An interesting interview with Pramukh Swami Maharaj (originally in Gujarati) took place in Sarangpur, 1986. The questions were posed by a few sadhus.
Q. Ever since your initiation 50 years ago you have progressed spiritually with an exceptional pace and are now the Guru of millions worldwide. In fact you're eternally divine, a God-realised Sadhu, yet coming down to worldly terms what is the secret of your spiritual progress?
A. There is only one fundamental key to spiritual progress - single-minded determination to please the Guru. Shastriji Maharaj was a bona fide Guru. I lived my life according to his wishes alone and naturally, that's how I progressed. Bhagatji Maharaj, Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj attained such lofty spiritual heights through pleasing their Gurus and achieving their grace and blessings. Mind you, it is impossible to attain such great heights merely through personal endeavors, or intelligence or scholarliness!
Q. Once you had to meet Shastriji Maharaj in Wadhwan. You decided to walk to your destination because it was quicker. At that time it was the zenith of Indian summer. The Bhogavo river which you had to cross was dry and its sand was baking hot because of the scorching sun. You had no shoes and still you dared to walk those few miles of blistering sand along the river-bed. What made you do it?
A. I had always kept a clear goal in mind when I became a sadhu - to please Shastriji Maharaj! And to achieve this I was prepared to bear and hurdle over all hardships and adverse situations. If you are bent on pleasing the Guru you become totally indifferent to pain and discomfort. The paramhansas were brutally persecuted and faced tremendous physical hardship, yet their spirit to please Maharaj never waned. They forged forward, not sympathizing with their body or its need. So for those who seek the blessings of God and His holy Sadhu should bear in mind that misery, unhappiness, depression, etc. are all part of life. The aim of pleasing the Guru should not be eclipsed by such trials.
Q. You have a following of 400 disciple-sadhus and parshads. You are our Guru and liberator, so with what heart and feelings do you look upon us?
A. Actually, you've all dedicated your whole lives to serve Maharaj and Swami on the Guru's word. A genuine Guru always nourishes a feeling to redeem you all, that you master 'Ekantika Dharma', that your lives become enriched with the essential qualities of 'seva' and 'bhakti' and that not even a tinge of worldly desires remain within you. He wants to bestow upon you the same bliss of God which he is constantly enjoying. He prays that your love and devotion to Maharaj remain steadfast and unpolluted. Also, that you become happy and make thousands of others happy in life by propagating the knowledge of `Aksharpurushottam'. The Guru has a pure heart, so his wishes and feelings of concern are also pure.
Q.Swamiji, you always remain calm and composed even amidst showers of both extreme praise and insult. What thought lies behind your remarkable mental equilibrium?
A. Such occasions (that of praise and insult) do occur in
Satsang. Therefore, it's necessary to build the right understanding that: "I am the smallest of the small. I know nothing. Everybody else is greater and more understanding than I. When you arrive at this understanding in your life, then where is the question of mental turbulance! Let people speak and write as they like, but you should always walk with an 'elephant's' indifference: he takes no notice of barking dogs for he knows they're puny and fickle in strength.
Q. Which single incident with Shastriji Maharaj has touched your heart the most?
A. So many incidents have impressed me, but one that I was a witness to comes quickly to mind.
I was young then. Shastriji Maharaj was suffering badly from arthritis. Massaging oils and medication were prescribed by the doctors. Once Ramji Bhagat who dispensed the medicines to Shastriji Maharaj in Sarangpur was away. He gave me the responsibility of giving the medicines to Shastriji Maharaj. There were two medicines, one was castor oil to be taken in milk and the other was to be externally applied. Accidentally, I mixed a spoonful of the poisonous massage oil with milk. Shastriji Maharaj drank it and left for the assembly in the 'Rang Bhavan'. Ashabhai took some hot milk in the same glass. As he drank it, he felt a burning sensation down his throat. It was unbearable. He started screaming and shouting. I realised that I had acidentally mixed a spoonful of the massaging oil into the milk. I was scared, 'What'll happen to Shastriji Maharaj? If anything happens to him then everyone will blame me.' I dashed off to Shastriji Maharaj's room and broke down crying. Shastriji Maharaj came to his room from the 'Rang Bhavan' and saw me crying. He placed my head on his lap and started consoling me. I told him what had happened and asked for forgiveness. 'Everyone will blame me if anything happens to you!'
He said, 'Am I not as great a bhakta as Mira, Prahlad and Narsinh? (who survived from a plot to poison them to death). Won't Maharaj save me? If Mahadev (Shiv) could digest poison, then so can I! Don't worry. I'm going to be absolutely fine…'
With these words he revealed his own greatness, and assured me that nothing would happen to him. Shastriji Maharaj digested the poisonous medicine and I am indebted to him. I can never forget this incident!
Q. You have tremendous faith in the all-doership of Shriji Maharaj. How have you accepted this?
Q. Maharaj Himself has said, 'No one is capable of even plucking a blade of grass without My wish!' This is a fact. We're all incapable of moving our hands or talk independently at our own will. Whatever that happens in this universe is the work of Maharaj. To accept this is 'sevak bhava'. We are mere servants of God.
Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj were powerful and great Gurus, yet, they never arrogantly displayed their powers, but remained ideal servants of Maharaj.
We to, in every second of our lives must believe Maharaj as the all-doer. Remember, nothing is possible without His wish! He is the giver of happiness and misery, wealth and poverty. Whatever He does is for our benevolence, progress and salvation.
Q. Shriji Maharaj has endowed us with a perfect philosophy. He has also told us to follow the path of knowledge ('gnan'). But when you look at the 'guru parampara', you find that all of them have established their faith and trust in their Gurus. Why is faith and trust in the Guru so important?"
A. 'Gnan' is important, but nothing is attainable without the Guru's grace. Our philosophy is to realise and understand the Guru and finally place total faith and trust in him. Then nothing else remains to be accomplished. Shabari had faith in her Guru's words to an extent that she became blind due to old age but still she waited patiently to meet Bhagwan Ram. And eventually he came running to her!
If you seek a true Guru and do exactly as he says then you've mastered philosophy, Bhagavat, Vedanta, etc. One has to surrender all rational arguments and notions before the Guru and put total faith and trust in his words.