Obey Before You Command

By Jnanpurushdas Swami
BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha 

On October 21, 1991, a group of swamis were waiting eagerly to greet Pramukh Swami Maharaj at Rajkot Airport in Gujarat, India. As the aircraft landed and parked at the arrival gate, a couple of local swamis came into the plane to receive Swamishri personally. One of the swamis expressed his joy and excitement at being able to get so near to Swamishri. As they descended the aircraft, he remarked, “Swamishri, due to your grace, I got the opportunity to welcome you. I am so happy to be near you.” Hearing that comment, Swamishri responded, “If one becomes a humble servant, one will always feel close to God.” Saying this, he smiled.

This short and simple sentence speaks volumes of Swamishri’s spiritual wisdom. It is the essence of all scriptural teachings. He taught us that the formula for success is to become humble at heart. When we forget all our learning, we begin to know. When we realize we are nothing, that is the beginning of wisdom. It is humility that takes us closer to God.

Justice B.J. Diwan, Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court, said, “Despite being the President of BAPS, I have seen Swamishri perform menial tasks in Sarangpur. ‘I am the President of this organization. I cannot perform such ordinary tasks.’ This kind of pride does not exist even in the deepest corner of his heart. He does not have the slightest trace of ego. He sees God in all.”

Once in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, a group of swamis asked Swamishri to write on a piece of paper, “I bless you.” Swamishri wrote the sentence. It was written correctly, but there was a distinct difference. All the letters were in the upper case except ‘I’, which he wrote in lower case. One of the swamis pointed that out to him. Swamishri smiled and said, “I know. We should keep the ‘i’ small in our life.”

Shri Chidanand Saraswati, the President and spiritual head of the Parmarth Niketan Ashram based in Rishikesh, India, once said, “Pramukh Swami Maharaj is always considerate, simple, and humble. He leads a multinational organization yet is always relaxed. He remains stress-free because he has surrendered himself to Bhagwan Swaminarayan. He continues to serve society with the aim to please God. He thinks nothing of himself. God works through him.”

In 1982, in London, Swamishri asked a volunteer, “What duty have you been assigned?”

“I will do whatever you tell me. That way, nobody can tell me anything.”

“No, that is not right,” said Swamishri. “We should learn to follow instructions given to us by our coordinators. Even I should do what the coordinators tell me because I am also a volunteer.”

Someone has aptly pointed out, “Learn to obey before you command.”

Swamishri inculcated a sense of moral responsibility and service in others by practicing humility. Let us be humble.

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