The interesting part of the show, however, was to notice the transformation that each person underwent as the show progressed. At intervals the participants of the team were interviewed and asked questions about the status of their task and what they felt about the people that they were working with. During the beginning of the series, everyone looked forward to helping each other, praised one another, was polite and quickly formed close ties.
However, as the days progressed and participants began to be voted off the show, the animalistic instinct kicked in. What once seemed like camaraderie was quickly lost. People began slandering, small groups or alliances developed, participants hindered the completion of each other’s tasks, and some even dared to covertly destroy in the middle of the night what others had worked on during the day.
After several episodes of this TV show, many noticed that this did not happen just once, but over and over again. The people, tasks and location would change, but the results were the same – unity broke down and everything short of all-out-war began to erupt.
Samp, suhrudbhav and ekta rises above merely working and being together. It’s about being able to work with each other when feeding has become scarce and the opportunity to attack is the easy option. It requires something more fundamental than a simple outward expression of social harmony. Having samp, suhrudbhav and ekta is about having our intentions, values and attitudes in sync with others around us. This requires one to sacrifice personal desires, extend one’s heart to others and feel their emotions, and to become a servant of servants. These same sentiments are captured by Yogiji Maharaj’s words when he identifies the following features of samp, suhrudbhav and ekta.
Staying Hungry to Feed Another
Yogiji Maharaj was in Dangra in 1918 (V.S. 1974) to celebrate the consecration of the mandir’s murtis. Although it was a small village, on this day the streets were bustling with excitement. Thousands of devotees had come to take part in the ceremonies that lasted throughout the morning. Noon came, and with it lunch prepared and then served by Sadhu Jnanjivandas and other sadhus. The chilled ras and soft rotlis were more than a welcome break from the sweltering midday heat. After everyone had finished their meal, Jnanjivandas and two other sadhus sat down to eat. There was only enough ras left for the three of them. Just as they were about to begin, three devotees, Kuberbhai from Bhavnagar, Nanubhai Sheth, and Narayanbhai Mistry peeked in to see if there was still anything left to eat. Jnanjivandas sensed their disappointment. He immediately got up, ushered them to sit down, and fed the devotees his share of ras. To stay hungry to feed another requires one to let go of one’s desires – a sacrifice of the mind.
To Play the Blame Game with Different Rules
In 1937 (V.S. 1993), the times were tough in Gondal. Insufficient food meant having to travel in the sweltering Indian sun to extra homes, neighbourhoods and villages to beg for food to have something to eat for dinner. As a result, wasting anything was a sure way of getting rebuked; and it was understandable, since things that we take for granted, were only the realities of dreams. Ghee, purified butter, was a precious commodity at the time, and as a result, it was kept under the safest conditions to ensure that it lasted. Once, in the kitchen, Sadhu Baldevcharandas accidently tipped over a jarful of ghee. Just then Nirgun Swami walked by. Baldevcharandas stood in horror. With both hands outstretched he tried to speak in defense, but nothing came out. Nirgun Swami unable to bear the wasted ghee began reprimanding the sadhu for his carelessness. Yogiji Maharaj saw all of this unfolding, and stepped in, “I spilled the ghee when I accidently kicked it with my feet. It’s not the sadhu’s fault.” Nirgun Swami turned to face him and vented, “Then you should be careful when you walk!” Yogiji Maharaj had taken the blame for something he hadn’t done. To take the blame on behalf of another requires one to extend one’s heart and feel another’s emotions.
To Become a Servant of Servants
When Yogiji Maharaj was in Dar-es-Salaam in 1959, many youths travelled with him. Throughout the day, they listened to katha, performed Swami’s seva, which involved among other things, helping in the kitchen. They also sat with Swami and other sadhus to have discussions (goshthi) and memorize kirtans and shlokas that Yogiji Maharaj himself selected. Every day was a shibir, and their leader was Yogiji Maharaj himself. He personally took interest in each and every one of them and ensured that they made the most of being with him. Yogiji Maharaj was their mother, father, brother and guru – he taught and cared for them in the most unimaginable ways. He taught not only by instruction, but also by example.
Once, many youths had soaked their clothes in the bathroom. They had thought that they would wash them later in the evening when they had some free time on their hands. Swami happened to walk by and saw the soaked clothes. Under pretense for going to the bathroom, Swami went in and locked the door from the inside. He knew that if anyone found out about what he was going to do, they would try everything in their means to stop him. Swami then began to wash the youths’ soaked clothes. Several youths quickly gathered outside the door and began pleading to Swami to stop. They were travelling with him to serve him, not to be served by him. Nevertheless, Swami washed the entire pile of clothes and taught the youths an important life lesson. As guru serving his disciples, Yogiji Maharaj demonstrated the identity of purpose between the two – to be a servant of servants.
Yogiji Maharaj’s purpose, heart and mind, and as a result, his actions, were all tuned to understanding and serving others. The Rig Veda reaffirms this missing piece when it states in a prayer, “Let our purpose, heart, and mind be the same and let us perform our tasks together.” Unity based on this principle doesn’t change with circumstance. Although the opportunity arose, Yogiji Maharaj chose the path less travelled. His unity lasted even when his share of respect, praise, and appreciation, among other things, did not.
How does one develop such virtues? How does one extend one’s purpose, heart and mind to others? Yogiji Maharaj’s answer follows.
To Place an Infinite Value in the Virtue of Association
In 1965 Yogiji Maharaj was in Gondal. One afternoon, Gunvantbhai came to Yogiji Maharaj. He was visually distraught and seemed like he needed to get something off of his chest. He marched his way to Yogiji Maharaj and began to reveal the cause of his frustration, “Bapa, this youth doesn’t do any seva, and loiters in the mandir. If that wasn’t enough, he’s got a filthy habit of lighting a cigarrette when no one is looking.” Before he could finish, Yogiji Maharaj interrupted, “Have you had Shastriji Maharaj’s darshan?” Gunvantbhai was caught off guard, “No?” Swami explained, “He’s seen Shastriji Maharaj… You should understand his greatness.” Gunvantbhai shook off his distress, fell at Yogiji Maharaj’s feet and asked for forgiveness. Swami smiled and assured him, “Don’t worry, you will develop samp, suhrudbhav and ekta.”
Such a seemingly small virtue, if it could even be called that, as having seen Shastriji Maharaj was enough. The secret to samp is to understand another’s greatness. Greatness comes in many shapes and sizes. However, the virtue which Yogiji Maharaj gave significance to was independent; and as a result, unsusceptible to not only situation and change, but also of the person it was attributed to. Understanding the virtue of association with a Gunatit Guru (sambandh no mahima) is what renders a unity of purpose, heart and mind between individuals; and hence, makes samp ineffaceable by circumstance. This is the supreme value that Yogiji Maharaj organized his life around. This is samp, suhrudabhav and ekta in its truest form.