Pramukh Swami Maharaj was at Dadar mandir on Friday, 13 January 1989. Haribhai (Badalpur) talked about Shastriji Maharaj to Swamishri, “I had the privilege to serve Shastriji Maharaj. He would clean his teeth in the morning with salt. I had to pound the crystallized salt and give it to him. That was the daily practice. Once, I pounded more than the usual requirement. Shastriji Maharaj said, ‘You tie the extra salt at the end of my upper cloth (gatariyu). I can use it the next day’” (Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s vicharan report).
While speaking at the Ahmedabad mandir on Saturday, 8 August 1992, Pramukh Swami Maharaj said, “Shastriji Maharaj used to say that when required one should spend any amount [crush pearls], but if there is no need not even a paise should be wasted” (Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s vicharan report).
On 26 September 2005, New Delhi, Pramukh Swami Maharaj spoke about the frugal habits of Shastriji Maharaj, “He would save even the thread used for tying the paper in which garlands were wrapped. The reason being it would come in use some day. After answering nature’s call, he would use only a certain amount of soil to wash his hands and not more.”
Shastriji Maharaj often visited Mumbai for satsang. Because of the poor financial condition of the devotees, he insisted on travelling by tram for padhramanis. On one occasion Harshadbhai Dave decided to hire a buggy for Swami. The buggy-driver got into an argument for four more annas with Harshadbhai Dave. Shastriji Maharaj told Harshadbhai, “We should not waste any devotee’s money. I shall walk the distance.” When Swamishri began to walk, Harshadbhai earnestly pleaded with him and eventually Swami consented to sit in the buggy (Aksharna Yatri, p. 156).
Hakabhai Khachar once narrated, “Shastriji Maharaj would not allow anyone to waste even 25 paise. Once Shastriji Maharaj went to Botad to Chunibhai’s house for a meal. After the meal I hired a buggy. The prevailing rates for Botad to Sarangpur were between twelve annas and Rs. 1.25. We got into the buggy for Rs. 1.25 and alighted near the shrine at the mandir in Sarangpur. When I paid Rs. 1.25 Shastriji Maharaj noticed and said aloud, ‘Why Rs. 1.25? Is it your father’s property?’ There was an argument between Swamishri and me. Eventually, I explained to the driver and paid him Rs. 1. Then, the following day I called him alone and gave him the 25 paise. In this way Shastriji Maharaj never allowed an extra payment of 25 paise.” (Interview of Hakabhai Khachar)
Once, Hakabhai Khachar described, “Once, Shastriji Maharaj got down from a third class compartment at the Ahmedabad Railway Station, after travelling from Mumbai. There were seven potla with us. It was not possible for me to carry them all. So, I engaged a coolie and paid him four annas.
“Swamishri shot back, ‘What did you do?’ ‘I paid four annas to the coolie to carry the potla.’ ‘Why? Is it your father’s money? Why did you pay him four annas? I would have carried the baggage myself.’
“I said, ‘I made a mistake.’ Then I loaded the potla onto a buggy. Two sadhus sat in it. The rest walked all the way from Kalupur station.” (Interview of Hakabhai Khachar)
The following incidents show Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s frugality and the inspiration he has given about not wasting anything.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj was having breakfast in Gondal on 13 October 2003. The Yogicharitam was being read. Everyone was listening to the incident about Yogiji Maharaj arriving to the assembly hall after having Thakorji’s darshan. His attention was at once drawn to a room in a corner. Yogiji Maharaj said, “Don’t keep the office open. See to it that the lights do not remain switched on all day long.” After listening to the exhortation Pramukh Swami Maharaj looked at the sadhus and said, “See how Yogiji Maharaj used to be vigilant about the wastage of electricity. Switch off the lights when not required. We, too, should be particular about such matters. The lights should not be left on unnecessarily. If needed, use them fully, but not when not required. This is the principle of the Satpurush. All of you start a campaign. Switch off the lights and fans when not required. Everybody should follow this principle in the mandirs they stay. We are careless. In every matter we should not allow needless spending.”
On 2 February 2004 Swamishri was at the Atladra mandir. Ghanshyamcharan Swami and Krishnavallabh Swami were recalling their past experiences of Sarangpur mandir and the senior devotees. “In those days there was no electricity in Sarangpur. A generator was used. After shayan arti the lights were switched off.” Then Krishnavallabh Swami spoke as if pained, “This was the situation then. Nowadays one finds four to five lights switched on in each room.” Swamishri said at once, “Bring back the original way. If you find any extra lights switched on without reason, switch them off. You have taken such training in the past.”
Swamishri was inspiring all to participate in the “Save electricity” campaign.
On 20 March 1996 Swamishri was at Sarangpur mandir. Bhaskarbhai asked Swamishri about how much money he should donate at which mandirs in memory of his late father, Himabhai. Swamishri asked an attendant for a piece of paper. He gave a letterhead paper. “Not this. Give me an ordinary one. I don’t want to write a letter,” Swamishri said. The attendant replied, “Use it because everybody uses it.” Swamishri stated, “Others may well use it, but I don’t need it now.” Swamishri wrote the details after getting an ordinary sheet of paper.
On 13 September 2005 Swamishri was at Sarangpur mandir, engaged in a meeting for the mandir’s master plan. He said, “The River Narmada’s water may be channelized [to all parts of Gujarat] but everyone should be educated [in the mandir] to use it economically. Furthermore, even if the water utilized by sadhus for their daily bath is channelled into the mandir farms and gardens it does not mean that they should use it excessively. If need be let pure water be used for watering the farm, but all should form the habit of using water with thrift. In the olden days they used to put pebbles in water pipes to minimize the flow of water. This was a precaution to prevent wastage of water. Where there is a shower, the water consumption increases. In conclusion, everyone should conserve water.”
On 27 September 2005 Swamishri was in his quarters at the New Delhi mandir. Soon after coming out of his bathroom Swamishri told his attendant, “Switch off the light.” Dharmavatsal Swami replied, “Bapa, whenever the air conditioner is switched on here in Delhi the electricity bill turns out to be very high.” Narayancharan Swami added, “You even have small light bulbs switched off, whereas here a lot of electricity is consumed in a short time. That’s how massive the [mandir and Akshardham] complex here is.” Swamishri said, “That’s true. We should definitely use it whenever required. But we should also make arrangements to minimize the present electricity consumption.”
On 25 September 2005 Swamishri was at Akshardham, New Delhi. Harshadbhai Chavda recalled, “At one time a cubic foot of marble was available for Rs. 12, and you had refused me to buy it. Other varieties of stone were available for Rs. 9 per cubic feet. But nowadays, the price has shot up to Rs. 190 per cubic foot.”
Swamishri said, “Having lived in that period [of scarcity] how do I feel when something is misused or wasted?” Harshadbhai responded, “But Swami you adjust and get on well with the present generation. Whereas for me, when someone wastes something, I feel he is senseless.” Swamishri responded in a gentle tone, “Even when I see things being wasted I feel I’m unable to do anything about it. The reason being that you all are my hands and feet and doing the work. I can’t do things now, so if I keep telling you off the work will get spoilt. Previously, if someone refused to do any work, I would do it myself. But now things are different. My body doesn’t oblige. Sometimes one part gives trouble and then the other part takes over.”
The essence of all the incidents mentioned show us the need to abstain from splurging money and resources. Because many things are available so easily and in abundance today the general trend is to get new things and better versions. But one should learn to use things as long as they are functional and efficient rather than discarding them for new trends. We should try to reflect upon this article by ourselves and with our family and decide how to save money and reduce unnecessary expenses. It will be a great service to ourselves, family, society and the Sanstha. We must save our wealth and resources.