Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Bhagatji Maharaj's Devotees

Our Satsang is filled with rich examples of character and value-based living hailing all the way from Shriji Maharaj's time until now. Let's take a look at some example from Bhagatji Maharaj's time with the upcoming sabha presentation in kishore/kishori sabha.

Step 1: Synthesize the simple statement. Here are a few we created. We are leaning towards presenting the first since our target audience and our sabha could really use a boost in the commitment department.
  • Our only barrier to connecting with the Satpurush is commitment.
  • The strength of a true devotee cannot be matched.
  • The Satpurush meets us more than halfway if we try to reach him.
Step 2: Start with the shakeup. Any one of these examples will wake people up - a good way to start.
  • Hitting Rock Bottom: Let's face it - whenever we hear of the prasangs of great devotees of our Satsang, we can only feel helpless and inferior in the presence of such shining examples. Hearing their tales only serves to expose our own vulnerabilities to ourselves, which of course we don't so like, so we often tune out and rationalize away the essence of these devotees' existence. However, we can turn to the life of J.K. Rowling; in her 2008 Commencement Speech given at Harvard University, she narrates the story of her life and offers a powerful insight in what she had learned, “Why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” This example can introduce the idea that seeing our faults can help us focus on improving them - as long as we are committed to this. 
  • David Blaine: Finding his true strength is what David Blaine does for a living; listen to how he trained his body to survive without oxygen for a record-breaking 17 minutes, defying even what the doctors considered healthy. These devotees also had true strength.

  • Saving the Ship: In Act 2 of This American Life episode, we come to learn of two individuals who piece together a sunken ship. While one provided the know-how, the other did the actual labor. We synergize with the Satpurush in a similar manner as he provides us with the knowledge to meet him halfway. (Note: We took inspiration from the Titanic example in the syllabus; using this example to start off the presentation would best be achieved by detailing how the original ship sunk and how it was recovered by efforts of these two men.)
Step 3: Support the simple statement with stories filled with vivid details (concrete) and validity (credibility). For the stories below, we chose to link back to our second simple statement, "The Satpurush meets us more than halfway if we try to reach him." These prasangs will be brand new for many kishoris and kishores, so a greater emphasis on storytelling will hold everyone's attention.
  • Girdharbhai: A keen interest in offering bhakti can go one of two ways. Either the individual stagnates with succumbing to the infatuation of his/her spiritual ability or they grow closer to God & His Ekantik Bhakta. Girdharbhai was obviously of the latter, and Shriji Maharaj Himself took notice to help him realize the pragat form of God. However, Girdharbhai doubted God's words which any devotee does at some point or another, yet his intent brimmed with sincerity which beckoned Shriji Maharaj to once again help him on his path to finding the Ekantik Bhakta. Again, if our intent is true, then God & His Ekantik Bhakta will forever appreciate it and go out of their way to help us out.
  • Bechar Bhagat: He went to Pragji Bhakta to get a shirt stitched, and Pragji Bhakta offered him the chance to awaken his inner strength of Satsang. However simple this encounter may appear to be, we fail to realize that even merely stumbling into the Satpurush's company is enough for him to open the door for us. Again, iwe unknowingly ask the Satpurush for help in a genuine sense, he will reciprocate that sincerity through steering us to the right path. (For more information about Bechar Bhagat, check out this post.)
  • Balmukund Swami: When Bhagatji Maharaj arrived in Junagadh, the Nagar devotees understood his eminence as Gunatitanand Swami's prime devotee. Thus, devotees and sadhus like Balmukund Swami felt humbled in his presence and expressed that same sentiment to those that came into contact with them, like Dr. Umiyashankar. Upon first look, we may not see how the Satpurush met this devotee halfway, especially since he questioned Bhagatji Maharaj's status, but would he have even come to understand Bhagatji Maharaj's mahima if he never lay eyes on him at all? Let's think about it - the Satpurush travels to quench our spiritual thirst and to awaken that thirst in those who have a sincere intent. As Balmukund Swami was of a learned nature, those who claimed him as their guru, like Dr. Umiyashanker, would have imbued such sadhutaa in their lives as well from associating with him. Thus, Bhagatji Maharaj's visit enabled these peripheral devotees to gain a better chance at seeking to understand him.
Just as the Satpurush will meet us halfway (and even more), let's strive to put forth that genuine effort into making this presentation powerful. If we too meet our audience halfway, they too will meet us all the way in loaning us their keen interest.

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