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Also noteworthy is the tale of how Arvind Dave gave up his chronic addiction to cigarettes. Settled in Bangalore, he used to smoke 12 packets every day and was also addicted to tea. He met Swamishri in the winter of 1990 and narrated how he gave up his addictions, “I was meeting Swamishri for the first time. I had already smoked a cigarette prior to meeting him. Perhaps, he may have noticed it from my unpleasant breath. Still, he didn’t utter a single word about it! He held my right hand, put a few drops of water in my palm, recited a mantra and placed a kanthi around my neck. Then, he affectionately and lucidly explained, ‘You have now taken refuge in God, so live a good, clean, moral life. Give up addictions and bad company. Daily, do five malas by chanting the name of Swaminarayan. You will become happy.’ Then, Swamishri touched my heart, placed his hand on my shoulder and looked into my eyes. I felt as if my addiction was getting expunged. Since that day, I don’t know why, I have never felt like smoking a cigarette. I was extremely relieved. Earlier, my friends and family had tried very hard to de-addict me. My beloved parents aspired till their last breath to see me quit my addiction. I still regret that I could not make them happy by fulfilling their wish. They instructed me to go on a pilgrimage to Tirupati, Dwarika, Dakor and Char Dham with the hope that I would be inspired to quit my addiction. But, I remained trapped in the stranglehold of my habit. Today, I realized the significance of Swamishri’s grace. Indeed, he saved me.”
There are countless such stories of people who have experienced Swamishri’s profound compassion.
A well-known diamond businessman brought his friend to Swamishri. The friend’s three sons had wasted Rs. 25 lakh in drinking and gambling. Swamishri sat with that family.
Swamishri said, “By aspiring to earn more in this manner, you have lost Rs. 25 lakh and if you pursue further, you will become bankrupt. So, stop all this from today. You will find it difficult and painful to quit addictions and gambling because you will feel like gambling on seeing others do so. But you will have to be firm not to do it. Cut down your extravagant expenditures and work hard, even if you earn only two hundred rupees. The habit of trying to make a million from one rupee is wrong. Such means to earn money will rob you of all your wealth. Earn your progress through hard work. Don’t regret about what you have lost till now. Abandon the thought that you were once a millionaire, and instead think that you were poor from the beginning and want to progress through hard work. Otherwise, your children will suffer and you will be miserable. The three of you are young, and if you work diligently you will earn well. I have no selfish motive in talking to you. But the path you are pursuing is one of abject misery. I have seen millionaires get ruined in this way, so steer yourselves away from it. Take a pledge today. Your friends will lure you, but be steadfast.” The three sons’ lives were transformed because of their faith in Swamishri’s sound advice.
Once, Swamishri became distressed on learning of a staunch devotee’s son mired in chewing tobacco. He called the youth and told him to take a vow of giving up tobacco. Swamishri said, “Never fall into this habit again. Don’t you get food to eat at home? Then, where is the need to chew tobacco? I inspire others to make their children ideal, but when satsangi youths like yourself indulge in addiction it stains our honour.”
The youth couldn’t look into Swamishri’s eyes because of his lapse. He thus firmly pledged never to chew tobacco. Swamishri said, “To atone for your addiction inspire ten persons to give up addictions.” This is an example of Swamishri’s approach with those whom he believed to be his. The youth quit his addiction and forged a robust connection with Swamishri.
Swamishri always made efforts to help people and society in times of calamity and difficulty. In 1988, Swamishri organized four large cattle camps to save cattle from the devastating famine in Gujarat. The owners of the cattle were also asked to stay in the Sanstha’s cattle camps to look after their oxen. Many of them smoked bidis and chewed tobacco. Swamishri made visits to all the four camps and inspired the herdsmen to give up their addictions. He said, “Give up your addictions and from the savings you make, buy a pair of good oxen to till your land. Then, you will be able to properly farm your land and earn money. Your financial condition will improve and you will be able to easily pay for your children’s school fees. So, whoever has any addictions give them up today. If you smoke bidis it will destroy your lungs and overall health, and make your family unhappy. You have come to this pilgrim place, therefore give up your addictions. In this time of famine, you will benefit by quitting addictions. Remember, there are stacks of fodder lying here and a single spark from your bidi will burn everything to ashes.”
Swamishri’s address inspired many of the herdsmen to quit their addictions. The cattle camps were run for a year.

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