On 18 June 2002, in Tithal, during a special shibir, youths asked Pramukh Swami Maharaj, “How would you describe Shastriji Maharaj?” Swamishri immediately responded, “Bhagwan manifest. Write it down.”
Bhagwan Swaminarayan revealed, “When one has the darshan of such a Sant, one should realize, ‘I have had the darshan of God himself.’” That is why when Swamishri was asked if he has seen God, with his hand on his heart, he emphatically said, “Yes, [I have seen God] in my gurus Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj.” It was with this conviction that Swamishri told the youths to write down ‘Bhagwan manifest’ to descibe Shastriji Maharaj. To further cement this sentiment he also proceeded to write it down himself. In fact, throughout his life, Swamishri served his gurus – Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj – with this conviction. To him, his gurus were the manifest form of Bhagwan.
This is also a message that Mahant Swami Maharaj has emphasized in shloka 108 of the Satsang Diksha:
Thus, for all genuine spiritual seekers, realizing one’s guru to be the manifest form of Bhagwan facilitates one’s devotion and service to God and guru, and enables progress on the spiritual path.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life illustrates how such understanding sustains one’s spiritual endeavours.
Bhagwan Swaminarayan states that if one develops intense love for the Sant, in the same way that one has for Bhagwan, then one will perform all actions according to the wishes of that Aksharbrahma Sant. Swamishri’s intense love for his gurus was his motivating force, and so serving according to their wishes was an honour for him. He viewed it as his duty to them.
In 1991, Swamishri revealed, “Since the day I came, my focus was set only on Shastriji Maharaj… Pleasing him was my only aim. It is because of this, I have not experienced any difficulties.”
The early days of the Sanstha were marked by a lack of facilities, unrelenting financial difficulties, and inadequate manpower. But, because Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s focus was on Shastriji Maharaj, he did not view these as hardships. Even when his body was being put through strenuous tasks, he never viewed his condition as harsh; his only focus was pleasing Shastriji Maharaj.
During the construction of Atladara mandir, Shastriji Maharaj assigned Swamishri and others the task of preparing lime mortar. When performed by hand, it was a laborious and taxing process. The punishingly hot sun intensified the already unbearable heat generated from the limestone mixture, causing many to abandon the seva. As it was Shastriji Maharaj’s wish, Swamishri persisted through the discomfort and potential risk. Etched in Swamishri’s mind was Shastriji Maharaj’s desire to complete Atladara mandir and so he was willing to work tirelessly, even if it meant that he had to risk his health to prepare exothermic mortar three times a day.
Due to repeated exposure to this intense heat, Swamishri’s body became covered with blisters and rashes. Yet, he did not use his condition to excuse himself from his duty and forgo the chance to fulfil his guru’s wishes.
Shortly afterwards, when Shastriji Maharaj was suffering from pneumonia, he called Swamishri to Jhadeshwar, not far from Bharuch. Upon seeing him covered in blisters, Shastriji Maharaj asked what had happened. But Swamishri remained silent; he was not concerned by his own condition. Shastriji Maharaj understood the meaning of his silence and placed his hands on Swamishri. He repeated this daily and soon the rashes and blisters disappeared. While describing this incident, Swamishri said, “Shastriji Maharaj used his illness to call me to his seva and cured my ailment. Such was his compassion. Anything the guru says or does is solely for our benefit.”
Shastriji Maharaj then instructed Devprasad Swami, who was leading the construction activities, to give Swamishri a different seva. On returning to Atladara, Devprasad Swami asked Swamishri to help bring stones to the mandir from the train station. Swamishri’s slim build did not prevent him from following the agna. Describing these moments, Swamishri said, “From the beginning, I was always eager to serve. I did every task given to me, big or small.”
Once, Swamishri had accompanied Devprasad Swami to retrieve the stones from the train station. “I was standing at the edge of the wagon,” Swamishri described.
“Harjivandas and Devprasaddas lifted the stones using a crowbar. Unknown to them, I was putting packing underneath. They suddenly released the stone and, as a result, the first two fingers of my right hand were trapped between the stone and the wagon. Due to the pain from the immense weight of the stone, I fainted instantly.” Even after a two-month recovery period, Swamishri’s fingernails never regrew properly. Nevertheless, undeterred by the previous injury, Swamishri rejoined the same seva of moving stones. When asked about this incident later, Swamishri revealed his motivation to continue such arduous tasks, “Pleasing the guru was the only goal… never did a second thought arise, like ‘let us quit’.” Swamishri’s mentality of pleasing his gurus, no matter the hardship, was a result of his intense love for his gurus, whom he revered as the manifest form of Bhagwan.
Years later, facing a similar situation in the arid region of Makrana, where Yogiji Maharaj had sent him to quarry stones for mandir construction, Swamishri explained to his accompanying sadhu, “We have been given this seva, how can we abandon it? If we leave, we will have let Yogiji Maharaj down.” Despite the tough circumstances, Swamishri performed every seva with the sole desire to fulfil the wishes of his gurus.