Our Divine Master wrote the following inspiring words about the role of the Guru in the life of a disciple, "It is therefore not without reason that India, year after year, age after age, commemorates anew this ancient concept of the holy Guru, adores it and pays homage to it again and again, and thereby re-affirms its belief and allegiance to it. For the true Indian knows that the Guru is the only real guarantee for the individual to transcend the bondage of sorrow and death, of pain and misery, and experience the bliss and peace of the Reality. The Guru is the standing witness to the all-pervading Self. He is the representation of the Lord on earth, and through worship of him one attains the Supreme Self".
Pujya Swami Sahajananda's relationship with the Master was unique, as described in Path of Divine Grace, Volume 1, "Pujya Swamiji was an exemplary disciple of the Divine Master. His entire life, actions and words were filled with the spirit of Guru Bhakti. Pujya Swamiji never glorified himself. Truly, one can say, he lived as a servant of servants".
Below are excerpts from our Guru Purnima message: "In an article entitled, 'Humanity's Gain from Sivananda's Sannyasa─World's great God-realised Sannyasi', His Holiness Sri Swami Ramdas, says, 'Sri Swami Sivananda Saraswati is a God-realised personality. He can be looked upon as one of the spiritual leaders of the age, because he has been a world figure sending out his spiritual messages to all parts of the earth for the guidance of thousands of seekers after truth'.
"In order to translate fully and in totality, absolute surrender to the Guru is essential. In the book, Guru Bhakti Yoga, the Master advises thus on this topic: 'Just as Kirtan-Sadhana has been made the special Kali-Yuga Sadhana for quick God-vision, even so herein you have the new Yoga, a Yoga most eminently suitable for this age of doubt and scepticism, pride and egoism. It is Guru-Bhakti Yoga. This Yoga is marvellous. Its power is tremendous. Its efficacy is most unfailing. The true glory of Guru-Bhakti is indescribable. It is the Yoga par excellence for this age, which makes God appear here before you in flesh and blood and move with you in this very life. The hard Rajasic ego is the arch enemy of the Sadhaka. Guru-Bhakti Yoga is the surest and best Sadhana to destroy arrogance and to dissolve the vicious ego. Just as a particular deadly germ can be annihilated only by a certain specific chemical germicide, even so, to destroy Avidya and Ahankara, this unique Guru-Bhakti Yoga is the peerless specific. They are the gravest 'Mayacide' and 'egocide'. They become quite powerless and no longer afflict the fortunate soul who saturates himself with the spirit of Guru-Bhakti Yoga. Blessed indeed is the man who earnestly takes to this Yoga for he will obtain crowning success in all other Yogas. To him will accrue the choicest fruits of perfection in Karma, Bhakti, Dhyana and Jnana.
"The qualification for taking to this Yoga is the simple trio of sincerity, faith and obedience. Be sincere in your aspiration for Perfection. Be not vague or half-hearted. Then have perfect faith in the one you have accepted as your Guru. Do not allow even so much as a shadow of doubt to approach you. When once you have reposed absolute faith in him, then know that what he instructs you is indeed for your highest good. Therefore, obey his word implicitly. Follow his teachings to the letter. Be earnest in doing thus and take my word: you will attain Perfection; I assure you emphatically".
On this sacred day, Divine Life Society of South Africa would like to place on record its deep gratitude and appreciation to all its devotees, donors, well-wishers, patrons, staff and renunciates for their unconditional participation, support and encouragement at all times. We are very pleased to report that the spiritual and social service activities of the Society are progressing at a steady pace. There is no doubt that our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda and Pujya Swamiji are inspiring, guiding and looking after the Divine Mission in South Africa.
Our reading for the evening was taken from the book, Sivananda's Gospel of Divine Life, covering the following topics: The Master's Salvation, Gita Teachings, The Master's Liberality and Teaching by Example. This is what the Master said regarding salvation, "What is there in salvation? My nature is to serve, serve and serve everyone. I do not long for salvation. Even great saints and seers, who have realised the Supreme and thus liberated themselves from the wheel of births and deaths, long to come back to the earth-plane, as they often do, to serve suffering humanity and assist struggling souls on the path to God. I will insist on taking birth after birth to serve you all and to help aspirants march forward to the goal."
A visitor asked the Master, "Swamiji, by the study of the Gita, can I get peace?" The Master answered, "You must practise the teachings of the Gita. Convert everything into Yoga. The Lord has said in the Gita, 'Whatever you do, eat, offer in sacrifice or give, whatever austerities you practise, offer it to Me, O son of Kunti!"
The Master had a large heart, as may be seen in the article, "The Master's Liberality". "Although thousands of rupees came to the Master as donation for the divine work, he never concerned himself whether anything was left for the next day. His disciples sometimes observed him giving as much as a hundred rupees to a beggar. 'Let him enjoy,' he would say. 'He has never known what enjoyment is in life.'
The power of a saint lies in his own example. In the last article from Sivananda's Gospel of Divine Life, we read the following, "Once an aspirant came to the Ashram to practise Yoga. A visitor, suffering from T.B., was also residing in the Ashram. The Master requested the aspirant to wash the clothes of the sick man. The aspirant shrank from the task, feeling that he had come to the Ashram to learn Yoga and not to engage in the menial task of washing the clothes of sick persons. Not long afterwards, the Master himself was found on the Ganges bank, washing the clothes of that sick man".
In the pre-recorded audio message, Pujya Swamiji gives us some insight into the arduous task of self-transformation. "Mother says (The Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram), 36 years is the period given to transform the human being. Even if you are with the great saints, you still have what you brought from your previous birth." Pujya Swamiji cites the example of Champaklal, the great disciple of Sri Aurobindo, who served Sri Aurobindo for 24 hours a day. Said Pujya Swamiji, "Service was his food. He wouldn't know when Sri Aurobindo would come for his bath. It might be 10 o'clock at night, 11 o'clock, 12 o'clock or even 1 o'clock. But he will wait there. He has got to wait there for 3 or 4 hours. Would we do it? So, as a parting gift, Sri Aurobindo embraced him and kissed him. And, that very Champaklal used to have violent fits of temper. So, even if you are with a saint, day and night, but what you brought from your past, it's going to be there. What comes from your previous birth, you have to work it out yourself. You are not going to get anything on a silver plate, but the help will be given by the saint.
"A part of our nature will be stubborn but many other parts will change overnight. A wise person will work on those he can easily finish and then he can tackle the bigger things. So don't get discouraged that you've got this weakness and that weakness. Look to God, at the Light. Be aware of your weakness and get ahead and don't be discouraged because all saints have gone through this.
"When I was writing to Gurudev about my weaknesses, Gurudev said, 'the saints were rotting like you.' We've got to go through enormous struggles, for weeks, and months and years and illumination would come. There was one person at Ramana Ashram. He was sitting and meditating. All of a sudden, they found his face illumined. And, when they asked him, he said that for 50 years he was struggling and up it came. How wonderful it is. It gives you tremendous inspiration. For 50 years, the man was struggling; he saw nothing and suddenly he was illumined. So, when it's going to come, we don't know. The last person will be first.
"So, you must never feel that 'I am far behind. I am weak.' Go on and do your duty. If you do your Japa don't expect any fruits. If you serve, don't expect any thanks and gratitude. Do your duty and leave the result and God knows when to give, whom to give and how much to give. He will know when we are ready."
In the DVD presentation, we were privileged to have Darshan of the Master, engaged in various tasks, against the background of the melodiously sung "Deva Deva Sivananda" Bhajan. It awakened Guru Bhakti in devotees as they listened and viewed the holy Pada Puja ceremony being conducted. Devotees would know that Pada Puja is a specific form of gratitude. It is a sacred ritual to express our thanks to our revered Guru. Pada Puja means to give thanks at the feet of the one we revere, adore and honour.
As disciples of our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, we earnestly pray that our surrender to Sri Gurudev and Pujya Swamiji may remain firm and steady. Let us renew our faith and loyalty to our Guru, and resolve more firmly to tread the path set for us by our Divine Master and Pujya Swamiji.
We conclude with excerpts of Pujya Swami Sahajananda's last Guru Purnima message on 29 July 2007, when he said, "...It is said that if the disciple serves the Guru with faith, love and devotion, the Guru will work through the disciple and hasten his spiritual progress. Our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda himself has said, 'If you take care of my Mission, I will take care of you'". Pujya Swamiji continues, "In order to get this Grace of the Guru, we must develop faith, devotion and dedication. We must free ourselves from negative qualities like anger, hatred, jealousy, etc. Then only the Guru's Grace will work freely".