BAPAJI – My Divine Kohinoor Vanprastha Abhaybhai Jasani, President of Shrimad Rajchandra Mission Dharampur and recipient of the Pragalbha Seva Ratna Award for his contribution to the Mission, relives how the Master, as an expert jeweller, picked him up from the dark coal mines of material pleasure, and polished his beliefs to ensure that he sought eternal happiness through spirituality This love story is between a treasure house of compassion and benevolence, in the form of my Sadguru and a wretched lost soul that was me. In the past, I was a perfect example of a ‘charvak’ – eat, drink and be merry. Though studious in school, later in the college environment, I stooped to drinking, gambling and indulging in purposeless activities. After joining business, which involved dealing in diamonds, playing tennis became a compulsion every morning; office occupied the entire day and entertaining clients, dining with friends and playing bridge filled the evenings. As though all this was not enough, at the age of 50, golf was added to my already full plate. However, amidst all these activities it was getting increasingly difficult to derive happiness. Friction with people was inevitable, especially with my wife Mridula. She being simple, straightforward and homely was diagonally opposite from me and did not appreciate my remaining so busy with non-essential matters. Cutting Through Wrong Beliefs.Just as a rough diamond is cut into separate pieces, Bapaji sawed through my beliefs, separating the right from the wrong. I was a Jain, though only by birth and did not even know the Navkar Mantra. One saving grace was, that Param Krupalu Dev was venerated in the Jasani household. My parents used to study Vachanamrutji and regularly visited Shrimad Rajchandra Ashram, Agas. I would commence work only after bowing down to Param Krupalu Dev. Once, 33 years ago, a friend did manage to take us for Bapaji’s darshan. Just for the sake of asking something I had asked Bapaji, “What is the purpose of life?” He replied that one should become pure like 24-carat gold. But neither had I understood anything then nor was I interested. About 12 years ago, Vanprastha Daminiben and Premarpit Geetaben had come home. Mridula heard about Bapaji from them. The very next day, she went for His pravachan. She started going regularly and coaxed me to come along, but I was too engrossed in my world to even make an effort. After months, one Sunday, she tricked me into driving her to the FPH hall, at Worli, saying it was too dark outside to take a taxi on her own. Then on reaching the place, she cajoled me into coming in and listening at least once. Grudgingly I gave in. Instead of going away to play tennis, I attended my first pravachan, not knowing, that that dark morning was to bring so much light in my life. The first satsang struck me like a thunderbolt! It seemed tailor-made just for me. Bapaji’s explanation that our happiness or unhappiness should not be triggered by what other people say or do, appealed to me tremendously. He said, we were reacting and not responding. And in this way, we had distributed millions of remote controls to various people we came across in life. Each one would know what button to press to extract the desired effect. We considered ourselves as Masters, but actually we had reduced ourselves to being slaves. The ground under my feet gave way. In those three minutes of my very first pravachan, Bapaji became everything for me, my life, my Almighty God! In the same satsang, it was announced that Vipassana was to be conducted at the Ashram in Dharampur. On those very dates, we were to attend a wedding party in Goa and I had been looking forward to it. Instead, I told Mridula, “We will go to Dharampur.” She just couldn’t believe her ears. Since I didn’t know anyone in Dharampur, it was easier being in silence for ten days. After ten days, Bapaji called us on His terrace to share our experiences. After over two decades, I was once again in front of Bapaji, but this time, I was speechless, with tears simply rolling down my cheeks. I then started attending Sunday pravachans. The worldly sanskaras being too deep, I did falter sometimes. For instance, one Sunday, there was a morning ragas programme by Pandit Jasraj. I wanted to go for that. Mridula said, “When there is Gurudev’s satsang, we must go for it. You can hear Pandit Jasraj on the cassette.” I replied, “No I will listen to Gurudev on the cassette.” She grudgingly joined me, fearing our paths would diverge. The very next week, in January 2003, we came for our first shibir after Vipassana. Bapaji was giving prasad on the terrace. When Mridula stretched her hands for prasad, Bapaji said, “Last Sunday you didn’t come for the pravachan. It was simple Gujarati, you would have understood. And you went for Pandit Jasraj.” I was standing behind and heard everything. From that day onwards, my real journey began. I haven’t missed a single pravachan since then. We started giving the swadhyay exams from the very next month. The following month, on our request, Bapaji obliged us with Premarpit membership. In July 2003, during the Canada Dharmayatra, somebody said, “One should not walk on grass. It is like walking on a pregnant woman’s stomach.” Since then, I stopped playing golf. Around the same me, I stopped consuming alcohol. I had found a higher goal now, so all this was inconsequential. Bruting Concepts Through SevaJust as bruting shapes the diamond into a perfect round, Bapaji shaped my personality through the tool of seva. Bapaji made me a trustee in the Shrimad Rajchandra Medical Trust, naturally for my own growth and not because of any worthiness on my part. A person, who used to faint at the sight of blood, was now in medical seva. My life changed in staggering dimensions during this seva. The tribal people around Dharampur are poverty-stricken and illiterate, afflicted with diseases, and incapacitated due to lack of all kinds of basic amenities. In these years, witnessing their desperate living conditions and other deprivations, as well as our efforts of serving them, has actually benefited me. It has made my heart softer. And isn’t this path all about being non-violent and compassionate? When I asked Bapaji about the hospital’s charity policy, He said, in Jivadaya are you going to charge the animals? So why discriminate against humans? What fine sentiments and what a remarkable degree of compassion! By telling me that my liberation is in medical seva and by guiding me at every step, Bapaji has changed my values. In Steering Committee meetings, I have often observed that while grooming Steering Committee members for administrative matters, He gives us complete freedom to express our individual opinions. Yet, when required, He will guide us to the minutest detail. And when doing so, central to His Heart, at all times, will be Param Krupalu Dev, the welfare of our Mission and compassion for every being. He ensures that we continually imbibe the spirit of seva and the understanding that seva leads to spiritual upliftment. Polishing to Perfection Just as diamonds are polished and beautified through the incorporation of facets, He polished me through His personalised touch. Once Bapaji brought me a gift from Japan – a wall hanging with Mother Teresa’s words of wisdom, ‘We cannot do great things in this world. We can only do small things with great love.’ He keeps posting me with messages that keep me well grounded. The best day of my life was when in one pravachan, Bapaji addressed me as His friend. Imagine God being your friend! He was thus inspiring me to be worthy of His friendship. Once at our factory during the sthapna of Param Krupalu Dev’s chitrapat, Bapaji told me, “You don’t know how to hold diamonds, but instead hold Param Krupalu Dev firrmly; understand what you are holding in your hands before it’s too late,” thus instilling in me a higher value for Param Krupalu Dev. Once He compassionately explained to me that the average lifespan of a man being 75 years, I had another ten years left to live, i.e. 500 weeks approximately. By suggesting that I keep 500 marbles in a jar and remove one every week, He pointed out the importance of time so that I do not waste a single moment of my life henceforth. Bapaji’s magic wand was at work again during Ayambil Oli. I only wanted to listen to the pravachans on Shripal Rajano Raas and not perform any austerities. But I saw myself standing in the queue for 9 days of Ayambil. Bapaji told me, “First Tapasya, then Pramukhpada and then Siddhapada!” A person of my calibre was not capable of all this. But Param Krupalu Dev and Bapaji are making sure it happens. When Bapaji was in the ICU for His angioplasty, He said, “I am living only for God. My body is for God only,” inspiring me, even in the ICU, to think in that direction too. Because of my business, I am a Jhaveri, but not a true one. But recently He told my son Shyam, “Your father is no longer a Jasani, but a part of my family!” So now, since Bapaji has made me a member of His family, I have become a true Jhaveri. Can words ever suffice to express the intoxicating grace one feels to be included in God’s family? Does gratitude have a better synonym?