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The Philanthropic Leadership

There are numerous generous people around the world. Viewed from a monetary perspective, the charitable trust started by Jamshedji Tata of India has so far donated about 103 billion dollars. Globally, this figure remains unsurpassed to date. A few years back Bill Gates and Warren Buffett started a movement called Giving Pledge. This is a very commendable concept, where the rich donate a considerable portion of their wealth for social welfare. By the year 2021, 220 resolutions from 25 countries have already been pledged. This is indeed a remarkable achievement.

Many such large hearted people donate a whole of their wealth for a host of social causes like education, health care and many other indispensable human and environmental pressing needs. But how many such people do you know who have forsaken all that they have to uplift society and alleviate people's misery? It's very hard to single out any particular name since hardly any individual comes to our memory.

The great sage Dadhichi sacrificed his body and life to protect the gods, the earth and all the three heavens from the demon Vrittasura. The gods killed the demon by making a weapon vajra out of the sage Dadhichi's bone.

Periodically such great men are born on this earth at every age to give meaning to other people's lives. Such great men make people feel elated to have been born in their midst. And they do this by sacrificing everything they have for others.

Pramukh Swami Maharaj was one such saint who sacrificed everything for the upliftment and progress of the society. And at times, even at the cost of his health. On one occasion, at the request of a spiritual leader, Swamiji went to Allahabad just for attending an important religious function, even though at that time a big cyst had developed in his thigh. The pain was excruciating. Doctors had warned him that going there in that condition would be to the detriment of his health. But Swamiji did not pay heed to anyone. He simply went ahead, regardless of his pain, just to keep everyone's heart, so that they feel happy and elated with his presence. In Allahabad, he met devotees of Nani Vavdi, a small village in Gujarat. They told Swamiji that they had all come there on a special pilgrimage. The organizer had earlier promised that they would be arranging their meals. But on reaching there, the organizers went back on their word. They were not providing any food to the pilgrims and as they were observing strict restrictions about food, they were not getting suitable food anywhere. For this reason, they were all kind of starving. Swamiji immediately instructed the saints to give all the food that they had carried with them to the pilgrims. The other saints, who had accompanied Swamiji became concerned as to how will they make alternative arrangements for Swamiji and themselves in an unknown place? But Swamiji's only wish was to offer all the food to those devotees. Everybody was deeply touched by Swamiji's immense generosity and concern. Only a person with a heart bigger than the entire universe can go to the extent of doing good for others even at the cost of one's self.

The magnanimousness of Swamiji's leadership can be perceived in numerous situations. A few years ago, there was heavy rain in Andhra Pradesh. Extreme levels of floods were declared in many places leading to a lot of destruction. The BAPS Swaminarayan temple in Secunderabad too was flooded. Lots of timber, that was meant for the construction of the temple was also washed away in this destructive and damaging flood. Devotees informed Swamiji about the furious flood condition and the timber loss. Swamiji said that though our temple has suffered due to the rains, we must help others who are in need or are suffering. Swamiji had only one feeling in his heart that he should help others as much as possible despite being affected himself.

Swamiji's compassion is perennial and undying. So reassuring is his compassion, that anytime, anywhere in the world, if there is a grave situation, people immediately come forward asking for BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha's help. This is exactly what happened during the recent Ukraine-Russia war. Students from our country who had gone for education in Ukraine, along with other Indian citizens were stranded there. They were all trying to come back to India via Poland. The prevailing conditions were simply terrible and frightening for all. The Indian government was involved in making all possible arrangements for them to return to India from the Polish border. It was in such a difficult time, that our Hon'ble Prime Minister Shri Narendrabhai Modi called the saints and requested them to make arrangements for the accommodation and meals for the students and others. Mahant Swami Maharaj gave his approval and blessings to the task right away and soon relief work began in no time. The Planning work started immediately on behalf of the organization. 66 volunteers of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha from 11 countries like the USA, England, France, Germany, Poland, Holland etc reached there within a few hours. They started to make all the arrangements as per the requirements of the government in an extremely hazardous and life-threatening war zone. First, after setting up a mobile kitchen, the volunteers started cooking and serving fresh hot meals for everyone at the Polish border. Then, the accommodation for students and others was arranged. BAPS also provided transportation and medical help to all with meticulous guidance. SIM cards were distributed as well, so they could do calls and if required video connects with their families in India. Such an intense task could only be carried out successfully thanks to the teachings and blessings of Pramukh Swami Maharaj.

The one who gives priority to the pain of others than his own and who does his best to alleviate another's pain is the only person who can create heaven on the earth. He only can lead us. He only can serve us. He only can save us.

Sadhu Amrutvadandas

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Thanks Giving

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.

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