or Die for the Guru
In accordance with Gunatitanand Swami’s wish, Pragji Bhakta left home and went to Junagadh to serve him. Swami had undertaken the task of constructing a haveli on the mandir premises. Pragji Bhakta laboured hard to help dig the foundations. Then, following Swami’s wish, Pragji undertook the difficult work of washing the sand and pouring it into the foundation. He completed the task all alone. As he performed each task Gunatitanand Swami expressed his pleasure, which encouraged Pragji Bhakta to work more and more.
Then came the most difficult job of preparing the lime mortar. Everyone was afraid that it would cause blisters on their hands and feet and also make them blind. Nobody came forward to undertake this work. As it was Swami’s wish Pragji Bhakta volunteered. He willingly accepted the work and started lifting the large sacks of lime on his back. He mixed water and lime in a pit and pounded it into mortar with his bare feet. With a desire to please Swami, Pragji Bhakta enthusiastically absorbed himself in the work maintaining good feelings towards everyone. If anyone warned him, “Pragji, you will become blind on account of the heat from the lime,” he would simply reply, “I want to please Swami. I have dedicated my life in the service of Swami.”
Although Pragji Bhakta worked day and night, Gunatitanand Swami once told him, “You are working hard physically, but without austerities your senses will not be tamed.” So, on Swami’s instructions, he began to fast for two days at a time and eat only once on the third day. He served during the day and in his spare moments he sat near Swami and listened to his spiritual discourses. Even at night, he would be in Swami’s company. Sometimes, when instructed by Swami, he would sleep in the gorakh posture for an hour or so. But he never slept with his leg extended.
Gunatitanand Swami was greatly pleased with this deep devotion and service of Pragji Bhakta. Often, Swami would explain to him the teachings of Shriji Maharaj from the Vachanamrut. He also taught him the intricate yogic methods. Pragji Bhakta had only one aim – to act according to the wishes of Swami and to obey all his commands.
At times Swami used to test him. Once, Swami told him, “Pragji, mortar is to be prepared. Fetch two hundred spades and five hundred buckets.” Pragji searched the mandir and returned with a few spades and buckets. But he did not argue with Swami that there were not so many implements available in the mandir. He knew that Gunatitanand Swami was the all-knower. Therefore, it was his duty to act according to Swami’s wish, keeping firm faith in him.
On another occasion Swami issued an unexpected command, “Pragji, go and call Mount Girnar. The poor fellow has been performing austerities for ages. I want to redeem him.” Pragji rushed to call Girnar. Some people criticised Pragji for not using discretion. They remarked, “Do you really expect Girnar to come? You should use discretion in carrying out commands.”
Pragji Bhakta replied, “Except for those commands which are against the tenets of religion, it is the duty of a disciple to carry out all the commands of his guru without any hesitation. I will go to Girnar and call him. Whether he wants to come or not is upto him.” Such was his firm faith in Swami.
Pragji worked hard for three consecutive days to prepare the furnace and then for three days he worked to fill it with lime. Swami became so happy that he embraced Pragji several times and touched his head to bless him. Tears of joy rolled down the cheeks of Pragji Bhakta. He thought, “What a great fortune that Gunatitanand Swami himself is embracing me and bestowing upon me his divine love!”
His inner self was in constant communion with Swami. Even a very minor incident revealed this fact to all. Once, Swami went with some sadhus and devotees to the meadows of Sankhdavadar, near Junagadh, to cut grass. All of a sudden it started raining heavily. Pragji Bhakta sewed two sheets, made an improvised umbrella and sheltered Swami. Swami was very pleased and said, “Kalyan lies in three things, atmabuddhi, anuvrutti and seva towards the great Sadhu.”
A barber named Karsan used to shave the sadhus at Junagadh mandir every month. He increased his rates by one paise per person. Gunatitanand Swami refused to pay him the increased rates. But soon the sadhus felt uncomfortable without the monthly shave and tonsure. Swami asked Pragji Bhakta to do the barber’s job. He was always eager to obey his guru. He bought the necessary instruments from the market and served Swami first. Then, for nearly six months he performed the role of a barber without feeling belittled by what he was doing. He also served as a torch-bearer, which also was the job of the barber. Swami deeply loved him and always offered him food from his own wooden eating bowl.