At times, we slip while walking and when that happens we feel hurt. Sometimes it can even cause a fracture. As damaging as it may seem, it is nothing compared to having a slip of the tongue, which more than often can lead to serious repercussions. And, if it involves a renowned person, then it could lead to a huge controversy.
A very big industrialist has built a lavish high rise house for himself and his family in Mumbai. Constructed at the cost of billions of rupees, this ultra luxurious apartment is indeed very beautiful to behold. On seeing it, one senior and a highly reputed businessman exclaimed that it is very intriguing why someone would do something like this (such an extravagant residence). The disparity between the rich and the poor worries me…these comments of his were enough to create a roar of controversy. Later, there was a lot of explanation which had to be done on the behalf of the businessman by his company’s PR team to defuse the entire issue. Once a Bollywood director used derogatory words for another director's new film, which led to him being heavily criticized soon thereafter.
When celebrities or other leading lights of our society lose their composure and patience, whether in anger or for any other reason, they land up uttering some damaging statements. These are then publicised as a sensational topic by the media for weeks or months. Channels go on to air live debates over it. Viewers, too enjoy watching all this on prime time as they applaud or abuse depending on which side they take. They even post their own comments expressing their opinion regarding the same. Later, it is these very people who say that it is the unruly tongue that creates controversies which can often prove fatal. Also, there are people who are idle and only too ready to hit the road immediately if an adverse word is spoken. There have been so many occasions when unnecessary harsh words have stirred up riots and have caused serious damage to people and property across the world. Buses, trains, shops, etc. are burnt down. Many people have also lost their lives owing to this. In this way, everything gets engulfed in an atmosphere of controversy. Vicious people say anything that suits them, even at the cost of human life, but the moment someone else says something contrary, they immediately feel offended and even start threatening others.
In the midst of all this, Pramukh Swami Maharaj comes across as a very strong exception. He served as the head of the BAPS for many years. During his tenure, he held thousands of meetings. He delivered thousands of lectures and met thousands of people personally, where he spoke individually to each. He also travelled extensively across the globe. Even during these journeys, his schedule remained unchanged. His elaborate speeches continued even then. Saints, devotees, the society at large and the media would make a note of every single word of his. But there is not a single occasion that anyone has ever been hurt, misunderstood or disturbed by Swamiji's words. On occasions, people have even tried provoking Swamiji into making controversial statements by posing tricky questions. But Swamiji never succumbed to any such malice. Many people get irked even while responding to simple questions, whereas Swamiji used to listen to every question calmly and then respond accordingly in a very compassionate manner.
On the 3rd of April 1984, Swamiji was in London. Every day journalists from various publications used to come to meet Swamiji. They would ask many sharp questions during the interview. One evening, at around quarter to seven, a journalist of the 'Daily Telegraph' newspaper had come to interview Swamiji. He asked one question, 'Swamiji! We are not satisfied with our religion of Christianity, what can you give us beyond Christianity?' Swamiji, while providing a solution to the predicament of the correspondent, lovingly explained to him, 'We do not sincerely adhere to the principles of the religious leaders who have established religions, that is why we are dissatisfied and don't derive any benefit from it. If you start following the rules, you will be satisfied for sure.' The journalist who was contented with this reply from Swamiji said, 'Your purpose does not seem to be religious conversion.' Swamiji said, 'Yes. Our main intention is that people become steadfast in whichever religion they believe in. For that there is no need to abandon one's religion and convert to another religion. Swamiji then added: 'We do not believe in religious conversion, we believe in life transformation.' The journalist was immensely pleased and soon took Swamiji's leave, while thanking him with deep gratitude.
Swamiji arrived in the Vatican City from London in the course of his journey. The Vatican is the seat of Roman Catholicism. It is spread over a very large area. Millions of Christian devotees come to feel blessed here. Swamiji was here to meet the head of the Catholic Church, the illustrious Pope John Paul II. The next day a journalist came to meet Swamiji. He saw that Swamiji was sitting in his everyday saffron attires. These garments were very simple. He asked Swamiji that the Vatican is full of rich comforts and it belongs to the Pope. You have only two clothes. So how do you feel meeting him dressed like this?'
'There is nothing to feel embarassed about it,' said Swamiji. For him, such matters were hardly of any relevance. So he added: 'We have no discrimination between a king or a pauper. He is living as per his tradition and I am, as per ours. We have high regards for those who walk and lead in the way of God.' Hearing such a pleasant reply from Swamiji, the journalist further asked: 'The pope gets involved in the politics out here. Do you also involve yourself with politics?' 'We are not interested in political matters anywhere in the country or abroad. Our mission is to strengthen people's faith in religion. We don't mind if someone else is interested in it.' He also liked this explanation of Swamiji. Then he asked, 'Others who meet the Pope talk about politics. What will you talk about when you meet the Pope?'
Swamiji said, 'We want to turn the entire world towards the path of God and worship God and make the world a happier place.' Swamiji explained the purpose of his visit. Thus, Swamiji used to listen to everyone's questions intently and would give appropriate answers that would satisfy the questioner and also be elevating for the society.
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.