PAKSH – KEEPING THE FAITH
Shastriji Maharaj did not eat khichdi made in used kerosene cans because it tasted nice. Shastriji Maharaj did not listen to insults because they spurred him on. Nor did Shastriji Maharaj tolerate his adversaries poking needles into his back to gain pity. He did all this and more, for the sake of Akshar-Purushottam.
Keeping paksh doesn’t only mean taking the side of devotees, it also includes being loyal to your faith and principles.
Shastriji Maharaj was definitely loyal to his faith. On the other hand, his followers were sometimes not as convinced. A devotee once confided, “Swami! I’ve joined the Akshar-Purushottam cause, but I feel that I will lose my prestige.”
Radiating confidence, Shastriji Maharaj replied, “No one’s honour is at stake, because the purpose of our struggle is to please Swami-Shriji. Therefore, should anyone suffer dishonour, I will cease to be a Swaminarayan sadhu and burn my janoi! ”
Only someone who truly believed in his cause could make such a brave statement.
Shastriji Maharaj had a bold and courageous personality. He was never one to mince his words. He often said that to keep Maharaj-Swami’s paksh was the highest form of bhakti. He never tolerated those who spoke ill of Maharaj-Swami and always boldly explained the truth to them.
He would write letters to sadhus encouraging them to speak fearlessly about Akshar-Purushottam. He would not forget to mention that Maharaj praises a courageous devotee, that “a devotee of God should not become suppressed by evil people; he should be courageous,” and how “if a person does speak derogatorily [of God or His great Sadhu], one should retaliate with words as sharp as an arrow, but in no way should one become humble before a non-believer.”
FOLLOW SHASTRIJI MAHARAJ
Shastriji Maharaj followed these four principles religiously. We should too. When we stray from these principles problems arise.
Since Shriji Maharaj’s time there have been many people that have fallen out of Satsang. Why? Be-cause they did not follow these principles. A person who travels abroad to visit another country is only an outsider. Until he starts to live in that country, follows its rules, blends with its people and customs, he will never be accepted. Similarly, we might be members of the Sanstha, wear a kanthi around our neck, and even do puja, but unless we follow agna, uphold upasana, keep sadbhav and paksh, we are mere outsiders.
Shriji Maharaj himself excommunicated Ragunathdas who tried to be worshipped as Ramanand Swami. He even expelled Harbai and Valbai who wanted to change the essential niyams being followed in Satsang. His stance was firm then and so it is today.
Sometimes it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in Satsang. If you have not been following the rules, success will not last for long. Imagine an athlete running the 100m sprint. He is out of the blocks in time and by the half-way point he is yards ahead of the other competitors. So sure of victory, that even before he reaches the finish line, he throws his arms in the air in celebration. The race is over and he is on the podium, seconds away from receiving his gold medal. Suddenly, he’s asked by an official to step down because he has been disqualified. Why? The video replay shows he crossed over onto another athlete’s lane. But he broke the world record! It doesn’t matter; he broke the rules.
Shastriji Maharaj built this Sanstha on solid foundations. Agna and upasana are the stones and bricks that are buried deep. Sadbhav is the cement holding everything together. And if any external force tries to compromise this structure, paksh, the steel, is there standing strong.
It is built to last. If we wish to be a part of it and be happy, we must follow the architect’s guidelines; otherwise we’re just building on sand. We need to follow the principles of agna, upasana, sadbhav and paksh.