Atmabuddhi: Profound Attachment
Fulfilling his gurus’ wishes was always at the forefront of Swamishri’s thoughts and actions. Since he believed his gurus to be Bhagwan manifest and was profoundly attached to them, he never doubted their wishes or actions.
Such atmabuddhi is explained by Bhagwan Swaminarayan through an analogy of a king. “If a king who is childless receives a son in old age, then even if that son swears at the king or misbehaves, for example, by pulling his moustache, the king would not find faults in him. Even if the son hits another child or causes problems in the village, still the king would never attribute faults to his child. Why? Because the king is profoundly attached to his son.” Such was Swamishri’s atmabuddhi towards his gurus that he understood their every action to be divine.
On 4 November 1966, devotees from Sardargadh invited Yogiji Maharaj to attend the murti-pratishtha of the mandir. Yogiji Maharaj usually consulted Pramukh Swami before making any decisions, but this time he directly accepted. Gunvantbhai Dani, who was present, even asked Yogiji Maharaj, “Should we not ask Pramukh Swami first?” Yogiji Maharaj remarked, “They will tell him.”
When Pramukh Swami was informed by the devotees about attending, he immediately foresaw hostility, as many spiteful individuals resided near Sardargadh. As president of the Sanstha, Swamishri could have overruled Yogiji Maharaj’s decision. But this was not Swamishri’s way. Years earlier, when someone attempted to influence Swamishri to counter Yogiji Maharaj, Swamishri fervently responded, “I would never oppose Yogiji Maharaj’s wishes.” Swamishri maintained this approach when he learnt that Yogiji Maharaj had accepted the invitation to Sardargadh. Swamishri believed Yogiji Maharaj’s every action to be divine and flawless.
On the day of the murti-pratishtha, Yogiji Maharaj, Swamishri and other sadhus reached Sardargadh. Upon arriving, Swamishri sensed the tension, and quickly organized an exit plan. Following the pratishtha, Swamishri hurried Yogiji Maharaj towards his car. Just then, a stone came flying and shattered the windshield of a nearby car. In the commotion that followed, Yogiji Maharaj and Swamishri rushed off to Junagadh. Here, they spent the night at Pragjibhai’s house. Swamishri was relieved that he was able to escort Yogiji Maharaj away safely and that Yogiji Maharaj’s wish to attend the pratishtha was fulfilled.
When Yogiji Maharaj reached Gondal the next morning, everyone was relieved to see his safe return. They were, however, upset by the events that had occurred and senior members held a meeting to discuss the previous day’s events. The first question asked was: “Who scheduled the visit despite knowing the situation in Sardargadh?” Yogiji Maharaj avoided any eye contact and said, “Pramukh Swami scheduled it. I do not know anything.” Everyone turned their heads towards Swamishri, their eyes filled with fury. Seeing this situation as a test, Swamishri immediately folded his hands and said, “It was my mistake and it will not happen again.” Everyone looked upon Swamishri with utter disapproval. However, seeing Swamishri understand his wishes, Yogiji Maharaj beamed with pride.
Reflecting on this incident years later, Swamishri said, “Even if I had to look bad in front of others, it was, after all, for Yogiji Maharaj. This happened occasionally during Yogiji Maharaj’s time. He would unexpectedly announce, ‘Pramukh Swami knows everything.’ As a result, the responsibility would rest with me. But what is wrong in taking the blame on his behalf?” Swamishri’s atmabuddhi for his divine gurus was exemplary. He harboured profound attachment towards his gurus, believing them to be flawless and the manifest form of Bhagwan.
Once, Harjivan Swami, the kothari of Gadhada mandir, questioned Swamishri about why he never used his authority as president of the Sanstha to change Yogiji Maharaj’s decisions. Swamishri firmly answered, “I do not know of any authority beyond Yogiji Maharaj’s agna… Therefore, do not cast any doubts on any of his decisions. Everything he does is divine.” Even in challenging situations, Swamishri supported everything his gurus did. It was such atmabuddhi that distinguished Swamishri from others.
My North Star
After revealing to the youths in the Tithal shibir who Shastriji Maharaj was, Swamishri called them towards him and affectionately said, “We have already obtained Bhagwan manifest. If you fully understand who he truly is, then your happiness will never diminish.” Swamishri taught how to serve one’s guru and set an example for others through his own life. Swamishri once revealed, “Yogiji Maharaj is my North Star.”
Today, Bhagwan Swaminarayan resides through Mahant Swami Maharaj; he is our North Star and guiding light. He continues to teach us that by developing profound love and intense atmabuddhi towards the manifest form of Bhagwan, we will experience everlasting bliss.