Ramakrishna Paramahansa used to say, ‘The fruit of all discipline is integrity in thought and speech.' Ethics begin when there is absolute connection between what one thinks and what one says.
Men of ethics are not only able to talk about ethics, but are also able to write about them. The great sage Chanakya who authored the Chanakya Niti was one such elevated soul. His life was a standing example of what he preached. Being a minister of state, he had access to a whole lot of resources. Yet he possessed only two lamps in his house. As soon as he would complete the official work related to the kingdom, he would turn off one lamp and light another. After which he would commence his daily prayers and other personal activities.
Observing him doing so, a person asked him out of sheer curiosity the reason for him doing so. He asked Chanakyaji, "Why don't you use only one lamp?" To which Chanakyaji replied: "Prayers are for my personal benefit for which I do not want to place a burden on the resources and wealth of the state, and the other lamp belongs to the state." What a wonderful example of a high standard of ethics! Today, big heads of states do not hesitate to use government planes and chartered flights not only for themselves, but also for their children if they happen to miss a flight or are in a hurry. Unwittingly the great sage Chanakya has rendered a great patriotic service by setting such a high ethical example.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj too observed such high ethical standards. He would not accept any offering meant for God, if it was got through dubious means, let alone employing those things in God's service. He lived by such high ethical standards all through his life and inspired others also to do so.
Swamiji was in Leicester in 1977. His stay was at the residence of Dahyabhai Patel at Doncaster road. The children were assigned the task of bringing fresh flowers as a service for Swamiji's morning prayers. The children made visits to the English households along the street. On the request of the children, the local English homeowners had give them their consent to pluck 2 to 3 flowers from their garden. But, the children would pick an extra flower, with the intention of bringing it to the owner's notice in the evening. As soon as Swamiji came to know about this, he immediately asked a sadhu after his morning prayers, "Who brings the flowers for my morning prayers?, Call those children." Assuming that Swamiji would praise him, one of the children enthusiastically went up to Swamiji. At that very moment, Swamiji was reading the Shikshapatri. He drew the child's attention to one particular shlok and said: "See, Maharaj has clearly written that without taking the owner's permission, one should not pluck even a single flower. Taking a single flower in this manner too means committing an act of stealing. It's alright if there are no flowers in my prayers, but I do not want flowers obtained by such means. A satsangi should never indulge in stealing." The children were plucking the flowers with the owner's permission, the only thing was that they were plucking an extra flower than what the owner had permitted. This small act also amounted to stealing for Swamiji, even if the children were going to inform the owners in the evening.
American president, Theodore Roosevelt once said with immense trepidation that, "A man who will steal for me is a man who will steal from me." Pramukh Swami Maharaj didn't have any such fears for he didn't own any material possessions...not even a pen for that matter, that anyone could steal from him. His only wish was to raise the children's lives to high standards of ethics. He valued these ethics immensely and would never abandon them for even a moment.
Once, while proceeding to his room for his siesta, when Swamiji was in Bochasan, he called out to a devotee and said, "I did not appreciate two of the advertisements printed in the souvenir that was released on the occasion of my birthday. I would like to call upon your attention in that regard. One was an advertisement of a tobacco company and the other was of a pastry farm." Reprimanding further, Swamiji said, "We should not carry advertisements of things that we are critical about and forbade people to use them. Keep in mind, that even if someone is paying millions of rupees, we should not advertise things which have been termed as prohibited by our BAPS institution." To say something and do something else was not his way of living. Inspired by him, even the satsangis staying in nondescript villages would consider usurping another's property or taking money through devious means as sacrilege. Pramukh Swami Maharaj inspired millions in this manner by living such high standards.
In the district of Dharampur, there is a village called Nani Wahiyal, a tribal devotee named Rasikbhai Lallubhai Mohila lives there. Since 18 years, he's working as a labourer in a marriage decorater's company. Once, around midnight, while winding up the decorations after a marriage ceremony in the Manav kalyan neighborhood of Vapi, Rasikbhai came across a small bag in a corner of the stage. On closer inspection, he noticed there were two smaller bags in it. One of the bags was full of gold ornaments and the other one had hard cash. In order to ensure that nobody succumbs to temptation, he kept the bag from plain sight in a safe place. Next day morning, around 11 o clock, the person whose family was having the wedding function came rushing there out of sheer panic in search of the bag. Here, he met Rasikbhai, who inquired the person about the contents of the bag. When the person told Rasikbhai, there was Rs. 1,60,000 in cash, a saree worth Rs. 20,000 and gold worth Rs. 1,00,000, Rasikbhai felt assured that the bag indeed belongs to the gentleman. He then fetched the bag and handed over to him. The gentleman checked the bag and was happily content that all his belongings were intact and not a single thing was missing. He asked Rasikbhai with astonishment, "Didn't you feel like taking anything from this or keeping the entire bag to yourself?", to which Rasikbhai replied, "In my house right now, there are Rs.100, which I have earned. That money brings me happiness . Money, which doesn't belong to me will never bring any kind of happiness. Pramukh Swami Maharaj's association is my real source of happiness."
Pramuk Swami Maharaj's ethical leadership has been instrumental in the creation of millions of individuals who are observing such high values of ethics in their everyday lives, where a humble tribal can find happiness in Rs.100 earned through his sweat and reject even lakhs of rupees, which does not rightfully belonging to him. All these individuals have learnt that true happiness is in living a moral and ethical life seeped in divine faith. Such is the wonder and glory of Pramukh Swami Maharaj's ethical leadership.
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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.