7 December 2013

Pramukh Swami Maharaj; A closer look

Pramukh Swami Maharaj
The Sanatan Hindu Dharma places great importance on the need of having a Guru (teacher) in ones life.

A Guru who can impart the knowledge of Sadvidya, Brahmavidya and enlighten us with spirituality and wisdom.

Let's start by defining the word 'Guru', this word literally translated in english means 'teacher' or 'Master'.

However in its original Sanskrit form it has an even deeper meaning, the word is split into two parts 'Gu' which means darkness and 'Ru' which means 'the one who takes it away', fusioned together it means 'One who dispels the darkness in the form of spiritual ignorance from his aspirants, bestowing them with spiritual knowledge'.

Further insights into the rich vedic history of Hinduism, introduces us to the philosophy of the guru-shishya tradition. The guru-shishya tradition has its roots laid deep into hinduisms philosophy, it is the transmission of of teachings from a Guru into his shishya (disciple). The shishya receives such knowledge through deep devotion, respect and commitment towards their Guru.

As a result the dialogues between the guru and their disciple has become the fundamental component of Hinduism, its history and literature. Famous examples of such guru-shishya relationships can be found between Krishna and Arjun in the Mahabharat as well as Ram and Hanuman in the Ramayan.

In the Shrimad Bhagvat, the 32 qualities of such a true guru and sadhu are listed  in the conversation between Prithvi (Mother Earth) and Dharma, they are,
"Truth, purity, compassion, forgiveness, renunciation, contentment, simplicity, mental control, sensory control, austerity, equality, tolerance, worldly disinterest, scriptural obedience.
Experiential knowledge, detachment, power, courage, illustrious personality, vigour, remembrance, independence, skill, beauty, patience, kindheartedness.
Maturity, love, integrity, endurance, radiance, strength, lordship, profundity, mental stability, faith in god, fame, worthy of reverence, humility."
        - Shrimad Bhagwat 1.16.26-28 

All these 32 qualities can be seen and found Guruhari Pramukh Swami Maharaj. All those who have met Pramukh Swami Maharaj in person would agree that swamiji is the personification of purity and the embodiment of bliss.

One has truly look into the the life of Swamiji, to be able to understand his divine nature and compassion for the world. Born on 7th December 1921 in the small village of Chansad, Pramukh Swami was named Shantilal. His name (Shantilal) really reflected his 'shant' (calm) nature. From the beginning he was engrossed in devotion to Bhagwan Swaminarayan and  his Guru Shastriji Maharaj.

Young Shantilal was not only very devout, but he also excelled in his studies and sport. He thoroughly enjoyed History and Maths as a child at school and held a keen interest in cricket. Shantilal was deeply respected and trusted by all the residents of Chansad and his friends.

Once Shanti and his friends decided that they needed to collect some funds to buy equipment to play cricket, everyone looked towards Shantilal to lead this project. enough money to buy the sporting equipment was soon collected. However only one person would be able to go with the money to buy the equipment. unanimously all his friends elected Shantilal to go and buy the equipment alone.

Young Shantilal quickly got ready to leave, he was just about to leave when he received a letter from his guru Shastriji Maharaj, summoning him to come and see him as soon he received the letter. After reading the letter, without any second thoughts and after taking his parents permission and blessings at the age of 17 he left with Ravjibhai on his cycle to meet his Guru Shastriji Maharaj, such  was his staunch Gurubhakti.

This day marked the beginning of a new chapter in human history. Shastriji Maharaj soon gave Parshadi Diksha to young Shanti at Ambli-Vadi Pol in Ahmedabad naming him Shanti Bhagat. Shastriji Maharaj later ordained Shanti Bhagat in saffron robes by giving him Bhagwati Diksha on 10th January 1940 at the Akshar Deri in Gondal naming him Sadhu Narayanswarupdas.

He later became renowned as Pramukh Swami, after he was appointed the President of BAPS in the early part of 1950, again at Ambli-Vadi Pol in Ahemdabad by guru Shastriji Maharaj and in the presence of Yogiji Maharaj.

Since his appointment as the spiritual president of BAPS Pramukh Swami Maharaj has been serving society, making a positive difference for more than 73 years. He has personally met and consoled 810,000 people, personally replied to over 700,000 letters, travelled to more than 17,000 towns and villages in 50 countries and visited over 250,000 houses despite his growing age and continuously deteriorating health. Swamiji has sacrificed his life and body for the spiritual progress of the world.

Many famous personalities from the western world such as Bill Clinton, HRH Prince Charles, Dr Rowan Williams the Archbishop of Canterbury and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair have all bore witness to his caring, humble and gentle nature. Below are some quotes, from such personalities expressing the divinity and bliss they experienced during and after their meeting with Swamiji.
"Pramukh Swami Maharaj's humility and selfless love have touched my heart."
                                                     - HRH Prince Charles the Prince of Wales 
"When I look into his eyes, they are filled with integrity. I saw in his eyes that he is a man who has not come ahead by eclipsing others. He has come forwards by always placing others before him."
                                               - President Bill Clinton, Former President of USA 
"Pramukh Swami Maharaj's life is an example of spiritual beauty. That beauty shines throughout India and the world as he continues to guide mankind on the path to spirituality. He loves unconditionally and forgives. Revenge and vengeance are never to be seen in his life."
                                            - Dr Williams the Archbishop of Canterbury
"I had the fortune to meet Pramukh Swami Maharaj ten years ago. I was impressed then and I am impressed now. I experience spirituality like never before. It is unique. Bhagwan Swaminarayan's spirit of social reform is living through Pramukh Swami Maharaj."
                                        - Tony Blair, former UK Prime Minister 

Today marks the auspicious day of Pramukh Swami Maharaj's Birthday, according to the western calendar. Swamiji continues to bless us all with his divine presence at the age of 94. Through this article we have tried to understand the importance of the need of a Guru in ones life, we have attempted to understand swamiji's deep Gurubhakti towards his guru's Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj and barely scratched the surface with regards to swamiji's qualities and spirituality.

On this day, let us bow at his holy feet and take a few minutes to appreciate the efforts and sacrifices our guru has made for us and let us all pray that we may to become similarly enlightened by keeping firm association with him. Let's all try and imbibe Pramukh Swami Maharaj's principle and
saying into our lives!
"In the joy of others lies our own,
In the progress of others rests our own,
In the good of others abides our own,
Know this to be the key to peace and happiness."
                                               - His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj 

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