Shaucham means to be clean, spotless, pure.
The ancient Hindu shastras prescribe five forms of purity:
in mind, action, character, speech and the physical body.
The Gunatit Sadhu, who has realized God, exemplifies all the five forms of purity.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life radiates the fragrance of this quintet of purity.
A pure mind is one that is free of malice or hatred. Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s mind and heart are pure.
To perform good deeds without expectations reflects purity of action. Pramukh Swami Maharaj (Swamishri) has been performing good deeds for nearly 90 years without expecting anything in return, except the blessings of God.
Whatever the circumstances, to live by God’s moral laws is the mark of a pure character. Swamishri has resolutely followed the moral code given by Bhagwan Swaminarayan.
Purity of speech is to speak that which is truthful, pleasant and beneficial. Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s words have comforted, guided and inspired millions worldwide.
Hygiene and cleanliness are the hallmarks of physical purity. Swamishri always stresses the importance of a hygienic and healthy lifestyle.
Adi Shankaracharya has grouped these five forms of purity into two main categories: internal and external. External purity pertains to one’s body and the surrounding environment. Internal purity is that of one’s mind and soul.
Throughout his life Swamishri has worked tirelessly to promote such internal and external purity among all: purity of body, mind, actions and thoughts; and purity in the individual, family, home, mandir, community, nation and the world at large.
Swamishri states, “To become pure within, one must first begin with outer purity.” Swamishri’s life is full of incidents which illustrate this belief.
This is an incident from the 1960s. Thousands of devotees had gathered in the small town of Sarangpur to celebrate the Jal Jhilani Ekadashi festival. After the festival was over, the devotees left for their homes and the volunteers were taking rest in the afternoon. Swamishri, too, decided to rest.
After a while, Dharmajivan Swami, who was sleeping near Swamishri in the assembly hall, noticed that he had gone somewhere. So, he got up and started looking for him. His search led him to the common toilets at the rear of the mandir campus.
To his surprise, Swamishri was cleaning the overflowing toilets. He was carrying a bucket full of excreta and taking it to the dumpsite, pausing momentarily between rounds to sweep the toilets.
Dharmajivan Swami quickly ran to Swamishri and tried to forcibly take the bucket and broom from him. Swamishri simply remarked, “Don’t make a noise. You will wake up the other sadhus who are resting. Now, two is better than one. If you want me to finish this sooner, get me some water so that I can clean the toilets.”
The President of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha happily performed the most menial and repulsive of services.
After the Kalash Jayanti Celebrations in Gadhada in May 1961, Swamishri joined volunteers in cleaning the dining areas. In 1971, on the morning of his birthday celebration, he had been just as eager in picking up the used datan sticks outside a bathroom in Dharmaj.
Once, as Swamishri was passing through the mandir corridor in Bochasan, he stopped to look at the condition of a bathroom. As he peeked in, there was a strong stench indicating that the bathroom hadn’t been cleaned for some time. Swamishri walked in, locked it from the inside and started scrubbing away. The sadhus and devotees assumed that Swamishri was using the urinal. It was only after he came outside that they realized that he had single-handedly cleaned the whole bathroom. The incidents show that he has an inclination for cleanliness and hygiene, and to clean up whenever an opportunity arises.
Swamishri was staying at a devotee’s new house in Anand. The house had just been constructed and still had paint and cement stains on the tiles in the bathroom. Swamishri went in for a shower and decided to clean the tiles himself. Narayancharan Swami stopped him and said, “We are only here for a day and a half. Why bother with all that extra effort?”
Yet Swamishri was adamant, “We should leave the place in better condition than we had found it. The devotee was kind enough to let us stay at his place. He might not have had the time to clean up. We should help him. It is our seva.”
Swamishri often says, “Our home and mandir should be clean, so that God would like to stay there. How can you expect God to stay where there is filth? Keeping the mandir clean inspires everyone to keep their homes clean. If everyone kept their homes and
neighbourhoods clean, it would make the whole country a cleaner place.”
Swamishri’s insistence on cleanliness and hygiene has inspired many devotees to adopt and promote a similar lifestyle.
Dr Rajiv Vyas lives in Cherry Hill, NJ. A practising physician, Dr Vyas has a staff of over 38 physicians and 800 healthcare employees under him. Yet, he begins his day by visiting the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Cherry Hill. After darshan, he goes to the public toilets in the mandir and cleans them each morning before going to work.
In Surat, a group of affluent youths clean the general toilets every Sunday.
Dr Rohit Patel, Dr Dipak Patel, Anup Morzariya and other youths have been washing dishes and cooking utensils on Saturdays in London mandir for over 22 years.
These youths and devotees have pleased Swamishri with their efforts to clean and tidy their homes, mandirs and surroundings. Swamishri has blessed them, many times saying, “Since you work so hard to clean and purify the outside, God will purify your hearts and souls.”
Swamishri’s efforts to promote cleanliness have helped create a spiritually pure and physically tidy environment in all BAPS mandirs around the globe. To this day, he makes it a point to check the bathrooms and other facilities at even the smaller mandirs as well as the mega-mandirs like Swaminarayan Akshardham in Gandhinagar and New Delhi. He inspects every nook and corner of the mandir, in particular, the kitchens, dairy room, storage area, public conveniences and the garbhagruha, for dirt or clutter. At the students’ hostel in Vidyanagar, Swamishri occasionally makes impromptu checks on the students’ rooms. Frantically, the students try to clean them, but Swamishri’s sharp and trained eyes quickly analyze their efforts. He sweetly reprimands those that are not clean and praises those that are.
During his stay at Sarangpur in October 1997, Swamishri was inspecting the mandir grounds. He entered one of the bathrooms and immediately called the head organizers of the housekeeping department to bless them, “This is very clean. It should be like this all the time and everywhere. Very good.”
Even during large festivals, when the arrangements for the thousands of people who attend ultimately rest on Swamishri’s shoulders, he undertakes unannounced inspections of the festival grounds to ensure that the proper level of cleanliness and hygiene is constantly maintained. He specially insists that the kitchen and dining areas be kept spotlessly clean. Kothari and bhandari sadhus and volunteers are first to hear from Swamishri about keeping the mandirs and kitchens under their charge clean.
Swamishri was visiting New York in 2004, where he met Subhodhbhai Amin. Swamishri was speaking to him and his Jewish partner about their dairy business and the conversation veered round to matters of cleanliness. Swamishri said, “Whenever you make any yogurt, paneer or even when you process milk, make sure that hygiene is a priority. Ensure that all the utensils and machinery are scrubbed before you start producing any dairy products. You are from Vahelal and a descendent of Vakhatba. You come from a family that is very particular about its purity; it only makes sense for you to do this.”
Swamishri’s devotion to Bhagwan Swaminarayan is reflected through his insistence on cleanliness in Thakorji’s thal, ornaments and the shrine itself. He even stresses the importance of personal hygiene to the cooks that prepare Thakorji’s thal.
Swamishri has visited over 250,000 homes and each padhramani echoes the same message, “You do not need a large home, but a home that is tidy and clean. Things that belong in the kitchen should never be left in the living room and vice versa. It is important for us to practise these ideals so that our children learn them. Cleanliness and spirituality are the keys to a happy home.”
These experiences highlight Swamishri’s insistence on external purity. The following incidents highlight Swamishri’s internal purity and life free of deceit and prejudice. He tirelessly inspires even those who come only into fleeting contact with him to attain internal purity of the mind and soul.
Swamishri insists that community leaders, politicians and other public figures be pure in character and reputation.
Speaking to a local town representative he said, “You have to lead by example. It is your duty to make this town a better place to live in. You can only do it by living a spotless life so that it makes an impact on the society.”
Once, in Atladra, Swamishri walked by a few youths who were cleaning the filters of an old air-conditioning unit. He stopped and said to them, “The filters of this AC unit became filled with dirt so it had to be removed for cleaning. Similarly, when life becomes spoilt by bad habits it is degraded. So you have to inspect your character for impurities and cleanse it.”
Swamishri has transformed the lives of thousands of people around the world and they provide testimony of his contributions in purifying society.
A tribal devotee from the village of Uber described his first darshan of Swamishri, which changed his life, “I first had your darshan in Atladra. I didn’t think it was ever going to happen, but it did. It was like a miracle. With your blessings, my entire family has stopped eating meat, smoking and drinking. We have been able to bring our tempers under control. It has been eight months now and I can say that we feel 100 percent purified! My adulterous behaviour has also gone. I feel privileged to have received your blessings.”
On 18 July 1996, a youth came to meet Swamishri in Dallas, Texas. In 1994, he had promised Swamishri that he would quit drinking and eating meat. He bowed at Swamishri’s feet and described his success, “Swami, though it seemed impossible, your blessings made my wife’s dream a reality. I have given up eating meat and all other addictions. In fact, I don’t even get angry any more. I never thought it would be possible, but you made it happen.”
These are just a few of the countless transformations people have had as a result of their association with Swamishri.
Only one who is clean, pure and spotless can transform the lives of others. Thousands of individuals have developed inner purity through Swamishri’s blessings and many more are in the process of achieving it.