In this world, it is all too often a case of, “Me and the others.” Our actions are frequently prompted to inflate our egos and this inevitably leads to doing things to show and impress others. In turn, life becomes one long arduous struggle striving to please others, worrying about what they will think and about what impression we will leave on others. Reputation preservation assumes number one priority. The moment it comes under threat, one’s mind naturally becomes disturbed.
But in Swamishri’s case, he does not need to (nor does he wish to) impress upon others, neither does he worry about what the rest may say. For him, it is not a matter of “Me and others” but of “Hu ane Maaro Thakor’’ – “Me and my Lord’’.
La Rouchefoucald, the famous 17th century French author, once remarked, “The height of cleverness is to conceal one’s cleverness.”
Remarkably similar to this, Gunatitanand Swami mentions 3 types of devotees in his talks:
Those of an inferior category make obvious their virtues by revealing them to others
Those of the middle category neither hide their virtues nor make them known
And those of the superior category manage to keep their virtues hidden.
Those who have come into contact with Swamishri will have no qualms or misgivings about placing him in the final category. For, in his worship, there appears to be no trace of hypocrisy or deceit. His sincere devotion to Bhagwan Swaminarayan is not to show others, but serves merely one purpose – that of pleasing God and his gurus, Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj.
In the summer of 1990, Swamishri was in London. Back home in India, Gujarat was facing a major drought. The farmer devotees were worried as to what would happen if the crops failed again that year.
At about 3 a.m., Swamishri’s personal attendant awoke to discover Swamishri sitting up on his bed. His curiosity took the better of him as he watched Swamishri silently praying for 30 minutes. When questioned in the morning, Swamishri replied, “I was praying to Bhagwan Swaminarayan, asking for the rains to fall in Gujarat and relieve the apprehensions of our farmer devotees.” When asked, “For how many nights?” Swamishri chose to remain silent.
Following an operation to remove a benign tumour from his right thigh in April 1986, Swamishri was wheeled into his room in a hospital in Mumbai. To allow Swamishri the much-needed rest, one by one, the attendant sadhus moved away from his bed and stood against the wall. Watching from a distance, the sadhus noticed that every so often, Swamishri would fold his hands together and then utter a few words. This continued for some 15 to 20 minutes. Later when the sadhus asked Swamishri about what he had been doing, Swamishri replied, “I was having ‘darshan’ of Maharaj’s murtis in our mandirs.”
Whether in public or in private, Swamishri remains in constant humble devotion to God. Such is his sincerity.
Since Swamishri is the spiritual guru, it is but natural that he comes in the limelight, but in the time of Yogiji Maharaj, although Swamishri was the President of the Sanstha, he worked tirelessly in the background, mixing with the ordinary devotees, with no aspirations for name or fame. Who would have thought then that this young sadhu would some day become the guru of countless devotees? No wonder it is said that it is difficult to recognize great people.
What will others think?
Often we worry excessively (and unnecessarily) about what others may think of us. The higher one climbs up the ladder in any field, the more determined one becomes in safeguarding one’s reputation. But in Swamishri’s case, there is absolutely no question of this. Why not, you may ask? Because for one whose character is spotless, what difference does it make as to how he is perceived by others?
The Bicentenary Celebrations of Bhagwan Swaminarayan in 1981, Ahmedabad, was a great success and played a major role in drawing the attention of hundreds of thousands to the life and work of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
A few months following the festival, Swamishri was touring around Jetpur. Due to flood-ridden roads, Swamishri’s car broke down. The accompanying sadhus got out to push the car. Swamishri not only got out of the car to make their task easier, but he also proceeded to help them push the car whilst passers-by watched in amazement and uttered, “It’s the same person who was the inspirational backbone behind the mammoth Swaminarayan festival!”
One day, the town of Anand saw a colourful procession where Swamishri was taken out on a decorated elephant through the city. On the very next day, in the same city, in the same streets, Pramukh Swami Maharaj walked from shop to shop, personally requesting for grains for our mandirs!
Following his 59th birthday celebration in 1979, Rajkot, Swamishri was gracing the houses of well-wishers and devotees in Rajkot. Unexpectedly Swamishri’s car came to a sudden halt. The driver requested Swamishri to remain in the car while he went to fetch some petrol.
But Swamishri told him, “If we wait around we’ll be late in reaching Bhadra.”
No sooner had Swamishri uttered these words, he alighted from the car with his accompanying sadhu and finished off the home visits in a three-wheeler rickshaw.
There are those who insist on travelling by 1st class flight or in a specially designated vehicle, as anything less would be considered detrimental to their reputation. Swamishri, however, has no second thought about travelling by rickshaw or in a jeep or even on the back of a tractor.
During a Medical Camp inauguration assembly, a dignitary came forward to garland Swamishri. While placing the garland around Swamishri’s neck, his spectacles fell onto the floor. In an instant, Swamishri bent down, picked them up and handed them over as if nothing had happened. This, too, in front of a large audience.
When it comes to speaking in Hindi, Swamishri often makes mistakes, both grammatical and in pronunciation, as his command of the language is not as polished as one would like it to be. Yet Swamishri never thinks twice about speaking in Hindi in a public assembly – that too in the presence of important dignitaries and professionals. Where others would worry about their command of the language, Swamishri is unperturbed by what impression others may take home with them. Here we are reminded of Yogiji Maharaj’s typical rural language – not elegant but somehow penetrating the hearts of its listeners.
While the professionals seek advice on sales techniques or busy themselves attending courses in public speaking trying to figure out how best to convince their audience or target their customers, Swamishri somehow manages to inspire the inner hearts of hundreds and thousands – without resorting to any of the above means.
His magic formula?
Not a mastery over the language he speaks, nor some clever gimmick to mesmerize his audience, but only his sincerity, his frankness and his humility.