Hindu’s Ramakrishna Centre of South Africa


A Good Friday Gift was presented by the Ramakrishna Centre of South Africa to devotees in the form of its annual Vedanta Retreat on Friday, 18 April 2014 from 6 a.m to 12:30 p.m at the Glen Anil Ashram.

The programme commenced at the Sri Ramakrishna Temple with a satsang that included the opening prayer, singing of stotrams/bhajans, silent meditation and the chanting of the Vaidika Dasha Shantih Mantras. Reading from the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna was done by Ms Kirthi Rabikissoon. Dr Rajesh Singh, a member of the Executive Committee welcomed the audience.

Swami Saradaprabhananda addressing the audience

After breakfast the devotees assembled at the Nischalananda Hall and were treated to an enlightening message by Swami Saradaprabhananda on the topic “Sage Uddalaka’s Teachings to Svetaketu: The Highest Nature of God” where he emphasised that the true purpose of learning was to uplift oneself to higher truths. He then introduced ‘Likhit Japa’ when the devotees were advised to write AUM in any language with concentrated mind for 10 minutes.

Swami Vimokshananda addressing the audience

Swami Vimokshananda, the President of the Centre, delivered an inspiring message on the topic “The Universalism of Vedanta” clarifying the difference between the common understanding of universalism and the Vedantic concept of universalism. He also introduced a Silent Reading of Srimad Bhagavad Gita with the advise that the devotees should do the reading with complete focus on the thoughts of Gita.

Y Rugunandan, a youth speaker, delivered a message entitled “Swami Vivekananda’s Laws of Life”.

Brahmachari Akhilachaitanya eloquently chanted selected verses from the Shiva Sankalpa Suktam. The Shiva Sankalpa Sukta is a powerful six-verse hymn from the Rig Veda that entreats the mind “to dwell on the auspicious will of the Divine,” and helps one cultivate conscious resolve in alignment with the cosmic auspiciousness. Mr Y Rugunandan, a youth speaker, also delivered a message entitled “Swami Vivekananda’s Laws of Life”.

The programme also included screening of a DVD entitled “Karma & Reincarnation”, guided meditation and an enlightening question and answer session. The programme was well attended and enjoyed by all present. Ms Nikita Rugunandan was the MC for the hall program.

10th Year Anniversary of Karate Classes

The Ramakrishna Centre of South Africa recently celebrated the 10th Anniversary (2003-2013) of the Karate Classes being held at the Centre. The classes are conducted by instructors of the South Africa Budu Ryu Karate Association and are held in the Swami Nischalananda Hall on Saturdays from 8 -9:15 a.m. The programme commenced with the grading ceremony where karatekas were carefully evaluated under the watchful eye of the Shihan Roy Soodhoo, Black Belt, 6th Dan and other senior instructors. Students from the Ramakrishna Dojo skilfully displayed their talent to the awe of parents and well-wishes who came in their numbers to support the participants. It was truly amazing to see the culmination of the year’s training and guidance come to fruition. All students did exceptionally well.

The grading was followed by a special commemorative programme which included opening prayers, Kirtans/Bhajans, welcome and introduction by Mr AB Mahabeer co-ordinator of the classes, messages by Shihan Roy Soodhoo, Head of the SA Budu Ryu Karate Association and Nidan D Govender, a message by a youth speaker Ms Zenika Narain, a karate demonstration and a benedictory address by Revered Swami Vimokshananda, President of the Centre. Three students viz. Ms Z Narain, Ms S Mahabeer and Mr A Basdeo who attended the classes since its inception were acknowledged for their dedication and commitment over the past 10 years. The programme concluded with prayer.

Karate Grading Ceremony and 10th Year Anniversary Function

Navaratri Celebrations

Navaratri Celebrations were observed from 5th October to 14 October 2013 at the Sri Ramakrishna Ashram, Glen Anil, Durban and also its Sub-Centres and some of the Satsang Groups.

Daily satsangs were held which included devotional singing and chanting of the Narayani Stuthi, special ritual worship was also performed on each of the days. Discourses delivered during the satsangs included:

Goddesses in Vedic Literature – Brahmachari Akhilachaitanya
Holy Mother’s Power to Transform – Miss N. Raghunundan
Kali and Shiva – Ms P. Seebaran
Durga Puja : Its Facts and Philosophy – Pundit Dhansankar Maharaj
Village Goddesses – Dr R. Singh
Special Significance of Shodasi Puja in the Ramakrishna Sangh – Mr R. Singh
Evolution of Mother Worship in the Post Vedic Period – Pravrajika Ishtaprana
Goddesses and Sacred Geography – Ms D. Mohanlal
Significance of Vijay Dashmi – Professor V.B Joggessar
The Sri Sri Durga Puja and Hawan were observed on Saturday, 12 October 2013 at the Swami Nischalananda Hall, Durban Centre.

150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Turiyananda

The 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Turiyananda was observed on Saturday 28th September 2013 from 4.00pm to 5.30pm at the Sri Ramakrishna Ashram, Glen Anil, Durban. The day was observed with special ritual worship and a special satsang was held which included devotional singing and chanting as well as an address by Adv. H.K Naidu SC on the topic “Swami Turiyananda in America”.

Green Fingers Project

On Sunday, 15 September 2013, the youth of the Centre’s Hinduism for Children classes packed away their books and pens and took up their shovels and watering cans for the inauguration of the Green Fingers Project at the Centre.

A group of 35 youth arrived enthusiastically that morning to embark on their first gardening tutorial to celebrate the month of Spring. The youth were provided with the necessary tools and instructions from experienced horticulturalists to assist them in preparing and nurturing a flower bed. As the warmth of the Spring sun shone down on the young gardeners, they took hold of their forks and began to weed the flower beds. Once the soil was tilled, they began to dig holes in the earth to house their seedlings, which comprised of coriander, lettuce and spring onion; amongst other vegetables and herbs. With the assistance of their teachers and under the guidance of Swami Vimokshanandaji and Brahmachari Akhilachaitanya, the youth planted their greens in neat rows and watered them accordingly. The joy on their faces was knew no bounds upon accomplishing the fun task. Not only were they equipped with a set of life-skills, but they also experienced the results of effective team-building. With their soil-stained hands and proud faces, the youth assembled in the Swami Nischalananda Hall, where Swami Vimokshanandaji addressed them on the fundamentals of gardening and the spiritual benefits, according to Swami Vivekananda’s teaching that, “Each soul is potentially divine”.

The morning’s activities concluded with Pranams to Swamiji and Prasad. The youth have now been tasked with the weekly responsibility of watering their seedlings and nurturing them into healthy plants.

Vivekananda Peace Concert

The Ramakrishna Centre of South Africa hosted the “Swami Vivekananda Peace Concert”, which was performed by the Kwa-Zulu Natal Philharmonic Orchestra on Saturday, 14 September 2013 at the Durban City Hall.

The 65-piece orchestra performed numerous pieces, including songs on and by Swami Vivekananda viz., Murta Maheshwara, Khandana Bhava Bandana. The audience responded with a standing ovation for the professional manner in which they rendered their items. Approximately two thousand guests and devotees were in attendance.

Sri Ganesh Chaturthi

Sri Ganesh Chaturthi was observed on 9th September 2013 at the Sri Ramakrishna Ashram, Glen Anil, Durban and also its Sub-Centres and some of the Satsang Groups.

The day was observed with special ritual worship and day-long Japa. A special satsang was held in the evening which included devotional singing and chanting as well as an address by Brahmachari Akhilachaitanya.

Northern Kwa-Zulu Natal Hinduism Conference

The Annual Northern Kwa-Zulu Natal Hinduism Conference was held on Sunday, 8 September 2013 at the Glencoe Town Hall, Glencoe. The conference incorporated the 150th Birth Anniversary Celebrations of Swami Vivekananda.

Mr G.D Raghubir, (Retired Principal in the Northern Kwa-Zulu Natal Region) inaugurated the conference, while Swami Vimokshananda delivered the Keynote Address. In addition to the above the following papers were presented:

Swami Vivekananda: A Judicious blend of Tradition and Modernity by
Dr N.Balkaran (Education Specialist – UThukela District, Kwa-Zulu Natal)
The Essence of the Gita according to Swami Vivekananda by Mrs G Singh. (Educator – Dundee Primary School).
Swami Vivekananda: The greatest organisational leader of the 21st century by
(Mrs R. Singh – Campus Manager – Ladysmith Campus: Mnambithi FET College).
Krishna Ashtami Celebrations

Sri Krishna Ashtami Celebrations were observed from 21 August to 28 August 2013 at the Sri Ramakrishna Ashram, Glen Anil, Durban and also its Sub-Centres and some of the Satsang Groups.

Daily satsangs were held which included devotional singing and chanting from the Bhagavad Gita. Discourses were delivered on each of the days. The topics and speakers at Durban Centre were as follows:

“Dedication of Actions” – Mr. K.K Pillay
“Mirabhai” – Miss R. Beekrum
“Bhagavad Gita advice to Householders” – Mr. V.R Singh
“Offering to Lord” – Swami Vimokshananda
“Swami Vivekananda on the Gita” – Mr. D Mohanlal
“Sri Krishna: The Great Teacher” – Mr. U.R Mistri
“Deriving spiritual authority from the Bhagavad Gita” – Swami Saradaprabhananda
“Birth of the unborn” – Swami Vimokshananda
“The concept of the Avatar” – Brahmachari Akhilachaitanya
The Ramakrishna Community Veterinary Clinic conducted a vet camp on Sunday, 25 August 2013 in Redcliffe, Verulam. The clinic was held under the guidance of Dr Sanil Singh and a professional team of volunteers. One Hundred and Fourteen animals received treatment which included dipping, rabies vaccinations and general check-ups. Free dog food, collars and leashes were also distributed.

A Women’s Vedanta Retreat was held at the Centre, Glen Anil on Friday, 9 August 2013 to celebrate South Africa’s National Women’s Day. The retreat included a prayer service, an address by Swami Vimokshananda on the topic “Woman as Mother”, a DVD presentation and a question and answer session. Approximately 100 devotees attended the retreat.

Value Based Literature Distribution

The following institutions received free value based literature on the life and teachings of Swami Vivekananda:

Vedanta Society – Seatides

50 litrature packs were distributed at the above organisations Youth Day Celebrations held on the weekend of the 29 and 30 June 2013.

Buffelsdale Secondary School

On the 2nd and 7th August 2013, free literature on the life and teachings of Swami Vivekananda in both English and isiZulu as well as school stationery were distributed to learners at the Buffelsdale Secondary School. Dr Rajesh Singh, a member of the Centre’s Board of Management delivered a short talk on a few aspects of Swami Vivekananda’s life to all learners and staff present.

A total of 535 Literature packs were distributed on the day (415 in English and 120 in isiZulu). A further 200 copies of the Ramayana and Hinduism for Children were also distributed to learners. 23 Literature packs were handed to educators present.

The following stationery was also provided; 400 Tejas Exercise Books, 400 (72 page exercise books), 400 nature study books and 600 A5 homework/diary books. The Centre also donated computer monitors.

This distribution is part of the on-going regular free literature distribution programme of the Centre in residential areas, rural areas, schools and at public gatherings – all of which has been intensified over the last two years to commemorate the 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda.

Swami Ramakrishnananda’s 150th Birth Anniversary

A seminar was held to commemorate The 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Ramakrishnananda at the Centre, Glen Anil on Saturday, 3 August 2013. Swami Vimokshananda inaugurated the seminar with an introductory address after which the following papers were delivered:

“Swami Ramakrishnananda’s Role in Institution Building” – Dr H.B Parbhoo
“The Magnificent devotion of Shashi Maharaj” – Mrs V.Singaram
The seminar was then closed with concluding remarks my Swami Saradaprabhananda. The seminar was attended by devotees, officials of sister organisations. Supper was served to all.

The Faculty of Peace Studies, Spirituality and Culture First Semester Examinations in the “Certificate in Basic Hindu Studies, Certificate of Hindu Studies, Certificate in Bhagavad Gita Studies, Certificate in Religious Educare” were written on Saturday, 3rd August 2013 at 11 examination centres throughout the country. Fifty four (54) Students sat for the examinations of which Fifty three (53) were successful.

Guru Purnima was observed at the Centre, Glen Anil on Monday 22 July 2013. The day was observed with special ritual worship and service which included the chanting of hymns, singing of bhajans an address by Swami Saradaprabhananda and peace chants.

Swami Vimokshananda’s Visit to Gaborone, Botswana.

Sri Swami Vimokshananda was invited to attend the 150th Birth Anniversary celebrations of Swami Vivekananda in Gaborone, Botswana from 18 to 21 July 2013.

Swamiji’s lecture programme was as follows:

Addressed approximately 50 devotees at the Sri Balaji Temple on “Understanding the immanence of God Everywhere”.
Addressed 400 learners on “Swami Vivekananda and the importance on Concentration in Education” at the Lagae Academy.
A talk on the topic “Swami Vivekananda and the Harmony of all Sects and Religions” at the Sai Centre.
Address at the 150th Birth Anniversary function at the Botswana Hindu Society Hall, Maru-a-Pula on the topic “The Hardships that Swami Vivekananda Encountered in America”.
Youth Development Programme where Swamiji participated in an interactive discussion with 16 youth.
Apart from the above lectures Swamiji also distributed food hampers and milk to approximately 200 children in a disadvantaged area called Naledi.

Annual Southern Kwa-Zulu Natal Children’s Cultural Festival

The 59th Annual Southern Kwa-Zulu Natal Children’s Cultural Festival was held on Sunday 7th July 2013 from 09.00 am – 3.00 pm at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, Westville Campus. The festival’s theme was the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of Swami Vivekananda.

Children and youth of the Sub-Centres and Satsang Groups of the Centre as well as other unaffiliated groups participated in items which included folk dances, sketches, chanting of stotras and the Bhagavad Gita, devotional singing (in Sanskrit, Hindi, Tamil, Gujarati), speeches and poetry recitations. The items presented were of high standard and mostly reflected themes taken from the life and teachings of Swami Vivekananda. The programme was thoroughly appreciated by the audience of over 1600 persons which included officials of sister organizations and members of the general public. A very large contingent of people from the poorer suburbs of Durban were provided with transport to and from the Festival.

Both Swamis Vimokshananda and Saradaprabhananda presented addresses in which they paid tribute to Swami Nischalananda , the Centre’s founder, for creating the twin vehicles of the weekly ‘Hinduism for Children’ classes and the Annual Cultural Festival as a means of supporting parents and communities in ensuring the religious and cultural education of the children and youth. They stressed the duty of parents in ensuring that their children participated fully in these programmes.

All children and youth that attended were presented with substantial gift packs which contained a variety of value based children’s books, educational aids etc. value based litrature.

Hinduism for Children Certificate Presentation

On Sunday, 2nd June 2013 the Centre held a certificate presentation from 9.00am to 10.30am in the Swami Nischalananda Hall, Glen Anil. The presentation was to honour students from the coastal Satsang Groups (Etete, Sydenham, Verulam and Glen Anil) who had successfully completed the Hinduism for Children Exams for the period 2012-2013.

The programme included an introductory address by Dr H.B Parbhoo a member of the Centre’s Children’s Education Committee, the keynote address by Swami Vimokshananda, Sri Ramakrishna’s Hawan and the chanting of Saraswati mantras. Approximately 50 students received certificates from Swami Vimokshananda on the day. Similar certificate presentation functions were held at the other Sub-Centres and Satsang Groups.

The Hinduism for Children Examination was written on 10 March 2013. 382 pupils sat for the examination at 12 exam centres throughout the country.

The Ramakrishna Clinic of South Africa:

The Ramakrishna Clinic of South Africa continues to provide specialist cover to seven State Hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal. Regular medical clinics are also conducted. A separate Report on the Clinic’s activities is available on request. The Centre’s Nutrition Programme continues to provide humanitarian aid on an ongoing basis to various organisations, institutions and indigent families. In all the Programme benefits approximately 6,000 people daily.

Source: The Ramakrishna Centre of South Africa