Unique Vision of Yogiji Maharaj
Samp, Suhdrudbhav and Ekta were three of many fundamental principles that Yogiji Maharaj had repeatedly preached during his ministry. He emphasised this central theme as a vital link with God. Without it one would fail to perceive and experience the joy and divinity of Satsang.
Brahmaswarup Yogiji Maharaj laid stress on several aspects during his ministry to promote commonweal and amity in Satsang. On countless occasions he had inspired to imbibe samp, suhradbhav and ekta in life. This quality could also be called fraternity feeling. In fact, they formed the cornerstone of his philosophy. Be it a small group or a public address, a gathering of devotees or youths, he never tired in repeating these words and exhorting his audience to cultivate these noble qualities. Time and place was not important to him. It could be past midnight or 4 am, the gathering could be a handful of people or a vast concourse of humanity come to listen to his words of wisdom. What was important to him was that the message had to be put across for the good of Satsang. During his final three years, Yogiji Maharaj repeated these words more and more. If we were to imbibe his words then we would experience peace, happiness and the living joy of Akshardham.
Gunatitanand Swami emphasised on four things as the soul of life - command or order (agna), mode of true worship (upasana), love for an ekantik sadhu (priti) and amity (suhradbhav). Of these four, affection (priti) appears to be the best. It seems clear that through love for the ekantik sadhu, agna, upasana and suhradbhav are nourished. But Yogi Bapa used to say that suhradbhav is the best. If one has suhradbhav then one develops love for the ekantik sadhu and becomes firm in upasana and agna.
Once Yogiji Maharaj asked the devotees of Mumbai, "If we were to 'paint' Mumbai with the colour of Satsang, what should be done?" There were old-timers and veteran devotees like Vajubhai in the gathering. But none of them could answer. Swamiji himself supplied the answer. "If we were to 'paint' Mumbai with the colour of Satsang we should have unity and friendship (samp, suhradbhav and ekta)." Everyone was amazed as to how one could possibly 'paint' Mumbai with Satsang? If we have these noble qualities ourselves then we are bound to leave our impression on others. Then Yogiji Maharaj explained that there was no escape from unity and amity. He also said, "If we don't have these qualities then Shriji Maharaj will punish us." In fact Shriji Maharaj never punishes any of his devotees. Then what does this mean? It means we will not have admittance to Akshardham and will have to repeat the cycle of births and deaths.
Often Yogiji Maharaj would talk about the need for mutual respect. In Satsang one has to understand each others greatness. If one has samp, suhradbhav and ekta then naturally there will be a lot of peace and progress in Satsang. Another facet of suhrudbhav is that one should not expose anothers faults. It is but natural every individual is not made the same way. There are bound to be differences in habits, speech, conduct, etc. And we normally discuss and gossip on such things. But this does not bring peace and joy to anyone. We should not expose and publicise faults through such futile talks. Many problems crop up in our families. We hear of sons and daughters running away from home without their parent's knowledge. But we do not publicise such things. Why? Because they are ours we do not want the world to know that such a thing has happened. Similarly, the Satsang is an extension of our family. So whatever holds for our family also applies to devotees of Satsang. He likened Satsang to a garden laid out by Shriji Maharaj. All the sadhus and devotees are like a big family. Pramukh Swami and Shriji Maharaj are the mother and father of this united family. Unless we convince ourselves that there cannot be any happiness without all-round unity we cannot have the experience of bliss in Satsang. Though this means appear simple, but it is not. This endeavour does not include the telling of beads, observing fasts and performing prostrations or circumbulations. It is a tough mental exercise. If this wonderful aspect of Satsang is clearly grasped then it can be implemented in life. That was the earnest desire of Yogi Bapa.
With reference to unity in Satsang, Gunatitanand Swami has said, "If all sadhus, palas and Brahmacharis maintained unity then no matter how great the inner enemy be, he would never be able to get the better of you. If this was not the case, even minor defects would overwhelm one and throw one out of Satsang."
Disunity invites Adharma. Whenever such a phase begins no one, not even the greatest of gods, men or munis could be saved and there would not be any happiness. This was the awareness that Yogiji Maharaj used to give often. Gunatitanand Swami has brought out the dangers of disunity through a revealing story. "There was a king. He called the front-ranking, valiant soldier of his army to break a quiverful of arrows. As all the arrows were tied together the brave soldier could do nothing. The king then untied the bundle and called a timid soldier not known for any exploits to break a single arrow. This he could achieve easily because only one arrow had to be broken. Thus if all of us stand united then Maya or bad times cannot harm us." Unity is the watchword that no power on earth could touch. Such unity is possible only where there is love and affection among the members of the Satsang-fold. Otherwise it is not possible. If we cannot understand the glory of Satsang then we will regress and fall from Satsang. In Vachanamrut Gadhada I. 28. Shriji Maharaj says that when a devotee is likely to regress in Satsang he begins to perceive faults in all devotees. And he feels the devotees lack understanding and that only he understands. He feels that only he is intelligent and knows everything. And in this frame of feelings he smoulders like a half-burnt log.
Swami says if one has samp, suhradbhav and ekta then one will not find faults in others.
Once Yogiji Maharaj went to Vadtal on the banks of the Gomti. There Shriji Maharaj had performed a lot of leelas. There is a mango tree by the lake. Yogiji Maharaj said, "This mango tree never tells beads, performs puja or darshan of Thakorji. Yet, if the devotees are told to offer it a litre of milk every day then everybody would oblige. But if he is asked to give a cup of milk to a particular devotee then he will not do so. Instead he will complain, how can we when he is like this and like that." They would conduct a minute observation of his defects and shortcomings. This shows our nature. Because of our tendency for fault-finding we do not derive any happiness from Satsang. That is why Jaga Swami highlighted that it was none of our business to look at anothers shape, actions and qualities. We should see only the good points of those in Satsang. Only then will we progress in Satsang.
Yogi Bapa often narrated the story of Ratnakar and the four brothers while emphasising the need for unity in Satsang. The four brothers who were known for their unity decided to please the Sea-god in order to earn riches from him. When the first brother sat on the seashore to pray and meditate another would go to the bazaar to look after purchases. The third brother would attend to cooking and the fourth would fill water from a well. As there was complete unity and suhradbhav among them nobody could set them against one another. In this way the brothers were awaiting the day when the Sea-god would appear before them and make them rich by rewarding them with the treasure.
The Sea-god was happy with the way the brothers were going about their task of appeasing him. He decided to confer the riches on them but first he wanted to test them to see whether they were really united or was it a mere make-belief to get the treasure. The god appeared in the guise of a man before the brother whose business it was to cook and said: "My dear fellow you are so hard working. You cook food and because of the smoke your eyes have become red. Look at your other brothers, they seem to be enjoying themselves and speak disrespectfully of you. They seem to be doing nothing compared to your exertions." The cook did not like to hear anything adverse about his other brothers. So the god in human form had to beat a hasty retreat when the brother became angry. Next the god went to the brother who was filling water. His luck did not hold there either and he had to quit the place. After he was convinced that the brothers stood solidly by one another and were united, he appeared before them in his divine form and gave the gold and precious stones.
Yogiji Maharaj explained that if somebody came carrying tales or speaking ill of others one's curiosity and interest would peak. Therefore if anyone brings such talks don't lend your ear. If you do so then the person will empty such ill talks before you. Suhrudbhav means giving one's bedding to another and sleeping on the floor and giving one's plate to another and remaining hungry. Yogi Bapa treated all devotees with the same affection and spoke of their glory - a trait which Pramukh Swami too shares with him.
Yogiji Maharaj used to say that the smallest of the small devotee was his crown. It is difficult for anyone to even think of this but it was in the heart of Yogiji Maharaj. He used to say that a devotee however small should be placed on one's head. Yogiji Maharaj would often touch the feet of even the junior most sadhu if the latter had performed some extraordinary service during a festival. So suhrudbhav is believing the smallest of devotees as one's crown.
And he also preached that suhrudbhav means not seeing anothers fault. Note that one pays no attention to the faults of a true friend. Even in his manner of speaking, talking and eating one sees no faults because of the bond of love and friendship. Despite his faults one would highlight his virtue - this is suhradbhav.
In 1971 Yogiji Maharaj made his last trip to Nairobi (East Africa). He laid stress as usual on the importance of suhradbhav among the devotees. Once Swamiji was sitting in an assembly. The assembly was to start at 6 pm. Because of Swamiji's bad health there was a ban on his visiting devotees' houses. Even then a devotee of standing, approached Yogi Bapa with a request to visit his house. To please the veteran devotee Swamiji went to his home. But the visit took longer than originally thought of. The assembly had started and the devotees were waiting for Swamishri's arrival. Yogi Bapa came at 7 pm. Many people were disappointed at the long absence of Swamiji as they had come to listen to his blessings. They were very angry with the devotee who had taken Yogiji Maharaj. One senior and spiritually knowledgeable devotee could not control himself and told Yogiji Maharaj in public, "Bapa! you should not have done this? You have come very late. All the devotees were waiting for you. They have missed your spiritual presence all this while." Swamiji replied to the query in a cool manner. "I have not been keeping good health and had been asked by the doctor not to visit Kenya. I came because you had all started penance, telling the rosary and other means as a request to come. So I have come to please you all. My earnest desire is that you should all have friendly feelings towards one another and should maintain samp, suhradbhav and ekta." The devotee regretted what he had said and realised the true goal in Satsang.
When Shastriji Maharaj was trying to spread the knowledge of Akshar-Brahman, there were many who did not like it. Even though he was the target of criticism, he never allowed anybody to talk ill of the rival faction who were trying to oppose him. Shastriji Maharaj suffered a great deal of persecution because of his definite views on Akshar. His followers were equally harassed. Despite all these difficulties he never permitted anybody to create ill will towards his detractors.
The Sanstha has progressed due to the feelings of mahima (glory) and divinity that have been fostered by Shastriji Maharaj, Yogiji Maharaj and Pramukh Swami Maharaj. They have never nourished ill will for those who have opposed them. Yogi Bapa said that if one has suhradbhav then one will understand the glory of others and be blessed with such glory and humility in one's soul. Suhradbhav is a link to God. Gunatitanand Swami has asked what is the best of all good things? It is the association with God and the holy Sadhu. And what is the worst of all things? It is manushyabhav for both God and His holy Sadhu. When you are face to face with Pramukh Swami Maharaj and if you have manushyabhav, then there is no link between him and you.
Yogiji Maharaj's discourses on manushyabhav and suhradbhav cannot be found in scriptures. It is distilled from his saintly existence and given out to others. He says that ekta (unity) is having paksha (taking sides) for one another. It also means perceiving divinity and taking another's fault or blame upon oneself. If you see any defects in others, don't gloat over them but take it on your head. That was the lesson he taught to the Satsang.
Once a saint overturned a vessel containing ghee. Nirgundas Swami was very annoyed. But Yogiji Maharaj said, "I had overturned the ghee." Nirgun Swami knew that Yogi Bapa had nothing to do with the loss of ghee and yet he took it upon himself. This could be possible only because he saw Shriji Maharaj in everyone. Whereas, we see the person, his actions and faults. And that is why we can never cultivate the feeling of unity. Today, Pramukh Swami Maharaj is spreading this principle of samp, suhrudbhav and ekta. He is endeavouring day and night and the source of power behind his untiring effort is his vision of divinity and glory for all. A human being cannot do this. Only one who has communion with God can endeavour in such a manner. He inspires love for God and provides the warmth of God to countless. If we cultivate the qualities of unity and friendly feelings in our lives we will be able to derive the fullest benefit and happiness of Satsang.