Mahant Swami Maharaj first met Pramukh Swami Maharaj in 1951. Over the next 65 years, he experienced Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life from close range in a multitude of situations. Expressing his observations, Mahant Swami Maharaj wrote a Gujarati book, ‘Jeva Me Nirakhya Re… 4’, on the occasion of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s Amrut Mahotsav in 1995. The following are excerpts from an English translation of this book by Chaitanyamurti Swami, published by Swaminarayan Aksharpith as ‘Divine Memories 4’.
An incident with Pramukh Swami Maharaj on the night before the murti-pratishtha ceremony (15 May 1951, Gadhada) changed my life. His age was 29 and mine 16. My life was just beginning – and I met Pramukh Swami Maharaj!
With time I have come to realize how deep and divine Swamishri’s personality really was – even so long ago. There was no effort to show off, no effort to glamorize, nothing of that sort. Simple, straightforward, open, and innocent. At that moment, I felt a deep, inner conviction, “Yes! This is what I call a sadhu!”
After reflecting and pondering over that brief encouner I realize the sheer impact of that divine experience. Swamishri had somehow, almost magically, transformed something deep within me.
As a result, I have never mistaken Swamishri to be an ordinary human; I have never experienced manushyabhav. My love and devotion for him has grown steadily stronger.
Whenever I look at Swamishri I always recall how he has completely worn down his own body in serving others. His sacrifice has been matchless. I always seem to feel that we have done absolutely nothing for him in return. Absolutely nothing! I have travelled with him visiting devotees’ houses, both in India and abroad. Everyone wants to meet Swamishri. Everyone throws the burden of their problems, complaints and inconveniences on him. All responsibilities are flung onto his shoulders. This means he is forced to endure both physical and mental hardships. So many strange people, thoughtless people as well – they all come to Swamishri. Many come to claim their rights; but none to exercise their duties. If we were to label these hardships, we would call them ‘a nuisance.’ Responsibilities of handling his own sadhus, as well as his householder devotees. Responsibilities of managing the Sanstha as a whole. Responsibilities of keeping everyone happy and satisfied. Day and night, well or ill, winter or summer – no matter what the situation – he is forced to continue with his busy activities. No holidays! No vacations! Just thinking about the burdens sends a chill down our spine. His ability to manage has never ceased to amaze.
Even though he has, without doubt, worked hard, in his mind he continues to feel that he has done nothing. Once in Sarangpur, during a quiz programme, the sadhus asked Swamishri, “What would you like to become?”
Swamishri replied, without a moment’s hesitation, “Sevak!”
He has always remained a sevak (servant). He has never demanded his rights; instead, he has always acted on his duties and responsibilities. He believes his duty to be his only right and gains enjoyment from fulfilling his responsibilities. For this reason, he has never experienced boredom, laziness, weariness. This is why he has always remained light and tensionless.
What I have described is not an exaggeration; nor is it over-generalisation. What I have written are facts planted firmly on the foundation of personal experience. Thousands of devotees can bear witness to these same experiences. To my mind, he has toiled so much that in future, incidents narrating the difficulties he has tolerated will be thought of as tales or fables.
So the question is, “What is the driving force which allows Swamishri to live in this manner?” The answers may lie in Swamishri’s approach and attitude:
He never forgets the sacrifice of the devotees. He always speaks with pride of their commitment and dedication to Satsang
He truly believes that he has done nothing. Only his gurus are responsible for whatever success he has achieved
He sees God and his gurus in all of his devotees. He serves them as he would serve God and guru
He never thinks of spending time for his own self; all his thoughts are devoted for the good of others
Most importantly, he wants to give us the bliss of God.
These are his secrets. This is why he remains so free. Otherwise, anyone else in his place would quickly become exhausted or even frustrated. If not that, they would definitely complain. If they still continue working, it would most probably be for some selfish motives.
On the other hand, we can see constant divinity and selflessness in Swamishri. Otherwise no matter how much you pay a man, no matter what you give him, no matter how much you praise him – give him all he wants – still, no one would be willing to wear Swamishri’s shoes. This is the Swamishri I have experienced.
I have experienced that Swamishri is a pure and genuine sadhu.
He has an everlasting and eternal association with God. That is why he is a reservoir of all virtues.
The Swamishri I have experienced is Narayan’s swarup – the very form of Narayan. His bliss is a matter of experience. It is something to be relished, not merely described, defined or dated.
Swamishri has shared the sublime bliss he experiences with countless devotees, and this has made him even more happy. He has only one wish: To distribute the happiness which he himself enjoys to the rest of the world.
Whatever activity Swamishri undertakes, it is never for himself; instead, he constantly maintains the thought that ‘I want to please God.’ He offers devotion in this manner, not mechanically. This form of devotion is so powerful that it can even destroy the deadly grip of maya and karma. Also, because he understands the unparalleled glory of God, he can maintain a constant thought of being a servant, not a boss.
It is due to the above two thoughts that he is constantly at peace. It is due to these that he continues to please us as well.
He works paying no heed to his body; he speaks with a spirit; he walks freely, without worries; he smiles constantly, lost forever in the bliss of God.
Even when Swamishri retires at night, he seems fresh and lively. Unlike others at the end of a long, tiring day, we have never seen even a sigh of boredom or exhaustion.
Swamishri has a unique virtue in that he can meet people from all walks of life without the slightest hesitation. Whether to a small boy or an old man, rich or poor; no matter which caste or creed – Swamishri has made himself available to all. Many come to him to offer suggestions and some even aim to criticize. Many even intend to insult! Yet, Swamishri greets their animosity with love. Thousands have experienced his openness and accessibility.
Because Swamishri is a storehouse of serenity, anyone who comes into his contact also experiences serenity. They feel content, having experienced a feeling they have never experienced before. That is why thousands of people throng just to have his darshan.