Sri Swami Sivananda's 99th Sannyas Anniversary was observed on 1 June 2023 at Sivanandashram, Reservoir Hills. There was a morning Sadhana programme from 6am until 6.25am, when devotees gathered for a short Sadhana programme, followed by circumambulation of Sahaja Kutir and a visit to Sivananda Sahajananda Diamond Jubilee Centre. There was Akhanda Chanting of the Sri Ram Jaya Ram Jaya Jaya Ram Om Mantra throughout the day from 5.00am to 5.00pm. Satsang commenced with Ganga Arati at 5.30pm.
The Satsang programme comprised Kirtans, Bhajans, a reading based on N. Ananthanarayanan's book, From Man to Godman, Pujya Swami Sahajananda's audio message and a multi-media presentation by our youth boys.
In the inspiring reading, we learnt of the Master's longing to tread the spiritual path, his burning dispassion for the world and his yearning for God. The real aim of human existence was made apparent to the Divine Master in Malaya (now Malaysia) after reading the book, Jiva-Brahma Aikya Vedenta Rahasyam, given to him by Swami Satchidananda. The Master now developed an ardent desire to tread the spiritual path and unlock the realms of immortality.
Sivananda Ghat is a post-cremation public facility situated in Durban alongside the Umgeni River, and is fulfilling its primary function of providing a safe and dignified facility for the disposal of the cremated ash of all race groups since 2005. The monthly All Souls' Day Satsang and Havan is held at Sivananda Ghat on the 1st day of each month. Since inception of Sivananda Ghat in June 2005, a Special All Souls' Day Satsang and Mahayajna is held on 1 May of each year. However, during the lockdown, the Special All Souls' Day Satsang and Mahayajna was suspended for three years – the last such function being held in 2019. Against this background, the All Souls' Day Special Satsang and Mahayajna held on Monday 1 May 2023 at Sivananda Ghat was a welcome opportunity for those who lost loved and dear ones during the lockdown through the Covid-19 pandemic, to find some degree of closure. Approximately 500 persons attended this function.
The programme on 1 May 2023 commenced with Ganga Arati at 2pm, followed by Satsang. The Satsang programme comprised of Kirtans, Bhajans, messages by our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda and Pujya Swami Sahajananda, chanting of the Om Namah Sivaya Mantra, and an address by the guest-of-honour, Mr Thegraj Kassie, an official of the Clare Estate Umgeni Hindu Crematorium.
In the article, Ganga, Sri Swami Sivananda says, "The Ganga is the most sacred river of India. The origin of the Ganga is ascribed to celestial glory. Lord Krishna says in the Gita: 'I am the Ganga among rivers'".
The Master continues in the aforementioned article, "For a Hindu, the word Ganga has its own sacred association. Every Hindu thirsts for a dip in the Ganga, and for a drop of its water at the time of his death. Aspirants and mendicants build their huts on the banks of the Ganga for practising penance and meditation. Bhishma spoke very highly of the glory of the Ganga in his parting instructions to the Pandavas from his bed of arrows.
"In the Satya Yuga, all places were sacred. In the Treta Yuga, Pushkara was considered the most holy place. In the Dvapara Yuga, Kurukshetra was regarded as the most sacred place. In Kali Yuga, the Ganga has that glory. Devi Bhagavata says: 'He who utters the name of Ganga even from hundreds of miles afar is freed from sins and attains the abode of Lord Hari'".