Devotees met at Sivanandashram, Reservoir Hills on Friday, 10 July to pay homage to this great son of South Africa. This was the actual day when Swamiji was born in 1925. The Guest of Honour on the 10th was Sri Dhanpal Naidoo, chairman of the Satya Sai Sudha Trust who had a long standing association with Pujya Swamiji. Dhanpal’s father, Sri Y C Naidoo, supplied sand free of charge for the building projects from 1974 to the mid-nineties. Our guest narrated intimate incidents in his close relationship with Swamiji. This association with Swamiji moulded and shaped his life. He said, “I did not do anything without consulting with Swamiji. He is my God.”
Devotees gained some insight into the life of Pujya Swamiji through the pen of the Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda. In a reading that evening, taken from the Book, “Path to God-realisation, August 1962”, the Master wrote the following about Pujya Swamiji, “Swami Sahajananda is an exemplary soul. He is a true replica of the divine qualities mentioned in the 16th Chapter of Srimad Bhagavad Gita.” Many other tributes were read on that night. A senior devotee at that time wrote the following, “To Brother Srinivasan (Swamiji), the Guru’s Word was supreme from the day he dedicated his life to the Divine Mission. Day & night he worked for it and put himself through breath-taking austerities to further the Mission. In “The Leader”, August 1962, we found the following article written by a devotee, “Can anyone in South Africa ever hope to be as great a disciple as Swami Sahajananda? His devotion to Gurudev is immeasurable.”
Santanagopal of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan (Mumbai, India) in the article entitled “An Unforgetable Saint” wrote, “About two years ago I visited Durban in South Africa. It is there that I came across a person who shattered my scepticism about spiritual leaders. Here was a person who turned out to be a saint in every sense of the term. A more selfless, self-effacing person is hard to find. I found him to be a person who brought dignity to the simple dress of Sanyasi that he wore. He is Swami Sahajananda, founder President of the Divine Life Society of South Africa and friend, philosopher, guide and Guru to thousands of his disciples spread all over South Africa.”
Almost 3000 devotees gathered at the Stadium at Sivananda International Cultural Centre, La Mercy on Sunday, 12 July. The function commenced with a special Havan and Agnihotra, which is a special prayer for rain. Due to the lack of rain and the subsequent water restrictions in some areas, the Society has launched a campaign to promote Agnihotra from 8 July to 8 September. During this period devotees are encouraged to practise Agnihotra and promote the practice of Agnihotra amongst family and friends. A special Agnihotra kit, consisting of the kund and ingredients was made available.
After breakfast, branches of Divine Life Society and sister organisations participated in a “March Past” in the Sivananda Stadium, at the SICC. Each group had a colourful banner and chanted spiritual “slogans” as they passed the large crowd sitting at the Stadium. The March Past was a lap of honour, expressing gratitude to Pujya Swamiji for the bountiful spiritual and material gifts he bestowed upon this country.
The Guest of Honour, The Honourable Consul General of India in Durban, Sri R. Raghunathan, spoke briefly about the role and value of the Guru in spiritual life. He said, “Mother is the first birth. Guru is the second birth. Guru enters your life, even if you do not grant permission.”
Nateshwar Dance Academy, one of the more successful Indian based dance companies in the country, added to the birthday atmosphere with two polished dances, entitled, Shiv Stuti and He Ganaraya.
The drill items, featuring the youth girls and boys, as well as a mass drill, were spectacular events with our devotees. In 1997, Pujya Swamiji wrote the following about the value of the Sivananda Drill Programme, “An unusual feature of our gymnastic drill exercise is that it is a spiritual offering to our Divine Master. The Kirtan or Bhajan accompanying some of the exercises gives a beautiful spiritual touch to the drill. Drill is an excellent means of learning a variety of disciplines simultaneously. The type of gymnastic drill we have introduced has manifold benefits, especially in these stressful times. Drill requires a lot of concentration to enable the participant to harmonise his movements with those of others in the group. Participants learn to interact and work in harmony with others, and develop their co-ordination abilities. Drill strengthens the body and mind and also develops the will. The various movements, many of which have their origin in Hatha Yoga, give flexibility to the physical body and make it supple. Many minor ailments can be cured through drill practice.” Visitors for the first time were amazed at the precision of the mass drills as well as the offerings of the youth girls and the awesome gymnastics of the youth boys.
The Sivananda Technical High School, in Kwa Mashu is one of the schools that Swami Sahajananda built in 1987, in commemoration of our Master’s Birth Centenary. Ms Phumzile Mtiyane and her charges did two items: A song entitled “Swami is ours”, followed by a Birthday Song.
We are pleased to report that the Sivananda Park, which was started by Swamiji, was officially opened by the Consul General, Sri R. Raghunathan.
In commemoration of this auspicious 90th Birth Anniversary, the Society is undertaking mass grocery hamper distribution, in the Name of the Divine Master and Swamiji, on Saturday 18 July. Grocery hampers will be distributed to the indigent families.
The Society expresses its deep gratitude to all donors and patrons for their unstinting financial support, especially in these difficult times. All these projects and programmes are possible because of their selfless support.