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Bapaji- My Beacon of Light

A seeker from Canada Youth Group Nisha Shanghavi inks her treasured journey of revival from leading a lackluster life to one in pursuit of a spiritual goal

I can almost pinpoint the beginning of my journey with Bapaji in 1998, when my dad travelled to India for a trip. After my dad had met Bapaji, he slowly grew more spiritual and I gradually came to learn about Bapaji. I started to notice the changes in my parents and other family members after Bapaji’s advent in their lives.

This was the time I was living in complete darkness, a time where I struggled to find direction and inspiration to make changes in my life. My descent into an upsetting and disrespecting behaviour became extremely apparent to my family during Bapaji’s visit to Canada in 2003. During that trip, my family hosted Him for 11 days, but at times I was insolent and disrespectful. There was one incident when Bapaji had come for breakfast and I was sleeping on the couch in the next room. My family kept on insisting that I get up and serve Him. However at that time my ego and my deluded mind prevented me from realising His importance. During His satsangs, I would sit in the very last row, yawning and staring at my watch waiting for the time that satsang would end. Everyone in my family was excited for Him to come, whereas I had the exact opposite reaction. Though I did not know it then, this would soon change.

The Turning Point

It wasn’t until my trip to Manchester in 2004 to see Him that I realised I had begun to feel some kind of connection with Him. The moment I saw Him I felt a wave of happiness that I had never experienced before. But, by the time Bapaji came again to Canada in July 2005, my feelings had already begun to dwindle. They began to rejuvenate throughout the visit, and I started to realise the unconditional love that He offers us. After His visit, I slowly began to notice some changes in myself, where I found myself abstaining from things I normally enjoyed.

In 2006, I had an opportunity to visit India. This trip was undoubtedly the turning point for me. This was where my love story truly began. Though I knew I would see Bapaji there, I mainly wanted to go to India for other reasons. Little did I know, within a matter of two weeks, Bapaji’s grace and love would change me so deeply. During the Shri Samet Shikharji Tirthyatra in December 2006, on the day of climbing Shikharji, I was initially not part of the group that was going to climb with Bapaji. However, when He saw me, He asked me to join. Knowing that He wanted me to be with Him led to a sense of happiness that I hadn’t experienced before. I felt this incident signified that He wanted me alongside Him in my spiritual journey; in this way, I could cover great distances and overcome obstacles along the way, in the most effortless and enjoyable manner possible. With Him by my side anything is possible.

Moulding my Belief System

It was amazing just how quickly things changed from that point. When Bapaji came to visit Canada in June 2007, everything had changed. I no longer had an attitude, nor did I question my feelings about Him. I was overcome with happiness, to the point that I couldn’t sleep for many nights before His arrival. I began to open myself to the idea of a higher purpose. I was able to see such compassion and wisdom in His satsangs, and was learning so much about my erroneous ways, and how simple it was to make the changes that I needed to make. I found this to be especially true when Bapaji made references in satsangs, to the type of person I used to be. He reminded me of how I was, only to build my confidence and resolve for the future. My mind was clear, and for the first time I felt that there was so much to look forward to. In one satsang, He remembered that I had once told Him that I felt I was so undeserving of everything He was blessing me with. He responded that I should mind my own business. This was because He knew what I deserved and I should let Him do what He knew was right for me. It showed me that in times when I doubted myself, Bapaji’s support and faith in me were unwavering.

I found so much encouragement in His teachings and words, which affected so many areas of my life. For example, I had always been interested in dancing, and would often choreograph and perform at family events and weddings. Initially, dance was simply something that I did for fun, but I never felt pure enjoyment from it until I began participating in bhakti performances. Once, in a satsang, referring to me, He said that although I lack discipline in my life and in my sadhana, I could choreograph a nrutyabhakti performance in just half an hour. This was only possible because of immense love for my Guru. Over the past few years, I have been blessed with the opportunity to choreograph and participate in many nrutyabhakti performances. Dance became my medium to convey my devotion and love for Him. Through the selection of songs and with each step I choreographed, I wanted my entire being to shout out, through silence, what He had become for me. On one occasion, He said that movie stars should learn dancing from me. This wasn’t because of the glamour of my dance, but because of the feelings that He brought out of me.

The Chisel of Unconditional Love

If there were times I was tempted to give up, Bapaji was always there, pushing me to be stronger. Once, Bapaji helped me overcome my negativities just with the words, “Nobody believed you would change, but I knew that one day your entire life would change.” He was right. Once I had accepted the idea of a higher purpose, my whole world was transformed. For the first time in years, I felt free… free from the anger, sadness and emptiness I had felt so strongly. It was as though tremendous weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I recall once when there were several of us who were in His room for His darshan, there was a toy monkey there, which, when wound up, would burst into laughter. Using the toy, Bapaji taught us that when we reach the stage where we love God and only God, we too can laugh with such innocence, with absolutely no reservations, in a blissful way. It was so moving for me to have this guidance because it showed me that when you surrender your entire being to a higher purpose, it becomes possible to laugh with pure innocence.

At this point, I had experienced Bapaji’s love and grace, but my faith would still waver sometimes. For the Paryushan Parva 2012 in USA, my work-related circumstances were such that I didn’t think I would be able to attend His satsangs. Just when I was about to give up, two days before the Paryushan Parva, my circumstances changed significantly and I was able to make the trip. This made me realise that His love for me is larger than any circumstance in my life. In times of incredible need, He would always be there to guide me. I learned that His faith in me was unswerving, and this would help me to maintain my faith through difficult times. In New Jersey, He told me that He knew I would come.

During this retreat, as part of the Canada Youth Group, we would often get to spend time with Him. On one such occasion, He told me that if there was anything in satsangs that I did not understand, I should put my hand up right away and He would explain further. I said that I couldn’t do that partly out of consideration for Him, as this would interrupt His chain of thoughts, and for others and partly due to personal embarrassment. His response was that if He didn’t know what I could not understand, how could He help me? This made me realise once again that He was willing to give me everything but I needed to be willing and able to receive it.

Bapaji has trained me with encouragement, support, guidance, direction and love. Now, I see that life is not just about finding a way to get through day-by-day. It is an opportunity for me to work on myself, so I can be good to myself and others.

I have learned so much about myself and the kind of person I wish to be and it is only because of His grace. Every word He has directed at me, every smile, every time He has asked about me, every time He has responded to my letters through silence, have become His blessings for me. I have learnt how to truly love God and to truly love Him. I’m a different person today, not just because my actions have changed, but also because my outlook towards life and my character have changed. I am a better person because of Him. I now live to serve His Mission.

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

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