|April 12, 2003 |
Des Plaines Mandira
The son of Bhaga Doshi, Shivlal Sheth of Botad, was a very dedicated devotee who served Gunatitanand Swami. He was so rich that his wealth was enough for 4 generations [ref. Swami Ni Vato 10/226]. Yet, leaving aside everything, he used to sit in dhyaana (meditation) for 4 1/2 hours a day [ref. Swami Ni Vato 6/76]. He also had a special love for listening to and talking about God [ref. Swami Ni Vato 11/170]. While a householder, he remained detached from family and wealth [ref. Swami Ni Vato 11/182]. Gunatitanand Swami wanted to perfect devotees to become truly liberated and Shivlal Sheth had the great capacity to accept Gunatitanand Swami's talks. Even when scolded, he always considered saints as his greatest benefactors and route to salvation.
Once Shivlal Sheth's sister-in-law came to stay with the family. Shivlal Sheth however noticed her only after many days. Shivlal Sheth's wife had passed away at an early age. Despite the insistence of his father and the Aachaarya (see "Shastriji Maharaj and the Acharya Role"), Shivlal Sheth did not find any interest in another marriage, but rather wished to dedicate his time to the service of the satsanga.
On one occasion, Shivlal Sheth visited the Junagadh temple after making a very large profit from trading gold in the market that day. Shivlal Sheth told Gunatitanand Swami that due to the success of the trade, he would sponsor everyones' meal. Gunatitanand Swami however responded, "Have you ever thought about trading a billion mana (1 mana equals about 20 kgs.) of chaff? For the great saint, other than God's moorti, everything upto Prakruti-Purush is like chaff...What have you gained in missing this saint's darshana and talks for that much time?" [ref. Swami Ni Vato 3/22]
Because Shivlal Sheth was extremely rich, he was given much respect. He was invited for the enshrining of the image of Harikrishna Maharj at Gadhada and for the enshrining of the image of Raghuvirji Maharaj at Bhavnagar. When he returned to Junagadh though, Gunatitanand Swami explained that in that time period, due to false ego, his level in satsanga had become half. Gunatitanand Swami then continued spiritual discussions with Shivlal Sheth for two months, so he would regain his spiritual height [ref. Swami Ni Vato 3/21].
Like many people during that time, Shivlal Sheth had the habit of chewing sopaaree (betel nut). One day, due to the chewing noise, Atmanand Swami stopped in the middle of a discourse and asked, "Who is chewing a bone [like a dog]?" Hearing Atmanand Swami's remark, Shivlal Sheth immediately spit out the sopaaree and vowed to never eat it again [ref. Swami Ni Vato 10/50].
When Atmanand Swami was about to pass away, Shivlal Sheth asked him to also take him to Akshardham. Thus, at a very young age, 8 days after Atmanand Swami passed away, Shivlal Sheth also went to Akshardham.