In the annals of history, the bells of shining youths toll resoundingly. The spirit of youth has changed the history of the world. History has always been created by a handful of individuals, the rest just create a geographical background. Those who have created history have always taken great studies early in life. Lord Swaminarayan has said that a great personage can always be known from childhood. Only from the fulfillment of youthhood does grey-hair wisdom later emerge.
Einstein, the father of the atomic age, at the age of 12 decided to find a solution for the world's problems. At the age of 16, he put forward the Theory of Relativity and gave the famous equation: E=mc2. And at 26, he changed 5000 years of history by bringing the world on to the doorstep of the nuclear age.
Alexander the Great who had conquered half the (then known) world became a king at the age of only 20. In his short reign of 12 years and 8 months, he conquered all kingdoms stretching from Greece to India and died at the age of 33. Napoleon, at the age of 29 became the dictator of France and emperor when he was only 34. Awakening the Roman empire, the famous soldier Hannibal became commander-in-chief of Carthage at 26. Shivaji decided to liberate India from foreign oppressors at the age of only 16.
Many a skilled hands of youth have carved the sculpture of the world. One who has no aim at 20, nor has the energy to endeavour at 30 and has not achieved success at 40 is rarely able to accomplish anything else in his life. Raman Maharshi went to Tiruvannamalai at 17 and took a vow of silence. Srimad Rajchandra wrote the philosophical text "Mokshamala" at 16 and performed the feat of "Shatavadhan" at 19. At 34, he became Gandhi's guru. Vallabhacharya attained God-realization at only 15. Establishing unity in India by founding 4 holy seats in the four remote corners of India, Shankaracharya, took sannyas (became a renunciate) at the tender age of only 8. At 16, he wrote commentaries on the Upanishads which even today are studied by Sanskrit philosophers.
Be it a worldly or religious subject, but only those who are dynamic during their days of youth can keep the world awake. Those who rise in the closing hours of their lives miss the invigorating rays of the sun.
Brahmagupta who gave the world 'O' (zero) wrote the famous ''Brahma Siddhant'' at the age of 30. When Bhaskracharya fully developed a methodical version of the decimal system he was only 36. He also gave us the binary system and the unequalled text - "Leelavati" in which he put forth the formulae: Ð x Ð = + and Ð x + = Ð.
Elvis Presley who sold millions of records and changed the face of the music world presented his first L.P. when he was only 20. J. Edgar Hoover was only 29 when he founded the FBI and became its director. The freedom crusader of 20 million American Negroes, Martin Luther King was only 26 when he started his mission. He was only 34 when he gave his famous speech, "I have a dream...." He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize when he was 35. His inspirer, Mahatma Gandhi was only 25 when he raised the issue against the South African Government, in denying the Indians a voting right, by delivering his famous speech, "This is the first nail in our coffin." Swami Vivekanand was only 30 years old when he addressed the parliament of Religions in Chicago and extolled the glory of Hinduism in the west. At the age of 29, Guru Nanak founded Sikhism. Buddha and Mahavir set their life goals when they were 30. Revolting against the decadence of Christianity, Martin Luther was only 34 years old when he nailed the Ninety-five Theses to the door of the church at Wittenburg. When little Nachiketa of the Upanishads asked Yama Raja for the secret of victory over death, he was but a mere 5 years old. The founder of Jainism, Hemchandracharya was only 9 when he became a renunciate.
One who fails in youth fails in life. So what is youth? Joan d'Arc, who was instrumental in achieving victory for France in the famous 100 year war, thus expelling the British from Europe, and who installed Charles VII on the throne, was then only 17. After the war, she was captured and tried as a heretic in England. She did not succumb and when the Church of England burnt her on the stake she was only 20. Youth is that which teaches us to be prepared to die for a principle.
In the Swaminarayan Fellowship, the fountain of youth has ever remained in a crowning position. Lord Swaminarayan had studied the Vedic scriptures by the age of 11. Not only that, but at 10 he gave an erudite exposition propounding the Vishishtadvaita philosophy in a debate with learned pandits in Kashi. At 11, he left home to tour India's holy places. At the young age of 21 he founded this fellowship - the Swaminarayan Sampradaya. At 26, he initiated overnight 500 sadhus into the paramhansa fold. To the lives of sadhus and householders he thus gave a spiritual awakening. Bhagatji Maharaj came to Junagadh when 33, to Gunatitanand Swami and through him, at 35 attained God-realization. Shastriji Maharaj whose childhood wish was to become an ideal sadhu, became the spiritual heir of Bhagatji Maharaj and assumed the Guruship of the Satsang at the young age of only 33. Yogiji Maharaj became a sadhu when he was only 16 and joined Shastriji Maharaj at 19. Pramukh Swami Maharaj also became a sadhu at 16 and at 28 was appointed as the President of the sect by Shastriji Maharaj.
During Shriji Maharaj's time, his personal secretary, Shukanand Swami was likened to Muktanand Swami, in saintly qualities, when he was only 22 years old. Gopalanand Swami was only a child when he mastered Ashtang Yoga. Nityanand Swami, the invincible scholar had completed his Vedic scriptural studies by the age of 11. The guru of the famous Gujarati poet Dalpatram, Swami Devanand became a sadhu when he was only 6! When Raghuvirji Maharaj and Ayodhyaprasadji Maharaj, the nephews of Shriji Maharaj were appointed as the Acharyas of Vartal and Amdavad, they were only 14 and 16 respectively. Dada Khachar had joined Maharaj in Akshardham by the time he was only 30. Shivlal Sheth of Botad retired to Akshardham when he was 34. When he performed his morning puja, Maharaj used to manifest Himself in His divine form, which was observable by all those sitting around.
One who fails to accomplish his goals in youth also fails to understand and attain the truths of life. Newton who discovered the law of gravitation, at the age of 21 in, "Certain Philosophical Questions" wrote: "Plato is my friend, Aristotle is my friend, but my best friend is truth."
The ideal time for making truth a friend is during one's formative years. The ox that squanders away its whole life turning the wheel of the oil mill does not get to taste the seeds of the oil. To his father who advocated spiritual devotion and worship in old age and play in childhood, Gunatitanand Swami replied that it is a great loss of profit during youth if one waits to do business in old age.
God has given us this life to gain a profit during youth rather than make a loss in old age.