THE FRUITS OF PERSISTENCE
BAPS Chhatralaya, Vidyanagar
“Where should I go?”
This was the question with which Hitesh Hindocha, then a Class I officer in the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, approached Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
Swamishri analyzed the options he had presented and instructed, “Ireland.”
So, Hitesh went to Dublin in Ireland and began work as a consultant for the Royal Bank of Scotland. His stay in Dublin marked the start of a greater spiritual journey.
Hitesh had earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration while staying at the BAPS Swaminarayan Chhatralaya in Vallabh Vidyanagar. His faith in the BAPS satsang drove him to start a satsang mandal in Dublin. However, the first sabha was attended by only three people: Hitesh, his wife and a well-wisher.
Still, Hitesh was not disheartened. Every week, he phoned up to 50 people, inviting them to the sabha. He arranged special festival celebrations throughout the year. Soon, 50 families began attending the sabha. In 2004, they all combined to offer 327 vegetarian delicacies to Thakorji in the Annakut celebration.
The weekly sabha was held on Saturday evenings. From Friday to Saturday afternoon, Hitesh and his wife would prepare the food for all who came. They would then transport the food, utensils, PA system, murtis and other requirements for the sabha in two cars to the sabha venue. Through their efforts, today, around 150 families regularly engage in satsang.
His job required him to move from Dublin to Belfast. He started a satsang mandal there also. Hitesh recalls, “While I was at the BAPS Chhatralaya in Vidyanagar, I was greatly inspired by Pramukh Swami Maharaj and developed a liking for networking with care and affection. This is what we did in Dublin. First, we contacted everyone. Then we gave great care and affection to all who came. We cared for them and their families. We arranged for their transport, if required. For those living alone, we packed extra food for them to take home.”
Appreciating Hitesh’s efforts, an Irish TV channel also broadcast a 5-minute account of his spiritual efforts. The devotees in Dublin still fondly remember Hitesh and his wife. One of them, Harishbhai, says, “Hiteshbhai frequently phoned me to invite me to satsang. But I would give some excuse and avoid attending. Yet, he lovingly continued to invite me. And one day, my inner voice told me that I should attend satsang.”
Another devotee, Mahesh Shah, comments, “Before I started attending satsang, I smoked 20 cigarettes daily and drank alcohol heavily. Also, at the office I ate meat. So, I was hesitant to go to the sabha. I would tell him how bad I was. Hiteshbhai would encourage and tell me, ‘Do not think negatively like that. Just come to the sabha regularly. Your addictions will go.’ I remembered my late father continually telling me to stop my addictions. But I didn’t listen to him. I even had many arguments with my wife about this. But, just by the darshan of Swamishri and Hiteshbhai’s efforts, I stopped everything and began to observe the niyams of satsang. I regularly attend the sabha and am free of addictions.”
When starting the BAPS chhatralaya activities, Yogiji Maharaj said, “This chhatralaya has started. It will prepare youths to be ‘living’ mandirs. Here, Kaliyug will be transformed into Satyug. From here, countless will benefit from Shastriji Maharaj’s efforts for the moksha of all.”
Through youths like Hitesh Hindocha, these visionary words of Yogiji Maharaj are being realized today.
FROM WILD TO CULTURED
BAPS Swaminarayan Chhatralaya, Mahesana
Liril Silvi was widely regarded as a wild and insolent youth. He was habituated to drugs, alcohol and other intoxicants. He enjoyed partying and roaming with his like-minded friends. As a result, everyone was frustrated with him. To him, studying was equivalent to death. That is why he had failed in seven subjects in the first three semesters of his mechanical engineering course.
Once, he was caught taking drugs red-handed by the police. The college principal reprimanded him severely. His parents pleaded with him to stop his harmful habits. But he ignored everyone, threatening to commit suicide. So, even his parents were at a loss about what to do.
Irritated by the daily admonishments of his professors, Liril left the college hostel to stay with friends in a rented room. This only added to Liril’s personal independence. Daily, he indulged in alcohol and eating meat.
Among his friends, one, who did not have any such habits, daily told him to stop his indulgence. But Liril paid no attention to him.
One day, out of the blue, Liril had a thought that he wanted to give up his bad habits. But his bad company prevented him from giving them up. So, he thought that if he could get admission to a respectable chhatralaya he could change. His search led him to the BAPS chhatralaya in Mahesana.
Coincidently, one of Liril’s friends stayed in the chhatralaya. Liril requested him to ask the management to give him admission. This satsangi friend told him bluntly that only if he stopped all his addictions and bad habits will he be enrolled in the chhatralaya. Liril reluctantly agreed to the conditions and began to stay in the chhatralaya.
The divine, peaceful atmosphere of the chhatralaya immediately touched Liril from within. Initially, however, he found the communal life a little tough and the rules restrictive. So, he would occasionally visit his other friends to smoke and drink. Soon, however, he began to regularly attend the arti and sabha in the chhatralaya and participated in the various cultural activities. He frequently had darshan of Pramukh Swami Maharaj and listened to his discourses. This divine atmosphere brought about a total transformation in his life. He severed all ties with his bad friends, and stopped his addictions and bad habits. He excelled in his studies and secured a place for higher studies at NIT Warangal in Hyderabad.
Whenever Liril is asked about his transformation and achievements, he is overcome with emotion and replies, “It is all due to Pramukh Swami Maharaj and the BAPS chhatralaya. If I had not been accepted in the chhatralaya, my life would have been like hell and wasted.”