He won no Nobel Prize. No Templeton Prize. No Bharat Ratna or Padma. How could he? He wasn’t competing. On top of that, he was apolitical, low key, and self-effacing.
To find out how important a person really is, don’t count their awards, likes or follows. Look at how many people turn up at their funeral. Given, you will have to wait till they pass away and it does sound a bit morbid. Yet, it’s truly the acid test for how much people care for a person: funeral turn out.
There’s another, less melancholic way to do the test. Look at the number of books written about a person. Not articles. Articles are a dime a dozen on the internet, even in newspapers. A non-remarkable, generic article can be plastered together across a few days by an intern. It takes a year or more to write a book and weeks to write a thoughtful article.
There are numerous sports, film and media stars. Some have spawned franchises and empires. They’re covered in national and international media. Despite this, perhaps ten books are written about each. After they pass away perhaps another ten might be written.
In contrast, seventy books have already been dedicated to Pramukh Swami Maharaj in a span of just 40 years. In future, countless more will be penned. Students will pursue PhDs on him. Encyclopaedias and historians will discuss him. His life and message will never be forgotten.
Further, you will have heard of the celebrated philosophers Plato, Socrates and Aristotle. Their messages live perhaps only in philosophy classes. Today, leaders and high profile people make grandiose speeches. But their words are written by speechwriters. Their messages never become a way of life, because they themselves don’t live by them.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj wasn’t a wordsmith. His sentences were broken, but his heart was whole. He spoke from it. Indeed, it mended broken ones. What he uttered was his way of life and breath. He practised 100 times more than he taught. Yet, he served 1,000 times more than even that.
His following increased exponentially because he was true to others and himself. That’s why millions still speak about him. Not once in a while, not fortnightly, but every day. Not about his talents, but his care and sacrifice for them. For 50 years, he visited countless homes and became a family member. He was grandpa, father, mother, brother, sister and friend.
Love is the most intimate measure of a person. Not their awards, even less, their words. No wonder a million hearts attended his funeral. No wonder the deluge of seventy books. No wonder the countless souls that live his message.
What was it? “You are Akshar,” he said in three crisp words. Indestructible. Immortal. Divine. “Be that, not your body.”
Why such a focused message? Because this lofty principle of Akshar-Purushottam, meditation, introspection, and living a caring, charitable life enhances everything you learn at school. This is his holistic message: become a master of the spiritual and you will achieve more with the material. Look at his own success.
Spirituality doesn’t impede your material life. It improves it. You love all, make more friends, judge people less, and experience more joy.
Once, in Sarangpur, some local villagers came to meet him. When the villagers enthusiastically rushed into the room, I was at the back with my head beneath one of the open windows.
And then it hit me: a brain-numbing odour of stale sweat from the villagers’ clothes. They were a boisterous lot and had already surrounded Swamishri while trying to get his blessings. Even though I was sitting under an open window, I thought of leaving the room because the air was so unbreathable. I remained, however, thinking it was improper for me to leave when my guru didn’t have a problem. He was sitting against a wall with no ventilation whatsoever. I wondered how he could breathe. I peeked between the villagers. Swamishri was joyful! The suffocating odour didn’t disturb him. He happily patted the villagers on their sweat-drenched backs and heads as they took off their turbans. He did not judge them by their looks, clothes or smell. He judged them by their hearts. By their service. Nothing else mattered.
Is it any wonder that he was so successful? That the whole world loved him and rallied around his message of Akshar-Purushottam?