The jiva or atma, is one of the five eternal realities identified by Bhagwan Swaminarayan. It is the animate, conscious entity that pervades and enlivens all living material bodies. With its exit, the body dies. Hence the body and atma are separate – knowing this and living one’s life accordingly reaps great spiritual benefits.
This is realized through the process of atmavichar – thinking of the atma as separate from the physical body and living one’s life accordingly.
In fact, this is the first part of the aim of life defined by Bhagwan Swaminarayan, in verse 116 of the Shikshapatri – that aspirants should identify themselves as one with Brahma, separate from the three bodies (gross, subtle, causal). The second part is that in this enlightened state one should offer devotion to Paramatma.
To facilitate this task, Mahant Swami Maharaj has revealed the guru mantra to all: ‘Aksharam aham Purushottam dāsosmi’ – I am akshar, servant of Purushottam.
Mahant Swami Maharaj teaches us how to do this through his own life, discourses and interactions with devotees.
12 July 2017, Chicago
A specialist doctor came to check Swamishri. After assessing Swamishri, the doctor said, “He will be happy once he starts taking this medicine.”
Swamishri said, “I am always happy.” Then, he added, “I only told you all because you asked, otherwise the pain has persisted since we were in Kolkata.”
Atmaswarup Swami asked the doctor, “What if he does not take the medicine?”
The doctor replied, “The pain is likely to continue and trouble him.”
Swamishri said, “It’s all under control due to the power of the atma.”
The doctor said, “You are very strong. It is very difficult to tolerate such discomfort. I’ve seen people scream with pain in such cases.”
30 December 2017, Himmatnagar
Swamishri gave brief blessings after his morning puja and, on returning to his room, immediately went for a bath. Not feeling well, Swamishri did not wish to eat breakfast, and so took some rest.
However, later in the morning, he sat for around 75 minutes to give personal audience and blessings to over 1,500 devotees. Then, again, he had to go for a bath. Such is his affection for the devotees and his atmanishtha that he readily and happily endures such physical hardships.
22 May 2018, Rajkot
Hitendrasinh Jadeja narrated an incident before Mahant Swami Maharaj, “In 1975, we left Sarangpur to go to Ahmedabad in the Sanstha’s Fargo van. There were 17 of us, and I was sitting at your feet. After about 45 minutes, the van suddenly flipped over a couple of times and came to a rest on its side. I was not injured, but others were. Your jaw was broken and blood was coming out of your mouth. We tried to open the doors from the inside, but couldn’t. A farmer rushed to us with a pick ace and forced the doors open so we could all come out. Your pattar (bowl) was taken out and you were spitting blood into it. By the time we reached the Vadilal Hospital in Ahmedabad at about 7 p.m., you had spat out about six-seven pattars full of blood. The others were injured less than you, yet complained of their pain more. You were totally calm and composed. I still remember that.”
22 December 2018, Mumbai
After puja, while explaining Vachanamrut Gadhada II 2, Swamishri said, “The body and atma have become one. This is the root of all ignorance. If one behaves as the atma, everything falls in place. To do this, observe Maharaj’s agnas. Since, everything enters within from outside. So, it must be blocked. This is such an effective method shown by Maharaj. By observing niyams everything is achieved.”
17 March 2019, Navsari
Swamishri finished performing mudras (yogic hand gestures). Attendant Uttamyogi Swami asked, “What is your next project?”
Swamishri replied, “If you separate and arrange the various parts of the body, would there be any affection or attachment to them?
The attendant replied, “No.”
Swamishri continued, “If you bring all the parts together again, but without the jiva it is still a lifeless body. It does not move. Only when the jiva enters does it come to life. That is the nature of the physical body. That is what everyone is infatuated by. Do an analysis – in the stomach there is half-digested food that is then turned into waste. Still we proclaim ‘I, I, I, I,…’ But if one understands that the human body is to be used for securing moksha, that is worth more than millions and millions of dollars.
“Except for Dham, Dhami and mukta all else perishes. If this is realized, everything falls into place, otherwise the endless cycle continues.”
Uttamyogi Swami asked, “We see that at death the atma separates from the body. Still, one’s worldly desires do not cease…”
Swamishri explained, “We realize this for others, but not ourselves. We see that another’s atma has separated from his body, but fail to apply it to ourselves. That is attachment, infatuation.”
The attendant probed, “By introspecting we realize ‘I am not the body; I am the atma’, but our ego and other faults remain.”
Swamishri said, “That is due to attachment for the body. Only Maharaj and Swami can remove the attachment for ‘I and mine’.”
“So, when do they remove this?”
Swamishri said, “By following their agnas (commands).”