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A visit to South Africa

Sept. 8, Johannesburg

His Holiness Vishwaguru Mahamandaleshwar Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda was warmly welcomed by his devoted South African bhaktas on arrival into Johannesburg. They celebrated Swamiji’s coming with a joyful mini-concert, put on by the renowned ‘Mighty Voice Choir’ whose melodic, cheerful voices, sang traditional spiritual songs to welcome Swamiji to South Africa. Swamiji appreciated this very much and shared with them the traditional Peace Mantra “OM SHANTI” and they enthusiastically joined in with him.

Swamiji’s evening program was his inaugural Public Lecture to the citizens of Johannesburg. He was introduced by the Consul General of India Mr. Suresh Gaul, who respectfully noted the popularity of Swamiji’s authentic teachings and the Yoga in Daily Life system, “which have spread like a bushfire throughout the world for the last 30+years!” The auditorium venue was filled beyond capacity, and the audience sat with undivided attention as Swamiji spoke words of wisdom that they had never heard before - about Yoga, Cosmic Consciousness and the Purpose of Human Life. A young South African later commented, “Swamiji’s words were such that I have never heard and they have changed my life!”

Swamiji with \'Mighty Voice Choir\' Consul General Of India introduces Swamiji Swamiji with Mr. Suresh Gaul, Consul General of India

All in One, One in All

Excerpts from Swamiji:

"It is a divine blessing and privilege to be here in South Africa, to serve you and to share with you the ancient teachings of the Rishis, which are for the benefit of the entire planet. The subject of tonight’s talk "Life’s Purpose" is a question that has been asked of me in every country. Everyone is seeking the answer. In fact, the answer is there already, it is just that we generally neglect it and so, it is good to be reminded."

"On this planet, the creator has created 8.4 million different beings and out of all these beings, only one is human. God didn’t create more than one human race – but it is we who divide our human race by religion, nationality, culture, colour or language. The cycle of Chorasi Ka Chakra, turns continuously. It is the never-ending cycle of birth-death and rebirth, in which the 8.4 million beings rotate. Rebirth is a definitely a reality. In modern times, there is another word for it – ‘recycling’. Therefore if you believe in recycling, then by principle you must believe in reincarnation too! As my Master, Dharmsamrat Paramhans Swami Madhavananda used to say, "Whether one believes or not, it doesn’t change reality". Truth or reality is not altered by culture, tradition or language…

There is only one exit point from the cycle of Chorasi Ka Chakra, and that is human life and following the purpose of human life rather than being distracted…"

"When we come to this human form we become 'itchy' with desires. Mahatma GandhiJi says, "Mother Earth has enough for everyone, but not enough for the greedy one".

"God Realisation, to know thy Self, is the purpose of human life, and to help others. How to know your Self? Through love. Love each and every living being at least as much as you love yourself. Therefore, if you eat chicken, know that you are eating yourself. Truth is truth. How long will you hide from it? How many years? Humans are protectors not destroyers. This is human dharma. Humans should have compassion in their heart and see God in every being. He is in everyone and everyone is in Him."

Sept. 9, Johannesburg

Swamiji's day began early morning with an excursion to the bush districts outside Johannesburg. The South African bhaktas organised a day filled with activities for everyone to experience the richness of South Africa's traditional culture, and it began at an Elephant Sanctuary. Here the group were introduced to the daily life and lifestyle of the African elephant and each person was encouraged to brush them, feed them and walk with them! These elephants were rescued from poachers or hunters and the sanctuary rehabilitates them and returns them to the wild in a new and protected location. The youngest of the elephants was an orphaned 2 year old and the oldest about 20 years. An elephant is completely vegetarian and needs to eat 80 kilograms of food per day!! They also replace their teeth, 5 time during their lifetime.
The next part of the excursion was to visit a place called "Lesedi" which literally means "Place of Light". In this location, small dwellings were constructed in the traditional style of village huts, to depict the way of life for the 5 main tribes that dominate Africa. Joyous African faces welcomed everyone and lead them to a theatre where a large-screened video and stage performance showed how the Africans lived over the last centuries. All were then asked to join the guide for a tour around the village huts, each depicting the typical way of village life for men, women and children – showing how they dressed, cooked and lived life in their natural mud and thatched huts. It was a true walk through time. The finale for the tour was a grand performance of traditional song and dance. It was a joyful, colourful, stimulating, happy and skilful display of their rich talents as a people.

The theme for Swamiji's public lecture, was Kundalini Yoga and Chakras, and this was well attended, especially by the yoga teachers and spiritual seekers of Johannesburg. Swamiji used a colourful slide presentation of the chakras and nadis to systematically explain prana, the nadis, the location of the chakras and the meaning of Kundalini.

Johannesburg, day 2

Elephants Elephants YIDL group with elephants

Cultural village Cultural village Swamiji gives prashad

Lunch break Kundalini and Chakras lecture

Excerpts from Swamiji's lecture:

"The soul, the Jiva, is made out of our qualities. The difference between one person and another is due to the qualities. The difference between man and God, is due to the qualities.
As long as our deeds exist, the soul will exist in this Universe and will have its destiny to go through. Either in the physical body or in the astral body... ...If one thinks that after the death of this body one will come to Moksha, Liberation, Freedom from all problems, then one is greatly mistaken. All problems will follow you throughout the Universe, like the shadow of your body. Karma leaves no one free and time waits for no one. Therefore, one must give up and purify their own individual qualities in order to unite into that Cosmic Consciousness. There are many ways and paths to choose from, and one must choose their own way, because ultimately, all paths lead to the same destination. When an individual's karma is purified and nothing remains, the soul will become thinner and thinner, until Light unites with Light. That Light of God, Cosmic Consciousness is different to that light we see with our physical eyes. It is immortal, everlasting, niranjan – spotless."

"The dormant power of your consciousness is at the Muladhar chakra... the awakening of Kundalini is not the crawling-ant sensation that some people experience. Also, it is nothing to be fearful of. Awakening of Kundalini means, awakening of consciousness and it should be gentle, like, as my Master Holy Guruji used to say, "like the fine, gentle flow of oil" or as great Saint Swami Shivananda from Rishikesh said, 'the awakening of Kundalini should be as gentle as a swan gliding over the peaceful waters of a lake'. Kundalini must be awakened properly through correct techniques.

"Live life like a lotus flower. It remains upright, above the muddy waters in which it is standing. In this way, a wise person will live life and always see the best and most positive in all see good in all. To think negative means to poison oneself. To think positive means you are enlightening yourself. All is already there... you can liberate yourself."

Sept. 10, Durban

His Holiness Vishwaguru Mahamandaleshwar Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda Ji accepted a warm invitation extended by His Holiness Sri Swami SahajanandJi, spiritual head of Divine Life Society, to visit Durban, home of the greatest population of Indians in South Africa.

H.H. Sri SahajanandJi welcomed H.H. Swamiji at Divine Life Society headquarters in Reservoir Hills. The meeting of these two great spiritual lights was a joy to behold as they greeted each other with immense mutual respect. H.H. SahajanandJi gave H.H. MaheshwaranandJi a tour of the Shivananda Ashram, which included the impressive printing house that continues the legacy left by Sri Swami ShivanandJi – i.e. the printing and binding of his many volumes of spiritual literature.

In response to the warm welcome, H.H. Swamiji spoke great words about H.H. SahajanandJi, and praised his tireless humanitarian work, which is improving the way of life for the poorest of the poor all throughout South Africa. To date, due to the immense efforts mobilised by H.H. SahajanandJi, 180 schools have been established, which provide free education and meals to thousands of indigenous South African children. Proper housing has also been built by the Divine Life Society, providing proper shelters to replace hundreds of shanti-town dwellings. All this, H.H. MaheshwaranandJi said, was due to the spiritual discipline and spirit of seva imbibed in the disciples of Sri SahajanandJi. In 2003, Sri Swami SahajanandJi was awarded the highest recognition by the Government of South Africa for his humanitarian work.

Another great South African personality was also waiting at the Shivananda Ashram to meet H.H. Swamiji – Fatima Meer, whom Swamiji met 2 years ago, just after she succumbed to a stroke that has since debilitated her health. With much respect, H.H. Swamiji praised her as, "a very great soul, a hidden saint". "Fatima," he said, "worked with Mahatma Gandhi and is also a close family friend of Nelson Mandela. She has devoted her life to the people of South Africa, fighting for their rights to achieve freedom and liberty, even against great odds such as being beaten and imprisoned. It is a privilege to see her again."

Like H.H. Swami MaheshwaranandaJi, H.H. SahajanandJi is an activist for interfaith meetings and he was keen for H.H.Swamiji to meet with a close associate, Bishop Shembe – South Africa’s most revered and beloved Christian spiritual leader. Bishop Shembe’s has a following of 6 million devotees throughout all of Africa, and the priests of his humble Nazareth Baptist Churches, often baptise up to 3,000 people in a month. The collaboration of H.H. SahajanandJi and Bishop Shembe, has resulted in the Divine Life Society building a Ganga Rani Hall and Sewing Centre on land adjacent to Shembe Village, located in the rural districts, some 40 kilometres from Durban. These provide spiritual services as well as training in machine-sewing to thousands of unemployed rural people, thereby helping to increase their levels of skills in their search for work.

The day’s program ended with Satsang and Arati, back in the Divine Life Society headquarters in Reservoir Hills. A quiet, humble man of very few words, H.H. Sri Swami SahajanandJi spoke some parting words to his friend, H.H. Swami MaheshwaranandaJi: "I have learned about your great work Swamiji throughout the world, particularly in the countries of Europe and pray and hope that by the grace of God, your divine work will continue to progress. I humbly express my deep gratitude to you Swamiji for being so kind as to come here to our Ashram, to bless us. Your visit here was too short and I hope next time that you and your devotees can stay longer."


Durban, day 3

Sept. 10, Durban

Visiting Sivananda International Cultural Centre Swamiji presents a shawl to Swami Sahajanandji Swamiji greets the altar

Swamiji pours Ganga water Paramhans Swami Sahajanandji Swamiji Sahajanandji shows Swamiji the printing press room

Swamiji meets Bishop Shenbe of Nazareth Baptist Church Swamiji with Fatima Meer and Swami Sahajanandji

Sept. 11, Johannesburg

Yoga in Daily Life South Africa held their first weekend Yoga Workshop with Swamiji on Saturday. The venue was filled to capacity with many yoga teachers from throughout Johannesburg, as well as people new to yoga for the very first time. The day began with Yoga Asanas and Pranayam, followed by Swamiji’s lecture and a Yoga Nidra led by Swamiji. The participants were an enthusiastic group – a mix of young and old – and all were very moved by Swamiji’s words. He spoke lovingly, openly and freely, about faith in God, Self-Realisation and how to live daily life. A mantra ceremony concluded the day, with up to 50 people receiving mantra from Swamiji.

Johannesburg Yoga Workshop

Morning Workshop with Swamiji Holy Guruji\'s birthday anniversary satsang (September 11)

Excerpts from Swamiji's lecture:

"Mahatma Gandhi said, "be the change you want to see". This means, don’t try to change others, but change yourself. There are two persons who know 100% what you are thinking. You can run and hide from anyone, but not yourself. Even if you sit in a closed room and think your own thoughts, He knows. You and God know. Therefore, meditation is there for you to analyse yourself, your problems and your life."

"There is no such thing as becoming a yoga teacher after just a 3 week course! One must be a lifelong student of Yoga. Be like a child your whole life, put your faith in God and in this way be free from ego and pride which blinds us. Always ask yourself, "what can I do better to help others?" ...and for helping others we need a healthy body. An Austrian philosopher once said, "health is not everything, but everything is nothing without health". Nourishment comes in different ways: through food, through movement and through positive thinking."

"In Yoga there is no competition or challenge. A Self-Realised soul will never say they are self-realised, and will not push themselves in the front. This life is difficult. As pure as you become, the more visible you become. And as visible as you become, the more difficulties and problems will come. Just for example, look at the life of Lord Jesus – we could not bear even 1% of his difficulties! This Mother Earth gave birth to great heroes and they had a difficult life... Be humble, be kind, be ready to serve. My life is a prayer and ceremony to serve others."

"May God make us the instrument of his love and light, that we become a channel. God has no form... faith and confidence are important to know Him. Likes and dislikes, that is our problem... Realisation is already within you, there is no need to search outside, it is within us. And that knowledge, is knowledge that cannot be explained."

"Yoga Nidra is a beautiful technique and science. My grandmaster Sri Deep Mahaprabhuji says, "Only rare saints know the Yoga Nidra of the yogis. In one of his poems about Yoga Nidra he said, "In the night there sun rises and in your sleep, day begins". This is not something easy to understand, and that is why only rare saints know."

"Yoga Nidra is a technique to relax. It is said half an hour of Yoga Nidra can replace 3 hours sleep, although, please don’t use it like this every day, as your body and mind require sufficient rest. The Yoga Nidra technique also reaches the subconscious mind, and that is why it is often called ‘psychic sleep’. It can help purify the subconscious through use of shankalpas, certain vows."

"How to live daily life? When you open your eyes, be sure the first thing you see is a picture of your master, parents, or a beautiful photo of nature, or special symbol. The first thing you see in the morning is very important because when you open your eyes, you invite the whole world into your consciousness. Before you get out of bed, repeat your mantra and ask the Lord, "please take care of my body, mind, senses and intellect... let all happen through your will". Before placing your foot on the floor, determine which nostril is flowing more freely and place that foot on the floor first. Say to Mother Earth, "please make my steps sure and solid and that these steps lead me to good things and not towards bad actions. Protect me." The Mahamrityu Jaya mantra is very important, and repeating it can offer us protection from accidents. Make sure that your first steps out of bed in the morning, lead you towards a holy picture, and then proceed on your daily routine and duties. At night, offer to the Lord all your deeds and fruits of your actions. As you fall asleep, surrender to Him your body, mind, intellect and senses, "please protect me as I sleep Lord". Close your eyes while looking at the picture of your master."

"Be aware of God 24 hours a day".

Sept. 12-13, Safari trip


Swamiji on Safari Swamiji on Safari Swamiji on Safari

Swamiji on Safari Swamiji and wild elephants Wild elephants

Wildlife Wildlife Wildlife

Wildlife Wildlife Dinner at the lodge

Giraffe Orik Wilderbeast

Rhino Swamiji with wilderbeast Swamiji and \'Gajanandaji\'

Lion pug mark Lion