“તેરા મુજસે હૈ પેહલે કા નાતા કોઈ , યુહી નહિ દિલ લુભાતા કોઈ,” sang Brahmanisht Vikrambhai, in a robust voice drenched in bhakti bhaav. No other song could describe more aptly the overwhelming sense of belonging we feel for our guru, Pujya Bhaishree.
How else can we describe the fact that, just by looking at him, we forget the world? His love and compassion makes us realise the perfidiousness of our sansaric relations and his mere presence gives us the strength to control our desires and our ever-wandering mind. He is our shelter in this ‘kalyug’ and he is the pillar on which we want to build our life.
On 24th November 2015, hundreds of followers of Shree Raj Saubhag Ashram, Sayla, had gathered together at the B.N. Vaidya Auditorium at Dadar in Mumbai at 3.30 pm to celebrate the most important day in their annual calendar, Pujya Bhaishree’s 72nd birthday. Each one of us had come to thank God for having gifted us with a guru like Pujya Bhaishree. As time ticked, all eyes turned expectantly to the entrance, all heads craned to catch a glimpse of their benefactor.
At 4 pm, as many of us stood on tiptoes, Pujya Bhaishree stepped into the auditorium, dressed in his trademark crisp white attire, and walked towards the dais as each devotee sang, “અજો અનાન્તાયા , નીત્યાયા શુધાયા , સચ્ચિદાનંદ નંદ ગુરુ ઓમ; ગુરુ ઓમ, ગુરુ ઓમ, ગુરુ ઓમ, ગુરુ ઓમ.” These words kept resonating in our ears and within our soul. All faces lit up and the general energy of the place seemed to have surged manifold. Everybody joined in to welcome him by clapping and chanting these lines, a wide smile on their lips. Our Guru’s mere presence had transformed an auditorium into a pilgrimage.
Brahmnisht Minalben, our smiling angel, started the evening by wishing Gurudev a happy birthday on behalf of all present. “We love you infinitely,” she said, “Our eyes are always thirsty for your glimpse, you reside in our hearts, we have taken shelter under you, dear Gurudev, and are trying to find our true selves by walking on the path shown by you. Only and only this path is dear to us. Your presence gives us refuge and solace in this kalyug.”
Her words came straight from her heart and from each of our hearts. It was as if she was speaking the language of our souls.
Vikrambhai invited Brahmnisht Lalitaben, Bharatbhai Shah, Jayeshbhai Shah and Mehul to put a tilak and garland around Pujya Bhaishree. All through the eulogy and ceremony, Pujya Bhaishree seated on the sofa was a mere observer of all that was happening around him. Nothing seemed to touch him; he was residing within himself and was oblivious to the world around him.
Vikrambhai and Hiren raised the spiritual tempo of the evening by singing the bhajan, “ગુરુદેવ તુમ્હારે ચરણ કમળ મેં, શ્રદ્ધા સુમન ધરું , હ્રિદય સે નમન કરું”. As the song progressed, it seemed to carry everybody with it; heads seemed to bow naturally in reverence.
It was now time for the most awaited part of the evening – Pujya Bhaishree’s swadhyay. For many years, Pujya Bhaishree has been narrating short stories with deep spiritual insights on special occasions as this one. This time, he had chosen an appropriate topic called ‘Samay (Value of Time).’
He began the discourse by saying that when one shuts their eyes, the years flit past in a succession of memories. It was as if 72 years of life were being encapsulated in a cinematic representation of a few minutes. “Samay” or time is always passing us by and when we evaluate it, we realize that a large part of our time has been spent in worldly pursuit, while some residual time was utilized for spiritual practices. Which out of these two would qualify as “ઉત્તમ સમય ” (time well utilized)? questioned Pujya Bhaishree.
Pujya Bhaishree narrated a story from the life of the Pandavas. All those who want to achieve self-realization should never postpone their spiritual practices even for a day, as one does not know what is to happen in the next minute. Our life is filled with uncertainties. He said that if you do not spend the penny at the right moment, then spending even a rupee later will not help, cause one would have missed the right time.
Only those who are synchronized with time are able to use it well, while others are left groping in the air. If we forget this again and again, it would be extremely unfortunate. Just as the poet has said, “There was time when I wasted time, now time is wasting me.”
Pujya Bhaishree then added that those who utilize every single minute in their lives will most certainly progress in their sadhana, regardless of where they are. They realize that materialistic comforts carry no value when weighed against the happiness derived from one’s own soul and hence strive to achieve only and only this wealth that is hidden inside themselves.
Citing the example of Shrimadji, Pujya Bhaishree said that, even though Krupalu Dev was part of this material world, he never got involved or entrapped in it and lived with awareness at all times. We too, have received this spiritual gift due to immense good deeds (punya) of the past births, and now we need to utilize our time effectively to attain aatmagyan. All the great souls who have achieved aatmagyan have emphasized the importance of ‘samay’.
This eye-opening discourse was followed by a video made by Mehul on our beloved guru. The riveting video captured many serene moments of Pujya Bhaishree, to the accompaniment of an ode to an incomparable guru. It stirred emotions in each one of us, brought tears to many an eye, and brought alive many memories. There was a deep connect that made us hope fervently to remain in his shelter – in this birth, the next and for forever. The thought of being away from him in any way – physically or psychologically or spiritually – was like uprooting us from ourselves.
Drenched in devotion, the mumukshus cheered during the cake-cutting. As is the tradition, two cakes were cut – one for Pujya Bhaishree and another one for Pujya Gurumaa, whose birth anniversary falls on November 25th. Then came the golden opportunity to get prasad, soaked in his blessings, personally from Pujya Bhaishree, who patiently handed it out to every mumukshu.