In our interactions with others, humility is a choice we make to treat others with esteem and graciousness. Humility allows us to approach each ebb and flow in our lives as a learning experience.With humility, we grow into more successful, well-rounded human beings. However, humility is not just how we choose to act with people, but more importantly, it is also how we choose to perceive people. One who is truly humble perceives no one as flawed or small, but everyone as great.
Bhagwan Swaminarayan talks about maintaining humility in Vachanamrut Gadhada I-28. He states, “When a person is likely to progress in Satsang …day by day, he sees only virtues in all satsangis. He views all devotees as superior to himself and considers himself to be insignificant. Moreover, he experiences the bliss of Satsang in his heart 24 hours a day. In fact, the more such a person practices satsang, the more he benefits; andeventually, he attains profound greatness.”
We have found this ideal in our guru, Pramukh Swami Maharaj, whose life exemplifies true humility through compassion, without regard for his position. In April 2001, President Bill Clinton met with Swamishri in Gandhinagar while visiting community leaders in India. He specifically altered his schedule to meet with Swamishri and lost track of time while talking with him. As President Clinton was leaving, Swamishri’s attention turned to a group of villagers from the Kutch region who had recently lost their livelihoods in an earthquake. Swamishri met the villagers with equal enthusiasm and consideration as he had met with President Clinton. In the span of a few minutes, he had met with a world leader and a group of poor villagers with the same reverence. Swamishri embodies the quality of sweetness with his daily interactions, and inspires everyone to treat others with equal kindness, regardless of their status or position in life.
Krishna Bhagwan says in the Bhagavad Gita, “An ideal sadhu who worships God with his body, mind, and soul is the only one who is able to love every living being equally. He is ableto see God in them.” Yogiji Maharaj was an ideal sadhu who saw divinity in all. He could think and care for everybody, inspiring those around him to treat others with respect. Once while he was in Calcutta, Yogiji Maharaj, together with several sadhus and devotees, went to the old Swaminarayan mandir for darshan. Here, just as Yogiji Maharaj was about to sit down on a seat cushion, an antagonistic sadhu who resided in that mandir, snatched it away.
Unperturbed by this impolite behavior, Yogiji Maharaj sat else where and kindly asked the sadhu if he was from Junagadh. However, the sadhu refused to answer Yogiji Maharaj’s question. One of the haribhaktos asked the same question to the sadhu and he answered that he in deed was from Junagadh and that his guru was Balmukund Swami. Later, as devotees criticized the sadhu’s rude conduct, Yogiji Maharaj quieted them. He exclaimed, “No, don’t say such things about him. Just look what a good person he is that he allowed us all to have darshan!” Despite being insulted at the mandir, Yogiji Maharaj refused to find fault in the sadhu; he only saw the sadhu’s redeeming qualities and inspired others around him to do the same.
Yogiji Maharaj has said, “In my fifty years in Satsang, not once have I seen a fault or thought ill of a Satsangi, be he the lowest of the low, be he a simpleton with little sense, who knows nothing at all. Never have I had an ill thought for anyone even if he be my enemy. I have cared for everyone. I have served everyone…” Through his humility and consideration, he motivates all of us to act with generosity in our interactions with others.
Our guru Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s continuous reverence and devotion to Bhagwan Swaminarayan and to his gurus is a key source of his humility. As the head of an international socio-spiritual organization dedicated to helping individuals, families and communities, Swamishri has received many accolades. Yet, he remains unaffected by the praise. Instead, he continues to shower his unconditional love on devotees and work for the betterment of society.
Once, Deepak Jhaveri, a reporter for the India Post, asked Swamishri, “Don’t you ever tire from the constant travel and your organization’s growth?”
Swamishri replied, “It is God’s work…It is all due to the guru’s blessings and God’s inspiration…You should always pray to God saying,‘Through me, it is really you who is doing everything.’ He will guide us through success and failure. You can work in a way that pleases him and produces results that please everyone.”
Deepak Jhaveri responded, “Humility is the foundation of your organization. I can see this first hand.”
Swamishri is able to lead BAPS with humility because he truly believes Bhagwan Swaminarayan to be the doer of everything, whereas hesees himself as only an instrument. Regardless of who we interact with, we must always understand that our power comes not from ourselves, but rather from God, who is the creator of our success. Drawing inspiration from our Guru and God, we can learn to make the right choice of treating everyone with respect and humility.
Swamishri has said, “Where there is God, there is humility. All happens due to God’s grace.” True growth and happiness comes when we realize that we have a lot to learn and give during our lifetime, and that every relationship presents an opportunity for us to progress. And by treating others inside and outside of satsang with compassion, instead of arrogance and apathy, we have the chance to achieve personal and spiritual progress.