After You, My Lord:
"God cannot be seen like that.
You have to keep faith in the words of the spiritual master and
exert yourself spiritually. I can see God Himself within my guru.
Is there anything more to be said? God may come before us in any
form He pleases to!" In 1994 a teenager in London asked, "In the
midst of so much activity how do you remain so fresh." Swamishri
quietly answered, "Whatever I do, I do because I have been so commanded.
The responsibilities are not my burden but God's. Whilst so serving
I constantly remember the image of Maharaj and Swami." The teenager
had not expected such a revealing answer. Swamishri did not often
speak in such a manner. His words provided an insight into his spiritual
consciousness. He was teaching the ideal method of serving Maharaj
and Satsang. Remain within His commands, forget not the divine image
and believe Maharaj to be the all - doer, this would help to remain
humble. It was when the 'I' and 'My' arose that tensions started
and one forgot God and the spiritual master. A devotee in Bochasan
innocently asked, "Swami Bapa, all day long you patiently meet with
devotees and listen to their tales of unhappiness and problems.
When do you do bhakti?" Swamishri was amused. He laughed and answered.
"I perform bhakti continuously, without break. Every moment I think
of Maharaj and Swami, and along with that I also serve society in
this manner. I have come to distance the distress of those who are
unhappy." The devotee had had a shallow concept of devotion as being
limited to attending arti or doing puja or turning the rosary. He
learnt that the highest devotion was an unbroken communion with
God, and that Swamishri possessed this. In 1977, in London, the
children persuaded Swamishri to fill in a personal data form. Next
to hobbies, they pressed him to write 'cricket', bearing in mind
his interest in the sport as a child. Instead, Swamishri chose to
write: Worshipping God and inspiring others to do likewise. In Anand
During 1987 whilst on a visit to a doctor's surgery, Swamishri wrote
a recommendation for the doctor's young son on a prescription pad:
Devotion to God - daily.
London 15 May, 1994 David, his twin brother Daniel, and Richard
had come from Sussex especially to meet Swamishri. They are disciples
of 'Godavari Ma' of Nasik, India. Swamishri asked their reason for
coming. David began, "Four days ago, you appeared to me in my dream.
You explained to me what Nirvikalp Samadhi is. You even blessed
me with a brief experience. Does your Nirvikalp Samadhi stay 24
hours a day?" Swamishri said frankly, "We walk, we talk, we do everything
- but we keep God with us. So yes, it does." David asked, "How can
I achieve that?" "By the Guru's grace," Swamishri said instantly.
"You can achieve it by being faithful to the Guru's command." The
aspirant Englishmen returned many times over the following months
to see Swamishri. On 10th September, they told the sadhus, "Many
times Lord Swaminarayan and Pramukh Swamiji have given us darshan
in our dreams."
* * *
The climb to Kedarnath at over 12,000 ft. was arduous. The narrow
track that trailed up the mountainside was slippery with mud and
loose stones. To the left the valley dropped several hundred feet
into the river that almost bounced down from glaciers above the
Kedarnath temple. The sadhus had begun trekking at the very first
sign of sunrise. The morning was wet and misty and it remained so
throughout the day, clearing only briefly to give a flash view of
the brilliant mountains rising in the not to far distance. Swamishri
had been carried up in a carrier made by inserting strong sticks
through the supports of a deck chair. It was a 28 kilometre round
trip. By four in the afternoon darkness was falling with a light
rain. By five, it was almost dark but most of the sadhus had returned.
They were dangling their feet in the hot water spring at Gauri Kund,
the little shanty village that served as a base camp. The spring
had been excavated hundreds of years ago to form a square pool about
25ft. across and 15ft deep, with steps leading down. The water welled
up from the ground, releasing steam that hung heavy in the air.
A low drone filled the area as the sadhus crowded into the small
area, wanting to relax aching limbs and bones by soaking in the
water. A loud 'Jai' signalled Swamishri's arrival. At his age the
doctors had advised against the climb. The thin altitude, the weather
and strain were all bad for his heart. But he had been undeterred.
This was a pilgrimage so how could he back out due to a little body
difficulty? Lord Swaminarayan had climbed to Kedarnath as a twelve
year old after leaving home. Swamishri intended to follow and worship
at the sacred shrine. The doctors did not press. They realised that
it was Swamishri's devotion and reverence for holy places that was
propelling him. If he wanted to go they would let him. And as his
servants they would do everything in their power to make his journey
safe. They thus had taken with them medical kits and oxygen bottles.
Swamishri had surrendered to the will of Harikrishna Maharaj. He
was not worried in the least, but appreciated the concern everybody
felt. Nothing unto do had happened. Swamishri was helped off his
chair and led to the Kund. The sadhus jostled for a better darshan.
Swamishri descended several steps, with a bare body. An attendant
had taken his shoulder cloth. He said, "First let us bathe Harikrishna
Maharaj. He must be tired." Harikrishna Maharaj had been carried
up to Kedarnath by a sadhu. The water was hot so Swamishri had cold
water brought and the two mixed. For the next ten minutes he carefully
bathed the Lord, rubbing and massaging His every tiny limb, helping
Him to relax and enjoy the warm water. The sadhus watched on, singing
Vedic mantras. They felt their own devotion increasing just by watching
the perfect devotee, their spiritual master, engross himself in
serving the Lord. The mood was reverential. Other pilgrims stood
behind on tip toe watching the entire scene. The auspiciousness
of the moment wafted through the air attracting more pilgrims. The
locals said this was the first time such a guru had bathed there
and performed such devotion. It was also the first time so many
sadhus had bathed there at one time. Little did they know that Pramukh
Swami Maharaj was a world respected spiritual master. After ensuring
that Harikrishna Maharaj was rested, Swamishri himself descended
into the water and began bathing, sprinkling water over the sadhus
and pilgrims all around, praying for their happiness and well being.
After the cataract operations in Boston Swamishri was brought to
New York. Pravinbhai Patel of Staten Island bought Swamishri the
new pair of spectacles he would have to wear for a while. "Present
them to Thakorji first to sanctify them and then bring them here,"
Swamishri told an attendant sadhu. When this was done he said again,
"Now bring Thakorji here." When Harikrishna Maharaj arrived Swamishri
put the new spectacles on and first had His darshan. He seemed to
be saying that he had been gifted new sight by the Lord and with
his new eyes he wanted to have darshan. Swamishri then looked around
at the sadhus, and then the devotees.
* * *
London 3 April, 1984 Peter Snowden, a freelance photographer, had
come to the temple to see Swamishri. Vivekjivan Swami asked him,
"Would you like to ask any questions?" "I have this opportunity
but I don't know what to ask," Peter replied somewhat off-balanced.
"I am really honoured. I am a Baptist and it is really odd for me
to come to a Hindu temple." Then he stared at Swamishri for a few
moments and said with exhilaration, "Swamiji's eyes! They're fascinating!
His eyes are wonderful. I cannot look into his eyes." Peter took
a few photographs of Swamishri, particularly close-ups of the eyes.
Then with traditional British manners, he asked, "Can I touch Swamiji?"
Swamishri just watched on innocently as the photographer carefully
stretched out his hand. Peter then had a photograph taken of himself
with Swamishri. When he left the room, he was shaking his head in
disbelief. "The experience was mind-blowing! My mind was silenced.
He seems very peaceful and calm. I can't describe him. Whether my
boss will pay me or not is immaterial. I have gained a personal
experience. Tomorrow I'll go to church and in our meeting when we
are asked of any special experience I'll talk about Swamiji." San
Fernando, Trinidad 29th June, 1988 Prime Minister of the West Indies,
Mr. Robinson, had come to the assembly, but with only an hour to
spare. As the hour passed away, Dharmavatsal Swami approached him
to escort him out of the assembly. Mr. Robinson politely asked,
"Is it O.K. if I stay a little longer?" He stayed till the end of
the assembly. When Dharmavatsal Swami asked the reason for allowing
himself to stay and disturb the rest of his tight schedule, he said,
"I felt great peace here. This is the first time in my life I have
experienced such peace."
* * *
A new comer youth in Rajkot asked, "Have you seen God?" "That is
the reason for my blissfulness and because I have seen Him do I
talk about him," Swamishri answered. The youth was surprised. "Is
God before your eyes?" he questioned again. "Yes, He is before me."
"Then show Him to me." "God cannot be seen like that. You have to
keep faith in the words of the spiritual master and exert yourself
spiritually. I can see God Himself within my guru. Is there anything
more to be said? God may come before us in any form He pleases to!"
The youth left, deeply moved by Swamishri's simple admission.