His Holiness Bramha Sri Siva Subramonia Guruswamigal
Extremely rare photos of our Master
Extremely rare photos of our Master
During the early nineteenth century, religion was on the decline in South Africa. The lofty teachings of the Saivite Saints had been cast into the background. In the name of religion people followed the footsteps of misled priests, performing meaningless rituals, sacrifices and killing innocent animals. The country was in a dire need of a reformer and saviour. During this critical period when cruelty, degeneration and unrighteousness prevailed, His Holiness Bramha Sri Siva Subramonia Guruswamigal was born. It was his mission to abolish priest craft and animal sacrifices, to restore morality and to disseminate the message of equality, unity and cosmic love. The arrival of a spiritual awakening in South Africa, Guruswamigal stood as it were, upon the threshold of immortality and bending down raised the struggling individuals into the emporium of everlasting joy and infinite Truth Consciousness. Guruswamigal was born in Tongaat on the Natal North Coast on the 10th of May 1910 of a very spiritual Veera Saiva family, as a worthy descendent of the great and revered South Indian religious leader, a Telegu mystic, Sri Veera Bramamoo Karu. Early in his childhood Guruswamigal shared the same experience as Ramalinga Swamigal. When he appeared very sick as a baby Guruswamigal was taken to a temple by his parents. The temple priest left the baby on the steps of the altar to bless him. The child was so fascinated by the lights in the altar that he burst out laughing. The priest then told the parents that this is not an ordinary child but has come as a saint and saviour of mankind. Indeed, this child has emerged as a spiritual luminary who mapped out a simplified pathway in Saivism for all of us to follow. As Guruswamigal was an embodiment of compassion, he showed love to all beings of the world from an ant to an elephant and from man to beast so much so that when he walked he always looked down avoiding the ants and insects. His compassion ran so deep that he was often found to be feeding ants with sugar on the pavements and road verges. It is for this reason that he strongly advocated vegetarianism. As a young man Guruswamigal worked for African Textiles and operated a weaving machine. On many occasions Guruswamigal was found to stop the machines when any thoughts or ideas emerged in his mind and noted them. During tea and lunch breaks Guruswamigal did not associate with other members of staff, but remained alone in deep contemplation of life, the situation in the world and of God. Holding in his left hand close to his heart he always carried a book which embodied the Dhevarum and the Thiruvasagum. One of his work colleagues at African Textiles became his first disciple in 1936 and was subsequently initiated as Swami Anbanandha. Guruswamigal learnt the Tamil language from Muthusamy Govender, a Tamil scholar and educationist. Religion poured out intuitively from the heart of our Master. Guruswamigal told the people around him, 'come and join me and you will see Lord Nadaraja. Guruswamigal was not only an exponent but also a practitioner of yoga, meditation and pranayama. He mastered these arts so much so that he was able to hold his breath for more than an hour. He baffled the medical world when he agreed to be buried alive for an hour. He was first buried alive on a trial basis for 15 minutes in Verulam. Before he could undertake this incredible and phenomenal exercise of being buried alive for one hour, Guruswamigal had to sign a "warrant of death" with the government that placed total responsibility on the Master in the event of death occurring as a result of being buried alive. The historical moment of truth had arrived in the year 1942. More than three thousand people had assembled at Curries Fountain Soccer grounds in Durban. Some of them were dedicated disciples of the master while many of them who couldn't believe that a human being was going to undertake such a death defying act came to witness this event out of curiosity. Guruswamigal entered the grave and remained buried alive in the presence of this large crowd including medical experts. The atmosphere was tense. There was an air of expectation. Exactly one hour had gone by when Guruswamigal was removed from the grave. He was examined by medical personnel and was found to be perfectly normal. The master engaged in normal conversation after this experience. This experience had demonstrated the power of meditation and pranayama. Having had a vision of the divine and imbued with the spirit of love and enthusiasm the master gathered a band of men and women around him and started spiritual upliftment programmes. His closest disciple was a person then known as Gopal and the youngest was a student named Ganasen who just passed standard six at the age of fifteen. The other disciples included Thangavel, Krishna, Moonsamy, Marimuthu, Nadasen, Rajoo, Kanabathy, Perumal, Somiah, Frank and Munian. With the help of these men His Holiness Bramha Sri Siva Subramonia Guruswamigal founded the Sungum in 1937 at 62 Beatrice Street, Durban. The movement was initially called "Siva Sithantha Sungum." The word Siva was later altered to Saiva and so began the powerful Saivite movement of "Saiva Sithantha Sungum". Guruswamigal met with his close disciples every Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays at 62 Beatrice Street. The master constantly advised his followers to become vegetarians, give up smoking and drinking and to maintain strict spiritual discipline. This was a period when people were engrossed in materialistic life and were not concerned about religion or God. At this particular period in history Pastor J.F. Rowlands propagated Christianity in the Indian community and began converting Hindus to Christianity. The conversions were taking place at an alarming rate in Durban. One concerned Hindu known as Balaguru Chetty approached Guruswamigal to intervene and stop the conversions. Guruswamigal with a lantern in his hand and with the band of his followers started religious revival work, giving outdoor lectures' at the Victoria Street Market, bus ranks and at places where people could listen undisturbed. The singing of the divine hymns attracted large gatherings. It was the dawn of spiritual awakening. More and more people followed the master and outdoor open air services were conducted at First Avenue, Magazine Barracks, Railway Barracks and Congella Barracks. After the singing of soul inspiring hymns Guruswamigal delivered a message in the Tamil language, Swami Somananandha spoke in Telegu and Swami Santhalinganandha addressed the people in English. Both the aforementioned Swamis were the close disciples of the Master and were initiated into the divine order. The hard work carried out by the Master and his followers saw the re-awakening of Saivism, a phenomenal drop in the conversions of Hindus to Christianity and the emergence of the Saiva Sithantha Sungum.In 1943 the master initiated the following disciples into the divine order of swamis and gave them the loving names as given below: Thiru Gopal as Swami Karuniananda Thiru Ganesan as Swami Sivanantha Navalar Thiru Thangavel as Swami Kirubananda Thiru Krishna as Swami Krishnananda Thiru Moonsamy as Swami Arulananda Thiru Marimuthu as Swami Satchidananda Thiru Nadasen as Swami Santhalingananda Thiru Rajoo as Swami Anbananda Thiru Kanabathy as Swami Nithiananda Thiru Perumal as Swami Paramananda Thiru Somiah as Swami Somanananda Thiru Munian as Swami Sathananda These men together with Swami Soonthereswarananda and Swami Arjunanandha were the pillars of Saivism and Guruswamigal shone out as the beacon light that illuminated the hearts of many people. As a result of the pace at which the movement was growing and responding to a higher calling the master resigned from his work as a weaver in a blanket factory in Brickhill Road, Durban and took up full time missionary work. The continuing missionary work attracted more and more followers and the home of the master also used as a temple was no longer big enough to cater for the increasing crowds. Larger premises had to be sought. A kind hearted person named Mr Dorasamy (Woomapathisivam) who was a beatle leaf dealer then donated his property at 37 Derby Street, Durban to the Sungum. This property was a house and had to be renovated and converted into a place of worship. Swami Satchidananda, the disciple and ardent devotee of the master was a builder and he carried out all the necessary building work and converted the premises into a prayer centre. This centre was called Siva Kumara Prathanay - Jothi Linga Mandabam. The Sungum continued to grow and gain momentum. Lectures, celebrations and religious plays were organised at the Arya Prithinidhi Sabha Hall in Carlisle Street, Durban. These premises were given free of charge to the Sungum for all its functions. Hundreds of people attended these functions. The Sungum started to give Tamil education to children as early as 1939 at the Hindu Tamil institute in Cross Street. Tamil classes were also held at the old Tram Barracks (now the DTMB bus terminus in Lome Street). Free education was given and the teachers Karuniananda Swamigal and Swami Sivanantha Navalar offered their services free. Subsequently, more classes providing free Tamil education were opened in other areas. In 1946 the Saiva Sithantha Sungum was registered and constituted and was embodied with a deed of trust and the new premises at 37 Derby Street became the Head Quarters of the Sungum. Tuesday, 5th of May 1953 was indeed a sad day, not only for the members of the Sungum but also for the entire Indian community, for the greatest spiritual master ever to grace the soils of South Africa entered into Maha Samadhi and the blissful state of Siva Consciousness.
Our Master and His disciples
The first successor to our Master Sri Karuniananda Swamigal