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Established in 1949 by Sri Swami Sivananda

Report: 74th Anniversary of Divine Life Society of S.A.

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The 74th Anniversary of Divine Life Society of South Africa was celebrated on Wednesday 18 October 2023 at Sivanandashram, Reservoir Hills. Sri Swami Sivananda, founder of the Divine Life Society in Rishikesh, India, sent three letters to Sri V Srinivasan (later Sri Swami Sahajananda) to start a branch in this country. The first letter was sent on 18 October 1949, the second on 11 November 1949, and the third on 5 June 1951. Divine Life Society of South Africa thus celebrates its anniversary on 3 days.

The Anniversary Satsang on 18 October 2023 coincided with the Navaratri celebrations. The programme comprised Kirtans, Bhajans, Pujya Swami Sahajananda's audio message, a reading on the "Glory of the Divine Mother" and letters by Sri Swami Sivananda to Pujya Swami Sahajananda.

Sri Swami Sivananda had great reverence for the Divine Mother. He says, "The story of the Divine Mother represents the triumph of the divine power over the dark forces of negativity, in the struggle between the dual factors of good and evil, truth and untruth, virtue and vice, freedom and involution, light and darkness. The occasion of Navaratri, therefore, is a reminder to the aspirant of the great cosmic law that the Divine Will always prevails ultimately over the undivine.

"Navaratri is an annual awakening call to experience and express afresh the divine nature, to make manifest the light of truth and love in order to vanquish and conquer the forces of evil within. For it is through the positive forces of love, brotherhood and selflessness that negative and undivine elements can be effectively eliminated from the heart and the mind. Darkness can never resist light. Truth, Light and Goodness are synonymous terms; they are the visible expressions of God".

The following poem from Sri Swami Sivananda's book, Great Men and Women, was read at the Satsang.

HYMN TO MOTHER
O Adorable Mother of Compassion and Love,
Crores of prostrations unto Thee.
Thou art the Creator of this Universe.
Thou art the Nourisher of this world, too.
Thou art Para Sakti, Mahashakti
Adi Sakti, Vishnu Maya, Siva Shakti,
Durga, Kaali, Saraswati and Raja Rajeshwari.
Thou art the dispeller of ignorance.
Thou art the bestower of eternal bliss.
Thou art the tree, flower and Ganges,
Thou art Kundalini, Power and Wisdom,
Thou art Satchidananda-Rupini.
Save me, guide me, protect me,
I am Thine, all is Thine, Thy will be done.

On the opening of a Divine Life Society branch in South Africa, the Divine Master's letters contained direct instructions to Pujya Swami Sahajananda, as the Master had written them himself. These letters were methodically and carefully preserved by Pujya Swamiji and have now been published by Divine Life Society of South Africa in a series entitled Priceless Jewels. Below is an excerpt from the letter from Priceless Jewels Vol 1 with Swami Sivananda's instruction to Pujya Swamiji.

"18 October 1949
Sri Srinivasan
Durban

Beloved Immortal Self,

Salutations and adorations. Thy kind letter of the 30th September.
Thank you for the kind donation by the postal order.
I am glad that you are regular in sadhan. Your pamphlet for free distribution (Twenty Important Spiritual Instructions) is very attractively printed. Print such pamphlets as often as circumstances permit and distribute them among aspirants hungering for God. It is the greatest service and will hasten your progress. I have sent you the Divine Life magazine for September and October. Hope you will be benefited from by them.
May God bless you.

Thy Own Self
Sivananda

Handwritten:

Kindly start a branch of Divine Life Society there.
I recognise you as the Secretary.
Sivananda".

In Pujya Swami Sahajananda's audio message on the subject, "The Workings of the Guru's Grace", Pujya Swamiji alluded to the enormous obstacles, challenges and difficulties he experienced in running the Society, and how Sri Gurudev's mysterious Grace dissolved all the problems. Pujya Swamiji said that the Society was reported to various regulatory authorities, and Sri Gurudev's Grace ultimately prevailed. He explained, "I had a lopsided idea of spiritual life. I felt that it will be easy to go away somewhere and sit quietly, but through Gurudev's Grace I have discovered that only that peace is real that you get – that you can enjoy amidst all troubles and difficulties. If you can enjoy peace – and that is the best and highest peace – that's worthwhile. It took me many years to understand it, but through Gurudev's Grace, that is my goal. So, I used to ask him to give me a lot of troubles, because I told him that I would like to see you in those people who are helping us and I like to see you in those people who are harming us. So, in that way I will be harmonising my mind".

On Swami Atmananda, Pujya Swamiji said, "We read in books about self-surrender and we read about obedience, but I have never seen that except in one person and that is Swami Atmananda. He was such a jewel. I have spoken many times about him – brilliancy, compassionate, merciful – you can name any qualities – he had it to perfection, and yet I was so hard on him".

Pujya Swami Sahajananda set the foundation for the Society 74 years ago. We salute and revere this spiritual giant of South Africa, Sri Swami Sahajananda! The quiet dignity with which Pujya Swamiji conducted the affairs of the Society, his silent and eloquent guidance, his meticulousness and spirit of service, his undivided Guru Bhakti and compassion, and the great light and guiding force of our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, continue to sustain the Society and us all. Their omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience and invisible guiding spirit, are present in every facet of Divine Life Society of South Africa and its activities. The Divine Master's and Pujya Swamiji's Will prevail in every aspect of the Society's work, and their potent spiritual energy continues to nurture and sustain thirsting aspirants, householders and seekers who yearn for spiritual guidance and enlightenment.

May our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda and Pujya Swami Sahajananda continue to inspire us all to increase our Sadhana, sustain their legacies and take the work of the Society into the future with zeal, enthusiasm and dedication.

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