Everyone faces problems in life – be it failing an exam, losing a job, or having to endure a difficult spouse, disobedient children, or poor health. Most of us try to solve these problems by relying on external solutions. However, in the Vachanamrut, Shriji Maharaj encourages us to look internally for solutions. The solutions that Maharaj imparts through the Vachanamrut, moreover, can help any person in any phase of life. Whether you’re a struggling freshman trying to gain your footing in college, a parent or child trying to learn how best to deal with your loved ones, or a satsangi with a burning desire to progress in satsang, the Vachanamrut has life lessons for all.
Many of us start our educational pursuits with high hopes for the future. As children, some of us dream of being politicians, business entrepreneurs, law-enforcement officers, or medical professionals. As adolescence sets in, however, entertainment, social media and peer groups often cause our energies to dissipate, leading us to lose the focus and drive we once had towards achieving our academic and professional goals.
The Vachanamrut presents a simple solution for reinvigorating our drive to achieve. In Gadhada I 25, Maharaj encourages us to reign in our diverse energies and develop absolute concentration on a singular goal. He argues that such focus can lead to unprecedented inner strength.
Keeping in mind his largely agrarian audience, Maharaj explains his point using a farming analogy. Specifically, he describes an irrigation apparatus that employs oxen to draw water out of a well. Each pair of oxen yolked to the apparatus draws water using one large pail of water, known as a kosh. As the pair walks back and forth, the kosh is lowered into the well, filled with water, and then raised to the well’s edge to be emptied into a water channel. An average farmer will employ either one or two pairs of oxen in this task, sending an intermittent flow of water through the field. Maharaj, however, analogizes a giant apparatus through which twenty pairs of oxen pull twenty pails, respectively. He explains, “If twenty pails of water are drawn from a well and the flow of water from each pail is allowed to flow in a separate direction, there would be little force in each flow. However, if the flow of all twenty pails of water is combined, the resultant flow would become extremely powerful – almost like that of a river – and would not be able to be diverted by any means whatsoever.” In the same way, Maharaj concludes, consolidating our energies and channelling them in a common direction can lead to renewed vigour, helping us achieve our goals. For the student, this means that cutting out distractions and developing singular focus on education can lead to better results.
Cutting down on leisure and studying more intently may seem like a difficult task; nonetheless, Maharaj puts forth that we can achieve anything that we set our minds to – all it requires, he says, is eagerness and regular practice. In Kariyani 10, for instance, he says, “A person who has great zeal in any endeavour would never be hindered even if he were to face thousands of obstacles.” In Gadhada II 33, on the other hand, he states, “After all, what is impossible to achieve with this human body? That which is practised regularly can definitely be achieved.” Maharaj then illustrates his point using another irrigation analogy, saying, “For example, due to the daily drawing of water from a well, the constant rubbing of even a soft rope can cause a groove in the very hard piece of rock that lies on the edge of that well.” In this way, Maharaj presents passion as the key to being unaffected by obstacles and habitual practice as a means of achieving that which may otherwise seem undoable. For the student, this means that dedication and constant endeavour can help one engender concentration and improved results.
Steven Covey writes in the introduction to The Seven Habits for Highly Effective Families that strong families with healthy relationships do not just happen to be or occur due to luck. Instead, he writes, engendering strong bonds amongst the family requires energy, talent, desire, vision, and determination. Just as other milestones we strive to achieve in life, he adds, building a healthy family requires time, thought, planning, and prioritization. Moreover, it demands hard work and sacrifice. If you want it, he concludes, you must pay the price.
Throughout the Vachanamrut, Shriji Maharaj offers valuable advice regarding what it is, precisely, that needs to be thought through, sacrificed, and prioritized in order to create a successful family. This advice is particularly valuable coming from Shriji Maharaj since he himself was the extraordinarily successful convener of a grand ‘family’ of 3,000 sadhus and two million devotees that made up the nascent satsang fellowship.
One key point that we can glean from the Vachanamrut on the topic of family unity concerns mutual respect. A common complaint from parents is that today’s youth do not respect their elders. In light of the Vachanamrut, though, we may ask ourselves as complaining parents whether or not we offer our children the respect that we demand for ourselves. Indeed, enduring appreciation can never be a one-way exchange. Maharaj expresses such sentiments in Gadhada II 47, wherein he says, “If a person has a group of sadhus staying with him, and if he can look after them sincerely and respectfully, those sadhus will happily stay with him. However, if he does not know how to look after them, they will not stay with him.” Although Maharaj’s words here seem directed to sadhus, they reflect a far-reaching social dynamic – one who wishes to be loved must first love others, one who wants care must first care for others, and one who desires respect must first respect others.
While advising the leaders of his groups of sadhus on how to take care of their juniors, though, Maharaj also advises subordinates on how to deal with difficult leaders. In particular, he says that they should learn to tolerate; further, he says, rather than focusing on their caretakers’ methods, they should concentrate on the direction in which their caretakers are guiding them. Applied to family life, Maharaj’s advice tells youths to endure insistent or seemingly patronising parental guidance and focus instead on the positive change such behaviour hopes to engender.