In 1952, I joined the Satsang with understanding when I came from East Africa to India. In the first two years, I toured with Yogiji Maharaj during my college vacations. I had rarely interacted with Pramukh Swami (Swamishri). In 1960, Yogiji Maharaj initiated me as a sadhu and posted me in Mumbai. Swamishri used to come for a few days when Yogiji Maharaj was in Mumbai. As such, I did not come in close contact with Swamishri till 1970.
In 1970, Swamishri was with us when I went to East Africa and England with Yogiji Maharaj. On many occasions I accompanied Pramukh Swami to padhramanis and sabhas. But there was no deep attachment with him. At that time, nothing was more important for me than Yogiji Maharaj. However, I was drawn towards Swamishri in London due to two incidents.
In one incident, Yogi Bapa and the sadhus arrived at a devotee’s home to have lunch. Due to lack of time, I was not able to prepare the seating arrangements for dinner by spreading paper on the carpet. Furthermore, I was preparing the food, which was not ready. So, I was dashing in and out of the kitchen to take care of both the arrangements. Swamishri saw this frantic movement of mine. He realized the situation and started making the seating arrangements and told me to finish the cooking. He could have asked other junior sadhus to do that service, but he did not do so, and started doing it himself. On seeing this, I was drawn towards him.
In 1974, Swamishri posted me at Atladra as the kothari. Whenever Swamishri visited Atladra, I had to arrange all the programmes; especially the padhramanis to the devotees’ residences. Once, Swamishri was to come to Vadodara in the evening directly to the home of the devotee where dinner had been arranged. Then, he was scheduled to go to Atladra for his stay. When the devotees living nearby came to know of Swamishri’s visit they requested me that Swamishri also sanctify their homes. So, I arranged Swamishri’s padhramanis to their homes. But, as was common at that time, Swamishri’s arrival was delayed due to additions in his schedule.
Swamishri was seated after taking dinner, but I could not muster the courage to tell him that some padhramanis had been arranged. I was under tension as the devotees had made the arrangements. Then, while departing, Swamishri asked me, “What is the programme?” I replied, “We have a few padhramanis and then we will go to Atladra for rest.” Without showing any unwillingness or exhaustion, he enthusiastically said, “Let us go.” I was touched by this incident and came closer to him.
Another memorable incident took place when I was with Swamishri on our way from Bochasan to Atladra for the Vasant Panchami celebration. Ishwarbhai, a dedicated devotee in Jitodia, was about to breathe his last. Swamishri had decided to see him first and then proceed further. We all went to Jitodia. Ishwarbhai was lying awake on a bed in the veranda of his house. A seat was arranged on a nearby wooden cot for Swamishri. A murti was placed in a chair nearby and a divo was ignited before it.Swamishri took his seat on the wooden cot, while Viveksagar Swami and I sat on either side of him. Swamishri stroked Ishwarbhai’s body and talked to him encouragingly. His sons performed pujan and arti of Thakorji. Then, Swamishri told me to offer the prasad to Thakorji and then give it to someone to distribute it to the devotees. After offering the thal to Thakorji, I was about to give the prasad to someone when Swamishri took the dish from me to pass it on himself. However, a part of the dish of prasad had become hot because of a divo lying underneath it. I was unaware of this and as Swamishri took the dish from the side that was hot, his right hand finger got scorched. Still, Swamishri did not let go off the dish and tolerated the burning sensation. Any other person would have dropped the hot dish. But Swamishri held on to the dish and cautioned a youth standing in front of him not to hold the dish from that side.
Thus, he saved the youth from getting his fingers hurt. After getting into the car, Swamishri asked Narayancharan Swami to bring some ointment to apply on his fingers, which had developed a large blister. The severity of the burns was apparent from this.
After the celebration in Atladra, I approached Swamishri for permission to return to Bochasan. Then, I begged for forgiveness, “Swami, forgive me. I am pained to see your blistered finger.” He dismissed my words smilingly. But I feel sorry whenever I remember this incident, and when I remember that blister on his finger, I feel pain.
However, I still recall that painful incident because the experience of his enduring and pardoning nature is refreshed. By this incident, Swamishri drew me more towards him.