“Sãri sundar kathã kahe chhe,
Alubdhãdi ãtmã rahe chhe,
Vali pardukh hare hamesh,
Evã Santane nãmu hu shish.”
- Bhaktachintamani 2.19
“He always speaks about God,
Acting as the atma, he remains aloof from everything;
Yet dissolves everyone’s miseries,
I bow my head to such a Sadhu.”
In this couplet, Nishkulanand Swami describes that the Gunatit Sadhu has total detachment towards his body and the material world. However, while he has no concern for his own needs, he actively endeavours to relieve the suffering of others.
“If you become the prime minister [of India], then I will become the finance minister,” Bhagwatcharan Swami said to Swamishri in Nairobi in 1988.
“Everything is perishable,” Swamishri reacted. “This world itself is perishable. The type of joy derived from God’s worship and chanting the mala cannot be found elsewhere.”
Swamishri is the embodiment of ultimate vairagya, detachment from everything besides God, and aloofness from the world. Nothing on this planet, natural or man-made, can bind Swamishri. His enlightenment and experience of God are eternal. For him the “taste” of God’s bliss makes the world insignificant. Swamishri views the world from this detached state.
During a visit to the Niagara Falls in 1974, sadhus and devotees travelling with Swamishri enjoyed the splendour of the falls illuminated by coloured lights at night. Swamishri smiled at them. Despite not being fascinated by this impressive sight, Swamishri revealed his lifelong preference, “I acquire more happiness in bhajan [worship] than in seeing new things,” Swamishri declared. “The whole world enjoys the joy of the material world, but only a few derive happiness from bhajan.” Since Swamishri genuinely enjoys the practise of bhajan, small and large objects of this world become unimportant.
Once, in London, Swamishri entered a store for padhramani. The storeowner casually asked him whether he liked the shop. “What is there to like in it?” Swamishri questioned. “Everything is made of dust!”
What an unexpected response! To him this applies not only to items on a store shelf but for everything in this world.
Several years ago, Swamishri was having lunch in Jamnagar. Bhagwatcharan Swami, after having inspected the building they were to lodge at, expressed his approval of the location to Swamishri. He then asked Swamishri to convey his opinion. “Everything is the same to me,” Swamishri said. Then Swamishri added with indifference, “What is a bangla [bungalow] and what is a bangli?”
This state of spiritual equilibrium allows Swamishri to rise above his personal comfort, and as a result, he can swiftly adjust to any environment.
“For us, we are always tushtã, tushtã, and tushtã [content, content, and content],” Swamishri said this for himself in Delhi in November 2005. “Therefore, we are never bothered. Wherever they ask us to sit, we sit. Whether there is a chair or not; if the whole planet is your home, who can kick you out?”
Swamishri’s contentment allows him to remain unmoved by even the direst circumstances. He even fearlessly faces dangerous circumstances.
In April 2006, a slight tremor was felt in Sarangpur. The following day, sadhus asked Raghu Bharvad whether he experienced the earthquake. “I didn’t feel anything,” Raghu replied.
“How can you have known, if you fall asleep while remembering God?” Swamishri asked. “Whatever is going to happen will happen with God’s will.”
An even more difficult thing is to remain indifferent about one’s appearance in public, or what sociologists term ‘front stage management’. We are conscious about what others think of us or whether we fit the social mainstream (a possible reason why some are hesitant to do tilak-chandlo at school or work). That awareness makes us uneasy and drives us to behave in certain ways when in public. Swamishri’s detachment makes him an exception to this.
In November 2010, Swamishri was in a rush to go to a festival assembly. Because Swamishri was seated in his wheelchair, he felt it was unnecessary for him to put on his footwear. Even then, Nirbhayswarup Swami told Swamishri that without his footwear something felt missing.
“It would look nice if you wore your slippers,” Brahmavihari Swami added. “You should stay tip-top.”
“We should not worry about looking tip-top,” Swamishri responded. “We should stay the way God wants to keep us and do bhajan. We will fail in life if we try to be tip-top.”
For Swamishri front stage management comes from within. This not only allows him to remain indifferent to appearance, but also to the state of his own body.
Around 1981, a tumour began to develop in Swamishri’s right thigh. Even though the pain persisted continuously, Swamishri did not mention it to anyone for over five years! Only after the tumour became large was it noticed by his attendants. The operation was finally performed in 1986.
For Swamishri it is natural to never mention his physical difficulties, irrespective of the condition’s severity. He remains silent, even if it means forsaking his own health.
Once, in Philadelphia, in 1980, Swamishri stuck his right foot into his left mojdi, and left foot into his right mojdi. Surprised and worried, the attendant sadhus questioned Swamishri about his unusual action.
Swamishri disclosed that his vision had become blurred. Doctors investigated and found that he had developed cataracts in his eyes and, unless urgent action was taken, he was in danger of losing his vision. The attendant sadhus asked Swamishri why he had remained silent about such a critical problem. His response revealed his concern for others even at the cost of his own health. Swamishri disclosed that he did not want to disrupt the devotees’ schedule, especially because they had taken time off from work and school.
Swamishri is simply indifferent to concerns of his body. On 4 July 2011 in Bharuch, the doctor routinely took Swamishri’s blood pressure at around 10 p.m., just before Swamishri retired for sleep. The reading was abnormal; so, the attendant sadhus asked Swamishri if he felt alright. Swamishri then revealed that he had felt chest pains for the past few hours.
Swamishri stayed awake all night and endured the increasing pain until early the next morning. Witnesses to the event declared that throughout the ordeal Swamishri’s face did not once squint in pain! Had it not been for the routine testing, Swamishri might never have revealed his chest pains. Even more astonishing is that Swamishri insisted on going for Thakorji’s darshan in the main mandir the next morning, even though the doctors had insisted on strict bed rest. The attendant sadhus were left with no choice but to comply with Swamishri’s resolve.