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’.
Our shastras describe Ekantik Bhakti as a wonderful harmony of four fundamental virtues, dharma, jnan, vairagya and bhakti. Swamishri is a master in the field of Ekantik Bhakti. His pure and balanced form of devotion has inspired thousands to a more devout way of life.
Swamishri engages in the darshan of the murtis of God and Harikrishna Maharaj with such love that even onlookers experience peace of mind. It seems that just his method of darshan creates a divine atmosphere. He relishes the moment as a hungry man, starved of food for a week, would enjoy the first morsel of his most favourite item. He has darshan as if he were meeting God face to face. He prays as if God were present in person before him to listen and reply. Of course, in keeping with his honest nature, he never makes a show or pretends to portray devotion. Only natural, inner devotion!
Only the Param Ekantik Sadhu can show us the true and shortest path to liberation. By his association, thousands have been saved from the filth of vices and addictions; so many have been freed from the burning chains of hatred and revenge; countless have been relieved of the constant agonies of family turmoil. In addition to these outer benefits, Swamishri has helped people eradicate their inner enemies – ego, lust, greed, jealousy and others.
Today, young children, youths and even atheists come to Swamishri. They all receive equal love and gain his friendship. People from all walks of life, of all ages, of all backgrounds, of all levels – all gain boundless inspirations from Swamishri. Swamishri transforms lives – he is the Param Ekantik Sadhu.
In Swamishri’s heart, everyone is welcome. Here there is no neglect. There is no criticism or hatred. In Swamishri’s mind everyone is important. Swamishri meets thousands of people; still, he doesn’t ignore even the smallest child. His manners are modern; but his ideals are traditional – in harmony with the teachings of the ancient Vedas and other Hindu shastras. His powers are infinite; yet his humility is second to none! So far apart are these extremes that he remains an enigma to thousands throughout the world who wonder, “Is such a man of flesh and blood possible in today’s frenzied society?”
Despite his towering spiritual status, never does he feel others to be low, useless, immoral or even ordinary. His counsel is always soft, well-mannered and affectionate. Yes, he may need to criticize, but it is always loving and easy to swallow. His voice is always loving, caring, compassionate and blissful. He never misses a chance to praise, appreciate and congratulate. Humility and loving devotion to God are evident in every word he utters and in every action he performs.
Despite being so great, he has always mixed and mingled freely with others. He portrays himself as a fellow traveller, walking alongside us instead of ahead of us.
Swamishri has so much faith in the murtis of God and in mandirs that he performs the simplest of acts with absolute devotion. For him, God has ceased to be a mere metaphysical entity and has become a reality – he sees God everywhere and in everything!
Swamishri is a God-realized sadhu. But even if a newcomer doesn’t have such knowledge, he will definitely feel Swamishri to be a pure and divine personality. They realize that never before have they met such a man and never before have they had such an experience!
A young boy from Canada, Sanjay Rameshbhai Patel, had once written me a letter. Due to western influence, he wasn’t familiar with our traditions in Satsang. Once, he had gone for darshan of Swamishri’s puja. He writes in his letter,
“After studying the scene, I was very surprised. On one side, Swamishri was performing puja. On the other side, people were walking in and out; some people were singing devotional songs; others were talking among themselves… It all seemed like havoc. But Swamishri! He imprinted the tilak and chandlo on his forehead, closed his eyes and calmly engaged himself in meditation. I was totally dazed. Swamishri meditated with such serenity that it seemed he had forgotten everything around him. Only God and himself! Nothing else! The whole scene seemed so honest and genuine… After this experience, I have begun to do Satsang regularly. I never miss bal sabha [children’s assembly]. I really enjoy it.”
The spiritual journey is extremely intricate, complex and unfamiliar for all of us. Millions throughout the world are striving to make that journey, each taking his own path according to his own knowledge and intuition. Everyone acts according to his own preconceived concepts of what is right and wrong. How many bother to ask if they are on the right path or not? If they do bother, who do they ask? One can see outer riches, but how does one see if a guru is internally rich? How do we know he is experienced and can guide us properly? Truly, having found and recognized Swamishri, our luck knows no bounds!
Association with a sadhu melts the ego and creates a divine and pious atmosphere. The true sadhu acts like a magnet – attracting people from all walks of life towards his shelter. Invariably, all experience some new inspiration by his contact. He has given thousands the warmth of hope and the will to live a noble life. In doing so, he has never needed to resort to magic or miracles. Actually, the transformations he has made and the values he has instilled are miracles in themselves.
There is a tremendous difference between youths and Swamishri! Swamishri is highly spiritual, youths are highly flamboyant. Swamishri is not educated, youths receive the most modern knowledge in today’s schools and universities. Swamishri is old, youths are in the prime of their lives. Swamishri is extremely detached from the world, youths are extremely attached. And yet, he has somehow managed to channel youth energy towards devotion – puja, seva, worship, prayers, etc. He has made youths spiritual. He has made youths humble. What else can we call this but a miracle?
This has been my account of Swamishri, as I have seen and experienced him. After having examined him in much detail, we must now examine ourselves. What can I learn from Swami?
Let us look at the principles which are both dear to him and have been imbibed by him; principles which can make our life as pure and pious as his; principles which can enlighten us after having lived countless lives in utter darkness:
Work with absolute honesty – with others and with oneself.
Work only with the aim to please and attain God – not to fulfil worldly desires.
Always fill one’s work with the fragrance of sadhuta – saintliness.
Never waste a single second. Spend time to help others or in devotion to God.
Cultivate unflinching faith in God and guru, and always remain humble, honest and sincere towards them.
Always believe God to be the all-doer. This way we gain strength to overcome the ups and downs of life.
Live a pure life so as not to transgress the commands of God and his holy Sadhu, and one’s upasana.
Draw strength from God, and only God, not from one’s own efforts of achievements.
This is enough – enough to begin living a life like Swamishri’s.
After saying so much, I still feel I have not said enough. Why? Swamishri is so vast and we are so insignificant! He is an ocean of virtue and we are filled with flaws. After all, to understand him and know him completely isn’t child’s play. Nonetheless, what we have discussed is enough to help begin to understand him.
Finally, let us pray:
“O Swami! Only you can help us understand you. Please give us the wisdom to see you as you really are. Please take our hands and guide us so that we may, in the end, attain Akshardham and enjoy the bliss of Purushottam.”