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Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s campaign for de-addiction was unremitting and epic. An addiction-free life is the foundation of a happy and progressive society. Swamishri tirelessly endeavoured to free people from addictions and instil peace in society. The following article explores the various aspects and ways in which Pramukh Swami Maharaj redeemed many people from the shackles of addictions.
The leaders of Mahuva village invited Swamishri to come and inaugurate the electrification of the nearby Taredi village. Swamishri went there and inaugurated the electricity supply station, which was located near the Bhensla Hanumanji Mandir. Thereafter, a de-addiction programme was organized. Swamishri told the pujari of the mandir that as a priest he should not serve marijuana or opium to anyone.
The pujari said, “What can I do if other sannyasis ask for it?” Swamishri replied emphatically, “If a sannyasi comes and asks for diamonds, will you give them to him when you don’t have them? Similarly, tell them that you don’t consume and keep drugs and then lovingly serve them rotlo to eat. Does Hanuman Dada take drugs? Did Ram ever ask for drugs? Still, people come to have darshan of them in mandirs. If you quit, people will come for your darshan. In addition, preach about offering devotion to God.”
Swamishri’s words inspired the priest to quit smoking marijuana.
Once, a bridegroom went to Swamishri for blessings and then started inspecting his pocket to offer a donation. Swamishri, quick to observe his dark lips and stained teeth, said, “Never mind about that, I want you to take a pledge to give up your addiction.” The groom agreed and quit his addiction to bidis and of chewing tobacco.
Swamishri’s Herculean efforts in morally and socially transforming the tribals of Selvas and Panchmahal regions are noteworthy. Formerly, almost every home used to indulge in drinking and eating meat. The tribals spent all their financial aid from the government in drinking and other addictions. After quitting their addictions, they became financially sound and built sturdy homes and provided their children with a good education.
In 1987, a 25-year old youth from Ahmedabad met Swamishri in Mumbai. He was addicted to heroin and other drugs. Swamishri endeavoured for two years to redeem him. After two years, the youth went to Sarangpur. He had quit heroin, but had started taking opium and Mandrax tablets. In 1989, Swamishri sat with him in Ahmedabad for half an hour, but he relapsed in his drug addiction. In 1990, when he met Swamishri in Sarangpur, Swamishri made arrangements for him to stay in the mandir and eventually enabled him to discard opium.
For the first four days, the youth’s physical and emotional conditions were miserable. He wouldn’t eat, banged his legs desperately on the ground, and tossed restlessly and sleeplessly in bed at night. For four days, Swamishri remained firm and gave him much assurance and strength. Thereafter, the youth’s mind became strong. Due to Swamishri’s blessings, he started liking food and regained his sleep at night. Still, he would occasionally smoke a few bidis secretly and then confess it to Swamishri, “I smoke three. Now, I’ll smoke two.” Swamishri said, “Where is the need for even two! Quit them altogether. If you experience a craving, take a clove from the kitchen and put it in your mouth and suck it slowly.” Then, Swamishri took him to the murti of Shastriji Maharaj and said, “Bow down here and pray. Now, no more bidis from today. Take this rose and whenever you feel like smoking a bidi, pluck and eat one rose petal.”
And indeed, the youth became addiction-free. Swamishri continuously took care of him for three years and reinstated him on the right path.
This was one of the many stories of Swamishri’s unflagging efforts, infinite compassion and unconditional love.
A person once told Swamishri, “Swami, you are so persistent in making me quit cigarettes, but I won’t be able to give them up. The reason being that I started smoking before I got married. If you say so, I will give up my wife, but I can’t quit cigarettes.” One would think that what more could one say to such a person? Still, whenever Swamishri met him, he would talk to him about quitting cigarettes. Finally, Swamishri inspired him to reduce from smoking four packets to two, and eventually to smoke five cigarettes a day. Then, after one week, Swamishri made him quit cigarettes altogether. Today, that person appreciates Swamishri for helping him quit cigarettes, which subsequently improved his health and saved him money. Swamishri thus helped him benefit in three ways: physically, financially and spiritually.
Sometimes, Swamishri’s effort in de-addicting someone failed to penetrate the person’s mind and heart. In the village of Vesma, in south Gujarat, a 75-year-old man was addicted to bidis. His sons requested Swamishri to help their father give up smoking. Swamishri started explaining to him, but the old man did not relent one bit. When Swamishri persisted further, the man said, “Bapji! Please rest a little, because you must be tired.” Swamishri broke out laughing at his concern. Swamishri’s talk didn’t touch him but it left an impression on his mind. The following year, a group of Swamishri’s sadhus went there for vicharan. The sadhus gave a heartfelt talk on Swamishri’s glory and to everyone’s surprise the old man quit his addiction. Swamishri’s divine words and blessings had their desired effect on the old man.

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