Om Namo Bhagavade Sivanandaya

Established in 1949 by Sri Swami Sivananda

Report: (11/11/2020) 71st Anniversary of Divine Life Society of S.A.

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In celebration of the 71st anniversary of the Society, being the third in the series of three celebrations as outlined on 18 October, we remind ourselves of the dedicated and sincere efforts of the pioneers of the Society who contributed significantly to its growth and development. Their love, devotion, loyalty, obedience and sincerity laid the foundation for the future. Many were the sacrifices that they made and the discomfort they endured in providing us with the best facilities in the world.

Our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, founded the institution in South Africa in 1949. After practising intense austerities and meditation for prolonged periods, often up to sixteen hours daily, the Master attained enlightenment in about six years, and shone as a God-realised sage. He founded the Divine Life Society in Rishikesh in 1936, and was recognised as one of the foremost sages of modern India. His method of disseminating spiritual knowledge via spiritual literature was unique. The deepest wisdom is couched in the simplest and most lucid style. His instructions are universal in their appeal and intensely practical in their application. He wrote over 250 volumes on a variety of subjects encompassing Yoga and spirituality, and attracted thousands of disciples from all corners of the globe through his books.

Swami Sahajananda, who was appointed by the Master as the Spiritual Head, led the organisation tirelessly, completing numerous service activities for the upliftment and welfare of all. The Society continues with the service activities initiated by the Divine Master and Pujya Swamiji. Today, Divine Life Society of South Africa, through the Grace and guidance of the Master, is rendering very useful and valuable service to the people of our country regardless of their race, religion and creed.

From 1949 until Swamiji's Mahasamadhi in 2007, Swamiji worked tirelessly and selflessly promoting the Master's mission in this country, seven days a week, with very little respite. Over the years, the Society's state-of-the-art printing presses, under Pujya Swamiji's expert supervision, produced thousands of high-class illustrated books and disseminated the universal teachings of the Master world-wide. Even now the printing press continues to churn out large volumes of the Master's spiritually charged literature which is transforming the hearts of thousands the world over.

Although the main aim of the Divine Life Society is dissemination of spiritual knowledge by means of our Divine Master's literature, the Society embarked on projects since 1974 for the upliftment of the disadvantaged in this country. It is common knowledge now that soon after returning from a pilgrimage to India in 1973, Pujya Swamiji resolved to send money to India to feed the street children of Chennai. Swamiji was deeply moved by the plight of those poor children. When Swamiji reflected over this, he felt the Divine Master telling him from within, "God in the form of Africans is suffering in this country. Why not do something for them first instead of sending money to India?" So Swamiji decided to build projects for the poor and needy in this country.

Pujya Swamiji initiated and completed 300 projects comprising schools, children's homes, clinics, Peace and Skills' Training Centres, crèches, hydroponic gardening tunnels, housing for the underprivileged, community halls, etc. Since December 2007, the Society, through the Grace of the Master, completed a further 300 projects. The current number of projects undertaken as at October 2020 is 600.

We are not tired of reiterating that the formation, growth and present status of Divine Life Society of South Africa is due entirely to the Grace of our Master, Sri Swami Sivananda. Divine Life Society of South Africa is unique in spiritual history, because it was founded by a spiritual Master who forced his disciple, in this case, Swami Sahajananda, to obey him and carry out his commands. We are most grateful to all our well-wishers, patrons, devotees and the general public for the support and encouragement throughout these years. In his lifetime, Pujya Swamiji meticulously planned the structure and the functions of Divine Life Society of South Africa. Through the Grace of the Divine Master and Pujya Swamiji, the work of the Society has proceeded uninterrupted since Pujya Swamiji's passing.

About African Education, Pujya Swamiji remarked, "Our work is ongoing. I myself do not take the African children as "others". They are my own, and part and parcel of my being. I am greatly concerned about their welfare. We are dedicated to their educational needs." Today, as we celebrate this kind of vision, we cherish with fond memories the work done by dynamic leaders like our Swamiji whose contribution extended beyond their own kind. It is this broad vision based on compassion; based on a deep and sincere desire to share that makes this anniversary celebration worthwhile.

Sivananda Ghat, Sivananda Sunlit Path Centre, the mini hospital in Ntambanana, schools and clinics across the province and various other projects, all arose out of the love that flowed from the heart of Pujya Swamiji to uplift mankind. For the work amongst the disadvantaged communities of KwaZulu-Natal, Pujya Swamiji received numerous awards, receiving them on behalf of the Divine Master as it was the Master who founded the Society in this country.

The Society continues to build on this proud and rich legacy left by Pujya Swamiji. Readers will be glad to know that during this Covid-19 Pandemic, by the Grace of our Divine Master, the Society was granted naming rights to three medical facilities we contributed to and that were erected at public hospitals around Durban. These are Sivananda King Dinuzulu Screening Centre, Sivananda Wentworth Flu and Screening Centre, and Sivananda RK Khan Screening Centre. The Society has also distributed grocery hampers to more than 4000 needy families via collaboration with Civic bodies, temples and other Hindu organisations. Our Sivananda Ghat has been functioning and providing much needed solace and comfort to the bereaved throughout the lockdown. We also note with deep gratitude the manner in which devotees took up the call to intensify their Sadhana during this past year when the world was placed in a crisis. We pray that we may soon be in a position to open our Ashrams and resume our normal prayer services at our Ashrams.

Speaking ex tempore in the pre-recorded audio message, Pujya Swamiji said, "There are many freak things happening. I've always said that first, we must have a proper grasp of the occult side of it and a proper grasp also of the Karmic side of life. Gurudev says if you have a good knowledge of Karma and if you know how the Law operates, and if you have faith in the Law, then a great deal of your sorrow will be over and you will know that most of what takes place, is your Prarabda Karma that you are working out. We can never escape it. At the right time, at the right moment, it will work out. So, if we know that the Law is operating, if loss comes, we will bear the loss. Everything is just. These are some of the basic spiritual truths that you must accept if you want to succeed in spiritual life. Otherwise, it will be like trying to row a boat that is anchored. You are not going to make any progress if you don't have faith and if you don't accept it, then your faith is going to come crashing down."

Whilst our Divine Master and Pujya Swamiji are no more with us in the physical form, we must bear in mind that great souls never leave the world with the demise of the physical sheath. They are alive, now more than ever. They pervade and permeate the whole universe and are always available to those who call sincerely for guidance and transformation. In Yoga Lessons for Children, our Master states, "The greatest miracle is to purify the heart and make it fit for receiving the Light of God. The greatest miracle is to change a sinner and turn him into a saint. The greatest miracle is to conquer the mind. The greatest miracle is the miracle of realising God".

Once again, we pay our reverential respects and tribute to the pioneers of the Society for their invaluable contributions as well as our sincere gratitude to all the devotees who continue to loyally support and nurture all that Pujya Swamiji has built for us. We offer our gratitude to all donors throughout South Africa and abroad, who have been supporting our Society so unstintingly all these seventy-one years, despite the turmoil and uncertain conditions that prevailed, and continue to prevail in our country.

Our deepest gratitude goes to our Divine Master and Pujya Swamiji for giving us the best facilities in the world for our spiritual growth and for guiding and protecting us at all times. May our Divine Master bless all with peace, protection, prosperity and spiritual progress!

Last modified on Friday, 13 November 2020 09:21
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Gurudev Centenary 2020

Sri Swami Sivananda

(1887 - 1963)

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