1 January 1999 : Friday (Posh sud 14), Ahmedabad
After his morning puja, a group of kishores requested Swamishri, "Swami, it is New Year's day today. What is your New Year's message for us?"
Swamishri happily replied, "Strengthen your devotion for God and consolidate your personal satsang. One should strive for imbibing satsang in one's soul and improve one's academic performance. If your own satsang is strong and firm then no matter what worldly misery or pain that comes your way, you will not be hurt or affected by it. When God and His holy Sadhu are your foremost priority, then your personal Satsang will be strong and steadfast. It was the deep, profound Satsang of one's soul that Bhagatji Maharaj talked of." Swamishri's New Year's blessings infused energy and enthusiasm in the kishores.
Before going to the evening assembly, Swamishri visited Kothari Satsangijivan Swami's office and was personally shown a new set of silver dishes, spoons and glasses specially made for Thakorji of the Swaminarayan mandir in Mahelav.
The spoons were too big, and on holding one of them Swamishri enquired, "How can Maharaj eat with such a large spoon? Can we not get a smaller size?" And then Swamishri instructed to get medium-sized spoons.
During his blessings in the evening assembly Swamishri said, "To stray away from one's goal towards God, is the greatest obstacle. If you miss your goal in any of your worldly work then you cannot get success. Mahatma Gandhi met with many obstacles during his fight for India's freedom. Edison came across so many years of troubles and hurdles during his invention of the light bulb, but he had resolved to do it and achieved success. Likewise when you want to realise God then you have to think in this manner. Once you have fixed your goal success will follow later on. If you decide that you want to please God then any number of obstacles that come your way will not stop you..."
8.30 p.m. : After the assembly, while Swamishri was returning to his residence, Brahmavihari Swami applauded and praised Swamishri's blessings, "Bapa, your discourse was wonderful. You included everything so nicely."
Swamishri replied: "Since it was 1st January we gave a message to everyone "
And then Swamishri added, "We do not plan what to say. Maharaj inspires what we say. If we believe that God is the all-doer then it is He who speaks."
2 January 1999 : Saturday (Posh vad 1), Ahmedabad
It was a festive day today because the day marked the occasion when Shriji Maharaj initiated Gunatitanand Swami as a sadhu in Dabhan and announced that he was Aksharbrahm - His divine abode.
To highlight this festive day, a few youths had prepared a decorative path of flowers for Swamishri. All night long they had devoutedly arranged flowers and petals from Swamishri's residence to the mandir steps.
And before the murtis in the mandir, a diksha ceremony atmosphere had been created. Shriji Maharaj was dressed in white clothes and the murtis of Gunatitanand Swami and Gopalanand Swami were donned in saffron clothes. A small pit with a fire burning in it had been arranged before Thakorji. After Swamishri performed the arti, the sadhus sang Vedic mantras in conjunction with the diksha initiation arrangement. Swamishri offered grains and ghee into the fire pit and then applied a chandlo of sandle~wood paste on the murtis. The atmosphere became charged with divinity. It seemed as if a yagna had been really performed and a diksha ceremony had just taken place.
In the evening an assembly, paying tribute to the 190th Diksha ceremony occasion of Gunatitanand Swami took place. In his blessings, Swamishri said, "Shriji Maharaj revealed the glory of Gunatitanand Swami during his diksha ceremony saying that Mulji Sharma was His divine abode. We too have also to take this Akshar-diksha. Akshar-diksha means to understand the form and glory of Akshar and then understand the glory of Purushottam. Once you have understood this, nothing more need be understood.... Shastriji and Yogiji Maharaj had spread this knowledge of Akshar and Purushottam. If one understands this then one's soul will forever become happy."
3 January 1999 : Sunday (Posh vad 2), Ahmedabad
Today, more than 10,000 devotees attended the Sunday evening assembly. Swamishri emphasised about service to society, "To be happy in life you have to count the blessings God has showered upon you. And by thinking of those who are suffering, only then can you serve and relieve them of their misery."
4 January 1999 : Monday (Posh vad 3), Ahmedabad
In the evening assembly Swamishri elaborated upon a talk from 'Swamini Vato' : "In times of yore aspirants went in search of God..." Swamishri explained, "An aspirant is one who desires moksha. To attain moksha is the highest and noblest of life's achievements. From an ordinary person one has to ascend to the height of an aspirant and then to the state of a released soul (mukta). God and His holy Sadhu wish to bless all souls with eternal bliss and divine joy..."
5 January 1999 : Tuesday (Posh vad 4), Ahmedabad
During the evening assembly Swamishri said, "One should selflessly serve and offer devotion to God and desire only to please God. If however, one nourishes other motives while offering devotion then one's devotion is only hypocritical. Devotion should be offered with a pure feeling, to please God only...."
6 January 1999 : Wednesday (Posh vad 5) , Ahmedabad
During Swamishri's morning hours of personal consultation a youth came to see him. He had borrowed a large sum of money which he had loaned to four other people. The regular payment of interest money he got from them he paid it as interest money he owed to his loaner. Seeing there was no gain out of it, Swamishri asked him, "What do you get out of this!"
Youth: "I get the same interest money that I pay to my loaner."
Swamishri: "You must understand that your debt is not being paid at all! If the amount you have loaned to others doesn't come back then you will be in trouble. Pay back your loan and clear yourself of the debt."
The youth realised his folly and promised to do what Swamishri had advised.
During his evening blessings, Swamishri said, "Only through the Gunatit sadhu can we realise the knowledge of atma and Paramatma.. Through a person like Yogiji Maharaj one can learn Brahmvidya and be happy in this life and the life hereafter. By associating with a Gunatit sadhu, with a pure feeling that he is a God-communion sadhu, the giver of moksha, one who has no faults and who loves all - then only does one benefit abundantly."
7 January 1999 : Thursday (Posh vad 6) , Ahmedabad
Before attending the main evening assembly, Swamishri addressed 400 spiritually inclined visitors and aspirants.
In his evening's discourse Swamishri highlighted the importance of righteous living and business ethics.
8 January 1999 : Friday (Posh vad 7) , Ahmedabad
In the evening while going for Thakorji's darshan, Swamishri blessed 290 tenth grade students for their final exams in March.
In the evening assembly, Swamishri eloquently narrated the story of how Tulsidas was inspired by his wife's words to concentrate on the highest goal of life (God). Swamishri then added, "Our concentration wavers during a spiritual discourse. If we listen with concentration then it will penetrate within and become fruitful. We do need to apply concentration in everything we do. A student has to concentrate while studying. Even in business one has to concentrate in order to get good results...
"By listening to worldly talks our mind becomes disturbed and unhappy. However, by listening to God's divine episodes the soul experiences peace and happiness. And that was why Shriji Maharaj had instructed Muktanand Swami to write His incidents till the end of his life."
9 January 1999 : Saturday (Posh vad 8) , Ahmedabad
This evening Swamishri personally blessed 20 medical students and 190 twelfth grade students for their final exams in March.
In the evening assembly Swamishri advised. "Through regular spiritual association of a holy sadhu one benefits from the fruits of satsang. But today no one has time to come every day, so they come once a week and participate in a daily home discourse and thus experience the fruit of spiritual association. By reading or listening to the Vachanamritam one comes to associate with Shriji Maharaj. Similarly, by listening and imbibing the talks of Gunatitanand Swami and the life of Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj, one comes to associate with Gunatitanand Swami, Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj respectively. And with this one's conviction grows stronger and eventually one is redeemed from one's baser instincts. Only when we associate with a bonafide Guru do we come to realise our true nature and the glory of God."
After Swamishri's blessings, Pujya Shri Acharya Dharmendraji Maharaj, a profound scholar, speaker and Vaishnavacharya, arrived. He was honored and welcomed by Swamishri on his birthday with a garland of flowers and he too in turn also garlanded Swamishri. In his blessings, Acharya Dharmendraji Maharaj explained, "....Today in our age we see the growing influence of Kaliyuga and its darkness. And on the other hand having the darshan of sadhus like Pramukh Swami Maharaj one is blessed with the power of fearlessness. One also experiences inner consolation and confidence... God comes with His powers and manifests through a sadhu. We are proud to say that we have such a manifest form of God in Pramukh Swami Maharaj..."
10 January 1999 : Sunday (Posh vad 8) , Ahmedabad - Tilak Chandlo Day
A Special 'Tilak Chandlo' day was declared to inspire children, teenagers, youths and devotees to do tilak-chandlo. To celebrate this special day the sanctum sanctorum of Thakorji was aesthetically displayed with sets of daily puja and all its instruments of worship. The mammoth Sunday assembly commenced with the sharing of personal experiences regarding the impact of the tilak-chandlo by children, youths and senior devotees. Swamishri was then honoured with a garland of tilak-chandlo.
In his blessings Swamishri emphasised, "We are the disciples of Shriji Maharaj and He has given us the Shikshapatri to abide by. In it there is an injunction for daily puja and the application of tilak-chandlo daily. Every religion has prescribed its own religious mark. By doing the tilak-chandlo we are not losing anything. We should do it to please God. It gives us inner strength and helps us in our daily life. But we are mindful of what others will say. Not doing it is our own mental weakness.
Because of the growing western influence in India, we believe the tilak-chandlo is out of fashion and thus refrain from doing it. Another reason for not doing it is that we feel that it will not be good for business. To do tilak-chandlo is our duty. We should do it in order to please God and His holy Sadhu. Whoever will start doing Tilak-chandlo then his wishes will be fulfilled by God."
Swamishri's blessings were received with a thunderous applause of approval and commitment. The Sunday assembly was attended by more than 10,000 devotees.
11 January 1999 : Monday (Posh vad 9) , Ahmedabad
This morning Prof. Raymond Williams of Wabash College, Indiana, USA, met Swamishri and informed him of his project from Cambridge Univ. Press to revise his book 'A New Face of Hinduism - The Swaminarayan Sampradaya'. He also presented an article that was printed in an American journal, regarding the Sanstha's training centre for sadhus.
In the evening, before coming to the main assembly, Swamishri initiated 860 aspirants into the Satsang Fellowship.
More than 250 devotees were applauded for their resolve to do tilak-chandlo. They had the opportunity of getting Swamishri's personal blessings during the assembly.
13 January 1999 : Wednesday (Posh vad 11) , Ahmedabad
In memory of Yogiji Maharaj's demise twenty-nine years ago in 1971, a kirtan-aradhana was held in the evening assembly.
Swamishri was then honored with garlands by the senior sadhus. Prof. Raymond Williams talked about the rapid progress of the Sanstha since 1984. Shri Yogendraprakashji, a profound scholar and writer in the Hindi language, had three three Hindi publications, namely, 'Ghar Satsang', 'Pragji Bhakta' and 'Pramukh Swami Maharaj', inaugurated by Swamishri.
Finally, Swamishri in his blessings said, "Yogiji Maharaj was an infinitely divine person. We had seen innumerable redemptory virtues in him. Shastriji Maharaj used to say that if Sage Vyasji had forgotten to write or mention the qualities of a true sadhu then one would find it in Yogiji Maharaj. One experiences happiness in talking about him or listening to his glory..."
14 January 1999 : Thursday (Posh vad 12) , Ahmedabad
Today was Uttarayana, a day of kite flying and alms-giving to sadhus and sanyasis. It was the highlight of Swamishri's 15-day stay. To celebrte Uttarayana in the presence of Swamishri was a day of great honor and joy for thousands of devotees. Hundreds of thousands of devotees began flocking to the mandir as early as 5.30 a.m.
A dozen spirited youths had arranged an avenue of kites hanging overhead and a decorative flower path for Swamishri. The mandir sanctum sanctorum was filled with a decoration of colourful kites. After Thakorji's darshan, Swamishri came to perform his puja in the assembly hall. Thereafter the festival assembly commenced wherein Pujya Viveksagar Swami explained the significance of Uttarayana. Finally Swamishri, in his blessings, addressed a gathering of 17,000 devotees. Swamishri elaborated on the glory of charity : "The shastras mention several types of charity, namely; giving food grains, land, clothes and knowledge. The fruit of this type of charity is worldly or physical in nature. However, Shriji Maharaj told His sadhus to give charity that would make people eternally happy and free from fear. This charity is called 'abhaydan'. Man has mental, physical and political fears. To be redeemed of them is called 'abhaydan'. And 'abhaydan' can be given by a God-realised sadhu. He inspires and guides us to take God's refuge, offer devotion to Him and elevate us to God's abode."
After Swamishri concluded his blessings, he stood up to place two sanctified 'joli' (begging cloth-bag) on his shoulders. This was the climax of the occasion, where Swamishri himself was going to say the traditional call for the begging of alms. However, prior to this, Swamishri explained the tradition of begging alms in the time of Shriji Maharaj. And then narrated how he used to beg alms in the time of Shastriji Maharaj. "When one sadhu calls for the alms he says, 'Narayan Hare Sacchidanand Prabho' and then the other repeats it, 'Narayan Hare Sacchidanand Prabho.' Each time Swamishri uttered the call, he folded his hands, closed his eyes and gently bowed before the assembly. The moment was resceived with a thunder of claps.
Swamishri then sat on the stage as 17,000 devotees filed passed him, placing their donations in the joli. Several young children had cut their kite flying expenses and donated the money on that day. A ten-year old child had saved for two years and offered a part of his savings on the occasion. Swamishri patiently gave darshan to all the devotees, sitting continuously from 10.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. In conclusion Swamishri appreciated the festival arrangements and said, "The festival was A-1, the planning was A-1 and the arrangements were A-1".
15 January 1999 : Friday (Posh vad 13) , Ahmedabad
Swamishri sanctified and inaugurated the new Women's Complex for the Central Satsang activities, 'Bhaktisadan', in the mandir
In the evening Swamishri left Amdavad and traveled to Mahelav.
Swamishri was accorded a warm, devotional reception in Mahelav - the birth place of Shastriji Maharaj.
Swamishri's 7-day stay here will see the inauguration of a new Swaminarayan Mandir and the celebration of Shastriji Maharaj's birthday at Mahelav.