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Apart from addressing individuals to give up addictions, Swamishri also made efforts to provide collective care. Once, Swamishri told the village chief of Khakhariya, “You are the chief of this village. Ukabhai sells pan masala and tobacco in your village. However, he has pledged to shut his shop. This doesn’t mean that you should give permission to five other persons to open such shops. Tobacco ruins the lives of people. If someone wants to open a tobacco parlour, you must request him not to do it. When five prominent people of your village refuse him, he will understand and not open one. Also, never ever allow liquor to be made or sold in your village. If someone wants to, then strongly deny him because it will spoil your entire village and ruin the prevailing harmony. Make a special note of this.”
One sarpanch (village chief), after winning a panchayat election, came to Swamishri for blessings. Swamishri said, “You have been elected, but if anyone hasn’t voted for you, do not harbour bitterness towards him. When required, help him but never discriminate against him. Those who garner votes by freely giving opium to people, what type of welfare will they provide to them? You must not do that and never engage in any type of addiction. Make efforts to remove addictions from your village, especially gambling and alcohol. Do not give up your moral principles for the sake of money and power. Money and power are temporary and fleeting. How can one reap goodness by winning votes through bribes and enticements of liquor? It is a grave sin to destroy someone’s life by making him into an addict.”
Once, Swamishri told a village chief in the Jhalavad region of Gujarat, “Of what use are you by becoming the village chief? I have known you ever since you were a child. You have to make your village ideal.” Then, the village bhuvo (exorcist) came and Swamishri said, “Varjang, you are a sadhu, yet why have you become a bhuvo? As a sadhu you should inspire people to do bhajan and quit their addictions. So, first quit your addictions and draw spiritual strength from God.”
In one suburb of Surat, the citizens daily spent 100,000 rupees in drinking liquor. Swamishri explained to them that if they gave up drinking on the days of ekadashi every month, then from the money saved in one year they could build a school, a water tank or a small medical clinic.
Whenever Swamishri came to know that a person who has come for his darshan runs a kiln to distil alcohol, he would inspire him to relinquish his business.
In a village of the Kheda district, Gujarat, a person daily distilled 200 five-litre containers of alcohol and gave bribes to the tune of ten thousand rupees to the police so that they would not arrest him for his illegal activity. Once, he came in contact with a devotee and the latter brought him to Swamishri. When Swamishri came to know of his unlawful activity, he made him realize about the grave sin he was committing. The man resolved there and then to shut his business. He pledged to give it up and wore a kanthi from Swamishri’s hands.
Swamishri was extremely pleased and motivated him, “Be brave. God will bless you with a living in some other way. Food acquired through hard work will be of great benefit to you. Your greed for money will make thousands miserable and unhappy , and your life will get spoiled. Why should you lead other people astray? God will provide food and also forgive all your transgressions. However, from now onwards, don’t commit any new sins. When your old friends come to know that you have stopped your business, they will tempt and force you. Then, your mind will challenge you as to why you should give up your lucrative business? But, remain determined. Now, you have to inspire others to give up such unlawful activities. Are you mentally strong and determined?”
“Yes, Swamishri,” he replied. Thereafter, Swami made him take a moral pledge. Swamishri further reinforced him by saying, “If you supply liquor to your village, it will enter the homes of people. Consequently, quarrels will arise and other evils will burgeon. When you have no money you will steal, lie and gamble to get it. However, by earning money through such means will make you sleepless and unhappy. So, work hard.” The person was touched by Swamishri’s selfless and frank words.
Many speculated that Swamishri used magical herbs to free people from addictions. When one such addict came to Swamishri with this perception, Swamishri burst out laughing. Then, Swamishri said amusingly, “Yes, it is true. I have opened a shop of de-addicting people by dispensing a magical herb.” Saying this, Swamishri explained to him about the disadvantages of addictions in terms of loss of money, health and time. Swamishri’s words made a deep imprint on his mind. He quit his addiction, and also asked for the magical herb so that he wouldn’t relapse. Swamishri said, “Look brother, the magical herb is spiritual knowledge (jnan) and contemplation. Whatever I have talked to you, ponder about it for your entire life and you won’t relapse into addictions.” Later, that man started prescribing the same ‘herb’ to others!
Whenever Swamishri travelled abroad on a satsang tour, he passionately talked about remaining righteous and leading an addiction-free life. Swamishri used to say, “A righteous life is a feature of a Hindu. A Hindu should never drink alcohol, eat meat and gamble, and must refrain from adultery. A Hindu also believes in the Vedas and God.
The foundations of Hindu dharma are nourished and strengthened by a true guru who teaches and enforces our values and faith.”
Whenever Swamishri was invited to public programmes, he would request the organizers, “Whatever programmes you organize arrange a vegetarian diet and observe moral conduct. If your diet and conduct are pure, you will attain success.”
In Leeds (UK), a leader of the Leuva Patel Community Centre had pledged not to drink till their centre was constructed. Co-incidentally, after the assembly hall was ready, he invited Swamishri to inaugurate it. Swamishri had come to know about his pledge, hence he appreciated him in the public assembly and added, “I wish that you refrain from drinking all your life.” Touched by Swamishri’s love, he took a lifetime vow to never drink. Swamishri happily said, “My having come here is worthwhile. In our passports, we mention that we are Hindus by religion, but we have to live accordingly.”
In 1988, during Swamishri’s satsang tour abroad many journalists of various newspapers came to interview him. Swamishri answered their questions effectively. Thereafter, Swamishri would interview them and ask them whether they smoked or drank liquor. Most of them said they did. Swamishri would then explain to them, “People have high expectations with regards to morals from you. They read when you write about cultivating good habits, how to quit addictions, and the fact that alcohol, drugs and cigarettes or tobacco cause cancer and diseases. But, how many readers will be influenced by your writings? If you have addictions, they will not accept what you write. Thus, you must first give up your addictions.”
The journalists responded, “We will try.”
Swamishri argued, “Once you become convinced that addictions are harmful, you must quit them. Do you believe that they are harmful to your body?”
Finally, some of the reporters pledged to give up their addictions.

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