The Sri Sathya Sai Organisation of S.A., arriving in large numbers, commenced Nagar Sankirtan at 6am. We are grateful to them for blessing Sivanandashram with their vibrant chanting of Mantras and Bhajans & Kirtans, invoking the presence of the Deities. They energised and charged the precincts of the Ashram as they walked around some of the buildings. Sri Sathya Sai Baba said, "Nagar Sankirtan is a mass spiritual awakening, glorifying God." Pundit Bhagprakash Maharaj and devotees from the Ramayan Mandalee chanted the sacred verses from the Ramayan and conducted the Havan. The Dravida Society of S.A. are no strangers to Divine Life Society. In the early days, on the 10 July every year, on the auspicious occasion of Pujya Swami Sahajananda's birthday, the children from Dravida Society would sing Bhajans & Kirtans in their most melodious voices, as an offering to Pujya Swamiji. At the Hindu Dharma Campaign, the adults sang two Bhajans. The session was concluded by a Yoga Asana session, conducted by devotees of Divine Life Society, demonstrating the various poses and highlighting the benefits thereof.
Nagar Sankirtan by the Sathya Sai Organisation of SA (See Full Image Gallery Below)
The second session from 10am to 12 noon commenced with Invocation. In the welcome address, we were given a brief background as to how the Hindu Dharma Campaigns started. "Pujya Swami Sahajananda started these Hindu Dharma Programmes over 15 years ago, as he was deeply concerned about the unprecedented number of conversions of Hindus to other faiths. Today, many have 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."
"Be prepared to sacrifice everything. Be of one mind. Speak with one voice. Have common aspiration. Act in perfect union. Cultivate immense love for your religion. The flame of love must burn in your hearts steadily. There is no religion greater than love." This is an excerpt from a message from our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda. Sri Swami Sahajananda wrote, "We make an earnest appeal to all Hindus to adhere strictly to our Hindu Dharma, which is unparalleled in its glory and greatness. Kindly read the booklet Glory of Hinduism available here. It will fill your heart with pride. Please take as many copies as possible and distribute widely to those not present here today. In this way, you will be protecting our Dharma from being disrupted."
For the first-time ever, we released an audio book, which was released by a long-standing devotee of the Society. She said, "I am very happy to release this audio book on behalf of our Divine Master and Pujya Swamiji. This is the very first time that we are releasing an audio book. It contains three of Pujya Swamiji's favourite plays: Krishna's Jewels, Old Drum New Palace and Bashmasur. The plays are written by our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda. Swami Sivananda was always jovial and did not hesitate to resort to ready wit and humour to instruct his disciples around him. His humorous stories are also full of deep spiritual meaning. We have no doubt that you will enjoy listening to them and benefit from them as well. It is my pleasure to offer this audio book at the sacred shrine of the Master."
Soul-stirring Bhajans from Divine Life Society of S.A., a DVD presentation and programme on Hindu worship and symbols by the Spiritual Darlings of Reservoir Hills and two graceful dances by the Sri Sarada Devi Ashram, concluded the second session.
The third session, a centenary project, was the Sivananda Book Festival held in the Sivananda Hall at Reservoir Hills Ashram. The book festival was a celebration of our Gurudev's bountiful gifts to us in the form of his powerful writings which has transformed any number of people over the decades. This Festival was a tribute to our Divine Master and Pujya Swamiji. Pujya Swamiji looked for unique ways and means to get the Master's books in the hands of the masses. All those involved in the displays set extremely high standards which were in keeping with the spirit of Guru Bhakti. A festive atmosphere prevailed through the decorative and impressive layout of the various stalls. After a formal session of book reviews in Ganga Rani, devotees proceeded to the Sivananda Book Festival Centre. A lively sketch, marketing our books, was enacted by our Rishikumaris at 2pm. What followed was an exciting quiz session based on the sketch. Five prizes were given to the winners. Books also went on special, at low prices. A bell was sounded to indicate the commencement of the specials. This offer lasted for 5 minutes and devotees hurried to the point of sale. Card facilities were made available. We also had a live DVD presentation screened at the end of the hall, showing the various stages of printing a book. A special reading area was provided for those who wished to browse through the books before purchasing them. A stall was also dedicated to making Jnana Yajna pledges and accepting book orders. The Society undertook to post these books to the address specified by the sender. Apart from our book publications and CDS, we also had Audio Books. As it was "Mothers' Day", all mothers who are present were given a special gift. At the stalls, general spirit was uplifted and smiles and laughter was the order of the day.
Sivananda Book Festival (See Full Image Gallery Below)
We reminded devotees of Pujya Swami Sahajananda's advice: "Even if one book is sold and it transforms the life of the person reading it, the spiritual merit gained by him will also go to the devotee selling the book. So please buy as many books as you can afford and give them out as gifts." One of those gifts is sure to have its desired effect.
The Society is planning more book festivals as part of its centenary project. The day ended with tea Prasad.
Some comments from our sister organisations and a devotee:
1. "The hospitality received was excellent, I had to fetch my car from the car park which was quite a distance and the rain was very heavy. I was grateful for the shuttle service and devotees who were so kind and courteous, enquiring if they could be of service. I thank Swami for the shuttle, as it saved me from walking in the rain".
−Devotee from the Sathya Sai Organisation
2. "On behalf of Revered Mataji, we commend you for the excellent programme organized to promote our glorious Hindu Dharma. Thank you for including us in your programme. We extend our heartfelt appreciation to the Divine Life Society of S.A. for the warm and loving hospitality extended to us"
−Sri Sarada Devi Ashram
3. "The feeling of unity and togetherness of our devotees in putting this function together is something that can be compared to the unity, enthusiasm, and excitement we felt many years ago, during the World Sri Hanuman Conference."
4. The stalls looked magnificent. Honestly speaking, it was the best stall setup I have seen, compared to any of our previous functions. The book sales were fantastic. Besides all of this, I am sure you will also agree that the atmosphere during the setup and during the festival was electric. One could feel the spiritual vibrations permeating the area. Everyone was so jovial and I feel it was definitely our Masters Grace that led to the success of this event.