Due to the prevalence of COVID-19, for the first time in its esteemed history, the Parliament of the World's Religions, which is held every 3 or 4 years in different countries, was organised online. The theme for this virtual 2021 Parliament was: "Opening our hearts to the World: Compassion in Action". Thousands of participants attended online and over 500 presenters shared their views on religious philosophy & teachings, compassion in action, justice, climate change, women's dignity, human rights and more. This 8th Parliament provided 48 hours of interactive programming from 16-18 October 2021. Registrants will have 30 days, after the Parliament closes, to experience the diverse, wise and inspiring presentations, heart-opening religious observances, performances, music & films, fascinating panels and workshops. Pujya Swami Sahajananda, Spiritual Head of Divine Life Society of South Africa had advised that the Society be represented at the Parliament. The Society was represented by Dr Rusraj Bharath who spoke on the great sage of Rishikesh, India, Sri Swami Sivananda whose life was one of compassion in action. His talk was entitled, "Swami Sivananda – The Practical Vedantin".In all, eight devotees from the Society registered to attend the various sessions.
In his presentation, Dr Bharath, quoted freely from the life and teachings of our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda on the philosophy of Vedanta, "The world is yourself. Therefore, love all, serve all, be kind to all, embrace all. Behold the Lord in the poor, the downtrodden, the oppressed and the lowly. Feed the hungry, nurse the sick, comfort the afflicted. Lighten the sorrow of the sorrowful, clothe the naked, educate the illiterate, raise the downtrodden. The world is burning with misery and suffering. Wake up, O man, serve with love, serve untiringly". He outlined the various service activities that the Master engaged in daily.
Divine Life Society of S.A. celebrated its 72nd anniversary online on Monday, 18 October, 2021.
Readers would be interested to read the background to the celebrations.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. Pujya Swamiji therefore celebrated the Anniversary on all three dates each year. On this occasion, we pay special tribute to our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, for his vision in establishing his mission in this country.We also offer humble obeisance and gratitude to Pujya Swami Sahajananda who led Divine Life Society of S.A. with distinction since its inception in 1949. The Society's phenomenal growth, success, its moral and spiritual endeavours, service activities and its humanitarian initiatives, are attributed to the boundless Grace of our Divine Master and Pujya Swamiji.
Our Divine Master states, "The central purpose of existence is to recognise your eternal identity with the Supreme Spirit. It is to grow into the image of the Divine. The Supreme One embodies the highest perfection. It is spotless purity. To recognise your identity with That, to attain union with That, is verily to grow into the very likeness of the Divine. The aspirant, therefore, as his initial step, has to get rid of all the countless impurities, and the demoniacal elements that have come to cling to him in his embodied state. Then he has to acquire lofty virtues and auspicious, divine qualities. Thus purified, knowledge flashes upon him like the brilliant rays of the sun upon the crystal waters of a perfectly calm lake. This process demands a resolute will, determined effort, and arduous struggle. In other words, strength and infinite power are the prime necessity. Thus, it is the Divine Mother who has to operate through the aspirant".