My Spiritual Architect Atmarpit Nishitji, offering seva in Sadguru Prerna – the Ashram’s Master Planning Project and the Ashram Committee, relives how Pujya Gurudevshri’s simple and powerful guidance prompted him to leave a lucrative job and dedicate his entire life at the Lotus Feet of the Sadguru. A gardener who won the first prize at a competition had grown watermelons in the exact shape of a pitcher. When the astounded judges asked him how he had done it, he replied saying that when the fruits were small, he put them in pitchers so that as they grew, they took the shape of that pitcher. This was the analogy Bapaji gave our family to explain how a Guru moulds His disciples. Laying the Foundation of Devotion When I met Bapaji for the first time in April, 1996, just after my 10th standard exams, little did I know that that meeting was to change my life forever! I was more a person of head than of heart; so logic and reason appealed more to me than just emotions. My experience with religious people thus far had left me disappointed, as I found they focused more on completing rituals rather than understanding the principles of religion. During this meeting, Bapaji replied in detail to the queries my parents had about Jainism. He explained the profound fundamentals of Jainism in such simple and clear way that I was bowled over. He gave me a book and as I was about to enter college life, He explained to me the importance of keeping good company. I wrote to Bapaji expressing my feeling that I was earning in lakhs in my job, but I was losing in crores by missing being with Him and requested Him to consider me for Atmarpit training. He blessed me with a reply the next day itself – ‘True decision in life and great devotion.’ As I read this, tears of joy rolled down my eyes. What more could I have asked for! I resigned from the job at the age of 30 and joined Atmarpit training. Gradually, I started attending bhakti and pravachans regularly. Never before had I heard religion being explained in such simple language, never before had I seen inquisitiveness about religion being encouraged so as to develop right belief with conviction. Moreover, I began to realise that the spiritual path was a combination of the head and the heart – a combination of knowledge and devotion. Bapaji’s devotion towards Param Krupalu Dev attracted me the most. I felt His eyes would change completely every time He did Param Krupalu Dev’s darshan. It was as if He was in a completely different world. The more I saw this in Him, the more I was drawn towards Him. Erecting the Pillars of Selflessness In 2002, He blessed me by selecting me for the quiz on ‘Ishtopadesha’, and by His grace our team stood first. After the quiz, Bapaji said He was very happy and told me that He would take me along on His trip to Mount Abu. Later that day, He sent a message saying that He would not be able to take me as the cars were full. I gladly accepted His decision, knowing that He knows what is best for me. This was only because He had moulded my attitude over the years with pravachans. Later in the Hridayarpit Group Shibir at the Ashram in 2003, He said, “I was happy with you when you won the quiz; I wanted to give you whatever I had at hand at that time, so I gave you the trip. But then I thought of testing you by taking it away.” He further added that He was very happy as I did not expect anything. He said He would take me along with Him for the next trip and if not that then we would definitely be together in moksh! He added that if I maintained such an attitude of non-expectation in all my actions, then one day I would achieve oneness with Him. What more could a disciple want than winning His rajipo. He showed me the goal of oneness with Him and the path of selfless behaviour to achieve it. Constructing the Stepping Stones of Connection Over the next few years, I completed my post-graduation and started working with JP Morgan, a large multinational company in the finance industry. My life became extremely fast paced – travelling to various cities in India and abroad, meeting top executives of various corporates, attending industry conferences at exotic locations and working intensely to get higher salaries and promotions. It was only because of the foundation that Bapaji had built during the previous years that even in such a lifestyle I ensured that I did not miss His pravachans. Bapaji would also keep mentioning me occasionally through someone to ensure that I remained connected. In February, 2010, I was at a conference in Goa. After the conference, most of my colleagues were drinking and partying outside, while I was in the hotel somehow feeling lonely and empty. At that very moment, I got a call from my sister informing me that out of nowhere Bapaji just remembered me and said He was happy with me. I cannot express the joy I felt at that moment. The world around me just stopped. My Sadgurudev, my Lord had remembered me! It was a proof that He is always with me, monitoring and nurturing me. Decorating the Interiors with Renunciation While I was engrossed in my professional life, Bapaji had different plans for me. In September, 2010, in a Hridayarpit meeting, He said that He would consider only those who had taken Parnam Diksha for a trip. This sentence struck me deep within. Even as I went to office, I could not get it out of my head and kept thinking of the excuses I was giving for not taking Parnam Diksha. Was it my office commitments or the lack of commitment for my own upliftment? Did I want to waste this human birth running after sensual pleasures and make all the years of bhakti and pravachans count for nothing? For the entire day I could not think of anything else. That very night I wrote to Bapaji expressing my feeling that I was earning in lakhs in my job, but I was losing in crores by missing being with Him and requested Him to consider me for Atmarpit training. He blessed me with a reply the next day itself – ‘True decision in life and great devotion.’ As I read this, tears of joy rolled down my eyes. What more could I have asked for! I resigned from the job at the age of 30 and joined Atmarpit training. A lot of friends and colleagues thought I was giving up a good career and financial security but what they could not see was that I had found a much greater source of security and happiness in Him, against which everything else seemed superfluous. September 26, 2011 was the blessed day when He accepted me as a part of His family, His Atmarpits! In February, 2010, I was at a conference in Goa. After the conference, most of my colleagues were drinking and partying outside, while I was in the hotel somehow feeling lonely and empty. At that very moment, I got a call from my sister informing me that out of nowhere Bapaji just remembered me and said He was happy with me. I cannot express the joy I felt at that moment. The world around me just stopped. My Sadgurudev, my Lord had remembered me! It was a proof that He is always with me, monitoring and nurturing me. Beautification with the Hues of Seva Bapaji has given me the invaluable opportunity to do seva of the Mission and at the same time ensured that I progress spiritually through this. Bapaji blessed me with seva in the Ashram accounts team, overall Ashram administration, Sadguru Prerna – the Ashram’s Master Planning Project and also as the leader of the Atmarpit Group. There were times when I would feel stressed in seva, lose my patience and snap at co-sevaks. Even if I realised this, I would mentally justify it thinking that people were not understanding enough and that I had too much to do. But how could this remain unknown to my Sadguru? He lovingly guided me in a Sadguru Udghosh on the trip to Girnar. He said, “Nishit, now your external height is not going to increase, but you should focus on increasing your internal height. No matter what the circumstances; you should be able to gladly accept them, only then will people know that you have attained something on this path.” He further added that we will be forever indebted to Param Krupalu Dev for His innumerable blessings and are never going to be able to repay Him but in this way we can attempt to repay Him in a small way. Wow! What I had considered stressful in my mind instantly became a source of connection – He showed me how seva is a form of bhakti. When I look back at all the years, I begin to understand the essence of what Bapaji had written as the shilalekh of the temple at our home – Utmost love towards the Lord, even if accomplished through the most difficult path, is worth attaining. It is only His incessant grace and love that has made my journey possible and it is only through His grace and love that I will attain oneness with Him.