What message can we take away after 13 years? It is this! In his handwritten letter to Pujya Swamiji dated 12 February 1960, the Master gave the assurance about the work of Divine Life Society of S.A.:
"God will look after the divine work
Lord will look after everything".
"All must adapt, adjust and accommodate; co-operate, collaborate and co-ordinate.
Co-operation means fifty-fifty—giving out and taking advice".
So, this is the message! Something to aspire to in our run-up to the centenary! As you know, in 2024 we will celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Gurudev Sri Swami Sivananda's Sannyas Diksha, and in 2025 we will celebrate the Birth Centenary of Pujya Swami Sahajananda.
From 1949 until Pujya Swamiji's passing in 2007, Pujya Swamiji worked tirelessly and selflessly promoting the Master's mission in this country, seven days a week, with very little respite. Over the years, the Society's state-of-the-art printing presses, expertly supervised by Pujya Swamiji, produced thousands of high-class illustrated books and disseminated the universal teachings of Sri Swami Sivananda world-wide. Even now the printing press continues to churn out large volumes of spiritual literature which is transforming the hearts of thousands. The Divine Master's teachings are highly practical in their application. They are also very simple, broad and universal in their approach, so they readily appeal to people of all religious faiths. But the most unique feature of his works is that they are charged with a rare spiritual power. He himself once stated that Mother Saraswati, the Goddess of Learning, glitters through his writings.
On 16 December 2007 at Pujya Swamiji's memorial service at SICC, Swami Sarada-Prabhananda, of the Ramakrishna Centre of South Africa said, "I first met Revered Swamiji in 1974. It was at a public function held in the centre of Durban in which there were a number of other Sannyasins, spiritual leaders and spiritual aspirants. I was quite young at that time, but I could immediately discern that he was a cut above the others. The figure that he had, the spiritual aura that emanated from him, and though he did not speak on that day, his eloquent silence left a deep impression on me, and I felt that in South Africa, we were truly blessed to have such a lamp of illumination in our midst. He was a Guru, he was a friend, he was an institution builder and he was a man of God. And such people need certain intrinsic qualities to build up their lives, to live by those qualities, and if you look at our beloved Swamiji's life, his whole life was based on Guru-Bhakti Yoga."
Said Father Michaelson of the Catholic Church on 10 December 2007, "I met Swami about 25 years ago. It is very hard to put into words this kind of relationship. In fact, I've never fully understood it myself but it seemed to me like two pilgrims walking together, breathing one breath of divine life and divine love. We seemed to walk together, with not much said between us and yet I repeat, breathing together one breath of divine life and divine love. I could not understand this relationship. It seems as if it began in the timeless ages before time and we seemed to share a common thirst to live poorly and be of service to poor people. We both had a profound respect and love for each other and it is through Swami that I met and read the writings of Swami Sivananda. But he touched me deeply, Swami Sivananda, in his universal spirit. But also, in his remarkable writings about the Master to whom I've given my life, Lord Jesus. One of the profoundest writings in a succinct way that I've ever read, was by Swami Sivananda on Lord Jesus. I think we share that common love for Swami Sivananda and service of the poor but also the respect and love and submission to Lord Jesus."
On his 61st Birthday Celebrations on 10 July, 1986 Pujya Swamiji said, "So, whatever Gurudev has, belongs to us naturally. You don't have to ask him for it. All his Tapas, we are enjoying now. All his God-realisation—his wisdom—we get through his books. Whatever Gurudev has earned, whatever he has got, it comes to us naturally. But we have to make ourselves worthy of that Grace and that Grace can work marvels. All that you have to do is to do your duty whatever it is. If you are the wife then you must do your duty faithfully. If you are a husband you must do your duty faithfully. If you are a student you must do that. If you are in an Ashram then you must do your duty faithfully too. Then you see if the results are not going to come.
"We must remember also that our past Karma has to work out. Our past Karma is a stumbling block in our way, because our past Samskaras will force us to do what we do not want to do. If we adhere to our duty, then marvellous things can come to us. When it will come, how it will come, in what manner it will come, in what proportion it will come, we cannot say. But it's the safest and easiest path because it's the path of trust, it's the path of confidence, it's the path of childlike awareness and constant trust in the Master who dwells within our hearts."
In the pre-recorded audio message Pujya Swamiji spoke at length about surrender. Pujya Swamiji said, "If you surrender to the Guru, you surrender to the Infinite Being. It is a very effective kind of surrender". Pujya Swamiji read extracts from the book entitled Dictionary of Sri Aurobindo's Yoga. "Surrender is the main power of the Yoga. The surrender is bound to be progressive; a complete surrender is not possible in the beginning but only a will in the being for that completeness. In fact, it takes time, yet it is only when the surrender is complete that the full flood of Sadhana is possible.
"Essence of surrender is to accept whole-heartedly the influence and guidance when the joy and peace come down, to accept them without question or cavil and let them grow. The core of inner surrender is trust and confidence in the Divine". Pujya Swamiji said, "Self-surrender is the greatest Tapasya, it is greater than will-power and everything else. But each one has to find out within oneself how to effect this from within. Pujya Swamiji continued reading, "If part of the being surrenders, but the other part reserves itself, follows its own way, or makes its own conditions, then each time that happens, you are yourself pushing the Divine Grace away from you". Pujya Swamiji explained, "That means, it must enter every part of your being. Suppose we lose something materially and a part of the being resists. If we get sick (as a result of this experience) or rebel, then that part of the being does not surrender and the Divine is not able to work. So certain conditions are necessary. It requires your co-operation." The reading concluded as follows, "If you open yourself on one side or in one part to the Truth and on the other side are constantly opening the gates to hostile forces, it is vain to expect that the Divine Grace will abide with you. You must keep the temple clean if you wish to install there the living Presence".
Let us all therefore offer ourselves to the Divine to make our surrender perfect and complete, to make ourselves worthy of this Grace that will transform us. In so doing, we will then be able to render greater service for the betterment of the world.
PUJYA SWAMI SAHAJANANDA'S MAHASAMADHI ANNIVERSARY
ACCORDING TO THE SANSKRIT CALENDAR (15 DECEMBER 2020)
Pujya Swami Sahajananda's 13th Mahasamadhi Day Anniversary, according to the Sanskrit Calendar, was observed on Tuesday, 15 December 2020.
On 10 December 2020, in the pre-recorded audio message, Pujya Swamiji spoke about the importance of surrender in Yoga. On 15 December, we focused on the same theme of surrender and transformation. In the book, Sadhana, our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda states, "Become a good man first. Then control the senses. Then subdue the lower mind by the higher mind. Then the divine light will descend. Only then will the vessel be able to receive and hold the divine light.
"You may have aspiration to the Truth. You may be endowed with devotion. You may possess a will to overcome the obstacles and hostile forces. If the little ego asserts or persists, if the external personality has not consented to change or transformation, you cannot have rapid progress in the spiritual path. It will have its own ways and inclinations.
"The lower nature must be thoroughly regenerated. The habitual lower personality of the Sadhaka must be entirely changed. If this is not done, any spiritual experience or power is of no value. If this little ego or human personality persists in retaining its petty, limited, selfish, ignoble, false and stupid human consciousness, any amount of Tapas or Sadhana will bear no fruit. This means that you do not really thirst for God-realisation. It is nothing more than idle curiosity. The aspirant says to the preceptor, 'I want to practise Yoga. I want to enter into Nirvikalpa Samadhi. I want to sit at your feet,' but he does not want to change his lower nature and old habits. He wants to have his own ways and old habits, old character, behaviour and conduct".
Pujya Swamiji's life was characterised by faith, surrender, obedience and a deep yearning for transformation. In "Conversations with Gurudev", taken from the book, Guidance in Daily Life, we get some insight into Pujya Swamiji's deep aspiration. Herewith a few excerpts:
Swamiji: Gurudev, parts of my nature resisted transformation for many years. I was in despair and always had a lurking fear that it will never be possible, because I had heard that even some great spiritual personalities did not achieve a complete transformation of their external nature. They did not achieve the integral transformation as described in your books and teachings, that is, a transformation amidst all the distracting and frustrating situations of daily life.
Gurudev: Such a radical transformation is possible only through the Guru's Grace.
Swamiji: I can well believe it, Gurudev. No amount of vows and resolutions helped me to overcome some of my cardinal defects. When I gave up every effort and felt helpless, your Divine Grace manifested. Gurudev, I woke up one morning with the distinct feeling that I was a changed being, that some great power of yours had descended upon me and was effecting the transformation. Gurudev, when I realised what was happening, tears of gratitude began pouring for several weeks, as I felt I was not worthy to receive such Grace. I marvelled to note with what precision and perfection your power was working. The higher knowledge seemed to be descending in me. From time to time you were giving me a formula to repeat, together with my Mantra, so that what you were giving could be stabilised. Gurudev, the distracting external conditions did not change a bit. The attitude of those around me was the same. But the miracle I noticed was that it was I who was changing.
Gurudev, kindly permit me to add something more. Over the years I knew all along that those around me were all your own forms, and that their frustrating actions were meant to help me in my spiritual progress. However, this intellectual acceptance did not help me much, Gurudev. But when your divine power descended upon me, the positive results were at once noticeable.
In one of the pre-recorded audio messages, Pujya Swamiji said, "If I have not experienced Divine Grace then I will have no right to talk to you about it. It is better to speak from your own experience than to quote from the books. That there is such a thing as Divine Grace, we know. Now I am not referring to our external success, like the many schools we have built. Anyone can do that! And, it is not difficult to get money. It is not difficult to build an Ashram. It is not difficult to print books. But it is very difficult to change your nature. What is important in our life is the transformation.
"I can remember that it took 23 years for the first light to dawn—23 years when the band around my chest loosened a little bit and I could breathe a little bit freely. Another 6 years went by when the breathing became freer; another three years when I felt that I was fairly free. And all came without my asking! Nothing changed externally. No situation changed. In fact, it became worse. But, what Gurudev gave two months ago surpasses all that he had given previously.
"When I first found Gurudev and he rescued me from that life, to a life of Sadhana, I made one resolution and I said that in this birth, I will try to serve him with all my heart and soul in repayment. I felt that I should express my gratitude to him. And that is what I am trying to do. Gurudev does not expect us to do spectacular things. We have not done anything spectacular at all. I asked Gurudev how and why did he give me this knowledge. Am I worthy of it? What have I done? And I found that there is nothing spectacular that I have done. Nothing that could be called great! But I felt that whatever I did, I did with all my heart and soul. I thought of the books and I said, 'Gurudev, this is all that I have given you.' I didn't even print 50 or 100 books. All that was printed was about thirty books. But in those 30 books went every drop of my blood, every fibre of my being. My concentration went into that. So perhaps, that is what made Gurudev grant me (this radical transformation)."
In this Satsang programme, Pujya Swamiji's golden and melodious voice was also transmitted across the globe, effecting much-needed healing energy in these times of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the audio message on the 15th December, Pujya Swamiji reinforced the theme of self-surrender, "The secret is to accept God's Will in the small things when you are irritated. And once you get the wheel spinning in that direction, it will never spin in the other direction. Whatever calamity strikes you, whatever tragedy strikes you, you must accept it. But once you start getting pessimistic, then you are making the wheel spin more and more in other direction. So, the idea of self-surrender is to get the wheel spinning in the opposite direction. Everyday, when you get up, feel that everything belongs to God. You got to repeat it, parrot-like in the beginning. 'My children belong to God, my body belongs to God, my house belongs to God, my property belongs to God. Everything belongs to God.' So, if any tragedy strikes you, you will find yourself repeating that, and the moment you repeat that, then you would get relief. So that is the easy Sadhana that Gurudev has given us. As I said, once you get the wheel spinning in that direction, you've done it. All that you have got to do is to strengthen that spin in the same direction of self-surrender. God-realisation is tremendous, it's stupendous, and we got to pay the full price, and the full price will only come when there is a firm surrender."
We conclude with a prayer from our Divine Master that incorporates both transformation and surrender:
"O Lord! Make my will strong to resist all temptations, to control my senses and lower nature, to change my old evil habits, to make my surrender complete and real. Enthrone Thyself in my heart. Do not leave this place even for a second. Use my body, mind and organs as instruments. Make me fit to dwell in Thee for ever".
1. In view of the increase in infection rate in the coronavirus pandemic in our country and the "second wave" that the world is facing, as well as for the good health of all, world peace, protection, safety during the festive period and as a counter measure to the hostile forces as we usher in the New Year, the Society launched the 41-Day recital of the Sri Hanuman Chalisa, 11 times daily, from Tuesday 8 December 2020 until Sunday 17 January 2021. Devotees are encouraged to participate in this Sadhana, and may do the daily recital at their convenience at home.
2. Whilst lockdown regulations have been lowered due to economic and other reasons, our Ashrams and branches remain closed until further notice, due to the surge in the Coronavirus numbers. Devotees and the public are encouraged to tune in to our online programmes in the meantime. Devotees and visitors are respectfully informed that visits to any of our Ashrams or branches must be authorised by the Board of Management, as the risk of infection is still prevalent.