Divine Life Society of South Africa also expresses its deep appreciation and gratitude to all devotees, donors and well-wishers for their Guru Bhakti, support and participation in our online Satsangs and programmes, financial contributions, and deep and abiding loyalty to our Master's and Pujya Swamiji's mission during these difficult and challenging times. We are mindful of the challenges that our devotees and well-wishers are experiencing during this difficult Covid-19 pandemic. Notwithstanding the loss of jobs by some devotees, unemployment, difficult economic conditions, loss of loved ones, health issues, devotees and well-wishers have sustained Sri Gurudev's Mission in South Africa unstintingly throughout this period. Devotees and well-wishers contribute financially and in kind to the Society magnanimously. We also acknowledge with gratitude and appreciation the contributions of inmates, and to all who serve tirelessly in the various departments, and assist in the conduct of the affairs of the Society with a sense of quiet dignity and humility. We pay our reverential respects and tribute to the pioneers of the Society for laying the foundation, through dint of sacrifice and dedication, together with Pujya Swamiji.
It is pleasing to note that the total number of tune-ins to our online Satsangs in South Africa since its inception in April 2020 until the end of September 2021 was 218 617. It is encouraging to note that many from countries around the world are tuning in to our Satsangs. The Society's YouTube channel has now reached just over 4000 subscribers, apart from our WhatsApp groups. Our deep gratitude to our Master and Pujya Swamiji for making it possible for the Society to provide this invaluable service to devotees around the globe. Our projects for the less fortunate stands at 625 to date. Our online Yoga Camps, observance of all Satsangs, celebrations, Hindu festivals and activities of the Society continue unabated despite challenges that the world currently faces. Our Sivananda Ghat which is functional daily, has conducted 34 321ash disposals and 9 056 rituals as at the end of September 2021 since inception of the Ghat in 2005. As per Pujya Swami Sahajananda's advice, Divine Life Society of South Africa again participated in the Parliament of the World's Religions from 16 – 18 October 2021, which was held virtually this year. The objective of the Society's participation is to promote the cherished teachings and legacy of beloved Gurudev, Sri Swami Sivananda, on an international platform. The Society presented a paper entitled Sri Swami Sivananda: The Practical Vedantin. We have also secured a virtual booth where our Divine Master's sacred writings were promoted, with a link to our website.
All these activities are entirely due to the Grace of our Master and Pujya Swamiji. Pujya Swami Sahajananda's words have profound resonance in this regard: "The success of the Divine Life Society is due entirely to the Grace of the Divine Master. Our scriptures and saints never tire of singing the glory of a God-realised Guru, and emphatically declare that his Grace can achieve miracles".
As the world grapples with the most ravaging Covid-19 pandemic, which has affected the world in many ways, even preventing us from frequenting Ashrams, temples and places of worship, we encourage all to cling tenaciously to the feet of Sri Gurudev and Pujya Swamiji. Let us honour Sri Gurudev and Pujya Swamiji by intensifying our Sadhana, now, more especially leading up to the Centenary Celebrations, that is 100 years of Sri Gurudev'sSannyas in 2024, andPujya Swamiji's 100th Birth Anniversary in 2025. Japa, meditation, Likhit Japa, participation in our online Satsangs and Yoga Camps, charity, Karma Yoga, selfless service and other spiritual practices advocated by our Master and Pujya Swamiji will sustain us through these times.
Let us find comfort in our Master's profound message to us all, on the efficacy of prayer. He says, "At times even sincere prayer is not responded to. This however, should never be allowed to mar our faith or sincerity, or to discourage and depress us, but should be considered as a necessity, to test our sincerity, our serenity and faith in God.
It is only a test, which the aspirant must pass through. His faith may not be strong enough, his dross of mind might not have been cleaned yet and his heart might not have become pure yet. How can he strengthen his faith? How can he cleanse the dross of his mind and purify his heart? It is only through tests, trials and tribulations. Just as gold is purified by passing it through the crucible several times, so also the heart must become pure, the faith must become unflinching, by passing through the crucible of trials again and again. But at the ultimate end, all prayers are fulfilled and gratified with the highest fulfilment. Therefore, when we pray to God or wish to receive Grace from Him, we must be prepared to accept joyfully histrials and tribulations".
Pujya Swamiji's audio message was recorded on 8 June 1976 at a Satsang for boys who stayed at the Ashram for a few days to participate in a self-help programme that Pujya Swamiji initiated. Pujya Swamiji gave them an insight into the life & teachings of our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda. Herewith, salient parts of that message, "Lots of people from all over the world used to go to him. He would never ask anyone to become a Hindu. If you were a Christian, then he would teach you how to study the Bible and how to follow Christ. If you were a Muslim, he would teach you how to be a good Muslim." Pujya Swamiji explained the various methods that one can use to get closer to God and to enjoy His stupendous bliss. He outlined the various Yogas and its role and significance in spiritual life. Pujya Swamiji continues, "Our Master said that you don't have to run away to the forest. You can stay where you are but you must do your duty properly. You must be obedient and you must control your mind. You must be compassionate, truthful and loving, then God will reveal Himself to you."
The invincible and silent, yet eloquent guidance of our Pujya Swamiji, and the great invisible, guiding light and tangible presence of our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda,continue to guide and sustain the Society. Their subtle form, their omnipotence, omnipresence and indomitable spirit, are present in every facet of Divine Life Society of South Africa and its activities, for which we are eternally grateful. Let us offer our all, our Sadhana, Guru Bhakti, loyalty and lives at the lotus feet of Sri Gurudev and Pujya Swamiji by being ideal disciples in their majestic honour.