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Report: 67th Sannyas Anniversary of Pujya Swami Sahajananda

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On 10th April 2023, the 67th Anniversary of Sri Swami Sahajananda's Sannyas was observed by devotees, donors and well-wishers of Divine Life Society of South Africa. At Sivanandashram, Reservoir Hills, devotees gathered for a short morning Sadhana programme from 6am until 6.25am, and thereafter imbibed the sacred vibrations of Pujya Swamiji's sacred Kutir, followed by a visit to Sahaja Kutir and the Sivananda Sahajananda Diamond Jubilee Hall. Akhanda Chanting continued from 5.00am to 4.00pm in the sacred and serene surroundings of Ganga Rani, with circumambulation of the Ganga Rani pool, and the soothing sound of flowing water in the background.

The evening Satsang commenced with Ganga Aarti at 4.00pm. The programme comprised Kirtans, Bhajans, a reading from Bliss Divine written by our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, and an inspiring audio message by Pujya Swami Sahajananda. Devotees had the opportunity to visit Pujya Swamiji's Kutir and the Diamond Jubilee Hall after the evening Satsang as well.

In the reading, Sannyasa— A Mental State, from Bliss Divine, the Master described the merits of renunciation. He wrote,

"Sannyasa is Gerua or colouring of the heart and not of the cloth alone. Sannyasa is a mental state only. He is a veritable Sannyasin who is free from passion and egoism, and who possesses all the Sattwic qualities, even though he lives with the family in the world. Chudala was a queen Yogini-Sannyasini though she ruled a kingdom. That Sannyasin who lives in the forest but who is full of passion, is worse than a householder and a worldly-minded fool. Sikhidhwaja was a worldly man though he lived in the forest naked for many years.

"True renunciation is the renunciation of all passions, desires, egoism and Vasanas. If you have a stainless mind, a mind free from attachment, egoism and passion, you are a Sannyasin, no matter whether you live in a forest or in the bustle of a city, whether you wear white cloth or an orange-coloured robe, whether you shave the head or keep a long tuft of hair.

"Shave the mind. Someone asked Guru Nanak· 'O saint, you are a Sannyasin, why have you not shaved your head?' Guru Nanak replied, 'My dear friend, I have shaved my mind'. In fact, the mind should be cleanly shaved. Shaving it consists in getting rid of all sorts of attachments, passions, egoism, infatuation, lust, greed and anger. External shaving of the head has no meaning so long as there is internal craving.

"Many have not understood what true renunciation is. Renunciation of physical objects is no renunciation at all. True renunciation lies in the abnegation of the mind. It consists in renouncing all desires and egoism, and not merely renouncing the world. Real renunciation consists in the renunciation of egoism. If you can renounce the ego, you have renounced everything else in the world. If the subtle ego is given up, then identification with the body automatically dies".

All of us who had the great good fortune to be close to Pujya Swami Sahajananda will readily agree that he was the epitome of this bold message on Sannyasa and renunciation by Sri Gurudev. What a wonderful culmination of Guru Bhakti, renunciation, discipline, saintliness and total renunciation of desires, egoism and worldliness Pujya Swamiji had!

Testimony of Pujya Swamiji's total and unconditional renunciation, is evident in his audio message, when he said, "...the goal of life is to realise God and that is that...".

Pujya Swami Sahajananda's audio recording gave us further insight into the nature of his renunciation, which was instant. He said, ...When I renounced, it was lock, stock and barrel. It was just everything, football, cricket and tennis and swimming and...". He further alluded to him giving up his promising studies and academic career as well. He said, "...there was no doubt at all. I did not regret anything that I had given up. I didn't envy all my teacher friends who got their B.A. degrees and M.A. degrees at all. So, when dispassion comes in the mind, wonderful things can happen. Perhaps Gurudev had willed it so because in my case everything was willed by Gurudev".

Pujya Swamiji's loyalty and total surrender are recounted vividly in the audio, when he described his Sannyas Diksha on 10 April 1956. He said that he did not want Mantra initiation, did not want to take Sannyas nor start an Ashram, but Gurudev had willed otherwise. Swamiji said that he obeyed Sri Gurudev and sat on the chair at his Farewell Satsang, as instructed by Gurudev, but he gradually slipped to the floor – indicative of his humility. Pujya Swamiji's mind, body and soul were completely in tune with the will of his Divine Master. He explains that at the time of initiation, one should surrender one's body, mind and soul to the Guru. He further explains, "...they say that you must surrender to the Guru and then he'll do what he wants...". Indeed, these lofty qualities associated with true renunciation are synonymous with Pujya Swamiji – a jewel amongst saints!

Pujya Swamiji shone throughout his life as the epitome of true discipleship and Guru Bhakti. He was a remarkable example of an ideal disciple who lived to serve the Master to the fullest. He lived up to the Master's description of a true disciple as stated in Bliss Divine: "The best disciple is like petrol or aviation spirit. Even from a great distance, he will instantly react to the spark of the Guru's Upadesha. The second-class disciple is like camphor. A touch awakens his inner spirit and kindles the fire of spirituality in him. The third class of disciple is like coal. The Guru has to take great pains in order to awaken the spirit in him. The fourth class of disciple is like a plantain stem. No efforts will be of any avail over him. Whatever the Guru may do, he remains cold and inert".

We salute and revere this spiritual giant of South Africa, Sri Swami Sahajananda! May the invincible and eloquent guidance of our Pujya Swami Sahajananda, and the great light and guiding force of our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, continue to sustain us all. Although no more in their physical forms, but in their subtle forms, their omnipotence, omnipresence and invisible spirits, are present in every facet of Divine Life Society of South Africa and its activities – the seed having germinated on Pujya Swamiji's Sannyas Diksha 67 years ago. Their potent spiritual energy continues to nurture and sustain earnest seekers who yearn for spiritual sustenance and guidance. Swami Sahajananda's numerous legacies, his awesome Tapas, his indefatigable energy, his compassion and his intense passion to serve mankind, are what Sri Swami Sahajananda left behind for us to emulate. In so doing, we may one day merge in the stupendous bliss of God. Swami Sahajananda, the illustrious and direct disciple of Sri Swami Sivananda, has placed Divine Life Society of South Africa and Hinduism in South African Society on an irreversible trajectory of spiritual grandeur.

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