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The Inspirer and Present Guru of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha

He has a heart wherein the whole world can live

Guru Bhakti:

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, OK."
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 roof rack.
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 leave now."
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 they manage!"
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 much."
* * *
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 and night with no regard for hunger or 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 time.
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 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 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 of you?
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 accounts.
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."

Gunatitanand Swami Bhagatji Maharaj Yogiji Maharaj Shastriji Maharaj Pramukh Swami Maharaj Bhagwan Swaminarayan Gunatitanand Swami Bhagatji Maharaj Yogiji Maharaj Shastriji Maharaj Pramukh Swami Maharaj Bhagwan Swaminarayan

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