This year, Divine Life Society of South Africa is celebrating its 71st Anniversary. The sublime lives of our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda and our Spiritual Head of the Society from its inception in 1949, Sri Swami Sahajananda, are also acknowledged.
The story of Divine Life Society of South Africa is inextricably bound to the life of Sri Swami Sahajananda, affectionately known as Pujya Swamiji, who breathed life into every facet of the Society's work in the 58 years during which he was Spiritual Head. Pujya Swamiji's life was characterised by his total and complete loyalty, obedience and self-surrender to the Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda. In Pujya Swamiji's words, "We are not tired of reiterating that the formation, growth and present status of Divine Life Society of South Africa is due entirely to the Grace of our Master, Sri Swami Sivananda".
In 1956, on Swami Sahajananda's arrival at Sri Gurudev's Ashram in Rishikesh, he met the Divine Master on his way to the office that morning. Joyously welcoming him, the Master said "Oh! You are doing the work of Avataras."
In later years, the Divine Master not only wrote in his own handwriting that he was working through Swami Sahajananda, but also sent the following message with one of the officials of our Society who visited the Ashram, "Tell Swami Sahajananda that I am working through him."
Since 1974, Pujya Swami Sahajananda initiated and completed over 300 projects, comprising schools, children's homes, clinics, Peace and Skills' Training Centres, crèches, hydroponic gardening tunnels, housing for the underprivileged, community halls, etc. Since 2008, the Society, through the Grace of the Master and Pujya Swamiji, has completed a further 292 projects, bringing the total to 592.
Liberal financial contributions were also made to scores of temple organisations and institutions in South Africa and abroad.
Over the years, the Society's state-of-the-art printing presses produced hundreds of thousands of publications. The Society disseminates the universal teachings of Sri Swami Sivananda worldwide on a large scale. Pujya Swamiji was a skilled typesetter and printer and worked to perfection with great diligence and discipline to produce these publications. Pujya Swamiji's herculean efforts ensured that almost every Hindu home in South Africa had a publication from our Ashram.
In his hand-written letters to Swami Sahajananda, the Master gave his assurance about the work of Divine Life Society of South Africa: God will look after the Divine work. Lord will look after everything.
In the pre-recorded audio message, Pujya Swamiji reminded us that "our path here is the path of self-surrender. God has put us in a place that is conducive to our spiritual evolution. Gurudev has chalked out everything for us here. From the very beginning, our approach was to surrender to God. With all the chaos that is going on, we have ample opportunities to effect this surrender. But in spite of that, many of our devotees are not able to do it, so their life is chaos. Why is it that we are failing? Perhaps we are not making the effort. Perhaps it is God's Grace or God's Lila‒we don't know. Papa Swami Ramdas says that surrender means the complete elimination of the ego-sense and a dedication of your entire life to the Divine Being. Thereafter, all your thoughts, feelings and actions are not yours. They proceed from Him".
In this our 71st year, when the entire world is affected by Covid-19, we again remind ourselves of and are indebted to our Divine Master and Pujya Swamiji for the bountiful spiritual and material gifts bestowed upon this country for our spiritual growth. Our various Ashrams, including the Sivananda International Cultural Centre, Mother Ganga in the form of the various Ganga Rani pools, the Sivananda Ghat, Sivananda Printing Presses, Satsangs, Yoga Camps, spiritual literature, Sunlit Path Programmes and the various projects for the underprivileged are some of these gifts. We also offer our gratitude to all the devotees, renunciants, donors, well-wishers and patrons who have served and made sacrifices for the success of our Master's Mission over the past 71 years.
On this momentous occasion, let us resolve to re-dedicate ourselves to the Divine Master's and Pujya Swamiji's mission in South Africa, and intensify our Sadhana, so as to give back something tangible for this boundless Grace and protection at all times.