Yogijimaharaj Has Not Left Us:
you are guru. We are not Godbrothers! You are guru and we are your
disciples. We have to live according to your commands. Yogiji Maharaj
has pointed to you.
Yogiji Maharaj had abandoned
his mortal body. It was unthinkable, unbelievable. Not possible.
The small, tidy hospital room took on vast proportions. Yogiji Maharaj
had been heart and soul. The young sadhus that stood around his
still figure had given up family and career, ambition and life to
be with him, serve him and worship Lord Swaminarayan through him.
And now he had left, choosing 23 January 1971, Posh vad ekadashi.
Pramukh Swami broke the hideous spell. At once he was consoling
and directing cremation preparations. Phone calls were made. Satsang
seniors consulted, the mass media informed. Around him a whirlwind
of activity pushed thoughts of grief to a dark private corner. He
galvanised the sadhus and devotees into urgent preparation.
The chartered plane landed at the seldom used Rajkot airstrip. Thousands
awaited, praying for a last glimpse of the spiritual master they
loved so dearly. Yogiji Maharaj was gently carried out. As Pramukh
Swami directed, his delicate form was placed on an open jeep to
be driven to Gondal. Pramukh Swami had decided on Gondal as the
best cremation site. Yogiji Maharaj would have wished it.
As the jeep moved towards Gondal, 35 kilometres away, a cavalcade
followed behind. The winter morning was biting. Pramukh Swami sat
engrossed in darshan beside the guru he had faithfully served for
so long. The whipping wind fluttered his shoulder cloth madly about
him. Yogiji Maharaj was laid out on ice, the wind rushing over his
exposed body. He remembered how Yogiji Maharaj always avoided the
cold. Even in the hottest summers Yogiji Maharaj refused a fan.
The thought hurt deeply. Pramukh Swami instinctively took off his
shoulder cloth and covered his gurus body with it, neatly tucking
it in under the chin. In Gondal the final cremation rituals were
performed, after which Yogiji Maharaj, richly garlanded, was gently
placed an a special chair - throne and carried around the temple
in circumambulation several times, and then taken to the cremation
site where neatly arranged logs and sandal wood formed the pyre.
Tens of thousands of people watched Pramukh Swami hold the burning
straw in both hands as he circumambulated the funeral pyre. Senior
sadhus followed suit. In traditional Hindu fashion Pramukh Swami
set alight the logs of sweet smelling wood, entrusting to the flames
his spiritual master. As the flames rose and cracked, the heat pushed
him back several steps. He watched lost in thought. His half grown
beard masking his grief.
"Yogiji Maharaj has not left us," Sant Swami's voice boomed
over the public address system. "He is present before us in
Pramukh Swami Maharaj. He is our Guru..."
The jam packed assembly listened. Sant Swami was a giant in his
own right. Initiated by Shastriji Maharaj, he was respected for
his saintliness and scholarship. No one denied his spiritual realisation.
He had faithfully served Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj. Now
he was revealing to the devotees the truth he had seen and learned
from Yogiji Maharaj. Yogiji Maharaj and Shastriji Maharaj were present
in the form of Pramukh Swami Maharaj. He was now guru, to be obeyed
and served, loved and revered. Sant Swami cited words uttered by
Yogiji Maharaj many times, but which had then fallen on deaf ears.
"From now onwards Pramukh Swami will carry on my work... Pramukh
Swami is my everything."
Sant Swami was clear. There were no doubts in his mind. His confidence
was convincing and reassuring. The void seemed not so vast now.
Yes, sorrow was there, but Yogiji Maharaj hadn't really gone. He
was present in another form. Those who were old enough turned back
to Shastriji Maharaj's demise. There had been anguish, pain, sorrow,
"an unfillable void," but Yogiji Maharaj had so easily
won their love. They had experienced Shastriji Maharaj in Yogiji
Maharaj. Now surely they would experience Yogiji Maharaj in Pramukh
Indeed, without him even asking or demanding they had surrendered
to him as disciples. To obey him was their declared dharma. His
every wish was a command. "Swami, you are guru. We are not
Godbrothers! You are guru and we are your disciples. We have to
live according to your commands. Yogiji Maharaj has pointed to you.
It is we who have to pray to you that just as Yogiji Maharaj gave
us happiness, cared for us, led us ahead and forgave our weakness,
please also do likewise."
It is no wonder that soon the entire Satsang Fellowship was enchanted
with Swamishri. He was the natural guru.
Sadhu Bhaktipriyadas (Kothari Swami, Bombay): Living with Brahmaswarup
Yogiji Maharaj I was convinced in mind that only Yogiji Maharaj
could attract the youth mind, and through affection lead them to
dharma, niyam and bhakti. No other person in this universe could
After Yogiji Maharaj's passing, I attached my mind to Pramukh Swami
Maharaj whom Yogiji Maharaj had called 'his everything' and the
'very form of Shastriji Maharaj'. Nevertheless, in the beginning
the feeling remained that Yogiji Maharaj was Yogiji Maharaj, Pramukh
Swami Maharaj would not be able to pull minds like he did. But within
a very short time Pramukh Swami Maharaj distanced this delusion.
Sadhu Tyagvallabhdas: In the beginning, memories of Yogiji Maharaj
would come. But whilst touring I had to stay with Swamishri often.
Then I would get the chance to serve him personally. Just as I had
served Yogiji Maharaj personally as opportunity arose I served Swamishri.
In this way love for him grew.
Sadhu Keshavjivandas (Mahant Swami): When Yogi Bapa went to Akshardham
I thought, 'that's it, the play is finished! It's gone forever!'
But Pramukh Swami gradually took up the work in such a way that
before I knew it - I was coupled to him...
Just as sadhus initiated by Yogiji Maharaj soon found themselves
mesmerized by Swamishri, older sadhus initiated by Shastriji Maharaj
were similarly taken up. They had now experienced the departing
of two gurus, Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj, and now they
were witness to both those personalities merged in Pramukh Swami
Swamishri's heart reached out to embrace Satsang. He had loved Shastriji
Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj dearly, and had watched and helped as
they had painstakingly built the Sanstha. He was witness to the
enormous sacrifices the sadhus and devotees had made. He respected
them. They were fellow travellers on a long and hard journey. And
now he was to lead. He was at the helm. His companions were now
under his care, and many more would join. They were part of the
Sanstha family. They belonged to Shastriji Maharaj and Yogi Bapa.
He felt an overriding commitment to do the utmost he could. No matter
what the cost to himself.
This committal, respect and love for Satsang and its members have
stood the test of time and from the very first days have aroused
in sadhus and devotees a similar committal, respect and love. For
Satsang, and himself.