Om Namo Bhagavade Sivanandaya
Established in 1949 by Sri Swami Sivananda
This programme was coordinated by the Pietermaritzburg Branch of Divine Life Society of South Africa on Tuesday, 14 December, being the sacred Gita Jayanti Day. The function was livestreamed from Sivanandashram, Northdale and the recitation was done under the leadership and tutelage of Dr Muralidhar Panda, a Sanskrit scholar who was brought to this country by Pujya Swami Sahajananda to promote the study of the Sanskrit language.Devotees from Pietermaritzburg joined Dr Panda in the recitation.
Regarding Gita Jayanti, our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda has written the following, "The Gita Jayanti (birthdate of the Bhagavad Gita) is celebrated by the admirers and lovers of this unique book on the 11th day (Ekadashi) of the bright half of the month of Margaseersha according to the Hindu Almanac. It was the day on which the scripture was revealed to the world by Sanjaya.
"Glory, glory to the Gita, Glory to Lord Krishna who placed the Gita before men of this world to attain liberation! The teachings of the Gita are broad, universal, sublime. It has a message of solace, freedom, salvation, perfection and peace for all human beings. The study of the Gita alone is sufficient for daily Swadhyaya (scriptural study). Blessed is the man who studies the Gita daily! Twice blessed is he who lives in the spirit of the Gita! Thrice blessed is he who has realised the knowledge of the Gita or attained Self Knowledge! Om Tat Sat".
The programme commenced at 8am with Ganga Arati, followed by a short invocation. The recital of the sacred verses of the entire Bhagavad Gita was conducted from 8.15am to about 11.05am.The Havan, which commenced thereafter, radiated much-needed healing energy to the immediate environment and to the world at large.
Our sincere thanks to Dr Panda and devotees from Pietermaritzburg for taking this initiative to make this offering, for the long hours spent in preparation and for promoting peace and goodwill in the country and the world at large through the recitation of these sacred verses.
This sacred day was observed online on Friday, 10 December 2021, being 14 years since Pujya Swami Sahajananda withdrew from his body. The morning programme was conducted from 6am to 6.30am. In the evening, the Mahasamadhi Anniversary Satsang commenced with Ganga Arati at 5.30pm.
On this auspicious day, we truly appreciate and acknowledge Pujya Swamiji's vision to initiate the recording of all our Kirtans, Bhajans, Ganga Arati and Mantras on cassettes and compact disks, which has proved indispensable during our online Covid-19 Satsang programmes. This is just one of the numerous ingenious contributions by Pujya Swamiji to the South African Indian diaspora, in the fields of Hindu Dharma and religion. Our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, reinforced the work done by Pujya Swamiji when he wrote in Bliss Divine, "Every religion has a band of anchorites who lead a life of seclusion and meditation. The glory of a religion will be absolutely lost if you remove the hermits and Sannyasins or those who lead a life of renunciation and divine contemplation. It is these people who maintain and preserve the religions of the world. They give solace to the householders when they are in trouble and distress. They bring hope to the hopeless, joy to the depressed, strength to the weak and courage to the timid".Such indeed, was Pujya Swami Sahajananda!
Let us reflect on just who Pujya Swami Sahajananda is. Pujya Swami Sahajananda, Spiritual Head of Divine Life Society of South Africa was born in Estcourt on 10 July 1925. He gave up his teaching career to embrace the Holy Order of Sannyas. It was on 10 April 1956 that our Divine Master initiated Pujya Swamiji into the Holy Order of Sannyas. After the Sannyas Ceremony in 1956, the Master said, "Swami Sahajananda is styled as the spiritual king of South Africa, Durban. He is also called the African Chota Guru. He does not want anything. He is a silent worker. He is a man of renunciation, Vairagya and meditation. He is a very good organizer".
The third and final in the series of anniversary Satsangs of the Society was held on Thursday, 11 November 2021, commencing with Ganga Arati at 5.30pm, followed by Satsang.
It isnecessary to state that our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, instructed Pujya Swami Sahajananda, then Srinivasan Naidoo, on 3 separate occasions to establish a branch of Divine Life Society in South Africa. These instructions were on 5 June 1949, 18 October 1949 and 11 November 1949 respectively. Pujya Swamiji therefore celebrated the anniversary on all three dates each year. We pay our deepest respects and gratitude to our Divine Master and Pujya Swamiji for taking us into their folds,and leading us on the spiritual and moral path.
Divine Life Society of S.A. celebrated this joyous occasion via our online Satsang programme on Thursday, 4 November 2021, commencing with Ganga Arati at 4pm.
In the book,Hindu Fasts and Festivals,our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda states, "Diwali or Deepavali means 'a row of lights'. Hindus celebrate this festival on the last two days of the darkhalf of the Hindu month of Kartik (October-November). This festival is attributed to various origins. Somehold that they celebrate the marriage of Mother Lakshmi to Lord Vishnu. In Bengal the festival isdedicated to the worship of Maha Kali. It also commemorates that blessed day on which the triumphantLord Rama returned to Ayodhya after defeating Ravana. On this day also Sri Krishna killed the demonNarakasura."
The celebration of Diwali has a deeper meaning─of the homecoming of God into His kingdom. When we have deep longing and welcome the Lord into our hearts and He takes His seatthere, this is Diwali. He returns when we have one-pointed faith and devotion to Him.