STHIRMATI ATISHAY DHEER
Sthir means to be poised. To understand what this means, let us first look at the opposite. What disturbs an individual? What causes mental turmoil?
According to Vachanamrut Gadhada I 18, disturbances of the mind are caused by attachment to vishays (worldy pleasures). An enchanting sight, an enticing smell, an enjoyable song and other such enjoyments can change the way a person thinks and acts. They can change the course of a person’s life. The rollercoaster of instant sensual gratification has derailed many. This is what disturbs an individual.
It is well noted that with the passing of time, our weakness for worldly comforts increases. People tend to desire more comforts and become attached to worldly objects. Yet, not for one who is of stable mind (sthirmati), like Swamishri.
Whether he is travelling in remote villages to uplift tribal villagers, or travelling around the cities of India or travelling around the western world; whether he is meeting businessmen, dignitaries, politicians, religious figures, or meeting the common man, his mental stability is uniform. He interacts with everyone with the same loving attitude. Swamishri could be participating calmly in a United Nations Peace Conference talking about world peace and still maintain the same composure when his own temple is being attacked by terrorists. Swamishri is able to bring peace and comfort to the chronically ill and still maintain the same equanimity when being told he must have an emergency quadruple bypass operation. He is able to remain equipoised in both praise and prejudice.
On 24 April 1995, Swamishri was in Surat meeting hundreds of devotees. A 78-year-old devotee grabbed everyone’s attention.
“I want to file a complaint!” he announced.
“What’s the matter?” Swamishri asked.
“Why did God take my wife before me?”
“Isn’t it a good thing that she is in Akshardham? Plus, she didn’t have to live a single day without you. It is her great fortune.”
“When she was on her deathbed in the hospital, she wanted to see me for the last time, but she passed away before I got there. It’s your fault. You should have let her live for just a little bit longer.”
The senior’s voice began to rise in both emotion and decibels, yet Pramukh Swami remained completely poised and unfazed. He continued, “They even delay an execution for a final death wish. This is your fault. You should have granted her this one wish.”
“She was a true devotee. All her wishes were granted and now she is in Akshardham,” Swamishri reasoned calmly.
“I am going to go too.”
“Perfect. Then you will meet her.”
“Not really. I am not going to be able to recognize her there. Why did you take her early?”
Everyone standing around was getting agitated, but Swamishri patiently consoled him.
“It is better that your wife went to Akshardham first. She didn’t have to see a single day as a widow… It would have been harder on your wife, if it were the other way around…”
In the face of such unreasonable accusations, any other person might have understandably displayed some sort of negative disposition. However, Pramukh Swami Maharaj did not. Instead he remained calm. He affectionately blessed the old devotee and remained undisturbed by his irrational accusations.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj has met some of the world’s most influential people in different fields. He is the administrative president of an international organization and is the spiritual ideal for us all. He has had a lot to deal with and has remained equipoised at all times.
It is one thing to remain composed in insult and another to do so in times of chaos. Swamishri has mastered both effortlessly.
In New Delhi in 2005 the Swaminarayan Akshardham monument was under construction and tonnes of stones were sprawled throughout the 100-acre complex. The entire complex was littered with floor tiles, cotta stones, marble, limestone and pink stone. Hundreds of stonemasons were busy chiselling away and the wailing of their saws rang throughout the complex. Seeing this chaos, sadhus of the team managing the work approached Swamishri and described the havoc. They reported, “Everywhere we look, we see deadlines, pending work, and tonnes and tonnes of unassembled stones! Aren’t you worried?”
Swamishri replied, nonchalantly, “There may be tonnes of stones outside, but I do not feel a pebble’s amount of weight on my chest.”
It goes without saying that Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s sthirmati has enamoured those who have come in contact with him. It is one among many of the qualities that makes him so awe-inspiring and captivating. These qualities merely open the doors of attachment, but it is his humility that keeps these doors open.