Have you formed a mental image yet?
No really, go ahead and imagine what this word looks like to you.
When I see the word “sacrifice,” I think about the millions of men and women in the armed forces around the world who strive to protect and defend their nation and its citizens. These brave men and women leave behind the comforts of their homes and march to the front lines. They have pledged to defend those who are unable to defend themselves. They voluntarily accept the inherent hazards of their profession, placing the welfare and security of others before their own. They strive to serve with honor on and off the battlefield.
If we look closely, we can see that sacrifice pervades the very fabric of human society. Mothers. Teachers. Firefighters. Leaders. The examples are endless.
And we are very fortunate to have Swamishri, who is the very embodiment of sacrifice. He toils day after day for the benefit of his haribhaktos, often to the detriment of his own health. Without seeking any sort of recognition for what he does, Swamishri continues to strive for our welfare. Throughout his life he has never been deterred by illness or physical pain, whether a frozen shoulder, cataracts, bypass surgery or a host of ailments and advancing age.
To keep the promise he made to Shastriji Maharaj: “Today before you, Gurushri, and before this assembly I take an oath that I will fully carry out my duties to this Sanstha of yours. Without caring for this body, I will remain sincere and be fulfilled. You have cultivated this garden – the knowledge of Akshar Purushottam – everyday I will persevere and care that it blossoms in every way. I will serve and seek the blessings of the entire fellowship. Grant me this.”
To spend every moment in the service of others is true sacrifice.
Once, a devotee was looking at Swamishri’s feet. Seeing this, Swamishri asked, “What are you looking for?”
The haribhakta replied, “I’ve been told that the great Ekantik Sant has sacred signs on his feet. I’m looking for those signs.”
Swamishri replied, “You won’t find any signs there. They’ve all been worn away due to our constant vicharan.”
Those who have truly sacrificed and continue to do so play a very different game than most. They’re not entangled in the web of ‘me, me, me.’ They are not plagued with selfish thoughts. Rather, they think always about the greater good, about service, about others, and never about themselves.
So I leave you with a quote by Mitch Albom, “Sacrifice is a part of life. It’s supposed to be. It’s not something to regret. It’s something to aspire to.” Do we have what it takes? Are we willing to make the sacrifice for others? For our family? For mandir? For Swamishri? The choice has always has been in our hands.