Fraser Sherman, a witty American writer, has said some compelling things about helpful leadership. He shared that whenever someone needs help, it is a leader who steps up and provides all the help one needs. Moreover, irrespective of whether a task is as small as cleaning a toilet, a leader takes on the job without any hesitation. These traits only evoke a sense of goodwill and respect from people. Helping others is a step forward in elevating our lives.
Robert Ingersoll, a well-known American lawyer, civil war veteran and politician, said, “We rise by helping others.” By helping others, we not only gain the respect of others, but also gain and experience a sense of self-respect. We cannot estimate the true value of helping others on a large scale.
Today, it is often seen that at the time of need, instead of rushing to help, people shoot videos on their mobile phones to make them viral. A few years ago, a teenager hailing from the Koppal district in Karnataka state, suffered a serious injury after a vehicle ran over him. At that moment, people surrounded him and, instead of calling an ambulance, took out their mobile phones from their pockets to shoot videos of the unconscious boy. The boy passed away because he did not receive timely treatment. It is during times like these that we and others get to know what we are truly like.
Regis Murayi averred, “Part of being a person is about helping others.”
In 1962, after the murti-pratishtha of the Ahmedabad mandir was over a few youths were allocated various duties to wind up the facilities set up for the occasion. One youth’s seva was to clean the bathrooms and see to it that the garbage trolleys, where everyone had left their disposable leaf-plates, were emptied.
Thousands of devotees had dined that evening. The dustbin in the kitchen behind the sadhus’ quarters was filled to the brim. It was around 10 p.m. The youth was trying his best to push the heavy and overflowing trolley up a slope to reach the main garbage tip. He was alone, tired, and fast losing the battle against the slope. There was no one around whom he could approach for help.
Just at that time, Swamishri emerged from a meeting. He saw the youth’s feeble and frustrated efforts, and literally ran to his aid. Together, both of them pushed the garbage trolley up the slope and emptied the contents in the tip. Swamishri even helped him return the empty trolley to its original place.
There was a glow in Swamishri’s eyes that showed not only that he never considered himself above such seva, but also how much he enjoyed helping out an ordinary youth in even the most menial of jobs.
On 5 May 1968, Yogiji Maharaj and his sadhus were getting ready to leave Kolkata for Benares (Varanasi). As usual, there were so many last minute things to do: packing, meeting the devotees and preparing some snacks to eat on the journey. All the sadhus were busy. Devcharan Swami was occupied in making other arrangements. So it was left upon Narayanprasad Swami to make the snacks.
He started rolling the puris. The oil was sizzling, and ready to fry the puris. But there was no one to fry them. Pramukh Swami happened to pass by and looked in. He gathered that the swami was alone. “Here,” he said instantly, “I’ll fry them.” And so saying, he overturned an empty kerosene can near the stove and sat down on it and started frying the puris.
He was so relaxed as he performed the task. He could well have said, “Hold on, I’ll go and call someone to help you.” But no, he sat down himself, not in the least concerned about his position or power. His simplicity, humility and spirit to help deeply touched Narayanprasad Swami.
Just as it is impossible for someone to wake up in the morning and become the world’s best tabla player, it is not possible to wake up one fine day and become the world’s best leader. It takes a lot of hard work and good intentions to achieve that. Only those who selflessly help and serve God and others can become true leaders. Such a person is wholeheartedly celebrated as a worthy leader in the world. Pramukh Swami Maharaj was one such spiritual leader.