Swamishri – An everlasting friend

By Jnanpurushdas Swami
BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha 

In 1996, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s birthday celebration was held in Surat, Gujarat. The festival was celebrated with grandeur in front of thousands of devotees from all over the world. Many people had brought decorative garlands to offer to their guru on such a festive occasion. One such garland was made entirely from popcorn by a group of tribal teenagers from Ukai. It was safely stored along with many other garlands in a tent. But during the night, a wild boar got into the tent and ate the garland, making it no longer presentable. The teenagers found out and could not contend with their sorrow. But when Swamishri learnt what had happened, he called the tearful youngsters over and pacified them. He also asked for the chewed-up garland to be presented to him on the stage amid thousands of devotees. Moreover, he got the teenagers together and asked the photographers to take a picture to remember that occasion. Swamishri was just as happy to accept that distorted garland as he was accepting all the others. It was more important to him to keep his youngsters happy than to appear perfect before others on stage.  

Swamishri also appreciated the small steps that teenagers took to better their lives. Once, he received a parcel with 1,100 letters that boys and girls had written from Mumbai. These youngsters had decided to cut back on watching TV to better focus on their upcoming exams. They all wrote to Swamishri for his blessings. These letters were sent in a parcel with a covering note explaining that all Swamishri had to do was to sanctify the parcel. However, learning of the commitment of these teenagers, Swamishri was so pleased, saying, “These people have put in sincere efforts to write those letters. I want to see them individually.” He then opened the parcel and looked through the letters one by one. He valued the small sacrifices that the teenagers had made and appreciated their endeavors.

Swamishri understood the ways of young people. A father in Amdavad was concerned about his son Raju because he had a craze for buying clothes. Raju had 200 pairs of shirts and pants. Swamishri explained nicely to Raju not to spend more money on extravagant garments. He understood that it would take time for Raju to change his ways. He then requested Raju’s father to be patient with him and help him. 

Teenagers saw in Swamishri an everlasting friend. 

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