Om Namo Bhagavade Sivanandaya

Established in 1949 by Sri Swami Sivananda

Divine Life Society of South Africa’s Cape Town Prayer Group hosted the Society’s Centenary Celebrations’ Satsang, commemorating Sri Swami Sivananda’s Sannyas Centenary, at the Radha Krishna Mandir in Rylands, Cape Town, on Saturday 11 May 2024 at 3pm. The Satsang was preceded by Ganga Arati, which was a unique and new experience to many. The Satsang programme comprised Kirtans, Bhajans, a message from the Society, a dance item, a forum discussion by the youth girls on Swami Sivananda’s cardinal teachings, and a video on the performance of Agnihotra. More than 200 devotees, well-wishers, members of sister-organisations and members of the public attended the celebrations.

CPT CTNY24The message from the Society traced the illustrious life and teachings of Swami Sivananda and the contributions of Swami Sahajananda, Spiritual Head of Divine Life Society of South Africa. It also impressed upon all the importance of individual and collective Sadhana for spiritual growth. An excerpt from the message captures the gestalt hereof: “In the midst of the very hectic lives that we lead, we encourage all to choose any one Mantra that you may have an affinity for, and to chant it day and night. A short Mantra like Om Sri Ram or Om Nama Sivaya may be repeated, and children can be taught this Mantra as well. It should be chanted before going to bed, on awakening, and especially when leaving home. We also encourage you to learn and recite the Sri Hanuman Chalisa which has tremendous power and benefits”.  Alluding to the importance of Satsangs and Sunday Schools, the message stated, “We encourage all to take advantage of weekly Satsangs available at this Temple, and encourage all parents and grandparents to send their children to Sunday Schools and Satsangs at Temples and Ashrams, so that they may be equipped to face the challenges of life, and to face criticism and attacks on our Sanathan Dharma. It is up to each of us to ensure that Hinduism is kept alive, and that we  pass on our glorious Hindu Dharma to future generations. We note that there is a positive regeneration of Hinduism around the globe, and we encourage all to become practising Hindus even if you just repeat the Divine Name daily for a few minutes every morning and evening. It can’t get any simpler!” 

In a highly well-organised and beautiful function on Sunday 26 May 2024, our Chatsworth Branch honoured Gurudev, Sri Swami Sivananda on his 100th Sannyas Anniversary. The function was also in celebration of the Society's 75th Anniversary. The large gathering of devotees, donors, well-wishers and members of the public is indicative of the Master's and Pujya Swami Sahajananda's spiritual stature in the South African context. The programme comprised a Havan, Ganga Arati and Satsang. The Satsang programme consisted of a message from the Society, Kirtans, Bhajans, A Ramayana recital, a children's item, "Sri Gurudev Says", a delightful offering by the senior fathers, entitled, "Take a Packet of Grace Home Today", a dance and a youth play, "Learn to Type and Make Tea".

The message from the Society succinctly encapsulated Swami Sivananda's dynamic personality, his teachings and legacies, the role of Swami Sivananda in founding Divine Life Society of South Africa and Pujya Swami Sahajananda's silent, yet eloquent leadership for 75 years. Excerpts of the message appear herewith.

Ganga Saptami was celebrated on Wednesday 14 May 2024 at Sivanandashram, Reservoir Hills. Ganga Arati commenced at 5.30pm followed by Satsang. The programme comprised Kirtans, Bhajans, a DVD and readings glorifying Mother Ganga, Her beauty and divine powers.

Both Sri Swami Sivananda and Pujya Swami Sahajananda had great love and reverence for Mother Ganga. The Master resided on the banks of the Ganga, and breathed his last on the holy banks of this celestial river. Through his devotion and austerity, Swami Sahajananda brought Mother Ganga to South Africa by erecting Ganga Ranis at the Society's Ashrams and at some other institutions and consecrating their waters with water carried from Ganges River, Swami Sivananda's poem, "O Adorable Mother Ganges!" captures the Master's admiration for Mother Ganga. In excerpts from the poem, the Master says,

"Millions flock to Thee during Kumbha Mela,
Thou art the purest water on earth,
No germs can thrive in Thee,
This is the finding of the scientist in his laboratory,
Thou art sparkling and clear as crystal,
A drop on the tongue at the moment of death gives Moksha,
Yogins and Sadhus do Tapas on Thy banks in cottages,
Thou deliverest them from the rounds of births and deaths,
Who can describe, O Mother, Thy glory and splendour?
Will a day come to me, Beloved Mother,
To sit on a block of stone on Thy bank,
To shed continuous tears of Prem on Thy lap,
And merge in Thee for ever and ever?
O all-powerful Mother of compassion and love,
Bless me with Thy Grace and mercy,
Destroy my darkness and ignorance,
Remove the veil and show Thy true form,
I am thine, O Mother, Thou art mine,
The sense of duality has vanished now,
The bridge that separates us has broken now,
Let me dwell in Thee, Mother, for ever and ever".

Referring to the purity of the Ganges, the Master wrote, "A well-known French physician, Dr D. Herell, made similar investiga¬tions into the mystery of the Ganges. He observed some of the floating corpses of men dead of dysentery and cholera, and was surprised to find 'that only a few feet below the bodies, where one would expect to find millions of these dysentery and cholera germs, there were no germs at all'. He then grew germs from patients having the disease, and to these cultures added water from the Ganges. When he incubated the mixture for a period, much to his surprise, the germs were completely destroyed.

The Master further attests to a British physician, Dr C.E. Nelson's striking fact, that "ships leaving Kolkata for England take their water from the Hooghly River which is one of the mouths of the filthy Ganges, and this Ganges water will remain fresh all the way to England. On the other hand, ships leaving England for India find that the water they take on in London will not stay fresh till they reach Bombay, the nearest Indian port, which is a week closer to England than Calcutta. They must replenish their water supply at Port Said, Suez or at Aden on the Red Sea". Dr Nelson was therefore of the view that Indians were correct in their beliefs that the Ganges is very sacred and possessed of mysterious powers.
In another reading from "Path of Divine Grace, Volume 1", Swami Sahajananda's love for the Ganga and its curative powers, was recounted. He said that Amitabh Mukerjee of India states in the internet that the Ganga has the recursive power, such that ordinary water mixed with the minutest quantity of Ganga water, has curative and healing powers. Pujya Swamiji quoted Lord Krishna's message from the Srimad Bhagavad Gita when He said, "Among streams I am the Ganga".

The beautiful DVD in praise of Mother Ganga's beauty, prowess and celestial grandeur, added colour to this wonderful celebration of Ganga Saptami.

The lesson of celebration of Ganga Saptami and its esoteric meaning are summed up by Sri Swami Sivananda, when he says, "The Ganges starts from Gangotri in the Himalayas. She encounters many obstacles on Her way, but She finally reaches the goal-the ocean. Similarly, the spiritual aspirant should never give up his struggle, however insurmountable the obstacles in the path may appear to be. All difficulties and obstacles will be removed through the Grace of the Lord and, if he is sincere in his Yogic practices, he will reach the goal".

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Divine Life Society of South Africa held the Sivananda Conference on 1 and 2 June 2024, as part of its Centenary Celebrations commemorating Sri Swami Sivananda's 100th Sannyas Anniversary. The Sivananda Conference was held at Sivanandashram, Reservoir Hills on Saturday 1 June from 1pm to 6pm, and at Sivananda International Cultural Centre (SICC) on Sunday 2 June 2024 from 6am until 3pm.

Divine Life Society of South Africa is hosting its Centenary Celebrations in and 2025, because the Society celebrates three significant events during 2024 and 2025, namely: Swami Sivananda's 100thSannyas Anniversary in 2024, the 100th Birth Anniversary of Sri Swami Sahajananda (1925 – 2007), Spiritual Head of Divine Life Society of South Africa in 2025, and the 75th Anniversary of Divine Life Society of South Africa in 2024.

It is with deep and profound gratitude to Sri Gurudev and Pujya Swami Sahajananda that we report on the Sivananda Conference.

Almost a year of planning and preparations saw the realisation of a cherished dream of ardent devotees, when almost 1 850 devotees, well-wishers, donors, members of the public and patrons of the Society graced the Sivananda Conference over the two days, and paid tributes to one of the foremost saints of the 20th century. The theme of the Conference was, "Our Glorious Hindu Dharma: Swami Sivananda's Life and Legacy".

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Gurudev Centenary 2024

Sri Swami Sivananda

(1887 - 1963)

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