Ganga Dussehra was celebrated on Sunday, 20 June 2021 via our online Home Satsang programme. Messages from our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda and Pujya Swamiji were read at this Satsang. We reproduce excerpts of their messages below.
In the book, Mother Ganga, our Master wrote, "Taking Her course into the interior of the Himalayas, Ganga was about to wash away Rishi Jahnu's Ashram. Sage Jahnu responded by simply sipping up her water. Bhagiratha was much disappointed. He did severe penance to please Rishi Jahnu. At last, the sage let Ganga through his ears. Flowing from this outlet, Ganga flowed with entire modesty and all-embracing filial love and motherly affection. By Her Divine Grace, She uplifted all the sixty thousand princes to the highest abode of immortal bliss. This day is celebrated as the most sanctifying Ganga Dussehra".
The 21st of June was declared as The International Day of Yoga by the United Nations General Assembly in 2014. Since 2015, this day has been marked with spiritual practices worldwide. Due to the Corona virus pandemic, this prestigious event was hosted online this year by several institutions.
At the Divine Life Society of S.A. Yoga Camp on Sunday, 20 June 2021, a special message on this important day was delivered by our youth. A few excerpts from this message are included below:
Sri Swami Sivananda was a unique visionary who was able to cater for modern society's spiritual and secular needs. Seeing the potential of Yoga to alleviate the imbalance and distress of life in modern society, he took Yoga from the secret realms of mysticism into practice for daily life, giving it to one and all, be it spiritual seeker, student, westerner, postman, milkman, traveller, beggar, businessman, housewife or thief. His simple yet potent practices are intended for the cultivation of virtues, the betterment of character and the development of personality and self. Sri Swami Sivananda taught a synthesis of practical Vedanta and integrated Yoga, as a means to obtain excellence in life. The Divine Master gave the world "Integral Yoga" or "the Yoga of Synthesis".
Divine Life Society of South Africa celebrated "Youth Day" via its online Home Satsang Programme on Wednesday, 16 June 2021. It proved highly successful as our youth were given the opportunity to air their views and explore various topics close to their hearts. They chose to focus on the following topics: Meditation on the Peace Series, Overcoming Fear, Social Media Effects and Management, and finally COVID and spirituality (a panel discussion). The programme included a recorded message by Sri Swami Sahajananda and the customary Bhajans & Kirtans which were melodiously sung by them.
On the momentous occasion of the 72nd Anniversary of Divine Life Society of South Africa, which was celebrated via our online Satsang programme on Saturday, 5 June 2021, we paid special tribute to our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, who founded the Society in 1949. We also offered special tribute to Pujya Swami Sahajananda who implemented the Master's instructions to the letter and showered us with love, disciplined us and guided us on the spiritual, moral and ethical aspects of life. The Society's phenomenal success in all its endeavours, is attributed to the boundless Grace of our Master, and Pujya Swamiji's steadfast loyalty and obedience to our Master.
It was on this day also that Sivananda Ghat was officially opened. We offered our deep gratitude to our Master and Pujya Swamiji on this 16th Anniversary of the official opening of our Sivananda Ghat. To date, we have completed more than 33 000 ash disposals. Pujya Swamiji has stated that Sivananda Ghat is one of the most important projects of Divine Life Society of South Africa, and we see evidence of this on a daily basis when many visit the Ghat and find solace there in their darkest hours of need.
On Tuesday, 1 June 2021, Divine Life Society of S.A. observed via the online Satsang, our Divine Master's 97th Sannyas Anniversary. We offer gratitude to our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda for the immense Tapas that he did. Through his tremendous Tapas he was able to get all his knowledge. He passed on the benefit of his Tapas to us, said Pujya Swami Sahajananda. It also paved the way for the redemption and blossoming of countless seekers the world over.
The day commenced at 6am when devotees gathered in the comfort on their homes to pay homage to our Divine Master via the online morning programme. Akhanda Chanting commenced at 5am and continued until 5pm. Devotees were urged to join in the chanting in one or more of the hourly sessions. Our All-Souls' Day Havan was also live-streamed at 4.30pm followed by Ganga Arati & Satsang at 5.30pm.
Our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda arrived at Rishikesh, in northern India, in 1924. One day, as he was sitting on the banks of the holy Ganges after being refused food at a local alms-house, a venerable saint, Sri Swami Vishwananda, happened to cast a glance at him. Attracted by the young man's unusual spiritual aura, the saint was prompted to initiate him into the Holy Order of Sannyas then and there. The Master entered the Holy Order on June 1, 1924, as Swami Sivananda Saraswati, and settled at Swarg Ashram.
Divine Life Society of South Africa celebrated the most auspicious Ganga Saptami via its online Satsang Programme on Tuesday, 18 May 2021. Readers would know that King Bhagiratha did severe penance to invoke the Grace of Mother Ganga to wash off the powerful curse of Sage Kapila on his ancestors and to uplift them to the highest abode of immortal bliss. Mother Ganga was pleased with his penance and came down to earth via the matted locks of Lord Siva. The arrival of Mother Ganga to the matted Locks of Lord Siva is celebrated as Ganga Saptami.
During the programme on 18 May, the following reading was done, entitled, "I have vowed to take the sins away from these people"
Pujya Swamiji said that this great good fortune of getting the Darshan of Ganga Mata is a gift from our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, due the awesome Tapas done for many years. In Path of Divine Grace, Volume 2, Pujya Swamiji concludes this chapter with the following words, "Let us all therefore be extremely loyal to our Master and do our daily Sadhana with added devotion."
The auspicious Ramayan Week commenced on Monday, 12 April, and concluded on Tuesday, 20 April 2021, culminating on 21 April 2021 in the Sri Ram Navami celebrations, one of the most auspicious Hindu festivals, celebrated on the last day of Chaitra Navaratri. It marks the birth of Lord Rama. According to Hindu scriptures, Lord Rama was born in Ayodhya on this day. Divine Life Society of S.A. arranged online Satsangs throughout this week, highlighting the life and teachings of Lord Rama as espoused by our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda. An inspiring message from our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, melodious Bhajans, Kirtans and Ramayana Slokas were sung in praise of the Lord. A DVD, "Aarti Shri Ramayanji Ki", depicted salient stages of Lord Rama's glorious life on earth. Devotees from various parts of the globe followed these online programmes diligently. There were 4 294 tune-ins for the 9 days of Ramayana Week and 638 devotees tuned in on Sri Ram Navami Day.
Sri Hanuman Jayanti was observed on Monday, 26 April 2021 via the online Satsang programme facilitated by Divine Life Society of S.A. It was on this day also, that the final recital of the 41-day Sri Hanuman Chalisa was done at 5am. There were 510 tune-ins for the morning chanting session. In the Divine Life Society Prayer Book, Pujya Swami Sahajananda, advised the following, "On the completion of the Mantra 11 times for 41 days, perform Havan with the help of a qualified pundit, and do some Puja in a Hanuman Temple with the guidance of a priest. You can also do poor feeding or some charity on the completion of the Yajna". In keeping with this advice, a Havan Ceremony, conducted by pundits from the Society was live-streamed at 4.30pm. Ganga Arati commenced thereafter at 5.30pm, followed by Satsang. It was encouraging see that there were 1130 tune-ins for this session.
On Sunday, 25 April 2021, 108 recitals of the Sri Hanuman Chalisa were done online. Adopting hourly slots, DLS branches participated in the recitals, within the safety of their homes. There were 1010 tune-ins for the chanting. About the efficacy of the Sri Hanuman Chalisa, Pujya Swami Sahajananda wrote the following, "The Sri Hanuman Chalisa is very powerful and very effective for the removal of all mental problems. It brings good health, success and prosperity. It cures diseases, counteracts evil forces and the effect of 'black magic', which are so prevalent today".
On Saturday, 10 April 2021, devotees celebrated the holy life of Pujya Swami Sahajananda who was initiated into the holy order of Sannyas on 10 April 1956 by our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda. 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".
In his autobiography, Glory of Guru's Grace, Pujya Swami Sahajananda narrates in the 3rd person, the circumstances leading to this momentous event at the Master's Ashram in Rishikesh on 10 April 1956, "One day, Swamiji went to get some treatment from Swami Venkatesananda for his suppurating sores. At his cottage, he was surprised to see the Master also arriving there after some time to give instructions to Swami Venkatesananda. During the conversation, Swami Venkatesananda suggested that the Master give Swamiji Jnana Sannyas. The Master at once agreed and also decided to have a farewell function for Swamiji. When Swamiji told the Master that it was not necessary, he said, 'No! No! We will have it.' Swamiji was reluctant to take Sannyas, as he felt it would be a hindrance to his work. He used to walk about in the streets of Durban and sell the Master's books. He did so much walking that the soles of his shoes had to be replaced every few months.