H. H. Sri Swami Shankaranandaji Maharaj
Sunday the 3rd of December 2000 shall always be remembered with ardent nostalgia as a major turning point in the annals of the Sri Adi Samkara Ashrama, as it was on this Hallowed and Blessed day that yet another Spiritual Son of the Divine Master Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj had attained the exalted state of Maha Samadhi. Adding more Auspicious and Sanctity to this “grand,” conscious exit of our Revered Swamiji Maharaj to His Real Abode of Param Shanti, this day also happened to be the 57th Anniversary of the Maha Mantra Sankirtan started by Worshipful Sri Gurudev at the Divine Life Society Headquarters, India. At about 8 pm on this eventful day whilst at the Coronary Care Unit of Milpark Hospital, Johannesburg, Swamiji showed every physical indication of a conscious departure into another realm of Consciousness. It was at this stage that rigorous and intense Chantings of Maha Mantra Kirtan, the various Vedic Shanti Mantras, the Ishta Mantras of the various Divinities, as well as the recitation of Chapters 2,12 and 15 of Srimad Bhagavad Gita had commenced by the core of Swamijis close disciples present around his bedside. Whilst engaged in these Divine Chantings, Ganga Jal from Badrinath Mandir was gently poured into Swamijis mouth and the Blessings of Ganga Ma was reverentially invoked. By about 9 pm, South African time, Swamiji had finally entered into the “Grand Beyond”, merging completely in the Absolute.
Swami Shankaranandaji Maharaj was born on 16 March 1932 in Durban, Kwa-Zulu Natal. From a very little young boy he displayed remarkable signs of strong Spiritual leanings. At the young and tender age of 19, Swamiji came under the hypnotic spell of Sri Swami Sivanandas prolific writings and, whilst employed, tried his best to assimilate these teachings and put them into practise, at the same time serving the financial and material needs of his poorva-ashrama parents. In 1959, Swamiji, unable to resist the burning urge to take to a life of total renunciation, immediately made a bee-line to Rishikesh, North India, in quest of the Darshan of the towering spiritual colossus, Gurudev Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj. On 8 November 1959, Swamiji was formally ordained into the Holy Monastic Order of Sannyasa by Gurudev himself. In total, Revered Swamiji had the good fortune to spend six months basking in the Spiritual luminosity of our Divine Master. After returning to South Africa for a brief period, Swamiji once again returned to Sivananda Ashrama where he spent a total of twelve years in Sadhana and Seva. Upon the insistence of the General Secretary of Sivananda Ashrama, Sri Swami Krishnanandaji Maharaj, Swamiji conducted classes in the Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali Maharishi, for the benefit of many foreign devotees.
After his long period of stay at Sivananda Ashrama Swamiji returned to S.A. in 1978 undertaking a series of lecture and Satsanga tours locally as well as abroad. In 1980 a 30 acre farm holding became available for purchase and a few disciples of Revered Swamiji proposed the idea of setting up an Ashrama in Johannesburg, Gauteng, to which Swamiji whole-heartedly agreed. Thus was born the Sri Adi Samkara Ashrama which Swamiji continued to develop, sustain and nourish even up to the last moments of his life. Swamiji has bequeathed to humanity a legacy which is unparalleled in the history of Religion and Spirituality in this country. The Ashrama with its lush foliage and serene setting is a haven for many a seeker of Spiritual values. Swamijis last project was a six-hundred seater multi-purpose hall which shall be mainly utilised for Yoga Retreats and major Religious observances.
Meanwhile, all the socio-humanitarian projects, mainly the feeding-schemes for underprivileged and indigent communities, the grocery hamper projects as well as the clothing distribution projects are continuing unabatedly in Swamiji Maharajs and Gurudevs hallowed name. In the New Year, a free mobile medical and dispensary unit shall be launched to provide for the medical needs of the poorest of the poor.
May Swamijis pious soul rest in the protective and all-encompassing bosom of Gurudev forever!