|Despite great odds Shastriji Maharaj's mission to enshrine the creed of Akshar and Purushottam in beautiful mandirs reflects his divinity, devotion, courage, forbearance and compassion.
On the celebration of his birth anniversary on Vasant Panchmi, 2 February 2006, let us remember his spirit of faith and service through some inspiring incidents.
Spirit for Akshar and Purushottam
- Once Shastriji Maharaj was very ill. Narsinhdas Sheth, a devotee, came to Sarangpur with a desire to invite Shastriji Maharaj to perform the consecration ceremony of the murtis of Akshar and Purushottam. But on seeing that Shastriji Maharaj was sick he did not reveal his wish. After two days Shastriji Maharaj told Narsinhdas, "You have come to have your mandir consecrated! Come let us go. I have been born to create mandirs." And Shastriji Maharaj, in spite of physical weakness, went to Narsinhdas Sheth's home and performed the pratishtha.
- To propagate the Akshar Purushottam creed Shastriji Maharaj endeavoured zealously regardless of time, situation or physical health.
- In the town of Sayajipura, near Vadodara, a discourse on the Satsangijivan scripture had been sponsored by Ashabhai and Ishwarbhai of Purushottampura. The morning discourse by Shastriji Maharaj on the questions asked in the scripture by Bhalchandra Sheth to Shrij Maharaj was on the subject of Bhakta-Bhagwan relationship. Shastriji Maharaj became so engrossed in elaborating the mutual love that God and His disciple have that he forgot all constraints of time and place, and when he concluded the discourse it was 3.00 p.m. Shastriji Maharaj's fervour in talking about the glory of Akshar and Purushottam was profound and fascinating.
- In his later years, even when Shastriji Maharaj's health began failing, he did not lessen the pace of his vicharan or his spirit to deliver discourses. Once, Shastriji Maharaj was shivering with a severe fever at the Sarangpur Hanuman mandir. On seeing him in such a state Rukhad Khachar and Jagjivan Sheth of Sarangpur broke down crying. Shastriji Maharaj checked them, "Don't cry! Nothing is going to happen to me. If you want my fever to subside then listen to my discourse." And so saying Shastriji Maharaj's fever disappeared after he talked about the principles of Akshar and Purushottam as preached by Bhagwan Swaminarayan.
- During a 7-day discourse in Amdavad, Professor Jethalal Swaminarayan sat on the seat of Shastriji Maharaj and discoursed about the glory of Akshar and Purushottam. A devotee in the assembly felt uneasy about this so he told him, "You are a householder so how can you discourse by sitting on Shastriji Maharaj's seat! This is not proper."
- Shastriji Maharaj immediately told the devotee, "Let alone someone sitting on my seat but if he were to sit on my head and talk about the glory of Akshar and Purushottam then still I would not mind and think it to be a lesser pedestal."
- Shastriji Maharaj's respect for anyone who talked about the glory of Akshar and Purushottam is amply illustrated by this incident.
Spirit of Service
- Shastriji Maharaj served the devotees with love and respect. Once, Nagardas Darji of Vadhwan fractured his leg when he fell off while serving in Sarangpur. Shastriji Maharaj allotted a room for him and personally served him. Swamishri also told the other sadhus and devotees to serve him because he was a devotee like Hanumanji.
- Shastriji Maharaj took great care of young sadhus and devotees. Once, while he was on home-visits in the Charotar district someone gave him a basketful of mangoes. Shastriji Maharaj took it to Botad and carried the basket on his head to Sarangpur. Here he had mango juice prepared and served the sadhus. Shastriji Maharaj expressed his joy and honour in serving them because they performed service, fasts and austerities.
- Once, a devotee asked for milk from the kitchen administrator (bhandari). When Shastriji Maharaj learnt that the bhandari had refused the devotee, he became sad. When it was lunchtime Shastriji Maharaj did not go and commented, "How can we not give milk when the devotees are offering their services!" Only when the bhandari apologised and pledged that it would not happen again did Shastriji Maharaj have lunch.
- Shastriji Maharaj was 81-years-old. On one occasion he arrived in Muli to sanctify the home of Rupsinhbhai Darbar. To reach his house Swamishri had to walk from the railway station and cross the dry bed of the river Bhogavo. Nirgundas Swami describes the incident in his own words, "Swamishri had held mine and Yogiji Maharaj's hands (for support). The state of Swamishri's physical condition was such that he could not even walk ten steps. The width of the river Bhogavo bed was large. At one point I fell with my mattress and bag of letters. Swamishri took my mattress in his hand and barely reached the road. There on enquiring along the way we arrived at Rupsinhbhai Darbar's house."
- Despite his frail health Shastriji Maharaj travelled to please the devotees.
- On one occasion Shastriji Maharaj departed from Gondal and arrived in Shrijipura. Here, the Sanstha had thousands of acres of farming land. Soma Bhagat was attending to the supply of water for the barley crop. Sometimes the fast flowing water would breach the sides of the mud channels and flood the crops. Soma Bhagat was trying to repair one such channel by heaping mud but the flow of water washed it away. On seeing this Shastriji Maharaj told a perplexed Soma Bhagat, "I will lie down here and then with a shovel you heap mud on me. This will stop the channel from breaking and getting washed away."
- Soma Bhagat was simply stunned and thought how could he ever do that to his guru! Shastriji Maharaj exhorted him, "What are you thinking? How can we get such a service for the sake of God! What can't we do for our supreme God! Now start heaping mud on me." And so saying Shastriji Maharaj lay down by the breach. Soma Bhagat hesitatingly emptied a couple of shovels of mud on Swamishri and the channel held off the water from breaking into the fields. Then, Shastriji Maharaj lay down wherever there were breaches and after a couple of shovels of mud the channels stood firm.
- Soma Bhagat was fascinated by Shastriji Maharaj's spirit of service for the sake of Shriji Maharaj.
- Shastriji Maharaj's acumen with reference to planning and building of mandirs was unique. When someone suggested the renowned architect company of Kora and Bhatt in Mumbai for the planning of Sarangpur mandir, Shastriji Maharaj said there was no need. And so saying he penciled the plans for the entire mandir complex.
- Shastriji Maharaj would engage himself in digging the foundations of the mandir. He would also personally go to acquire the stones from the stone mines and visited Bilimora, Bhavnagar and other places for wood. Then he would have it cut appropriately.