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Established in 1949 by Sri Swami Sivananda

Report: 70th Anniversary Satsang of Divine Life Society of South Africa

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In celebration of 70 years of existence in this country, Satsangs have been organised throughout the year, hosted mostly by branches of the Society. The third Satsang in the series of celebrations was held on Wednesday, 5 June at headquarters, Sivanandashram, Reservoir Hills. This day coincided with one of the three days when the Master wrote letters to Pujya Swamiji instructing him to start a branch of the Society in South Africa. At the Satsang on 5 June, four letters were read. These were written by our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda to Pujya Swamiji and contains precious advice to all seekers on the spiritual path.

In the first letter dated 5 June 1951, the Master wrote: "An interesting feature in the spiritual path is that the world looks frightening to the aspirant at the outset; but, once he takes to chanting His Name and does total surrender unto Him, everything appears as His Lila. Having installed Him firmly in your heart what is there to worry you? March boldly with majestic steps towards Him. There He stands to give you a warm welcome and to bless you with Peace, Joy, and Immortality".

On 26 March, 1960 the Master stated, "It is better some simple food is prepared in the Ashram daily. It will be suitable for your health. Food from outside will sometimes contain more spices, garlic, onions, etc. Glad to know that your health has improved and you have good rest. When politicians come to you, turn the subject into spirituality. Love, co-operation and understanding will bring peace in an Ashram, in the society, and in the world."

"Purity of life is the essential condition for attaining God-realisation. Meditation is the key to the realisation of God Almighty. The four means, viz. discrimination, dispassion, etc. are the steps or the golden stairs to the Temple of Moksha or the abode of Bliss Immortal. Yoga is a way of life. It starts with ethical discipline and ends in Samadhi. I am conducting prayer and Japa for your health, long life, peace and illumination. May Lord bless you". (2 December, 1958)

The final letter that we read was written on 22 February 1952: "Take everything as it comes, instead of complaining. By these means one seizes every opportunity. One develops easily a great deal of mental strength and evenness of mind. Irritability vanishes. Power of endurance and patience will develop. Do not let failures discourage you, but go on doing your best. Do not brood over your faults and failures. Only look at them to see the reason why you failed and then try again. So doing, you will starve out the tendencies which lead you into them; whereas thinking about them only gives them new strength. Do not make too much fuss about little failures".

In the audio message Pujya Swamiji explains how the early buildings were erected with the assistance of volunteer builders. Pujya Swamiji humorously remarked, "So we find that God Himself is coming and sometimes we got to go and not request God, but command God." It revealed the intensity with which Pujya Swamiji went about building the Ashram and the great passion he had for the mission.

Pujya Swamiji also revealed how various organisations used to write to the Society for assistance. One such group was from the community centre in Transkei. They said to Pujya Swamiji, "We don't want any beggars (in our society). We want to teach our people to work, teach them gardening, etc. They can learn something and they can fend for themselves." So, they asked us for some machines, for some sewing machines and some knitting machines. Everyone who comes here is inspired by the work we are doing. And, they feel they must also put some effort. They come here and they have understood and they say, "Now we have understood the meaning of service and how we should work for our community." Any amount of preaching is not going to help us. If we do something, we don't have to preach at all because people can see what we are doing and it will also inspire them to work.

Clearly, Pujya Swamiji has shown decades ago, how the country can progress and prosper.

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