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Equality In Success And Failure

Success and Failure – two things that disturb the mind. Generally, if things happen as we like, we consider it success, and if not, we count it as failure.

For those who have not understood spiritual matters, success is intoxicating. On attaining it, their ego soars to great heights. The ecstasy caused by having their way makes them loose their composure and the emotions of ‘abhinandati’ are aroused. That is, they take the credit of success for themselves. They are overjoyed and become bewildered in the excess of joy. They begin to arrange parties and declare themselves as great. Thus, in times of success, a person’s intellect is overwhelmed by ecstasy, making success hard to digest.

The same applies to failure. On the occasion of failure, one’s intellect falls victim to turmoil. One’s behaviour is subject to the influence of ‘dveshti’ (spite). On such occasions, a rush of vile thoughts seizes a person and unnerves him from within. The person becomes hasty. To attain success, his intellect races to plot jealous, deceitful or spiteful conspiracies. If this rush of evil thoughts is prolonged, then it is likely that he will lose the ability to discriminate between right and wrong. As a result, the person may become violent or even suicidal. In this manner, failure also influences a person’s intellect, and it, too, is hard to digest.

Thus, whether it be success or failure, both can generate tremors of disruptive thoughts in the mind. The difference is only superficial. In success, ecstasy disturbs the mind; and in failure, feelings such as misery, rage, uneasiness, anger and spite disrupt the mind. In both situations, the supreme bliss of life remains distant. There is no glimpse of eternal peace. One feels unfulfilled, empty and lonely. Everything seems desolate, and despair and unrest cause turmoil within a person.

At such times, the sthitapragna state of the Gita protects us. The sthitapragna state teaches us how to handle success and tolerate failure. With the words ‘tat tat shubhãshubham prãpya nãbhinandati na dveshti tasya pragnã pratishthitã’, the Gita reveals the secret to preventing any mundane situation that causes us instability. The sthitapragna state is full of such magic.

Good or bad, success or failure – all occur according to the wish of Paramãtmã: ‘It is only when Paramãtmã gives me the ability that I can even wish to do something. Only when Paramãtmã gives me the strength, can I do anything at all. The outcome that comes thereafter, which I call success or failure, is attained only by the wish of Paramãtmã.’ A person who has affirmed such faith in the form of Paramãtmã has been called sthitapragna. Such a person remains completely focused on Paramãtmã, like a candle flame in a serene windless location. There is no incident in the world that can disturb them.

In 1983, BAPS had purchased a piece of land in the borough of Harrow in London in order to build a mandir. In 1985, the Department of Environment denied permission to build a mandir. The Sanstha hired a lawyer and filed a case in court. Approximately twenty thousand Indians living in the area had signed a petition in favour of the mandir. There was a strong case for the mandir, but the court ruled against building the mandir. The devotees were deeply disappointed. At the time, Pramukh Swami Maharaj was in Atladra, Vadodara. At 11.00 p.m., C.M. Patel and Jashbhai Patel, president and a trustee of the UK Satsang Mandal respectively, phoned Swamishri and informed him of the court decision with a heavy heart. He was also worried about how Swamishri would feel. Swamishri heard everything in detail and ended the conversation calmly. Thereafter, Swamishri called Viveksagar Swami and other sadhus near and informed them of the decision. He ended the conversation with the words, ‘As Paramãtmã wishes,’ and immediately went to sleep at his usual time. Viveksagar Swami could not sleep at all. The next day Swamishri wrote a letter to the London Satsang Mandal, “We should be pleased with whatever pleases Maharaj. Whatever he does is beneficent.”

Those who observed this incident experienced the sthitapragna state in Swamishri’s life.

On 13 September 2005, Swamishri was at the Swaminarayan Akshardham complex in New Delhi. Swamishri was conversing with the sadhus, explaining the principle that Paramãtmã is the all-doer. He said, “Everything happens by the grace of Maharaj (Bhagwan Swaminarayan). It is his strength by which everything takes place. He is the all-doer. That is our principle.”

One sadhu said, “It is hard to believe that in times of failure.”

Swamishri replied, “Maharaj is the all-doer; that is our principle. Be it success or failure, it applies everywhere. In fact, Maharaj never lets us fail. We may feel it is a failure, but it is really success. The work is not accomplished if there is going to be a calamity ahead. Paramãtmã safeguards us.” After saying this much, he smiled and said, “It is indeed very hard to believe success in failure. We feel insecure. ‘What will people say? What about my reputation?’ We become perplexed and give up. But Paramãtmã is the all-doer.” He then remembered the incident of the land for the mandir in London and said, “When we didn’t get the permission for the land in London, C.M. Patel had phoned me and said that our reputation had been ruined, that they had tried so hard, and how would they show their faces in society? But in reality, although it seemed as though we had failed at the time, now it seems as though we have succeeded (referring to the current mandir in London).

Therefore, the earlier failure was indeed success. Maharaj always does what is best for us.”

On 2 November 2004, Swamishri was at the Swaminarayan Akshardham complex in New Delhi. At 1.40 p.m., he was seated on his bed about to recline for rest. In a casual dialogue, one sadhu asked, “Do you feel you are old now?”

“Yes, I feel old because I have to be supported when I walk,” Swamishri replied. He then continued, “Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj used to say that the horse may be weak but the rider is still strong, therefore my body may be weak, but the rider (ãtmã) inside is fine. It is the power of Paramãtmã that is in the ãtmã.”

No matter what the situation, great spiritual masters never falter in their composure. Their ãtmã always remains strong by the strength of Paramãtmã. This is a living expression of the sthitapragna state.

We can also accomplish this sthitapragna state, which is the pinnacle of spirituality, if we contemplate on the words of the Gita and the life of the satpurush and imbibe them in our lives. 

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