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For decades Swamishri has been

guiding others towards God.

Inspiring them in times of

hardship; consoling them in

times of sadness, he has been a

constant source of light in their

lives when there has been only

engulfing darkness. But what

has been his source of inspiration

over the years? How has he

managed to remain composed

during incidents of both honour

and insult? What drives him to

push himself night and day in the

service of others? Delving into

the depths of his heart we find

the source of his light...
    His Source of Light
    Shastri Narayanswarupdas, Guru Shastriji Maharaj...

Purshottampura. A small village in Gujarat. Everywhere one treads, there are memories of Shastriji Maharaj. Young Narayanswarupdas often accompanied his Guru when he used to come here, and returned many times for work as President of the Sanstha. In 1986, now himself the Guru, Swamishri once again came to Purshottampura. In the presence of sadhu disciples he began to relive incidents with his Guru...
    Question 2
During a question-answer session with the sadhus of Sarangpur Temple...

Sadhus : Since your initiation you have been constantly progressing at a steady pace over the years. Today you are the guru. We realise that you are eternally great, but from a worldly point of view how did you make such progress?

Swamishri : There is only one explanation for such progress, ‘the thought that how can we please the guru’. For if he is pleased, that for us, is progress. And if he’s not pleased, then we don’t progress in any manner. The main fact is - we have found a true guru and lived according to his wishes. If we strive to please him then we will automatically progress. If we look at those who have made such progress, we can distinctly see that they kept their guru at the forefront in all their activities and obeyed all his agnas. So naturally they progressed. We can also see this in the lives of our gurus, Bhagatji Maharaj, Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj. Those who have progressed in Satsang have only done so due to the guru’s pleasure, the guru’s guidance and the guru’s blessings. No one can ever progress by their own efforts, intelligence or talents.

When Yogiji Maharaj passed away in 1971 and Sant Swami took you by the hand and seated you in Yogiji Maharaj’s place, what was your first thought?

Swamishri : What else could we think of! Shastriji Maharaj had entrusted us with this seva and by Yogiji Maharaj’s grace, everything was running smoothly. Basically we had the same responsibilities as before except that while Yogiji Maharaj was there, he was our umbrella. So we never had any tension. Whatever work we had to do, we would always consult him first. In return we got constant peace of mind, contentment and valuable guidance. But afterwards, we felt that even though he is still here as our shield, we will have to be more attentive in our work so that we can work with everybody properly. And also that we would have to work a little harder so as to please everybody. Naturally we felt that everyone should be pleased with us and that we should earn their blessings...
After that, everyone had enthusiasm and eagerness and the sadhus had the understanding that he has not gone. So we felt that if we did everything according to Maharaj’s wishes, everything would turn out fine. A lot of people encouraged us so we got a little courage to carry on. So from the beginning there was the thought that we want to fulfil our obligations to the best of our ability.

After being honoured or insulted you are able to act as if nothing ever took place. What thought is behind this stability?

Swamishri : We have seen many in Satsang who have had to face such honour and insults. Such incidents do happen. Once we have come into Satsang and developed understanding, then we don’t need to think that ‘I’ve been honoured or I’ve been insulted’. Such incidents will occur whilst we are trying to please God and our guru. But if they are pleased by us having to endure such incidents, we should be pleased with it and just keep on going forward. Then we won’t have any problems.
Didn’t Yogi Bapa often say? ‘Nane se ho nana rahiye...’ [We should be smaller than the smallest].
If we become like this, we will never be affected by honour or insult. Gunatitanand Swami tells us, ‘In this Satsang, we should think that everyone understands and only I don’t understand.’ We should see everyone as bigger than us and that we ourselves are smaller than everyone. If we can truly believe this, then we will never be affected by honours or insults in our lives.
However, when a worldly, ignorant man does something to us we should presume that he doesn’t understand and so there is no point in getting upset about it. We don’t need to worry that he said this or he did that. They are ignorant people, let them say, or write, or do as they please. And we’ll go our own way. By keeping such thoughts in our mind we won’t have any problems.

How have you come to realise the all-doership of Shriji Maharaj to such a fantastic level?

Swamishri : Everyone has to understand that! It is not for us alone to understand. Because, we are not capable of doing anything; God is doing it all. Without God’s wish we are not even capable of moving a dry leaf. Shriji Maharaj controls everything. We are not even capable of moving our arms and legs or even talking. So it is wrong for us to take false pride that ‘I did it’ or ‘It was all due to me.’ That’s a false claim. To realise that without Shriji Maharaj nothing can happen and that He does everything is also a form of bhakti and a sign of our humbleness as His servants.
Shriji Maharaj tells us in the Vachanamritam, ‘No matter how great or big we become, we should always remain God’s servants.’ God is the all-doer. Even if we attain His powers, still one thought should remain predominant in our lives - ‘I am His servant.’ We have to become a servant. We are never going to become God, that’s a fact. Our knowledge and our principles teach us that we should be servants here and even after we attain enlightenment. Our gurus have lived this way. They have never preached anything else but to become a servant.
Which principles should be firm in our hearts? That Shriji Maharaj is the Supreme God, the all-doer, He has a divine form and He is pragat before us. We must have total conviction in these four principles. And we should recognise God to be the all-doer every second of every day.
Swamishri reminisced about the difficulties experienced in celebrating the bicentenary birth celebrations of Gunatitanand Swami in 1985; the impending drought, rioting in the city, public outcry about the state of education and even the threat of war with Pakistan. Despite all this the festival was a great success. Regarding this.....

Swamishri : We feel that it was only due to God’s personal involvement through others and His grace that even in the midst of such a volatile climate we were able to celebrate the festival. Otherwise there were fresh rumours every second that ‘this will happen and that will happen...’. But we had only one belief at the time that this was Shriji Maharaj’s and Gunatitanand Swami’s work, and that Brahman was working through others and Shriji Maharaj is the all-doer. So even in such a tense atmosphere we were consoled by the belief that by Shriji Maharaj’s wish, everything will work out fine. That’s all. There has not been a single day during which we have been under tension or when we have not been able to sleep or anything like that. In our mind we were calm due to the knowledge that this is Maharaj’s mission; He is doing everything. It was His reputation and His work. We were only doing it to please Him and so we did not worry. And it turned out just fine - the best! Everyone felt 100% contentment.

How do you envisage this Sanstha a hundred years from now?

Swamishri : [jokingly] Who will be here in a hundred years time? Will you be here to see?... This is God’s and His Saint’s mission. Shastriji Maharaj was such a powerful man that everything he has done he has done so with the future in mind. He has thought a thousand years ahead! Shastriji Maharaj was the form of God. He could perceive the future! He had such divine vision and he was proficient in every way. From a worldly sense he was the most intelligent man on earth! No one was as clever as him. All his activities were carried out with such precision, intelligence and divinity that everything was always perfect. He has founded this Sanstha. He has drawn up the charter, organised the administration, all of which are simply remarkable!
And with him, there was Jogi Maharaj who helped to reinforce the foundations of the Sanstha. Yogi Bapa followed up by initiating 51 sadhus and by his wish, more sadhus came. Just by looking at them we feel that this Sanstha will really progress. There will be no problems of any kind. The organisation is so good. And the sadhus all have one conviction according to Swami’s preachings. Their lives are based on dharma, jnan, vairagya, and bhakti. Thus the sadhus will become unshakeable. Basically, God looks after His own work. Also, as such great sadhus have done this work the Sanstha will definitely expand. Those who founded this Sanstha could see the future and so they established this Sanstha, its rules and its traditions on such a firm basis. We are confident that there will always be such great sadhus in the future who will keep the mission running smoothly 100 years from now and beyond.
One after the other great Saints have manifested and more like them will follow. There are also such sadhus like all of you, and there are such devotees who, even today, are ready to surrender their all to this Sanstha.
Jogi Maharaj founded the Youth Organisation, thus ensuring that the future doesn’t become bleak. Then came the organising of the Bal Mandal. So there are already 3 generations! In this sense the Sanstha will progress nicely. There won’t be any problems!

In total we are over 400 sadhus and parshads (Jan. 1986). As our guru and our redeemer, what do you feel towards us and how do you look upon us?

Swamishri : There is an incident written in Satsangijivan. On the 13th day after the passing away of Ramanand Swami, Shriji Maharaj held an assembly of all the sadhus and devotees. A saint asked, ‘Maharaj! Now you are our guru and our redeemer. So for our benefit tell us what we should do and should not do, whatever it may be.’
Shriji Maharaj talked about dharma, ‘We should make dharma, jnan, vairagya and bhakti firm in our lives...’ and then He goes on to explain what we should and should not do. Basically, we have one objective and that is to please our God and our guru. By Yogiji Maharaj’s wish you have joined this mission. So we are constantly thinking of how we can help you master Ekantik dharma, enjoy the eternal bliss of God. And imbibe the qualities of seva and bhakti firmly into your lives and to renounce any trace of worldly defects. Naturally we feel it is good if you can imbibe all of these qualities. Because in the Vachanamritam it says, ‘A Satpurush has no concern for this world, he only desires God’s abode. He also wants to help anyone who comes to him, to attain the happiness he enjoys.’ Similarly, we want to help anyone who comes to us, to become as happy as we are, to do bhakti like we do, to develop love for God as we have and to develop a keenness to hear spiritual discourses. Thus we always stress the importance of these.
We hope in our mind that Shriji Maharaj makes all of you happy and resilient. Yogiji Maharaj used to say that may the sadhus develop the strength to travel here and abroad and spread our message. May they convince thousands of the Akshar Purushottam philosophy and fulfil Maharaj's and Swami’s ambitions that everyone does bhajan of Swaminarayan.

Which is your favourite Vachanamritam?

Swamishri : Well, we like all the Vachanamritams as they are all Maharaj’s words and so there is no question of likes and dislikes. But naturally we have an inclination towards Vachanamritam Gadhada III/7 in which Maharaj says, ‘For one who aspires redemption there is nothing in this world which gives him more happiness than God and His Saint.’ If we can make this belief firm in our heart, we will develop love and affection for God, who is present before us in the guru. So naturally we have an inclination for this statement and we feel that we should imbibe this in our life. Then we will be able to do whatever we have to for him. We have to forget our reputation, and whether our prestige increases or decreases, or whether our bodies survive or not. In fact no matter what happens we should have one conviction - that He is the only source of happiness. So if this body is going to fall - let it fall; if pain is coming our way - let it come; if we receive praise - so be it; if we are insulted - so be it. But we must be staunch in our minds that we want to stay here (at God’s lotus feet).
If we can achieve this understanding then we will be able to please Maharaj. That’s why we have a liking for this Vachanamritam.

(1 January 1986, Sarangpur)

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