GLORY OF SADHU – Prasang 1
Glory of the Satpurush
Once, Shastriji Maharaj was in Anand. Before him were devotees who had profound glory and commitment to the Akshar Purushottam creed. Shastriji Maharj asked Manibhai, “What is the glory of the Satpurush?” Manibhai was well acquainted with the Sampraday’s scriptures and thus answered with references from the Vachanamrut.
Shastriji Maharaj acknowledged what he said and added, “Say there is a dense jungle similar to the forests of Africa, where even the rays of the afternoon sun cannot penetrate. And this jungle is full of wild animals. If someone were to go there and loudly proclaim the name ‘Bhagatji’, then any living thing that hears this name will be redeemed. This is the glory of the Satpurush.”
The mere remembrance of the bona fide Sadhu or Satpurush can dissolve evil tendencies in one’s soul. Even through his direct or indirect communion, the soul is redeemed.
OBSERVANCE OF NIYAMS - Prasang 1
Sagram Vaghri of Limli village was a genuine devotee of Shriji Maharaj. Though he was low-born, by character he was noble and towering. The severe famine of VC 1869 (1813 CE) had spread its tentacles of suffering and death on the land of Kathiawad. Many migrated to souther Gujarat to survive and eke out a livelihood.
Sagram Vaghri and his wife, too, were heading optimistically towards the town of Surat. On the way Sagram’s eyes fell on a shiny ornament. It was an expensive silver anklet that someone had lost. Despite his poverty, Sagram had no desire to take it. But he thought of his wife who was a few furlongs behind him. Being a woman she would be enticed to take it, and it would amount to a transgression of Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s words. So thinking, Sagram covered the anklet with mud.
After a while when his wife caught up with him, she asked, “What were you doing sitting down a little while back?” Sagram revealed to her about the silver anklet and added, “To prevent you from seeing it, I covered it with mud.”
“why did you cover mud upon mud? I see another’s possession as mud!” Sagram’s wife nobly responded. Sagram was surprised and fascinated by his wife’s resolve.
Even in spite of hard times, Sagram remained steadfast to Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s instruction of not talking a thing lying on the wayside. And his wife perceived another’s belonging as mud!
The strength of one’s character is reflected in hard times.
HUMILITY – Prasang 3
Scrubbed the Utensils
On 21st May 1950, Shastriji Maharaj was residing at Amblivali Pol in Amdavad. On that day, he had invited the leading devotee and senior Sadhus for an historic occasion. In their presence, Shahstriji Maharaj appointed Shastri Narayanswarupdas as the President of the Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha. This milestone event was welcomed by one and all. Shastri Narayanswarupdas prayed before Shastriji Maharaj and the devotees that he be able to humbly serve the Sanstha till his last breath.
After the occasion, the devotees had their meals and left. Their unwashed pile of dishes lay by the water tap. Without a moment’s hesitation, the newly appointed President, Shastri Narayanswarupdas, sat down to scrub and wash the dishes.
He had truly understood the presidential appointment not as a position for bossing over others, but as an opportunity to serve humbly. Ever since, Pramukh Swami Maharaj has been serving humbly without any distinction of high or low. He is an embodiment of humility.
HUMILITY – Prasang 2
One Who Serves is Mahant
Gunatitanand Swami was once sweeping the courtyard of Junagadh mandir. On hearing the glory of the mandir and Gunatitanand Swami, the Mahant of Tarnetar mandir came with his disciples for Swami’s darshan.
He had not met Gunatitanand Swami before, so he asked him, “Where can I meet the Mahant of this mandir?”
Gunatitanand Swami answered while sweeping, “You can go and sit in the assembly hall. He will come there shortly.”
The mahant and his disciples went to the assembly hall. A little while later Gunatitanand Swami, having washed his hands and feet, came and occupied the main seat and asked, “Can I help you!” the Mahant was surprised to see Gunatitanand Swami and asked, “You are the Mahant of this mandir? But you were just sweeping the courtyard!”
Gunatitanand Swami smilingly replied, “Here, one who serves humbly is the Mahant.”
The noble spiritual masters reflect the ideals of greatness through their actions. Humble service is the hallmark of true greatness. One who dissolves his ego and serves Satsang is blessed by God.
FAULT FINDING (Prasang 3)
In 1960, Yogiji Maharaj was on a satsang tour of Zambia. On 31 March he left Lusaka for Brokenhill. On the way they came across a barrier of barrels and a signboard saying, “Road closed ahead.” Rajnibhai, the driver, removed the barrels and drove ahead.
When Yogiji Maharaj enquired why he was going ahead despite the signboard, Rajnibhai replied, “Bapa! Many times the roads in Africa are functioning and still one finds such signboards.” Swamishri remained quiet. After a while they arrived at a point where the road was broken. There was no way they could turn around because the road was narrow and high above ground level. The only option left was to reverse the car all the way back. When Rajnibhai reversed his car, Yogiji Maharaj grasped the situation. He raised his hand and said, “One-way!” Roads closed. Likewise, Akshardham is also one-way. For one who sees another’s faults the roads are closed. One should never engage oneself in fault-finding. Always see the tread the path of virtue.”
Yogiji Maharaj plainly but effectively conveyed that by seeing another’s faults one regresses.
Yogiji Maharaj often said, “For 50 years I have been in satsang. Never in any devotee – however ordinary or incapable he may be – have I taken his faults. Whatever his nature, even if he is hostile to me, I have not felt ill-will for him.”
Not seeing another’s faults is a fundamental propagated by the holy Sadhu. To see and harp upon another’s faults are like taking poison. A true devotee never looks at another’s faults.
TOLERANCE (Prasang 2)
Insult in Anand
Once Shriji Maharaj visited the town of Anand. The local devotees had enthusiastically made preparations for a welcome procession. Maharaj had arrived with a group of paramhansas and armed Kathi devotees. Before the procession commenced, Maharaj sought a pledge from the Kathi devotees, “Do not use your swords or weapons, even if anyone insults us, throws bricks or flings mud at us. Instead, forgive them.”
Shriji Maharaj’s foreboding words sparked off a flurry of thoughts in everyone’s mind. And Maharaj’s words came true. Many of the hostile people of Anand insulted Maharaj and his company of Sadhus and devotees. They bitterly hurled mud, bricks, stones, dung and rubbish as the procession passed through the town centre.
The Kathi devotees suppressed their anger and ferocity and tamely tolerated the affront. Though their hearts boiled and itched with a desire to retaliate, they abided by their pledge to Maharaj. Shriji Maharaj left Anand and arrived in Vartal. Here, Maharaj assembled the congregation by the banks of Gomti Lake. Everyone looked crestfallen and moodless. Maharaj then addressed the assembly, “Today we have won the citadel of Idar. Through tolerance we have enhanced our pride and reputation.” Maharaj’s words calmed their agitated minds.
God is compassionate and merciful. He tolerates everyone. Shriji Maharaj had emphasized tolerance as a great virtue. He imbibed the virtue in His life and prescribed tolerance for all His devotees!
TOLERANCE (Prasang 1)
A Favour in Return for Persecution
Gunatitanand Swami was touring the Sorath region with a group of Sadhus. In some villages, where the devotees resided, they were honoured and welcomed; whereas in others the unfriendly folks insulted and persecuted them.
Once, Gunatitananad Swami arrived at the village of Juna Savar. Uga Khuman, the village chief, loathed the Swaminarayan Sadhus. On hearing the news of their arrival, Uga Khuman became inflamed with anger. He and his men insulted them, thrashed them and drove them out of the village.
The Sadhus unresistingly hobbled their way to the village lake. The extent of their persecution was evident from their bleeding wounds and sore bodies. When the village women came to fill their pots with water they were moved by the wanton cruelty meted out to the Sadhus by the village chief. Out of compassion they uttered, “How can God Bless the Darbar with a child when he persecutes such innocent Sadhus! Such a merciless village chief shall always remain childless.”
When Gunatitanand Swami came to know of this, he and the Sadhus prayed to Shriji Maharaj to bless the Darbar with a child and thereafter to have his house graced by Sadhus.
And Gunatitanand Swami’s prayers were answered. Even at an old age Uga Khuman fathered a baby boy. Several years later, when Gunatitanand Swami was passing through the outskirts of Juna Savar, Uga Khuman’s eight-year old boy caught hold of Swami’s finger and brought him and the sadhus home. Gunatitanand Swami reminded Uga Khuman, “Darbar! Do you remember that several years ago you had beaten us and expelled us from this village! However, on hearing that you were childless, we prayed to Shriji Maharaj to bless you with a son. And by the grace of Swaminarayan you have been blessed with this boy.”
Uga Khuman repented for his ruthless act and prayed for forgiveness.
One who blesses in return for persecution is a Sadhu. Gunatitanand Swami was fearless because he considered no one to be his enemy. He had sowed the seeds of Satsang by tolerating innumerable occasions of insult, pain and persecution. Today, those seeds have grown into giant banyan trees, providing solace to innumerable souls.
ACCEPTING GOOD QUALITIES (Prasang 3)
Solved His Affinity for Tasty Food
Devotees from far and wide came to Junagadh to listen to Gunatitanand Swami’s discouses. A Nagar Brahmin of Junagadh came daily for Swami’s darshan. Though he lived a comfortable life, he had a weakness for delicious food. He loved eating hot chapattis. And whenever his meals were cold or tasteless, he would react angrily. Every day his wife and mother would remain nervous till he finished his meals.
Once, the Nagar Brahmin went for Gunatitanand Swami’s darshan. After the discourse, Swami went to have lunch in the sadhu’s dining hall. The Nagar Brahmin thought, “Though I am an ordinary person I still get tasty meals to eat. And Gunatitanand Swami, being the Mahant of the mandir, must be having delicious food for lunch and dinner!” and with this thought the Brahmin followed Swami and waited at a respectable distance to see what he would be eating. First, the attendant came and served a crushed form of millet chapatti. The Brahmin thought some sweet item has been placed. Then he saw the attendant pour what seems like milk. He was convinced that Swami was eating an excellent sweet item. However, when Gunatitanand Swami asked for some salt, he realized it was not milk but buttermilk that had been served in his bowl. On coming nearer, Gunatitanand Swami revealed to him, “I am not eating what you have in mind. It is only crushed rotlo and buttermilk. Now I shall add salt, mix it together and have it.” The Brahmin was amazed and felt, “Though Swami is the mahant of such a big mandir he eats only a simple meal!”
On appreciating Swami’s virtue of non-taste, the Brahmin’s intense desire for tasty food disappeared. Thus by appreciating the virtues of the holy Sadhu, one is redeemed of all desires and base nature.
ACCEPTING GOOD QUALITIES (Prasang 2)
Ninety-nine Faults, but one Virtue!
In 1984, Pramukh Swami Maharaj was in Antwerp, Belgium. In a small congregation someone asked Swamishri, “We experience friction or personality clashes while engaged in Satsang activities. Consequently, we see faults in the persons concerned. You are aware of everyone’s faults, yet how do you see us?”
Swamishri spontaneously replied, “God and the holy Sadhu do not look at the faults of others. On seeing them one should turn blind; on hearing them one should turn deaf; and on knowing them one should remain silent. Even if a person has ninety-nine faults, he must have one virtue! So always see that one virtue!”
The holy great always focus in perceiving the virtues of people. They appreciate a small virtue a thousand-fold more than what it is worth.
ACCEPTING GOOD QUALITIES (Prasang 1)
A Single Virtue from Everyone
Once Shriji Maharaj came to serve food to the sahus. He served lovingly and filled their bowls to the brim. The sadhus hailed the name of Maharaj for being blessed with food served by His own hands. As they were about to commence their meals, two sadhus arrived. They had not eaten either. Maharaj was aware that there were no food items left to serve. How would He fill their bowls now? So Shriji Maharaj told them, “Go to all the sadhus with your eating bowls and ask for a little food from everyone.”
The two sadhus held their bowls before every Sadhu, and each one in trun gave them the best item they had. Within no time their bowls were full and the sadhus join the group. On seeing this, Shriji Maharaj told a moral to the sadhus, “Listen everyone! The bowls of these two sadhus were initially empty. But when they bent low to accept what you gave, their bowls became full with the best food items. Similarly, in Satsang, if you humbly accept a single virtue from everyone than your life will become full of virtures.” By accepting the good qualities of others, one’s life becomes virtuous and divine.
A little pledge to see and accept the virtues of other will enrich one’s heart with the joys of goodness and divinity.