On the 14th of December 2022 in an evening charged with divinity, the grand inauguration ceremony of the Pramukh Swami Maharaj Centenary Festival was conducted in Ahmedabad. Widely admired leader of not just India, but also of the entire world, our very own Prime Minister honorable Shri Narendrabhai Modi was more than happy to flag off the centenary festival. After the inauguration ceremony, seated in a golf cart, he was taken around the entire venue to see the various inspiring exhibitions on display. While he was being taken around, the thousands of people, who were present at the venue were joyous to see him, and started cheering by waving their hands as a gesture of greeting. When he was informed that these are all volunteers out here, who are waving their hands to greet you, the Prime Minister said, 'Count me in as a volunteer too. One volunteer waving to another.!'
The 75th birth anniversary of Pramukh Swami Maharaj was being celebrated in Mumbai as Amrut Mohotsav. On the day marking the birth anniversary, thousands of devotees from both India and abroad had thronged to the festival site. Everyone was excited to greet Swamiji. On the morning of the day Swamiji arrived at the celebration ground in a car. Several saints and devotees were standing around the vehicle. Swamiji opened the car door personally and came out. The saints standing in front of him said, 'Swami! Why did you open the door? Today we have to offer special worship to you.' Smilingly, Swamiji replied with all humility, 'No. Today I have to be a volunteer.' This was one of the most consistent virtues of Swamiji: volunteering and serving each and everyone throughout his life. Such an exemplary volunteer was Swamiji.
Similarly some few years ago, Modiji had attended another grand BAPS international festival in Gujarat. He was sitting near Swamiji, when his eyes fell on the soles of Swamiji's holy feet, which gave rise to a thought in his heart to keep his focus on the lines on the soles of Swamiji's feet.This gesture of Modiji did not go unnoticed by Swamiji. He said to Modiji, 'Both of us are born to serve people.'
Yes. Swamiji was synonymous with service. He has set a benchmark for service in the country and the entire world as well. The message that one's whole life is to serve can only be given by those who have service ingrained within every cell of their being. Swamiji was such an individual who inspired the spirit of service in millions by being a volunteer himself in the first place. Volunteering means doing one's own work as well as doing the work of others. Also, wherever necessary, to immediately do any work that seems important and indispensable without even a moment's delay is a sign of volunteering.
There are hundreds of such incidents that we can observe from Swamiji's life where he did not wait even for a micro second to volunteer in doing any kind of work or carrying out any task that seemed immediate and urgent
In the year 1970, Yogiji Maharaj had arrived in England. One day, he had gone to a devotee's place to have lunch alongwith other saints. Tyagavallabh Swami was taking care of all the cooking arrangements. But, due to lack of time, he was not able to spread out paper on the carpet to arrange dishes and bowls on it for serving food to the devotees.
He was very busy with cooking and was also making arrangements outside to serve the meal. That is why he would be frequenting from inside the kitchen and outside. This continued for sometime. Pramukh Swami Maharaj understood his plight. He himself started making arrangements to serve the meals outside and asked tyagvallabh swami to concentrate on cooking a perfect meal. Swamiji could have entrusted this task to other youths and saints. But instead of doing that, he himself took up the task. Swamiji was the epitome of an exemplary volunteer.
Years ago, Swamiji arrived in Sarangpur to celebrate Jaljeelani Ekadashi. On the next day, after partaking their meal all the devotees took leave. In the afternoon, when the attendant Saint got up, he saw that Swamiji's bed was unoccupied. So, he went to check that whether Swamiji had gone to take his bath. But instead, the attendant Saint saw that Swamiji was cleaning the toilets all by himself. What had happened was that the toilet on the rear side was very soiled due to lots of people using it during the festival and leaving it unclean. So, Swamiji would bring a bucket filled with water from the nearby tank and clean the toilet by scrubbing it with a broom. The saint reached there and tried to stop him saying, ' Swamiji..please stop. I will clean it.' but instead Swamiji told him: 'You bring the water and I will clean it.' And so, the saint would go to the tank, fill the bucket and bring water, while Swamiji would keep cleaning the toilet.
Hence, right now on the occasion of the Shatabdi Mohotsav, I saw in every nook and corner 80,000 volunteers cleaning the toilets or small children keeping the venue very clean in the entire 600 acres. At its root lies Swamiji's values of volunteering. To that extent, Swamiji has even cleaned the houses of devotees without a moment's hesitation. He has not done any work or service superficially.
Once Swamiji was in Anand, Gujarat. The house, which was assigned as his place of residence was newly built. Even the mosaic tiles that were installed in the toilet and bathroom were entirely new. So the tiles still had stains of cement and paint. Everything looked pretty shabby. When Swamiji went for his bath, he saw these stains and immediately started cleaning the tiles by pouring water on them. He cleaned the tiles as far as his hand could reach. The attendant saint who saw this immediately stopped him and said, 'Swami, please don't do this. We will do it. We are here to stay for only a day and a half so why take so much trouble!'
Swamiji replied: 'That doesn't work. When we leave from any place where we have stayed, we should leave it in a better way than how we found it. Householders don't get time to clean. If we clean it, we would have done our service!'
This article is written and submitted to The E Today by Sadhu Amrutvadandas. We thank swamiji for his research and analysis and hope to see the awareness about life and peace being spread ahead to larger mass of our citizens.