Kalidas, the classical Sanskrit author, in his epic poem, Raghuvansha, describes unique qualities of King Dilip in Sarg 1, verse 22:
“Gnãne maunam kshmã shaktao, tyãge shlãghãviparyayaha.”
“Knowledgeable, silent, able to forgive, strong, charitable, above self-praise.”
Instead of just a simple list of virtues, Kalidas informs the reader that King Dilip brought together contradictory qualities. He was knowledgeable (gnãne), but without the desire to let everyone know it. Rather he was blessed with modest silence (maunam). In addition, the king was powerful (shaktao) and capable of inflicting punishment on criminals, but he often chose to forgive (kshmã). His charity and detachment (tyãge) were free from self-praise (shlãghãviparyayaha). King Dilip exemplified virtues that seemingly could not coexist.
Similarly, in shloka 313 of the Satsang Diksha, Mahant Swami Maharaj describes two contrasting virtues that Pramukh Swami Maharaj brought together effortlessly.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj was praised by both politicians and paupers, royalty and religious leaders, tribesmen and technocrats. Yet, despite such widespread praise and honour, Swamishri was always humble and deflected the tributes towards God and guru.
Revered and Renowned Worldwide
Measuring the praise Swamishri received is as futile as measuring the water in the ocean with a mere cup. However, the experiences of others give an insight into how Swamishri’s life touched people from different backgrounds all over the world in multiple ways.
The Solicitor General of Canada, Bob Kaplan, said, “If the world learnt from Swamishri, then it can become a place free of crime, war and terrorism, and become a more peaceful place to live.”
Jain Acharya Pujya Muni Sushilkumarji hailed Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s leadership, proclaiming, “He is not only the leader of the Swaminarayan Sampradaya… not only Hindu Dharma, but of all Indian society.”
Head of the Ramanuj Sampradaya, Pujya Varad Yatiraj Jeer Swami, said, “By the presence of such a Sadhu, all of humanity is uplifted.”
Pujya Swami Chinmayanandji, of the Chinmaya Mission, lauded, “Pramukh Swami Maharaj is a God-realized sadhu. His presence rids people of their materialistic desires.”
Such was the world’s exalted opinion of Swamishri’s spotless character, selfless service to society and spirituality. Just as Kalidas described King Dilip as a confluence of opposing qualities, Mahant Swami Maharaj highlights that though Swamishri was praised by all, he remained ever humble.
Ever Humble... Shunning Praise
The craving for praise is intrinsic in all. Sadguru Nishkulanand Swami summarizes this in Bhaktachintamani chapter 110:
“Evã nar najar na ãve, jenã manne mãn na bhãve.”
“I cannot find a single person, whose mind does not crave praise.”
Pramukh Swami Maharaj, however, was not just anyone. On countless occasions throughout his life he shunned any acclaim that came his way and deflected it to others.
After Akshardham, New Delhi, opened in 2005, many lauded Swamishri for building such a breathtaking monument. Instead of accepting this, Swamishri, adamantly attributed all the achievements and glory to guru Yogiji Maharaj.
A Sanskrit verse very eloquently describes Swamishri’s dislike for praise:
Adyãpi durnivãram stutikanyã vahati kaumãryam;
Sadbhyo na rochate sã santastasyai na rochante.
The verse highlights the situation of an unmarried woman. Everyone wishes to marry her, but she harbours no desire to marry anyone. However, the one person she does wish to marry, does not desire her. Here, the young woman represents fame. Everyone chases fame, but she does not desire any of them. However, fame follows great sadhus such as Swamishri wherever they go. However, they do not desire it at all.
Unfazed by Universal Acclaim
Despite receiving so many accolades, Swamishri remained untouched by them. Just as fruit-bearing branches of a tree bow due to their weight, Swamishri, too, remained ever humble. The following incident illustrates this perfectly.
Once, the famous artist Mr M. Pandit, expressed a desire to paint a portrait of Swamishri. At Paramanandbhai Patel’s residence in Mumbai, he was photographing Swamishri and requested, “Swami, please puff out your chest?” Swamishri replied instinctively, “I have never puffed out my chest.”
Although the incident is simple and casual, it sheds light on the extent of Swamishri’s humility and the absence of pretence in his every act. He always shunned praise; but when it came it did not affect him, nor did he accept that he was responsible for the sort of acclaim he received. Therefore, Swamishri was able to reply immediately that he had never puffed out his chest in a show of ego.
In the Mahabharat (Dhrona Parva 76.25), Shri Krishna Bhagwan explains to Arjun that great sadhus possess this unique quality:
Dhruvã sãdhushu sannatihi.
“Great sadhus remain forever humble.”