Nourishing, enlightening, amiable, gentle, assuring, brief, spontaneous, cheerful, courteous, peaceful, effective, pleasing, to the point, practical, plain...
The aforesaid words are but a few echoes of the indelible impressions left on thousands who have heard Pramukh Swami Maharaj discoursing in plain colloquial Gujarati. They have all had but one feeling, “It’s not the tongue, but his heart that speaks.”
Narrating his personal experience, Mohanbhai Patel, former Sheriff of Mumbai and a well-known industrialist, once said, “I have been fortunate to have met Pramukh Swami Maharaj a few times. He is the very epitome of simplicity. There is neither any rhetoric nor complexity of ideas in his words. Whatever he speaks, it comes straight from his heart.”
British novelist E.M. Forster says that words are the sweetness of life. Forster’s words come true when one listens to Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Really, Swamishri’s speech is as sweet as honey; his words have calmed bitterness, mellowed malice, and sweetened innumerable lives.
The Cultural Festival of India, organized by the BAPS in London, brought the magnificent sights and sounds of India to Europe in 1985. Thousands gathered on the grounds of Alexandra Palace to witness the 30-day traditional festivities. Shri Manek Dalal, then Chairman of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, decided not to visit the festival despite repeatedly hearing great things about it. Mr. Dalal had a bias against Hindu sadhus. He felt that they often misused their spiritual authority for fraudulent personal gains.
However, he was soon surprised.
A few weeks after the festival had ended, Swamishri was visiting the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan where a small gathering had also been organized. Mr. Dalal was present in the gathering. After listening to just a few minutes of Swamishri’s speech, Mr. Dalal felt that there was something different about this sadhu. Swamishri spoke with his natural sincerity and truthfulness. Mr. Dalal was quick to correct his misperceptions, “I have heard many sadhus and mahatmas speak, but none are so genuine and simple. There is no manipulation in his speech.” Swamishri’s transparent persona changed Mr. Dalal’s outlook towards sadhus.
On 15 June 1984, a convention was underway in the auditorium of Forest Park Middle School in Cleveland. Addressing the gathering, Dr Shashi Shah, president of the Gujarati Community in Cleveland, said, “Yesterday, I had come to the spiritual assembly of Pramukh Swami Maharaj. For the first time I experienced happiness that was indescribable. Swamiji’s speech was absolutely magnetic.”
In 1977, Krishnavadan Joshi, the then Mayor of Ahmedabad, had come to a satsang assembly held in the presence of Pramukh Swami Maharaj at the Swaminarayan Mandir in Shahibaug, Ahmedabad. Reflecting upon his experience he said, “Before I came here to this assembly there were several thoughts crowding my mind, but the moment I came here all my thoughts subsided. In my opinion, this is a real miracle.”
While some experience the verse of the Vedas, “Words are a form of God,” in Swamishri’s speech, for some others, Swamishri’s speech evokes the memory of poet Bhavbhuti’s verse: “Worldly people speak about what has already happened; whereas whatever the great rishis say happens accordingly.”
Thousands have experienced that Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s words never fail.
On 15 August 1982, Swamishri was in Ahmedabad. Ramesh Dalal, a leading devotee, was giving an outline of the day’s programme to Swamishri. He said, “Narayanbhai, the son of Becharbhai of Rajpur village, has been admitted to V.S. Hospital. The programme for today includes a visit to the hospital.” Swamishri said, “We’ll go to the hospital tomorrow.”
Insisting upon Swamishri not to postpone the visit, Rameshbhai said, “Bapa, let’s visit the hospital today, because I have already given today’s date and so Narayanbhai’s relatives must have also gathered there.” Swamishri humbly submitted to his argument.
When Swamishri reached the hospital, Narayanbhai’s relatives requested Swamishri, “Bapa, it would be better if you come again tomorrow because Narayanbhai will be shifted to the special ward tomorrow. Presently, he is in the general ward and, since there are many ladies there, it will be very difficult to make proper arrangements for you to see him.”
Rameshbhai, who was listening to this conversation, realized, “Indeed, things happen according to what Swamishri says.”
Swamishri’s speech dissolves doubts and resolves questions in the minds of countless listeners. Upon listening to him one naturally remembers Gunatitanand Swami’s discourse, “When a great sadhu like Muktanand Swami speaks in an assembly of even two thousand people, all the inner questions of listeners get resolved. Maharaj’s true sadhu knows the thoughts passing through people’s minds and talks accordingly” (Swamini Vato 1.322).
Like dewdrops moistening the leaves, Swamishri’s words slowly sink into the subconscious and wash all doubts. Problems dissolve and worries disappear when one listens to his words. Like a sculptor’s chisel, his words chip away our doubts.
Once, in Atladra, Swamishri was discoursing in an assembly of devotees: “One remains unperturbed amidst honours and insults when one worships God with the absolute certitude that one’s true form is atma. Thereafter, one never becomes estranged from Satsang; neither does one feel disappointed or displeased amidst such testing circumstances. During such awkward moments one who is a jnani finds solace in spiritual wisdom and remains forever happy…”
After the assembly was over Swamishri was going towards his residence. A devotee suddenly fell headlong at his feet and with tearful eyes confessed, “Today if you had not discoursed on believing oneself as atma, I would have fallen from Satsang. Because of a volunteer’s inadvertent mistake, I had begun to develop an aversion towards Satsang. You addressed the core cause of my misery and uprooted it completely.”
On 21 November 1989, Swamishi was speaking fluently to an assembly in Bochasan, “Shriji Maharaj incarnated to dispel ignorance related to I-ness and my-ness. This is my family and that is yours; this is my village and that is yours; this is my country and that is yours – till one has such a mentality one will have disputes and quarrels. Will there be any quarrels if one believes everyone to be his own? Great sages have never discriminated between mine and yours; between caste, creed, village, country, etc. They are above these distinctions – nobody is special, nobody is ordinary. For them the entire world is their family.”
As words were flowing from Swamishri’s mouth, the agitation in the heart of a distinguished educationist of Gujarat was gradually subsiding. The issue was that he was to run for Member of Parliament for a leading political party, but unexpectedly his name was dropped. This was because of a local religious head who had influenced the party to give the ticket to a coalition-party candidate. Thus, the educationist’s aspiration was shattered and the affront was troubling him. Swamishri’s words lifted him above the barriers of I-ness and my-ness and he experienced inner peace.
Like the confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and Sarasvati, one finds a blissful trio of divinity, purity and inspiration in Swamishri’s calm yet thoughtful words.
Having savoured Swamishri’s presence many times, Krishnashankar Shastri, a famous connoisseur and exponent of the Shrimad Bhagvat, once said, “When Pramukh Swami Maharaj speaks, I feel that just as water is required to clean dirty clothes, Swamishri’s words are required to cleanse dirty minds.”
Once, the sadhus and devotees in Junagadh said to Gunatitanand Swami, “You discourse abundantly. If you continue like this, there will be no miseries [within us].” Then Gunatitanand Swami responded, “I don’t ponder while I speak; the words flow forth spontaneously.” A sadhu then remarked, “Indeed, God is himself inspiring you.” Gunatitanand Swami endorsed his words, “Yes, that is so” (Swamini Vato 6.79).
Truly, it is God himself who speaks through the Gunatit Sant. Today, thousands of devotees experience that Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s words purely echo the knowledge and divinity of Bhagwan Swaminarayan.
Rishis in the Upanishads compare speech with a cow. Much more than that, Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s speech is like the Kamdhenu – the wish-fulfilling divine cow. When people come to Swamishri, some expect happiness while some expect peace; some expect stability while some expect security; some expect spiritual bliss while others expect fulfilment of some worldly wish. Like a wish-yielding tree, Swamishri, through his blessings, has fulfilled everyone’s need or blessed them with spiritual understanding to accept the wish of God.