In sharp contrast to several of our spiritual leaders in India who are seen seated on a throne-like-chair and endeavour to attain God-like status in their human form, Dada J P Vaswani was humility personified.
When I first met him for an interview back in the 1990s, I bowed in respect and almost instantly, he did too. I was too stunned to react, but armed with his characteristic smile and twinkling eyes, he quickly explained the importance of every human being he connects with.
Again Dada, unlike most spiritual leaders, was an academic scholar.
Dada’s PhD on “The scattering of X-Rays by Solids” was examined by Nobel-Laureate, Dr. C.V Raman. The eminent scientist, C.V.Raman was apparently impressed by the originality of Dada’s views which were in total contrast to his own.
Dada served as Principal of St. Mira’s College and was a champion of women empowerment in education.
He would often say that if you educate a girl, you educate an entire family. And that was not mere lip service – he implemented it thoroughly, throughout his life.
Though an educationist, he advocated training of the heart and believed that a`hot head’ and a cold heart’ is the wrong formula to live life.
From being a brilliant and popular academician, author and editor of several journals, he moved from the mainstream and walked the path of spirituality by becoming a shishya (disciple) to his uncle, Sadhu T L Vaswani.
This conscious decision was taken with the sole intention of serving humanity. However, he did not ignore his flair for writing and went on to author over 200 books, each one teaching the values of life.
If you thought that’s elementary, you will be surprised at how much we ignore them. Particularly, his philosophy of love and more love for everyone around us which he says will make for a peaceful community and society.
It is important to understand here the reverence given to the Sadhu Vaswani Mission, soon after its leader Sadhu T L Vaswani arrived in Pune from Hyderabad Sind, after the 1947 partition.
The legendary social reformer Maharshi Karve welcomed him at a public function. At the crowded gathering in Gokhale Hall, Karve introduced him to the citizens of Pune as the `Saint of Sind.’
Maharshi Karve said that it was this city’s good fortune that a holy man of Sadhu Vaswani’s calibre had come to live here What Hyderabad had lost, Pune had gained.
Ever since, the Mission has contributed generously to the society, not only through charitable organisations and educational institutions, but through the resilient Sindhi community which has made itself economically successful and carved a niche in Pune’s economic and social progress.
Dada, unlike most others, did not believe in Guru Worship and in the compulsion of attending his talks and satsang.
He would say that duties towards family and work are more important than the `ritualistic’ habit of attending congregations. He would say to his followers that if your husband needs you or children need you, then that’s service to God.
This one line from Dada has impacted me a lot – “Keep an appointment with God every morning.’’ Which means – be in silence, meditate- so that you are geared up for your day’s work. It really helps.
Dada was a stickler for following the law.
When the building of the Sadhu Vaswani Mission underwent renovation, he had strictly instructed that no changes are to be undertaken, other than those permitted, as it is a Grade I heritage structure. The building was renovated at a cost of over Rs.10 crore and it continues to stand tall and magnificent as it was in its original, erstwhile form as Jeejeebhoy Castle.
Dada is the spiritual leader of the rich Sindhi community which he used to proudly say can be found on every continent of the world. His work and focus for the poor and the underprivileged and is admirably supported by the affluent community who have been generously donating towards these causes.
Feeding the less fortunate is a regular routine at the Mission besides the innumerable charities being supported.
Particularly, the most magnanimous charity Dada implemented is in the form of healthcare at a nominal cost. The Inlaks & Budhrani Hospital which also has in its premises, the K K Eye Institute and Cancer Hospital is a testimony to this.
Just last week, a member of the family underwent a cataract surgery. The hospital is truly impressive with all modern facilities, highly sophisticated equipment and competent young eye-specialists. Over and above, the disposition of nurses and doctors who address you with so much warmth and cheer instills a deep sense of comfort and confidence.
Even before vegetarianism became fashionable, Dada advocated vegetarianism, declaring 25th November, the birthday of Sadhu T L Vaswani as World Meatless Day and the response has always been phenomenal.
He used to say that 21st century belongs to the rights of birds and animals and sure enough we keep reading about court judgments favouring their rights.
Dada Vaswani has always remained non-controversial as he has only spread the doctrine of love and compassion. The Sindhi community and the city of Pune has been orphaned with his passing away, but the foundation laid by him is so strong that the Sadhu Vaswani Mission will continue its magnanimous work towards society.
The sun has set, only to rise elsewhere…
That’s how Dada explained death. Simple, yet profound!
That's Vinita Deshmukh, Senior journalist and RTI activist who believes in journalism that reflects the views and needs of the common man.
Get Real And Stay Relevant says Vinita,
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