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The Inspirer and Present Guru of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha

He has a heart wherein the whole world can live

Neither Night, Nor Day:

"Bapa, the flour mill is new. Pour a cup of millet into it!" Swamishri obliged. "Now if you grind the millet I'll never lack for flour again!" Swamishri clasped the handle and turned the heavy stone, grinding the millet to please the devotee.
Once he was in Nadiad. Plans for his first world tour as guru were being finalised. It was 1974, three years since the passing of Yogiji Maharaj. And the hurricane speed touring continued unabated. He was fulfilling the words of Lord Swaminarayan. He would not rest. Leaving Nadiad after Mangala arti he stopped at Piplag and was in time for the Rajbhog arti in Bochasan. Lunch was up the road in Dharmaj. From there he visited Mehalav, the birth place of Shastriji Maharaj and attended the Sandhya arti in Vadtal. After an evening sabha in Dabhan, he visited the Jetalpur old school Swaminarayan temple 40 kilometres away and travelled on to Amdavad, arriving at the temple after midnight having sanctified more than 150 houses through the day.
The distances involved are huge. The roads lacking. Once it so happened that he had to travel from Madhi village near Bardoli to Vidyanagar a distance of some 250 kilometres. The next day he returned to Madhi. Another time Swamishri was in Piplag. He visited some fifty homes and went to Dabhan. He was later followed by several devotees from Piplag, "Swami, some homes got left out for padharamani." Swamishri put his pagh on and went back to Piplag to visit the extra homes. He returned to Dabhan after twelve that night.
On the 9th March 1979, Swamishri left Gariyadhar at about eight in the morning. It was ekadashi and so he was fasting nirjala - no food or water was allowed. First on his schedule were Morba, Charoliya, Kutana and Velavadar. In each he performed padharamani. Next was Mekada. There he graced a procession and gave blessings in a sabha, visited homes and quickly went on to Mota Bhamodara. A new temple had been built, Swamishri sat down in the yagna and later installed the images of Akshar Purushottam Maharaj. A general sabha had been organised that night in Jesar. Swamishri gave blessings there at eleven thirty, retiring to bed after twelve. He was exhausted, but his face glowed with satisfaction, he had been able to serve many devotees.
* * *
Thakorbhai of Baroda had requested Swamishri to visit his home. Swamishri was to pass nearby when he motored from Vaghodiya to Atladra and so accepted. He told Thakorbhai to wait by the roadside. However, as with almost everyday Swamishri was delayed by increased padharamanis. Thakorbhai had stationed himself at the roadside rendezvous by six that evening. Swamishri arrived at 1:30 in the morning. The devotee ran up to the car.
An attendant sadhu said, "Thakorbhai, say we come to your home tomorrow, its very late now..."
Before Thakorbhai could answer Swamishri intervened, "It won't take long! Thakorbhai has been waiting since evening... think of him! Follow him," he told the driver.
In Kurduvadi, Maharashtra, he visited a home at three thirty in the morning.
In the Saurashtra district Swamishri had been touring for several days. As his car passed the outskirts of a village a devotee standing by the roadside recognised Swamishri and waved. Swamishri had seen the wave and had the car stopped.
The devotee ran up to Swamishri's window. Gasping for breath he requested, "Won't you come to my house, Swami?" He could not be refused.
At his home he led Swamishri through all the rooms, asking him to sanctify them and scatter rose petals everywhere. He had him touch various cupboards and chests, stores and mattresses. Everything should be sanctified. Finally he pointed to a domestic flour mill operated by hand. "Bapa, the flour mill is new. Pour a cup of millet into it!" Swamishri obliged.
"Now if you grind the millet I'll never lack for flour again!" Swamishri clasped the handle and turned the heavy stone, grinding the millet to please the devotee.
* * *
South Africa, 1991
Swamishri left Lenasia to be driven to Pietermaritzburg. Crossing a distance of one hundred and seven kilometres in seventy two minutes, he entered Himatbhai Soni's house at 11:45 that morning.
A seat had been prepared in the front room. Swamishri sat down. A devotee touched his feet and prayed, "Swami, please grace my home."
Swamishri quickly said to the attendant sadhus and devotees, "The thal is still to be prepared. By the time it is ready we will be back, come on!" He also visited Kirit Patel's house, and another house under construction and a sweetmeat shop.
"Is this shop wholly vegetarian?" he asked.
"Yes, pure vegetarian! replied the owner. This pleased Swami. He taught that all Hindus should be total vegetarians. Swamishri always insisted that no matter what the doctors said Hindus should never eat meat or fish or eggs.
"But what of you two?" he asked the owner and his brother.
Both looked down embarrassed. Swamishri said quietly. "It does not matter. It is to be forgotten. Just as the shop is vegetarian, one's life should also be made so. What is the purpose of living by killing another. Firmly decide today to stop eating meat."
Before even thinking of a spiritual life a pure diet is essential. Swamishri was going back to basics. He said the brothers and their families should regularly attend the weekly Satsang sabha. It would bolster their faith and introduce them to other satsangis.
If he had to ask one family to eat only a healthy vegetarian diet, he would have to ask another to attend sabha. Each individual, or family was unique, necessitating a different approach.
In Kericho, Swamishri met a young man who had entered Satsang a number of years earlier. His whole family was devoted, the youth himself was a Swaminarayan but had slacked off in attending the weekly sabha. Swamishri asked, "Why is it like this?"
The youth replied, "Others attend the sabha! I feel I may start later on!" He was honest.
Swamishri knew the family well and their close links with Satsang. He was forceful, and a little sarcastic. "'The shops of other people are doing well! They will look after my customers!'" Do you ever think in this way? Never miss the Sunday sabha."
In 1984 he embarked on a lengthy world tour that covered five continents, visiting the homes of hundreds of devotees and lecturing at least once a day to huge assemblies. On his return he toured Gujarat extensively. In 1985 despite a constant fever he toured the Kanam area, visiting 95 villages in 20 days, doing over 700 padharamanis.
This latest spate of touring matched parts of his 1977 touring, when he had visited the arid area of Sabarkantha in mid summer, doing 87 villages in 27 days, and then in the Surat countryside doing 90 villages in 20 days.
Some sadhus commented, "Swami! In the summer, Bombay would be better, it wouldn't be so hot there." It was more of a suggestion. The climate was temperate, and rest was possible.
Swamishri's reply was unexpected. He logically explained his reasons for touring the villages in summer.
"The villages are better in the summer. In the monsoon the villages are filled with mud, it would be inconvenient for the devotees."
* * *
On 6 December 1973 it was ekadashi. Swamishri was in Vasad, he was fasting. By 8:30 after his morning puja he had begun padharamani. After the previous night's sabha 15 odd names had been listed. By three in the afternoon Swamishri had visited 122 houses! Along with him were four sadhus. They were thirsty and exhausted.
Doctor Swami: It was the first time Swamishri had done so many padharamanis whilst fasting on an ekadashi.
When Swamishri arrived back at his accommodation he immediately sat down to answer correspondence. After a while he said. "I think I'll rest for a while. "The attendants were more worried than amazed. This was the first time Swamishri had even hinted that he was tired. Dr. Swami checked his temperature. It had rocketed to 102 centigrade.
He asked, "Has the fever only just started."
Swamishri answered, "From this morning I've felt feverish." His voice was low and reluctant, as if he didn't want to reveal any more.
He rested for about half an hour and then at 5:30 left for Anand and Baroda, reaching Sundalpura at seven. He wrote some more letters despite the continued fever. The attendants asked that he break his fast and drink a little juice. He refused. They asked that he not attend the night sabha. Again he refused. After his blessings the sabha came to a finish at 11:45. Swamishri returned to his room and said chesta. By the time he lay down it was well past midnight.
During the 1984 world tour, Paul Greene of the BBC had asked in London, "Don't you feel tired travelling at this age." Swamishri was sixty four.
He replied, "The body has been given by God. The touring is God's work, and so I do not feel tired."
Ten years later in 1994, he was asked by a satsangi youth in Atlanta during a camp, "Don't you ever get bored with all this work?"
Swamishri was quick to answer, "Bored of what? To do this have I come. If we do something because our mind says to do it, boredom results. But doing something because the Satpurush has commanded entails no problems. If we sincerely desire to please God and His Sadhu then boredom never comes."

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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