123… The Happiest Man

Varsha Ramachandran shares about Virtual Bharat’s latest video that is taking YouTube by storm with the story of Swami Sivananda, a 123-year-old man


Virtual Bharat’s recent in a 1,000-film journey of the untold stories of India takes us to Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. The film tells the story of Swami Sivananda, an old man, who when asked his age, grins at the camera and states with pride…’I am? 123!’ Born on August 8, 1896, Swami Sivananda is today 123 years old, possibly making him the oldest living man on the planet! The Guinness Book of World Records has yet to certify him the longest living man.


Just as a lot of Indians, even decades younger, Swami Sivananda has no official verification of his birth, save for a temple register that has his birth listed under this date. India’s passport authorities have used this as a confirmation of his age. He jabs at both his passport and Aadhaar card when the team asks him if he has anything to actually prove his age. He adds, with confidence, ‘If you want proof, you can bring a doctor!’


With ageless grace, and a sharp sense of humour, he takes the team through his daily routine. Two solid hours of yoga, two simple meals a day comprising dal, roti and sabzi (vegetables) and the rest of his time reading the Gita. To him, it is this discipline and simplicity that has allowed him to live up to this ripe age. ‘Yoga brings mental peace and happiness. He says he has no desire, disease or depression – the 3Ds that he has no time or space for in his life.


Yoga, for him, is the key to a happy life. Swami Sivananda lost his parents by the age of 6 and was taken under the wing of a spiritual guide who took him around the world. His eyes gleam as he rattles off the long list of countries he has been to…Luxembourg, Austria, Saudi Arabia, the Netherlands…almost 50 in total! That was his introduction to yoga. To this day, he practises yoga, and the film depicts his stunningly supple body at this inspiring age.


He laughs as we ask him what the key to a long life is, and says, ‘This is the kalyug; everyone is greedy. It is impossible to live for 123 years!’ It is with this cheer that Swami Sivananda goes about his day, claiming he has no time for anything apart from this: ‘I am not only the oldest but also the happiest living man in the world!’


Swami Sivananda has lived through almost two pandemics now; he smiles brightly as he tells the world that happiness and simplicity are what keeps him going. A story of joy, simplicity and humour, this film shows us there is always light at the end of the tunnel.


Watch the remarkable film on Virtual Bharat’s YouTube Channel


Virtual Bharat is a 1,000-film journey of untold stories of India spanning people, landscapes, literature, folklore, dance, music, traditions, architecture, and more in a repository of culture. The vision of director Bharatbala, creator of Maa Tujhe Salaam, the platform is a culmination of tales from India, told person-by-person, story-by-story and experience-by-experience. The films are under 10 minutes in length and are currently available on Virtual Bharat’s YouTube channel. Subscribe to the channel, and follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, to stay updated on our latest films!

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