President: “Tell me
which class do you study in?”
President: “Why not
4A? You must excel. Excel in everything.”
With these inspiring words President Kalam
greeted one of the traditionally costumed children who welcomed
him during his second visit to Swaminarayan Akshardham.
On Monday, 11 September 2006, at 8.00 pm,
The President of India, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam arrived at Swaminarayan
Akshardham, New Delhi, with his friend Dr. Y S Rajan to visit
HDH Pramukh Swami Maharaj, who had recovered from a recent illness.
It was a remarkable meeting of spiritual and scientific minds.
Before the meeting the President spared some time to see Akshardham
illuminated by the evening lights; he marvelled at the musical
fountain, was overwhelmed and absorbed by the Giantscreen film
Neelkanth Yatra and asked a revealing question while seeing
the Gajendra Peeth:
President: ”How many elephants?”
President: “Oh my!
How do you maintain them?”
Sadhu: “Through volunteers.
850 volunteers serve on the campus.”
What a great thing; such voluntary spirit is necessary to maintain
and elevate our society as well.”
We present some excerpts from the inspirational
spiritual dialogue between Swamishri and the President.
President: I saw the movie
of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. So beautiful. What a creation! What
a creation! I believe Akshardham is really going to make a great
influence in human life. Not only in India, but (upon) whoever
sees it, and it is going to have an impact on human life. How
a good human life will emanate (from Akshardham). That is my
Swamishri: Bhagwan Swaminarayan
came with a divine wish. He incarnated to redeem one and all.
In his Shikshapatri (sacred scripture), he has written “sarvajivahitaavaha”.
May all souls be blessed with goodness, may the good wishes
of all be fulfilled. He came upon earth with this benevolent
wish. Moreover, our Guruji, Yogiji Maharaj often prayed, “God!
Do good of all.” Hence, due to the wish and will of God
and the blessings and grace of our Guru, all this (Akshardham)
has been possible. Therefore, just as you have said, Akshardham
touches and transforms human beings and shall inspire feelings
Sadhu: Bhagwan Swaminarayan
came on this earth for the good and welfare of everyone and
everything – all forms of creation.
President: For all the forms
of creation! It is needed. Yogiji Maharaj’s message, and
also Guruji’s message – Maha Pramukhji’s message
– are really very important today. The world is highly
turbulent. We need a message first for human beings. They should
live at peace with themselves. Today, anything that can be done
for that, we must all do it. Definitely, Akshardham can play
a very important role.
When I saw that beautiful picture…
It is not a picture, it is a glorious, glorious image of how
the world can be, the future world, how it should be. How it
should live with peace. That is what I saw in that movie. But,
one thing that occurred to me is that the child Swaminarayan,
he can move around India, the whole of India and change even
hard-headed people, demons, animals, then why not human beings!
We all can be so at peace. And Maha Pramukhji you can really
play a very important role.
Swamishri: This was one
of the prime principles of Bhagwan Swaminarayan: transformation
of life, not conversion of religion. He believed in transforming
inner instincts – the evil nature of people – and
creating good human beings. In his presence animal-like, violent
people became devotees. Bhagwan Swaminarayan never spoke of
conversion of religion. Rather he encouraged Hindus to become
good Hindus, Muslims to become good Muslims, Christians to become
good Christians. He also dissolved the differences of caste
and class and accepted all with equality.
President: Yes, it’s
a great life!
Swamishri: In Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s
time, his disciples belonged to all backgrounds and beliefs:
Miyaji, Dosa Tai,... from all castes and creeds; even Parsis,
Christians and Muslims came to Bhagwan Swaminarayan and unto
one and all he urged them to follow their own faith and live
President: Oh! That’s
a beautiful life. Beautiful. Maha Pramukhji, it is the second
time I have come to this beautiful holy place. And seeing this
place you get a lot of peace. And also it is about learning.
Every time you see it, you are learning. So I have some ideas.
Maha Pramukhji, it’s like this. You know, we both of us
should set guidelines in life. We must give to our society guidelines
of how to achieve peace, prosperity and happiness among the
various types of people in India. They are not that happy. They
are not at peace. So we have to bring that peace.
Swamishri: Your inner feelings
are sublime. These are beautiful thoughts; thoughts inspired
by God. Thoughts of inspiring and elevating others are thoughts
which normally come to great enlightened people. You are a blessed
soul, a punyatma with many spiritual virtues in this life, and
a myriad merits from your past lives. We must think of ways
of not only doing good of our nation but the whole world. May
the whole world benefit. May all the ills and evils of the world
be eradicated and people become good and cultured. Such is your
inner wish, and it is very noble. God will help us fulfil it.
Let us pray to Him. (Swamishri lovingly introduced the murti
of Harikrishna Maharaj to the President.) This murti of God
comes from the time of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. Thereafter his
spiritual successors Gunatitanand Swami, Shastriji Maharaj and
Yogiji Maharaj… he daily worshipped Hari-krishna Maharaj
for 60 years. This murti is divine and miraculous. Today, we
have presented our thoughts before God, so God shall surely
President: (With faith and
joy the President folded his hands in prayer.) These thoughts
should become our thoughts. Maharaj… our joint prayer.
Swamishri: It is because
God is the inspirer in both you and me. (Once again Swamishri
pointed to Harikrishna Maharaj.)
President: Maha Pramukhji,
another point that I would like to bring to your attention.
You know, may be thousands come here daily. In this Akshardham
4.2 million people have visited so far. I personally believe
that at least a thousand lives have been touched by this place.
Akshardham will have touched a thousand lives. Somebody would
have left their drinking. Somebody would have left their gambling.
Somebody’s divided family would have got united. Some
people would have changed their ways to live a good life. What
you should do is that you must interact with them... (Select)
about a hundred experiences and bring out a book. That book
will really change thousands and thousands of other lives. You
know what I mean? Thousands and thousands of lives will be changed.
Just like you told me (referring to the sadhu), how people after
seeing Akshardham, left their drinking or their gambling, or
families united, or religions united… such extreme cases.
In 4 million people, at least a thousand good cases you must
have. That research you must do.
Swamishri: It is a good
thought. After visiting Akshardham, the lives of people are
transformed. They improve themselves, give up addictions –
a collection of such thoughts will greatly inspire others. We
shall sincerely implement your idea.
President: Yes, very good...
Now ask me some questions. Any question you want to ask.
Sadhu: Everyone tells us,
even the people who work with you, that you are one of the humblest
of persons. How do you maintain this humility?
President: God’s grace.
(Humbly laughs) God’s grace. That is the only thing, is
Swamishri: You are very
humble, natural and simple, and also possess many virtues and
culture. Moreover, humility is a divine virtue which is readily
seen in you.
President: Let me tell you
a story. There is a book written by Imam Ghazali a thousand
years ago. He was a saint, Imam Ghazali. One day, Imam Ghazali
was going for namaz. It was evening time, so he was going for
namaz. Then Iblis saw the pir. You know Iblis? Satan. He is
also a great learned man, because God created him also. So,
Satan sahib came to him, to Imam sahib. Satan told him that
he was coming from heaven. “It has been decided…
God feels that you are already in heaven. Your work is so good
that God has already decided to take you to heaven. So you don’t
need to do your prayers. You stop your prayers.” This
is Iblis, you know, he was Satan. So he wanted to change him.
How Imam will change? Imam said, “I believe I am a devotee
of God. My mission is to pray to him. To give all my love to
him, and it is his wish that I must pray. God’s wish that
I must pray.” He went on praying. So, Satan was defeated.
Swamishri: It is also our
principle, to pray to God only and live for the sake of God
only. Whatever we do is an offering to God. We are not doing
anything for ourselves, or for anyone else. Always adhere to
President: Anyway Swamiji,
for me it was a beautiful and a very peaceful visit. Thank you
for giving me the…
(With an unbroken flow Swamishri continued
with his deeper revelations and the President listened with
absorbed attention, unaware of anyone around him. Just the two
of them. The atmosphere was ethereal, everyone was transported
into a higher realm.)
Swamishri: The eternal spiritual
truth is to overcome differences, to transcend our body! Till
we believe ourselves to be the material body, we will feel that
we are doing everything. This belief is false, untruth. We believe
our wealth and possessions to be ours, but that too is perishable.
The ultimate principle is to eradicate I, mine and my achievements.
To eradicate this one has to become one with Aksharbrahma and
offer devotion to God. To become aksharrup is also known as
brahmarup. He who has resolutely realized himself as brahmarup,
that he is brahma, he transcends everything, becomes enlightened.
Whether someone abuses him, insults him, and hates him, he rises
beyond everything; beyond caste or class. He has no feelings
of position or power; only one feeling of being a devotee of
God, his servant! By realizing oneself as being brahma, one
remains untouched by any suffering and there will be peace,
only peace. When we realize this, God’s divine grace and
blessings fill us, and we are liberated of all ills and faults.
All differences cease to exist! You are a Muslim, I am a Hindu,
I am a Sadhu, you are the President – these differences
dissolve away. He who is spiritually enlightened has no ego
of power or position.
(Feeling fulfilled and satisfied, the President
slowly picked out a handwritten note from his pocket. With profound
feelings, he read out two Sanskrit sentences from the Vedas
in form of a prayer.)
President: These last two
sentences, Maha Pramukhji, I want to say. Pashyema Sharad Shatam,
Jevema Sharad Shatam. (May you see a hundred years, may you
live a hundred years.)
Swamishri: (As everyone
present welcomed the President’s sentiments of love, Swamishri
said with a gentle, humble laugh.) With me, Rashtrapatiji, even
you too will have to live. And also Rajan.
President: (Joy and laughter
filled the room.) Yes, all of us hundred. A hundred plus!
Swamishri: This is also
the spiritual truth of the Gita: “The soul is eternal;
it never dies.”
These final spontaneous words of
Swamishri lit up the room, the inner space and souls of everyone
with spiritual inspiration. If preserved, it would never see
darkness again; an experience beyond space and time.