At times, if some sadhu or devotee has committed a slip-up, Swamishri takes it upon his own shoulders to accept the burden of fault. Once a cultural programme was arranged where due to lack of forethought by the organizers, some visitors had to be turned away owing to a full house. Those who missed out were naturally upset. Swamishri personally came to them to apologize and begged for forgiveness, promising to arrange another programme for them in the near future.
In 1987, Swamishri undertook a pilgrimage of Northern India with a retinue of over 400 sadhus and devotees, covering all the important places sanctified by Bhagwan Swaminarayan during his travels as a teenage yogi.
A few weeks following this yatra, Swamishri received this letter from one Mr. Parmar residing in England:
“You shouldn’t have come with such a big party. We came to visit the holy places, but your schedule clashed with ours, so we couldn’t find any decent accommodation. You spoilt our holiday and made our family miserable.”
Now judge for yourselves. In your eyes, who would you consider to be at fault? Our sadhus, who had taken care of the arrangements for this pilgrimage, booking accommodation up to three months in advance or Mr Parmar who decided to go for a spot booking?
Yet ponder over Swamishri’s reply:
“Sorry for the inconvenience that we may have caused. It was not our intention to cause you distress. If you had told us whilst you were there, we would certainly have arranged facilities for you and your family to stay. Please accept our apologies.”
Swamishri not only apologised for something that was most certainly not his fault, but in his letter there was no mention, not even a slight hint, of the other person being in the wrong.
No Pride of Humility
Indeed, humility is a strange thing – the minute you think you’ve got it, you’ve lost it! It goes without saying that if you think you’re humble, you’re not. And if you have to tell people that you’re humble, you obviously aren’t!
But Swamishri’s humility shines out from miles away. His life is such that it automatically speaks for itself. In his kirtan, “Sant jan soi sadã mohe bhãve”, Muktanand Swami extols the glory of a true sadhu. He says that such a sadhu possesses all saintly virtues yet, “Gunako mãn na ãve” – “He has no pride of even his virtues”. His spiritual state is so advanced that he manages to stay aloof from all bodily instincts, remaining totally unconscious of his humble status at all times.
Once, in Limbdi, during a public reception, a letter of honour was read out in recognition of Swamishri’s philanthropic services. Following this announcement, the organizers went up to Swamishri to present the letter. At this point, bespectacled Swamishri was on his seat absorbed in reading letters as if totally oblivious of who had just been honoured. It required a word of awareness by a sadhu sitting nearby before Swamishri realized what was going on.
Mark Twain once claimed, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” William Shakespeare said, “Praises are our wages.” It is often quoted that the deepest desire in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.
We all come into this Satsang to dissolve our ego yet who does not inwardly nourish feelings for praise, compliments or appreciation? However, if we ponder over Shriji Maharaj’s and Swamishri’s humility, then we too can check our pride.
Nishkulanand Swami has written in the Bhaktachintamani: “Jenã nirmãni Bhagwan, tenã jan ne joiye kema mãn?”
“If our Lord is ever humble, how can we ever think of harbouring pride?”
A sadhu once asked Swamishri to write blessings in English. Swamishri, who normally only writes in Gujarati, put pen to paper and wrote “i BLESS YOU”.
The sadhu commented, “In English, the word ‘I’ is always written with a capital ‘I’, not a small ‘i’.”
Quick-witted Swamishri instantly replied, “If one wants to progress in satsang, one must always learn to keep the ‘i’ small.” One can perceive and appreciate the depth of Swamishri’s humility and awareness.
But in Swamishri’s case, it is not merely a case of keeping the ‘I’ small, because in his life, there is no sense of ‘I’ at all.
What is the reason behind his unfathomable humility?
In 1988 in Houston, a devotee asked Swamishri, “The sadhus talk about your greatness and unceasingly praise you even in your presence, yet how do you manage to remain so humble?”
Swamishri replied, “Whatever happens, whatever good there may be in us is due to God and God only. On the other hand, if we feel that we are doing something, this only inflates our ego. But there’s no question of this as by ourselves we are capable of doing absolutely nothing.” Thus Swamishri’s belief and faith in the all-doership of God and his understanding of the greatness of God makes him naturally humble.
The devotee then asked, “When does this thought enter your mind?”
Swamishri revealed, “This thought never leaves my mind.”
Finally, let us also strive to realize and internalize in our lives the mahima (glory) of God and his God-realized Sadhu.