Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s Devotion to God

Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life was a testament to his devotion to God. Throughout his life, he emphasized the importance of devotion to God in one’s daily life. One of the hallmarks of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s devotion to God was his unwavering faith. He inspired his followers to trust in God and
to surrender to His will. Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s devotion to God was reflected in his life.
On the morning of September 2, 1980, the auspicious day of Janmashtami, Pramukh Swami Maharaj arrived in Boston by road from New York. After a medical examination for his ripe cataracts, Swamishri departed to return to New York. To ease the fatigue from the 8-hour two-way commute, Swamishri
accepted the sadhus’ request to sleep on the rear seat of the van. Thakorji (the murti of Bhagwan Swaminarayan) was also placed to rest on the upper berth of the van. The sun had set. Then, while the van was traveling smoothly on the broad highway, a sudden loud thud of something falling down was
heard amid the darkness. Along with the others, Swamishri suddenly sat up, asking, “What happened?
What fell down?” One swami replied, “Thakorji fell down from above.” The statement was like a jolt to Swamishri. Tearfully, he continually stroked his hand all over the body of Maharaj while repeatedly saying, “Maharaj, please forgive. Maharaj, please forgive.” It was as if Swamishri felt responsible for the
fall and that Thakorji had been injured. Remorsefully, Swamishri started prostrating in the van…one…two…three…five…ten…twenty…twenty-five… Despite his own ill health and exhaustion, he continued prostrating. Yet, in his mind, he was still not satisfied. To please Thakorji, he lovingly offered
food, and afterward sat silently throughout the remainder of the journey, devoutly turning his rosary.
Even on reaching New York, his heart remained unalleviated.
Thakorji had fallen was not his fault. But their bond was different.
Swamishri offered devotion and service to Thakorji with the firm conviction that he was manifest in the murti. Such was his exemplary devotion towards God. Such devotion is described in the scriptures, but Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life was a living form of devotion.  

Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s devotion towards God reveals how every spiritual seeker can learn the art of leading a God-centered life.

Our thoughts can be like active molecules bouncing around a hot air balloon, taking us further into the clouds, away from the ground and out of our bodies. As emotions fire up, we find ourselves reaching higher altitudes and soaring into chaotic dispositions. The mind can be a beautiful place when it is regulated but it can also become an entirely different experience if the balloon becomes rogue.

When the mind gets away from us, it is important to take steps to connect the mind with the physical body. This may mean finding a quiet place, scanning the body, or initiating gentle movement, but the easiest way to begin managing our thoughts is through our breath. The practice of diaphragmatic breathing sends the breath down into the belly resulting in slower, deeper breathing. This exercise paired with a longer exhale to inhale is soothing to the body and communicates that everything is okay. This practice also involves a single-point focus to help lessen the chatter that sends our mind into the clouds above. We may not always have control over the external factors in life but with breath awareness we can work through any uncomfortable situation that comes our way.

Every day we begin a new journey, a new day to live compassionately with understanding and kindness but some days are more difficult than others. When we find ourselves in situations where we feel intense emotions, it can be challenging to identify the right thought or action. For example, a person who is afraid of bumble bees may act violently when introduced to them indoors, but with consideration and empathy that same individual may realize that the bee they fear is no threat at all. As we take time to think first and act second, we can move towards a world that will instead open a window for an insect to escape rather than choosing aggression.

For this week’s Anuvrat or small vow, I encourage you to incorporate a mindful breathing practice that will help you come back to Earth and live a benevolent lifestyle in a calm and stable atmosphere. When the mind is peaceful, we are better to serve ourselves and our community.

Juliana Di Leonardo is the Vice President of Humane Long Island. She is a yoga and ballroom dance instructor, model, and artist. Her advocacy for animals exploited by the fashion industry was credited in the 2021 documentary “The Face of Fashion is Fear” and recognized by PETA with a Hero for Coyotes award)

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