Connecting with friends, family and peers has become effortless: our ancestors’ weeks-long journeys to share the goings-on of their personal lives has been shortened to less than the 10 seconds it takes to unlock a phone, capture an image and send it. We can connect with someone abroad in a matter of seconds, for little cost, at any time. Though man’s technology inspires awe, it falls short of connecting us to the one being everyone wants to connect to: God. To reach God, to feel his presence, to befriend him even, there is a spiritual technology that has been written about and embedded within the Hindu shastras: Aksharbrahma.
Shriji Maharaj himself spoke on many occasions of the greatness of Aksharbrahma Gunatitanand Swami. Shriji Maharaj also pronounced that he himself would reside on this earth amongst devotees for their liberation through such a Param Ekantik Sant.
Today, Mahant Swami Maharaj is the very form of Shriji Maharaj. He is Aksharbrahma, the Param Ekantik Sant in whom Maharaj eternally resides. Through him, by his travels, correspondence, and personal interactions with sadhus and devotees, a friendship with Shriji Maharaj is established and nourished. Moreover, despite possessing innumerable pure, saintly qualities, Swamishri’s personality is compassionate and comforting. His saintliness inspires rather than intimidates, strengthens rather than subdues, pacifies rather than pressurize and liberates rather than limit. To befriend such a magnificent Sant may seem impossible. However, his approachable nature attracts even the youngest among us.
In Robbinsville, a balak no older than eight years of age ran up to Atmaswarup Swami. Noticing that Atmaswarup Swami spends a lot of time around Swamishri, the balak enquired, “Are you Mahant Swami Maharaj’s friend?”
Leaning over, Atmaswarup Swami confirmed, “Yes, I am!”
Delighting in the response, the balak responded, “Then, you are my friend!” He paused for a second, placing one finger to his chin, “Swami, can you take me near Bapa?”
“Yes, I can! Meet me by this doorway at 6.45 p.m.”
The balak skipped away, and thereafter impatiently and repeatedly visited the doorway, awaiting evening. Finally, the evening assembly began, and the balak sat by the door. When it was time, Atmaswarup Swami brought the balak to the hallway through which Swamishri would be entering the assembly. Upon seeing Swamishri, the balak ran towards him and latched onto his legs, giggling joyfully because Swamishri had returned the embrace. Swamishri, too, had an ever-brightening smile.
The joy experienced in Mahant Swami Maharaj’s presence is unlike the pleasure derived from material gain, which is superficial and fleeting. The bliss of sitting near Swamishri, hearing his discourses, and even seeing his interactions with others nourishes a joy not found elsewhere. It is a happiness that penetrates deep within, one that is rejuvenated with each passing second spent in his company. One of Shriji Maharaj’s most prolific paramhansas put it best:
“Kahe Nishkulãnand ene sange,
Uge antare ãnand sur…
Sant te swayam Hari…”
Nishkulanand Swami says, “In his company, a melody of bliss arises within the heart. For, the Sant is Shriji Maharaj himself.”
The happiness of being near Mahant Swami Maharaj is the same happiness of being near Shriji Maharaj. This blissful experience is instinctive and innocent – it is not through one’s personal effort that this friendship and joy is maintained, but his grace.
In 1988, devotees had taken Pramukh Swami Maharaj on a day trip to the Catalina Islands, off the coast of California. On the boat ride back, the swamis were singing godi and were enthralled by Swamishri’s swaying to the rhythm. C.M. Kaka, a senior devotee of London, noticed this and tapped Swamishri on the shoulder to enquire, “Swami, what are these swamis staring at?”
Gently, Swamishri leaned over and replied, “They are experiencing the happiness of Akshardham from me.”
“But Swami, I can’t experience it,” C.M. Kaka admitted.
Swamishri unhesitatingly remarked, “C.M., in the murti that resides in Akshardham, and the murti seated before you now – there is not an iota of difference; they are the same.”
Overjoyed by Swamishri’s unprompted revelation, C.M. Kaka, too, became engrossed in the divinity.
Age, race, class, ethnicity, religious affiliation – none of these social markers have an impact on whether one experiences the pure, other-worldly joy of Shriji Maharaj through the Gunatit Sant.
In 2013, Mahant Swami Maharaj visited Bangalore. Swamishri was seated in a chair atop a decorated stage. While a sadhu was discoursing a slight commotion broke out, and everyone watched as a 5-year-old balak dashed across the hall, climbed onto the stage, rushed to Swamishri and sat on his lap. After a few moments laughing and playing, the balak rushed to the back of the hall and sat right in front of his mother.
Laughing at what she had just witnessed, the balak’s mother asked, “Where did you just sit?”
The balak intonated, “Mum! I went and sat on Bhagwan’s lap!”
In this way, Mahant Swami Maharaj is the greatest technology, for he connects us to God. Through his presence, one connects directly to Shriji Maharaj. Writing to him is writing to Shriji Maharaj. Merely remembering him, spending time with him, his smile and gestures, his guidance and talks makes one’s heart brim with euphoria. He is our bridge to God.