Om Namo Bhagavade Sivanandaya
Established in 1949 by Sri Swami Sivananda
Due to the prevalence of COVID-19, for the first time in its esteemed history, the Parliament of the World's Religions, which is held every 3 or 4 years in different countries, was organised online. The theme for this virtual 2021 Parliament was: "Opening our hearts to the World: Compassion in Action". Thousands of participants attended online and over 500 presenters shared their views on religious philosophy & teachings, compassion in action, justice, climate change, women's dignity, human rights and more. This 8th Parliament provided 48 hours of interactive programming from 16-18 October 2021. Registrants will have 30 days, after the Parliament closes, to experience the diverse, wise and inspiring presentations, heart-opening religious observances, performances, music & films, fascinating panels and workshops. Pujya Swami Sahajananda, Spiritual Head of Divine Life Society of South Africa had advised that the Society be represented at the Parliament. The Society was represented by Dr Rusraj Bharath who spoke on the great sage of Rishikesh, India, Sri Swami Sivananda whose life was one of compassion in action. His talk was entitled, "Swami Sivananda – The Practical Vedantin".In all, eight devotees from the Society registered to attend the various sessions.
In his presentation, Dr Bharath, quoted freely from the life and teachings of our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda on the philosophy of Vedanta, "The world is yourself. Therefore, love all, serve all, be kind to all, embrace all. Behold the Lord in the poor, the downtrodden, the oppressed and the lowly. Feed the hungry, nurse the sick, comfort the afflicted. Lighten the sorrow of the sorrowful, clothe the naked, educate the illiterate, raise the downtrodden. The world is burning with misery and suffering. Wake up, O man, serve with love, serve untiringly". He outlined the various service activities that the Master engaged in daily.
Divine Life Society of S.A. celebrated its 72nd anniversary online on Monday, 18 October, 2021.
Readers would be interested to read the background to the celebrations.Our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda instructed Pujya Swami Sahajananda, then Srinivasan Naidoo, on 3 separate occasions to establish a branch of Divine Life Society in South Africa. These instructions were on 5 June 1949, 18 October 1949 and 11 November 1949. Pujya Swamiji therefore celebrated the Anniversary on all three dates each year. On this occasion, we pay special tribute to our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, for his vision in establishing his mission in this country.We also offer humble obeisance and gratitude to Pujya Swami Sahajananda who led Divine Life Society of S.A. with distinction since its inception in 1949. The Society's phenomenal growth, success, its moral and spiritual endeavours, service activities and its humanitarian initiatives, are attributed to the boundless Grace of our Divine Master and Pujya Swamiji.
Our Divine Master states, "The central purpose of existence is to recognise your eternal identity with the Supreme Spirit. It is to grow into the image of the Divine. The Supreme One embodies the highest perfection. It is spotless purity. To recognise your identity with That, to attain union with That, is verily to grow into the very likeness of the Divine. The aspirant, therefore, as his initial step, has to get rid of all the countless impurities, and the demoniacal elements that have come to cling to him in his embodied state. Then he has to acquire lofty virtues and auspicious, divine qualities. Thus purified, knowledge flashes upon him like the brilliant rays of the sun upon the crystal waters of a perfectly calm lake. This process demands a resolute will, determined effort, and arduous struggle. In other words, strength and infinite power are the prime necessity. Thus, it is the Divine Mother who has to operate through the aspirant".
On Friday, 10 September 2021, Divine Life Society of S.A. celebrated online, one of the most popular Hindu Festivals, Sri Ganesha Chaturthi. Our online Satsang commenced with Ganga Arati at 5.30pm followed by Satsang.Sri Ganesha is the Power that removes obstacles by the force of Knowledge. Sri Ganesha, among other things, is the Devata of spiritual Knowledge. Sages say that because Lord Ganesha removes all the obstacles on the path of the spiritual aspirant, and bestows upon him worldly as well as spiritual success, He is called Vigna Vinayaka.
The celebration on 8 September 2021began online from 5 - 6am witha short invocation and the chanting of the Sri Hanuman Chalisa, 11 times, being the culmination of the 41-day Vrata. We must note that beloved Pujya Swami Sahajananda had encouraged all to recite the Sri Hanuman Chalisa daily for protection, safety, peace and the welfare of the world. In this critical period faced by the world at large, collective recital of the Sri Hanuman Chalisa will assist in counteracting the scourges of our times. In view of the life-threatening coronavirus pandemic and instability still prevailing, we urge all to continue reciting the Sri Hanuman Chalisa as often as possible
While chanting, devotees respectfully paid homage to our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, who "by his dedicated life of selfless service and artless love, proved to a sceptic world the infinite potentialities that lay hidden in every human soul. He was a living embodiment of the Gita, the Koran, and all the Gospels of the world. His word was love. His deed was love. His every thought was tinged with mercy and compassion". These moving words were extracted from Sri Ananthanarayanan's book, From Man to God-man.
Our online programme on Friday, 20 August 2021, commenced with Ganga Arati at 5.30pm followed by Satsang. In the book, Hindu Fasts and Festivals, our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, gives us the following explanation, "Lord Siva describes the glory of this Vrata in the Skanda Purana. It is performed by a woman whose husband is still living. Maha Lakshmi is the abode of auspiciousness, prosperity and wealth. This worship of Her is done to obtain good progeny, and for the health and long life of the husband.
"The Vrata is observed on the Friday immediately preceding the full moon day of the month of Sravan (August – September). After a purificatory bath, the lady should put on fresh, clean clothes and make a mandala with a drawing of a lotus upon it. A kalasha filled with rice and topped with fresh mango leaves, and a coconut and cloth are placed in the mandala. Mother Lakshmi is now invoked therein. Fresh grains are used in the worship as they convey the idea of growth and prosperity.
Om Namo Bhagavade Sivanandaya! Om Namo Bhagavade Vasudevaya!
Sri Krishna Janmashtami, the sacred Birthday of Lord Krishna, was celebrated online by Divine Life Society of S.A. on Monday, 30 August 2021. Ganga Arati commenced at 5.30pm followed by Satsang, which concluded at midnight.
Bhagavan Sri Krishna was the Ishta Devata of our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, who wrote the following in Lord Krishna & His Lilas: "Lord Krishna was the highest incarnation of the great Vishnu. He was the unique and crowning incarnation of all. He was the world teacher. He was the one Lord of love. His divine form holds the heart of India captive in chains, even today. The Bhagavata, the Mahabharata, the Vishnu Purana—all proclaim with one voice that there was none to match Sri Krishna in beauty and elegance of form in all three worlds."
The sacred Guru Purnima was celebrated online on Friday, 23 July 2021. The morning session ran from 6.00am to 6.25am and the evening programme from 5.30pm to 7.30pm.
On this day, the beloved Guru is worshipped by spiritual aspirants all over the world. This day is also sacred to the memory of Sage Bhagawan Vyasa, who wrote the Mahabharata and the Srimad Bhagavata, one of the greatest spiritual teachers of mankind.
We pay respectful obeisance and gratitude to our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, and Pujya Swami Sahajananda. We pay respectful obeisance and gratitude, too, to Sri Shankaracharya, from whose divine lineage our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda descended. Furthermore, we acknowledge with deep gratitude, the immeasurable contributions of all Brahma Vidya Gurus, as well as all saints and sages.