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Established in 1949 by Sri Swami Sivananda

Report: Divine Life Society of S.A. 75th Anniversary Satsang

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Divine Life Society of South Africa celebrated the 75th Anniversary of the Society and the 19th Anniversary of Sivananda Ghat on Wednesday 5 June 2024 at Sivanandashram, Reservoir Hills. Ganga Arati commenced at 5.30pm followed by Satsang. The Satsang programme comprised Kirtans, Bhajans, an audio message by Pujya Swami Sahajananda and readings.

Sri Swami Sivananda, founder of the Divine Life Society in Rishikesh, India, sent four letters to Sri V. Sri Srinivasan Naidoo to open a Divine Life Society Branch in South Africa. The first letter (undocumented) was in 1949 The second letter was sent on 18 October 1949, the third on 11 November 1949, and the fourth on 5 June 1951. The latter three letters, which are documented, contained direct instructions from the Divine Master to Sri Srinivasan, later to be known as Pujya Swami Sahajananda. Divine Life Society of South Africa thus celebrates its anniversary on 3 days, namely 18 October, 11 November and 5 June. These and other letters were methodically kept by Pujya Swamiji. Below are excerpts from the letter dated 5 June 1951, read at the Satsang.

"Words cannot adequately describe the sincerity of your devotion and your ardent zeal and enthusiasm to disseminate spiritual knowledge. Keep the divine flame within you growing strong daily. May it guide the rest toward Eternal Bliss.

An interesting feature in the spiritual path is that the world looks frightening to the aspirant at the outset; but, once he takes to chanting His Name and does total surrender unto Him, everything appears as His Lila. Having installed Him firmly in your heart, what is there to worry you? March boldly with majestic steps towards Him. There He stands to give you a warm welcome and to bless you with Peace, Joy and Immortality.
Kindly send full particulars regarding your branch activities every month so that I can have it published in the 'Divine Life'. "May God bless you with all Aiswaryas! May He bless you all!

With cordial greetings of Peace, Joy and Kaivalya.

With Regards,

Prem and OM, Thy Own Self, Sivananda".

Handwritten: "Kindly open a branch of DLS and do some silent work. The pamphlet is simply thrilling".

Closely linked to the Master's instructions to Pujya Swami Sahajananda to open a Branch of Divine Life Society in South Africa, Pujya Swamiji's audio message focused on his first encounter with the Divine Master and the Master's instructions to him. Pujya Swamiji said that when he left South Africa for India, he had intense attachment for his friends back home. The climate in India and food were strange, and the Master was strict. The first instruction the Master gave him, was to "Learn to type and to make tea", the true meaning of which Pujya Swamiji understood later. He said to Gurudev that he should go back home because he had no qualifications for spiritual life, but the Master said, "They would come". When Gurudev asked him to open a Divine Life Branch, Pujya Swamiji remained silent. However, he contemplated deeply on the Master's instruction, and one day, whilst returning from his contemplative walk, he returned to the FOSA gate, when he said, "I must at least obey my Guru now or God-realisation is out of the question for me". He continued, "Gurudev, you are forming the Divine Life Society Branch. If it succeeds, it's all your grace; if it fails, it's also your grace." This eventful decision and surrender at the Master's behest, saw the formation of Divine Life Society of South Africa.

The Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda launched the "All Souls' Day" in Rishikesh, India. The following excerpt from Swami Sivananda's Gospel of Divine Life gives an account of its origin, when after the morning class the Master told the devotees that henceforth the first of every month will be observed at the Ashram as 'All Souls' Day'. He said, "We should offer special prayer for the peace of all departed souls. In this modernised, materialistic world, Dharma has long ago been lost. Many religions have come into being in India itself that vehemently condemn the practice of ancestor-worship, Tarpana and Shraddha. The departed souls are in great grief. They naturally look to us to help them. We must do this"." The Master outlined the programme for the prayer, saying that consecrated food-offerings for the departed souls should be offered, and that there will be a special worship in the temple. Poor-feeding of the Sadhus should also be done and that in the evening, there will be a special Ganga worship in the names of the departed souls.
Pujya Swami Sahajananda who established Sivananda Ghat, which was opened on 5 June 2005, said that the inspiration for the establishment of Sivananda Ghat came mainly from the Divine Master. Further Pujya Swamiji said that from the comments and responses of individuals, Sivananda Ghat is bringing about a spiritual awakening and transformation in the lives of many visiting the centre. Nineteen years after its inception, visitors and members of bereaved families invariably comment about its serene and tranquil atmosphere, and that "This place is heaven on earth".

Seventy-five years in the history of any organisation is a momentous and joyous occasion – worthy of celebration. The road ahead depends upon us. It is incumbent upon us all: aspirants, devotees, males, females, young, old, youth, laymen and professionals, to continue the Master's and Pujya Swamiji's legacies with sincerity, conviction, steadfastness and distinction. Let us try to live by the Master's profound teachings, usually summed up in a pithy statement: "God first, world next, yourself last." Can we live up to this simple yet pregnant statement, this great gospel of Divine Life which brings God into our homes, lives and into this vestment of our physical personalities?

Last modified on Monday, 17 June 2024 05:31
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