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Report: Sri Gurudev's 98th Sannyas Anniversary

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On Wednesday, 1 June 2022, the 98th Sannyas Anniversary of our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda was celebrated online, as well as at Sivanandashram, Reservoir Hills. The morning online programme was held from 6-6.25am with Ganga Arati and a short invocation. The evening online programme commenced with Ganga Arati at 5.30pm.

On 1st June 1924, Sri Swami Vishwananda, observing the burning dispassion in the then Dr Kuppuswamy, initiated him into the Holy Order of Sannyas, as Sri Swami Sivananda Saraswati. Every year on the first of June, we celebrate and observe this most sacred anniversary, this momentous event when our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, entered into Sannyas. No greater homage to the Master can be conceived than a sincere determination to lead the life that he himself led, a grand life of deep devotion to God.

Swami Krishnananda, a disciple of the Master says: "Can you dream or imagine for a moment that the status and spiritual dignity that his institution (the Divine Life Society), commands today, is the result of the fruit of his Tapas! All success is the result of his Tapas. There cannot be a saint without Tapas. There is no spirituality without Tapas. Tapas is the same as Sannyasa. It is not merely wearing an ochre-coloured robe. It is neither an order of life, nor a stage into which you enter socially. It is an entry into the dedicated life of austerity and control of oneself".

In the Sannyas Anniversary message of 1 June 1981, Pujya Swamiji stated: "People today want to renounce. They want to join an Ashram and they want to give up everything, but first we have to renounce all that belongs to the world. When we have mastered the world and when we have stayed in the world and conquered ourselves, then to come to an Ashram and lead the path of renunciation becomes quite easy. But unless one has conquered that, it is difficult. We cannot just renounce everything and leave. Most people renounce because they cannot put up with the difficulties in the world; so, they don't make a great success in spiritual life either.

"Destiny is also perhaps a little flexible. People who are in it, that is, those who are not married want to get married; those who are married want to get out of it. Isn't that wonderful! That is the play of God. But we needn't worry about which life is better. The life of a householder is as good as the life of a Sannyasin. Whatever God has destined for you is going to happen! In my own case I never cared whether I was a Sannyasin or a married householder. I felt that whatever Gurudev wills that is going to happen for me; but I was busy with Gurudev's work. Gurudev said that in my past birth I was a Swami. I had an inkling when I was nine years old, not that I would not get married, but I had thought that I would be always free. I didn't know that I would enter the order of Sannyasa.

"The fact is that neither the life of a Sannyasin nor the life of a householder is better, if each one does his duty ─ the householders must be prepared to sacrifice. They must serve; they must sacrifice their money and other things. The Sannyasin must have the highest renunciation. The most beautiful girl in the world meant nothing at all to the Sannyasin because he is following his Dharma.

"The thing we have to do is to see that we follow the Dharma that pertains to our station in life. If we do that faithfully, that is what our scriptures call Swadharma. It means to do your duty in the best possible manner. If anyone comes to attack us as Sannyasins, then we have to allow them to kill us, but if they come and attack a householder, then the householder is permitted to defend. It is by discharging our duties satisfactorily that the mind gets purified. Try to do a little bit of Tapas. Try to lead a hard life. A little bit of fasting, a little bit of mortification is quite necessary".

Our reading for the evening on "Real Bhakti", was taken from Sivananda's Gospel of Divine Life. Instructing a group of disciples on 21 September 1945, the Master dwelt on the theme of true Bhakti and selfless service. "Service alone can purify your heart. Have you ever served a sick man? Have you ever carried a sick chandala to the hospital, even though he was passing incessant motions? This is much better than repeating Soham, Soham. Analyse your thoughts. Do not be offended by what I say.

"The little things that you do with Bhav will purify you a lot. If you are not able to do any tangible work, go to the temple and sweep it. But you feel that you are a Brahmin and should not do such work. There comes pride. This pride of caste is your deadly enemy. Conquer it by means of selfless service. Again and again, I repeat that you cannot develop any good quality without doing selfless service".

Fear was the theme of Pujya Swamiji's audio message. Pujya Swamiji said, "The world is definitely going through a great deal of stress, but all this should not affect us. If we look around, we will find that everyone is caught up in fear. We don't seem to be secure. The reason is that we are attached to things, we are attached to family, we are attached to our material things, we are attached to many things, to the body also. So, wherever there is attachment, there, there must be fear. I always emphasise that we in the Divine Life Society should get rid of this fear. We should get rid of it once and for all by adopting any suitable method like self-surrender to God, knowing that everything is going to pass away. If we constantly live in fear, we'll have to admit that we don't have sufficient faith in God. We are not repeating the Mantra with sufficient devotion, we are not doing our Sadhana. There is something wrong. So more and more, we should try to develop a spirit of self-surrender."

After the chanting of the Sri Ram Jay Ram Jay Jay Ram Om Mantra, at the online Satsang, we had a video presentation entitled, "Wisdom of Sivananda", where the Master offered practical spiritual instructions, exhorting us to tread the spiritual path steadfastly. We reproduce a few powerful sentences from this inspiring message, "Thou art divine. Live up to it. Feel and realise thy divine nature. Conquer the difficulties one by one. This is the beginning of a new life. A life of expansion, glory and divine splendour."

In a nutshell, the Sannyas of our Divine Master, was an inner spiritual life which burnt forth in his practical life, in his teachings and in instructions to his disciples. Let us pray to him to grant us this burning desire to unite with the Divine!

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