In the afternoon, commencing at 4pm, devotees from all over the province of KZN, from Cape Town, Johannesburg, East London and visitors from abroad gathered at Sivananda International Cultural Centre to pay homageto our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, to Pujya Swami Sahajananda and to all the Brahma Vidya Gurus. Homage was paid to Sri Adi Shankara to whose monastic order and lineage our Divine Master belonged and to Sri Ved Vyasa, who compiled the Vedas. Aspirants sought the blessings of all the great saints of the past and the present.
Guru Purnima is the time when every spiritual seeker renews his spiritual contact with his Guru. He re-dedicates his body, mind and soul to the Great Master. Spiritual seekers mentally reaffirm their resolve to tread the spiritual path to attain the supreme goal—God-realisation.
The Divine is beyond the mind and the senses, reason and intellect and cannot be understood by indulging in intellectual gymnastics. On the other hand, a word from the Master’s lips, a touch of his divine hand, a thought from his master-mind, would be enough to enlighten the aspirant’s intellect, to bestow upon him an intellectual realisation. For this he must prepare himself through selfless service and devotion to the Guru.
At our Satsang on that night, Divine Life Society of S.A. also paid tribute to the late Dr Abdul Kalam, who was the 11th president of India and who shed his mortal coil on Monday, 27 July. It was spiritual destiny that led him to our Divine Master in Rishikesh early in his career where he received blessings and guidance from the Master which may perhaps have contributed to shaping and moulding his brilliant career as scientist and politician.
The Society takes this opportunity of expressing its deep gratitude to all devotees who have been serving the Master with so much dedication, devotion and love, especially those who are engaged in supervising our school building and other projects for the disadvantaged, those engaged in various activities at our Sivananda International Cultural Centre, Reservoir Hills and at our other Ashrams, at Sivananda Ghat and the Sunlit Path Centre, like security duties, cleaning, working in the kitchen and dining room, those engaged in conducting the Yoga Camps and other functions at our Ashrams, those distributing our spiritual literature, those collecting funds, to those making liberal financial offerings, and those engaged in various other activities to serve our Divine Master. Special tribute was paid to our Rishikumars and Rishikumaris and their families for their spirit of renunciation.
Donors, patrons and well-wishers at the Satsang were given a progress report on the work of the Society during the past year. The Society is currently busy with 25 crèches and a school building project. The Board of Management of the Society has approved the construction of an additional seventeen crèches in the deep rural areas of KwaZulu-Natal. In addition, the Society has given substantial assistance to the Verulam Day & Frail Care Centre during the course of the year.
Sivananda Ghat is continuing to serve the community with dedication. Almost 18 000 disposals have been conducted at the Ghat since it came into existence in 2005. The Sunlit Path Centre in Chatsworth is fully functional. Hundreds of people afflicted by drugs, alcohol, suicidal tendencies and other social ills have been counselled. Senior citizens gather there weekly to participate in discussion and workshops. Computer courses accredited by Microsoft that are internationally acknowledged are also offered at the Centre. Four Sunlit Path programmes for school going children have been conducted this year, drawing from 28 schools. The number of learners who have signed pledge forms to keep away from drugs and alcohol, and to practise celibacy before marriage, is almost 3000. The Society continues to administer six sewing schools, as it has done since 2004. Seven thousand two hundred and fifty two unemployed people have graduated from these centres.
The Satsang on 31 July included inspiring messages, melodious Bhajans & Kirtans and a polished dance by the Sivananda Dance Academy. We quote an excerpt from the reading of Divine Master’s message on the role of the Guru, “The Grace of a Guru is very necessary. That does not mean that the disciple should sit idle. He must do rigid spiritual practices. All the work must be done by the student. The Guru and the scriptures can show you the path and remove your doubts. Direct experience or direct intuitive knowledge is left for your own experience. A hungry man will have to eat for himself. No doubt, the Guru's blessings can do everything. But how can one have his blessings? By pleasing the Guru! A Guru can be pleased with his disciple only if the latter carries out his spiritual instructions implicitly. Therefore, follow the instructions of Guru carefully. Act up to his instructions. Only then will you deserve his blessings which can do everything”.
Pujya Swami Sahajananda’s pre-recorded audio message was spoken in a soft but serious tone. Herewith, some thoughts from this inspiring message:
- A wise person uses unfavourable external conditions to go towards God.
- Listening to lectures does not really help us. What matters is putting into practice these thoughts.
- It is the nature of the mind to rebel. This battle (on the part of the spiritual seeker) has to be fought innumerable times before one can attain some measure of mastery over the mind.
- In Yoga we are trying to compress into a few years what might otherwise take decades. Yoga strives to go against human nature and to conquer the weaknesses inherent in the Sadhaka to attain God-realisation.
- We must learn to sit still and remember God continuously. The important word is continuously. Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita, “I am easily attainable by that ever steadfast Yogi who constantly and daily remembers Me, not thinking of anything else, O Partha”.Swamiji said that this sloka was his favourite.
- Repeated practice of Sadhana is the secret to success.
- We should not worry about the fruits of our Sadhana. Do all your practices without expecting anything in return. This is what the Bhagavad Gita teaches.
In concluding the programme, our Programme Director once again expressed thanks to all our donors, devotees and patrons for their support and emphasised that it is not the amount that is important but the heart with which it is given. To substantiate this statement, he quoted aptly from an excerpt from Sivananda’s Gospel of Divine Life:
A DEVOTEE'S OFFERING: It was Guru Purnima day in 1959. The hall of the eye hospital was thronged with people. The Master sat on a chair in regal splendour, surrounded by a mountain of gifts - sweets, fruit, biscuits, clothing, etc, all wrapped beautifully as presentation packets.
An old devotee of Lucknow, a man of ordinary means, had brought just four laddus in an earthen vessel from a place called Sandila. When he saw the V.I.P.s and their costly gifts, he felt hesitant even to approach the Master. He quietly slipped out and kept the offering in his room. He then returned and stood near the back door behind the surging crowds.
But who could escape the Master's penetrating inner gaze? He called out to the devotee by name, "Ohji, where are my Sandila laddus”
Utterly ashamed, the devotee ran back to his room and brought his mud-pot with the laddus. Humble like Sudama, the great devotee of Lord Krishna, he placed the offering at the Master's feet.
Mother Hridayananda, who took care of the Master's health, said to him, "Swamiji, you should not touch any sweets as your urine sugar content has increased today."
Before she could say anything more, the Master tore open the paper covering and put one laddu into his mouth. And with a beautiful smile he said, "What can I do? The laddu ran into my mouth on its own."
Needless to say, tears of joy poured from the eyes of the poor devotee.
We express our deep thanks to the large gathering of Divine Life Society devotees, members of sister organisations and visitors from abroad, who braved the cold weather to pay homage to the Master, to all the Brahma Vidya Gurus, as well as all the saints and sages of the past and present.
The food that you offer a guest may be meagre fare, but if you offer it with love, it acquires great power, nutrition and taste.
—Sri Swami Sivananda (Bliss Divine)