In 1999 at the Parliament of World Religions in Cape Town I met a little man from India who was ever smiling, dressed in white with his hands folded together in a permanent namaste. His name was JP Vaswani and his simple, heart-filled presence touched all who came into contact with him. Dada is author of many books on betterment for all humanity based on the ancient spiritual wisdom that is flowing out of India. At the Parliament Dada gave a heartwarming speech of prayer, love and human brotherhood. Even the other visiting spiritual leaders took note of Dada’s words and his message was one of simplicity, truth, universality and deep inner wisdom and realization.
I made a mental note to visit Dada in India, where her presently resides and see him once more. This month I was in Pune attending a congress on Ayurveda and co-incidentally Dada was in Pune too at his beautiful palatial centre which had indeed been a former royal palace that was now the world wide headquarters of Saddhu Vaswani mission.
We stayed as guests of the ashrama and got a glimpse of the programs and projects and some of Dada’s further wisdom on life.
On arrival we witnessed the daily feeding of the poor which takes place each morning at around 9. Pune’s hungry can come get a warm meal as they queue up and get served. Volunteers who serve shout out Ram Naam Baba and everyone is smiling at the ever flowing food. This takes place each and every day. We were inspired by the regularity of the feeding program which is just one of many run by the Saddhu Vaswani mission, something that would be so much appreciated in my homeland South Africa. A simply hot meal does wonders to uplift an entire nation. India is blessed with it’s many Saints who realise the great truth in that no one should go hungry. Not only are the poor fed each morning, but so are all the surrounding birds fed on the roof of the ashrama where each morning grains are offered to all birds so they may enjoy a good breakfast too. At around 5:30am all the poor sleeping in the streets and alleys surrounding the ashrama are awoken with a cup of hot Indian tea and a bun. These services continue each and every day of the year. On special occasions all the blind of Pune are offered a free meal and other mass feeding programs continue on special days and festivals. There are always huge pots on the boil in the ashram kitchen as there is always some mass feeding on the go.
FEEDING THE POOR, SADHU VASWANI ASHRAMA, PUNE
Dada is the successor in a lineage that starts in recent times with his spiritual master, Saddhu Vaswani. All the projects are named after Saddhu Vaswani. Sadhu Vaswani was indeed Dada’s uncle and thus they carry the same name. Both were born in Sind, a region on the Indus river in Pakistan. During the separation of India and Pakistan they moved to India and resetled in Pune. Many of Saddhu Vaswani’s beautiful speeches and poems were written in Sindhi and Sindhi people from all over India and all over the world revere Dadaji as their spiritual guide and mentor. Dada is presently in his 87th year and still strong as ever leading people spiritually and delivering regular talks and heading various programs and projects of the mission.
One of the emphasis of Saddhu Vaswani was to educate women in India. His vision was that if one educated one woman, the entire family would be effected as in India the woman is the householder and she influences the husband and the children. Thus was born St. Mira’s school and college which is one of the most beautiful school’s I have ever had the pleasure to visit. The youngest children are at the mission on the same premises where Dadaji is living. Their schooling is rich in culture, wisdom and spirituality. It was a real pleasure to see these little girl children mature as women who had a sound spiritual and material footing in this world. Under Dada’s leadership of his wisdom they are in good hands and Saddhu Vaswani is often repeated for his quote that true education is the education of the Head, the Hand and the Heart. Most often today we neglect to educate or awaken the Heart and thus the intellect overburdens our self and we are left with poor spiritual resources to found a society.
St. Miras school and college is named after mother Mira who was a famous devotee of God (Lord Krishna) and is remembered fondly throughout India and the world for her unending love and devotion for God. Through the persistence of her love she become united with God. What stood out so clearly is the importance of having a spiritual foundation in today’s education. We often neglect this simple point. Everywhere in St. Mira’s are quotes of the beloved Dadaji inspiring and helping to attune ones mind with ones heart. Dada also was formerly the principal of the school and he is an overseeing father for all students. Presently the college offers various university level qualifications of students in a very beautiful and peaceful part of Pune.
Another of the Saddhu Vaswani projects is a very special hospital known as the INLACS hospital which is situated in Koregaon Park, a very green and peaceful part of Pune. The hospital was a donation from some devotees and presently it is managed by Saddhu Vaswani mission offering an amazing service to the society, on the on hand very affordable high quality medical care and on the other hand free services to impoverished patients. Besides this they have a beautiful Ayurvedic, Naturopathic and Homeopathic clinic as part of the hospital. The Ayurvedic clinic is staffed by a husband-wife doctor from Kerala who it was our deep pleasure to meet as his enlightening and pure approach to Ayurveda was truly an inspiration to all in the wake of the World Ayurveda Congress which in my mind had been overly intellectual and not practical enough. The Ayurvedic department is growing and the results are very good as the doctors are keeping to the purest standards of Ayurvedic treatment and not compromising. We saw many difficult cases being relived that otherwise would have no other treatment available. Besides the Ayurveda department there is also a modern specialty eye hospital. Dada’s projects run on prayer and faith and all through the hospital are donation boxes, images of Saddhu Vaswani, Ganesh and Dadaji and quotes of Dada and Saddhu Vaswani. The hospital truly feels like a place of healing and we felt this a great example for future hospitals to see.
FREE EYE TREATMENTS FOR THE POOR FROM ALL OVER INDIA
PRAYER ROOM FOR ALL RELIGIONS OF THE WORLD AT THE SADDHU VASWANI HOSPITAL IN PUNE
The week with Dadaji in Pune coincided with the birthday celebration of Sadhu Vaswani as his birthday was on the 26th of November. The mission declares this a worldwide meatless day and uses it as a portal to teach people about animal rights. A big part of Saddhu Vaswani’s teachings was love and respect for all creation and that animals are our younger brothers and sisters. Last year 35 million meat eaters went vegetarian on this day in support. Many people stop eating meat for good after such encounters. Dada has founded the S.A.K. foundation which stands for “Stop All Killing”, this encompasses killing of any sentient life for any reason. A beautiful mission indeed!
DADAJI DURING THE 127TH BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS OF SADDHU VASWANI
Dada’s wisdom and presence is simple and profound. His message is one of unbounded compassion, care and love. When he greeted us we were made to feel like we were truly home, there was such love and gentleness in his voice and presence. People flock from the world over to seek the advice of this simple man who is living a pure and true life. Dada is ever calm, kind and caring, he is a living example of the innate goodness in man. Dada has written countless books and given countless speeches, his message is always one, do not forget God in your life, bring God’s presence into your daily life, into each minute, each hour. Serve, love, give, move from your lower nature to your highest potential. Live simply, be positive, be ever joyful, be grateful and serve your every man. Feed everyone, give love and serve all this creation.
A simple message indeed and with a magnificent example to follow for all the world over.
What is Dada J.P Vaswani's philosophy and teaching?
The following is a reproduction of a section of Dada's article in East and West series, May 2000 titled; “What life has taught me.”
1. In the endless adventure of existence, God and man are comrades. God is our one unfailing companion. He will never leave us. We may try to run away from him. But he will continue to follow us as our own shadow. In the words of Thompson, he is the “Heavenly Hound.”
2. There is a meaning of mercy in everything that happens to us. For God is All-love. He is All-wisdom. He is too loving to punish, too wise to make a mistake. Whatever happens in the Divine Providence happens for our own good. Nothing happens a moment too early or too late…..therefore wherever God takes us, let us go, wherever he keeps us, let us remain. Let us never forget that all is well, all was well, all will be well both tomorrow and a hundred years hence.
3. When man surrenders himself to God, He takes upon Himself his entire responsibility. All we need to do is to hand ourselves over, in childlike trust to the Lord. And the angels of God will go ahead of us to clear the way.
4. Thought is a tremendous force in the life of any individual. Thoughts shape our attitudes. Attitudes mould our character. Character influences our life. By changing our thought pattern, we can change our life.
5. Problems and challenges are not a dead end; they are only a bend in the road. Problems are not stumbling blocks; they are stepping stones to a better, richer, more radiant life. Not unoften, problems become the door through which God enters our life. We have surrounded ourselves with hard shells which keep God away from us. Problems crack the shell and God easily enters our lives.
6. Neither rites nor rituals, neither creeds nor ceremonies are needed to improve the condition of the world. All that is needed is to love one another.
7. Are you anxious to love God? Then you must be prepared to lose yourself.
8. Do you want God to be yours? Then you must first become his!
9. How may we know that we are drawing closer to God? The closer we draw to God, the more tender and compassionate become our hearts to the needs of those around us.
10. What is the best exercise for the heart? Reach down and lift up as many as you can.
11. Misfortunes are blessings if we handle them well. They are like knives which hurt or help as we hold them by the blade or handle.
12. Life is too short to be spent in fault-finding, holding grudges, or keeping memory of wrongs done to us. Forgive even before forgiveness is asked. Forgive and forget.
13. The worst thing that can happen to a man is that he has a hot head and a cold heart.
14. If a person has moved in the wrong direction, he can always take a U-turn. The angels of God will be with him. The past does not – cannot – bind us!
15. You who are looking for miracles, open your eyes and see! All around us are the miracles of God.
16. A tiny seed grows into a huge banyan tree. A caterpillar becomes a butterfly.
17. Open thine heart and let love enter in – and all things in the universe will gravitate to thee. For love is the power that pulls!
18. Give, give, give – until it hurts to give! This will release you from bondage to the ego - and to things.
19. I must never forget that every thought I think, every word I utter, every action I perform, every feeling, every emotion that wakes up in me, is recorded in the memory of nature. I might be able to deceive those around me, I may even succeed in deceiving myself. But I cannot deceive nature.
20. When a particular problem has vexed you for sometime and you are unable to do anything about it, hand it over to God. Breathe out the aspiration “ “Thy will be done, O Lord!” Soon a way will be shown to you.
21. Does God want our work? Or does he want our love? He wants that we should work for Him in love.
22. If you wish to know God and understand him, you must love Him more and more! The more you love him, the more you will know him. The key to knowledge is – LOVE.
23. The aim of life is to realize that we are immortal spirit – not the bodies we wear!
24. An infinite potential lies hid within us. We are unaware of it, because we think of ourselves as limited, restricted creatures. We have identified ourselves with a biochemical mental organism. Our true self is the atman. Tat twamasi! That art thou! There can be no limit to what we can do – and achieve!
25. When all around us the storms blow and the tempests roar, let us close our eyes, think of God and repeat the words “God is with me-and He is in control.” Those are words of power and can quell the fiercest storm.
26. No man can attain to enlightenment by his own efforts. Enlightenment cometh to man by the grace of God. Strive for enlightenment – yes. But like the peasant who tills the soil and sows the seed – then turns to the heaven for chandi ka gola (the silver drops of rain)
27. The greatest illusion which man suffers from is perhaps the illusion of death. In reality, there is no death. Death is very much like the sunset. When the sun sets here, it has already risen elsewhere. Likewise, death here is birth elsewhere. For life is eternal.
28. The greatest intoxication is that of the ego. The worst madness is that of anger. The person who is free from arrogance and anger finds goodness and beauty wherever he goes.
29. Has someone offended you or insulted you? Insults are like bad coins. You cannot avoid them, but you can refuse to accept them.
30. The test of a man is – how much he can bear and how much he can share and how soon he confesses a mistake and makes amends for it.
31. If while praying we can think of worldly matters, why can we not, when doing worldly things, think of God?
32. Think positively. Eat sparingly. Exercise regularly. Walk as much as you can. Be careful to see that your thoughts and actions are clean. A guilty mind breeds many diseases. There is the way to live a happy, healthy, harmonious life.
33. I have met many who will go to any length to prove the superiority of their religion over those of others. They will hold endless discussions and debates. They will even fight for it – and die for it. But I have met very few who live for their religion – who bear witness to the great teaching in deeds of daily living. Religion is life!
Please visit the website of The Sadhu Vaswani Mission