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Report: Day of Descent of Divine Grace

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Divine Life Society of South Africa observed the Day of Descent of Divine Grace on Wednesday 1 March 2023. The evening Satsang at Sivanandashram, Reservoir Hills, included Kirtans, Bhajans, an overview of the significance of the Day of Descent of Divine Grace, an audio recording by Pujya Swami Sahajananda, and a reading on the same theme.

The significance of this important day is captured in the following utterance by Pujya Swamiji in November 2007, "Since the 1st of March I am enjoying 24 hours unbroken peace of mind. Previously there used to be a sharp pain inside, but now there is nothing".

In the Guru Purnima Message of 29 July 2007, Pujya Swamiji said, "I myself had the Grace of our Divine Master when an unusual power of his descended in me. It happened on 1st March this year. When the power descended there was a little disturbance in the beginning but within a few days it settled down. Now there is no change in the descent of the power. I could not believe that the Master would grant me such Divine Grace, a Grace that I do not deserve. If devotees saw my attitude some five years ago and my attitude now, they would be quite surprised that such a tremendous change could take place. It might still take about three or four months for it to get stabilised. Maybe in November, I will talk about it more elaborately".

Pujya Swamiji's audio message vividly captures his indebtedness to Sri Gurudev for his Grace in his self-transformation. Excerpts from the audio - quoted below - bring to the fore, Pujya Swamiji's enormous gratitude and unconditional loyalty to Sri Gurudev for the Divine Grace bestowed upon him.

In respect of his self-transformation, Pujya Swamiji says, "Blessings and material prosperity, God gives very easily, but when you ask for spiritual progress, then the demands are very great...". Pujya Swamiji's own innate humility, and the acquisition of this noble quality are explained by Pujya Swamiji as follows, "Humility is a very difficult quality to develop. We can never develop humility. It is something that comes from God. You know, courage you can develop, but humility you can never develop at all. You can never say, I am humble. Only when you really feel the power of God flowing through you, then you know that you are humble, but in any case, you won't be conscious of it....".

Pujya Swamiji continues to extol the virtues and role of the Guru as one's spiritual father. He says, " ...a Guru is like a father to us. You don't have to ask him for anything. Whatever he inherits will come to us. Even our ordinary material father – whatever he earns, he leaves back to his children. How much more than that the Guru will leave for us? So whatever Gurudev has, belongs to us naturally – we don't have to ask him for it. All his Tapas we are enjoying now. All his God-realisation, his wisdom we get from his books. So whatever Gurudev has earned, whatever he's got, it comes to us naturally, but we have to make ourselves worthy of that Grace, and that Grace can work marvels. All that you have to do is to do your duty – whatever it is...".

In the same audio, alluding to the Divine Grace he experienced, Pujya Swamiji says, "If I have not experienced Divine Grace, then I would have no right to talk to you about it". He explains further, "...and I could remember that it took 23 years for the first light to dawn. I have said this before but I am saying this now, because it is an opportune moment – 23 years before the band around my chest loosened a little bit and I could breathe a little bit freely, and another 6 years went by when the breathing became a little freer (sic), another 3 years when I felt that I was fairly free, and all came without my asking...".

The following excerpt is indicative of Pujya Swamiji's surrender and gratitude to Sri Gurudev, "...what I felt was that whatever I did, I did with all my heart and soul. I thought of the books. I said, 'Gurudev, this is all that I have given you.' I didn't even print about 50 or 100 books – all that we printed was about 30 books, but in those 30 books went every drop of my heart, every drop of my blood, every fibre of my being – my concentration went into that.... So perhaps that's what made Gurudev grant me. So, like that, I have no fear what is going to happen in the future. When the Master solves your problem, he makes a thorough job of it. He solves it once and for all".

The theme of the reading from "Conversations with Gurudev" from Guidance in Daily Life, written by Pujya Swamiji and published in 1998, is "Spiritual Transformation". In this dialogue, we learn of how Pujya Swamiji achieved this enormous spiritual transformation through rigorous discipline and total surrender to the Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, and that if one asks Sri Gurudev for material gifts, these can be attained easily, but if one wants spiritual transformation, Sri Gurudev is very "hard on us". The Divine Grace that Pujya Swamiji experienced is encapsulated in his own words, "I can well believe it, Gurudev. No amount of vows and resolutions helped me to overcome some of my cardinal defects. When I gave up every effort and felt helpless, your Divine Grace manifested. Gurudev, I woke up one morning with the distinct feeling that I was a changed being, that some great power of yours had descended upon me and was effecting the transformation. Gurudev, when I realised what was happening, tears of gratitude began pouring for several weeks, as I felt I was not worthy to receive such Grace. I marvelled to note with what precision and perfection your power was working. The higher knowledge seemed to be descending in me.

From time to time, you were giving me a formula to repeat, together with my Mantra, so that what you were giving could be stabilised. Gurudev, the distracting external conditions did not change a bit. The attitude of those around me was the same. But the miracle I noticed was that it was I who was changing.

Gurudev, kindly permit me to add something more. Over the years I knew all along that those around me were all your own forms, and that their frustrating actions were meant to help me in my spiritual progress. However, this intellectual acceptance did not help me much, Gurudev. But when your divine power descended upon me, the positive results were at once noticeable".

This profound conversation between Sri Gurudev and his ideal disciple, Pujya Swami Sahajananda, is again testimony of Pujya Swamiji's, supreme sacrifice, unique Guru Bhakti and yearning for spiritual transformation.

Every cell of his sacred body, every drop of his pure blood was consecrated towards moulding us, devotees, and preparing us for God-realisation, either in this birth or in births to come. For this, we are eternally indebted to Pujya Swamiji and Sri Gurudev. Pujya Swamiji's immense Tapas, iron will for spiritual growth of all, spirit of discipline and perfection, his compassionate nature, and his unbroken, impeccable and steadfast devotion to Sri Gurudev, have made him a spiritual giant, who has added deed to sentiment, and made indelible impressions on the many lives he has touched. That many an individual's life has been changed spiritually, emotionally, morally, educationally and otherwise, can be attributed to Pujya Swami Sahajananda, the illustrious spiritual son of South Africa. Indeed, the Day of Descent of Divine Grace is one of Pujya Swamiji's many legacies for us to imbibe and treasure.

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