Our Havan, marking the culmination of the Sri Hanuman Chalisa observance, was live-streamed at 4.30pm. After Ganga Arati, the most sacred and much-awaited 134thBirth Anniversary Satsang of our beloved Divine Master commenced.Akhanda chanting of the most sacred Sri Ram Jaya Ram Jaya Jaya Ram Mantra took place from 4am until 4pm. Devotees joined in the chanting during one or more of the hourly sessions. We thank all who participated in this most important Sadhana over the past 41 days. May Sri Hanuman bless all with peace, good health, prosperity and protection.
We capture here salient parts of the birthday message delivered that evening. On 8 September 1887, a saint was born, a saint who enhanced the face of Hinduism and helped change the world and the lives of countless individuals in many ways. In his book, From Man to God-man,Sri N. Ananthanarayanan,describes the Master's influence on disciples and the world as follows: "Today, Sivananda lives in his disciples. Monastic and lay, their numbersare legion. They are to be found in every continent, in every country. Some of them are helping the growth of the Divine Life movement in a big way. In South Africa, Switzerland, Canada, United States of America, Australia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Trinidad, Divine Life is spreading".
In celebrating the Master's 134th Birth Anniversary, let us continue to contemplate our Master's lucid teachings. In his book, Questions and Answers, Sri Swami Sivananda, in response to a devotee's question on why the Master celebrates his birthday, explains,"I do not celebrate my birthday. It is the devotees who do it. Celebration of such birthdays is equal to worship of Para Brahman. Worship of the Guru is worship of Para Brahman. The devotees take delight in celebrating the birthday, and they are uplifted and benefited. A spiritual wave is created year after year when the birthday is celebrated, and more and more people get a chance of knowing the existence of the Divine Life Society and my teachings. The celebration of the birthday is an annual reminder to aspirants of the purpose of their life. It is a fillip (boost) to their spiritual practices. The pious, receptive attitude prevalent on such an occasion draws forth the Grace of Guru and God upon the devotees. The thoughts of peace, devotion, love, etc., sent out by innumerable devotees that assemble together to celebrate the birthday, go a long way to promote peace, harmony and spiritual well-being in the country".
The Master and Pujya Swami Sahajananda urged us to lead a divine life. The Master exhorts us as follows,"If you commune with the Divine through deep meditation, if you fasten your mind to the Spirit behind matter, you will have a delightful and harmonious life of perennial peace, undisturbed calmness and immeasurable power".
Everyone who wishes to practise the Yoga of Synthesis should have a clear knowledge of this new Yoga, Ahamkara Yoga, said the Master. In the reading taken from Sivananda's Gospel of Divine Life,the Master identifies the various manifestations of this type of Yoga in the life of an aspirant. When an aspirant allows himself to be overcome by egoism, pride, name and fame, disobedience to the Guru, etc., that Ahamkara Yoga rears its ugly head, resulting in his downfall. The Master cites many examples of such cases and concludes as follows, "To learn the scriptures by heart is very easy. To deliver thrilling lectures for days on end on one verse of the Gita or Upanishads is easy enough. To stop the breath and the heartbeat and to exhibit various Siddhis is also easy. To shave the head is very, very easy. To put on the ochre robe and roam about is very simple. But, to put down Ahamkara or egoism is very difficult. To be humble and simple, to serve all with the feeling that they are the forms of the Lord, is very, very difficult. Such selfless service alone can enable one to conquer egoism. This is real Sadhana. That Sadhana which does not aim at curbing one's egoism, but which only goes to feed it, is the very opposite of Sadhana. It is no Sadhana at all".
In 1983 Pujya Swami Sahajananda outlined the various challenges that one can face in spiritual life and how to overcome them. In a recording aired for devotees because of its relevance to our current time, Pujya Swamiji explains, "The present moment, I am talking about the internal condition, is very favourable for spiritual practice. The external conditions drive the mind inside. We get a lot of disappointments from people, from our environment, even nature is rebelling against us by not providing any rain. The wise person uses all external situations to go towards God. Only those who have no deep faith in God, and to whom God has not given the inner understanding, will feel that external conditions are not favourable. It is detrimental to our progress. As long as we have that feeling, it is very difficult to have devotion to God, and faith in God and to do any enabling spiritual Sadhana.
"So, the whole universe is a manifestation of God and all events are guided and controlled by Him. This has to be accepted by the heart. So, because God has made conditions unfavourable for us externally, it is a very fine period, a very good period for us for spiritual practices." Swamiji provides details of spiritual practices. He continues, "However much we hear (talks), it is not going to help us very much. Unless we try to put into practice what we hear, there is going to be no immediate benefit. It is getting down to practice that is going to help us.
"In the last Camp we said that we should try every day to do some meditation. Sooner or later, we all have to do it, but if you start now, then it will be very useful. It means that you are going to build up samskaras. This is going to help you in your next birth. It might even help you to realise God in the present birth."
The video presentation prepared by the grades 0-6 Spiritual Darlings at the August 2021 Yoga Camp, was also included in this programme. The theme "Life & Teachings of Sri Swami Sivananda" was drawn from the books, Sivananda's Gospel of Divine Life and From Man to God-man. It captured various stages in the life of the Master, showing clearly that Kuppuswami, for that was Swami Sivananda's pre-monastic name, engaged in spiritual practices from an early age. He had the gift of divine vision, even at that age. During his student days, the Master was brilliant in the classroom as well as on the sports field. Good health to him was just as important as learning. He used to practise gymnastics and fencing, and used to get up as early as 3am to do his exercises. The presentation ended with thought-provoking sayings in the Master's own voice: You are the architect of your own fate. You are the master of your own destiny. You can do and undo things. You sow an action and reap a tendency; you sow a tendency and reap a habit; you sow a habit and reap your character; you sow your character and reap your destiny; therefore, destiny is your own creation. It was indeed refreshing to listen to the sweet, bold and confident voices of our Spiritual Darlings, reminding us of the greatness of our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda.
It was indeed pleasing to listen yet again to the melodious voice of Smt Mahenthri Pillay in her rendering of the Bhajan "Kamala Vallabha". Our Divine Life Society of S.A. team was also equal to the occasion in their rendition of Bhajans & Kirtans in praise of the Master.
On this the 134th Birth Anniversary of our Divine Master, we reflect on the words of the Master who exhorts us to take spiritual life seriously,to turn to the Divine, and to take advantage of the precious gifts bestowed upon us for our spiritual growth. We pay tribute to our Divine Master and Pujya Swamiji for the peace, bliss, material needs, spiritual and physical protection that we enjoy. We also acknowledge with gratitude the contribution of all devotees, well-wishers, donors, renunciants, and devotees who participate in the different facets of the Society's work with a sense of quiet dignity, humility and dedication. May our Divine Master and Pujya Swamiji bless all with peace, protection, good health and happiness.