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HEALTH AND WELLNESS DAY

On Sunday, 16 March 2014, the Society held a Health and Wellness programme at Sivanandashram, Reservoir Hills. Over 1 200 people attended this unique event, capably run by the Ashram’s team of medical practitioners and devotees who serve at Sivananda Clinic in Reservoir Hills. Topics discussed included some of the common ailments prevalent in the community, and focused on a holistic wholesome lifestyle, as advocated by Sri Gurudev and Pujya Swamiji, to prevent and treat these conditions. Daily prayer and meditation, attending Satsang, Yoga Asanas and Pranayama, and a healthy sattwic diet were highlighted as some of the key ingredients for being stress-free and healthy.

Guest speaker at the programme, Dr Vijay Mittal, an Ayurvedic doctor from India with over 20 years of experience, highlighted the key elements for living a healthy life and being disease free. Attendees also visited the many stalls manned by medical practitioners of various disciplines of health including homeopathy, nature cure, reflexology, eye care, dental care, Allopathy, Ayurveda, etc.  for free advice and guidance.

In a recorded audio message delivered by Pujya Swamiji at a health workshop many years ago, Pujya Swamiji said that whilst health is important and we should spare no effort into looking after our health, more important is our spiritual wellbeing, and that more effort needs to be invested in  this area, which will in itself take care of our physical wellbeing.Doctors speaking at the programme quoted Sri Gurudev in saying that when all other “pathies” have failed, Namapathy, or repetition of the Divine Name, is the best remedy for illness. We thank Sri Gurudev and Pujya Swamiji for giving us an informative and enlightening programme dedicated to health, and pray that all are blessed with good health!


PUJYA SWAMI SAHAJANANDA'S 6TH MAHASAMADHI ANNIVERSARY

Sri Swami Sahajananda

Pujya Swami Sahajananda’s 6th Mahasamadhi Anniversary was observed on Tuesday, 3 December 2013 (as per the Sanskrit calendar) and Tuesday, 10 December (as per the English calendar) at Sivanandashram, Reservoir Hills. It was on this sacred day 6 years ago that Pujya Swamiji cast aside his mortal coil and merged with the Divine.

At the Satsang on Tuesday, 3rd December, inspiring letters written by our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda to Pujya Swamiji were read out from the publication, Priceless Jewels, Volume 2. This invaluable collection contains direct instructions to Pujya Swamiji on topics ranging from the administration of the Ashram to detailed guidance on spiritual matters. In an audio message, played on that day, Pujya Swamiji spoke about the “marvels of Guru’s Grace” and how Sri Gurudev shaped everything in his life to fulfill his mission in this country.

Pujya Swamiji’s Mahasamadhi Anniversary on Tuesday, 10 December commenced with a morning session that included Ganga Arati, Invocation and Darshan at Sahaja Kutir and Pujya Swamiji’s sacred room. Akhanda chanting of the Sri Ram Mantra then continued until 4pm. The evening Satsang drew a large gathering, with over 700 devotees attending to pay homage and obeisance to the Divine Master and Pujya Swamiji. An inspiring reading, containing queries from seekers, taken from the publication, “Questions & Answers”, was succinctly answered by our Master.

In an audio message played on the night, which was recorded in 1978, Pujya Swamiji spoke about the transforming effect of chanting the Divine Name regularly. Pujya Swamiji said, “The transformation will not take place overnight. The other important thing is that progress is always there but because our mind is restless and we are not able to see deep within, we are not able to notice the progress that is taking place. I know we all have written, I’ve written myself to Gurudev, and hundreds of disciples have told the Master the same thing. They’ve said: ‘Master, we’ve worked so long, and for so many years we are doing Sadhana, but we don’t see progress.’ I also wrote to Gurudev. He said: ‘I can see your progress although you are not able to see it.’ This progress is going on inside. So we need not get discouraged that we are not getting any results, because it is very difficult for us to see. I will give you an analogy. Suppose there’s a rock—and you hammer at that rock. You go on hammering at the rock to split it. Even after ninety-nine blows the rock is still the same. But the hundredth blow splits the rock. Now it is not one blow that has brought about the change in the rock—it is ninety-nine blows plus the one. The split was going on inside but we were not able to see it. Now similarly, the progress is going on inside. So we need never be discouraged that we are not making progress and that we are not getting what the other person’s getting.”

An inspiring sketch, compiled from excerpts of Divine Life, August 1962, Glory of Guru’s Grace and Sivananda Gospel of Divine Life, highlighting the divine life of Pujya Swami Sahajananda, was enacted by our Rishikumars and youth boys. The theme for the sketch, Dissemination of Spiritual Knowledge, was well portrayed by the cast. In this sketch, Pujya Swamiji together with a band of sincere devotees led an austere life and exercised great discipline to promote the dissemination of spiritual knowledge and to lay the foundation for the Society.

It was a spiritually elevating day, day filled with fond remembrance of Pujya Swamiji, an ideal disciple of the Divine Master, who instructed him to open a branch of Divine Life Society in this country in 1949. Since then until his Mahasamadhi in 2007, Pujya Swamiji utilised every fibre of his being in promoting the Master’s mission in this country. Thousands were transformed by the wave of spirituality that emanated from the Ashram, where Pujya Swamiji worked tirelessly to publish the Master’s books and distribute them widely. Pujya Swamiji’s compassion transcended all barriers, and monumental work was also done for the upliftment of the underprivileged in this country—regardless of race, color or creed.

We offer our sincere gratitude to our Divine Master for the priceless gift that he bestowed upon devotees in South Africa—Pujya Swami Sahajananda. May the blessings of our Divine Master and Pujya Swamiji be upon all!

PICTURES: PUJYA SWAMIJI'S 6TH MAHASAMADHI ANNIVERSARY

Satsang in progress

Satsang in progress

Sketch depicting aspects of Pujya Swamiji's life

Sketch depicting aspects of Pujya Swamiji's life

ALL SOULS DAY WITH MAHA YAJNA ON SUNDAY, 1 DECEMBER 2013
All Souls Day with Maha Yajna at Sivananda Ghat

All Souls Day, a special prayer service for the peace of departed souls, is observed at Sivananda Ghat on the first of every month. Once a year, a special All Souls Day is conducted, with a Maha Yajna (mass Havan) and Satsang. This year, the function took place on Sunday, 1 December 2013. More than 700 devotees attended, with 400 participating in the Maha Yajna for the peace of departed souls.

The Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, inaugurated “All Souls Day” at the Ashram in Rishikesh, complaining that many were neglecting the prayers for departed souls. He said, “The departed souls are in great grief. They naturally look to us to help them. We must do this.” In Sivananda’s Gospel of Divine Life, referring to All Souls Day, it states, “An aspirant mentioned that a spiritualist who visited the Ashram recently had contacted several departed souls, who declared that they were eternally grateful to the Master for his Kirtans and prayers for their peace.”

Through the meals prepared on the morning of 1 December for over 1 000 indigent persons, the Havan Ceremony and the melodious Bhajans and Kirtans thereafter, devotees contributed to the peace of our ancestors and all departed souls.

Before the commencement of the Havan Ceremony, inspiring messages from our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda and Pujya Swami Sahajananda were read. We quote excerpts from the message from our Divine Master, taken from the book, What Becomes of the Soul After Death.

“Death is separation of the soul from the physical body. It becomes the starting point of a new and better life. It does not end your personality. It merely opens the door to a higher form of life. Death is only the gateway to a fuller life.

“Birth and death are the juggleries of Maya, the great illusory power of the Lord. He who dies begins to live. Life is death, and death is life. Birth and death are merely doors of entry and exit on the stage of this world. In reality no one comes, no one goes. Brahman or the Eternal alone exists.

“Just as you move from one house to another, so also the soul passes from one body to another to gain experience. Just as a man casting off worn-out garments puts on new ones, so also, the dweller of this body, casting off worn-out bodies, enters others which are new.

“Death is not the end of life. Life is a continuous never-ending process. Death is only a passing and necessary phenomenon, which every soul has to go through to gain experiences for its further evolution.

“The weeping and uncontrolled grief of relatives gives departed souls pains and drags them down from their astral planes. This may seriously retard them on their way to the heaven world. This produces serious injury to them. While they are sinking peacefully, and when they are ready to have a glorious awakening in heaven, they are aroused into vivid remembrance of the mundane life by the weeping and wailing of their friends and relatives. The latter’s thoughts produce similar vibrations in their minds and produce acute pain and discomfort.

“Therefore, relatives and friends should do Kirtan and prayers for the peace of the departed souls. Then only can they really help and comfort them. If ten or twelve persons sit together and do Kirtan and prayer, it will be decidedly more powerful and effective. Collective prayer and Kirtan exercise a tremendous influence.”

In a message written by Pujya Swamiji on the occasion of the Official Opening of Sivananda Ghat on 5 June 2005, Swamiji wrote, “Besides enabling bereaved families to deposit the ashes of the deceased in the Umgeni River, Sivananda Ghat is a highly educational and spiritual centre. Often, only when some calamity or death takes place does one ask questions like: “Who am I? What is the purpose of life? Where have I come from? Where am I going to? Why am I suffering? How to overcome my suffering? The inspiring sayings in Sivananda Ghat will definitely make many individuals to begin seeking God. Many are going to change their lifestyle”, wrote Pujya Swamiji. 

We express our deep gratitude to our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda and to Pujya Swami Sahajananda for once again making this annual event such a spiritual success.


SIVANANDA-GANGA CONFERENCE

The Sivananda-Ganga Conference held over the weekend of 7th & 8th September 2013 at Sivananda International Cultural Centre in La Mercy.

Click here to view the report and pictures of this most auspicious occasion >>


PUJYA SWAMI SAHAJANANDA'S 88TH BIRTH ANNIVERSARY

Sri Swami Sahajananda

Pujya Swami Sahajananda’s 88th Birth Anniversary on Monday, 10 July 2013 was observed at Sivanandashram, Reservoir Hills. About 200 devotees braved the morning cold to attend a morning session that commenced with Ganga Arati and Invocation. Devotees then proceeded for Darshan at Sahaja Kutir, Pujya Swamiji’s sacred room and Sahajananda Diamond Jubilee Centre. Akhanda chanting of the Sri Ram Mantra was conducted from 6.30am – 4pm.

In the evening, over 750 devotees gathered to pay homage and obeisance to Pujya Swamiji. During Satsang, they eagerly absorbed the message of gratitude to Pujya Swamiji for the inestimable contribution towards peace and goodwill in this country and abroad. The youth of our Chatsworth branch sang melodious Bhajans that Pujya Swamiji taught youth and Spiritual Darlings. The highlight of the evening was the inspiring audio message that Pujya Swamiji delivered on his 61st Birth Anniversary. This was followed by melodious recorded Bhajans by Pujya Swamiji, which left the large congregation highly inspired as they sang along, created a spiritually charged atmosphere in the packed prayer hall.

We reproduce below, excerpts from Pujya Swamiji's audio recording:

“When I first started (the spiritual path), I told you that I could actually feel that there was a band around my chest. I was being suffocated by my past Samskaras. Fortunately Gurudev gave me the knowledge that he was not lacking in his Grace, but I have to work out my own Karma. I could remember that it took 23 years for the first light to dawn. I said this before but I’m saying it now because it’s an opportune moment—23 years before the band around my chest loosened a little bit and I could breathe a little freely. Another 6 years went by and the breathing became freer. Another 3 years when I felt I was fairly free. And all came without my asking. Nothing changed externally. No situation changed. In fact it became worse.

“But what Gurudev gave about two months ago surpasses all what he had given previously. You wake up one day and you find that you are a different person. You know that you are different. But everyone sees you outside—they see the same person, the same thoughts, you are behaving in the same way, but they don’t know what is happening inside. That is what the Guru can do! A fundamental change comes within. And fortunately that change is not to be seen with external eyes. So this is what the Guru’s Grace can do for you. It will come in the most unexpected moment. In my own case, as I said, I never asked Gurudev for anything. I didn’t ask for initiation. I didn’t ask for Sannyas. I didn’t ask for an Ashram.

“All that we have here, it came from him. It came without asking. And when I first found my Spiritual Master, when I first found Gurudev, and he rescued me from that life to a life of Sadhana, I made one resolution: I said in this birth I will try to serve him with all my heart and soul in repayment. I felt that I should express my gratitude to him. And that is what I am trying to do. And Gurudev doesn’t expect that we must do spectacular things–we have not done anything spectacular at all. And I was wondering, when Gurudev gave me this knowledge—I can’t express it in words and perhaps you might not even understand even if I express it, and it’s not meant to be expressed—and I asked Gurudev, “How and why did you give me? Am I worthy of it and what have I done?”, and I found that there’s nothing spectacular that I’ve done. Nothing that could be called great, but I felt that whatever I did, I did with all my heart and soul. I thought of the books–I said, “Gurudev, this is all that I have given you. I didn’t even print about 50 or 100 books. All that we printed was about 30 books. But in those 30 books went every drop of my blood. Every fibre of my being, my concentration, went into that. So perhaps that’s what made Gurudev grant me (his Grace). So like that I have no fear what is going to happen in the future. When the Master solves your problem, he makes a thorough job of it. He solves it once and for all.”

We offer our gratitude to Sri Gurudev and Pujya Swamiji for a spiritually elevating day. May their Grace, blessings and protection be upon all!

PICTURES: PUJYA SWAMIJI'S 88TH BIRTH ANNIVERSARY

Morning session: Ganga Arati

Morning session: Ganga Arati

Darshan at Sahaja Kutir

Darshan at Sahaja Kutir

Darshan at Sahajananda Diamond Jubilee Centre

Darshan at Sahajananda Diamond Jubilee Centre

Darshan at Sahajananda Diamond Jubilee Centre

Darshan at Sahajananda Diamond Jubilee Centre

Ganga Arati at Evening Satsang

Ganga Arati at Evening Satsang

Satsang in progress

Youth rendering Bhajans

HINDU DHARMA CAMPAIGN IN PHOENIX

The Hindu Dharma Satsang hosted jointly by Woodview Hindu Dharma Sabha Ramayan Mandal & Divine Life Society of South Africa drew devotees from various parts of Phoenix and the greater Durban area.

Pujya Swami Sahajananda started the Hindu Dharma Programmes over a decade ago, as he was deeply concerned about the unprecedented number of conversions of Hindus to other faiths. Today, many experience difficulty in comprehending the deep and profound truths to be found in our Hindu scriptures. These programmes are designed to instil faith in the hearts of Hindus, to explain some of the sublime teachings of our glorious religion and to equip them with the tools to deal with the hardships of daily life by turning to God. The readings & sketches in the programme highlighted some the aspects of our glorious religion and urged all to take to spiritual practices earnestly. The need of the hour, said our Divine Master, is to restore pride in our ancient Sanatana Dharma. When there is such a vast storehouse of wealth in our great religion, where then is the need to convert asked our Divine Master?

The soul-elevating Bhajans & Kirtans and chanting also brings one closer to God, for even though one may not understand the words being sung, the vibrations created by the Bhajans, purifies and elevates listeners. Pujya Swami Sahajananda has stated that when we sing Bhajans & Kirtans, the Devas (or Gods) being invoked actually make their appearance.  Devotees were urged to take it one step further, by singing the Bhajans in their own homes for the peace, health, protection and prosperity of the family. The book stall offered CDs and Prayer Books to help the beginner along in starting a Home Satsang. Recitation of Ramayan Slokas from Uttarkand, a classical Bharata Natyam dance, a musical drama entitled, “Achyutam Keshavam” and a hilarious sketch, “An Obedient Wife” formed part of the absorbing and enlightening programme.

In the principle message of the day, our Divine Master stated, “Hinduism is the oldest religion in the world. God revealed the truths to the ancient Rishis in their pure and silent minds as they sat in meditation. Thus the knowledge of the Vedas came directly from God. This is how Hinduism came into being. It was not founded by one person.

“Hinduism does not force its teachings upon anyone. It allows a person to think and reason for himself. Our great and wise Rishis knew that our tastes, capacities and ways of life differ. Hence they devised different methods of worshipping God to suit the different tastes and temperaments. All through the ages, Hinduism has stood very firm and strong. Today, it is stronger than ever.”

Divine Life Society expresses its deep thanks to the officials & devotees of Woodview Hindu Dharma Sabha Ramayan Mandal for co-hosting this important event in Phoenix and for the harmonious manner in which this programme was planned and presented.

POWER OF HINDU DHARMA
SRI SWAMI SIVANANDA

The culture of Hinduism prevails,
Nothing can shake its greatness and root,
Hinduism is not a man-made religion,
It was not founded by any single person,
Like Islam and Christianity,
It is a product of the seers of the Vedas,
It was developed from age to age
By the teachings of Avataras, Rishis, Vedas,
The Upanishads, the Gita, and the Itihasas,
It will exist as long as the world lasts,
There is a peculiar, mysterious spiritual force
That is ingrained in the heart of every Hindu;
A Hindu will give up his life
But he will not give up his principles and Dharma;
He won’t be tempted by woman or wealth for conversion,
He would rather prefer death than conversion.

PICTURES: HINDU DHARMA CAMPAIGN IN PHOENIX

Havan before Satsang

Musical Item by Spiritual Darlings of the Sabha

Musical Play by Spiritual Darlings of the Sabha

Play by Divine Life Society Youth

GURU-BHAKTI YOGA WORKSHOP

Group discussion during Guru-Bhakti Yoga Workshop

On Saturday, 25 May 2013, a highly inspirational Guru-Bhakti Yoga Workshop was held at Sivanandashram, Reservoir Hills. Designed by Pujya Swami Sahajananda to re-charge the spiritual batteries of devotees, the Guru-Bhakti Yoga workshops are meant to instill faith in God and the Guru, highlighting the Guru’s miraculous Grace in helping, healing, saving and protecting devotees. Practical tenets also are highlighted for us to advance on the spiritual path.

The theme for Saturday’s workshop was Sadhana, and the workshop commenced with a reading on this topic from the Sri Gurudev’s writings. Devotees then listened to an audio message from Pujya Swamiji, also on the theme of Sadhana, which was followed by interesting group discussions based on Pujya Swamiji’s talk.

The highlight of the workshop was the slot on experiences, where devotees shared some of their spiritual experiences. The first devotee related how she firstly came into contact with Sri Gurudev and Pujya Swamiji, how she and her son were healed through the Gurudev’s Grace, how she managed to pass her exams by surrender to Sri Gurudev and how her son was safely returned after being hijacked, while she continuously prayed to Sri Gurudev for his safe return. [Click here to read the entire experience]. A second devotee spoke about some miraculous transformations brought on by Sri Gurudev, the many interactions she had with Pujya Swamiji, how Pujya Swamiji always answered her questions without her asking, either directly or through a message at Satsang—and how this still happens now. She also related how the Guru’s Grace saved her life at a time of great calamity [Click here to read the entire experience].


Devotees chanting the Sri Ram Mantra
Devotees then chanted the Sri Ram Mantra while walking in a circle, followed by a period of silence for reflection and introspection. An enlightening conversation between two rishikumaris on the importance of Satsang, Prayer and Meditation was well received. A devotee then presented plans for the forthcoming events in the DLS calendar, followed by the rishikumaris, who presented items on the value of Sadhana and spiritual resolves, including the all-important Spiritual Diary and Guru-Bhakti Yoga Card comprising the six virtues of cleanliness, communication, obedience, punctuality, forgiveness and gratitude. In summation, the devotee referenced an article that compared the Gita to a cellphone, and noted that if we treated the Gita (or our Sadhana) like we treated our cellphones, referencing it several times a day, keeping it safe, etc.—how much benefit could be derived there from.

After the workshop, in response to two presentations, many devotees signed the pledge form to participate in the 41-day Chanting of the Sri Hanuman Chalisa from 30 July to 8 September. It was stated at the workshop that the "Sri Hanuman Chalisa is very powerful and very effective for the removal of all mental problems. It brings good health, success and prosperity. Pujya Swamiji said that it cures diseases, counteracts evil forces and the effects of 'black magic', which are so prevalent today."

As the workshop came to a close, the full moon rose over Sivanandashram, and it seemed as though Sri Gurudev was shining his Grace over the Ashram, proceedings and devotees. We thank Sir Gurudev and Pujya Swamiji for a spiritually elevating Guru-Bhakti Yoga workshop, and their continued Grace upon all devotees.


SIVANANDA SUNLIT PATH PROGRAMME IN STANGER

The Sunlit Path Programme that was held at the Stanger High School Hall on Friday, 10 May was attended by 221 learners and 10 educators from the following schools: Stanger High, Stanger Secondary, Stanger ML Sultan Secondary, Stanger Manor Secondary and Glenhills Secondary. In his welcome address, the Principal of Stanger High School, Mr J.B. Singh, read a few extracts from pages that he chose randomly from a past copy of our Sunlit Path magazine. This made a good impact on many and was certainly unique way of introducing the Sunlit Path magazine from which learners will derive immense benefits by joining the Sunlit Path club.

After listening carefully to the presentations on drug addiction, alcoholism, depression, suicidal tendencies, etc, 116 learners signed a pledge form to join the Sunlit Club. These brave learners will keep away from drugs and other social evils. This will entitle them to a special certificate which will be presented at the school assembly. In addition, they will receive a free supply of our quarterly magazine, “Sunlit Path” which provides guidelines on how to overcome these bad habits. The magazine also furnishes useful information on moral and spiritual values.

Coupled with the pledge form, a detailed explanation was also given regarding the filling in of the Sunlit Club Diary. The diary will help them monitor and get rid their bad habits, develop virtues to face the challenges of life and follow the path of righteousness.

The following topics were discussed at the workshop: Causes of Depression; how to overcome depression, consequences of suicide, value of prayer, celibacy, foot massage, television, harmful effects of hostile forces, law of cause & effect and gambling. After each presentation, valuable breakaway sessions were held where learners were given an opportunity to ask questions on the presentation and to express their views. Some profound thoughts were expressed during these sessions. Here are some of them: Satan loves hurting people of God; Holy places will help you to grow spiritually. One youngster said that we say that the media is responsible for the escalating violence in Society. Yet, centuries ago, during the time of the Roman Empire, the media as we know it was not in existence. Who is to blame for the violence in those days, he asked. He was quick to give the answer himself, “The fault is with each individual. We should have spiritual and moral values. Our parents, grandparents, teachers and society should help us to learn these values. Then we will have the will power to face these problems.” Our Programme Director immediately responded to this profound message by saying that if you don’t have the will power, you should at least have won’t power. You should have the power to say NO to drugs, alcohol and violence.  This is the message from Swami Sahajananda.

Other thoughts expressed during the breakaway session: Prayer makes you calm. Prayer before examinations helps. Do you ever think of God in your good moments or do you cry when you have problems? If you commit suicide you are creating new problems for those you left behind and for yourself.

A power-point presentation on the activities of the Sivananda Sunlit Path Centre in Chatsworth also gave attendees insight into the work being done there. Prayer Services, Counselling, Youth Development Workshops, Sewing Classes, Computer, Training Centre, Indoor Sports Complex and Soya Skills Training Centre were highlighted in this presentation. It is hoped that schools will undertake excursions and benefit from the facilities available.
In the concluding session learners we given an opportunity to articulate one important thought that they will take away with them. Apart from a few humorous comments, one learner said that God always answers our prayers. God does not go into voicemail.

Divine Life Society expresses its deep thanks to Mr J.B. Singh, principal of Stanger High School for the supportive role he played in preparation for this function. The initiative and enthusiasm shown, contributed towards the success of this event. The organisers also thank the Department of Education for so readily agreeing to make the amenities of the school available for the function. We thank principals of the other four schools for allowing their learners to participate in this programme.

The next Sunlit Path Programme will take place on Friday, 2 August at the Kraydeb Conference Centre in Verulam.

“Often what appears to be a great calamity in the beginning turns out to be a great blessing in the end. Is this not a common experience? God’s ways are truly most wonderful and mysterious. His only aim is to make us pure, strong and perfect so that his marvelous bliss, peace and joy will be ours.”
—Sri Swami Sivananda


PICTURES: SIVANANDA SUNLIT PATH PROGRAMME IN STANGER

Programme in progress

Programme in progress

Group Discussion in Progress

Group Discussion in Progress

Group Discussion in Progress

Feedback from Group Discussion

SIVANANDA SUNLIT PATH PROGRAMME IN RESERVOIR HILLS

The Sivananda Sunlit Path Programme was designed by Pujya Swami Sahajananda in 2006 to assist youth suffering with problems of drug and alcohol addiction, and those suffering with depression and contemplating suicide. To date, numerous Sunlit Path Programmes have been held throughout the province. On Wednesday, 27 March, a Programme was held at Durwest Primary School, Reservoir Hills. It was attended by 118 learners from Reservoir Hills Secondary, Dr. A.D. Lazarus Secondary and Sea Cow Lake Secondary.

The programme included presentations on the value of prayer; harmful effects of drugs, alcohol, TV and gambling; the law of cause and effect; celibacy; depression: it causes and how to overcome it and the disastrous effects of suicide, etc. After each presentation, participants engaged in group discussions on the topic. Discussions were guided by trained facilitators, and learners from different groups reported back on proceedings in their group.

During a group discussion on “Depression and Suicide” one learner revealed that that he contemplated suicide when he found his health condition unbearable. His faith in God enabled him to persevere, and ultimately he was cured.

At the end of the session on Prayer, the Programme Director led the learners into a period of silent prayer. There was absolute silence during the three minutes. Saints say that the benefits of collective prayer and the spiritual energy it radiates is far greater than individual prayer. This was definitely experienced by all during this short period of silent prayer.

After listening to the entire presentation, 96 learners were convinced that they should sign a pledge to abstain from alcohol, smoking, gambling and drugs & intoxicants. They will avoid viewing undesirable scenes on television and adopt a wholesome diet and healthy lifestyle. Furthermore, they will observe celibacy until marriage, keep away from evil company, maintain a positive attitude at all times and conduct daily prayer. These young heroes and heroines have become part of the prestigious Sunlit Club. They will each receive a certificate which will be presented at the school morning assembly, as well as a free supply of our quarterly journal, Sunlit Path, which contains useful articles to help them keep up their resolves and lead a virtuous life.

The organisers were greatly encouraged by the articulate manner in which learners expressed what they learnt from the programme. The following are some of the lofty thoughts expressed by learners during the feedback session at the end of the programme:

  1. God can solve all your problems.
  2. Bad company leads to bad decisions.
  3. The more wrong we do, the more consequences we have to face.
  4. The atmosphere around you determines your state of mind.
  5. Suicide is not an option. When you commit suicide, the soul is afflicted and restless.
  6. God is there to hold your hand and take you close to Him.
  7. Prayer helps to clear our minds
  8. Develop a habit and you develop your character.
  9. Pain teaches you the truth.
  10. If you do good, good will come to you.
  11. Gambling causes poverty.
  12. Satan is pleased when good people fall a prey to bad habits.
  13. Prayer attracts angels.
  14. Do not run away from your problems
  15. The key to success is hard work.

The Society expresses its sincere thanks to Durwest Primary School for graciously allowing us the use of their school hall, and for assisting in various ways to make the function a success. Our gratitude also goes out to the officials and learners of the three schools that participated in the programme. The next Sunlit Path Programme will take place in the Stanger District on Friday, 10 May 2013.

“Concerned individuals all over the world are now coming to the conclusion that viewing violent scenes of television is one of the reasons for the increase of crime rate. So, if undesirable scenes are lodged in the mind, we will perform undesirable actions. If pure, good thoughts are formed through daily prayer, keeping holy company and reading spiritual books, then good actions will be the result.”
—Swami Sahajananda


PICTURES: SIVANANDA SUNLIT PATH PROGRAMME IN RESERVOIR HILLS

Programme in progress

Programme in progress

Feedback from Group Discussions

Feedback from Group Discussions

Feedback from
Group Discussions

Learners from Reservoir Hills Secondary
that have joined the Sunlit Club, with Educators

Learners from Sea Cow Lake Secondary
that have joined the Sunlit Club, with Educators

Learners from Dr. A.D. Lazarus Secondary School
that have joined the Sunlit Club, with Educators

YOGA RETREAT

Ganga Arati at Bhagirathi

About 280 devotees attended the first Yoga Retreat for 2013, which was held at the Sivananda International Cultural Centre on Saturday, 23 March from 6am to 7.30pm. The Yoga Retreat, which is in essence an extended Yoga Camp, gives devotees an opportunity to shut out the outside world for an entire day and immerse themselves in spiritual practices, lessons, sports, etc. and imbibe the holy and peaceful vibrations that pervade the Ashram campus.

The Retreat commenced at 6am with Havan, amidst the cascading, holy waters of Ganga Mata in Bhagirathi. This was followed by invocation, chanting and meditation, as well as a presentation on readings from the Peace Series accompanied by soothing & melodious chanting of Mantras set to morning Ragas.

We reproduce one message from the pages of the Peace Series:
“The power of prayer is truly inestimable. Its glory is ineffable. Sincere devotees only realise its usefulness and splendour. Pray with reverence and faith and with a heart filled with devotion. Do not argue about the efficacy of prayer. This will delude you. There is no arguing in such holy matters. Have faith.”

After Ganga Arati, breakfast, and a session of Likhit Japa and chanting while walking around Guru Kripa, Spiritual Darlings from Grades 0–6 enjoyed a fruitful discussion on Hindu scriptures. Youth and adults attended a valuable and informative presentation exploring the role of women in the Ramayana, and how we can—even in this day and age—follow the examples of the exemplary lives and character of some of the heroines of the Ramayana, like Mother Sita, Kaushalya (the mother of Rama), Urmila (the consort of Lakshmana), etc. On the other hand, the example of Kaikeyi was cited—being an innately good person—she nevertheless allowed herself to be influenced by the evil-minded Mantara, and performed actions that led to much pain and suffering for others and herself. We were warned that even in this present age, there are many Mantaras lurking, the most dangerous being in our own mind!

In a parallel session that followed, the youth made their way to the stadium for a session of organised sports that included soccer, volleyball and netball. Adults attended a workshop on how to achieve “Harmony in the Workplace”. Regarding disputes and differences of opinions commonly experienced in the workplace, presenters looked at a few legal aspects and then settled on solutions based on the teachings of our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda and Pujya Swami Sahajananda. Some of these points were:

  1. Offer Japa or prayers for those causing the problems.
  2. Do your duty to the best of your ability and leave the rest to God.
  3. If you are good, the whole world will be good to you.
  4. Think correctly. Decide carefully. Work diligently.
  5. The attitude of forbearance is to refuse to be affected or pained when inflicted with sorrow, loss, or ingratitude and wickedness of others. In fact, you should be happy and calm, because you should know that these are the results of your own actions now recoiling on you, and therefore you should view those who caused the misery as friends and well-wishers. You should not retaliate or wish them ill. You must bear all blows patiently and gladly. The natural reactions of people, whoever they may be, when someone injures them is to injure in return; when someone causes harm, to retaliate violently; and when someone insults them, to insult back in some way or the other. This is the characteristic of the worldly path—the path of objective involvement. If you seek the inner path of sublimation and purification, you must avoid such reactions and exhibit forbearance.
  6. Man determines his own destiny by his thought. He can make those things happen which were not destined to happen.
  7. We can increase our faith and self-surrender only if we are repeatedly tested in the crucible of difficulties, disappointments, failures and losses. Then only can we see to what extent we have faith in God, and to what extent our surrender has grown. That is the mysterious way in which God's Grace works.
  8. Drawing from personal experience, one of the presenters said that we should not send out communication when we are not in a proper frame of mind—we should wait until we have calmed down and read it again. We might want to retract certain statements that we wrote in anger. This action helps to avoid or at least ameliorate a conflict situation.

Presenters advised that challenges should be met with courage, bringing out the truth. However, in so doing, a spiritual approach as highlighted above must be used.


Evening Satsang at Yamuna
After lunch, a spiritual quiz, “30 seconds”, kept participants and devotees entertained whilst at the same time being informative. Spiritual Darlings and adults enjoyed the healthy competition.

Chanting of the Sri Hanuman Chalisa eleven times thereafter added to the spiritual atmosphere of the retreat. The game Charades (role playing) was highly successful and was designed to help participants to understand the other person’s point of view, to have sympathy for others and to introspect.

After tea, one hundred and twenty participants went on the invigorating nature hike through the sugar-cane fields behind the Ashram. This was followed by novelty sports at the stadium and included items such as the walking race, three-legged race, relay and everyone’s favourite—tug of war.

After Ganga Arati and supper Prasad, an open-air Satsang was conducted at the Yamuna area, during which guest artist, Sri Abedanand Bejan and troupe, rendered melodious Bhajans and Kirtans. All in all, the Yoga Retreat was a day well spent, providing adequate opportunities to charge one’s spiritual batteries to meet the challenges of life. The next Retreat is scheduled for 23 November.

We offer our gratitude to Sri Gurudev and Pujya Swamiji for providing us with a spiritual and enjoyable day.


FIRST GRADUATION CEREMONY AT SIVANANDA COMPUTER TRAINING CENTRE

Graduates of Computer Course, "Microsoft Office Specialist"

The computer training course, “Microsoft Office Specialist”, offered at the Sivananda Computer Training Centre, Sivananda Sunlit Path Centre in Chatsworth, forms part of the Society’s programme to uplift and empower the poor and unemployed in the community by providing computer skills required for most jobs on the market. It runs from Monday to Friday, 8.30am – 2.30pm for approximately two months.

The first batch of learners to successfully complete the course were presented with their internationally recognised Microsoft certificates in Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint on Friday, 15 March 2013.

At the graduation ceremony, Guest of Honour, Prof. Kantilal Bhowan, congratulated both teachers and learners for this milestone achievement. He also advised the learners that whilst it is important to be successful in the material world, it is also important to lead a balanced life, and an important part of that balance is including God in your life. He told the young learners that when they enter the working environment, they should perform their work as worship of God, and the reward for such a meticulous attitude towards work will bear fruit of its own accord.

Speaking on behalf of the nine graduates, Symone Perumal thanked the Divine Life Society for providing them with the opportunity participate in the course, and for all the assistance and training they received, which enabled them to successfully complete the course.

The Society congratulates the graduates on their achievements. May their future endeavors be marked with success, and may the blessings of God be upon them always!


MAHASIVARATRI

Lord Siva

Mahasivaratri was observed at all Divine Life Society of S.A. Ashrams on Sunday, 10 March from 5.30pm to 5am. There were large gathering at our Centres. Mahasivaratri was a veritable spiritual feast comprising a variety of presentations and devotional offerings to Lord Siva on this sacred night.

Destruction and creation are two mutually supporting forces necessary to ensure survival and evolution. Lord Siva is recognised as the Destroyer or Dissolver in the Hindu Trinity. Who better to assist us in this battle to free ourselves from the cycles of life and death than Lord Siva Himself and on this most auspicious "great night of Siva"! Mahasivaratri is observed in honour of Lord Shiva and commemorates the day He was married to Mother Parvati.

In this Age, Nama-Smarana or singing the hymns is the easiest, quickest, safest and surest way to reach God and attain Immortality and perennial joy. The name of Lord Siva has the power of burning the sins, Samskaras and Vasanas and bestowing eternal bliss and everlasting peace on those who repeat the Name of the Lord. Our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda assures us, "He who utters the Names of Siva during Mahashivaratri, with perfect devotion and concentration, is freed from all sins. He reaches the abode of Siva and lives there happily. He is liberated from the wheel of births and deaths."

At Sivanandashram, Reservoir Hills, devotees were treated to a delightful presentation by our Spiritual Darlings from the Sivananda Academy. The little ones not only rendered Kirtans with their own musicians, but enlightened the audience on the fine details that appear on a typical picture of Lord Siva. No Sivaratri can be complete without an offering of devotional dance to the Cosmic Dancer Nadaraja. Highly acclaimed and talented guest artists, including Smt Veena Lutchman, Sri Tansen Nepaul, Smt Umita Kalyan, Sri Vishen Kemraj,  Smt Vijayluxmi Balakrishna, Sri Roanna Bala and Smt Viloshani Manikam, rendered soul elevating cultural items.  Featured also were a play by our dynamic Youth Boys, audio play readings, videos from the Shiv Mahapuran and inspiring readings.

In Kali Yuga, Ganga is regarded as the most sacred place. The Devi Bhagavata says: "He who utters the name of Ganga even from hundreds of miles afar, is freed from sins and attains the abode of Lord Hari". Hindus believe that all their sins are washed away if they take a dip in the sacred waters of the Ganga.  The Maha Kumbha Mela came to a close on Sunday, 10 March in Allahabad. It is a spiritual event unparalleled in the world for its attraction of millions of devotees of Mother Ganga. Swami Sivananda says, "To sit for a few minutes on a block of stone by the side of the Ganga, is a blessing." We at Divine Life Society of S.A. were indeed doubly blessed to enjoy the privilege of being able to sit on the banks of the Ganga (at Ganga Rani) and observe Mahashivaratri. Given the close association between Mother Ganga whose torrential descent to Earth was mercifully checked by the matted locks of Lord Siva, there must indeed be a deep occult spiritual significance to the confluence of these two great spiritual events on 10 March. Devotees certainly took advantage of enjoying the dual benefit of the Grace of Lord Siva as well as the purificatory waters of Ganga in purging themselves and engaging in Sadhana on Mahasivaratri.

In Pujya Swamiji’s audio message, Pujya Swamiji read the account of an American woman, Sharon Brown, whose amazing experience exemplified the power of the Om Namasivaya Mantyra. When she was informed that she had plastic-anaemia, a disease that attacks the bone marrow, she sought Divine help and was advised by a devotee of Swami Muktananda to chant the Om Namasivaya Mantra. On simply hearing the Mantra even once, Sharon Brown experienced extraordinary exhilaration. The Mantra and the world appeared as one. At one point she felt that was cancer came to her as a blessing so as to bring her into contact with the Mantra. Through the chanting of the Om Namasivaya Mantra, she experienced great peace during the illness as well during the operation that was performed on her.

The large gatherings at our Ashrams for this all-night vigil dedicated to the remembrance of Lord Siva was spiritually uplifting, with many devotees staying for the entire night. We pray that the blessings of Lord Siva be upon all during this auspicious period!


DLS of SA Observes Kumbha Mela at SICC


Mother Ganga
Divine Life Society of South Africa observed the Kumbha Mela on Sunday, 3 March 2013 at Sivananda International Cultural Centre, La Mercy.

Click here to view the report and pictures of this most auspicious occasion >>


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