Heals by Listening
Dr Hari H. Bhatt of New York once narrated how he had reconciled with himself after a near fatal accident had left him with paraplegia. He says, “We are all here – those of us on the stage, in front of the stage and behind the stage – because somehow our lives have been touched by Pujya Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Let me tell you my story. While growing up I was an outgoing athletic kid. But it all came to a crashing halt in my first year of college. I had a car accident that left me unable to walk.
“My life and the lives of the people closest to me were shaken. From being an academic and athletic wonder boy, I now had to struggle to even move a toe or bear the pain of the simplest movement. I felt my present, and worse, my future had been cruelly snatched away – left in the ruin of a smashed up Mercedes. I was confused and depressed. Hope was slipping, but even more painfully, I could sense the anguish of my friends and family.
“But one of the great saviours at that time in my life, for me and for my parents, was the magnificent fortune we had in the form of Bapa. We had in our lives a guru who is an undisguised form of all that is good in humanity – and when I opened my heart, to pour out my grief, my dreams, my insecurities, he listened.
“At that moment in my life, he was there for me, with his hand on the shoulder of a boy in a wheelchair becoming a man. I won’t get into the specifics of that conversation with a sadhu who has millennial wisdom.
“It was a private moment that has had its lasting effects in the way I see the world and my role in it. But I will tell you that it was a great man listening to a confused child. And more than just the guidance of his words, there was the peace and healing from having him listen to me. And whether it is between friends, family, enemies or sadhus and haribhaktas – listening is the greatest form of love.
“I want to thank you Bapa for listening to me, and helping me and giving faith-affirming strength to my parents. Your love has been an unending source of peace lighting my spirit – showing me that true miracles are within us. This is a credo that has enabled me to not only accomplish what I have, but more importantly, to continue to strive for greater things.
“Thank you Bapa for your blessings.”
Swamishri values the youths, which is evident from his unflagging efforts in dissolving their woes, and in providing support and instilling confidence and courage in times of difficulty and challenges.
Values the Youths
Once, Swamishri was not keeping well, so he had decided to rest in Bochasan. During that time the youths from Vidyanagar chhatralaya came and urged Swamishri, “Give us your illness.” Swamishri replied, “I don’t want to give it to you. Through you I would like to inspire satsang in others. Today, there is turmoil in society. May you all prepare yourself to serve our society, nation and Satsang. It is important that our society becomes truly religious, and that you inspire others to tread the path of dharma.”
Swamishri’s words echo how he values and trusts the youths.
Once, Swamishri was at the chhatralaya in Vidyanagar. A student asked Swamishri while he was having his meal, “You should be awarded the Noble Peace Prize.” Instantly Swamishri replied, “For me, you, the youths and sadhus are the Nobel Prize. When you all grow up you’ll do noble works. You’ll do satsang and inspire satsang in countless people.” Swamishri’s perception of youths is amazing. How much he values and believes in them!
Swamishri’s love for youths has often been reflected by his physical exertions and tolerating hardships for them.
On 3 May 1985, Swamishri was on a hectic round of home visits (padhramanis) in a village. The summer Sun was scorching. With his last padhramani over at around 12 noon, Swamishri was returning to a devotee’s home for lunch. Mid-way a mentally unstable boy asked Swamishri to come to his home. Everyone accompanying Swamishri became agitated. But Swamishri calmly asked, “Where’s your home? You walk ahead, I’ll follow you.” Swamishri visited his home and pleased him.
There are countless such instances in which Swamishri has tolerated physical discomforts and hardships to please youths and devotees.
On another occasion a youth studying at the medical college in Jamnagar invited Swamishri to sanctify his apartment. When Swamishri reached his home, the roof was leaking. Swamishri did not utter a single word of complaint. The youth then regretted and apologized, “Swami, I’m sorry for not being able to make proper arrangements for you.” Instantly, Swamishri defused his remorse, “I am comfortable and happy. There is no need for you to say sorry and feel sad.”
When we contemplate about the incidents of Swamishri’s profound love for youths it becomes difficult to guage whether Swamishri is a mother or father of youths or their friend or guru. In fact, all mundane descriptions about his infinite love for them are inadequate.
Because of Swamishri’s love, the youths sacrifice everything to obey his single command. They have shown the alacrity to serve in the aftermath of tsunamis, destructive earthquakes, flood disasters and epidemics, and during famines or devastating land storms.
On 17 December 2005, Air Marshal of India Shri Jain opined before Swamishri in Gandhinagar, “For years I’ve been witnessing that whenever our country has faced catastrophes, be it a tsunami or an earthquake, two organizations have always come to help first. One is the Indian Air Force and the second is your service-oriented organization. I have seen this personally from 1982 when there was a devastating storm between Jamnagar and Junagadh. I saw your volunteers and sadhus engaged in relief work in Mangrol, where I was appointed as the officer-in-charge. The employees of the local management arrived three days later!”
These incidents and testimonials reflect how Swamishri has groomed countless youths. As a sculptor of thousands of students and youths through his selfless efforts and love Swamishri has inspired character, education and personality development. The vision and efforts of Yogiji Maharaj and Pramukh Swami Maharaj in establishing chhatralayas, schools and weekly youth assemblies (yuvak-yuvati mandals) have worked wonders in the lives of innumerable youths. They are indebted to Swamishri for his selfless love and efforts in grooming them for a better and happier life.