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Report: Day of Descent of Divine Grace

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The Day of Descent of Divine Grace was celebrated on Friday 1 March 2024 at Sivanandashram, Reservoir Hills. Ganga Arati commenced at 5.30pm followed by Satsang, which comprised Kirtans, Bhajans, The Song of Salutations and a reading from "Conversations with Gurudev" from Guidance in Daily Life which was written by Pujya Swamiji and published in 1998.

The following utterance by Pujya Swamiji in November 2007 aptly captures the significance of this occasion, "Since the 1st of March I am enjoying 24 hours unbroken peace of mind. Previously there used to be a sharp pain inside, but now there is nothing".

The reading from "Conversations with Gurudev" from Guidance in Daily Life is pregnant with meaning, indicative of Pujya Swami Sahajananda's unconditional surrender and loyalty to the Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda. He said to the Master that when we ask for material things, the Master fulfils our wishes quickly, even without thinking, like Lord Siva, but when we ask for spiritual transformation, the Master is very hard on us, and again, like Lord Siva sitting with His closed eyes on the Himalayas, He seems to ignore us. The Master's cryptic answer was that this is so because spiritual treasures are valuable and more lasting, and that they are not like transitory things that perish. The reading recounted that Gurudev remarked to a devotee who went to the Master from South Africa, "I know when to give and what to give".

The following conversation between the Master and Pujya Swamiji from the same reading, highlights Pujya Swamiji's burning desire for self-transformation, and the Master's Divine Grace manifesting upon Pujya Swamiji:

"Swamiji: Gurudev, parts of my nature resisted transformation for many years. I was in despair and always had a lurking fear that it will never be possible, because I had heard that even some great spiritual personalities did not achieve a complete transformation of their external nature. They did not achieve the integral transformation as described in your books and teachings, that is, a transformation amidst all the distracting and frustrating situations of daily life.

Gurudev: Such a radical transformation is possible only through the Guru's Grace.

Swamiji: I can well believe it, Gurudev. No amount of vows and resolutions helped me to overcome some of my cardinal defects. When I gave up every effort and felt helpless, your Divine Grace manifested. Gurudev, I woke up one morning with the distinct feeling that I was a changed being, that some great power of yours had descended upon me and was effecting the transformation. Gurudev, when I realised what was happening, tears of gratitude began pouring for several weeks, as I felt I was not worthy to receive such Grace. I marvelled to note with what precision and perfection your power was working. The higher knowledge seemed to be descending in me.

From time to time, you were giving me a formula to repeat, together with my Mantra, so that what you were giving could be stabilised. Gurudev, the distracting external conditions did not change a bit. The attitude of those around me was the same. But the miracle I noticed was that it was I who was changing.

Gurudev, kindly permit me to add something more. Over the years I knew all along that those around me were all your own forms, and that their frustrating actions were meant to help me in my spiritual progress. However, this intellectual acceptance did not help me much, Gurudev. But when your divine power descended upon me, the positive results were at once noticeable.

Gurudev: Yes, that is how Divine Grace works. Its ways are mysterious. It will work according to its own way and not the way you want. Perfect faith and self-surrender will allow it to work unhindered.

Swamiji: Gurudev, I regret to state that as the months went by, I found that sometimes I was losing the marvellous gifts that you were so graciously bestowing upon me, even though I was so unworthy of it. At such times I would feel extremely downcast and think that death would be prefer able than to lose what you were giving. Gurudev, I also found that Divine Grace or Guru's Grace is not only difficult to get, but once got, it is even more difficult to maintain.

Gurudev: Yes, such precious spiritual gifts need special care and vigilance to protect them.

Swamiji: Gurudev, thanks to your boundless love and compassion, the transformation became more stabilised after about three years. This you made possible through the formulae that you gave me to repeat from time to time. Still, Gurudev, I need your Grace and protection at every step to keep vigilant at all times.

Gurudev: Yes, my Grace shall be ever with you".

The above intimate and profound conversation between Gurudev, Sri Swami Sivananda and his ideal disciple, Pujya Swami Sahajananda, brings to the fore the unique and poignant Divine Grace bestowed by the Divine Master upon Pujya Swamiji. Hence the celebration of the "Day of Descent of Divine Grace".

As devotees, we express deep and reverential gratitude to Sri Gurudev and Pujya Swamiji, for your supreme Tapas, material and spiritual gifts to us all. Let us give our all, mind, spirit and body to your mission, because every cell of your sacred body, every iota of your Sadhana, every drop of your pure blood, were all consecrated towards chiseling and moulding us in preparation for spiritual transformation and for God-realisation, either in this birth or in births to come. We are ever indebted to you and express our eternal gratitude and obeisance at your Lotus feet, now and always, more especially during the Centenary Celebrations: Sri Gurudev's 100th Sannyas Anniversary, the 75th Anniversary of Divine Life Society of South Africa, and the 100th Birth Anniversary of Pujya Swamiji.

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