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Established in 1949 by Sri Swami Sivananda

Report: Official Opening of Sivanandashram, Sandton

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Divine Life Society of South Africa opened its most recent Ashram, this being in Gauteng. Sivanandashram, Sandton, located at 73 Parkville Place, Buccleuch, was opened on Sunday 9 June 2024. This is the eight Ashram of Divine Life Society of South Africa. The opening coincided with the Society's Centenary Celebrations, commemorating the 100th Sannyas Anniversary of Sri Swami Sivananda on 1 June 2024, the 75th Anniversary of Divine Life Society of South Africa in 2024, and Pujya Swami Sahajananda's 100th Birth Anniversary in 2025. The day's programme comprised a Havan at 8am, consecration of Ganga Rani, a march past by the Spiritual Darlings around the Ashram campus, Ganga Arati at 9.30am and Satsang at 10am. The Satsang Programme comprised Kirtans, Bhajans, a message from the Society, a play, a children's item paying tribute to Sri Swami Sivananda, the official opening of the Ashram, Pujya Swami Sahajananda's audio message, an address by the Deputy Consul General of India in Johannesburg, and group dances.

The chants of sacred Mantras during the Havan by the Ashram's priests reverberated and created a soulful ambience befitting the occasion. The newly erected Ganga Rani was thereafter consecrated with Mantra Chants to the pouring of Ganga Jal. Ganga Arati will hereafter be conducted daily at the Ashram, indeed a unique practice in this part of the world!
Sivanandashram, Sandton, the culmination of more than a decade's planning, is indeed a majestic building in the busy metropolis of Gauteng. It will fulfil an important role in the lives of Hindus in Gauteng, for we hope that many will attend the Satsangs, Yoga Camps, programmes and Hindu Festivals here, and continue to lead a Divine Life. This is indeed a physical manifestation of our Master's and Pujya Swami Sahajananda's Grace. No doubt, the words of the Spiritual Head of Divine Life Society of South Africa, Sri Swami Sahajananda, find resonance in this regard. He said, "We are not tired of reiterating that the formation, growth and present status of Divine Life Society of South Africa is due entirely to the Grace of our Master, Sri Swami Sivananda".

GURUDEVIn the message from the Society, the Master was quoted as saying, "I get the greatest joy here when I know that one or more Centres of Divine Life is born somewhere in this vast realm of the Lord. The birth of a Divine Life Branch is verily the

birth of an Amsa of the Lord, an Avatara of God. In the pious resolve that necessarily precedes such an event is manifest the Divine Will and the Divine Grace of the Lord who thousands of years ago declared, 'For the promotion of righteousness and for the subdual of unrighteousness, I take birth here time and again'. The collective pious resolve of His children is verily the descent of God into men's hearts. Therefore, it is that, it is a great event over which I rejoice heartily".

Sri Swami Sivananda's advice on leading a Divine Life, as recounted in the message, again, highlights the role of an Ashram in leading a life of divinity. The Master said, "But Divine Life is far from easy; it exacts its own price. You have to bring about the transformation of your entire lower nature through the overhauling of the undesirable elements within yourself, through an integration of the entire personality. To lead a Divine life is to transcend earthly sufferings by realizing Him, the prime principle of life".

On the role of a Divine Life Society Branch, Sri Swami Sivananda said, "Each for all, and all for each working in harmony, unity and love, you should all from today strive your utmost to make your Branch a dynamic Centre of spiritual activity, a hub of divine life around which will revolve innumerable seekers after Truth with a never-ceasing reverberation of the sweet Name of the Lord.

"This is not all. Every one of you should make yourself into a Centre of divine life, and I wish every member of the Society to be the builder of unity, the distributor of peace and the radiator of joy, by translating into your lives its profound principles and all spiritual verities. May your Branch be ever vibrant with the Name of God and conduct constant spiritual meetings to obtain the plenitude of power, the fullness of life and the wholeness of joy".

The opening of Sivanandashram, Sandton is indeed a joyous occasion, and we are blessed that this Ashram is an offering to Sri Gurudev on the occasion of Sri Gurudev's Sannyas Centenary, and the 75th Anniversary of Divine Life Society of South Africa. The official opening was also within the auspicious period in the Divine Life calendar from 1st June to 8th September, when the Master's Grace flows in abundance.

Pujya Swami Sahajananda's audio message focused on the importance of Satsang, benefits of Agnihotra and the effects of Mantra Chanting. Pujya Swamiji narrated the anecdote of a farmer who would not forego his two-minute daily prayer even when his child died and when his house caught on fire. Narada who witnessed these incidents, reported these to the Lord, who in turn gave Narada sound advice on the importance of regular prayer. Pujya Swamiji used this anecdote to advise devotees that we should not miss Satsang. He said that irrespective of "whatever happens, we should fix the time" for Satsang and prayer, and that "then only will you get God's Grace". He also advised that there are adverse forces around, from a cosmic point of view, that are ready to distract us, and that only prayer will counteract such negative forces. He also highlighted the benefits of Agnihotra and the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra. One of the trees at our Ashram was attacked by ants and caterpillars. Agnihotra was performed regularly, and one Mala of the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra was chanted regularly. Also, sacred water that was offered at Sri Gurudev's shrine was poured onto the tree. Soon the ants and caterpillars disappeared and the tree regained its original health and greenery. In highlighting the power of Mantra chanting, Pujya Swamiji used the analogy of disco music as opposed to celestial music. The former will create violent vibrations, which will agitate the mind, whilst celestial music will create vibrations of peace and positivity. Such is the impact of Mantra chanting.

The Deputy Consul General of India in Johannesburg, Shi Harish Kumar drew on his visit to the Master's Ashram in Rishikesh, and how the Master's writings and teachings made an impact on his life. He also alluded to the enormous work done by Divine Life Society of South Africa in promoting Hinduism, poverty alleviation, moral and spiritual education.

PLAQUEDignitaries, members of the Board of Management and officials of Sivanandashram, Sandton Branch then performed the official opening, by cutting the ribbon and unveiling the plaque – indeed the realisation of a long-awaited and cherished dream of many.

The Song of Salutations, a tribute to Sri Swami Sivananda, was done with decorum and sincerity by the Spiritual Darlings. They also performed a delightful and educative play, "Have Faith", which brought to the fore that if devotees' have bounden and unconditional faith, the Lord's Grace descends in abundance.

Sivoham Fine Arts performed two beautiful Bharatanatyam dances which reflected the spirit of unity and gratitude, and celebrated the magnificence of our beautiful country. Under the tutelage of Thirumathi Roshel, the students brought out the grace and beauty of this ancient art form with distinction.

An array of stalls graced the fore-court of the Ashram. Book stalls, stalls displaying Centenary Celebrations' memorabilia, souvenirs and gifts, and a Sunlit Path Schools' stall, with free literature providing coping strategies for social ills such as drug addiction, alcoholism, suicidal tendencies and related ills, were also available.

Key personnel who played an integral part of the Ashram's construction were honoured. In thanking all, a brief history of the project is necessary. On 30 October 2012, the committee received communication from the Society which said, "We have had extensive discussions on your request for building an Ashram in a more convenient location. We are pleased to inform you that your request has been approved in principle. We are particularly happy to note your enthusiasm and your great desire to promote Sri Gurudev and His Mission". In 2013 a Satsang was held to launch the project, where the branch energised and activated processes. The commitment and dedication of all to realising this dream was unwavering. When construction started, some devotees took time off work to be part of the project. Twelve years later, the Ashram has been opened.

We are confident that Sivanandashram, Sandton will be a beacon of hope for many seeking solace, peace and contentment through prayer – the balm that heals the wounds of the heart and mind. No doubt, Sivanandashram, Sandton, like all our Ashrams, will fulfil an important part in the spiritual lives of many, for a place of prayer is indeed, "God's home". Amidst the present-day busy lives that we all lead, prayer is an absolute necessity.

CROWDOver 1300 people attended the opening, and another 1600 joined online. The large attendance at the function is indicative of a bright and successful future for Sivanandashram, Sandton. The zeal, enthusiasm, Guru Bhakti and diligence of officials of the Ashram, devotees and the general public are overwhelming, and this bodes well for Divine Life Society of South Africa and the spreading of Sri Swami Sivananda's message of Divine Life in Gauteng.

The commitment, leadership, hard work and Guru Bhakti of the planning team of the Sandton Branch, saw the fruition of a long-standing desire of hundreds of devotees, well-wishers and donors. Most importantly, Sri Swami Sivananda's message of Divine Life will spread in this part of the world. It is worth noting that the key players in the planning team and forthcoming management teams are erstwhile Spiritual Darlings who diligently attended Yoga camps in Durban when they were young. Many had the direct Darshan of Pujya Swamiji. Blessed with well-paying jobs in Gauteng, and thirsting for reconnection with the Master's mission, they contributed generously to the project financially. Many spent entire weekends and late evenings in order to meet the deadline of the opening. May these youthful ambassadors of the Master, and all officials and devotees of the Society in Gauteng, be blessed abundantly! They must be complimented on an excellent piece of work.

We thank all officials, donors, well-wishers and devotees of our Sivanandashram, Sandton, and wish them every success in bringing the message of Divine Life to the people of Gauteng, and pray that Sri Gurudev's and Pujya Swami Sahajananda's Grace and blessings help grow the Ashram in leaps and bounds. May you continue to propagate the life, teachings and legacies of Sri Gurudev and Pujya Swamiji for years to come.



Last modified on Wednesday, 03 July 2024 21:07
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Sri Swami Sivananda

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