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Report: Pujya Swami Sahajananda's 68th Sannyas Anniversary Satsang

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Sixty-eight years ago, on 10 April 1956, a young man named V. Srinivasan was initiated into the holy order of Sannyas by Sri Swami Sivananda. His monastic name is Swami Sahajananda. Pujya Swamiji led Divine Life Society of South Africa for 58 years until his Mahasamadhi on 10 December 2007. As Spiritual Head of the Society, Pujya Swamiji's indomitable will, tenacity and iron courage to spread his Divine Master's, Sri Swami Sivananda's teachings, saw a virtual Hindu renaissance in KwaZulu-Natal; perhaps a rare feat in Hindu spiritual history in this province, for the message of Sri Swami Sivananda, the message of Divine Life, has reached countless homes in the province and beyond, attributed, almost single-handedly, to Pujya Swami Sahajananda.

Divine Life Society of South Africa celebrated Pujya Swami Sahajananda's 68th Sannyas Anniversary at Sivanandashram, Reservoir Hills, on Wednesday 10 April 2024. The morning Sadhana programme at 6am was followed by devotees taking Darshan at Pujya Swamiji's Kutir, his sacred room and the Sivananda-Sahajananda Diamongd Jubilee Centre. In the evening, Ganga Arati began at 5.30pm followed by Satsang. The Satsang programme comprised Kirtans, Bhajans, a reading on Renunciation (Sannysa) from Bliss Divine by Sri Swami Sivananda, an audio message by Pujya Swami Sahajananda, and Ramayana recital by our Rishikumaris.

Sri Swami Sivananda, in his message on Renunciation (Sannyasa) from Bliss Divine, said,

"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".

Pujya Swami Sahajananda's audio message was pregnant with meaning and life lessons for aspiring devotees. Recounting his own life and transformation, Sri Gurudev's nature, personality, humour and sharp wit, Pujya Swamiji brought to the fore the importance of surrender to the Guru, and that the Guru takes complete control of the ardent aspirant's life, as was the case with Pujya Swamiji. Pujya Swamiji said that Gurudev "made me do what I did not want to do". Gurudev spelt his (Swamiji's pre-monastic) name differently, gave him Mantra initiation, gave him Sannyas and eventually made him open an Ashram – all of which Pujya Swamiji had not envisaged. These were indeed Gurudev's will. Swamiji said that his getting a second class pass in the matriculation examination was pre-destined, and "that failure was the greatest Grace in my life", for he then came under the Grace and protection of the Master. Referring to the incident when Gurudev asked Swamiji to sit on a chair, which he did, and then slid off the chair, Swamiji said, "never sit on the same level as the Guru", indicative of Pujya Swamiji's humility and deep reverence for the Master.

We cannot tire of repeating Gurudev's message at Pujya Swamiji's farewell function after his Sannyas initiation. The Master said, "Swami Sahajananda is styled as the spiritual king of South Africa, Durban. He is also called African Chota Guru. He does not want anything. He is a silent worker. He is a man of renunciation, Vairagya (dispassion) and meditation. He is a very good organiser. He talks little. You have never seen him talking. He thinks much and does much. Such a spiritual Yogi is he. His devotion to his teacher is unique. He has a pure heart. So let us pray for the health of this small Yogi, full of strength. One who can transform the materialistic intellect of the whole of South Africa; what tremendous purity, what tremendous Yogic power, what tremendous meditation, spiritual aura and selfless aura".

Swami Sivananda has paid the highest accolades to Pujya Swami Sahajananda. How do we, ordinary devotees, capture Pujya Swamiji's life and legacy in a manner that will do justice to our "African Chota Guru", this apostle amongst saints, this spiritual dynamo of the South African spiritual renaissance?

That we celebrate Pujya Swamiji's 100th Birth Anniversary in 2025, and that we will be celebrating many more of his birthdays and Sannyas Anniversaries in future, makes one reminisce, and take stock of our own spiritual growth, our commitment to the Mission, our Guru Bhakti and our responsibility towards sustaining Pujya Swamiji's legacy beyond these celebrations. We can do these, by increasing our Sadhana, serving the Society unflinchingly, and by living in the image of our Divine Master and Pujya Swamiji.

Last modified on Thursday, 25 April 2024 01:47
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