Our programme, on 30 August 2021, included inspiring messages and readings, melodious Bhajans and Kirtans, chanting, recitation of Slokas from the Bhagavad Gita, classical dances, an audio recording of our Master singing Sri Krishna Bhajans, an audio message from Pujya Swami Sahajananda and a DVD presentation entitled "Wisdom of Sivananda" on the message of the Gita.
In Yoga Lessons for Children, our Master has written: "You can count the stars and the particles of sand on the sea-shore, but it is impossible to count the marvellous, heroic deeds and glorious actions of Lord Krishna, the Lord of the three worlds". In Lord Krishna & His Lilas, the Master extolled the divine attributes of the Lord as follows: "Lord Krishna had the Bhava or feeling of mother even for Puthana who came to kill Him and gave her salvation. He gave salvation even to His bitterest enemies, Kamsa and Sisupala, who insulted Him openly in the Rajasuya Yajna. Then, what to speak of those who are highly devoted to Him?" A divine lesson indeed: bear insult and injury and forgive those who wish to harm us.
Allow us to digress a little from the Sri Krishna Janmashtami Celebrations to the Gita Week which was celebrated daily online from 23 – 29 August with readings, Gita Slokas and Bhajans & Kirtans. Our Master states in Yoga Lessons for Children, "The greatest gift, the finest blessing that India has conferred upon the world, is the sublime, yet practical universal gospel of the Gita. The greatest thinkers of the East and the West have paid their tribute at the shrine of the Gita". In the DVD presentation entitled, "Message of the Gita" taken from "Wisdom of Sivananda, Vol.3", our Master says, "He who sees the Self in all beings and all beings in the Self sees the same everywhere. He who hates no creation, who is friendly and compassionate to all, who is free from attachment and egoism, balanced in pleasure & pain, forgiving, ever content, steady in meditation, self-controlled, possessed of firm conviction, mind and intellect dedicated to the Lord, who neither rejoices nor hates, neither grieves nor desires, who is full of devotion, who is the same to foe and friend, in honour and dishonour, who is the same in cold and heat, in pleasure and pain, who is balanced in censure and praise, is a great devotee or Gunatita. He is very dear to the Lord".
In an audio message recorded in 1980, Pujya Swamiji spoke about the importance of Japa to hasten our spiritual progress. "We must try to master everything. So, I am going to ask all our devotees to start doing Japa. They have been having a wonderful time all these years, a happy-go-lucky time. Now they are going to be cornered and what I'm going to supply is one exercise book free. One thin exercise book of 48-pages will be supplied to everyone free (to record one's spiritual practices). I also keep a book since I am demanding it from the Ashramites. They've got to bring their books to me in the morning; then I put my book there also. You will be asked to show me your book. I might ask for your book once a month or so. When we sit, we should sit still and quiet and close our eyes and concentrate, and for that one hour, we should try to forget everything. The reason why you are here is because of the good deeds you have done in many, many previous births. All that has borne fruit now and you are here."
One of the highlights of the programme was listening to the divine voice of the Master, singing the soul-stirring Bhajans in praise of Lord Krishna. The vibrations emanating from the Master's voice would surely have transmitted much-needed healing energy across the globe, to a world torn by violence and grief.
Among the several readings selected for that evening, we focused on Chapter 16 of the Bhagavad Gita, taken from the book Bhagavad Gita for busy People, written by Sri Swami Sivananda. Our Master wrote the following commentary, "The distinction between the god or the god-man and the asuras is clearly drawn in the first four verses. The Lord spoke to Arjuna, 'The divine properties are deemed to make for liberation, the demoniacal for bondage.' The Lord consoles Arjuna, 'Grieve not, thou art born with divine properties, O Pandava. Demoniacal men know not what to do and what to refrain from; neither purity nor good conduct, nor truth is found in them.' They say, 'The universe is without truth, without a moral basis, without a God, brought about by mutual union, brought about by lust and nothing else. Filled with insatiable desires, full of hypocrisy, pride and arrogance, holding evil ideas through delusion, they work with impure resolves.' The Lord then gives Arjuna an understanding of His Divine Nature, " 'This has been gained by me today; this desire I shall obtain; this is mine and this wealth also shall be mine in future. That enemy has been slain by Me and others also I shall slay. I am Lord; I enjoy; I am perfect, powerful and happy. I am rich and born in a noble family. Who else is equal to me? I will sacrifice. I will give (charity). I will rejoice.' These malicious; and cruel-doers, worst of men in the world, I hurl them forever into the wombs of demons only. Triple is the gate of this hell, destructive of the Self, lust, anger and greed; therefore, one should abandon these three. A man who is liberated from these three gates to darkness, O Arjuna, practices what is good for him and thus goes to the Supreme goal'".
In the farewell message to Pujya Swami Sahajananda on 10 April 1956, the day on which Pujya Swamiji was initiated into the Holy Order of Sannyas, the Master, referring to Pujya Swamiji said, "Of all the qualities that are enumerated in the Gita, humility and compassion are the most important. He who possesses these qualities is a Yogi of the first order. These are the tests of a Jivanmukta. So, we all pray for his health, long life, peace and prosperity. Such a person is a rare jewel on this earth. He who is not free from selfishness is a burden on earth, but when he becomes selfless and works for relieving human suffering, when he has dedicated his life for the service of humanity, he is a divine being on earth".
The riveting story of "Krishna's Jewels" provided relief to listeners. Kala, the robber had one great passion. It was to lay his hands on the jewels worn by Lord Krishna. After listening to the enchanting stories by the Pundit in a village home, he was determined to possess the jewels that would "set him up for life". He was a thief and a vagrant, who had no home or family or friends. The pundit was reading and chanting from the Bhagavat Purana, which tells the wonderful stories of Lord Krishna's life and the glowing splendour of Lord Krishna's ornaments. This caught his attention. Why should he bother about picking up a trinket here, a few coins or a cloth there? If he could find these jewels, he need never go hungry again. He could think of nothing else. After the pundit had finished his story and was on his way home, our thief accosted him and demanded to know where he could find Krishna, to get hold of the jewels he was wearing. When he finally meets Sri Krishna, he is dazzled by the Lord's Divine Beauty and forgot completely about his quest for the jewels. Such is the transformation the Divine can bring about even in a robber!
We express our sincere thanks to our guest artistes: Sri Manesh Maharaj for his excellent dance presentation; and Smt Risa Moodley, Naya Savera Bhajan Group and Sri Lokesan Murugan for their melodious Bhajans in praise and worship of Lord Krishna.
Pujya Swamiji once said, "Today, as we celebrate the birth of the Lord, it should be our fervent prayer to entreat the Lord to take birth in our own hearts. Then, our hearts will be bubbling with joy, we will enjoy bliss and have the strength to face all the challenges of life".
May the Divine Grace of Lord Krishna and Sri Radha be upon all! May our Divine Master and Pujya Swami Sahajananda shower their blessings. May all attain illumination through the Grace of the Lord!