In the year 1985, the Bicentenary Festival of Aksharbrahm Gunatitanand Swami was being celebrated at Ahmedabad. As a hosting venue, a beautiful and inspiring Swaminarayan Nagar was planned meticulously. It had many attractive features including elaborate entrance gates, which were designed in various styles mainly by artists hailing from Bengal. During the course of the festival, a sudden fire broke out at the main entrance of Swaminarayan Nagar due to an accidental short circuit. And in no time the entrance gate went up in flames with smoke billowing out. Within a matter of few minutes the flames started engulfing more than half of the gate. The decorations were also going up in flames damaging even the Idols and other artefacts. Immediately all the Saints and volunteers reached there and doused the fire by pouring water. But half of the main gate that had caught fire was totally charred. The idols were also badly damaged. All the saints, devotees and volunteers were standing speechless in front of the gate. When Pramukh Swami Maharaj reached there, everyone began briefing him about the whole incident. Swamiji was patiently listening to everything with total calm.
Immediately, a discussion took place regarding the entrance gate. During the course of discussion there was a suggestion to demolish the remaining part of the gate since half of it was totally burnt and turned almost into ashes. So it was better to pull it down and later erect something else at that spot. But at that moment, Swamiji placed immense faith in the skills of the saints and volunteers and told that we should not do anything like that. We should recreate the burnt part in a manner that it looks as good as the remaining part such that people will not be able to figure out which part was burnt. The saints and devotees started staring at each other. Everyone was taken by surprise. But they all realised that Swamiji had placed immense trust in them. And so, the saints and devotees volunteers immediately joined in the repairing of the entrance gate following Swamiji's direction. Decoration was a new art for all of them. But everyone joined in headlong, putting their best efforts, and the gate was repaired in quick time. People who came to visit could not even make out that this gate had caught fire.
Swamiji's leadership was such that he could turn something as fears as fire into something as fabulous as a flower. He used to place his trust on all the saints and devotees, which would inspire and breathe new life into them. Realising that Swamiji had such unwavering trust in them, they too felt determined to live upto that trust. Swamiji's immeasurable trust in the saints, devotees, volunteers and workers developed huge self confidence in them due to which they were able to do such great work which seemed impossible at first.
There is a similar situation related to ParamPurush Swami. Years back, he used to be studying Sanskrit here in Mumbai. At that time studying was a hard task for him. Despite lot of efforts, he wasn't able to study well. He even had regrets about it. And hence, he started thinking that since it was difficult for him to study Sanskrit, did it make any sense to continue studying further. This kind of turmoil continued to linger in his mind for a long time. Finally, one day he wrote a letter to Swamiji that studying Sanskrit did not suit him. In the letter, he further mentioned that, 'since I am not able to memorize anything, I want to stop studying Sanskrit. I will stay in whichever temple you tell me and I will lovingly do any service that you tell me to do. I will also accompany the saints wherever they wish to take me and always be in everyone's service.'
As soon as Swamiji received the letter, he wrote back replying that you have to continue studying Sanskrit and eventually become an Acharya. God will always be with you and further enrich your memory. Swamiji's blessings and motivating words aroused his self confidence and he resumed studying. Soon, he started taking special interest in it. He began memorising everything and his grades started getting better with time. Eventually, he also wrote a thesis and achieved a doctorate in Sanskrit.
Hundreds of such examples abound, where devotees have put their lives at stake simply on a single word of Swamiji.
On November 1998 Manjuben Jayantibhai Patel, a female Satsangi, suddenly suffered brain haemorrhage. Doctors gave her a thorough check up. They also took tests and prepared various reports. Then after treating her at Karnavati Hospital for 2-3 days, the doctors admitted her in Navrangpura Shushrusha Hospital and immediately took a decision to perform an operation at the Rajasthan Hospital. Dr. Pragnesh Bhatt began operating. It was a very complicated procedure. Even after performing the operation for four hours, the situation remained critical. The patient would either lose the eyes or could get paralysed or go into coma. What should be done? There were only two options. Either abort the operation or continue with it. Doctors immediately informed her husband Janyatibhai about the dangerous situation. He called Swamiji. Swamiji told him, “Chant swaminarayan mantra and continue the operation. God will protect her.” Trusting Swamiji's words, the operation continued. It went on for ten hours and finally it was successful. Post the operation, Manjuben would go to the hospital for regular check-ups for a period of six months. On her last check up visit, Dr. Bhatt said, “Though I am a Brahmin, I am an atheist. I never go to the temple but I want to see your Guru. This operation would not have been possible without his grace. Four hours after the operation, when I was very confused, I continuously felt the presence of Pramukh Swami Maharaj." Even while going to the lift after completing the operation successfully, he said to his colleagues, "I felt the presence of Pramukh Swami Maharaj in the operating theatre." After that, he also came to seek Swamiji's blessings. Such was Swamiji's divine benevolent personality. His faith in God was the foundation of his trust and people's trust in him.
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.