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Report: Sri Swami Sivananda's 58th Mahasamadhi Anniversary

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The sacred Mahasamadhi Anniversary of our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda began via our online Satsang programme at 6am on 14 July 2021. Devotees paid homage to our Divine Master, in the comfort of their homes! The short morning session, with Ganga Arati & invocation concluded at 6.26am. In the evening, after Ganga Arati at 5.30pm, we had Satsang.

During the evening Satsang, the Board of Management of Divine Life Society of S.A. presented the following message, (adapted for the purpose of this report): "On 14 July 2021, we observed the 58th Mahasamadhi Anniversary of beloved Sri Gurudev, Sri Swami Sivananda, who left his mortal coil on 14 July 1963. He was born on 8 September 1887 and influenced the entire world with his deep and profound thoughts, including his 250 books. On this most auspicious occasion, we acknowledge with deep gratitude, our Divine Master's immeasurable legacy to the world, through his profound writings; Ashrams throughout the world; service activities and spiritual, moral and aesthetic guidance on Hinduism, Yoga and allied topics. Sri Gurudev's direct, godlike disciple, Sri Swami Sahajananda, led Divine Life Society of South Africa with rare dedication, outstanding leadership and total Guru Bhakti for 58 glorious years. Today, Divine Life Society of South Africa is 72 years in existence, and it is rendering yeoman service through poverty alleviation projects, education, health care, youth development and education. Sivananda Ghat continues to act as a beacon light of Divine Life Society of South Africa, especially during this coronavirus pandemic, when families of the deceased find comfort and solace in disposing of the mortal remains of their beloved ones, in a dignified and ceremonious manner at the Sivananda Ghat. We salute our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda for his vision and our Spiritual Head, Sri Swami Sahajananda, without whom we would have been in a spiritual abyss.

Sri Gurudev is a spiritual giant of our times. His magnetic, fearless and divine personality, his aura, his compassion and love for all, irrespective of caste or religion, and his vast gifts to the world are unparalleled in modern spiritual history.

The teachings of the Master can be summed up in the words of Sri Swami Krishnananda, one of the Master's foremost disciples, who writes the following in the book, The Mighty Godman of our Age, "The purpose of Sri Gurudev's coming into this world and the intention behind the coming of any sage and saint, is the waking of the slumbering soul of mankind. Gurudev Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj was an incarnation of this unending, incessant, eternal human aspiration for perfection. His teaching is usually summed up in a pithy statement: 'God first, world next, yourself last'. This statement, this little message, this one-sentence teaching perhaps sums up the great gospel of life which brings God to the Earth, into our kitchen, into the very room in which we live, into this vestment of our physical personality".

Intimate glimpses of the Master's last days are revealed in the book, From Man to Godman, authored by Sri N. Ananthanarayanan. "The clearest indication came early in 1963, when at the night Satsang, the Master openly invited all who wanted Sannyas to get initiated on the Sivaratri day in 1963 itself. 'Who knows what might happen next Sivaratri?', he said. About April 1963, the Master became unaccountably serious minded in his attitude to men and matters. His deeds began to take on an unusual complexion – for instance, the economy drive which he instituted in the Ashram administration. But the Master did everything so jokingly. 'Economy sir, economy!' he used to say, whenever anyone went to him with an expense. No one, however, could sense a deeper purpose behind his actions. The truth was that the Master was preparing to leave and wanted the Ashram to be free from financial problems.

"On several occasions during May and June that year, the Master called for the calendar, each time from a different person. Once he flung the sheets up to June at one stroke and started looking into July. When a disciple wondered what it was all about, the Master exclaimed, 'Oh, you don't know!' And after fingering through the dates, he returned the calendar to him. Few could guess at that time that the Divine Master was fixing the auspicious date and time for his own Mahasamadhi. Starting from May 1963, the Master began to give daily tape recordings on returning from the office. Unmindful of the strain, he would read loudly, forcefully and inspiringly from his printed books and typed sheets, and a disciple would record them on the tape.

"As the Master was signing letters one day, he said rather jokingly, 'Sight is getting dim. Hereafter I can't sign, sir,' and he glanced at the disciple who held the signature pad, as if to ascertain whether the latter had understood the implication of what he had said.

"'Happiness comes when the individual merges in God.' This was the last dictated sentence of Swami Sivananda, author of hundreds of inspiring books on man and his destiny. The peerless teacher had summed up his great teachings in that one sentence and he was soon to practice what he preached. He was to totally merge in God, within weeks of the above sentence.

"In health and in sickness, the Master's gracious manners and natural kindness suffered no change. All who went to him during his last illness felt his irresistible love the same as ever. On July 10, the Master expressed a desire to see the Ganges from where he lay in bed. An intervening wall obstructed the view. So, the direction of the bed was suitably changed to enable him to view the holy Tirtha, which he loved so much, on whose banks he had lived for almost forty years, and on whose glory, he had written a book. On 14 July, the Master developed fever and began to shiver. The Master wished to have Ganges water, pure and simple. The water was brought. The Master, who had experienced difficulty in taking the smallest quantity of solid or liquid, gulped down half a glass of Ganges water without apparent trouble ─ and with that the Being that was Swami Sivananda laid aside its mortal vesture".

In the DVD entitled "Swami Sivananda's Message", the Master spoke to us about the benefits of Yoga. "Yoga helps in the co-ordination and control of the subtle forces within the body. Yoga brings in perfection, peace, and everlasting happiness. Yoga can help you in your business and in your daily life. You can have calmness of mind at all times by the practice of Yoga. You can have restful sleep. You can have increased energy, vigour, vitality longevity and a high standard of health. Yoga transmutes the animal nature into divine nature, and raises you to the pinnacle of divine glory and splendour. The practice of Yoga will help you to control the emotions and passions and will give you the power to resist temptations and to remove the disturbing elements from the mind. It will enable you to keep a balanced mind always and will remove fatigue. It will confer on you serenity, calmness and wonderful concentration. It will enable you to hold communion with the Lord and thus attain the summom bonum of existence." This was followed by a delightful session of instructing children and youth on how to practice the various Yoga Asana postures. The Master's unique method of teaching was integrated with the "Govinda" song which outlined the advantages of each pose, after each demonstration and enhanced the lesson with this melodious and inspirational inclusion.

We end this report with a message from the Board of Management of Divine Life Society of S.A., "Let our lives be dedicated flowers at the feet of Sri Gurudev and Pujya Swamiji. During this pandemic, we are given the best opportunity to turn to Gurudev within, and to surrender our lives to Him. Let us not lose this rare opportunity, when there is so much fear and uncertainty all around. On the auspicious occasion of Sri Gurudev's 58th Mahasamadhi, we thank our Divine Master for his compassion and love; the moral, emotional, and spiritual strength he provides; and all his bounteous gifts to us, his children. May Sri Gurudev and Pujya Swamiji shower all with good health, peace, happiness and spiritual enlightenment".


MAHASAMADHI DAY SATSANG OF OUR DIVINE MASTER (ACCORDING TO THE SANSKRIT CALENDAR)

This auspicious day according to the Sanskrit Calendar, was observed via our online Satsang programme on Monday, 2 August, 2021. Ganga Arati commenced at 5.30pm followed by Satsang.

The programme featured excerpts from the book, From Man to Godman, affording intimate glimpses of the Master's last days. "The clearest indication came early in 1963 when at the night Satsang the Master openly invited all who wanted Sannyas to get initiated on that Sivaratri day in 1963 itself. 'Who knows what might happen next Sivaratri?' he said.

"About April 1963, the Master became unaccountably serious minded in his attitude to men and matters. His deeds began to take on an unusual complexion–for instance, the economy drive which he instituted in the Ashram administration. But the Master did everything so jokingly. 'Economy, sir, economy!' he used to say, whenever anyone went to him with an indent. No one, however, could sense a deeper purpose behind his actions. The truth was that the Master was preparing to leave and wanted the Ashram to be free from financial problems.

"On several occasions during May and June that year, the Master called for the calendar, each time from a different person. Once he flung the sheets up to June at one stroke and started looking into July. When a disciple wondered what it was all about, the Master exclaimed, 'Oh, you don't know!' And after fingering through the dates, he returned the calendar to him. Few could guess at that time that the Divine Master was fixing the auspicious date and time for his own Mahasamadhi. Starting from May 1963, the Master began to give daily tape recordings on returning from the office. Unmindful of the strain, he would read loudly, forcefully and inspiringly from his printed books and typed sheets, and a disciple would record them on the tape.

"As the Master was signing letters one day, he said rather jokingly, 'Sight is getting dim. Hereafter I can't sign, sir,' and he glanced at the disciple who held the signature pad as if to ascertain whether the latter had understood the implication of what he had said.

"Happiness comes when the individual merges in God. This was the last dictated sentence of Swami Sivananda, author of hundreds of inspiring books on man and his destiny. The peerless teacher had summed up his great teachings in that one sentence and he was soon to practice what he preached. He was to totally merge in God, within weeks of the above sentence.

"In health and in sickness, the Master's gracious manners and natural kindness suffered no change. All who went to him during his last illness felt his irresistible love the same as ever.

"On July 10, the Master expressed a desire to see the Ganges from where he lay in bed. An intervening wall obstructed the view. So, the direction of the bed was suitably changed to enable him to view the holy Tirtha, which he loved so much, on whose banks he had lived for almost forty years, and on whose glory, he had written a book.

"On July 14, Colonel Puri came to examine the Master. As he tapped with his rod to test the reflexes, the Master said, 'Doctors are very cruel.'
'Yes, Swamiji, what can be done? It is our duty,' said the doctor, and added, 'Swamiji, you will be all right shortly.'
'Yes, I must,' said the Master, 'I have many things to do.'
'You will do, Swamiji, but with a handicap.'

"The Master heard the doctor's words clearly and gave him a steady look. Then in his unfailing hospitality, saw to it that the doctor was offered uppama, coffee and books. He finally concluded with a farewell and an Om Namo Narayanaya.

"After the doctor had left, and before he could take his own food, the Master developed fever and began to shiver. The breathing hardened. He took two or three spoonsful of Horlicks, and at about 3pm asked for water. As was the usual practice, the disciples wanted to give him barley water or jeera water, but he wished to have Ganges water, pure and simple. The water was brought. The Master, who had experienced difficulty in taking the smallest quantity of solid or liquid, gulped down half a glassful of Ganges water without apparent trouble − and with that the Being that was Swami Sivananda laid aside its mortal vesture. It was now 11.15pm.

"The time the Master chose to merge with the Supreme proved to be a holy Muhurta of extreme auspiciousness. An expert horologist, who was also a capable astrologer, had mentioned only upon the morning of that fateful Sunday, that round about midnight there was going to be such an unparalleled and auspicious planetary conjunction that any Yogi who was getting ready to depart would never wish to miss it. The prediction proved correct, and the Master chose the moment".

The Satsang programme also included an audio message from Pujya Swamiji, who 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."

We close this report with the Master's own words of advice to disciples who survive after their Guru's passing: "A true disciple is one who serves his Guru till the end of his life. If the disciple survives after the Guru leaves his mortal body, he should lead the remaining portion of his life in accordance with his Guru's teaching and live to preach them to others by practising them himself."


 

Last modified on Thursday, 05 August 2021 07:48
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