ERADICATING A NAGAR DEVOTEE’S CRAVINGS FOR TASTY FOOD
While Swamishri’s discourses had removed the darkness of ignorance from countless hearts, even his mere darshan and casual actions were enough to dissolve the obstinate perversities of one’s ingrained nature.
In Junagadh, one devotee of the Nagar community would come to the mandir every day, do darshan of Thakorji and Swamishri and then go home. Never would he sit in the assembly and listen to any spiritual discourses. If Swamishri happened to be delivering discourses when he came, the devotee would do darshan from afar and leave, but he would not allow a single word of Swamishri’s divine speech to reach his ears.
This Nagar devotee was a slave to his palate, constantly desiring the finest delicacies to fulfill his intense cravings. If the food he was served did not match his exacting expectations, he would fly into a rage and throw the served dish, casting a terrible shadow on the peace in his home. His mother and wife had become so traumatized by his outbursts that every time he sat down to eat, their hearts would quake with fear. On the rare occasions when he finished his meal silently, judging it to have been prepared perfectly, his mother and wife would breathe a grateful sigh of relief. But those occasions were so few and far between that they had learned to brace themselves for his fury at every mealtime.
One day, out of desperation, his mother conveyed her plight to Swamishri through a male devotee and asked for his help. Swamishri smiled and told the male devotee, “Don’t worry, we will resolve the problem today.”
That morning, according to his routine, the Nagar devotee came to the mandir for Thakorji’s darshan. Then, he went to the assembly hall to have darshan of Swamishri. After doing darshan of Swamishri from afar, he was just thinking of going home when Swamishri called him near and asked him to sit in the discourse. The devotee sat in the assembly reluctantly, but before long, he was completely enthralled by Swamishri’s captivating speech.
When the discourse finished, the sadhus and devotees went for lunch. The Nagar devotee thought, “What rich foods must the powerful mahant of such a large mandir be enjoying? They must be serving everyone a delicious feast of tender sweets and savory fried items. And since Swamishri is the mahant of the mandir, he must be enjoying the very best items.”
With this thought, he followed Swamishri to the sadhus’ dining hall and looked in from the outside to see the sadhus serving a crumbly item into Swamishri’s bowl. The Nagar devotee surmised, “It looks like they have served him churmu, the raw material of laddus. Next, they will slather it with ghee and then serve sugar on top!”
The Nagar devotee began salivating at this thought when he saw a white liquid being poured into Swamishri’s bowl. He concluded, “Swamishri seems to have taken dudhpak with his churmu. That is a novel combination!”
Discerning the devotee’s thought, Swamishri told the bhandari sadhu, “Please bring some salt and crushed cumin.”
After Swamishri added salt and crushed cumin to his bowl, he poured some water in it. The Nagar devotee realized that, “Swamishri isn’t having dudhpak or even milk; he must be having buttermilk.”
As his curiosity got the better of him, the devotee entered the sadhus’ dining hall, did dandvats to Swamishri and sat down near him. Then he respectfully asked, “Swamishri, what are you eating?”
Swamishri replied, “I am having crumbled rotlo and buttermilk.”
The Nagar devotee was amazed. Swamishri was the mahant of such a large mandir and yet he was eating such simple fare as crumbled rotlo and buttermilk! The Nagar devotee was overwhelmed. In the past, he had seen Swamishri distributing piles of delicacies to sadhus and devotees; and yet, he himself consumed just crumbled rotlo and buttermilk. The Nagar devotee’s heart was transformed by Swamishri’s simplicity and absolute indifference to tasty foods.
The Nagar devotee walked home slowly, lost in thoughts of Swamishri’s greatness. His mother and wife awaited his arrival with foreboding. It was well past his normal mealtime and they would have to reheat his food. Thus, they were frightened at his reaction to the subtle change in the food’s flavor because it was reheated.
With bated breath, they served the food in his dish. But the Nagar devotee ate everything that was served to him thinking only about Swamishri’s indifference to tasty foods. He did not say a single word. That day marked a turning point in his life. His violent cravings for tasty food had been uprooted. His mother and wife finally found peace in their home.
TRANSFORMATION OF DAJIBHAI DARBAR OF KAMROD
Satsangis would sometimes stay in the mandir as Swamishri’s guests, but non-satsangis would do so more often. It is Shriji Maharaj’s command that those who come to the mandir seeking accommodations, bedding and food should be provided according to the mandir’s capability. Thus, Swamishri offered hospitality to all. Swamishri would treat everyone – satsangis and non-satsangis with the same respect and affection. Whoever experienced Swamishri’s hospitality, could not remain long without becoming a satsangi.
Dajibhai, the Darbar of the village of Kamrod in the Valak region, had come to Junagadh for some government work. He came to Swamishri seeking accommodations in the mandir, and Swamishri gave him a room on the hookah loft.
Swamishri had kept the upper storey of one building reserved as a designated hookah-smoking area. He would give non-satsangi Darbars and Garasiyas who were addicted to tobacco, opium or other substances, rooms here so they could stay and smoke without being self-conscious of others’ judgment. Moreover, the hookah loft was separate from the rest of the mandir so that satsangis would not be troubled by their bad habits. Swamishri understood that sermons alone wouldn’t convince these Darbars to give up their addictions, but by interacting with satsangis and observing their lifestyle, they would naturally be inspired to forsake their bad habits.
Swamishri gave Dajibhai’s horse grass and feed. He also had a cot put into the Darbar’s room and invited both the Darbar and his servant to dinner. Based on Swamishri’s welcoming demeanour and attention to all the details of his comfort, the Darbar decided that Swamishri’s hospitality was as good as people said it was.
The next morning, when Swamishri was delivering discourses in the assembly, Dajibhai came and sat before him. Swamishri said, “Darbar, have you accepted anyone as a guru?”
Dajibhai replied, “I am looking for a guru, but as of yet I have not found one. On one occasion, I had gone to make someone my guru, but in return for accepting me as a disciple he demanded two bottles of liquor and two goats. I realized that he was no better than me, so how could he possibly help me?”
Swamishri laughed and said, “Darbar, this guru will not ask for such things.”
Then, Swamishri said, “Darbar! I inspire people to do bhajan of Swaminarayan and follow the five vows of no alcohol, no meat, no thievery, no adultery and purity of conduct.”
As the Darbar did darshan of Swamishri and heard his words, he felt peace pervade his heart. His mind became still. He felt drawn to Swamishri. He folded his hands and said, “Swami, from today, I give you my word that I will no longer drink alcohol or eat meat. I don’t steal, as it is. Moreover, I will observe purity of conduct.”
The Darbar felt that since this sadhu is very great, he should openly confess to his misdeeds before him. Thus, he continued, “Swami, in my youth, I had taken a lot of copper ash and eaten many sparrow tongues, thus I will not be able to follow the vow of no adultery.”
Pleased that the Darbar had told the truth before the entire assembly, Swamishri said, “Observe the four vows through your own efforts, and I will assist you in observing the vow of non-lust.”
Swamishri offered vartman to the Darbar, tied a kanthi around his neck and gave him a puja. Then, Swamishri told him to do five malas while keeping his gaze focused on him. The Darbar did five malas while looking directly at Swamishri. Swamishri looked into Dajibhai’s eyes and destroyed the lust in his heart. Through Swamishri’s grace, the Darbar experienced tranquility in his heart, and all thoughts of lust subsided. The Darbar felt fulfilled. Then, taking Swamishri’s permission, he returned to his room.
The next day, after completing his government work, Dajibhai took Swamishri’s leave and returned home. By Swamishri’s grace, his lust and other desires had disappeared, and he felt a profound serenity in his heart. Freed of inner obstacles, he began to do constant bhajan of Swaminarayan. Every day he would eat two pounds of puris along with 2½ liters of whole milk sweetened with two pounds of sakar. Despite his prodigious appetite, not a single lustful thought ever crossed his mind. By openly confessing to Swamishri, the Darbar had become free of that flaw.