Om Namo Bhagavade Sivanandaya

Established in 1949 by Sri Swami Sivananda

1. Understand the individual nature of each child. Do not compare or criticize your Spiritual Darlings. Know the strengths, limitations, talents and potentials of each Spiritual Darling and help him positively according to his own individual make-up. Spiritual Darlings have to be consulted in their own growth. They should be allowed to expand in accordance to their inner nature. There can be no greater error than for parents to arrange prematurely what their Spiritual Darlings should be. Parents should not pre-arrange the careers of their Spiritual Darlings, but they should not hesitate to guide them with patience, kindness and understanding. Forcing Spiritual Darlings against their wishes will do permanent harm and negatively affect their natural growth.

2. Of course, parents should encourage their Spiritual Darlings to excel in their academic career, but they should take care not to pressurise them. Allow them to learn and grow naturally by means of praise and encouragement rather than by scolding and threats.

3. Parents should aim to teach their Spiritual Darlings how to make personal sacrifices and lead a hard life. They should try to follow Swami Sivananda's principle of simple living and high thinking. In addition, they should be taught to joyously participate in household tasks. Spiritual Darlings should be given difficult tasks in and around the house. If they tackle such tasks with enthusiasm, they will become strong both physically and mentally. As outlined earlier, reward Spiritual Darlings for work well done.

4. Teach Spiritual Darlings by example how to be thrifty. Avoid extravagance and unnecessary opulence. Encourage activities like missing a meal or two, sleeping on the floor, having an occasional cold bath in winter, giving up sugar or salt for a couple of days, etc. Such simple penance and self-denial will help Spiritual Darlings to experience how the less privileged live. It will develop in them love and sympathy for those who are poor and needy. This exposure will be very helpful to them to cultivate value systems.

5. Parents should be careful to dress in accordance to Hindu ideals. Set standards for yourself, and your Spiritual Darlings are sure to follow your example.

1. Parents must set a good example to their Spiritual Darlings by being exemplary role models. Children are very good imitators. Modern children especially are observant, sharp and critical. They easily detect the flaws in their parents, and their trust in them then begins to wane.

2. Parents should be well disciplined, and practise living by strict moral and ethical codes. Ethics and morals are the basis of life. These values need to be emulated by Spiritual Darlings. Parents should teach by example that there should be no compromise of principles and values. In their daily life, be it at work, within the home or socially, they should exercise their minds and will through deliberate acts of self-denial and self-sacrifice.

3. Parents should carry out their daily spiritual practices regularly, and bring home to their Spiritual Darlings the importance of prayer and the power of the Divine Name. This will show the Spiritual Darlings that with faith and devotion to God no problem will be too difficult to overcome. During difficult times, prayer and repetition of the Divine Name should be intensified.

4. Parents should inculcate in their Spiritual Darlings values such as honesty, truthfulness, loyalty, kindness, love, compassion, respectability, forgiveness, obedience, humility, courtesy, courage, tolerance and discrimination. Spiritual Darlings will imbibe these virtues readily and easily only if parents practise them.

5. Virtues can be taught to Spiritual Darlings through the medium of stories from the writings of our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, and scriptures like the Mahabharata, Ramayana and Bhagavata. Hero-worship is not difficult to awaken in young minds.

6. Spiritual Darlings must be taught the basic principles of Hinduism, such as Ahimsa (non-injury), Karma (the law of cause and effect), reincarnation, etc.

7. Parents should be mindful that their Spiritual Darlings live in a culture of violence. This is seen everywhere—on TV, in the media, at school, in the neighbourhood, in the country, and in the whole world at large. This is the age of hatred, intolerance, violence and indiscipline. This social disturbance and psychological imbalance, together with a decline in the practice of positive values and rise in crime, is very destructive to the developing psyche of Spiritual Darlings. That is why they have weak nerves and a different mental make-up. Unhealthy mental impressions developed during childhood leave scars that will be carried over to the next birth.

8. Working parents must be careful not to bring home their work-related problems. Leave work concerns behind and organise quality time at home for the family.

9. Parents need to spend quality time at home with their Spiritual Darlings. This quality time should involve positive, free and sincere interaction with all members of the family.

10. Responsible shared parenting is necessary at home, especially where both parents work. The father, too, must take responsibility for the growth and development of his Spiritual Darlings, helping them in their education, discipline and spiritual growth. Self-confidence and self-reliance must be encouraged.

11. Parents must ensure that the diet of their Spiritual Darlings is free from too much sugar and spices, as these make the mind restless and increase tension. They should adopt a Sattwic diet. Many illnesses are probably related to meat-eating, due to the presence of chemicals present in it.

In the Divine Life Society of South Africa all children are referred to as "Spiritual Darlings". This most beautiful and endearing term was used by our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, when he wrote to one of his disciples.

Swami Sivananda says that the bringing up of Spiritual Darlings is a great art and science. It can only be successfully accomplished if parents have right knowledge and adequate training.

Parents should take advantage of all the facilities provided by the Divine Life Society, both at Reservoir Hills and at the Sivananda International Cultural Centre, La Mercy. Many Spiritual Darlings regularly attend the one day monthly Yoga Camp at the SICC, where the teachings of the holy scriptures and of our Divine Master are imparted to them. These teachings play a very important role in their mental, emotional and spiritual growth.

The most beautiful Sivananda International Cultural Centre is located at La Mercy, about half an hour drive from Durban. Situated amidst rolling hills and green canefields, it overlooks the Indian Ocean.

At this centre various facilities have been provided for Spiritual Darlings. "Ganga Rani", the large enclosed swimming pool is a great attraction. The magnificent "Sivananda Stadium", sportsfields and playparks provide healthful recreation. Training in the recently introduced gymnastic drill programme enables the Spiritual Darlings to develop qualities like discipline, concentration, how to interact with others, etc. This type of physical training, together with instructions on prayer, moral and ethical values will help Spiritual Darlings to grow into successful and strong adults, well equipped to meet the challenges of life. Various arts and crafts programmes help to develop their talents further.

There are lovely shrines to uplift and inspire Spiritual Darlings. A section next to a shrine houses beautiful pictures of animals, birds, flowers, scenic wonders, etc. This is called the "Sivananda Nature Reserve". It teaches Spiritual Darlings to protect Nature and to show love and compassion to birds, animals and even to plants. This section, too, is a great attraction to all Spiritual Darlings as well as to adults. The attractive water fountain "Bhagirathi", with water cascading from one fountain to another, uplifts the hearts of Spiritual Darlings. Darlings. 

From "Sivananda's Gospel of Divine Life"

Only Misery in the World: The Master had emerged from his cottage and reached the road on his way to attend Satsang. He heard songs from a gramophone record from a house where a marriage ceremony was being conducted.

He put a question to Mrs Hellman, "Is there happiness or misery in the world?"

She answered, "Plenty of both."

The Master disagreed with her, saying, "There is only misery in the world. Your answer should have been that there is only misery in the world. Worldly happiness is the cause of pain. Birth is the cause of death. If you want to avoid death, you should avoid birth. If you want to avoid pain, you should avoid pleasure.There is no happiness in the world. These people are playing gramophone records and celebrating a marriage, so they are happy now. But this happiness will be only for today. Tomorrow the wife will say, 'Bring me a new sari!'"

Mrs Hellman said, "If life is full of misery, then what is the harm if one puts an end to his life by committing suicide?"

"That is foolishness," said the Master. "One should not end one's life. Life is a most precious gift. It is meant for singing sacred songs, repeating the Divine Name and meditating, and finally evolving to attain eternal bliss. Death is followed by rebirth. It will not do."

Mrs Hellman said that she had read in a book that there was no harm in putting an end to one's life.

The Master at once said, "Then the author of that book is a fool. His disciple also is a fool. Life is meant for realisation of God. Moreover, the soul suffers greatly after suicide and will get a worse birth in its next life."

By this time the Master passed the room where Matha Satchidananda was staying. She came out, and he put her the same question, "What is there in the world, happiness or misery?"

She answered, "It depends on the mind."

The Master said, "No, there is only misery in the world. When you scratch a part of your body that is itching, you get some pleasure. Is that happiness? Does scratching give you happiness? The sense-pleasures of the world are no more than the pleasure got by scratching an itching part of the body."


Case Histories of Those Overcoming Suicidal Tendencies

Once a Christian lad who had suicidal tendencies was brought to Swamiji by a school principal. Swamiji asked him to repeat the famous Jesus Prayer used by the Desert Fathers: "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy upon me". The lad took refuge in the Divine Name and later said that his whole life was changed by repeating it. Such is the power and glory of the Divine Name!

Recently, one of our devotees had a strong urge to ring a friend of his. He did so and, after visiting his friend at an odd hour, spoke to him and gave him a copy of the Society's booklet, Solving the Problems of Kali Yuga. The next day his friend told him that he was just about to commit suicide, when the phone rang. He then waited for our devotee. He said that after reading the booklet, which contained practical information on overcoming suicidal tendencies, he had a new birth. He came to the Ashram on Swamiji's request. Swamiji encouraged him, giving him some useful instructions, and said that he must now become a spiritual ambassador and help others with such problems. He is practising daily Agni-Hotra and also participated in the recent Kavadi festival at the Umgeni Road Temple in January.

The above section on "Depression & Suicide" was compiled by Sri Swami Sahajananda from the writings of the Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda.

It is very easy to overcome depression. It is not at all as difficult as one imagines. Mind has the mysterious power of magnifying a problem and making it appear formidable. Do not listen to the promptings of the mind. Reject them ruthlessly and throw them out.

Here are some practical hints that will enable you to triumph over this malady once and for all:

1. First try to analyse yourself thoroughly and find out the cause of the problem. Do not be hasty. Sit calmly and think over the matter. Spend some days over it if necessary. Put your thoughts down on paper and reflect over them. If necessary get the assistance of someone whom you love and trust and who will be sympathetic to your feelings. Pray to God within to lead you to the right person.

2. Do not listen to promptings from within that your problems cannot be solved and overcome. The Guru or the Divine within you, and the loved ones around you, can effectively solve or dissolve all your problems.

3. Know that for every problem that confronts you-however difficult and complicated it may seem to be-there is the requisite guidance, strength and wisdom readily available to you from the Divine dwelling in the chambers of your heart. God is nearer to you than your life-breath. Turn to the Lord with a childlike faith and experience the miraculous results.

4. The easiest way to tap the divine power within is to repeat God's holy Name. Select any Divine Name from the scriptures and repeat it constantly, without a break. In this one method of spiritual practice all the holy scriptures of the world are unanimous. The power latent in the Divine Name is like the power latent in the seed. Just as the seed needs soil and water to enable it to germinate, so also the Divine Name needs to be constantly repeated to make its power manifest.

The Divine Name is the one sovereign, infallible remedy to get rid of depression once and for all. Take any Mantra, like Sri Ram, Om Namasivaya, Om Namo Narayanaya, Om Namo Bhagavade Vasudevaya, Om Sri Ram Jaya Ram Jaya Jaya Ram, the Mahamantra: Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare, Hare Krishna Hare Krishnna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, and repeat it throughout the day and also just before you go off to sleep and the first thing when you wake up in the morning. It will protect you from all dangers and calamities.

5. Keep the body fit by doing regular physical exercises, and by participating in healthful activities. A hike in the countryside will be refreshing and invigorating both mentally and physically.

6. A pure, nourishing diet is very important for the health of both the body and the mind. Take more of fresh fruit and vegetables. Take health tonics. They are available from the health stores. Vitamin tablets from natural products will be found highly beneficial.

7. The nervous system must be strengthened by means of exercise, relaxation, pure food and regular prayer. A useful nerve and brain tonic may be prepared as follows: Soak 8 dates, a similar quantity of almonds and 4 cardamoms in a bowl overnight. In the morning remove the skin from the almonds. Reduce the ingredients to a paste, add honey and butter and take with warm milk. This delicious tonic rejuvenates the nervous system quickly. A teaspoonful of Amla powder mixed with a glass of warm water and taken twice a day will help trememdously in strengthening the nervous and physical system. Amla is one of the most important ingredients in the well-known Chyvanaprash tonic.

8. Attend regular prayer services in a temple or Ashram. The holy vibrations will give you added mental and spiritual strength to cope with your problems.

9. Study the scriptures daily. This will give you discrimination, which will give dynamic strength to the mind. It will be your most effective weapon to deal with the promptings of the mind.

10. Check undesirable habits. Overcome them by developing virtuous qualities. Lead a life of purity and righteousness. Such a life will free you from all worry, fear and depression.

11. The constant repetition of some beneficial formulae will strengthen the mind considerably. Such repetition is called auto-suggestion. Here are some proven formulae for this purpose. Repeat them as many times as possible during the course of the day, and when you are just about to fall asleep at night:

(a) I am Thine. All is Thine. Thy Will be done, O Lord.

(b) Let go and let God.

(c) What cannot be cured must be endured.

(d) Whatever has happened has happened for the best; whatever is happening now is happening for the best; whatever is to happen in the future will happen for the best.

(e) Through the Grace of God, I am getting better and better every day in every way.

(f) Even this will pass away.

12. Serve the sick and the needy through a service oriented institution. If you take up some useful activity for the good of others, you will have no time to think about yourself. Losing oneself in selfless service is one of the most dynamic methods of overcoming depression. If you give cheer, joy and happiness to others, you yourself will receive cheer, joy and happiness in return.

13. Do not try to evade or run away from your problems, difficulties and trials. Face them bravely through calm reflection and discrimination, knowing that the Divine within is ever your guide, protector and saviour. Know also that everything in this world that you now hold so dear is not lasting, and will soon disintegrate and pass away. You are only a passing pilgrim on this earth plane. If you constantly reflect and discriminate thus, then all such emotions and feelings that have such a tenacious hold on your mind will be loosened, and an inexpressible freedom, lightness and joy will fill your heart.

14. Be content. Adopt a life-style of "simple living and high thinking". A great deal of unhappiness today may be traced to unfulfilled desires. There is no end to desire. Each desire breeds a host of new ones. Modern man longs to own TV sets, video recorders, dishwashers, expensive cars, swimming pools and other items of luxury. Reduce your desires and lead a life of contentment and simplicity.

15. A constant attitude of gratitude to God for having provided you with your physical and material needs, will give you an abiding sense of contentment and peace, and free you from depression, cares and worries.

16. Select any suitable method, or a combination of methods, and put them into immediate practice. You will succeed without difficulty, Nil desperandum. Never despair. There is a magazine of enormous power within you. Tap that power diligently and come out victorious. Then share your knowledge with others.

17. Strictly avoid viewing scenes of violence, sex and murder on TV. Avoid places of gambling and liquor, evil company, and literature that deals with violence, sex and crime.

18. Performance of daily Agni-Hotra and recital of the all-powerful Sri Hanuman Chalisa are very effective remedies to overcome depression and suicidal tendencies.


Blessings in Disguise

Adversities, trials, difficulties, calamities, diseases, afflictions, pains and sufferings are all blessings in disguise. They strengthen the will and increase the power of endurance. They turn the mind more and more towards God. They instil in us discrimination and dispassion. They draw out all our latent faculties. They force us to perform even beyond our ability. They develop all talents and capacities lying dormant within us.

It is easy to bask in the sunshine of prosperity. The crucial test is your reaction under adversity and hardship. God wants us to enjoy eternal bliss and peace. For this purpose the body and mind have to be thoroughly purified and strengthened, so that they may be able to bear the pressure of His matchless bliss and peace. This process of purification and strengthening cannot be effected without one confronting adverse conditions and circumstances.

Furthermore, nature's law of cause and effect operates with relentless precision. The wise and discriminative person will allow the effects of this past actions to bear fruit by meeting all the conditions of life with patience, good cheer, calmness and faith in God.

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Gurudev Centenary 2024

Sri Swami Sivananda

(1887 - 1963)

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