Epitome of Faith

By Chaitanyamurtidas Swami
BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha 

Born to an Indian father and American mother, Ronald Patel had established himself as a distinguished Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. In the 1990s, he was highly respected as the Sunday Editor of the Philadelphia Enquirer. In 1991, amidst much personal reservation and reluctance, he met His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj for the first time during the Cultural Festival of India in Edison, New Jersey. Swamishri’s divine love at once overwhelmed him and captured his heart. Then, in 1992, at Swamishri’s request, he undertook his first visit to India, where he further experienced Swamishri’s fatherly love. The story of how Swamishri connected Ron with his native village in Gujarat is long and intriguing. But the experience had established an unbreakable bond between Ron and Swamishri. To express his experience and feelings, Ron published a special supplement in his paper in which he detailed how he had found his roots in India with the help of Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Then, in 1995, he again visited India for Swamishri’s darshan. Again, the selfless love he experienced further convinced him of Swamishri’s divine spiritual nature. In 1998, after Swamishri had undergone a heart bypass surgery, Ron conveyed his best wishes to Swamishri that he lives for a hundred years. He wrote, “In your eyes, I experience the love of my father and mother. You are the person most dear to me.”  

On September 13, 1998, in New Jersey, while Swamishri was recovering from surgery, Ron interviewed him for 30 minutes. He posed many questions and counter-questions, but Swamishri’s replies echoed with just one constant theme: that, regardless of the conditions of life, God is the all-doer and whatever he does is for our good. Such was Swamishri’s conviction in this belief, that during the interview, Ron was simply overwhelmed. He declared, “In my entire life, I have never seen such firm faith in a person. As a journalist, I asked many awkward questions to Pramukh Swami Maharaj, but the overriding message of his answers is that his soul is pure. I have interviewed so many people, but what I have seen in Swamishri, I have never ever seen in others. That is, his pure faith in God.” 

Ron Patel, through several interactions with Pramukh Swami Maharaj, discovered not only the selfless love of a father or mother, but also the secret of living a happy and content life regardless of conditions –absolute and unconditional faith in God. 

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