In celebrating Pujya Swami Sahajananda's 94th Birth Anniversary on Wednesday, 10 July at Sivanandashram, Reservoir Hills, we paid homage firstly to our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda for manifesting his Divine Grace in this country and for working through Pujya Swamiji to promote his mission in South Africa. Pujya Swamiji, who earned the respect, admiration and reverence of people of all walks of life, is heralded as one of the greatest sons of Africa. His steadfastness on the spiritual path, devotion to the Master, dedication to the mission, surrender to the Divine and sincerity of purpose resulted in this beacon of light spreading the divine knowledge of the Master to all parts of the globe.
In a letter dated 13 August 1956, the Master wrote a letter to Pujya Swamiji in which he says, "All the letters I get from South Africa, Mombasa and Nairobi contain pages on your glory and the great impression you have created among the devotees. It is all due to the Grace of the Lord and the purity you have attained through Para Bhakti. When you advance in Sadhana, there is a marvellous, mysterious Power coming from every bit of your action and word. May you gloriously prosper".
In the article, "Grace & Self-Effort" the Master states, "Change of your nature and God-realisation cannot come to you as a miracle done by your Guru. The Guru and Shastras can show you the path and remove your doubts. Direct experience of God is left to you to achieve."
The Mahasamadhi Day Satsang of our Divine Master was observed on Sunday, 14 July at Sivanandashram, Reservoir Hills, attracting devotees from many parts of the province.
Our Divine Master Sri Swami Sivananda occupied his physical body for almost 76 years, and withdrew from it in 1963. For the last 56 years we have been paying homage to our beloved Master on this day, not only to observe this auspicious event but also to celebrate his great life here on Earth and appreciate the blessings that we have inherited from it. Our Master's life was truly a significant one and perhaps one that has altered the world itself. On this day, we are reminded of the words contained in a biography of our Master:
"For centuries, India has fostered thousands of mystics, Yogis and saints. But the story of Swami Sivananda, a spiritual stalwart of the 20th century, stands out as a unique, inspiring and absorbing one. This is the story of a God-man who, from being a doctor in the Malaysian rubber plantations, rose to become one of India's most revered spiritual leaders."
The commencement of the 41-day chanting of the Sri Hanuman Chalisa, 11 times daily was on Tuesday, 30 July. The Sri Hanuman Chalisa is very powerful and very effective for the removal of all mental problems. It brings good health, success and prosperity. It cures diseases, counteracts evil forces and the effects of "black magic", which are so prevalent today. It was recommended to us by Pujya Mother Krishnabai of Anandashram, one of the greatest of living saints.
At a well-attended function, the fourth in the series of the Platinum Celebrations of Divine Life Society of South Africa was hosted by our Verulam Branch on Sunday, 30 June at the Kraydeb Conference Centre in Everest Heights, Verulam.
As this event was hosted by our Verulam Branch, the Board of Management, in a special message addressed the residents of Verulam and all present as follows: "Our saints and scriptures tell us that it is a rare privilege to attend Satsang. We invite all residents of Verulam and surrounding areas to make the most of our Ashrams and Branch facilities, and to invite as many as possible to attend our Satsangs and Ganga Aratis as often as possible. We urge all devotees to turn seriously to prayer in this Kali Yuga when calamities and disasters are so prevalent. In highlighting the power of prayer, Sri Swami Sivananda says, 'Prayer cleanses the dross and steadies the mind. It washes off the impurities of the heart with the pure waters of spiritual emotions, corrects the defects and shortcomings, and prepares the mind for the reception of Self-knowledge. In times of danger and calamity, mass prayer works wonders. Prayer for the departed souls bestows peace on them. Prayer is as real as the force of gravity. It can reach a realm where reason is too feeble to enter. It can work miracles. Its magnanimous efficacy is indescribable. Its potency can be hardly comprehended without actual experience'."
Pujya Swami Sahajananda's 94th Birth Anniversary will be celebrated on Wednesday, 10 July 2019, at Sivanandashram, Reservoir Hills. A special morning session will be held from 6 - 6:45am. Ganga Arati in the evening commences at 5pm, followed by Satsang. Supper Prasad will be served.
The auspicious Guru Purnima will be observed on Tuesday, 16 July 2019. A morning session will take place at Sivanandashram, Reservoir Hills from 6 - 6:45am. The evening programme shifts venue to Sivananda International Cultural Centre, La Mercy. Ganga Arati commences at 4pm, followed by Satsang at 5pm. Supper Prasad will be served.
Ganga Dussehra was observed on Wednesday, 12 June 2019 at Sivanandashram, Reservoir Hills. It was on this day that Ganga, by Her Divine Grace, uplifted all the sixty thousand sons of King Sagara to the highest abode of immortal bliss. Readers would know that the princes were cursed by Sage Kapila because they falsely accused him of stealing the sacrificial horse, dedicated for the Ashvamedha sacrifice by their father, King Sagara.
We learn many lessons from this sacred river. The Ganges starts from Gangotri in the Himalayas. She encounters many obstacles on Her way, but She finally reaches the goal—the ocean. Similarly, the spiritual aspirant should never give up his struggle, however insurmountable the obstacles in the path may appear to be. All difficulties and obstacles will be removed through the Grace of the Lord and, if he is sincere in his Yogic practices, he will reach the goal.
The Ganges always gives you cool, pure water. It does not expect any¬thing from you in return. The sun sheds its light on all without anticipat¬ing any reward. Derive lessons from them. Always give, give and ask nothing in return. Expect nothing in return, not even appreciation or any kind of recognition.
An excellent Health Workshop and Book Fare was organised at Sivanandashram, Reservoir Hills on Sunday, 23 June 2019, providing theoretical knowledge, demonstrations and practical application on various health matters. The theme for the workshop which was "Secrets to Good Health" was well received and focussed in the main on preventative measures and recommending effective treatment in some cases. Our presenters affirmed what our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda said that "Health and Happiness is our Birthright".
The secrets to good health, we were told, lies in unhesitatingly obeying the Laws of Nature. The workshop covered the following topics: Lifestyle diseases, Safe use of medicines, Benefits of Yoga & Pranayama, Value of humour and cheerfulness, acupressure, use of castor oil pack, Namapathy and Yogic Diet. A humorous and educative play on acupressure captured the attention of the audience for about 30 minutes.
In the book fare, Divine Life Society branches each managed a stall, displaying and marketing various books from our Master and other writers. The stalls promoting health, nature cure and home remedies were also received frequent visitors. It was a fun filled day with competitions, quizzes, vouchers and special offers. A healthy competitive spirit prevailed amongst the various stalls.
In celebration of 70 years of existence in this country, Satsangs have been organised throughout the year, hosted mostly by branches of the Society. The third Satsang in the series of celebrations was held on Wednesday, 5 June at headquarters, Sivanandashram, Reservoir Hills. This day coincided with one of the three days when the Master wrote letters to Pujya Swamiji instructing him to start a branch of the Society in South Africa. At the Satsang on 5 June, four letters were read. These were written by our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda to Pujya Swamiji and contains precious advice to all seekers on the spiritual path.
The 95th Sannyas Anniversary of our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda was held on Saturday, 1 June 2019 at Sivanandashram, Reservoir Hills. Devotees paid homage to the Master at a short Satsang commencing at 6am.
After reading the book, Jiva-Brahma Aikya Vedanta Rahasyam, our Master developed an ardent desire to tread the path of spirituality. He longed desperately for absolute bliss, for unmixed happiness and for perpetual peace. He resigned from his job as a doctor in Malaya and left for India. On arrival at his home in Pattamadai, the Master went missing as his goods were being offloaded. What happened was that he set out immediately to the railway station to commence his journey to Varanasi, the abode of Lord Siva. The Master had one burning desire and that was to realise God now. To his dismay, the Master discovered that Varanasi was a big crowded city and he was advised by a kind-hearted stranger to go to Pandharpur. The Master visited several holy places. The wandering life helped our Master to develop equal vision, forbearance and serenity of outlook in pleasure and pain. He eventually reached Rishikesh where he met Swami Vishwananda who gave him Sannyas. It was on this day, the 1st of June 1924, 95 years ago, that Swami Sivananda Saraswati was born.
This year marks the 70th Anniversary, the Platinum Jubilee of Divine Life Society of South Africa. Pujya Swami Sahajananda, Spiritual Head of the Society, as well as devotees of the Society affirm that the achievements and milestones of the Society are due only to the Grace of our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda. We are beholden to Pujya Swami Sahajananda for carrying out the explicit instructions of our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, to start the Divine Life Society in South Africa.
With the celebrations now taken to branch levels, in terms of its outreach programme, Divine Life Society of South Africa has created further awareness in resuscitating any dormancy that may exist amongst the community. On Sunday, 26 May 2019, there was a combined hosting of this milestone event at Sivanandashram, Chatsworth, 2 Ambassador Road, Unit 1, Havenside, by three branches of the DLS SA, namely, Chatsworth, Kharwastan and Shallcross. An intensive planning exercise, together with two radio presentations and an overview in the community newspaper, held a great advantage in creating awareness to the public. As a result of this, the function unfolded with a promise of being a resounding success. Such awareness taken to the community, added much flavour to furthering the aim of the Society, in disseminating our Master's vast reservoir of Spiritual Literature. We observed with joy that about 450 people responded to our invitation.