Laugh and Make Play:
"...I quickly began to
inhale and exhale. With great skill he managed to keep balance,
all the while laughing almost uncontrollably. 'It feels like an
escalator,' he said... Amdavad Yuvak Mandal had organised a quiz
named, 'Ame anek, man ek.' We may be many, but are of one mind.
The first question was asked, "You are wearing a Rado wrist
watch. When you come to touch Swamishri's feet he sees the watch
and says the watch would look fine on Thakorji's wrist. What would
One after the other the contestants answered. A sadhu chipped in,
"What they should answer is that 'along with the watch I'd
also give my hand.'" This meant that the youth was fully giving
himself in the Lord's service as a sadhu, renouncing the world and
family. There was laughter on all sides.
Swamishri said, "These people have already given their hands
elsewhere!" He was refering to their wives and marriage. The
entire sabha burst into applause and laughter. Yes, he was so right.
Yet he made so light of their material attachments! In Bombay one
evening after the sabha, Swamishri was taking the small lift to
his fifth floor rooms. The sadhus had run up the stairwell. Most
had climbed to the fifth floor and were waiting for Swamishri. Krishnapriya
Swami, Chaitanyaswarup Swami and some others were waiting by the
elevator exit on the third floor. As the elevator came up they began
to loudly mimic the sound of a puffing train, "Chug, chug,
chug, chug." Others began to copy the cries of vendors and
station boys selling their fruits and snacks. After Swamishri passed
them they rushed up to the fifth floor and stood in a line as wagons,
holding each other's shoulder cloths, one standing behind the other.
Stepping out of the elevator Swamishri instantly read the game.
He became the locomotive and stood at the head of the line. The
sadhu behind him held Swamishri's shoulder cloth.
He ordered Krishnapriya Swami, "You be the guard's wagon which
is last. Guards are fat like you!"
He then 'chugged', the wagons following behind, walking to his room.
When they reached the bathroom he stopped. "That's it, the
station's here. All wagons separate," he called. He was a grandfather
playing with his grandchildren.
Swamishri visited the bathroom. When he came back the sadhus were
still giggling. A warm glow of well being and closeness pervaded
the atmosphere. With a gesture of his hand Swamishri said, "Happy
and jesting in this way we'll all surely get to Akshardham."
It was a promise. A game had been played but a message had to be
learnt. To reach God's divine abode and reside there eternally in
His presence one had to follow the Satpurush, one had to hold on
to him and follow wherever he led. He was the locomotive who could
pull the soul from the cess pool of sense pleasures that it has
been wallowing in for innumerable births.
Swamishri was in Amdavad, taking his early evening walking exercise
in the meeting lounge that led to his bedroom. The two longer walls
were lined by sadhus singing Chosath Padi, the sixty four verses
in Gujarati composed by Niskulanand Swami, describing the attributes
of a bonafide sadhu and a pseudo sadhu. Swamishri paced the hall
long ways, his stride never once breaking. After the Chosath Padi,
one or two kirtans were sung. The time allotted for walking had
just about finished but Swamishri kept walking. Brahmaprakash Swami
called, "Bapa, it's time to finish." Swamishri waved in
the negative. Narayancharan Swami, Swamishri's personal attendant,
also called that time was up, only to be ignored.
Brahmaprakash Swami thought to play a little trick. As Swamishri
walked away from the wall with the entrance and exit doors, he stood
up and sat exactly in the middle of the lounge directly in Swamishri's
Swamishri turned beneath the mahogany coloured air conditioner grills.
He saw Brahmaprakash Swami and smiled, but continued walking at
his usual lively pace.
Brahmaprakash Swami: I had decided not to move. If he stepped to
my left I would dive at his feet and if he stepped to my right I
would dive there as well and with both hands embrace his feet. To
my surprise Swamishri came straight towards me at the same speed.
He wasn't slowing down in the least. He walked right up to me and
stopped, his feet touching my crossed legs. Now what? Seconds passed.
The other sadhus were laughing. I looked up and could only see Swamishri's
soft stomach shaking and hear him laughing as well. He placed one
hand on my head. I thought he was blessing me. He put his other
hand on my head. Overjoyed that he was blessing me I bowed to accept
and felt a sudden weight on my head. In a split second the pressure
The entire lounge erupted into laughter and clapping. Swamishri
had leap-frogged over Brahmaprakash Swami's head, who looked up
to find that Swamishri had disappeared. Swamishri walked up to the
opposite wall, and returned to say, "Now the time is up."
* * *
Krishnapriya Swami: We were in Pavai Vadi, Swamishri was touring
the land and asking questions. It was an inspection of a sorts.
Wanting to amuse Swamishri, Chaitanya Swami and myself lay down
carelessly in the cow-sheds copying the posture adopted by wandering
mendicant sadhus sleeping on railway platforms. When Swamishri entered
the shed we pretended not to notice and remained on the ground,
eyes closed. He walked up to us and with his toe prodded my large
I said, "Swaminarayan hava bhar de" (Swaminarayan is filling
air) I slowly inflated my stomach. It ballooned to quite a size!
Swamishri put his foot on it. Viveksagar Swami said, "Even
if you stand on him nothing will happen to him."
Holding Viveksagar Swami's shoulder for support Swamishri stood
on my stomach. I quickly began to inhale and exhale. With great
skill he managed to keep balance, all the while laughing almost
uncontrollably. "It feels like an escalator," he said,
"we stand still and the steps move!"
I will never forget that time of sheer joy. It was unbeatable. Who
else but Swamishri would become so childlike with his spiritual
children and take the time to play.