that it stays available for generations to come which in turn, insures its accessibility to the whole world at large. Finally, we must provide for outreach opportunities that give the material an ongoing life—in the form of publications for dissemination as well as for commercial interest.

This entire task of preservation and restoration is in the best interest of the entire future generation of spiritual aspirants. By the grace of Paramagurudev Swami Sivananda and blessings of Gurude Swami Chidanandaji Maharaj we have been able to achieve all this and we can continue to do

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this noble task of preservation and restoration of the past as well as the present for the future generations.

With the rapid increase in high-tech communications—Computers, E-mail, Internet, satellite links, the world as a global village has shrunk to that of a single, multilingual, multicultural neighborhood. Life has become much faster than it used to be. People have very less time at their hand. At such times, we need to stay relevant. Keeping our traditions, values in tact we have to find ways to be open minded and accept the new ways of technology. Technology has become the very integral part of human life today in India and the world. It is true that every thing has its own merits and demerits. But, instead of complaining about the problems, if we can find our ways to overcome the problems and adept the new age technology, we can truly fulfill the main aim and objective of Spiritual Dissemination of Knowledge.

Finally we would say that the ultimate purpose of the preservation and efficient administration of archiving goes far beyond the improvement of administrative processes and the facilitation of the public business. It is to make it possible for our present generation to have enduring and dependable knowledge of its past, and for future generations to have such knowledge of their past, of which our present is a part. It is in the high ideals and purposes and in its concern for the betterment of the future generation that we must find motives and seek inspiration.

Our masters Parama Gurudev Swami Sivanandaji and Gurudev Swmai Chidanandaji Maharaj always encouraged archiving of knowledge for the future generations. They always encouraged recording of images, audios and videos so that the knowledge is available and does not get lost. To Keep up this passion about preservation of our tradition and our heritage and its dissemination to the next generation, Swami Chidananda Sevashram will strive to achieve this vision through its production division Chidananda Creations.