"Lives of great men all remind us,
We can make our lives sublime
And, departing, leave behind us,
Footprints on the sands of time.”
~ Henry W Longfellow
Perhaps Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was right. After all, isn’t greatness, by its very nature, designed to etch footprints forever? The vast contributions of great men and women throughout history have shaped the world in critical, fundamental ways. Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Mother Teresa, Gargi, Sitaji – the list is endless.
But we know all of this. We have heard their stories before.
What would it take for us to become that story?
The truth is, we are already on our way there. We each have the ability to add our footprints to the millions that have come before us. The real question is this: What kind of footprints will we leave behind?
The Satsang Footprint
Since our spiritual journey forms the core of our human experience, the most significant footprint we can leave behind is that of satsang. This footprint measures our adherence to the principles revealed by Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Pramukh Swami Maharaj, and our ability to pass those values on to future generations. In general, satsangis imbibe certain universal principals that can have a far-reaching impact in society. Those values include humility, unity and service. We can solidify the impact of satsang on future generations by practicing these basic principles and earning Maharaj and Swami’s raajipo, and ultimately attaining moksha.
Throughout satsang history, Shriji Maharaj and our gurus have emphasized the importance of humility. In the Vachanamrut, Maharaj expresses, “Before [God or His Sant], putting conceit aside, behaving as a servant of servants and becoming humble is the only appropriate behavior,” (Panchala 5). Yogi Bapa epitomized this idea of humility by respecting every devotee.
Swamishri himself is a living example of humility. He spearheaded the construction of Swaminarayan Akshardham in New Delhi, which was completed in under five years. As this project continued, he also inspired countless satsang initiatives and the construction of numerous mandirs across the world. Despite his many accomplishments, he always credits his gurus for his successes, saying, “No, no, I haven’t done anything. This is all because of Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj’s blessings, Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s grace, and the efforts that all the sadhus and the devotees have put into it.”
We, too, can express humility in our personal and professional lives by recognizing the achievements of others, taking feedback positively, and avoiding ego clashes with our fellow satsangis. When we show humility, we inspire others to do the same, especially our children.
Maharaj and Swami have emphasized the importance of unity within families and mandirs. Swamishri himself spends countless hours counseling individuals and families who are struggling through conflict and discord. Once, an upset kishore came to Swamishri in Ahmedabad to complain about his father. Swamishri patiently listened to him and to his father, and helped them understand each other’s perspectives. They both left with a renewed sense of unity and promised to work together to promote the family’s well-being.
Swamishri’s insistence on familial and communal harmony reflects the message of unity that Shriji Maharaj advocated. Shriji Maharaj often said that the way to develop such harmony within Satsang is to understand the importance of our fellow devotees and to harbor loyalty towards them. He states in the Vachanamrut, "Therefore, one should be absolutely loyal to a devotee of God - just as one is loyal to one's relatives and one's mother and father. If ever some sort of difficulty does happen to arise with a devotee of God, only one who does not develop a grudge, but settles the difference and reunites with that devotee - like a line drawn in water - can be called a true a devotee of God." (Gadhada II-60).
Shriji Maharaj believed that loyalty that begins with the family and extends to satsang and the community has a wider impact. Not only does such loyalty further our spiritual development, it touches those around us in a meaningful way, thereby magnifying our satsang footprint.