Om Namo Bhagavade Sivanandaya

Established in 1949 by Sri Swami Sivananda

Report: Centenary Celebrations' Satsang - Pietermaritzburg Branch

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The Aryan Hall in Raisthorpe, Pietermaritzburg, was the venue for the Society’s Centenary Celebrations hosted by the Pietermaritzburg Branch on Saturday, 6 July 2024. Approximately 550 devotees, well-wishers, donors and members of the public graced the function, that began at 7am and concluded at around 3pm.

There were three sessions. Session one was from 7 to 9am, and comprised chanting, Pranayama, meditation and Havan. The second session, comprising Ganga Arati and Satsang, was from 9.30am to 12.40pm. The third session, a cultural programme, commenced at 1pm and concluded around 3pm.

The soulful chants of sacred Mantras and Ganga Arati were a beautiful prelude to the Satsang programme. The concept of Ganga Arati, was perhaps new to many, and afforded them the opportunity to pay obeisance to Mother Ganga.

The Satsang programme comprised Kirtans, Bhajans, a message from the Society, a play, “People versus Sivananda”, and a children’s item, “Gurudev Says”. 

The message from the Society focused on the reasons for the Centenary Celebrations, Sri Swami Sivananda’s teachings and legacies, and the enormous work of Divine Life Society of South Africa under the leadership of its Spiritual Head, Sri Swami Sahajananda. The message also gave pertinent advice on Mantra chanting, the importance of attendance at Satsangs and the benefits of prayer. The children’s item, “Gurudev Says”, done to the accompaniment of nursery rhymes, brought to the fore the Master’s lofty teachings in a simple and entertaining manner.

One of the highlights of the Satsang programme was a court-room drama, “People versus Sivananda”. A court had to be convened because some of the critics of Sri Swami Sivananda leveled accusations, namely, breaking traditional rules, mass education on the sacred scriptures and kidnapping. Swami Sivananda was tried in abstentia. One of the complainants was a pundit who complained that Swami Sivananda had made sacred texts available to all castes, the masses, and even in English. He complained further that Swami Sivananda told people that they could chant Mantras and know God, that sacred Mantras can also be written, that he is a strong proponent of Karma Yoga. He tells people that an ounce of practice equals a ton of theory. People don’t want to do any more rituals. They give their money to the Swami. Shopkeepers are complaining because the Swami has opened an alms house. The pundit’s income has also dropped drastically. A doctor testified that the Swami has recently started eye camps and her company has seen a serious reduction in profits. A father testified that the Swami kidnapped his son who had joined Swami Sivananda’s Ashram.