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
* * *
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
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
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
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."