Essays Archives

Together everyone achieves more. But this is only true when individuals realise their role
and fulfil the responsibilities allocated to them by the team leader…

Carpenter’s Tools Committtee
“He’s too noisy. He’s got to step down.”

“Yeah, I agree. He must go.” A cheer of approval erupted, as the members of the Carpenter’s Tools Committee called for the resignation of the presiding chairman, Mr. Hammer. Sensing the hostility, Mr. Hammer stood up and countered, “Okay, I’ll go. But only if Mr. Chisel resigns as well. You see, there’s no depth in his work. It’s always superficial.”
As everyone’s eyes turned to Mr. Chisel, he reacted, “Well if I go, Mr. Rule will also have to go. He’s always measuring people as though he’s the only one who is right.”
The attention turned to Mr. Rule. Dodging the issue, he accused Mr. Sandpaper, “I think he should go because he’s rougher than he ought to be. He’s always rubbing people up the wrong way!”
Shifting the parcel of blame, Mr. Sandpaper focussed on Mr. Saw, “In my opinion Mr. Saw should withdraw because he’s always cutting people up.” Infuriated by the allegations, Mr. Saw was just about to retaliate when the carpenter walked in. He gathered the tools into his work bag and took them to his workshop to build a beautiful and useful cupboard.
Individually, the tools were bickering and disunited. But when united by the carpenter, they combined with each other to create a beautiful cupboard. This is the strength of unity – of working together.

Working Together In Heaven
A story is told in management circles of an executive who died and went to heaven. There he saw other executives – both successful ones and failures. They were housed in different rooms. The newly arrived executive entered the room occupied by the failed executives. It was dinner time and delicious, mouth-watering food was served. Yet they were all thin – as if they had not eaten for months! The reason soon became clear. Each person had a long iron spoon strapped and fastened from the biceps to the wrist. This prevented the executives from bending their elbow and putting the spoon to their mouth. And so, unable to eat, these failed executives became thin. The newly arrived executive then entered the room containing the successful executives. He saw the same delicious food and the same set up, yet all these executives were well nourished. The reason? Each man dipped his spoon into the food and fed the man seated across the table!
Such co-operation is central to existence, after all, ‘Man is a social animal’.

What Is Unity?
The Oxford Encyclopedic English Dictionary defines unity as, “oneness, being one… being formed of parts that constitute a whole; due interconnection and coherence of parts.”
And in Webster’s New World Dictionary, it is described as, “the quality of being one in spirit, sentiment, purpose, etc; harmony; agreement; concord; uniformity.”
Unity, in essence, is the wholehearted combination of individuals to achieve a specified goal. It is an essential and much-desired quality sought after by everyone. Unity is to work in harmony with one’s companions.

The Value Of Unity
The above examples illustrate the benefits of unity.
A united family is a happy family. This bond of unity prevents long-lasting rifts. Although there may be differences of opinion, they compromise and speak with one voice. Such families where parents and children live in complete harmony are the envy of the neighbourhood.
Unity plays an important role in sporting success too. Compare the performance of a football team which is plagued by discord, disharmony and gossip with that of a team free of such troubles. History shows that the latter is far more successful than the former. The reason is simple – lack of unity breaks the morale, lowers the spirits and erodes the team’s ability to perform effectively.
Even scientists recognise and are actively striving to harness the greater power of unity. Since the middle of the twentieth century, scientists have used the process of nuclear fission to generate energy. Although a very efficient method, it produces much toxic radioactive waste. Therefore, efforts are in progress to refine the use of nuclear fusion technology. In this process two atoms of hydrogen are combined, resulting in the formation of heavier elements, and the release of much more energy than is produced by nuclear fission. Furthermore, nuclear fusion is a clean and non-toxic method of energy production. Thus, the act of uniting atoms, though more difficult than splitting them, yields greater benefits. This is what unity can achieve.
Thus, unity or mutual co-operation, is central to human existence and progress.

Working Together
Everywhere we look, we see evidence of the success that goes with unity. Sports teams, corporations and even political parties are more likely to succeed if they are united and every individual co-operates with other members of their team to work towards their common goal.
Yogiji Maharaj often narrated the story of a flock of birds. Once, the entire flock was caught under a hunter’s net. They all flapped their wings and tried in their own way to escape, but their attempts were futile. Then, one of the doves calmed the others and suggested that instead of flapping their wings haphazardly, they all flap their wings together. They did this and flew high in the air, carrying the net above them. They then rested on a tree and the net settled on the branches. The birds escaped to freedom from underneath. Thus, by working together they successfully regained their freedom.
Yogiji Maharaj used to explain that working together like this, in a spirit of co-operation and unity brings remarkable success. Such a spirit should be adopted in all activities.
A well-known saying reveals, ‘Coming together is a beginning; Staying together is progress; and Working together is success.’
In his discourses, Gunatitanand Swami has said, “If five people or two people of the same inclination get together, they are like hundreds of thousands and tens of millions. And without this shared inclination no matter how many get together, they are alone (4-107).”
In fact, even in spiritual activities, where the ultimate experience is individual, teamwork is an essential ingredient in attaining success. Emphasising this, Gunatitanand Swami says, “To gain true spiritual wisdom, Swami advised, ‘If two, four or five people with the same motive (to attain true spiritual wisdom) stay two, four or five years in isolation and continually engage in discussion, then knowledge of ãtmã and Paramãtmã is acquired’ (2-106).”
Further explaining the need for unity in attaining spiritual progress, Gunatitanand Swami describes the story of the king and a quiver of arrows. He says, “Adharma sarg jab karat praveshã, sur nar muni mahi nahi sukh leshã (When unrighteousness enters, no happiness remains for gods, men and sages). Reciting this, Swami said, ‘How does such a path of unrighteousness come into existence? Well, it is when there is mental discord with others that such unrighteousness enters. But if there is unity with each other (in the fellowship), then unrighteousness does not gain entry.’ On this, he narrated a story told by Maharaj (Bhagwan Swaminarayan), ‘A king asked for a quiver of arrows and said, “Let the strongest among you, break this quiver.” Then, the strongest man tried but the quiver of arrows could not be broken. Then, taking a single arrow from the quiver, he told the weakest to break it. And he broke it instantly. Then the king told his senior courtiers, “See, if you remain united like this quiver of arrows, then whoever the enemy is, they will not be able to defeat you and the kingdom will remain secure and prosperous.” ’ After narrating this example, Swami said, ‘If you all – sadhus, parshads and brahmacharis – maintain unity like this, then no matter what type of internal enemies you face, they will not be able to defeat you. And if you do not stay united like this, then even the smallest of defects will drive you out of Satsang’ (3-58).”
So, teamwork, working together or unity is necessary in all aspects of life. In today’s competitive business environment, much has been written and taught about the best way to develop this essential ingredient among co-workers.
But ultimately, the success of any strategy adopted depends upon the attitude of each individual in the team: how he fulfils his given role and his willingness to compensate for others’ shortcomings by rising above the call of duty.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj has revealed a four-point plan which every individual of a team should adopt to ensure the success of the team: (1) to willingly follow instructions, even by giving up one’s preferences, (2) to uncomplainingly adjust to prevailing circumstances, (3) to tolerate, and (4) to unconditionally help others.
Yogiji Maharaj, throughout his life, stressed the need for unity, and his life exemplified the above four principles.

1. To Willingly Follow Instructions, Even by Giving Up One’s Preferences
Yogiji Maharaj always carried out his guru’s, Shastriji Maharaj’s, instructions without question. He would postpone whatever he was doing and first obey Shastriji Maharaj’s wish. Yogiji Maharaj often said, “If Shastriji Maharaj calls and I am eating, I would leave my food; and if I am writing, I would drop my pen and go to Shastriji Maharaj.”
Once, in Sarangpur, after a long, tiring day of service, Yogiji Maharaj went to sleep at about 1.00 am. At about 2.00 am a group of 75 devotees entered the mandir, exhausted and hungry. Shastriji Maharaj, who was sleeping in the verandah, was awoken by their arrival. The devotees explained that because their bus had broken down they were unable to reach here earlier. Shastriji Maharaj realised their predicament and offered to arrange their meal. He went to where Yogiji Maharaj was sleeping and awoke him. Yogiji Maharaj had been asleep for barely an hour, but as it was Shastriji Maharaj’s wish, he enthusiastically got up and gave up his much needed rest.

2. To Uncomplainingly Adjust to Prevailing Circumstances
In 1953, Yogiji Maharaj visited Ramod with Matam Swami. One of the devotees, Mohanbhai, had sponsored a meal there. So, while Yogiji Maharaj delivered a spiritual discourse in the assembly, Matam Swami began cooking in the kitchen. However, the kitchen was an enclosed area with no ventilation. And in those days, firewood was used in the stove. The resulting smoke was unbearable for Matam Swami, whose eyes began to burn from the irritation. So he gave up and went to sleep. After the assembly, Yogiji Maharaj went to the kitchen and saw that Matam Swami had gone to sleep without cooking. When Yogiji Maharaj asked him what had happened, he explained the situation and told Yogiji Maharaj, “If you want to offer thal to Thakorji, then you cook, but I’m not coming into the kitchen.” Yogiji Maharaj immediately got to work, lit the stove and in a short time completed the cooking. He offered the thal to Thakorji and then lovingly called Matam Swami to eat.
Thus, in this way, Yogiji Maharaj realised the need of the hour and although it was not his responsibility to do the cooking, he accepted Matam Swami’s decision and completed the task at hand, without complaint.

3. To Tolerate
Once, Yogiji Maharaj was on a train journey with some other sadhus and devotees. As usual, he began to sing bhajans out loud. However, in the same compartment a group of youths, who were noisily engrossed in a card game, rudely told Yogiji Maharaj to be quiet as they felt he was disturbing them. Without arguing, Yogiji Maharaj stopped singing and continued his devotion in his mind. Yogiji Maharaj had as much right to sing as they had to play cards, but this was Yogiji Maharaj’s nature – to silently tolerate all situations without any feelings of ill-will towards anyone.

4. To Unconditionally Help Others
Yogiji Maharaj had sacrificed his life for God and guru. From the beginning, he engaged himself in all types of services in the mandir. His daily routine was such that it would exhaust and frustrate anyone, but not Yogiji Maharaj. He awoke daily at 4.00 am, fetched 300 sticks of datan, drew water for bathing and cooking, grazed the cattle, washed the utensils, cleaned the mandir and performed many other duties. Thus, he was constantly occupied in the service of others. Shastriji Maharaj had instructed him to feed the devotees. So for 40 years, he singlehandedly cooked for them wherever he was. Even while doing this service, every three days, he observed a waterless fast. Thus, he put his body through much physical hardship.
All the above details reveal that Yogiji Maharaj was truly a selfless team player. He never sought praise and dutifully obeyed Shastriji Maharaj, the team leader, adjusting to the circumstances so that everything would function smoothly.
So, only when all members of a team develop this attitude is a team able to work together, to be truly successful and maintain that success.
Today, Pramukh Swami Maharaj, despite being the spiritual and administrative leader of the worldwide BAPSSwaminarayan Sanstha always discusses and involves sadhus and devotees in planning and executing various projects. He does not hesitate in being a team member even though he is spiritually realised and possesses a vast treasure of knowledge and experience in many fields. Out of his inclination in promoting harmony, comradeship and unity (samp, suhradaybhav and ekta) we see the great achievements he has made. He often says, “Shastriji Maharaj established the BAPS with only five sadhus and a handful of devotees. It was their unity and saintliness that produced the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha.”
If the power of unity pervades in the family, workplace, country and in the world then our lives would be peaceful, prosperous and happier.

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