Unity in diversity – this is clearly what the Sivananda Peace Pillars stand for. Virtually the heritage of South Africa, these monuments are not only a source of inspiration, but a reminder that that peace and love must transcend human limitations that shrink our society today, declares Ishwar Ramlutchman
Unity in diversity – this is clearly what the Sivananda Peace Pillars stand for. Containing the inscriptions from the world’s major religions, it signifies the universality of all world religions when it comes to promoting peace and harmony. The Sivananda Peace Pillar will not only be a source of inspiration, but a reminder that that peace and love must transcend human limitations that shrink our society today!
The Sivananda Peace Pillar, a 4-ton granite pillar, 3.5m high, was erected in honour of Swami Sivananda and the late Swami Sahajananda, who contributed extensively towards community refinement. In my capacity, I had made a commitment to the late Swami Sahajananda, to undertake the installation of 8 Sivananda Peace Pillars across South Africa, not only as a loving tribute, but it also provided me a golden opportunity to serve mankind.
The installing of the 6th Sivananda Peace Pillar, was an occasion, that elicited many reactions. H H Sri Swami Vimalananda, President of the Divine Life Society, Worldwide observed that Swami Sahajanandaji Maharaj had during his early years visited Gurudev Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, a number of times at Rishikesh, at the DLS International Headquarters. In those early years, Gurudev gave Swami Sahajanandaji the loving title of “Chota Guru”.
Sat Gurudev Sri Swami Sivanandaji was the founding President of the Divine Life Society with its World Headquarters based on the banks of the Ganges, at the foothills of the Himalayas. Ever since its establishment in the year 1936, Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj’s teachings of Divine Life have spread to all corners of the world. The Sivananda Pillar which was installed at the Ashram in 1958, contains all the essential teachings of Gurudev.
It portrays the Cardinal Doctrines of all the main Religions of the world, Gurudev’s Twenty Spiritual Instructions, the Universal Prayer and a short summary of Gurudev’s life and his mission. Whosoever has come in touch with Gurudev’s teachings of Divine Life has surely and safely made progress in achieving divinity.
“Be Good. Do Good. Be Kind. Be Compassionate. Serve, Love, Give, Purify, Meditate, Realize.” This is what Gurudev wanted for all mankind. And this is the message that will now be spread all over South Africa as inscribed on the Sivananda Pillars.
Dr.J.G. Zuma, President of the Republic Of South Africa noted that the Sivananda Pillar would give an understanding of moral values and life and hoped that Swami Sivananda would be declared as one of the greatest spiritual heroes of South Africa.
Barry Marshall, CEO, Amafa aKwaZulu-Natali said that the Council of Amafa aKwaZulu-Natali supports, in principle, the installation of 8 Sivananda Peace Pillars at various heritage sites in KwaZulu Natal. Surely promoting peace and harmony, the Peace Pillars not only adds to the Heritage “Estate” of South Africa, but is also a fitting tribute to the late Swami Sahajananda.
Expressing unconditional support to this historic endeavour, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, MP, RSA, Prime Minister to the Zulu Nation pointed out that, “Our multi-cultural and multi-religious community must flourish and aim towards unity as one nation.” By installing the Sivananda Pillars, the country will attain its objectives and contribute to the reinforcement of democratic values.
Dr M.V. Shembe, Leader of the Nazareth Baptist Church recalled that he had the good fortune of meeting the Swami, who donated the Baptismal Pools after he heard about the dangers facing the Shembe people. “It is through inter-faith, co-operation and tolerance that we will be able to build a better life for all of God’s children,” he said. The Sivananda Peace Pillars will pave the way for building bridges of hope and peace.
His Majesty King Zwelithini, Goodwill ka- BhekuZulu, King of the Zulu nation explained that this would contribute to the reinforcement of democratic values in the country. Expressing the desire to pursue reconciliation initiatives, he said that in the democratic order, everyone has a right to belong to political parties of their choice, but he trusted religious leaders would preach the spirit of tolerance and respect. During this historic year, he hoped there would there be tolerance, cooperation and the spirit of Ubuntu amongst everyone.
Dr J S Ndebele, MP, Minister of Transport, RSA remarked that peace becomes non-negotiable in the life of a country “when its people realize that we all have the capacity to contribute to building a better country. Peace becomes a necessity, when we all realize that without peace, our country cannot grow, without peace our people cannot prosper”.
The Sivananda Peace Pillars, a “great source of inspiration” for all, declare Sri Swami Sahajananda one of the greatest spiritual leaders of South Africa, and will serve as a reminder to future generations of the importance of service in the progress of human beings, communities, a province and ultimately, a wonderful country.
The late Dr. Nelson Mandela, world icon and Noble Peace Prize winner and Former President of the Republic of South Africa was presented a replica Peace Pillar to coincide with his 92nd birthday in Houghton, Gauteng. Madiba encouraged me to keep up the good work. This means a lot coming from a man who championed for peace, saved South Africa from plunging into civil war, and was instrumental in making our country, a shining light in the universe
Pleased to learn about these 8 “Sivananda Peace Pillars” in South Africa, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Dharmasala, India elaborated, “I have always held that while believers would have faith in their own religious traditions, we should learn to respect the world’s religions.” He hoped that these peace pillars, particularly in a country like South Africa; will spread the awareness of the need to strengthen religious harmony and friendship.
Mr Roy Padayachie, MP, Minister of Communications, RSA noticed that the installation of the Sivananda Peace Pillars will celebrate the heritage of the pioneers, the courage and commitment of the freedom fighters and the wisdom, passion and determination of the visionaries of a non-racial, democratic South Africa. It will also symbolise a tribute to the arduous struggle and sacrifices of the indentured labourers, who arrived in South Africa 150 years ago from India, he added.
This Pillar will serve as a reminder to future generations of the importance of service observed Premier of Kwa-zulu Natal, Dr Zweli Mkhize.
Life and times of a Sage
Sri Swami Sivananda was born on the 8th September 1887, to the illustrious family of Sage Appayya Dikshita. Founder of the Divine Life Society, he had a natural flair for a life devoted to the study and practice of Vedanta. Added to this was, an inborn eagerness to serve and an innate unity with all mankind.
His passion for service drew him to the medical career; and soon he gravitated to where he thought his service was most needed – Malaya. Prior to this, he had been editing a Health Journal and wrote extensively on health problems. He discovered that people needed right knowledge, most of all; and dissemination of that knowledge he espoused as his own mission.
It was through a divine intervention, that the doctor renounced his career and devoted his life to minister to the soul of man.
He settled down at Rishikesh in 1924 and shone as a great Yogi, saint, sage and Jivanmukta. In 1932 he started the Sivanandashram. In 1936 was born the Divine Life Society. In 1948, the Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy was organised, aimed at disseminating spiritual knowledge and training people in Yoga and Vedanta. After a lightning tour of India and Ceylon in 1950, he convened a “World Parliament of Religions” in 1953. He is the author of over 300 volumes and has disciples all over the world, belonging to all nationalities, religion and creed. On 14th July 1963 he entered Mahasamadhi.
(Ishwar Ramlutchman is CEO of AC Industrial Sales and Services, South Africa)