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The Inspirer and Present Guru of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha

He has a heart wherein the whole world can live

Yogijimaharaj Has Not Left Us:

"Swami, you are guru. We are not Godbrothers! You are guru and we are your disciples. We have to live according to your commands. Yogiji Maharaj has pointed to you.
Yogiji Maharaj had abandoned his mortal body. It was unthinkable, unbelievable. Not possible. The small, tidy hospital room took on vast proportions. Yogiji Maharaj had been heart and soul. The young sadhus that stood around his still figure had given up family and career, ambition and life to be with him, serve him and worship Lord Swaminarayan through him. And now he had left, choosing 23 January 1971, Posh vad ekadashi.
Pramukh Swami broke the hideous spell. At once he was consoling and directing cremation preparations. Phone calls were made. Satsang seniors consulted, the mass media informed. Around him a whirlwind of activity pushed thoughts of grief to a dark private corner. He galvanised the sadhus and devotees into urgent preparation.
The chartered plane landed at the seldom used Rajkot airstrip. Thousands awaited, praying for a last glimpse of the spiritual master they loved so dearly. Yogiji Maharaj was gently carried out. As Pramukh Swami directed, his delicate form was placed on an open jeep to be driven to Gondal. Pramukh Swami had decided on Gondal as the best cremation site. Yogiji Maharaj would have wished it.
As the jeep moved towards Gondal, 35 kilometres away, a cavalcade followed behind. The winter morning was biting. Pramukh Swami sat engrossed in darshan beside the guru he had faithfully served for so long. The whipping wind fluttered his shoulder cloth madly about him. Yogiji Maharaj was laid out on ice, the wind rushing over his exposed body. He remembered how Yogiji Maharaj always avoided the cold. Even in the hottest summers Yogiji Maharaj refused a fan. The thought hurt deeply. Pramukh Swami instinctively took off his shoulder cloth and covered his gurus body with it, neatly tucking it in under the chin. In Gondal the final cremation rituals were performed, after which Yogiji Maharaj, richly garlanded, was gently placed an a special chair - throne and carried around the temple in circumambulation several times, and then taken to the cremation site where neatly arranged logs and sandal wood formed the pyre.
Tens of thousands of people watched Pramukh Swami hold the burning straw in both hands as he circumambulated the funeral pyre. Senior sadhus followed suit. In traditional Hindu fashion Pramukh Swami set alight the logs of sweet smelling wood, entrusting to the flames his spiritual master. As the flames rose and cracked, the heat pushed him back several steps. He watched lost in thought. His half grown beard masking his grief.
"Yogiji Maharaj has not left us," Sant Swami's voice boomed over the public address system. "He is present before us in Pramukh Swami Maharaj. He is our Guru..."
The jam packed assembly listened. Sant Swami was a giant in his own right. Initiated by Shastriji Maharaj, he was respected for his saintliness and scholarship. No one denied his spiritual realisation. He had faithfully served Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj. Now he was revealing to the devotees the truth he had seen and learned from Yogiji Maharaj. Yogiji Maharaj and Shastriji Maharaj were present in the form of Pramukh Swami Maharaj. He was now guru, to be obeyed and served, loved and revered. Sant Swami cited words uttered by Yogiji Maharaj many times, but which had then fallen on deaf ears. "From now onwards Pramukh Swami will carry on my work... Pramukh Swami is my everything."
Sant Swami was clear. There were no doubts in his mind. His confidence was convincing and reassuring. The void seemed not so vast now. Yes, sorrow was there, but Yogiji Maharaj hadn't really gone. He was present in another form. Those who were old enough turned back to Shastriji Maharaj's demise. There had been anguish, pain, sorrow, "an unfillable void," but Yogiji Maharaj had so easily won their love. They had experienced Shastriji Maharaj in Yogiji Maharaj. Now surely they would experience Yogiji Maharaj in Pramukh Swami.
Indeed, without him even asking or demanding they had surrendered to him as disciples. To obey him was their declared dharma. His every wish was a command. "Swami, you are guru. We are not Godbrothers! You are guru and we are your disciples. We have to live according to your commands. Yogiji Maharaj has pointed to you. It is we who have to pray to you that just as Yogiji Maharaj gave us happiness, cared for us, led us ahead and forgave our weakness, please also do likewise."
It is no wonder that soon the entire Satsang Fellowship was enchanted with Swamishri. He was the natural guru.
Sadhu Bhaktipriyadas (Kothari Swami, Bombay): Living with Brahmaswarup Yogiji Maharaj I was convinced in mind that only Yogiji Maharaj could attract the youth mind, and through affection lead them to dharma, niyam and bhakti. No other person in this universe could do this.
After Yogiji Maharaj's passing, I attached my mind to Pramukh Swami Maharaj whom Yogiji Maharaj had called 'his everything' and the 'very form of Shastriji Maharaj'. Nevertheless, in the beginning the feeling remained that Yogiji Maharaj was Yogiji Maharaj, Pramukh Swami Maharaj would not be able to pull minds like he did. But within a very short time Pramukh Swami Maharaj distanced this delusion.
Sadhu Tyagvallabhdas: In the beginning, memories of Yogiji Maharaj would come. But whilst touring I had to stay with Swamishri often. Then I would get the chance to serve him personally. Just as I had served Yogiji Maharaj personally as opportunity arose I served Swamishri. In this way love for him grew.
Sadhu Keshavjivandas (Mahant Swami): When Yogi Bapa went to Akshardham I thought, 'that's it, the play is finished! It's gone forever!' But Pramukh Swami gradually took up the work in such a way that before I knew it - I was coupled to him...
Just as sadhus initiated by Yogiji Maharaj soon found themselves mesmerized by Swamishri, older sadhus initiated by Shastriji Maharaj were similarly taken up. They had now experienced the departing of two gurus, Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj, and now they were witness to both those personalities merged in Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
Swamishri's heart reached out to embrace Satsang. He had loved Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj dearly, and had watched and helped as they had painstakingly built the Sanstha. He was witness to the enormous sacrifices the sadhus and devotees had made. He respected them. They were fellow travellers on a long and hard journey. And now he was to lead. He was at the helm. His companions were now under his care, and many more would join. They were part of the Sanstha family. They belonged to Shastriji Maharaj and Yogi Bapa. He felt an overriding commitment to do the utmost he could. No matter what the cost to himself.
This committal, respect and love for Satsang and its members have stood the test of time and from the very first days have aroused in sadhus and devotees a similar committal, respect and love. For Satsang, and himself.

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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