For a vast number of us, social media has become our all-in-one social repository- our source of news, entertainment, and connection. Ideas today spread by the second with every ‘click’, ‘like’, and ‘tweet’. Social media even plays a crucial role in how we do satsang today. The Daily Satsang and Vachnamrut apps allow us to practice our satsang on-the-go and vicharan videos allow us to maintain a connection to our guru regardless of where we are in the world. For instance, when Swamishri visited New Jersey in August 2014, for the murti pratishta of Robbinsville Mandir, text message alerts let us know exactly when Swami was coming out to give darshan. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram were filled with posts documenting the excitement of Swamishri's darshan. Even those who weren’t physically present in Robbinsville were updated via GroupMe and WhatsApp mobile applications. The BAPS YouTube channel was updated daily with Daily Darshan videos, and a live feed was provided every time Swamishri made an appearance. In many ways, much of the labh that we receive today would be impossible without the advent of social media. It's hard for us to imagine doing satsang without modern technology. Yet, much of the technology we use to do satsang today was absent just 50 years ago during Yogi Bapa's time and 100 years ago during Shastriji Maharaj's time.
Yet, Satsang still flourished. Like wildfire.
Shastrij Maharaj didn’t have text messaging, but he spread the messages of upasana through katha. Shastriji Maharaj didn’t have Twitter, but he mobilized thousands to follow him through tireless vicharan.
Shastriji Maharaj didn’t have Facebook, but through the efforts of his haribhaktos, hundreds “friended” the new sanstha.
Our guru stopped at nothing to spread the true upasana. As Shastriji Maharaj once declared: “Akshar Purshottam mate apne svapach ne ghere vechavu pade to pan te ochhu chhe. Mate tan, man, dhane Maharaj ni seva karvi". Anything for Akshar and Purshottam: that was the thought that drove him. Behind his every effort was the zeal of attaining Maharaj and Swami’s rajipo, the conviction of the true upasana, and the determination to spread it to the world.
Seeing Shastriji Maharaj, Ranabhai explained, “I have heard many derogatory things said about you-that you are a rebel, that you have left Vadtal- and because of that, I have not come to do your darshan.” Laughing, Shastriji Maharaj asked for the Vachanamrut, opened it and began speaking.
Shastriji Maharaj was a natural orator. When he spoke others listened with rapt attention. In this state, they often lost track of time and even forgot their need to eat and sleep. Before meeting him, people considered the Akshar-Purushottam philosophy to be baseless and blasphemous. To clear such misconceptions and guide aspirants on the path to moksha, he tirelessly conducted katha. His katha was inspiring, logical, and grounded in the shastras.
From Shastriji Maharaj’s style of katha we can get a sense of his academic prowess. While studying, he would share the glory of Pragji Bhakta and Akshar-Purshottam upasana with his teachers. One of his teachers, a great scriptural scholar named, Rangacharya, was so enthralled by Yagnapurushdas Swami’s talks on Maharaj and Swami’s glory that at times he would forget to teach. Jivanram Shastri would wonder at times if Yagnapurushdas Swami was in fact the teacher, and he the student. The young sadhu was so enthusiastic about spreading Shriji Maharaj’s philosophy that he would even talk to other students about it while helping them study, and would send them to do samagam with Jaga Bhakta. One such student was Manishankar. Yagnapurushdas Swami would talk to him about Pragji Bhagat’s mahima and even hand write portions of Bhagaji Maharaj’s jivan charitra for him to keep and study.
Even in his old age and failing health, Shastriji Maharaj never lost his enthusiasm for katha. Once in Rajpur, at the age of 84, after doing katha for quite some time, the haribhaktos asked Shastriji Maharaj to rest. Chuckling he said, “I rest eternally in the murti of Maharaj. However, when I am in the company of haribhaktos such as yourselves, Maharaj tells me from within to talk. So I cannot live without sharing the glory of Maharaj and Swami.”
Shastriji Maharaj’s words were filled with such conviction that those who truly listened formed an instant connection to his message. It was, in fact, instant messaging that penetrated not just the mind, but reached the very soul of those he spoke to. Now that’s true innovation.
Ranabhai was at a loss of words. Never once, had he heard the Vachnamrut explained in such a precise and enlightening manner. His misconceptions and doubts were dispelled. The darbar bowed to Shastriji Maharaj and left with the flame of the true upasana kindled in his heart.
Just days before Bhagatji Maharaj returned to dham, he left Shastriji Maharaj with one command: “Now, nothing remains unfinished for you. You know how to remain blissful; make all others blissful in the same way. Then, everything is achieved”. With these words, Bhagatji Maharaj passed the torch of Brahmavidya to Shastriji Maharaj. And Shastriji Maharaj, instead of waiting for others to seek its light, blazed a path of that divine bliss throughout Gujarat through his incessant vicharan.
To fulfill his guru’s wish, Shastriji Maharaj travelled incessantly, disregarding the weather, physical discomfort, and bodily needs such as food and sleep. After just a few days of travelling with Shastriji Maharaj, sadhus and devotees would become exhausted, but Shastriji Maharaj would never tire of doing vicharan. While the devotees or sadhus around him rotated, he remained fixed in his vicharan. After the Sarangpur mandir murti pratistha, several devotees wanted Shastriji Maharaj to grace their homes. Moved by their enthusiasm, Shastriji Maharaj travelled to eight different towns in the span of just a few days and graced the house of each devotee in those villages. Each town only had a handful of devotees, but Shastriji Maharaj still made it a point to visit them.