DEVOTION TO GOD
DEVOTION TO GOD
In 1994, Mr Cogswell was impressed on meeting Swamishri during his stay in Orlando, Florida. He asked Swamishri, “Are you God or a human being?”
“I am a servant of God,” pat came the reply.
Once, at the Atladra mandir, Swamishri was absorbed in Thakorji’s darshan. Bhagvatcharan Swami bent down to touch Swamishri’s feet. This startled Swamishri, who then checked him from touching his feet, “Never bow down to touch my feet before Thakorji. One should respect Thakorji.”
And then explaining further, Swamishri added, “Before the king, tell me, how would it look if one shows respect to a servant by touching his feet!” Swamishri’s words showed his profound humility and devotion to Thakorji.
DEVOTION TO THAKORJI
“Bapa! Visit my house...”
“Bapa! Please don’t forget my house...”
The devotees of Bamangam were personally inviting Swamishri to sanctify their homes.
Swamishri started his round of home-visits in the scorching afternoon sun. He gave up his afternoon rest to tread the rough, uneven roads of Bamangam during the home-visits. Swamishri untiringly visited the devotees’ homes to bless them and infuse joy in their routine, mundane lives.
By the time Swamishri returned to the home where he was lodging, his throat was dry with thirst. He was in time for the evening arti. So he became absorbed in prayer and forgot about his thirst. After the arti concluded, Swamishri bowed to all. Then the attendant sadhu suddenly remembered that Swamishri was thirsty, and ran to get a glass of water. When he offered the water, Swamishri enquired, “Have you offered it to Thakorji?” The sadhu had forgotten to do so.
Even in times of extreme thirst and hunger, Swamishri never forgets Thakorji. His devotion and faith for Thakorji remains unflagging. He never accepts anything that has not been offered to Thakorji, be it a drop of water or a garland of flowers.
Swamishri’s entire life is centred on his absolute devotion to Thakorji.
One morning, David woke up after an extraordinary dream. The dream left a lingering doubt in his mind. Was it real?
To find the answer he and his two friends, Daniel and Richard, started looking for the saffron-clad sadhu who had appeared in his dream. They found him at the mandir in Neasden, London. It was 15 May 1994.
The three English youths had come from the county of Sussex in England. When they sat down in the small mandir room they gazed out of curiosity and interest at Swamishri.
Greatly impressed by Hinduism and its principles, the three youths had visited India and met several gurus. But they still had a yearning to learn more.
Then, David began narrating his dream to Swamishri, “Four days back, I saw you in my dream. You explained to me about nirvikalp samadhi and blessed me with a divine experience. I wish to ask you whether you experience nirvikalp samadhi 24 hours a day?”
Swamishri replied in a serene, modest manner, “I do all my activities with God in the forefront, hence I always experience samadhi.”
The ring in Swamishri’s words convinced David and his friends. They sought Swamishri’s blessings and left, wondering at the spark of divinity in his august personality.
“I HAVE GOD, I HAVE NO MONEY!”
On 23 August 1988, a local satsangi brought Mr Carlos Vega, a 62-year-old American, to meet Swamishri at the Swaminarayan Mandir in Los Angeles. It was his first ever encounter with a Hindu guru.
Swamishri welcomed Carlos, who was touched by his humility and simplicity. In Swamishri’s presence, he felt time come to a halt. An extraordinary divine feeling pervaded his entire being, and he experienced an ineffable peace within.
Bowing before Swamishri, Carlos said, “I was eager to see you. And now after meeting you I experience profound peace for the first time in my life. I have everything that I want in my life. I have a good car, a beautiful home, money...”
And Swamishri interrupted him, “I have God, I have no money! When you have God you have everything.”
Carlos was overjoyed at the unique experience of supreme joy radiating from Swamishri. He left contented and enlightened with the fact that material things are not the be-all and end-all of a happy life.
IN HONOUR AND INSULT
It was 6.50 pm on 20 July 1985, London. The day every devotee had been eagerly awaiting for months. Final preparations for the Suvarna Tula festival at Queens Park Rangers stadium were over. The festival atmosphere was charged with excitement, and when Swamishri arrived, the congregation of 17,000 devotees chorused, “Pramukh Swami Maharaj ni Jai.” The thunderous ‘jais’ echoed the magnitude and feelings for the divine occasion.
The festival climaxed when Pramukh Swami Maharaj took Harikrishna Maharaj and sat on a giant scale for the Suvarna Tula. Then, one by one, the devotees placed packets of sugar on the empty scale, which in turn were later weighed against gold. The ambience of devotion was elevating as the mellifluous Vedic mantras chanted by the sadhus filled the air. The reverence offered to Swamishri was a celebration of honour and pride to not only the devotees of the Swaminarayan Sampradaya alone, but to all Hindus and well-wishers of Indian culture. And amidst this outpouring of faith, Pramukh Swami Maharaj remained equipoised and absorbed in the murti of Bhagwan Swaminarayan.
After this grand, divine celebration, Swamishri became immersed in reading letters from devotees while his car left the stadium. Within seconds, Swamishri had forgotten the honour bestowed upon him. The grand Suvarna Tula festival, the impressive Queens Park Rangers stadium and the thunderous applause of devotees had not overwhelmed him one bit.
The very next day, there occurred a contrasting incident.
A person came to see Pramukh Swami Maharaj at the Akshar Purushottam Mandir in London. Rage and anger were writ large on his face. Some misunderstanding had distorted his attitude and inflamed his countenance. He started uttering foul language before Swamishri. His uncouth words and insults incensed the sadhus and youths sitting in the room. But Swamishri was unruffled. There was not a trace of anger on his face and no bitter feeling in his heart. Like an idol of compassion and forgiveness, he merely listened and suppressed any counter reactions from those sitting in the room. After exhausting his rage, the person became silent. Swamishri instructed the attendants, “See that he is served lunch before he leaves.”
Swamishri can forget the grand honour accorded to him in moments, and also forgive and forget the insult rained on him in seconds! He accepts honour and insult with equanimity.
FAITH IN PRAYER
During March and April 1981, there was a students’ agitation against reservations in Amdavad.
On the one hand, Gujarat echoed with the announcement of the Bicentenary Celebration of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, and on the other, students were vehemently protesting against the reservation of seats in colleges for scheduled caste students. The sponsors of violence in the agitation had upset the daily tenor of life in many cities of Gujarat.
The ‘Swaminarayan Nagar’ – a 200-acre spiritual township specially created in Amdavad for the Bicentenary Celebration – provided a refreshing contrast to the unrest. On 12 April 1981, the climax-day of the celebration, Swamishri was interviewed by many media reporters.
One reporter asked, “What have you done to solve the students’ agitation in the city?”
“We have prayed for peace,” Swamishri answered solemnly.
“But what has your organization done in the streets and by-lanes of the city to solve this issue? Will it be resolved through mere prayer?”
“Yes,” Swamishri’s voice rang with faith. “I have faith that my prayers will work.”
The reporter with little faith was not convinced.
That same night, during the main celebration assembly, Swamishri prayed on the public address system for peace. He said, “I pray to God that may there be peace in the whole of Gujarat and may the political leaders and students come to a compromise.” And then Swamishri appealed for peace to the people of Gujarat.
And the very next day, to the surprise and amazement of everyone, the two-month-old agitation was called off by the agitators unconditionally. The daily newspapers on the one hand printed the interview of Swamishri and on the other the happy news about the end of the students’ agitation.
The power of Swamishri’s prayers became apparent to the sceptic reporter who had questioned Swamishri.
ALL-DOERSHIP OF GOD AND GURU
Dr Mangal Patel, chairman of the Gujarat Legislative Assembly, came for Swamishri’s darshan and blessings. On learning about the sheer expanse of services performed by Swamishri, he asked in amazement, “How do you manage to peacefully run more than 500 mandirs and the Satsang Fellowship that has spread in India and abroad?”
Swamishri humbly replied, “I am not running anything. It is my guru and God who are running everything. I do not believe that I am doing something. God is the doer of everything. But when one believes that one is doing everything and it does not work out properly, one becomes depressed. One should make all the efforts, then the fruits of one’s actions depend upon God. And supposing one does not get success, one should then firmly believe that it is for one’s own benefit.
“Our guruji has taught us that if you fill a pot with water and place it on your head, you will feel its burden. But when you dive in the water, despite the pressure of ‘tons’ of water on your head, you do not feel the weight. So I am not doing anything. It is God and the guru who are doing everything.
“There is no end to pain and misery due to ego and possessiveness. So I constantly believe that God and the guru are the all-doers. That is how the entire Sanstha is run.”
4 July 2003, Ahmedabad
WORKING WITH OTHERS
A sadhu asked Swamishri, “You have worked with sadhus of Shastriji Maharaj, and today you work with love with young sadhus like us. What is the secret behind this?”
Swamishri replied, “I bow to all, look after the minds of everyone, never complain about anyone and by understanding everyone’s glory things turn out to be fine. If you understand others’ natures then you won’t have problems.”
27 November 2005, New Delhi
On seeing several sadhus gathered for his darshan Swamishri asked, “Why are you so happy?” The sadhus remained quiet, so Swamishri replied himself, “Oh, you are all happy because the new mandir is ready and you will also get to see new devotees!”
The sadhus replied referring to Swamishri’s glory, “But, who has made the mandir!” To this Swamishri replied, “Bhagwan Swaminarayan, Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj have done it.”
In every deed Swamishri’s life resonates with humility towards God and his gurus.
19 July 2007, Toronto
CELEBRATION THROUGH SERVICE
December 1971. The village of Dharmaj, Gujarat, had hosted the 51st birthday celebration of Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
There was a wave of happiness and festivity in the village.
The Golden Jubilee celebration was Swamishri’s first birthday celebration after he became the guru.
The 11-day celebration included many enlightening programmes. Every morning and evening there were bhajans, prayers and spiritual discourses. Distinguished sadhus and scholars from India shared their wisdom, honoured Swamishri and praised his virtues. The celebration spirit was festive and divine.
Soon, the ultimate day of Swamishri’s 51st birthday celebration arrived. Early that morning, when Swamishri was brushing his teeth with a datan, he noticed the used sticks of datan thrown away carelessly by people in an open area nearby. He did not say anything to anyone. After brushing his teeth Swamishri went into the bathroom. And when those few who were present outside dispersed, Swamishri came out and collected the used datan sticks. Without saying a single word, he threw them into the dustbin and briskly spruced up the surroundings.
When thousands of devotees had congregated, eagerly waiting for Swamishri’s darshan and to greet him on his birthday, Swamishri began the day with menial service.
Even on his birthday Swamishri seized the opportunity of performing seva as if it were a celebration. He is happy in rendering such seva; it is his lifeblood. And that is why he always believes himself to be a servant.
Swamishri’s greatness lies in his spirit of service.
FOR DEVOTEES AND PEOPLE
A YOUNG BOY’S REQUEST
“Swami! Please come to my village.”
Fifteen-year-old Ganesh, who lived in a small village of Kankrawadi near Viramgam, was holding Swamishri’s feet and repeatedly requesting him to sanctify his home in 1977. Though there were no other satsangis in his village, and Swamishri’s programme had already been arranged elsewhere, Ganesh’s faith and love compelled Swamishri to promise him that he would come. The subsequent rescheduling and the physical hardship he would have to bear were of no concern to Swamishri.
Finally, the day arrived.
At dusk, cutting through the dust-filled air and the bumpy village road, Swamishri’s car entered the village of Kankrawadi. Ganesh’s happiness knew no bounds.
The village was very small and all the houses, except one, were built of mud and straw. Swamishri finally came to Ganesh’s mud-house. There was no electricity, no toilet and no bathroom in his house. Later in the night, Swamishri held a satsang assembly outside his house in the light of paraffin lamps. The summer heat was stifling.
Swamishri’s sleeping arrangements for the night were made on the terrace of a neighbouring house. He and all the sadhus slept on a mattress laid on the terrace floor.
Next morning, after his daily routine, Swamishri sanctified a few houses in the village and then held an assembly. After lunch, Swamishri retired for a nap in Ganesh’s mud-house. Despite the prickly afternoon heat and absence of ventilation, Swamishri slept soundly.
Ganesh’s young mind made a note of one point, that in spite of all the discomfort, Swamishri’s face was beaming with joy. Even today, Ganesh vividly remembers the pure, divine joy on Swamishri’s face.
After visiting a few homes, Swamishri arrived at Dallubhai Madari’s house.
For the past year, Dallubhai had been in touch with Swaminarayan sadhus. Through their inspiration, he had given up liquor, meat, violence and cheating. His transformation had blessed him with a new direction in life.
So, it was Dallubhai’s intense desire that Swamishri sanctify his house and bless him. Though he had no idea when Swamishri would come, he prayed that his desire be fulfilled.
Several months later, Swamishri’s tour to the rural areas of southern Gujarat was arranged. The tribal villages were difficult to reach due to lack of proper roads. The travelling was troublesome and uncomfortable. When Swamishri arrived at Dallubhai’s village he started on his round of home-visits. Midway, there was a sudden downpour of rain that made the lanes muddy and waterlogged. After having walked to several houses in the rain, the attendant sadhus told Swamishri, “Bapa, let’s postpone the visits for now. You are getting wet and bogged down in the soggy ground.”
Swamishri replied, “The rain won’t dissolve us. Besides, look at the devotees who live in these difficult and unbearable conditions. Even our sadhus tour these villages despite problems of food, water, mosquitoes and bugs. So don’t worry, everything is fine.”
The sadhus were dumbfounded. They had no words to describe Swamishri’s enthusiasm and resolve to serve and satisfy the tribal devotees. Stopping him was out of the question.
When Swamishri came to Dallubhai’s house, the latter was extremely happy. But he was also perplexed because he didn’t know where to arrange a seat for Swamishri in his dark, small hut. Such was his abject poverty.
The sadhus suggested that he have the small shed where he tied his milch buffaloes cleared. And so within no time the seating arrangements for Swamishri and the sadhus were made. Then, Dallubhai performed pujan of Thakorji and Swamishri.
Then Swamishri asked the names of all the tribals present. When he learnt that Dallubhai had given up all his bad habits and adopted a virtuous life, Swamishri immediately got up from his seat and embraced him. He also showered his love on the tribals for their virtuous life and hugged them, too.
The ordinary, innocent tribals were unaware of how Swamishri was revered by hundreds of thousands worldwide. But Swamishri’s embrace convinced them of his abundant love for the poor like them.
Swamishri then addressed them, “Even though you are poor, seeing you gives us a unique feeling of peace. How can anyone call you backward? You have become satsangis and lead pious lives. Such a home as this is a holy place. By visiting your huts one experiences devotion and love.”
As he spoke, Swamishri looked around and showered his blessings on the luxuriant vegetation, ordinary huts and the children playing in the fields.
For Swamishri, the poor, innocent tribals are the sons and daughters of Eternity.
COMPASSION FOR AN AILING BOY
In 1999, a fisherman’s son met with a serious accident in Valsad. He was rushed to the Mahavir General Hospital in Surat.
On hearing about the boy’s critical condition, Swamishri was pained and concerned for his life. A few days later Swamishri arrived in Surat.
One morning, Swamishri suddenly expressed his wish to visit the boy. Within no time Swamishri left for the hospital. His car could not reach the hospital gate because of heavy roadwork. So, Swamishri walked along the uneven, excavated road with the help of his attendant sadhus. Despite his fragile health at eighty years, Swamishri reached the hospital and went to the intensive care unit. He gently and compassionately touched the unconscious boy’s head and heart with his hands and called out to him, “Prashant, Jai Swaminarayan...” Then he placed a garland of flowers around his neck and chanted the Swaminarayan mantra, praying for his recovery. Once again Swamishri blessed Prashant and consoled his father, Shantilal, assuring him that his son would get all the help and care needed.
On leaving the hospital, Swamishri once again went through the ordeal of jumping the two-and-a-half-feet wide ditches with the help of his attendant sadhus and then walked a quarter of a kilometre back to his car.
After blessing Prashant, Swamishri felt satisfied for offering his sympathy and prayers for an innocent, suffering boy. There was no fatigue on Swamishri’s face for having taken out time from his busy schedule and going through all the discomfort and difficulties for a poor, ailing boy.
Later, Prashant recovered fully.
TO FULFIL A DEVOTEE’S WISH
It was 10.30 p.m.
Swamishri’s car was racing ahead on the national highway in Kheda district, Gujarat. He had been travelling all day for the drought relief work by the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha. After having visited the Sanstha’s cattle camp in Bhavanpura, Swamishri was heading towards another camp in Bochasan. The sadhus and volunteers in Bochasan were waiting for him.
Then, Swamishri suddenly instructed the driver, “Take the car to the left.”
“Are we not going to Bochasan?” the driver asked.
Swamishri kept quiet. The car soon turned off from the highway to take an interior road.
The accompanying sadhus were surprised at the sudden change in itinerary. Swamishri had already visited four villages that day, and the schedule had been tiring. They wondered whether they were going to another village. The car was travelling speedily on the road to Tarapur. On seeing a signboard, Swamishri told the driver to slow down. “Now take the car inside this village.”
Swamishri’s car had entered the village of Limbasi. It was late night and there was not one home in which the lights were on. Everyone was blissfully sleeping. Swamishri guided the car with brief instructions of left and right till they came to the house of Dahyabhai Patel. Then he told the driver to knock on the door. The door opened with an enquiry from within as to who it was. On seeing Swamishri, the members of the family were amazed and welcomed him inside.
“Where is Dahyabhai? I want to see him. As he is ill, I have been wanting to see him for the past several days.”
As Swamishri spoke, his face showed his eagerness to meet Dahyabhai.
Dahyabhai was suffering from cancer. He tried to get up from his bed and welcome Swamishri. “I was confident that Bapa would come,” Dahyabhai said with tears of joy.
Swamishri sat on the edge of Dahyabhai’s bed and told him to remain lying down. His soft, divine touch soothed the much-enduring Dahyabhai.
News soon spread in the village that Swamishri had arrived. Everyone came running out to offer their respects. A brief assembly was held and Swamishri blessed everyone. When Swamishri left for Bochasan it was late in the night.
Everyone in the village felt happy and blessed. And Dahyabhai lay in bed wondering about Swamishri’s compassion for him. He thought of Swamishri’s greatness and the grace he had showered upon an ordinary devotee like himself. Tears of fulfilment trickled from his eyes and soon Dahyabhai slept with blissful joy.
FROM VICES TO VIRTUES
“God does not differentiate between high and low. However, such distinctions do exist in people because of their karmas. If your karmas are good, then you are virtuous.
“But several addictions and bad habits have become a part of your lives. Subsequently, your huts are as they are and you have been unable to progress. Even though you are people of ordinary means and live in humble huts you will be worthy of respect when you imbibe good values. If you cultivate character, then it will not take long for you to become rich.”
Swamishri’s words stirred the souls of the downtrodden Harijans and Vankars in the village of Bhoj. He had come of his own accord to the community of Harijans residing at the extreme end of the village. Here he gathered them in the middle of the ground hemmed by their ramshackled huts and preached to them about the true purpose of life and moral conduct. Swamishri’s loving words touched the community and they gave up their addictions at his holy feet.
A month passed after this incident. When the festival of Dhuleti arrived, a flock of guests and relatives came to Bhoj with the intention of celebrating it with a liquor party. But when they entered the Harijan ghetto they were surprised to see a small religious gathering in which the Shikshapatri was being read. They saw the festival being celebrated with purity and joy. The guests insisted that they have a liquor party. But the local Harijans refused and replied, “Ever since we have become disciples of Pramukh Swami Maharaj we have stopped drinking altogether.” Their words echoed with pride, joy and satisfaction.
Through Swamishri’s grace, the village of Bhoj, once a ground for bingeing, had become blessed with virtues.
SWAMISHRI’S HEALING TOUCH
Ratansinh, a resident of Radhu village, was suffering from an incurable skin disease. He could not bear the excruciating pain and growing decay in his body. The doctors refused to touch his pus-filled skin. Even his wife and family members would not come near him. Ratansinh could not comprehend as to which of his karmas were responsible for his agony and rejection. Life had become painful and meaningless to him. He had no solution to the depressing thoughts that repeatedly troubled him.
While Ratansinh was spending his days in pain in a hospital in Nadiad, one day, he got news that Pramukh Swami Maharaj had come to see him. His joy knew no bounds. By the time he managed to get up on his bed, Swamishri arrived and sat besides him. Ratansinh was overwhelmed with emotion. Tears rolled from his eyes. Swamishri’s care and compassion touched him profoundly. Swamishri began consoling and blessing him gently with his hands, “Don’t worry, nothing will happen to you. You will be cured soon!” Ratansinh felt relieved by Swamishri’s love and compassion for an ordinary, sick person like him.
A few days later, Ratansinh’s disease receded and he recovered fully. Subsequently, Ratansinh felt that his illness was a blessing because he got an opportunity to experience a priceless moment of divine happiness.
AN END TO 200 YEARS OF CONFLICT
The villages of Kukad and Odarka in the district of Bhavnagar were notorious for a conflict that had protracted for 200 years. For generations the Rajput citizens of both villages were hostile to each other and fought bitterly over a piece of disputed pastoral land. Many had died because of the issue. And the volcano of hatred was still active, sometimes spitting its deathly lava to claim a few more lives. For 200 years, the villagers had abstained from drinking each other’s water. And every year their hatred grew more and more bitter.
Through the decades, many arbitrators, like the Maharaja of Bhavnagar Krishnakumarsinhji, and British and Indian government officials had tried to resolve the conflict, but they failed. For 200 years the cauldron of hate and revenge remained simmering as many more lost their lives.
But the deadlocked situation took a new turn when the transformation of Ramsangh Bapu, a hard-core criminal who wreaked terror in the region of Ghogha near Bhavnagar, took place through his association with Swamishri. Being a resident of Odarka, he expressed his remorse for his sins. He appealed to Swamishri to help resolve the hostility between Odarka and Kukad.
On 12 April 1990, Swamishri visited Odarka and went to the disputed land on its outskirts. Here, Swamishri ceremoniously bathed the memorial stones of those who had been killed in the conflict with panchamrut, and water mixed from both villages. Swamishri offered respects to all the stones with pujan, chanting of Vedic mantras and mahapuja. Prayers were offered for the redemption of all those who had died in the conflict and for an end to the pledge of not drinking water from each other’s village. Swamishri told the Darbars to bathe the memorial stones. Then arti was performed in the presence of senior members of the Kshatriya community of Saurashtra.
The occasion climaxed when the Darbars drank water from each other’s village offered by Swamishri. Two hundred years of vendetta was dissolved with the blessings of Swamishri. Finally, Swamishri addressed the gathering, “I am very happy today because you have given up your hatred for each other. You have resolved it with an open and compassionate heart. Bhagwan Swaminarayan will bless your villages. To give up past hatred is a sign of nobility. Progress is only possible if one forgets hate. You have pledged to drink water from each other’s village, but there is one thing you have to abstain from, and that is drinking liquor.
“The mission of God and His holy Sadhu is to bring people closer to each other. I pray that you attain the true purpose of human birth – liberation, through devotion to God and by helping and serving others.”
This historic event of extinguishing the fires of hatred and inspiring springs of love and friendship will forever be etched in the annals of history. Swamishri was extremely happy for the restoration of peace in the hearts of the people of Odarka and Kukad.
RELIEF TO AN ACHING HEART
In 1982, Swamishri was in Leicester and had finished writing letters. He was about to leave for a public assembly when Anandswarup Swami brought Frank.
“Swami, this is Frank. He wishes to talk to you.”
Then Frank narrated a recent tragedy from his life:
“I had a son who was 17-years old. My wife and I took him to a psychiatrist for a minor mental problem. But the psychiatrist declared that he was mad and had him admitted to a mental hospital. Subsequently, my son was terribly shocked. Each time we met him, he reacted strongly by stamping his feet in anguish and crying that he was not mad, and that he should no longer be in the hospital. We consoled him every time. But one day he climbed over the seven feet high hospital wall and escaped. Then he got onto the roof of a neighbouring house, tied a rope around its chimney and hanged himself.”
While narrating the incident Frank broke down.
“From then onwards I have been extremely unhappy and full of grief. My wife is also terribly disturbed. There is no peace in our hearts anymore. We feel he committed suicide because of our mistake. People keep telling us that we did not give him enough love! This makes us feel even more guilty. There is no peace...no peace… I can’t understand what I should do.”
Then Swamishri asked Frank, “Did you give him enough love?”
“Yes Swamiji. We loved him very much.”
“Were there any lapses on your part for his treatment?”
“Not one bit. We had taken all the care and responsibility.”
“Then you are not to blame for his death,” Swamishri consoled. “Whatever God has willed is right. Don’t burden yourself with grief, otherwise you will suffer from tension. Now that he is no more, he is not going to come back. For peace of mind go to church and pray every Sunday. It was not your son’s fault or yours either.”
While Anandswarup Swami was explaining to Frank, Swamishri added, “Tell him to offer donations.”
Before completing his sentence, Swamishri perceived the surprise on Anandswarup Swami’s face and then continued, “Tell him to offer donations to his church.”
Frank was pleased by Swamishri’s wonderful words.
While leaving, a relieved Frank opined, “Today, my tension has dissolved. I feel peaceful. I have never experienced such tranquillity before.”
When Frank left he was immensely relaxed and peaceful. The next day, he told his priest that a great sadhu had come from India. He had blessed him with a lot of mental peace and inspired him to become stronger in his faith.
The church priest was amazed and requested Frank to talk about the great, realized sadhu to the Sunday congregation.
When Frank narrated his experience in church, the congregation felt blessed and inspired.
In 1990, Swamishri was in London. One night, the attendant sadhu was suddenly awakened from his sleep by a murmuring sound.
But where was this sound coming from despite the entire Swaminarayan mandir complex being quiet and its members asleep at 2.30 am?
After a little while the attendant sadhu recognized the voice. He heard the chanting of the mantra coming from the direction of Swamishri’s bed. He saw Swamishri seated on his bed, with eyes closed and hands folded in prayer, chanting the Swaminarayan mahamantra.
For a little while, the attendant sadhu whispered the mantra himself but his patience wore down with time. So he asked Swamishri, who was absorbed in chanting, “Bapa! Don’t you want to sleep? Why are you chanting and praying now?”
On realizing that his attendant had found out, Swamishri recoiled and remained quiet. Then he answered slowly, “Since there is a famine in Gujarat, I’m praying for rains and the happiness of people and animals.”
“When do you pray like this?” the attendant sadhu enquired.
Swamishri did not answer. Only after some persistence did Swamishri reply briefly, “I pray quite often in the night for those who bring their troubles and problems to me during the day.”
The attendant sadhu was filled with admiration for Swamishri’s compassion and spirit to relieve the pain and suffering of souls.
“WE ARE ALL GOD’S PEOPLE”
On hearing a voice, the group of five lower-caste youths looked surprisingly at each other. They wondered as to which one of them was being called.
Then they heard the sweet voice again, “All of you come here.”
“Swamiji, we are all Harijans!” they replied shyly.
Swamishri spoke out of compassion for them, “Even we are Harina jan (God’s people). Come closer.”
In response, the youths ran towards Swamishri. And Swamishri affectionately blessed them by placing his hands on their heads. The youths felt immensely happy and proud.
Then Swamishri addressed them, “Everyone has to become a person of God (Harina jan). But do you have any bad habits or addictions? If so, then give them up. Live a pure life free from addictions. I bless you all.”
Swamishri then blessed them again.
It was a divine experience for these Harijan youths of Sarangpur. They were blessed not by Swamishri alone, but also by God who resides in him.
There was a glow on their depressed faces, which dissolved their inferiority complex and inspired a new wave of joy. Their hearts echoed with the words, “We are all God’s people (Harina jan); noble and full of pride.”
FREE FOR A CHILD
A young boy called Yogi asked Swamishri, “Bapa, you are always busy all day. When are you free?”
“Do you see me free during the day?” Swamishri asked lovingly.
“No. But I would like you to say yes or no,” Yogi insisted.
“Whenever you come I’m free,” Swamishri replied.
“When you are free what do you think about?” Yogi enquired.
“I chant God’s name, do bhajan, write letters and bless the devotees.”
Then Yogi offered a donation to Thakorji. Swamishri blessed him and instructed, “Study well. Do not fall into the habit of addictions. Serve your parents. And do satsang.”
Swamishri gave prasad and blessed Yogi.
11 November 2003, Bochasan
PATIENCE AND LOVE
In a welcome assembly at the Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in London, devotees from different regions of England offered garlands or bouquets to Swamishri. An aged devotee, Harmankaka, stepped onto the stage with his walking stick. After offering a bouquet to Swamishri, he wished to bow and touch his feet. As he was thinking about placing his stick on one side, Swamishri held it for him. After bowing down, he got up and then took out his rosary and gave it to Swamishri to sanctify it – a routine he has been following every time he welcomes Swamishri. Swamishri satisfied his wish and Harmankaka ambled happily across the stage with the aid of his walking stick.
The entire assembly witnessed Swamishri’s patience and love for a senior devotee.
24 April 2004, London
REALIZING ONE’S ATMA
A youth asked Swamishri, “How can I realize my atma?” “Through spiritual association (sant samagam). One understands school textbooks and progresses further in studies through the guidance of a teacher. Likewise, through the spiritual association of a Sadhu one gets knowledge and realizes one’s atma.”
11 January 2005, Mumbai
PEACE OF MIND
A high-ranking office-bearer of a Lions Club in Ahmedabad met Swamishri at the BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir in Shahibaug. Being an active social worker, he vented his frustration before Swamishri, “Despite offering so much services for society I do not have peace of mind!”
Swamishri blessed him and advised, “Chant the name of God and pray, and you’ll get peace of mind.”
6 March 2006, Ahmedabad
Swamishri wrote his blessings in the annual diary of the BAPS School in Selvas. He gave lucid guidelines for the students’ success, “Every student should pay attention to what is taught in class, have concentration, do one’s homework regularly, repeat whatever one has learnt every day and respect one’s teachers and parents. Then Bhagwan Swaminarayan will bless you with success.”
16 March 2006, Sarangpur
HIGHEST SPIRITUAL TECHNOLOGY
Dr Bhagirath Katbamna showed Swamishri a capsule and explained, “This is our technology. This transparent capsule contains two very tiny cameras. When the patient swallows it the cameras take pictures of organs and other parts of the body. The photos are received through an external receiver. We come to know the exact state of the person’s intestines and other things. So, this is our technology. Can you show us your technology?”
Swamishri instantly responded, “Our technology is to become aksharrup and offer devotion to God. You have to consolidate the knowledge that you are atma, akshar and brahman. You are not Katbamna. You do not have any relatives and parents. When you realize that you are akshar or atmarup then you will transcend maya.”
Swamishri revealed the highest spiritual technology of becoming aksharrup or atmarup.
18 June 2007, Chicago
After receiving Swamishri’s blessings, Daniel Cook, an industrialist from Utah, asked, “How can I become an ideal father and husband?”
Swamishri replied, “You have to observe morality and maintain harmony with all the members in your house. To foster love between you and your wife you have to learn to compromise. Spend time with your children and wife. Sit together with them every day, and have a family discourse daily. Cut down on watching TV and sit with your family and read good books.”
In brief, Swamishri imparted to Mr Cook the importance of morality, cultivating an accommodating nature and sitting with the family to read spiritual books as the means to becoming an ideal father and husband.
28 June 2007, Houston
PRINCIPLES OF MANAGEMENT
Dr Prashant Chhaya, an orthopaedic surgeon, asked Swamishri, “I cannot properly manage five staff members in my clinic, yet how do you manage such a large organization?”
“God is the all-doer,” Swamishri replied succinctly.
“That is true, but you are the instrument. How do you manage everything?” Prashantbhai persisted.
“By believing God to be the all-doer everyone is inspired to make effort. Because God resides in everyone, therefore he is the inspirer. One should do one’s work by understanding the glory of everyone, by pleasing God and understanding him to be the all-doer. One should also pray to God for one’s intentions to be pure and to give everyone the strength to work.”
Swamishri’s profound answer to the question reflects his absolute faith in God and his message to work with the purest of intentions.
30 April 2006, Junagadh
PROGRESS IN LIFE
KEY TO SUCCESS
Chandrakantbhai Pujara, a devotee, came with some of his relatives for Swamishri’s darshan and blessings. Pointing to Amitkumar he said, “Bapa, he is studying Political Science.”
“I want to do good for the world,” said Amit.
Swamishri responded with appreciation, “Very good. To do good for our world is fine, but for that you should pray to God daily. Then God will join you in fulfilling your wish. And secondly, you should live a pure, moral life. Despite pursuing political studies you should remain steadfast in obeying God’s laws. Be a vegetarian. Wherever you go never indulge in any form of addiction. If you follow this, then God will be with you and you will succeed always.”
Swamishri provided the youth with the formula of success.
30 April 2004, London
KEYS TO CONCENTRATION
A boy asked Swamishri, “How can I concentrate in my studies?”
“First, don’t watch TV. Don’t read anything that is unrelated to your studies. Do your puja. Give up wandering or seeing unnecessary and pointless things. Study properly. If you spend your entire vacation visiting others, then you will forget what you have learnt. So pay attention while reading, have restraint (saiyam), and control your eating habits. Do not listen to bad things. All these will enable you to concentrate.”
13 May 2006, Gondal
CORRECT A CHILD WITH LOVE
A devotee revealed his problem to Swamishri, “My wife and I have two different approaches to raising our child. Whenever our child becomes rowdy and mischievous, I lovingly try to explain and correct him. Whereas my wife hits and scolds him. Consequently, there is a difference of opinion between us. What should I do?”
Swamishri advised, “A child is ignorant and unaware of the disturbances he causes. It is important to talk to him and make him understand with love. If you treat him with love, he will change and progress. By hitting him, he will never advance in life. Hence make him understand and try to correct him with love.”
1 September 2006, Chennai
PRINCIPLES FOR SUCCESS
A youth enquired of Swamishri as to what he should do to become successful. Swamishri briefly answered by highlighting three principles, “Firstly, one must have faith in God. Secondly, one should read the shastras and abide by the laws prescribed by God. This means staying away from addictions and adultery. God will be happy with you, and God’s blessings will enable you to achieve success. And thirdly, always keep the company of good (virtuous) people. If you have good company in your social circle, Satsang fellowship and at work, then you will progress in life.”
6 September 2006, New Delhi