The satsang lexicon is full of words with nuanced meanings. Understanding them helps us to understand the core concepts of satsang and practise them in our daily lives. For example, although the words abhav, avgun and droh are often used interchangeably, each conveys a specific attitude.
Abhav refers to the dislike of another’s faults which one then publicizes and tells others about.
Avgun is seeing faults even in the virtues and good habits of others. For example, if someone performs selfless service, one who dislikes him may project this as him doing the service to show off. So, one who takes avgun sees faults where none exist.
Droh includes avgun and exceeds it in that such hatred/aversion/hostility to someone has developed that one actively makes efforts to disrupt the life of or harm that person.
These three terms are widely and interchangeably used in satsang, and Bhagwan Swaminarayan and all the Gunatit gurus have condemned such attitudes as unbefitting of and detrimental to devotees on the spiritual path.
The antidote to these harmful habits is to engage in gun grahan. That is, to consciously endeavour to see the good in others.
Today, guruhari Mahant Swami Maharaj’s words and gestures continue to highlight the need to avoid these destructive habits and adopt gun grahan.
9 MARCH 2017, SARANGPUR
At 6.55 p.m., Swamishri went to the Yagnapurush Smruti Mandir. After darshan, he arrived at the nearby Shami tree. Here, after Swamishri had performed dandvats and while he was performing pradakshinas, Atmatrupt Swami hailed, “Ek-do-tin-char…” And, in unison, the sadhus hailed, “Abhav-avgunne kadho bahar.” (Meaning: One-two-three-four, abhav-avgun out the door.)
Swamishri was extremely delighted to hear this apt slogan, and added, “Forcefully push it out.”
Atmatrupt Swami asked, “How?”
Swamishri replied, while scrunching his hands in gesture, “Decimate it. One who takes abhav-avgun becomes miserable and also makes others miserable.”
4 AUGUST 2017, LOS ANGELES, USA
In the evening assembly, Swamishri narrated “I was a parshad at the time. I was with a devotee from the time of Shastriji Maharaj. We were seated on a train in a packed service compartment. In a space for 10 people, 20 were seated. Not an inch of space. The devotee started talks of abhav-avgun. He was very senior, and there was nowhere for me to go. I did not like it, so I started chanting ‘Swaminarayan, Swaminarayan…’ in my mind. But, I had to listen to him.
“When we reached Ahmedabad mandir, Yogi Bapa asked. ‘What did you talk about on the train?’ Normally, he would not ask, but this time he did. I replied, ‘Abhav-avgun.’ Immediately, he said to me. ‘Two fasts.’ He told the other person to do one. So, if one takes avgun of devotees, one’s ignorance deepens and if one takes their gun, one becomes enlightened. So, in every way, such talks have to be removed.”
23 DECEMBER 2017, MEHSANA
While bathing, Swamishri said to the sadhus, “Remove negativity. There is so much peace in positive, good talks. By listening to avgun, one’s mind is corrupted. Why is it necessary to talk negatively? So, root it out.”
26 DECEMBER 2017, HIMMATNAGAR
Gurumanan Swami asked, “If someone warns us about the nature of another and it is true, what should we do?”
Swamishri replied, “This habit eventually leads to taking abhav-avgun. Instead of seeing their virtues, we focus on their faults. Maharaj has told us not to do this. Maharaj used to censor those who gossiped about other sadhus and devotees. The person warning you, wants to fit his ideas into you.”
Then, Swamishri laughed and recalled, “Yogi Bapa told me to observe two nirjala fasts and since then I have avoided this. At that time, I had to listen. We were seated in the
same train compartment. I was not interested in his talks at all. And the person he was talking about was actually like that. Still, Yogi Bapa told me to do two fasts and the speaker one. Yogi Bapa said, ‘What is the need to speak about that? Why not speak about the good in others. Instead of raking up dirt and waste, drink the nectar.’”
7 MARCH 2018, ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA
After chestha, Atmaswarup Swami said, “Swamishri spoke forcefully about not taking abhav-avgun.”
Then, the other swamis repeated some of the phrases Swamishri had used in his evening discourse. “If you engage in abhav-avgun satsang will be decimated.” “You will not experience inner peace. That is my guarantee.” “Abhav-avgun is a big bump. If you overcome it, you are directly in Akshardham.”
Atmaswarup Swami said, “Still people engage in taking abhav-avgun.”
Swamishri said, “Yogi Bapa used to say, ‘Do not indulge in gossip.’ Do not publicize faults of others. Even if it is true, it is still gossip. And what is the need to take abhav-avgun?
“See, we’re seated here. But if someone has abhav for another, then our enjoyment diminishes. Such gossip is voiced, and others hear it, even if they do not want to.”
Atmaswarup Swami, “We strain our ears to listen to such talks!”
Swamishri said, “Yes, the frequency instantly matches. And all the gossipers gather. There are so many other good things to talk about. Why gossip? It is worthless, Maharaj’s words are worth billions of dollars and talks of abhav-avgun put one in debt. If we are weak, people will come frequently and gossip to us about others. This has become a habit.”
Brahmamuni Swami said, “Often, we do not even realize that we have slipped onto this path.”
Swamishri said, “It has been our habit for countless births to take abhav-avgun. But because we have taken refuge in Maharaj, through this satsang, this habit of taking abhav-avgun will be overcome. So, never leave satsang.”
19 APRIL 2018, NEW DELHI
The sadhus were presenting a report of the widespread public esteem for Swaminarayan Akshardham in North India. Suddenly, Swamishri instructed them, “Recite ‘Ek-do-tin-char…’”
The sadhus hailed together: “Ek-do-tin-char, abhav-avgunne kadho bahar.” (Meaning: One-two-three-four, abhav-avgun out the door.) Panch-chho-sat-ath, abhav-avgunne maro lat (five-six-seven-eight, boot abhav-avgun out the gate).”
Atmaswarup Swami said, “Even on the recent vicharan to Australia and New Zealand, Swamishri emphasized the necessity of uprooting abhav-avgun.”
23 MARCH 2019, SARANGPUR
After chestha, Swamishri was seated on his bed. Urvishbhai, a sadhak, was introduced. Swamishri was informed about his long-term ear problems and that they had now mostly resolved.
Urvishbhai prayed to Swamishri. “Now my hearing has improved a lot, but bless me that I do not hear abhav-avgun with these ears.”
Swamishri said, “The abhav-avgun talks directly enter the jiva. Even one word easily enters, but the talks of mahima do not enter easily. They rebound off the ears! So, inner turmoil develops.”
18 MAY 2018, CHENNAI
Atmaswarup Swami introduced a youth to Swamishri, “Bapa, it’s his birthday today. He wishes to become a sadhu. What should he do to became an ideal sadhu?”
Swamishri said, “Do not take abhav-avgun.”
1 JUNE 2019, SARANGPUR
In the evening assembly, Swamishri presided over the prize-giving ceremony for the balaks and balikas who had participated in the National Bal-Balika Adhiveshan.
The efforts of all the children had truly pleased Swamishri and the balaks were joyously celebrating at the end of the assembly.
As Swamishri was departing, he stood still on the stage, pursed his lips and with his right hand traced a big ‘X’ in the air to enforce the message to all the children, ‘A big cross to abhav-avgun’.
Then, Swamishri returned to his room and before taking dinner, he again gestured a big ‘X’ to the swamis seated before him and asked, “Do you understand?”
The Swamis replied, “Yes, no to abhav-avgun.”
17 JUNE 2019, MORBI TO AHMEDABAD
While travelling from Morbi to Ahmedabad, Swamishri was asked, “You emphasize a lot that we must not take abhav-avgun. But how do we know what constitutes abhav-avgun?”
Swamishri replied, “When it is overt, everyone knows, even a young child. But when it is subtle, then one has to think.”
Uttamyogi Swami asked, “If I have abhav for someone, what characteristic in me identifies that I have taken another’s abhav?”
Swamishri said, “First, one develops dislike for that person and does not care for them. One may outwardly put up a helpful facade, but in one’s mind one wishes to spoil things for them.”
22 DECEMBER 2019, MUMBAI
During a question-answer session in English, Uttamyogi Swami asked, “What happens when one takes abhav-avgun?”
Swamishri replied, “First of all, Shriji Maharaj does not like it. And second, the soul of the person taking abhav-avgun gets completely destroyed.”