Kush pushes through his garage door into the kitchen. He opens the fridge and pulls out a sports drink as he wipes the sweat off his face. “Kush! You stink. Hurry up and shower! It will be arti time soon,” says his sister. Kush goes to hug his sister and mother as they fend him off by yelling at him and hitting him with the kitchen towel. Kush chuckles as he walks up the stairs to his room and meets his father on the way up.
“Hey how did it go on the court today?” asks Kush’s dad.
“Ah, pretty well. You know how it goes, you’re on some days, you’re off some days,” says Kush.
“Well, don’t forget what your coach said,” says Kush’s dad.
“Yeah, yeah. Go to infinity and beyond!” says Kush, standing with his fists on his waist, like a superhero.
His dad chuckles and says, “Don’t be too smart. He said you need to go above and beyond this year. Don’t you want to make the varsity team?” asks Kush’s dad as he walks into the living room.
After arti, thal and dinner, the family is sitting and talking. When time for ghar sabha comes, Kush’s dad pulls out Bhagatji Maharaj’s jivan charitra. “Let me know if you don’t understand some of the tougher Gujarati words so I can pause and explain it to you guys,” says Kush’s dad to his children. He begins reading:
“Gunatitanand Swami had undertaken the task of constructing a haveli on the mandir premises. Pragji Bhakta laboured hard to help dig the foundations. Then, following Swami’s wish, Pragji undertook the difficult work of washing the sand and pouring it into the foundation. He completed the task all alone. As he performed each task Gunatitanand Swami expressed his pleasure, which encouraged Pragji Bhakta to work more and more.
“Then came the most difficult job of preparing the lime mortar. Everyone was afraid that it would cause blisters on their hands and feet and also make them blind. Nobody came forward to undertake this work. As it was Swami’s wish Pragji Bhakta volunteered. He willingly accepted the work and started lifting the large sacks of lime on his back. He mixed water and lime in a pit and pounded it into mortar with his bare feet. With a desire to please Swami, Pragji Bhakta enthusiastically absorbed himself in the work maintaining good feelings towards everyone. If anyone warned him, ‘Pragji, you will become blind on account of the heat from the lime,’ he would simply reply, ‘I want to please Swami. I have dedicated my life in the service of Swami.’
“Although Pragji Bhakta worked day and night, Gunatitanand Swami once told him, ‘You are working hard physically, but without austerities your senses will not be tamed.’ So, on Swami’s instructions, he began to fast for two days at a time and eat only once on the third day. He served during the day and in his spare moments he sat near Swami and listened to his spiritual discourses.”
Kush’s dad looks up from the book, takes off his reading glasses, and then asks his children, “Why was Bhagatji Maharaj so firm to please Gunatitanand Swami? And how did he go above and beyond to achieve his goal?” Kush’s mind was elsewhere. Bhagatji Maharaj’s determination to please Gunatitanand Swami got him thinking about how much more he could push himself for his basketball team.
Anish looks at the digital clock on his night stand for the fifth time. “Ugh, 45 minutes, and nothing!” Anish says to himself. A blank word document stares back at him.
“I am never going to get these application essays done,” says Anish as he puts his face into his hands. Despite his excellent grades and all the extracurricular activities he participated in, Anish was worried that all the best colleges in the country would turn him down if he didn’t put together an outstanding essay. Just then, Anish’s dad walks into his room.
“Hey Anish, time for dinner soon. It’s your mother’s bhinda nu shak, so don’t hurry down,” says Anish’s dad while laughing at his own joke.
Anish said nothing. “What’s wrong?” his father asked.
“I can’t finish these essays dad!” says Anish, “I just don’t know what to write!” After a few minutes of talking with his dad, Anish calmed down.
“Listen, take it easy, don’t stress about these applications. What’s the worst case scenario? You don’t get into college? Don’t worry about it. Your mother will be happy. She’s been looking for someone to try out her new recipes on,” says Anish’s dad as Anish chuckles. “Try doing what I do when I want to de-stress,” says Anish’s dad as he closes the door behind him.
“It’s worth a try I guess,” mumbles Anish to himself. Anish pulls out his Vachanamrut and opens it to a random page and begins reading:
“Thereupon Muktanand Swami asked, ‘Maharaj, how can unparalleled love towards God be developed?’ Shriji Maharaj replied, ‘A person should have the following understanding: Firstly, conviction of God; i.e. “He who I have attained is undoubtedly God himself.” He should also have the attributes of an astik. Furthermore, he should realize the divine powers of God; i.e. “This God is the master of Brahmamahol, Golok, Shwetdwip and all the other abodes. He is the master of countless millions of brahmands and is the all-doer...”
Anish reads that last sentence again. “Maharaj and Swami are the all-doers. Stressing out about these applications isn’t helping me at all. I’ve got to try my best on these essays, and then remember that it’s up to Maharaj and Swami whether or not I get admitted to college,” thinks Anish to himself. Feeling relieved, Anish sat up straight and started to type away. He paused for a brief moment, however, to jot the Vachanamrut – Gadhada I 59, to share with Kush.