From Ego to Eternity Kiritbhai Daftary, managing trustee of Shrimad Rajchandra Mission Dharampur (USA) and ex-President of the Federation of Jain Associations in North America (JAINA), narrates his journey from coveting outer power to gaining inner strength under the impeccable guidance of the Master It seemed I was a perfectionist and always on the offensive. My staff used to be tense. They were on their toes, not knowing what would trigger my anger. To be famous and successful was my goal. Family life was taken for granted. Religion was defined by rituals but it was not truly spiritual. Looking back I used to view myself as calm, considerate and humble; but in fact, I was full of ego and anger. Discovering His Divinity through JAINA In 2003, prior to my JAINA Presidency, my wife Pramila and I met Bapaji for the first time to invite Him for the JAINA convention. Though He was preparing to take a flight to Hong Kong within an hour, He was calm, relaxed and kind to me. We spoke about JAINA activities. I thought He was a good orator and logically powerful, a good fit for the 2005 JAINA keynote speaker. Looking back, I still find it humorous that there in front of me was my future, yet what mattered to me the most was finding a ‘good speaker’ for JAINA. During the 2005 JAINA convention, being the convener, I didn’t have a chance to attend Bapaji’s satsangs. But during the 2007 convention I found time to attend all His satsangs. For me, finding time always seemed like a hassle, but the moment I met Bapaji, I began to realise the merits of making time for Him. Every experience I had with Him, whether it was escorting Him to the main hall before satsangs, or sitting as close to Him as possible, there was always something about Him that I found incredibly moving. His messages were touching, I felt that He was addressing my spiritual needs and I was being pulled towards Him. During the cultural programmes, I sat next to Him whenever I could. At the 2007 JAINA Convention, as I moved into my last days of JAINA Presidency, Pramila wondered how a workaholic like me would deal with the emptiness that was to come once I was no longer the President. My days and nights were filled with JAINA activities. But His grace was already working on me, which I was unaware of. In one of the meetings with Bapaji, He accepted my invitation to visit my residence at Waco, Texas. When we returned home to Waco after the convention, we found that our air conditioning unit had broken down. The temperatures during summer in Texas reach above 100° F (37.8 °C) on a normal day. How would we handle His first visit? Would we have to arrange His stay in a hotel? Bapaji sensed our dilemma and called us the very next day informing us that He had to change His plans due to His health. He told us that He would visit us next time. I was in tears talking to Him on the phone, tears of joy that He called us personally and sadness that we were so unfortunate to miss the golden opportunity. It seemed that we had not yet made a strong enough connection with Him for Him to come to our home and bless our abode! Was this my love for Him as I would have never shed tears for such incidents in the past? We were now longing to be with Him before He left USA even though we had spent a week together at the JAINA convention. We did not want to wait till we went to India or till He came back to USA again. We wanted to see Him there and then! Luckily the next shibir was at the Los Angeles Jain Centre in a couple of days. Bapaji was happy to see us attend the satsangs. Miracles had started happening. Establishing a Spiritual Bond We had our first formal meeting relating to our sadhana with Bapaji in L.A. He asked about our religious activities. I bragged about learning of Nav Tattva, Karnanuyog, Niyamsaar, Samaysaar etc. under Panditji’s guidance during Paryushan, while doing atthai. Bapaji was kind and listened to everything without any comments. He gave us various CDs on meditation and asked us to do meditation. This was our first ajna from Bapaji. Life was changing from being a demanding JAINA President to sweet surrender in Guruajna. During the Paryushan of 2007, Bapaji gave us a book named ‘Atmajnan ane Sadhanapath’. I was so keen on completing the book and finding hidden messages for me that I completed the book during Paryushan itself. I realised the importance of Vipassana and asked for Bapaji’s permission to attend a course. His ajna had made so much impact on me that we decided to cancel our Hawaii trip to attend Vipassana. We wanted to complete the Vipassana shibir before we met Bapaji again. With His Grace, we enjoyed every minute of Vipassana. Bapaji noticed the change and said that I looked more relaxed. He doesn’t miss even minute changes in His followers. He truly looks after everyone justifying His title, Ba-like a mother and Pa-like a father. I could feel myself changing; I began accepting changes with less tension. I received the news of being diagnosed with cancer and I took it without any tension or worry. I went in for a major surgery to remove the cancerous growth. When I came out of anaesthesia, I was told that I was reciting ‘Sahajatmaswaroop Paramguru!’ I felt Bapaji was looking after me and making sure that I did not lose my connection with the Divine. We requested Bapaji to perform Pratishtha at our home. We wanted Param Krupalu Dev to give us direction and illuminate the path of liberation. Bapaji graciously accepted our request and made a special trip for two days to perform Pratishtha. That was the most memorable day for us as the Lord came to our home and heart. Thank you JAINA for helping me find my Lord, my saviour. Bapaji is very kind and continually showers unconditional love on His devotees. After my JAINA Presidency, Acharya Shri Mahapragyaji asked me to form Anuvibha of North America and preside over it. Normally I would have jumped at this opportunity and accepted such a position without a second thought as it would feed and boost my ego. I didn’t even know this was ego, till I took Bapaji’s sharan. I used to think I was only doing social work, but in the background my ego was also being fed. But now, it was different. I had someone who I could go to for guidance and help me decide if it was right for me or not. I sent all the information about Anuvibha to Bapaji. He wanted me to offer seva without affecting my spiritual well-being. For me this was the first time I had taken someone’s advice at heart and I still follow it through. Glad Acceptance – the Way Forward Through His grace I have learnt to accept situations in life as they unfold. The most recent and most important being when Rajesh, my youngest son, announced his intension of introducing Emma as his soul-mate. Normally in the past I would have been totally against such a radical move, and would have fought hard against such a decision. But things are different now! Rajesh himself commented and complemented me on my accepting Emma in our family, I even suggested that he bring Emma to meet Bapaji during the Paryushan in New York. In the past, I would have been upset as it would have hurt me seeing him marrying a non-Jain. I had long argued about the cons of marrying non- Jains. But, now I accepted his choice and was happy to introduce her to Bapaji. I was not ashamed; I had learnt to accept the situation as it unfolded. This was the change Bapaji had brought in me. My family too was happy to see this change in me. Once, we went to Shrimad Rajchandra Divinetouch, Hughes Road for Bapaji’s darshan before we left for USA, but there was no meeting that day and we didn’t get His darshan! Anyhow, Bapaji got to know of our disappointment. Around midnight, while we were in the departure lounge we got a call and were told that Bapaji was flying out too and He had taken our flight details. We looked for Him everywhere in the departure area and lounges, but couldn’t find Him. We were getting desperate, as there was only half an hour left for our flight to depart and He was nowhere to be seen. All of a sudden from far we saw Bapaji looking at the departure monitor. Pramila and I exclaimed in joy and ran towards Him! Tears were rolling down our eyes! He was calm and unaffected, just an observer! We wish to have same bhaavdasha as His! His divine presence has changed my life. Today, my staff finds me cordial and jovial. I don’t jump to react at someone’s imperfections or mistakes or other petty things. My mornings and evenings are filled with talks about Bapaji, satsangs, bhakti and meditation. Non- spiritual aspects of my life have begun to drift away as I make my journey inwards. I have known of Param Krupalu Dev since childhood, but now I revere Him for showing us the true path. I thank Param Krupalu Dev and Bapaji. Now, I know samyag darshan is not far for me as I have my ananya Lord guiding me and looking after me!