A profound ocean of equanimity

Calm, composed and self-collected, Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s unflappable and imperturbable nature became a source of calming energy to all who came in contact with him

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The oceans are truly an utter mystery. We have mapped the surface of the moon and travelled to Mars, but only explored five percent of the ocean floor. The oceans are familiar to us since we visit them and see them regularly, but beneath the surface there is an immense depth that we cannot even begin to fathom. Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s fifth spiritual successor, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s knowledge possessed a similar unintelligible depth shrouded in familiarity. In particular, his atma-gnan (knowledge of the self as the soul) was unparalleled and cannot be fully described with words, even though many have witnessed it for many years.

Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s constant – and intense – spiritual travels were a testament to his deep-rooted atma-gnan. On 28 September 1978, after traveling for days through several villages and visiting many hundred homes, Pramukh Swami Maharaj arrived in Kapura, a village in southern Gujarat. Sumanbhai Bhakta, a longtime devotee, was overjoyed at his arrival. Viveksagar Swami was delivering discourses, as Pramukh Swami Maharaj was turning his rosary. Viveksagar Swami noticed Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s face changing colour. He reached over and grabbed Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s wrist, to find that it was boiling hot. He immediately ended the assembly and helped take Pramukh Swami Maharaj to the home of devotee Jitubhai Shah.

Pramukh Swami Maharaj collapsed on to the bed. While a doctor administered some medicine, Pramukh Swami Maharaj used his few remaining ounces of strength to whisper to the sadhus, “I hope Sumanbhai’s father is not offended. I wanted to stay for the whole assembly. I didn’t want to finish it early. We didn’t get to go to Mahendrabhai’s house. He has come all the way from Madhi.” Pramukh Swami Maharaj was totally spent, unable to even turn in bed. Despite this, at around 11:30 a.m., Pramukh Swami Maharaj made sure to ask about the food offered to Harikrishna Maharaj. Further examination of Pramukh Swami Maharaj revealed that he had developed jaundice and a gum abscess. Labhshankarbhai, a dentist from Rajkot who had come for Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s darshan, examined Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s condition and exclaimed, “Only Pramukh Swami Maharaj can tolerate so much pain.” After days of traveling from village to village and home to home, Pramukh Swami Maharaj did not express even a slight desire for rest. Only after his body completely gave out did Pramukh Swami Maharaj agree to rest. His resilience was unmatched: after physically taxing travels, Pramukh Swami Maharaj decided to endure an illness that eventually made him take mandatory bed rest. Had he expressed even the slightest discomfort before, the sadhus and devotees would have altered his schedule. But who could stop Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the guru who looked after everyone around him, from neglecting his own health for the sake of others?

Once, in 1984, when Pramukh Swami Maharaj arrived in Nadiad to perform the ground-breaking ceremony of a plot of land on which a mandir was to be constructed, a large thorn pierced the sole of his foot. An attending companion Janmangal Swami dressed the wound and bandaged Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s foot so that his attendant sadhus and devotees would not notice. However, he could not help but express his ire at the organisers of the event, deeming them irresponsible for not properly cleaning the grounds. Pramukh Swami Maharaj, noticing Janmangal Swami’s frustration, called him close before his afternoon nap, and said, “Don’t get angry at anyone for what happened this morning. If one is destined to get hurt, then it doesn’t make a difference if he’s in a field or a room in a house; he’ll still get hurt.” His unperturbed response to physical pain was a natural, effortless expression of his atma-gnan.

Not once, even casually, had Pramukh Swami Maharaj mentioned his physical discomforts. While those with a superficial understanding of oneself as the atma may at least react in some way to such discomforts, Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s demeanour in such situations made it appear as if nothing had occurred. In all situations, Pramukh Swami Maharaj had naturally and effortlessly exhibited his atma-gnan, the state in which one behaves as the atma, experiencing the bliss of God, remaining unaffected by the ups and downs of the world. Pramukh Swami Maharaj was himself ‘Aksharbrahman’. His realised state, atma-gnan, was intrinsic. In his entire life, regardless of the obstacle, Pramukh Swami Maharaj never became dejected. Moreover, at positive moments, Pramukh Swami Maharaj never over-rejoiced. He always remained equipoised. Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s understanding that the happenings of this world and body are temporary, and that the atma is eternal and blissful, undergirded his constant equanimity in all situations.

This article series aims to pay tribute to Pramukh Swami Maharaj of the BAPS movement in his birth centennial.  To learn more about Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life and work, please visit www.pramukhswami.org

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