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Established in 1949 by Sri Swami Sivananda

Report: Sivananda Book Festival & Health Workshop

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The years, 2024 and 2025 are milestone years in the history of Divine Life Society of South Africa, as the Society's Centenary Celebrations are given prominence amongst its multifarious programmes and activities. One of the Centenary Celebrations' highlights, was the Sivananda Book Festival and Health Workshop held on Sunday 28 April 2024 at Sivanandashram, Reservoir Hills, Durban. The concept of a "Book Festival" and "Health Workshop" has universal appeal, and the spiritual dimension to these two unique events, added colour, aesthetic appeal, decorum and grandeur to the Centenary Celebrations. Sri Swami Sivananda, being a medical doctor, and Pujya Swami Sahajananda, both advocated good health for spiritual growth, and the importance of spiritual literature for moral, emotional and spiritual growth and development.

Despite the cold weather, hundreds of devotees, well-wishers, donors, members of the public and sister organisations attended the function which commenced with registration at 7.30am and Ganga Arati thereafter.

The Sivananda Health Workshop was held from 8am until 11am, and comprised a variety of presentations on health topics. Some of the topics were:

  • Yoga Asanas: Sri Anesh Bhoojrajh
  • Lifestyle diseases (Diabetes, cardio-vascular and pulmonary issues): Dr Vishal Jairam
  • Homeopathic Management of post Covid19 and Long Covid19 Syndrome: Dr Madhu Maharaj
  • Coping with grief and depression post Covid19 - holistic approach to mental wellbeing: Prof Suvira Ramlall
  • How to approach and manage common infections: Dr Vis Naidoo
  • Post Covid Respiratory Complications: Dr Anish Ambaram
  • Acupressure: Sri Pabs Mahabir
  • Vascular Health: Dr Anupa Ramnarain
  • Pranayama and Meditation: Dr Dhiraj Daya

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The wealth of knowledge, and its simple, yet practical application, gave the audience food-for-thought.

In addition, a variety of help-desks provided information on topics such as dental care, Homeopathy, Ayurveda, Acupressure, Medical issues, Pharmaceutical issues, Veterinary Sciences, and Physiotherapy.

The Sivananda Book Festival venue was a magical spectacle of colour and beauty, resplendent with Swami Sivananda's books on almost every subject relevant to spiritual, mental and holistic growth. Ten stalls with different categories of books, as well as Ganga, Agnihotra and Sewing School stalls attracted wide-spread interest. A book stall by the Sri Sarada Devi Ashram was also graciously supported. The programme comprised book reviews, overview of the different categories of books, an address on "Sri Swami Sivananda's Literary Genius, his writings through the English medium and his prolific pen", quiz contests with attractive prizes and a guest speaker.

Sri Kissoon Beharie, presenter of a religious programme on Radio Hindvani, and author of commentaries on the Sunderkand of the Ramayana, and Sri Hanuman Chalisa, being the guest speaker, spoke about the impact of spiritual literature, more especially the writings of Swami Sivananda on present-day society. Excerpts from his message are reproduced herewith, to highlight Swami Sivananda's literary genius. He said, "This is indeed a grand occasion. We are glorifying Pujya Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, and at the same time, we are glorifying the spiritual literature that he has left us. It is a great and wonderful treasure-house of gems and jewels for each one of us. We may be different in mind and temperament, yet there are treasures for each one of us.

"Among spiritual luminaries, Gurudev stands out by his tapas, his deep compassion for suffering humanity, and his ceaseless works in so many fields, namely: religion, health-care, education, culture, literature and promotion of human values.

"The name Swami Sivananda has become synonymous with so many activities and projects. Not least among them is his writing. I know that he has authored some 250 books. Mind blowing! To me, and I think, to you too, the question that arises in one's mind is: How could he have written so many books in such a short period of time? Gurudev himself has answered this question. He said that he wrote regularly. He had a time fixed for writing every day and he adhered to it strictly. He was an extraordinarily rapid writer. When he sat at his desk, his pen moved automatically. Powered by God! God's Grace and God's inspiration were always with him. We can only say that his words, and his thoughts, are those of the Lord Himself. Words Divine! It is the Lord speaking to each one of us through Gurudev.

bk_fest_24_3.jpg"Spiritual books tell such a person that lasting happiness cannot be enjoyed in persons and objects, but only in God. They point out that real life consists not just in eating, drinking and sleeping. Even animals perform these functions. Man has a far higher purpose in life. It is man's privilege to seek and achieve perfection through God-realisation. Spiritual books, by pointing out to us the purpose of life, by pointing out what is right and what is wrong, by suggesting various practical means of moulding our lives on the pattern of great spiritual heroes, help us to shed vices, develop virtues and build noble personalities".

Referring to Swami Sivananda's unique writing style, he said, "His style is simple, yet forceful. He touches the reader's heart, and his divine message rouses them. The world is constantly dumping on society loads of impurities that affect one at all levels of existence. Gurudev shows practical ways and means of overcoming these obstacles in one's path to higher goals, and how to lead a life that will make one divine. He infuses confidence, optimism and inspiration into readers, laymen and professionals, young and old. He speaks to students, professors, ordinary beings and laymen at their individual levels, and counsels them as their friend and well-wisher".

Perhaps, the gestalt of the Sivananda Book Festival is summed up in Sri Beharie's closing remarks, "We pray to beloved Gurudev, Swami Sivananda, during his Sannyas Centenary, to direct us to the right books at this Sivananda Book Festival and beyond, to enable us to imbibe noble thoughts, to show compassion, benevolence, fortitude of character and demeanour, so that we think and act spiritually, and that we grow in the image of Sri Gurudev, Pujya Swamiji and God".

The Sivananda Book Festival and Health Workshop – a new trajectory in the annals of the Centenary Celebrations of Divine Life Society of South Africa!

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Last modified on Monday, 06 May 2024 13:45
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Sri Swami Sivananda

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