Divine Life Society, Durban, South Africa


1 Background
2 Formation of the Society
3 Early days
4 Purpose of the Divine Life Society

Durban is a city rich in diversity and cultural places. The legacy of Durban lies in its people, their culture, beliefs and ways of life. The most unifying aspect of humankind is their ability to find similarity amongst differences. The Divine Life Society of South Africa is an historical foundation inspired by divinity to bring about a change in people’s lives by making them believe in God in whatever religion they choose to be, and by creating facilities, food schemes and institutions to improve people’s lives.

Formation of the Society
The society was founded by Swami Sahajananda who was born as Srinivasen in the railway barracks in Estcourt in 1925. He became enlightened and eager to learn more about yoga and inner peace after reading a book from India by Swami Sivananda who later became his Master. He went to India to learn more and came back to South Africa to pursue his teaching at the Fosa settlement in Newlands. It was during his time here that the Master wrote him a letter to start a branch of Divine Life Society in South Africa. It was a exceptional accomplishment with the founder and master in India and the secretary in South Africa but 61 years to date and the Society still grows, with millions of followers from all walks of life.

Early days
He began publicizing books relating to the Society and their mission. Srinivasen usde to finance and distribute the books, freely selecting names from the Durban directory for his mailing system. Thereafter two devotees joined him and the three used to have weekly prayers at the Umgeni Road Temple in Durban. Shortly after Mr K.G. Pather offered his premises at 47 North Street for prayer meetings, thereafter moving to 38 First Avenue and then to the Beachen Hall in Crabbe street where the Society first installed its Heidelberg Platen Machine. Three years later through the generous help of a devotee, a hectare of land was bought at Reservoir Hills the Society now has a massive Sivananda International Cultural and Convention Centre at La Mercy, North of Durban.

Purpose of the Divine Life Society
The Divine Life Society is not about preaching only to live a divine life but it practices the humanity that it desires each one of us to have by serving the community through projects such as the African Education Project established 1974. One of their major projects was the construction of the multi-million rand Sivananda Technical College and High School in kwaMashu in 1991. The school feeding scheme feeds 2000 children of all races daily with sandwiches. In 1993 the Folweni Learning Centre in Umlazi was created. The Society gave sewing machines to the unemployed women at the centre.

The Society may have been started by a Hindu but it practices universal ideologies in that we all are one and we should lead a close relationship with the God we believe in and with each other.

Written by:Yoveshine Pillay

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