From Personal to Universal, Emotional to Spiritual

by on August 7, 2016

When a friend sent me a photo of Gurudev, I felt choked with emotion. The subject of the email “His Holiness with his ‘samsaari’ mother and sister” stirred something deep within me.


Looking at Gurudev, it is hard to imagine that he has a past unlike the present. A past when he led a normal life, like us. His stately bearing, mystical smile, his demeanour and his wisdom makes us feel that this is how he must have always been – a saintly being clad in white.


Jaina Guru Praveen Rishi Chennai

The photograph set me thinking. I tried to visualize what his life must have been before he renounced the world! He too has a mother whom we now call his ‘samsaari ma’ meaning worldly mother. He has a sister too – his worldly sister. Every relationship that he was born with or formed in his growing years, is now prefixed with the word ‘samsaari’.


He has now renounced that samsaar. He is no more defined by any of those relationships. No more is he a son, a brother or even a friend!


It makes one wonder – does he miss them? Does he think of them? Does he feel a deeper connection with them than with others? Or has the process of renunciation shifted the focus of his being completely, overpowering his worldly ties? Perhaps he feels the same emotions, but does not dwell on them or allow them to affect his decisions or interfere with his spiritual practices.


That could well be the difference between him and us. That he treats everyone equally irrespective of any past ties. He has succeeded in shifting his personal and emotional frameworks to universal and spiritual ones. His enlightenment transcends beyond past ties, to treat all beings as one. His lofty thinking commands deep respect, and becomes the reason for us to venerate him.


Never before have I felt and understood the depth of Mahavira’s statement, “Mein sabhi ka hoon, sabhi mere hain” – translated as “I belong to all and everyone belongs to me.”


NOTE: When a person renounces the world and becomes a sadhu (or sadhvi), the family is allowed to visit. However, for all of them – including his parents and grandparents – he is now a sadhu, as he is for everyone else. They prostrate before him and address him as everyone else does, and in turn, he too treats them with the same detachment with which he treats everyone else.
ABOUT GURUDEV: Upadhyaya Praveen Rishiji was born in Ghodegaon (Maharashtra) on 7th October, 1957. His parents – Shri Dagdulalji Desarda and Smt. Champabai – were deeply pious and religious. On 24th March, 1974, at the young age of 16, he renounced the world and embraced monkhood at the lotus feet of Acharya Shri Anandrishiji.


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