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Report: Pujya Swami Sahajananda's 96th Birth Anniversary

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This auspicious event was celebrated on Saturday, 10 July 2021 via our online Satsang Programme. The morning programme from 6.00-6.25am began with Ganga Arati and concluded with a short invocation. In the evening, Ganga Arati commenced at 5.30pm followed by Satsang.

On this sacred Birth Anniversary of Pujya Swami Sahajananda, from the Board of Management is as follows," We paid reverence and homage to our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, for the most precious gift bestowed on South Africa: Pujya Swami Sahajananda. We thank Pujya Swamiji for his inestimable contributions to this country as Spiritual Head of the Society. Pujya Swamiji's contributions to Hinduism and humanitarian initiatives in South Africa are unparalleled in South African history. Pujya Swamiji set the foundation and commenced magnanimous and sterling work in the promotion of our glorious Hindu Dharma, based on the writings of Sri Swami Sivananda. Swamiji devoted himself to printing and distributing the Master's teachings with silent eloquence, building schools, crèches, a hospital, projects for poverty alleviation, poor feeding and assistance to Hindu temples.

"His visionary leadership in establishing the unique Sivananda Ghat, the Sunlit Path Schools' Programme to assist learners cope with drug addiction and social ills, construction of schools, poor feeding programmes, grocery hamper distribution to the needy, clinics and numerous educational, social and humanitarian initiatives are known nationally and internationally. Furthermore, regular Yoga Camps, Sivananda Day Satsangs, and beautifully maintained Ashrams are all part of Pujya Swamiji's wonderful legacy. The tradition established by Pujya Swamiji is continuing with the unabated enthusiasm and co-operation of devotees of the Society. Such was Pujya Swamiji's sincere, silent, selfless and dynamic leadership and inspiration!

"We find comfort in Sri Gurudev's assurance in two hand-written letters in which he stated:

God will look after the divine work.
Lord will look after everything.

"We are pleased to report that since Pujya Swamiji's Mahasamadhi, both the spiritual and social service activities of the Society are progressing at a steady pace. There is no doubt that our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, is inspiring and guiding devotees and looking after his mission in South Africa in various ways. The total number of poverty alleviation projects to date is 616. We are deeply grateful to donors for their regular and unstinting support. The number of tune-ins to our online Satsangs, Yoga Camps and other programmes during the lockdown, from April 2020 to the end of June 2021 is 172 190. This is testimony to Sri Gurudev's own words, "My favourite disciples are in South Africa. Even if my mission fails elsewhere, in South Africa it will not. God Himself is looking after the work there". During these difficult and uncertain times, especially of the coronavirus pandemic, let us find comfort and direction in Sri Gurudev's and Pujya Swamiji's words of wisdom".

The article by Sri Santhanagopal of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan entitled "An Unforgettable Saint of South Africa", gave Satsangis deep insight into the impact that Pujya Swamiji made on international visitors. Below are excerpts from this inspiring article: "About two years ago I visited Durban in South Africa. It is there that I came across a person who shattered my scepticism about spiritual leaders. Here was a person who turned out to be a saint in every sense of the term. A more selfless, self-effacing person is hard to find. I found him to be a person who brought dignity to the simple dress of Sannyasi (monk) that he wore.

"He is Swami Sahajananda, founder President of the Divine Life Society of South Africa and friend, philosopher, guide and Guru to thousands of his disciples spread all over South Africa. I found mighty men and women, persons who wielded enormous power, influential and wealthy, among his disciples. I found them to be incredible, mixing with everyone when they participated in the various welfare and building activities, cheerfully digging, carrying loads and doing other forms of physical labour, without a word from the Swamiji to do so! There is hardly anything distinguishing about the person of Swamiji. He can easily merge himself with even a small crowd without being noticed. His voice is soft, just audible. When he spoke however, people heard him with rapt attention. His habits are simple. His personal needs are minimal. He is simplicity itself and shy to the core.

"There are many who have similar traits and attributes. What makes him different and where does the saintliness come from? His eminence stems from and shines in brilliant incandescence, not from what he has been saying but from what he has been doing, silently, unobtrusively, always in the name of his Guru, Swami Sivananda, whom he always refers to reverentially, as my Divine Master.

"Swami Sahajananda's surrender to his Guru is absolute and total. He lives, breathes, eats, sleeps and does everything else, all in the name of his Divine Master. He has indeed surrendered to his Guru his mind, body and spirit. Such Guru Bhakti in the 21st century is an incredible phenomenon!

"Swamiji is a prolific writer. In simple layman's language he gently spoon-feeds members of his congregation. He never sermonizes to the learned and the scholarly. He would orient his messages, either in writing or through speech, to the person with the weakest power of comprehension. He always helps people, even those, who bite the hand that feeds. He brings to mind the story of the sage and the scorpion. A sage found a scorpion struggling for life in a puddle of water on the road. He stopped to pick it and drop it on firm ground and was promptly stung on the hand. He again tried to pick it and was stung right away. He tried many times to save it but was stung every time he picked it up. A passer-by, who was watching what was happening asked the sage, 'Why do you try to help it when it is stinging you every time?' The sage replied, 'It is the nature of the scorpion to sting and it is my nature to try and save it.' Swami Sahajananda has reached a stage where he is capable of only compassion and kindness for every living organism that shares the earth with humankind. If the rains fall, if the flowers bloom, if the birds sing, if children smile in happiness and in innocence, I know why. It is because there are persons like Swami Sahajananda living amongst us, for our own sake".

In his audio message, Pujya Swamiji dwelt on the need to follow a spiritual life, citing his own life as an example. Here are salient parts of this speech, delivered ex tempore, "If you have habits that are not very good and you find it difficult, let them be there. If you continue your Sadhana you will find it will go away by itself. But certain things you must try to control. When I first read Gurudev's books, I was very ambitious in my school work. In Sastri College I was coming out first in the matric class and after we did the Teachers' exam, I was also coming out first. Because I did not do as well as I expected, I got disgusted and I did not take the bursary that they offered me to go to Fort Hare to study for my B.Sc. degree. I said I will do teaching and do my courses privately. I got all the courses from the University and started my studies. But the moment I read Gurudev's books, the first thing I did, I bundled my lectures. I sent it away. I said, 'No more. If this is the goal of life, if the goal of life is to realise God, what have I got to do with degrees.' So, overnight, I gave up everything−sports: soccer, swimming and tennis that I loved much.

"So, I am asking you now, if I can do that you can at least do something. Gurudev gave us everything and when he came to his home in Pattamadai, (after he left Malaysia in quest of God) while they were off-loading his goods, he bolted away. He didn't even go into the house because his one burning desire was to realise God.

"I don't say everyone must do what I've done but at least you can make some effort. As the years go by, you must be able to say you have reduced your desires. There is no end to it. Why do we want to realise God? We want to realise God because the bliss is so great, so marvellous that the human brain cannot comprehend it. God's bliss is a positive state. If Gurudev did not give me these experiences, I wouldn't be able to tell you that there is such an experience. And when you experience this, the first thing that strikes you is that it is ever new, ever fresh and ever new. There is no monotony in it. So that is what we have got to achieve. What our Guru has attained, we have to attain that.

"So, whether you like it or not, you will be forced to do it. Your soul is going to ask for it. Whatever you do, your soul is not going to be satisfied. Your soul is going to call and you will find that when your soul is going to call, you cannot resist it."

On this, the 96th Birth Anniversary of Pujya Swami Sahajananda, we remind devotees that we are in the midst of our "Divine Decade", leading up to Pujya Swamiji's Birth Centenary in 2025. What is the best gift we can offer Pujya Swamiji? We urge all devotees to intensify their Sadhana of Nama Japa, Likhit Japa and meditation, as an offering to our Divine Father. It is not too late for those who have not yet commenced with this Sadhana.

We express our sincere thanks to all devotees, donors, patrons and well-wishers for their co-operation, support and guidance at all times, and wish all peace, protection and Divine illumination. May Sri Gurudev shower his Grace upon you! May Pujya Swamiji ever inspire you!

Last modified on Monday, 12 July 2021 09:44
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