After visiting Niagara Falls Swamishri wrote in a letter to London
Yuvak Mandal, "No wonder in this world can equal the three
wonders, Maharaj, Swami and Yogiji Maharaj. After seeing them nothing
else remains to be seen."
When appointed President, Shastriji
Maharaj had commanded that in the future Pramukh Swami carry out
his duties faithfully clinging to Yogiji Maharaj's wishes. The command
became deeply ingrained in Swamishri's living. No matter what the
personal cost involved or consequences, he would without hesitation
carry out to the letter his guru's wishes.
Ningala is a small village, but filled with the devoted. They had
built a small temple hall and invited Yogiji Maharaj to install
the images of Lord Akshar Purushottam Maharaj. Yogiji Maharaj asked
that Pramukh Swami assist him.
The night prior to the installation ceremony an assembly was in
progress. A messenger from Gondal temple arrived. The messenger
had brought a letter. Yogiji Maharaj read the letter and without
saying a word passed it to Pramukh Swami who was sitting on a lower
seat next to him. The letter asked that Pramukh Swami be sent to
Gondal immediately on some urgent work.
Pramukh Swami stood up and asked Yogiji Maharaj, "Bapa! What
is your command?"
"Leave at once," said Yogi Bapa.
Pramukh Swami quickly left the assembly and instructed his two attendants
to prepare. On making inquires he discovered that a train from Botad
briefly stopped at Ningala station on its way to Gondal and further.
Swamishri hastened to the station which was a tiny office and primitive
platform several metres long.
As they waited the attendants suggested, "Swami, what if we
take a taxi." It was late, and they would reach Gondal after
loosing a night's sleep. If Pramukh Swami had urgent work he would
need to be rested.
As was usual Pramukh Swami had tucked a pillow under his arm. With
the pillow he also carried a small water pot and his pattar. In
the water pot he always safeguarded a bunch of important keys.
Replied Swamishri, "There's no need of a taxi, the train will
be here soon." He was loathe to spend extra money.
The next morning the devotees were disappointed that Pramukh Swami
was not present at the ceremony. Pramukh Swami himself by leaving
Ningala showed that he considered his own presence at such an important
function insignificant. To him Yogiji Maharaj's wishes were of supreme
worth. He had not once questioned the importance of his errand and
whether it could be postponed a few hours.
* * *
Once Yogi Bapa was touring northern Gujarat. He graced Varsoda village.
Pramukh Swami was with him.
In the afternoon canvas type sheets were hung up in a corner of
the temple hall, forming a partitioned area where Yogi Bapa and
Mota Swami could rest. Pramukh Swami himself spread an ochre coloured
sheet on a filthy uneven mattress, and lay down to rest, surrounded
by youths who were spending their vacation with Yogi Bapa.
Whenever someone entered the temple compound or spoke he would sit
up and quickly motion for silence. He would whisper, "Bapa
is resting. Mota Swami will wake up."
In the space of two hours he sat up some 15 times, wide awake in
guru devotion throughout.
June 19, 1966 saw Yogiji Maharaj in Limdi, not far from Surendranagar.
The next morning he was to go to Rajkot, a large town four hours
drive away. Pramukh Swami thought it best that Yogiji Maharaj's
attendant sadhus should leave for Rajkot early. They were to prepare
lunch and accommodations, so as Yogiji Maharaj's schedule not be
disturbed. He himself would travel with Yogiji Maharaj and see to
his every need. Pramukh Swami instructed Yogeshwar Swami, "You
are to leave early, and have lunch ready. We're to drive from Limdi
to Rajkot. It would not do to trouble Yogiji Maharaj."
Next morning Pramukh Swami explained the arrangements to Yogiji
Maharaj, who readily consented. He said to Yogeshwar Swami, "Jogeshwar,"
pronouncing the 'Y' as 'J', "obey the commands of this Swami.
But make sure you go straight to Rajkot, don't go anywhere else,
Pramukh Swami also cautioned the group, "Don't stop anywhere,
get straight there. Have lunch prepared and ready. Bapa will be
there by 11 to 12."
Four sadhus left, Yogiji Maharaj's attendants and Pramukh Swami's.
Cooking utensils they packed in a case which they tied down on the
Along their route several kilometres off the highway they would
pass Muli. It was here that Lord Swaminarayan had built his fifth
temple. The attendants not wanting to miss such a chance decided
to turn off the highway and quickly visit the temple for darshan
of the Deities. They calculated that with a little more speed they
could still get to Rajkot in time.
When they left Muli it was already ten thirty. Ahead the road dipped
to allow railway tracks to pass overhead. The railway bridge however
was low and as the car passed beneath the case and rack caught and
were ripped off. Pots, pans and ladles spilled to the dusty road.
The sadhus scrambled out and hastily repacked the case. Avoiding
the rack they bundled the case into the car with them. The car trundled
on. A few kilometres on their old and weary black Austin Morris
sputtered to a conclusive halt.
The driver hitched a ride in a passing truck and came back with
another car. They tied the two cars together and again began their
journey. They were hopelessly late. Worry gnawed them. What would
Pramukh Swami say? Yogiji Maharaj would be hungry and waiting.
At 1:30 they finally got to Narayanbhai Sheth's Rajkot home where
Yogiji Maharaj was to stay. Entering the house to their amazement
they saw Yogiji Maharaj silently eating whilst Pramukh Swami sat
to one side, lovingly serving him.
They later learned that Yogiji Maharaj had arrived at 11 on the
dot that morning. Pramukh Swami realising that the attendants had
not as yet arrived quietly seized the opportunity to serve his guru.
He prepared a seat for Yogiji Maharaj who began a katha to the gathered
devotes. In the meantime Pramukh Swami expertly prepared a delicious
lunch of rotli, daal, bhaat, two shaaks, thuli...
Yogiji Maharaj looked up at the sadhus. His face glowed with pleasure.
He explained the meal, "My Pramukh Swami made it. I did katha
and he cooked! We got here at 11 o'clock and Pramukh Swami immediately
began. Just taste the food. Beautiful!"
* * *
Even now, years after the passing of Yogiji Maharaj Pramukh Swami
Maharaj never misses a chance to convey to his sadhus and devotees
the greatness of his guru.
One early morning in 1987, in Sarangpur, Swamishri was taking his
early morning walk in the garden. A stone paved circular path had
been prepared. It was surrounded by blooming flower beds, lawns
and fruit trees. Sadhus sat bordering the walkway, singing kirtans.
As Swamishri approached the iron gateway he saw Brahmaprakash Swami,
potlu in hand. He had come from Amdavad two days ago and had now
come to ask for leave.
Swamishri signalled he come closer. Guessing that Swamishri wanted
to speak to him Brahmaprakash Swami put his potlu down, but Swamishri
said, "It does not matter, you may hold it." With that
Swamishri continued his walking, Brahmaprakash Swami struggling
to keep up next to him, heavy potlu slung over his shoulder.
"When are you leaving? Swamishri asked. "Have you had
breakfast? How many hours does it take to reach Amdavad?"
Brahmaprakash Swami was surprised at the questions. There really
was no need for them. Swamishri chatted on, his brisk stride never
breaking. With each step Brahmaprakash Swami's potlu felt heavier.
His shoulder, unaccustomed to carrying such weight, was becoming
sore. On the fourth lap Swamishri's walking period was over.
He patted Brahmaprakash Swami on the head and said, "You may
Brahmaprakash Swami could not contain himself. He asked tongue in
cheek, "Bapa, if you wanted to speak to me at length at least
you should have let me put my potlu down."
Chuckling, Swamishri replied, "It was so you would realise
how Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj had in their time carried
2-3 potlus at one time and walked for miles on end. However did
Another time Swamishri was writing letters in his room in New York.
Note pad on lap, sitting crossed legged on a gadi he was totally
immersed in his seva. An elderly devotee sitting in front of him
on the carpet commented, "Swami, when travelling in the villages
in the past it was rare for you to be offered even a mattress to
sit on. Even in such impossible times you've toured extensively."
Swamishri put his pen down. He said, "At least we got a mattress.
Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj never even had that much. They
slept in straw. In Ghogavadar Yogiji Maharaj slept in the cattle
shed. Ants and other insects would bite him. In the house would
be stored the peanut crop, so mice would be rampant. In other places
he would clean a corner in a room and put up there. In such horrible
conditions Yogiji Maharaj remained in uncaring bliss and spread
Satsang. We are a million times better off to receive even this
* * *
A natural result of Swamishri's gurubhakti is his high regard, even
reverence, for those who have served his gurus.
Harshad Chavda as an eager youngster had served in the Gondal temple
during Yogiji Maharaj's final years there. He would be seen constantly
scurrying from here to there, carrying buckets of hot water on cold
mornings, taking steaming tea up to a room, serving devotees faithfully
in whichever way he could.
In 1975, Swamishri had plans drawn up for a beautiful ornate gateway
to the Gondal temple. Yogiji Maharaj had always wanted such an entrance
built. Swamishri selected a design and decided to build in red and
pink stone. This was to be the first structure in such stone for
the Sanstha. He asked Harshad to travel to Bansipahadpur in Rajasthan
and make a preliminary survey.
Harshad Chavda: In reality, I knew nothing of stone and building.
First Swami Bapa sent me to Bansipahadpur (in Rajasthan) to get
stone samples for the Akshar Mandir gateway. It was Nom, (the ninth
of the first half of the month) so I had fasted. The whole place
was barren. I had to sleep by the well. Swami Bapa had explained
everything to me in detail, not just once, but many many times.
When I first stayed here and in Makarana for marble, he would write
lengthy letters giving strength and courage. Once he wrote, "For
years I myself have laboured with stone..."
Soon quarrying and carving operations began with Harshad overseeing
a small team of dedicated youths who managed the entire project.
Even before the Gondal gateway was completed Swamishri decided that
Rajasthani pink stone be used to build Akshardham, the magnificent
cultural exhibition and monument dedicated to Lord Swaminarayan
in Gandhinagar. This and other building projects kept Harshad and
his team almost frantically busy. One day driving on his motorcycle
he met with an accident, barely escaping with his life. He was given
emergency treatment locally and then taken to Bombay. Swamishri
was visibly distressed when told of the accident. He immediately
contacted the Bombay temple and commanded that Harshad's every need
be looked after. Swamishri wrote words of encouragement, reassurance
and strength to him:
Hearing the news caused me great sorrow...have prayed to Shriji
Maharaj and Gunatitanand Swami for your speedy recovery... Your
agony is our anguish... In such distress, I should be serving you
because you have selflessly offered seva over the years with unflagging
enthusiasm...continuously...day and night with no regard for hunger
or thirst...no regard for your body...service with such devotion.
Therefore, whatever can be done for you can never be enough... Thus
I feel sorry in not being able to physically serve you at this critical
In the short span of one month, Swamishri wrote no less than four
letters to Harshad! Totalling over 20 pages, the second letter read:
Don't worry in the slightest about any of your medical expenses...
Whatever the Sanstha can do for you is not enough to repay for the
service you've given over the years. To please Yogi Bapa, you've
paid no thought at all to hunger, thirst, insults or abuse. In the
environment of Bansipahadpur - hot, cold or rainy, you've done work
among troublemakers, even snakes...at considerable risk to your
life. Your seva can never be forgotten and the Sanstha has benefited
a great deal, thanks to your dealings with suppliers and workers.
Even if we have to spend a lakh (100,000) rupees or more for you,
the amount is immaterial. Your life shines even more than one who
has renounced the world...as you've sacrificed all to serve in the
Sanstha at one word from Yogi Maharaj. To serve with a constant
smile and tolerate is no child's play. Krishnakant and you...both
of you are truly loyal workers... What cannot be done for the two
Tribhakaka Patel was seriously ill in Bochasan. He had been serving
in the temple for 35 years. Prior to that he had settled in Kenya.
When he heard that there was a need for devotees to help run the
Bochasan temple he had immediately left family and wealth and returned
to India. Shastriji Maharaj commanded that he serve writing the
When Swamishri arrived in Bochasan he walked straight to Tribhakaka's
room and sat beside his bed. "Who is serving Tribhakaka?"
he asked. Prabodhjivan Swami was. "Serve Tribhakaka well understanding
his greatness. He has served both Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj.
It is your good fortune to have such a chance to serve him."