Om Namo Bhagavade Sivanandaya
Established in 1949 by Sri Swami Sivananda
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.
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".
On Friday, 10 September 2021, Divine Life Society of S.A. celebrated online, one of the most popular Hindu Festivals, Sri Ganesha Chaturthi. Our online Satsang commenced with Ganga Arati at 5.30pm followed by Satsang.Sri Ganesha is the Power that removes obstacles by the force of Knowledge. Sri Ganesha, among other things, is the Devata of spiritual Knowledge. Sages say that because Lord Ganesha removes all the obstacles on the path of the spiritual aspirant, and bestows upon him worldly as well as spiritual success, He is called Vigna Vinayaka.
The celebration on 8 September 2021began online from 5 - 6am witha short invocation and the chanting of the Sri Hanuman Chalisa, 11 times, being the culmination of the 41-day Vrata. We must note that beloved Pujya Swami Sahajananda had encouraged all to recite the Sri Hanuman Chalisa daily for protection, safety, peace and the welfare of the world. In this critical period faced by the world at large, collective recital of the Sri Hanuman Chalisa will assist in counteracting the scourges of our times. In view of the life-threatening coronavirus pandemic and instability still prevailing, we urge all to continue reciting the Sri Hanuman Chalisa as often as possible
While chanting, devotees respectfully paid homage to our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, who "by his dedicated life of selfless service and artless love, proved to a sceptic world the infinite potentialities that lay hidden in every human soul. He was a living embodiment of the Gita, the Koran, and all the Gospels of the world. His word was love. His deed was love. His every thought was tinged with mercy and compassion". These moving words were extracted from Sri Ananthanarayanan's book, From Man to God-man.