Heart! Yes, heart.
All hearts (souls) ran away and were absorbed in the heart of Param Pujya Guruhari Shri Pramukh Swami Maharaj. There, the warmth was such that none wanted to leave his refuge. Controlling the mind means controlling the soul. There was no effort put in by the devotees and sadhus who had achieved ‘ashtanga yoga’ without practicing any sadhanas.
Guruhari had won the hearts of sadhus and devotees to such an extent that they all never hesitated to sacrifice wealth, family and belongings for him. They did not experience any conflict (of interests) in their minds. On the other hand, they considered such sacrifices as their good fortune and with inner satisfaction. Even in the form of a human being, Swamishri enjoyed the happiness of ‘Akshardham’ — divine abode of the supreme God — and was always replete with bhakti and gnan. And in spite of (sadhus and devotees) doing so much, the feeling of indebtedness towards Swamishri never ebbed from their minds. This sweet burden was always felt by them. Then, what was it that Guruhari had conferred on them?
He had graced them with upright conduct. But how could one impart conduct, which meant action? He had given discourses, love, bhakti and the power to do good things with faith, zeal and patience. It should be remembered that he had given all this not through his discourses alone, which were not aimless and fanciful, but through his conduct and actions.
It was certain that the form of God is manifest on the earth, but not in the form of miracles or magic. Indeed, I say the truth that Swamishri had not merely preached but had offered and sacrificed his life for the satsang community. He had sacrificed himself like an incense stick and a piece of sandalwood. He had not cared for day or night. He had no personal life of his own. Even his personal actions were aimed for the welfare of all. Every second of his life was utilized in the maintenance and progress of sadhus, devotees and society. He used his own life for the sake of others. The distinctions of ignorant and educated, rich and poor, great and small, men and women did not exist for him. However, he showed those distinctions naturally which were quite necessary for their spiritual benefit, in helping human beings transcend their body-consciousness (dehbhav) and for elevating them to his own height.
People believe that they can teach lessons of morality and justice by writing articles and giving lectures. Nobody reads these articles nor listens to the advice or lectures. And if anyone does, then he does not remember or understand them. Moreover, where can you get the inspiration to live accordingly? It is impossible to do so without having an association with a person who practices these ideals.
Swamishri’s life and actions allowed all this to be achieved. Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj corroborated this with their affirmations. We have faith in their words and in Pramukh Swami Maharaj. His association gave me immense joy and I bow my head to him with utter respect. I say in my mind, “Swami how great and wonderful you were ! You were really our life and soul.” I did not know what I wanted from Swamishri, and I did not realize that I had got that thing. In my heart, I felt full satisfaction and peace.
Today, all sadhus and devotees have full faith in crossing the ocean of earthly existence. The inspiration of observing dharma (morality) and offering upasana coupled with the nine forms of bhakti was derived from Swamishri’s association and his life. It is true and an experienced fact that no matter how much effort one makes on the spiritual path one fails to be inspired from a person who himself has not imbibed the spiritual ideals. A molded life makes formula, however formula does not mold life. Lectures and books are not necessary; only true behavior is needed. Then the rest follows.
A mistake often made by many is that they behave or act (vartan) in such a manner so as to make others act in a similar way. Only when one lives or acts for one’s own self will it yield total results, otherwise, others will simply copy you to no effect. If one behaves merely to show others then it is of no use; in fact one will miss out on the essence of doing bhakti to experience Bhagwan’s joy. There is a very minute difference between behaving for one’s own sake and for others, however, a vast difference arises with regards to its fruits. This, I have understood through Swamishri’s simple, straightforward and yet profound life. And I have been inspired to live accordingly.
Swamishri remained relaxed and light in so many of his divine actions, in the most difficult of situations, and amidst all challenging problems and spiritual dilemmas. I am simply awed by Guruhari. He had no burdens; was always light as a feather. One who has such a high spiritual state of being Brahmaswarup would make the atmosphere serious and too dry for others to remain nearby. Swamishri’s vairagya (detachment) did not scorch anyone. Neither did he allow bhakti offered by others to become overwhelmingly emotional and without limits. His strict observance of the panchvartmans (five ascetic vows) was itself his message. He never relaxed in his vows of renunciation regarding women and wealth. In such instances he was strict and firm.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj believed gnan should not be hollow or empty words, but translated into a unique life full of joy and wedded to morality. If someone boasted about knowledge, then Swamishri would say a few words to restrain him. For him, right action was gnan. However, no matter what a person may be like, he never disliked him. One felt his warmth and welcome upon meeting him. Once, Swamishri, Hakabhai Khachar and I were returning to Gujarat from Delhi by train. The journey took 24 hours, but we hardly exchanged a word. Swamishri was not reading or writing anything. But without exchanging a word I got a message, immense encouragement and felt happy. His life and work started unfolding in my mind like a film. Inspirations filled my heart. I felt an inner enthusiasm to do so many things for satsang. An honest and true feeling to please Yogi Bapa emanated clearly.
During the journey Swamishri was turning the mala, which suggested many things to me: do bhajan while doing your work, but not the other way round. Normally, one is unable to do bhajan even while sitting idly. However, Swamishri was turning the beads in a relaxed and happy frame of mind. His inner self was calm in an ocean of divinity. It was anchored to something firm and still. He had a robust refuge (ashro) in Shriji Maharaj and a great attachment to him. I could see he was unruffled.
Once, I had Swamishri’s darshan at the Surendranagar railway station. I was on a tour from our college. I saw people running here and there to board their train. Some were standing, but their minds were roaming all over the place. However, I felt Swamishri to be stable in spite of him walking. Swamishri was always engaged in some activity, but he was so much at ease during his activities, similar to someone in deep slumber. His equanimity was different from the ease experienced by other people. His ease was not idleness, irresponsibility, inattentiveness or the feeling that he had nothing to do because others were working for him. (He wished to do even the smallest activity or duty, which he did.) Some people sit idly, but that was not the case for him. Swamishri joked with others, but it had a purpose. So his ease was not mundane.
In 1974, Swamishri and his sadhus were given a grand farewell in Mumbai before they departed by flight to Nairobi. However, on landing at the airport in Nairobi they were ordered to return to Mumbai. The sadhus asked Swamishri, “Why has this happened?” He replied, “We have done no wrong. We do things to please Maharaj. So, his wish prevails.” It is clear from his answer how much at ease he was. A similar incident happened: the planning permission for a mandir in Harrow, London, was refused. The youths and devotees had tried very hard. The youths were confidently saying that they would get permission to construct the mandir, but they lost the case. Subsequently, everyone was disappointed. But that night Swamishri slept soundly. It was evident from this that he had no desire other than to please Maharaj and Swami. No pillow is as soft as a clear conscience. He had a pure heart.
Swamishri was at perfect ease while writing or reading letters. Sometimes, the writer’s handwriting was illegible, the content of the letter would be trifle or rubbish, the devotee may have written the same problem ten times over; still he would read the letter, treating it as a service to dissolve the devotee’s pain or problem. Once a sadhu, on seeing a big pile of letters, said to Swamishri, “Stop it now. How long will you go on! Don’t you feel tired? Don’t you get exhausted?” Swamishri replied, “This is a service which cannot be treated with disrespect.” The reason behind Swamishri’s outer ease and inner joy was his belief that serving the devotees was devotion to God.
Whenever he had to convey anything related to a task or situation to a sadhu or a devotee, he would invariably do so when he met them. He had no diary or pen (to note such things) and neither did have to memorize it. It was all natural for him. He had abundant affection for them.
After Swamishri’s Suvarna Tula (in 1985, London) was over, he behaved as if it had not occurred. The next day, a devotee insulted him, but he was completely at ease and took it in his stride.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj had never allowed any blame or insult to fall upon Yogi Bapa. In fact, he took it upon himself. Swamishri believed that no one was his enemy and so he always showered his love and divinity upon all. Divinity glowed in his entire personality. His straightforwardness, frankness and purity touched our hearts; same was the case with his power of endurance. He never forgot Thakorji for a moment; even when he was honored. How pure were his feelings! His life was an open book. The nearer one got to him, the more one understood his noble character. He never felt like dazzling or overawing anyone. Because he was genuine others were impressed.
He always looked fresh. Once, he had several private meetings with devotees that lasted for over three hours. After they left, Swamishri looked fresh as ever, like he had rested for a long time.
While on home visits, Swamishri walked briskly, and his inner tranquility was apparent from without. When he was walking he seemed at ease, like he was sitting on a sofa. He remained calm and at ease when devotees were doing his darshan or not, and when anyone arrived or left. Once, Swamishri, Narayancharan Swami and I alighted from a plane and came to the VIP lounge at the London airport. Some officers were with us. Swamishri started his daily rounds of walking in the lounge, unruffled by the bustle of people. He walked with blissful abandon, as if he was walking in Sarangpur. I had experienced his aloofness from this mundane world without him snapping his relations with us. Out of both, only one is possible. But in his case, he had achieved both. He had no inferiority or superiority complex. He was always calm and amicable with everyone. He was always at ease with everyone. Once, Swamishri was in Kolkata in an ashram. The head saint of the ashram was averse to Swamishri. But Swamishri did not mind it at all and left quietly.
Swamishri was very social. He always appreciated and praised others and selflessly offered respect and honor to others. This was a rare achievement. He was calm while performing his daily puja. He was at ease in all his activities. This clearly showed that he was above his physical existence and Paramatma always resided in him. Those who came to meet him were surrounded by joy and peace. Ultimate peace is at the feet of Narayan!