Math na bãndhe mamatã kari, shathatã kini tyãg…
He doesn’t build a dwelling for himself. He never practises deceit.
By saying that a true sadhu does not create a dwelling for himself, Muktanand Swami implies that such a person is not attached to any particular place, position, person or activity. Instead, such a person is attached only to God and remains a humble servant.
Let us consider how Swamishri epitomizes this virtue. Yogiji Maharaj had appointed Swamishri as the mahant of the Akshar Bhuvan mandir in Dadar, Mumbai, in 1961. However, in 1977, he joined Pramukh Swami Maharaj in his vicharan abroad and thereafter Swamishri asked him to begin doing vicharan across the country. For Mahant Swami, leaving Mumbai meant renouncing the comforts of the mandir to embrace the hardships of itinerancy. However, detached as he was, Swamishri never questioned his guru’s wish; in fact, he continues to do vicharan to this day.
Despite being a senior sadhu then, Mahant Swami always shied away from amassing a following of his own. Some attempted to make him the guru shortly after Yogiji Maharaj’s passing, yet he remained faithful to Pramukh Swami Maharaj, saying, “I am Pramukh Swami’s shishya, and I will remain Pramukh Swami’s only. I have become a sadhu for moksha, and only Pramukh Swami can give me moksha.” Even after being formally appointed as Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s successor amidst a gathering of senior sadhus in 2012, he insisted that the decision not be publicised so long as Pramukh Swami Maharaj was with us. He further asserted, “I am just a sevak, and I want to continue to be sevak. The gateway to moksha and everyone’s guru is only Pramukh Swami Maharaj. It is a matter of principle that moksha can be granted by only one at any given time. Please accept this request of mine.”
Even after Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s passing, Swamishri has always tried to keep the spotlight on his gurus, rather than trying to fill their shoes himself. In his speeches he often mentions, “With all that Pramukh Swami Maharaj has accomplished, all I have left to do is accept garlands of honour and praises.” Furthermore, he stops people abruptly when they call out his ‘jai’ without first calling out Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s ‘jai’. He said once, in fact, “I am his servant. When you call out everything else without saying his ‘jai’ first, it feels as if my arms have been cut off!” On another occasion, he said, “Everything seems empty without Bapa’s ‘jai’. It becomes scary at times.”
The second part of this verse says that the true Sadhu never practises deceit. This virtue, too, can be seen in Swamishri. Despite becoming the guru in 2016, Swamishri has never tried to convince people of his oneness with Pramukh Swami Maharaj by copying his guru’s ways. People often give him a chhadi (a small, decorative staff), hoping that he will wave it like Pramukh Swami Maharaj used to. Nonetheless, without fail, he appreciates its beauty, touches it to his eyes, and respectfully hands it back.
Mahant Swami Maharaj was in Sarangpur when the North American Youth Convention was being held in Atlanta in 2018. Nonetheless, Swamishri graced the event through a live telecast. The organizers asked Swamishri about his current location, hoping that he would please the crowd by saying that he was in Atlanta. Many people cued Swamishri to reply accordingly. However, Swamishri answered immediately and honestly and with just one word, “Sarangpur.” Indeed, deceit has no place in Swamishri’s heart.
Kabahu krodh na upje, so sãchã vairagya.
In one who is truly detached, anger never arises.
Swamishri is also free of anger. Even in trying circumstances, he never succumbs to rage. Swamishri was once serving tea to devotees in Ahmedabad. The devotees were seated in a line. As he made his way through, he ran out of tea and went for a refill. Instead of resuming from where he had left off, Swamishri began serving from the other end of the line. Losing his patience, one devotee got up and stormed towards Swamishri. He grabbed the vessel from Swamishri’s hands and, in a fit of anger, poured the boiling tea over Swamishri’s bare feet. The tea blistered Swamishri’s delicate skin; yet, Swamishri did not utter a word of complaint. This incident, along with countless others, shows Swamishri calm and composed personality, according to Muktanand Swami’s description.
Tyãge tikhã tamtamã, rasnã bhogvilãs…
He renounces tasty foods and other sensory pleasures.
Maharaj says in a scripture known as the Dharmamrut that one who conquers the sense of taste has found victory over everything.
Let us understand Mahant Swami Maharaj’s disinterest in taste in two ways. The first is Swamishri’s dedication towards fasting. As a yuvak and young sadhu, he fasted regularly according to Yogiji Maharaj’s wish. During such times, he would not eat or drink anything for the entire day. Often, Yogiji Maharaj would even have him fast for days in a row. Once, he even fasted for five days at once.
Even at an elderly age, Swamishri continued fasting regularly. In 2014, Pramukh Swami Maharaj visited Robbinsville, USA. The heat was intense, and the workload was substantial. As a result, senior sadhus had asked Swamishri to permit volunteers to take fruits and juices on Janmashtami, rather than observe a waterless fast as was the norm. Swamishri agreed to their request, but he himself decided to fast without water for the day. Pujya Ishwarcharan Swami beseeched him to at least drink some juice; however, Swamishri refused, saying that he would be okay fasting, as he was not involved physically in any of the preparations. Countless such instances testify to Swamishri’s indifference towards taste.
A second factor that shows Mahant Swami Maharaj to be above taste is the type of food that he eats daily. For years, Mahant Swami Maharaj has had his food prepared without salt or savoury spices; as a result, it is bland and without taste.
Several years ago, some children and teens from North America had travelled to India to visit several of the Sanstha’s mandirs. They had Swamishri’s darshan while he was eating lunch in Bochasan.
Out of curiosity, one child asked, “What are you having for lunch?”
Swamishri smiled and asked, “Would you like to try some?”
The child nodded in delight. Mahant Swami took a spoonful of parvarnu shak and gave it to the child. The child eagerly put the parvarnu shak in his mouth; and instantly, his delight changed to disgust. The food was so bland that the child struggled to eat it.
“How can you eat food that is so flavourless?” he asked Swamishri.
“I experience the joy of having attained Yogi Bapa and Pramukh Swami Maharaj,” Swamishri replied. “Consequently, I have no need for any other taste.”
On another occasion, Swamishri sat for lunch while in a flight from Ahmedabad to Nairobi. After offering his prayers, Swamishri began to eat.
“The same menu every day?” one of Swamishri’s attendants asked. “How can you possibly enjoy this?”
“I am enjoying the flavour of Bhagwan,” Swamishri answered.
Swamishri’s dedication to fasting and his penchant for bland foods show him to be above the sense of taste.
Muktãnand so santke, sadã rahat Hari pãs.
God forever resides within such a Sant, says Muktanand.
Muktanand Swami concludes his kirtan by saying that God forever stays with such a Sadhu. Mahant Swami Maharaj fully embodies the virtues Muktanand Swami has extolled in this kirtan. And thus, Swamishri has God within him at all times.
Yogiji Maharaj confirmed this fact when he once exclaimed, “One who has done the samagam of Pujya Narayan Swami (Pramukh Swami Maharaj) and Pujya Mahant Shri Keshavjivandas (Mahant Swami Maharaj) has done the samagam of Maharaj himself!”
Indeed, this is the secret behind the bliss we experience in Mahant Swami Maharaj’s presence – just as being in his company is like being in Maharaj’s company, his darshan is also Maharaj’s darshan, his loving words are Maharaj’s loving words, and his uplifting blessings are Maharaj’s uplifting blessings. We are truly fortunate to have attained such a pure, divine guru – the Aksharbrahman Satpurush – who is the manifest form of Bhagwan Swaminarayan.