Divine Life Society of S.A. has rendered sterling service to the citizens of both KwaZulu-Natal and South Africa for almost three-quarters of a century. Not only have its various activities promoted divine life and spiritual growth amongst devotees and aspirants, but it has rendered innumerable upliftment services to disadvantaged and marginalised communities, especially in remote areas in KZN. Over the past 2 years, the Society has been responsible for much relief work made necessary by the Covid-19 pandemic, the unrest, and the devasting floods. During the recent floods with families being displaced and basic services being inaccessible, the Society distributed groceries, blankets, water, clothes, kitchen utensils and 5000L water tanks for the municipality to load water for mass use. In addition, 22 water storage (JoJo) tanks were installed in affected areas.
Let us reflect now on the Sivananda Ghat and why it came into being. Pujya Swami Sahajananda, was not content with serving only the needs of those living on earth. He also paid particular attention to departed souls. Pujya Swamiji was deeply concerned about the neglect of departed souls because families were not observing funeral and post-death religious rites. Also, the traumatic nature of many deaths in our violent society was adding distress to departed souls.
Visionary that he was, Pujya Swamiji went to inordinate lengths to enable the construction of an ash disposal facility, the first ash disposal facility in the continent to cater for diverse cultural beliefs. The Sivananda Ghat facility was commissioned by Pujya Swamiji in 2005. Inspired by our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, who commenced the observance of All Souls' Day on the first of every month in Rishikesh, India, All Souls' Day at the Sivananda Ghat, in South Africa, has been observed for 17 years. As at 31 May 2022, the Sivananda Ghat has conducted 35810 ash disposals and 9514 rituals – this number includes ash disposals for departed souls from throughout the country and from outside it. Swamiji's love for animal Bhaktas ensures that the ashes of pets are also given dignified disposals. We offer our gratitude to all our volunteers at Sivananda Ghat, who serve untiringly in the Name of our Master.
Solace and spiritual nourishment to departed souls is afforded by the performance of the sacred Havan and chanting of the relevant scriptural verses on All Souls' Day, and the offering of prayers together with the holy Ganga Jal at post-funeral ash disposals. Such observances have brought comfort and strength to bereaved families and loved ones as well.
On this auspicious day, we offer our gratitude to our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, and Pujya Swami Sahajananda, for their foresight, vision, compassion and love; they have catered for both our human needs as well as the eternal needs of our souls.
Our reading at the Satsang, entitled "Do not Kill", was taken from Sivananda's Gospel of Divine Life, "Immediately after the evening Satsang was over, an inmate of the Ashram approached the Master, who was just then sitting on his chair and partaking of the prasad. The Swami reported that he had killed a snake that had entered the room of another inmate.
"The Master felt grieved and said, 'You are a Sannyasin. You had taken the vow during the Vraja Homa Ceremony to give protection to all beings. You should not injure a single creature. What a sin you have committed!'
"'It was a serpent Swamiji. It might have bitten him.'
"'No, it would not. Remember that action and reaction are equal and opposite. Repent and do a lot of Japa. Pray to the Lord. All these expiatory acts will help you.'
"'All right Swamiji,' the inmate said with a penitent heart, and the conversation ended there."
We end this report with deep gratitude to every devotee, donor and well-wisher of the Society who has nurtured and supported our work over the past seven decades. We pray that our Divine Master showers his blessings upon all for peace, protection and spiritual progress.