When I was associated with Brahmaswarup Yogiji Maharaj I had the firm belief that only he could attract the attention of youths by befriending them and inspiring them to follow the path of moral conduct and bhakti. This was a role which no one else in the entire world could play.
Before Yogiji Maharaj returned to Akshardham he had declared that Pramukh Swami was the form of Shastriji Maharaj and that he (Pramukh Swami) was also everything to him. So (after Yogiji Maharaj’s earthly departure) I gradually bonded with him. In the beginning, the feeling persisted that Yogiji Maharaj was unique and that Pramukh Swami Maharaj would not be able to attract youths like he did. But, within a short span of time Pramukh Swami Maharaj (Swamishri) cleared this misconception of mine.
Swamishri took deep interest in the youths, expressed his love, graced them and greatly attracted all those who came into his contact. Because of this, some enthusiastically joined in the satsang activities, some even joined in doing lifetime seva in mandirs, and some took diksha as sadhus and engrossed themselves in satsang seva. Then, I understood firmly that there was only a change in the outer form, but not in the spiritual substance. Bhagwan Swaminarayan, who was working in the form of Yogiji Maharaj, was now working through Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
During Swamishri’s satsang tour of South India in 1989–90, I experienced the jam-packed public assemblies in centres which had only a few devotees. Many well-wishers joined satsang because they were impressed by Swamishri’s divine glory. Some realized that the form of Bhagwan Swaminarayan himself had come. Many people became pure by giving up addictions, many more had their wishes fulfilled, hundreds became yolked to selfless service and worship, and thousands got guidance for a better, higher life.
Once, an assembly of devotional songs with music was arranged at the Deshpande Hall in Nagpur. The large hall was situated at the far end of the city. So, all felt it would not be fully occupied. But to everyone’s surprise, the hall was overcrowded from the beginning. When Banwarilal Purohit, the chief guest of the event, was contacted on phone to remind him to come, he inquired whether there were any people in the hall. He was told to come and see for himself. When he arrived he was amazed to find the hall overcrowded. He experienced Swamishri’s divine attraction. Like a mountain of magnet which pulls all the iron in a region, Swamishri attracted hundreds of spiritual aspirants seeking moksha.
Once, Swamishri was standing at the entrance of a train compartment on a railway station. While he was meeting the devotees, a boy came and requested Swamishri to give his autograph on a piece of paper. The attendant sadhu told the boy that as the train was about to depart Swamishri would sign it later. But Swamishri did not want to disappoint the boy. He signed the paper while standing, which pleased the boy immensely. All those who were present learnt not to disappoint a small boy.
Once, Swamishri reached Akola station at 12.30 a.m. to catch a train. But the train arrived one hour and fifteen minutes late. Till then he waited in the VIP room. After boarding the train, he lay down to rest at 2.30 a.m. At 5.45 a.m., the train arrived at Amalner station. Swamishri came to the door to give darshan to the devotees, then blessed them and accepted their salutations. His chief aim was to please the devotees and so he silently tolerated the hardship and discomfort. He had sacrificed his life for the devotees.
In 1973 (Vaishakh vad 12, VS 2029), the birthday of Yogiji Maharaj was celebrated in Gondal. At that time, I went to Gondal with regards to my PhD thesis. After Swamishri completed his morning puja, he came to Shastriji Maharaj’s room to have darshan. I requested him, “Yogiji Maharaj had promised me that he would bless me to attain ekantik dharma, but shortly thereafter he went to Dham. Now, how will I attain it?” Swamishri took a rose from the sanctified cot and gave it to me, saying, “Whatever Yogiji Maharaj had promised, I will fulfil it. There’s no need to worry.” Because of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s compassion and blessings, I am able to observe religious vows to perform bhakti, service and satsang, and am peaceful at heart.
It was a common experience that Swamishri possessed the power to transform the lives of people totally.