13 February 1999 : Saturday (Maha vad 12), Atladra
Swamishri gave a message to a local TV channel about the glory and history of the Swaminarayan maha-mantra.
This evening Swamishri graced the Annual Day programme of the Chhatralaya. After a few mono-acting presentations, a multi-media presentation on the story of the Chhatralaya's progress and activities, since the last eleven years, a drama, 'God Save Me', depicted today's academic atmosphere with sarcasm.
Swamishri then blessed the assembly, saying,
"Students do not want to study today. And when the exam paper is difficult they copy and create an agitation but this does not help them in gaining anything. Study means study! If students make efforts, take care and sincerely study in silence and concentration then no matter how hard the exam paper may be they would have nothing to worry about. In fact he wastes his time in addictions, creating strikes, commotion and indulges in worldly attraction.
"A student should nourish noble feelings and ambitions that he wants to study well, pass with good marks, serve his parents and his country, please God and attain moksha."
14 February 1999 : Sunday (Maha vad 13), Atladra
The birth of Lord Shiva, Maha Shivaratri, is celebrated with reverence and festivity in India. Swamishri went for the morning darshan of Thakorji in the mandir. Harikrishna Maharaj was adorned in the garbs of Nilkanth Varni and the murtis of Laxminarayan were dressed as Shiva and Parvati.
In the evening the members of the Women's Wing had prepared an Annkut of 356 food items for the Lord.
The agenda for the evening Sunday assembly was Tilak-chandlo. A speech describing its history and significance was followed by a presentation of experiences by devotees with regard to the benefits of doing the tilak-chandlo. Swamishri, in his blessings, explained, "Shriji Maharaj has instructed in the Shikshapatri to do the tilak-chandlo daily. Now no further instructions need be given. We have taken the refuge of God, therefore it behoves upon us to do what pleases Him.
"We should not feel ashamed in doing the tilak-chandlo. If someone doesn't like the clothes you wear then do you give them up? When someone tells you your house is no good, then we don't give it up! And we don't feel ashamed of it either because we have a house according to our own means. Similarly, when someone says that your business is not proper and to his liking, do we give it up? People do various types of business. Many people living abroad run hair cutting saloons and a laundry, yet they do not feel inferior or ashamed of it. Similarly, we should understand that we are doing the tilak-chandlo to please God and for our own moksha. By doing it, we are not causing any damage to anyone. Every religion prescribes a symbol for their disciples."
Before dinner, a devotee brought his son, "Swami, give him blessings because he is getting married."
Swamishri asked him, "After your marriage where will you be going?" The youth replied, "The Maldives islands. It is near Sri Lanka."
Swamishri, "But what is the need to do so? You will be just wasting Rs.25,000 for nothing!"
The youth's father interrupted, "Bapa not Rs.25,000 but he will spend Rs.100,000." Swamishri then explained to the youth, "When you go there and if you two have a row or a hot argument then you will return home with a big problem. Instead, it would be better to visit our mandirs for darshan. You will be blessed with the merits of doing a pilgrimage. Today, we find such things (going on a honeymoon) have increased. This is not our custom."
To please Swamishri, the youth changed his plans and decided to go on a pilgrimage of our mandirs.
Just before Swamishri retired to bed he came by his room door to wish everyone Jay Swaminarayan. Two children, Bhagvat and Tilak, hailed enthusiastically, the jay of "Swaminarayan Maha-mantra Bicentenary Festival."
Swamishri enquired of them, "Have you started chanting the mantra? Do you do the mala (rosary)?"
Both the boys were silent because they had not started chanting the mantra. "Then you should not call out the jay of the festival,"
Swamishri said. Swamishri emphasized to add the note of practice in their enthusiasm while calling out the jay.
This morning a Medical Camp was arranged for young girls. 428 girls took part in the health camp.
This afternoon, a Parent's Day pertaining to girls and teenage daughters had been organised in the mandir. The members of the Balika and Kishori mandal presented cultural programs . They were counselled for their problems and given guidance on the subject of personality development.
15 February 1999 : Monday (Maha vad 14), Atladra
The murtis of Harikrishna Maharaj in the mandir were beautifully adorned with fragrant flowers this morning.
After darshan Swamishri enthusiastically blessed the 10th and 12th grade students for their coming exams by showering petals on them.
He said, "Read well. You will all pass. Jay Maharaj."
After completing his puja, Swamishri was walking towards his car. When he saw R.C. Patel, an old devotee sitting in a chair, waiting for his blessings, R.C. Patel asked Swamishri, "How is your health Bapa.?" Swamishri asked him, "How are you?"
"I am fine by your grace," he replied.
"I am fine too by your grace," Swamishri answered.
The evening assembly was announced as 'Sacrifice Day'. The principal theme was to inspire the devotees to donate at least 1/10 or 1/5 of their earnings in the service of God every month.
A telling drama depicted this message very effectively. In his blessings, Swamishri inspired everyone to offer according to their means at least 1/10th or 1/5th of their monthly income and reserve some regular time for spiritual association and discourses.
16 February 1999 : Tuesday (Maha vad 15), Atladra
Before Swamishri's morning puja, devotees from the tribal areas of Pavi Jetpur and Chhota Udaipur welcomed Swamishri in their traditional colorful costumes and music of drums, shanais and flutes. They danced with joy and expressed their abundant affection for Swamishri. In response, Swamishri blessed them and acknowledged their efforts and devotion.
At 11.00 am Swamishri specially attended an assembly arranged for the tribal devotees. They performed traditional dances with swords and musical instruments in hand. Finally, Swamishri addressed them, "Today you have come from different villages like Jetpur, Bodeli, Chuli and many others. We had been to these places recently and witnessed the love and enthusiasm of everyone. "Even though the tribal people live in huts, they may have less talents, but we can see the warmth of devotion and love in their lives. They have accepted Satsang and have become morally strong. They have given up alcoholic drinks, smoking and meat-eating and their homes have become cleaner. They have installed the murtis of God in their homes and offer prayers to Him.
"Even though Chuli is a very poor village, yet its people have made a mandir. Several of the poor villages have personally endeavored in creating mandirs from their meager incomes. The poor devotees now offer worship, food and arti to the images of God, and conduct spiritual discourses. I was extremely pleased when I saw all this.
"God belongs to everyone. One who worships Him, be he poor or rich, but God goes to their homes because of their love and devotion..." Swamishri then narrated the devotion of Shabri who was a poor tribal woman.
The evening assembly was announced as Kishore-din and Agna-din. Swamishri stressed the importance of observing moral and spiritual instructions. "... The more we obey God's wishes and moral injunctions, the stronger we become, and the more our inner desires dissolve away. By following the moral and spiritual instructions we experience happiness and peace in life..."
17 February 1999 : Wednesday (Falgun Sud 1), Atladra
The day was announced as 'Tribal Upliftment day'. The murtis of Thakorji were dressed and decorated in rural, forest clothes and ornaments.
Swamishri was once again welcomed and surrounded by the enthusiastic tribal devotees when he descended the mandir steps. Their colorful mirror-studded clothes and the rhythm of their dance charged the mandir precincts with emotion and devotion.
At 10.20 am Swamishri attended the morning assembly dedicated for the devotees from the tribal areas. Programs reflecting the tribal lifestyle and festivals were presented excellently. Various festivals and dances were performed in tribal style, color, music and rhythm. A welcome dance, Mataji's chariot, boat dance, war dance and a display of fast sword movements and other weapons, simply stunned the urban audience of devotees.
Swamishri encouraged some tribal children, who had come to garland him, to study and offer prayers to God.
In his blessings, Swamishri appreciated and mentioned the various dances they had performed, "... You are all very privileged and fortunate to have come into this Satsang-fellowship. Through satsang one attains knowledge, one's life gets transformed. We have seen that formerly these tribal people were under the influence of vices and superstitions and today they are in the Satsang-fellowship. They have given up all their bad habits... May God bless you with lots of happiness and purity in life."
In the evening, a devotee who was going to settle in the USA, was introduced to Swamishri. Swamishri told him to remain steadfast in Satsang."You should never forget the values of Satsang no matter where you go. There should be no lapse in doing your puja and following the moral injunctions...
following the moral injunctions... "When people go to America they adopt their way of life. But one should never take or touch cigarettes, alcohol or meat. We should not forget our cultural values and duties prescribed by Shriji Maharaj, Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj."
18 February 1999 : Thursday (Falgun Sud 2), Atladra
In the evening Swamishri enlightened the congregation, "...God and His choicest sadhu are our true friends because they know how to strike true friendship that no one else can do. They come on this earth for the good of all. We are fortunate to have the association of a true sadhu...
Shriji Maharaj has prescribed the Shikshapatri for the good of all souls. It is difficult to get such noble thoughts and feelings. We do good for only our own self and family members. Whereas God's choicest sadhu is free of 'I'ness and 'Mine'ness. For him the whole world is his family. He comes to redeem all.."
19 February 1999 : Friday (Falgun Sud 4), Atladra
Swamishri honored Shri Hatim Jakiyuddin Saheb, head of the Alvi Vora community. A conversation on the need of morality and brotherhood on the spiritual path took place between the two spiritual leaders. Shri Hatim Jakiyuddin Saheb said to Swamishri, "I have heard of your fame and the immense reverence that people have for you. Thousands of people thirst for your blessings. I am indeed very pleased to meet you today..."
It was Children's day today. The children members of the Satsang-fellowship welcomed Swamishri before his morning puja.
The evening assembly commenced with a flower-dance performed by little children. A drama, describing how the energy and talents in young children grow and develop in the Bal Mandals of the Sanstha (BAPS), was performed.
This was followed by a game, 'Name the Tune', where Swamishri was asked to participate. A tune of a bhajan was played and Swamishri's team was asked to name the kirtan. In a flash Swamishri started singing "Shastriji Maharaj no sang".
The announcer declared it as true and asked Swamishri, "Do you always remember God in all your activities?" Swamishri replied, "Of course, one has to remember God in all activities. We always keep Him in the forefront and perform our activities."
After two more rounds another question was asked to Swamishri's team. Swamishri recognized the tune and sang, "Yogi avo te rang mane shid lagadyo..." The announcer declared it true and posed another question to Swamishri, "Is regularity in one's studies a quality of an ideal child?"
Swamishri replied, "Yes, it should be done regularly. Studying regularly is one of the qualities of an ideal child. One should study regularly, read and do one's homework regularly..." When the points of each team were announced, Swamishri's team was declared the winner.
And finally while blessing the assembly Swamishri said, "We just saw a wonderful program presented by children. Let us truly congratulate them for their enthusiasm and warm feelings. It was the wish of Yogiji Maharaj that satsang should touch the lives of children, teenagers and youths. The reason is that the impressions one gets during childhood stay forever till the end of life. Therefore one should nourish them with virtues. One should perform puja, arti, thal in one's home everyday. In the past, parents told stories of Dhruv, Prahlad, Ramayana and Mahabharat to their children. Consequently the children had thoughts of becoming like Dhruv and Prahlad... But today when the child sees scenes of alcohol drinking, murder and drug addiction on TV, he too starts thinking in that manner... But if he is exposed to devotion then when he grows up he will devote himself in serving society, family and God. So from a young age we should give him good books of great saints and inspiring people to read."