With the aim of instilling cultural values and character in the lives of those who seek his shelter, his pen has enabled him to reach distant lands and distant hearts.
This book explores letters written to and written by Swamishri, and manages to succinctly bring out many different aspects of his spiritual personality.
Fascinating insight ..Even a superficial study of how Swamishri deals with his mail is enough to give a fascinating insight into his unfathomable personality; his constant oneness with the Lord...his sense of service...his never-ending strength...his wish to see all happy in the bliss of God...his love towards all...his impartiality...his concern for social upliftment...his devotion to his work...his striking simplicity...his unparalleled humility...his generosity...his exactness...his patience...his memory...his balance of mind...his skill in administrative matters...his exalted spiritual status and last but not least, his profound saintliness.
...His words may not be fancy or long, his sentences may not be grammatically correct and his writing may not even be legible. Yet these words somehow manage to penetrate the heart. Letters of the alphabet come together to form words and words come together to make a letter. In turn, these letters come together to build bridges enabling Swamishri to reach out to countless souls.
Over the last 24 years (1971-1995), Swamishri has read and written over 435,000 letters. He reads or writes around 50 letters daily, devoting an average of two hours a day to counsel and console through his pen. And this is in the midst of all his other activities; constant travelling, attending assemblies, meeting devotees and attending administrative meetings.
IN THE JOY OF OTHERS
...In 1977, Swamishri wrote a letter from abroad during his hectic foreign tour, which sums up the situation nicely: 'There is no end to travelling and no end to the mail... I have to deal with the letters at all times...in the car...when sitting...even when in bed... Only then are we able to manage. But with (Yogi) Bapa's strength, we are able to cope.'
SWAMISHRI AND SOCIETY
...When Swamishri learnt that the government had granted permission to the McDonalds fast food chain to open branches in India, he immediately wrote an emphatic letter to the President of India. He asserted his views and outlined the consequences of allowing a franchise, which openly advocates cattle slaughter, into the country.
''...was shocked and sad to hear of the Government's decision to support and encourage the wholesale slaughter of innocent animals through the commissioning of the McDonalds food chain restaurants in India. The Prime Minister should not only serve and protect the people of India as his subjects, but also the animals - for they too are subjects in their own right...'' (Bombay, 15 March 1993)
DEVOTION TO DUTY
The late C.M. Patel of London (who often joked with Swamishri) once passed a comment in Bhadra, ''Bapa! You keep writing letters all day...these sadhus don't let you stay free for even one minute!''
Swamishri spoke, 'This is our service for the Lord...'
ADAPTABLE BY NATURE
On the night before setting off from Bombay for his 1988 foreign tour, Swamishri asked for his letter pad. It must have been around 11:30pm and Swamishri's flight to London was scheduled to depart early the following morning.
Swamishri felt remorse for one thing; he had been unable to pay a visit to Trigunbhai, a devotee who was ill with kidney failure at the time. Swamishri jotted down a few gentle words of comfort:
'It was our wish to come and meet you but circumstances prevented us from doing so... So please forgive us... Remember Maharaj and engage in devotion... All will turn out for the best.'
SWAMISHRI AND HIS SADHUS
During the 48th birthday celebrations of Swamishri in Bombay in 1968, Yogiji Maharaj proclaimed, ''We want to make at least 700 sadhus... Maharaj (Lord Swaminarayan) will fulfil this wish through Pramukh Swami.'' Over the last 25 years, Swamishri's life has inspired over 450 youths from different countries and backgrounds to walk on this path. In many cases, Swamishri wrote to these youths prior to initiation to help them through any difficulties and to inspire them to renounce:
''...To get such an opportunity (to worship God) is rare indeed. Therefore think over this, leave all other notions and aim to devote yourself to Maharaj and Swami in this very birth... Keep this thought firmly planted in your mind... Dradhtaa hoy tene madad kare Morari (If one is steadfast, the Lord will surely help)...''
IN SICKESS AND IN HEALTH
In 1994 in America, Swamishri sustained an injury to his right shoulder whilst playing a few batting strokes of cricket and baseball to please the young children and teenagers.
Two months following the injury when Swamishri was in Boras, Sweden, he received a phone call from New Jersey.
He was informed that 75 children and youths had taken a vow to stop watching television. They had felt that their Guru had sacrificed so much for them, having sustained an injury in the process of trying to please them. They were well aware of Swamishri's dislike of watching TV and felt the least they could do was to give that up.
Swamishri was immensely pleased with their devotion. He wrote:
'To please Maharaj and Swami and as per Yogiji Maharaj's wishes, you've all taken pledges not to watch TV.
Remain firm in this matter...also your schoolwork will improve...you will get good grades. Keep up your determination to follow this niyam. If someone tries to force you or your mind tries to tempt you, remember Yogiji Maharaj at that time and engage in devotion...but never ever watch TV. With blessings...' (Boras, 11 August 1994)
It may seem trivial, but watching Swamishri deal with his letters can be a fascinating experience; taking his glasses out of their case...blowing into an envelope to take a letter out...attentively reading the letter with his eyes following the writing from left to right...dropping the letter on the floor for his assistant...or simply writing and signing letters one by one.
...Most of the ink in Swamishri's pen is reserved for his letters. Each letter is received and read with great interest, his heart sensitive to all the alphabets of human emotions. In his replies, the feelings that flow from his heart run as fluently as the ink of inspiration flowing from the pen between his fingertips. It is these feelings that cool, comfort, caress and console. Many of those who have been on the receiving end of these feelings feel that their beloved Guru has visited their homes in person. Some frame the feelings for daily darshan; some choose to keep them in their morning puja. Others carefully treasure those feelings, referring to them for inspiration in times of need.