For Swamishri the concerns of the world seem irrelevant. For someone whose attachment and devotion to God are unparalleled, who sees the world and thinks of it as nothing but dust, who views all things equally and is content in all circumstances, who does not care about personal appearance and pays no attention to his body, it seems only natural that such a person would not care much about anyone or anything in this world? After all, as Swamishri once explained in Nairobi in 1988, “You forget God when you fall into other people’s business and problems.”
Nevertheless, his life seems to tell a very different story. Contradictory to his worldly detachment, Swamishri’s genuine care for people is tremendous.
On 25 June 2006 in Ahmedabad, Swamishri had just concluded his blessings when a small, unknown child came crying to Swamishri. The child and his mother had recently been forced out of their home by the child’s father because of a recent clash between his parents. They temporarily stayed at the home of the child’s uncle. However, the uncle now felt that both were a burden to his family and eventually drove them out of his home as well.
The child and his mother had nowhere or no one to turn to. Their final resort was Swamishri. The child stirred up some courage to narrate his dire situation. Amid thousands of people, Swamishri compassionately listened to the unfortunate account as he gently caressed the child’s head.
“Find out exactly what the problem is,” Swamishri instructed a sadhu. “Make sure the child receives a good education and help them out in any way they need.” Swamishri’s concern gifted the child with a hopeful future.
His ability to delve equally deep into the lives of children, regardless of their socio-economic and cultural standing, is quite remarkable. Swamishri’s concern even touches the finest details of their everyday welfare.
Swamishri once visited Ukai in South Gujarat where BAPS operates a hostel for tribal children. He asked very detailed questions to the hostel administrators about the children’s wellbeing.
“We provide powdered milk every morning,” the administrators informed.
“Does everyone like it?” Swamishri asked, quite concerned. “Does everyone drink it?”
“If someone doesn’t like it, then they just don’t drink it,” they responded frankly. Swamishri did not approve of this.
“We should also supply cow or buffalo milk so no one gets left out,” Swamishri said. Swamishri then inspected the students’ living quarters and closely examined the beds, bed sheets and other facilities in each room.
Swamishri noticed the rough blankets on each bed. “These blankets are good enough to protect [the children] against the cold,” Swamishri said. “But make sure to have covers made for each blanket so that they don’t rub roughly against the children’s soft cheeks.”
The magnitude of Swamishri’s care and concern positively influences all those around him. His compassion invokes the spirit of impartial and selfless service in his disciples.
In 1974, Swamishri paid a visit to Chandubhai’s residence in London. Chandubhai had invited his English neighbour to his home and introduced him to Swamishri. During their conversation, Swamishri discovered that the Englishman’s son had abandoned him, and that he was passing the rest of his years in despair. Swamishri instructed Chandubhai to take care of his neighbour.
When Swamishri revisited London in 1984, the Englishman came to meet him. Swamishri recognized him straightaway, one decade later! The Englishman had specially come to thank Swamishri because Chandubhai was still looking after him.
It is mind-boggling that someone so concerned about others, and who can inspire the same caring attitude in others, can remain unsympathetic towards his own body. Indifference does not stop him from satisfying others’ needs.
On 5 October 2009, in Gondal, Ramcharan Swami was waiting for Swamishri’s darshan. The previous day, Swamishri himself had asked Dr Kiran Doshi to examine Ramcharan Swami’s backpain and aching legs. Thereafter, Dr Kiran Doshi had arranged for an MRI test. The diagnosis was eventually completed.
“Has the report arrived?” Swamishri asked.
“Yes,” Ramcharan Swami answered.
“The report wasn’t good,” Ramcharan Swami said, “so, Dr Kiran has asked me to come to Mumbai.”
“Make sure you go,” Swamishri instructed.
“Swamishri was worrying about your health last night as well,” Narayancharan Swami added.
“We have to face what’s in our prarabdh [destiny],” Ramcharan Swami casually said.
“Both me and you have to face that,” Swamishri said. “But we have to worry, right.” Swamishri suddenly became emotional. Seeing a change of expression on Swamishri’s face, Ramcharan Swami could not contain himself either.
“Bapa! There is no need for you to worry about me so much,” Ramcharan Swami said. “With your grace, everything is just fine.” Hearing this, Swamishri became even more emotional and his voice started quaking.
Swamishri’s nature matches perfectly with what Premanand Swami writes in the sixth stanza of the Lila Chintamani (Chesta):
“Koine dukhiyo re, dekhi na khamãy;
Dayã ãni re, ati ãkalã thãy…”
“He cannot bear to look at others in pain, and when he does he becomes overwhelmed with compassion, and becomes distressed.”
When Nishkulanand Swami revealed in the Bhaktachintamani that such a satpurush, despite remaining aloof from the world, remains concerned with removing others’ miseries, it seems at first that these two qualities conflict. How can a person be both unconcerned and concerned at the same time? However, in Swamishri’s life we see both qualities in perfect harmony. Swamishri remains detached from the pleasures of the world and concerns of his body; yet when it comes to others, Swamishri’s compassion is profound. He is completely aloof, yet deeply involved. Let us join Nishkulanand Swami in prayer by reverently bowing our heads to such a saint – “Evã Santne nãmu hu shish.”