As we all know that Pramukh Swami Maharaj was very fearless. He was always steadfast and patient and possessed a bravado while working under any difficult circumstances and even while answering the toughest of questions.
In 1981, the Bicentenary Festival of Bhagwan Swaminarayan was being celebrated in Ahmedabad. On that occassion, the silver jubilee convention of Akhil Bharat Sadhu Samaj was also held at the festival venue in the auspicious presence of Swamiji. In the course of the convention, Shri Harinarayananandji, the then General Secretary of the Sadhu Samaj put forward a proposal to invite a national level lady leader as a special guest on the main stage. At that time Swamiji told him: 'You may do that, but as per the order prescribed by Lord Swaminarayan, we will not be able to attend that meeting. So kindly please excuse us.'
Social reformer writer and critic Ishwarbhai Petlikar once said to Swamishri that 'if you want to increase the growth of your sect, then you should make concessions in the rule of celibacy for sadhus.' In his response, Swamishri calmly replied: 'We do not believe in preaching at the expense of the rules prescribed by God. We do not wish to conduct such satsang by giving concessions in the rule of celibacy for sadhus. We are not worried about the growth of our satsang. That is in the hands of Lord Swaminarayan, but it is in the hands of the sadhus to follow the rules prescribed by Him! Many well known people who are our well wishers tell us that because you adhere to such strict restrictions, you won't be able to do much. That's alright !. We will do the best we can, then ultimately it's God's will. If it's His Will that we will just sit in one corner and worship God!' If Mr. Petlikar were alive today, he would have been very happy to see how Satsang has spread at a global level without even the slightest relaxation in the vows of the sadhus!
Responding to a similar suggestion of the former Finance Minister of India Shri H. M. Patel , Swamishri unhesitatingly said: 'It is not possible for us to change the rules of celibacy for a sadhu, which are prescribed by Lord Swaminarayan.'
Well-known journalist Kanti Bhatt asked Swamishri in an interview: 'Have you ever given it a thought that you should change in accordance with contemporary times and relax the vows of celibacy for the sadhus?' Swamishri firmly replied: 'What we are following is absolutely right. There is nothing to change in that context, even if we appear orthodox in doing so, it doesn't matter. But Lord Swaminarayan has said that the rules given to us are to be preserved exactly. We do not harm anyone by observing them! Whether people like it or not, the right thing for us is to follow God's command! Thus, in this manner, Swamiji would always remain firm in his observance of Lord Swaminarayan's vows for the sadhus and he would studiously and meticulously explain them to all such intellectuals and provide them with a deeper understanding of their relevance.
Some people give in under the pressure of the influence of such people. But swamiji was never ever adversely affected by anyone. Neither someone's financial strength, power or position ever adversely influenced swamiji. Can the brightness of millions of stars shine out the sun?
Yes, it is true that Swamiji used to accord everyone their due respect and dignity. Every individual was received with great affection and with due regards.
Such was the very persona of Swamiji. As, he himself was fearless, he could create such an atmosphere for others. People became courageous in his presence. One word or a sentence from Swamiji was enough to do so.
Swamiji was once in Delhi. A very renowned industrialist came to seek his blessings. Swamiji met him with love. The attendant saints acquainted Swamiji with the achievements of the industrialist. Swamiji was pleased and while blessing him, gave him prasadam. After being blessed by Swamiji, the industrialist on his way out told the saints about his divine experience with Swamiji. He said that Swamiji will never be influenced by money. And it is for this very reason, Swamiji is not pressured by anyone. In a very brief meeting, the industrialist was able to sense this special virtue of Swamiji.
Once, there was a meeting being held in Swamiji's presence to discuss a project. Swamiji was not too keen about this project. A lot of benefits with regards to the project were enumerated in the course of the meeting. But Swamiji didn't give his approval. When Swamiji himself disapproved, there always was some strong reason behind it. He wouldn't just approve or disapprove anything simply on a whim. Every decision of his would have a strong logic and reasoning. Guaging Swamiji's displeasure, one of the members said, 'Swami! this is a risk worth taking. Just say yes.' Swamiji smiled and immediately said, 'In my life I have taken many such risks.' Everyone fell silent on hearing this ironic reply. This is absolutely true. No one can measure up to the works of Pramukh Swami. To even step into his shoes and to give him any kind of suggestion regarding taking risks would be to do him gross injustice. Swamiji has performed innumerable tasks with a kind of courage that is beyond our imagination.
Again, people have observed an extraordinary and an ever inexhaustible power in Swamiji's every word which would impart a kind of indescribable strength to every individual who partook it. Sometimes by leading the devotees, or sometimes by just following their progress, or sometimes just by walking alongside with them, Swamiji has always stayed with the devotees and provided inexhaustible strength. Swamiji used to provide vigour to those who were weak and had lost all hope by giving them assurance, 'Don't worry. I m with you.'
These words were more than enough to revitalize any person in the world to walk not only on the path of spirituality but also to face any situation in life.
They not only gave strength and courage but also worked like an invisible safety net by which a person would instantly feel fearlessness. Such was Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
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.