In 1950, after his appointment by Shastriji Maharaj as the president of BAPS at the age of 28, Pramukh Swami travelled from village to village, managing the administration of the Sanstha and spreading satsang. He often travelled by bullock cart, tractor, rickshaw or on foot in the rain, heat and cold. He traversed longer distances by third class train journeys, and sometimes by car. As the president of the Sanstha he never demanded any facilities. He would sleep in the general assembly halls of mandirs and take his meals in the common kitchen for sadhus.
After 1971, during his vicharan as the guru, he was never deterred or frustrated by hardships and challenges. In Jetpur and Bavla he helped to push-start the stalled car. On the road to Bhoyka, when the tractor he was travelling in became stuck in the mud, two tractors were brought to pull it out, but they also got stuck. Then a fourth tractor was deployed to pull it out. Swamishri patiently waited and assisted. Once, while going to Junagadh from Tulsishyam, his car got stranded at night in the Gir forest. Swamishri had to stay the whole night in his car with lions roaming outside.
Once, while coming to Ahmedabad from Mumbai by train, he stayed awake all night to meet the devotees eagerly waiting at every station to greet him.
In 1976, he visited 728 villages and cities, averaging more than two a day, visiting homes and attending satsang assemblies till well past midnight. His eating and rest schedules were always disrupted, but he never complained or tired. He remained fresh and joyous, no matter the difficulties he had to face. And even on the days of fasts, his hectic schedule of home visits, village processions, assemblies, personal counselling, letter correspondence, festivals, murti-pratishthas, Sanstha admin work and other duties continued with no respite. Thus, he travelled and did seva continuously, unmindful of the discomfort.
During the hot summer of 1977 his vicharan was arranged in Sabarkantha. Others said, “Swami, Mumbai is better in summer as it is not so hot.” Swamishri said, “But it is better for the villagers in the summer, as there are boggy roads in the rainy season.” So, in 27 days in Sabarkantha he visited 87 villages. And in the Surat district, he visited 90 villages in 20 days.
Wherever he went, he got up at 6.00 a.m., finished his daily worship and breakfast by 8.30 a.m. and started his daily visits to the devotees’ homes. Sometimes, the home visits stretched on till 2.30 p.m. Then, he would have lunch and take a brief rest. Thereafter, more home visits, meetings and satsang assemblies. Sometimes, he would have dinner at 11.30 p.m., then sing the chestha and sleep late at night.
During home visits he performed the arti, offered vartman to aspirants and their children and strengthened their faith in God. He would liberate them from addictions, encourage them to perform daily puja and bless them.
Vicharan to Purify Others
The BAPS mandirs are ornate and big, but Swamishri hardly stayed in them for long.
In a city like Mumbai, he had to often climb four floors during home visits. He travelled and stayed in the tribal areas for months where no facilities were available.
Tolerating many difficulties himself, Swamishri undertook vicharan to purify thousands of lives.
Swamishri never forgot Shriji Maharaj even for a moment during his vicharan. He staunchly observed his moral rules, never desiring to inspire satsang in others at the cost of his spiritual vows. Once he said, “I go on vicharan in India and other countries, but my mind is at the holy feet of Bhagwan.”
Everyone at some point in their lives needs to drink the water of such a pure saintly river.
Thus, people of all backgrounds were cleansed of bad habits and vices by this saintly river. Just as doctors, teachers, businessmen, labourers and others are all required in society, so also, sadhus are an indispensable part of society. Sadhus are not a burden on society. They inspire moral values and uplift and strengthen the fabric of society.
Like an incense stick, Swamishri endured difficulties and gave his saintly fragrance to all.
Cataracts in the eyes, gall bladder removal, an operation for a benign thigh swelling, leg rheumatism and a heart attack – all these, instead of stopping him, inspired him to travel more.
Dipchandbhai Gardi, a great philanthropist of Mumbai, invited Swamishri to Mandvi in Kutch to inaugurate the Gujarat State Panjrapol Federation. It was arranged in January 1986, immediately after the hectic 59-day bicentenary celebrations of Gunatitanand Swami in 1985 in Ahmedabad. Swamishri was not well. He had a fever on reaching Bhuj, but did not tell anyone. Then, in spite of falling ill in Gandhidham, he performed the inauguration.
In 1983, Swamishri had a heart attack. The following year, in 1984, he toured five continents, blessing satsang assemblies, performing murti-pratishthas, making home visits and attending a slew of other satsang programmes. Thereafter, he visited many states all over India.
In 1985, he had a fever when he visited 95 villages in 20 days in the Kanam area (Vadodara district). Daily, he visited 30 to 40 houses of devotees. In Vasad, Swamishri visited 101 homes on the day of a waterless ekadashi fast, despite having a fever of 102°F. When asked why he did not reveal his illness earlier, Swamishri replied, “In spite of such illnesses I want to please the devotees.”
Swamishri had pledged when appointed as the president of BAPS, “I take a vow, in the presence of guru Shastriji Maharaj and the assembly, that I shall do my best in discharging my duties and will be faithful even at the cost of my health in fulfilling my duties.”
Swamishri observed this vow till his last breath.