A Celebration of Param Pujya Jyotiben’s Life

Jyotiben

 

The 13th February 2018, would have seen the 85th birthday of our divine guru Param Pujya Jyotiben. In celebration of this great soul, who dedicated her life to God manifest, who herself became a God realised saint and gave God to others, we would like to share her life story with all fellow mukto.

 

 

May we all gain insight to P. P. Jyotiben’s remarkable single-minded devotion, her dynamic personality and may this inspire us to live in Guruhari Pappaji Maharaj in order to please Him and Him alone.

 

Early Years

 

Name: Jyotiben Tulsidas Amin

Childhood name: Jasu

Siblings: P. Kantibhai, P. Shantaben, P. Vidyaben and P. Taraben

Date of Birth: 2nd March 1933 (Gregorian Calendar)

                          Maha Vad 13, 1889 (Akshar Ratri-also known as Mahashivratri)

Place of Birth: Siddhpur, Patan

Education: First Year Arts

Lived by Motto: ‘Garju thai Seva Karo’ – ‘Humbly serve the Lord and his devotees’.

 

P. P. Jyotiben’s home town was Siddhpur.  Siddhpur is a historical place located on the bank of the Sarasvati River in Gujarat, India.  Jyotiben was the youngest and a much-loved member of the family. From a very young age P. P. Jyotiben upheld virtuous qualities.  Fearless, courageous, daring and full of life, she was P. P. Sonaba’s favourite.  As a child, she loved skipping and would get involved in any kind of activity with full interest and zest.

 

In the evenings, P. P. Sonaba would gather all the children together for a sabha to sing the praises of Swaminarayan Bhagwan, Brahmswarup Shastriji Maharaj and Brahmswarup Yogiji Maharaj and P. P. Jyotiben would join in with her elder siblings and listen with much interest to the stories. 

 

Once in Sarangpur, P. P. Jyotiben heard Brahmswarup Shastriji Maharaj say that satsangi children should refrain from drinking tea.  Instantly she gave up tea and only began drinking tea in 1974 when she had her glaucoma operation and the ophthalmic surgeon requested her to start drinking tea again.

 

P. P. Jyotiben’s father passed away when she was a mere toddler. The Swaminarayan faith was a very vital and integral part of Sonaba’s family. The whole family lived each moment with a deep devotion to Lord Swaminarayan and in the service of his devotees. 

 

P. P. Jyotiben was very interested in studying and would say, “There is no knowledge without college”.  As P. P. Jyotiben grew up, her devotion to Swaminarayan Bhagwan and to the then swarupo became intense.   P. P. Jyotiben herself recounts one of her favourite memories (smruti) that occurred in 1948 (when she was 15 years of age). Brahmswarup Shastriji Maharaj was staying at Nandaji’s banglow, it was evening time, Brahmswarup Yogiji Maharaj stood up to start aarti.  P. P. Sonaba, P. P. Taraben, P. P. Jyotiben and other ladies were enjoying darshan from the gardens, which was at a fair distance.  As Brahmswarup Yogi Maharaj got up, P. P. Jyotiben started to sing a devotional bhajan.

 

Arji Amari prabhu juna daftar ma, kyare e laksh ma levay re? Dinbandu velera avjo

 

(‘Our intense deepest desire is to have your darshan oh Lord, it feels like our request has been buried inside an old hold-all, how long before you fulfil our wish? Oh Lord please grant my wish very soon.’)

 

To P. P. Jyotiben’s surprise, with his back to all devotees as He was walking away, Brahmswarup Yogiji Maharaj heard this bhajan, raised his hand and instantly said “Apni arji swikaray gai chhe” (“Your request has been granted!”)

 

This moment was one of most important moments in P. P. Jyotiben’s life because she had decided that she wanted to dedicate her life to the Lord and his devotees and Brahmswarup Yogiji Maharaj had accepted her request.

 

A Pillar of Gunatit Jyot

 

Just as Laduba and Jivuba had spent their entire lives in the service of Lord Swaminarayan, on 3rd October 1952 on Sharad Poonam, P. P. Kakaji and Guruhari Pappaji were in Gondal for darshan of Brahmswarup Yogiji Maharaj.  On that particular occasion, Pappaji Maharaj asked Yogi Bapa regarding P. P. Taraben’s and P. P. Jyotiben’s future and instantly Brahmswarup Yogiji Maharaj said, “Beno bhagwan bhaje to shu khotu?  Maharaj jog api deshe ne e kaam tamare karvanu chhe”.  (“There is nothing wrong in ladies dedicating their lives to worship God. Maharaj will facilitate this and this task you have to undertake.”)

 

Up until that moment, only men were accepted in the ‘sadhu fold’. It was Brahmswarup Yogiji Maharaj’s open-mindedness that allowed equality for women in fulfilment of Shreeji Maharaj’s sankalp as per Vachanamrut G III 26, and he instructed Pappaji Maharaj to lead P. P. Taraben and P. P. Jyotiben, followed by

P. P Didi and P. P Deviben, on this spiritual path.  These four became the pillars of Gunatit Jyot. This was a revolutionary moment for all womenkind.  Guruhari Pappaji took on the responsibilities and P. P. Taraben and P. P. Jyotiben became the first of the pioneers of women who would attain the highest levels of spiritual devotion (ekantik dharma).

 

The beno began their sadhana living with P. P. Sonaba, Kakaji Maharaj and Guruhari Pappaji in Tardev at 6D Sonawala Building.  Gradually other beno;

P. P. Hansadidi and P. P. Deviben joined P. P. Taraben and P. P. Jyotiben in their quest to attain ekantik dharma.

 

One time, Pappaji Maharaj was merely teasing P. P. Jyotiben when he said, “If I were to ask you to leave Tardev, where would you go?”.  Instantly P. P. Jyotiben replied “I would sit outside on the steps but would not go anywhere”.   

 

This simple direct response illustrated P. P. Jyotiben’s firm determination of becoming a param bhagwat sant.  Never, not even for a moment, has she taken “manushya-bhav” in Kakaji Maharaj or Pappaji Maharaj (taken offence of them believing them to be just normal human beings), always regarding both swarupo as “bhagwan nu swaroop” and conveying the same mahatmya through her own actions and words. One time in Tardev, Kakaji Maharaj and Guruhari Pappaji wanted to discuss something in private, they asked P. P. Taraben and P. P. Jyotiben to go outside and go up and down the stairs until they had finished.  The Tardev flat was on the fourth floor (84 steps in total).  The two sisters without flinching or any kind of complaint did exactly as they were asked and continued to walk up and down the stairs until Pappaji Maharaj and Kakaji Maharaj had finished and were asked to return. Both sisters had unswerving loyalty and divine sentiments (nirdosh buddhi) for Kakaji Maharaj and Pappaji Maharaj and never queried them about anything.

 

In Tardev, P. P. Hansadidi and P. P. Deviben went out to work.  P. P. Hansadidi was a teacher by profession and P. P. Deviben a lawyer.  P. P. Jyotiben and P. P. Taraben remained at home and continued with whatever seva they could do, to assist Kakaji Maharaj and Guruhari Pappaji.  Brahmswarup Yogiji Maharaj had given both Pappaji Maharaj and Kakaji Maharaj different types seva, with P. P. Taraben assisting Guruhari Pappaji with the office seva and P. P. Jyotiben assisted Kakaji Maharaj.   

 

Kakaji Maharaj would often ask P. P. Jyotiben to retrieve certain files.  As soon as she would bring these over, he would say “Not these – the other files”, she would eagerly go and get the other files.  Never complaining or tiring of even the smallest of seva. P. P. Jyotiben had a very easy-going approach to life and in any situation, she would reach out to the Lord for help, practicing her motto “Let him work”.

 

Seva was P. P. Jyotiben’s life, in Gunatit Jyot, she took an avid interest in every department.  Always looking for ways to make life easier for the beno of Gunatit Jyot.  Whenever she was out during vicharan she would always be on the lookout for machinery of all kinds which would be useful to Jyot.  In the early days beno would dye cloth manually for their saffron robes.  This activity would take hours and would be very hard for the beno. P. P. Jyotiben made enquiries and visited various places and came back with a special laundry roller which made dying of cloth easier and no longer a manual activity.  This carried on for many years, and although it was easier than dying cloth in large pans, it was still hard work.  P. P. Jyotiben was not satisfied.  Again, she started making enquiries and finally she rested when she located a factory which was happy to dye the cloth and this very hard laborious activity no longer needed to be done by the beno. 

 

In this way, there are so many areas of Gunatit Jyot where P. P. Jyotiben had installed different kinds of machinery to make life easier for beno.  P. P. Jyotiben’s message to the grahasto (married devotees of our Gunatit Samaj) was to re-iterate Guruhari Pappaji’s message: “Seva of the beno is the ultimate route to redemption”.  

 

One time, P. P. Jyotiben was visiting a devotee in India whose financial circumstance were dire.  As P. P. Jyotiben was leaving, that devotee gave P. P. Jyotiben Rs.100 and said, “Please ensure all Jyot beno accept my seva”.   Ordinarily one would think how far will Rs 100 go?  What can be bought with Rs 100, that four hundred beno could benefit from this seva.  This to our worldly mind is an impossible feat.  P. P. Jyotiben smiled and accepted this gift from the devotee and promised that her seva would reach all the beno.   As they returned to Vidyanagar, P. P. Jyotiben asked Pujya Vijaybhai to stop at a grocery shop.  There she gave Vijaybhai the Rs100 and asked him to purchase as much salt as he could from the hundred rupees.  They reached Gunatit Jyot very late that day, P. P. Jyotiben went straight to the kitchen and gave all the salt to the head of the kitchen.  She requested the head to use all the salt in the next day’s cooking so that the seva given by that devotee with such love and devotion would reach each of the four hundred beno.  P. P. Jyotiben’s thinking was beyond this world.  To come up with such an ingenious way of ensuring that this seva reached four hundred beno was truly brilliant.  

 

Daily routine activities during the morning (Din-charya)

 

·      Waking up at the crack of dawn (3:00 a.m.), P. P. Jyotiben would use her own small torch to do darshan of Thakorji that was in her own room, whilst she remained in bed.  Sevaks ensure that the following items are beside her when she sleeps: Thakorji, mala and torch.

·      30 mins chanting and praying whilst doing mala (turning the rosary).  Completing her mala, she would arise and do darshan of Thakorji in her personal mandir in her room.

·      After getting ready between 5.30 am to 6.00 am, she would do dhun in Jyot Mandir.  After aarti, she would bless all beno who are in attendance in the mandir.

·      She would then do 11 or 21 pradakshina in the mandir.

·      Visit P. P. Sonaba’s room for darshan.

·      Visit Prabhu Krupa for darshan

·      Finally, a visit to Brahm-vihar where more pradakshina are performed.

·      Upon returning to Jyot, she would go the “central office” and then to the kitchen where she would bless all the beno who are in seva.

·      Returning to her room, she would have a small breakfast before commencing her daily maha-puja.

·      Mahapuja was a very important part of P. P. Jyotiben’s daily routine.  She would lovingly spend hours in mahapuja welcoming all divine swarupo to attend this mahapuja.  She had spent hours lovingly making garlands for all the murtis. She particularly welcomed all swarupo by singing the bhajan: “Padharo ne Sahajanandji ho guna kari ne maaf.”

·      P. P. Jyotiben would perform the mahapuja with such devotion and without any kind of haste.  Devotees would spend time in her presence taking part in the mahapuja ceremony where she altruistically prayed for the well-being of all devotees of the Gunatit Samaj.

·      Sometimes devotees would ask questions and she would give them sound spiritual advice.  Other times, she would receive phone calls from devotees around the globe with questions or issues where they needed her guidance.  P. P. Jyotiben, being ever approachable, no one hesitated in reaching out to her for help, assistance or guidance.

 

She genuinely cared for all and listened to their problems. Her directness and quick decision-making attributes meant she was adored and admired by young and old alike.  Not only was she always at hand to impart good, sound spiritual advice, but she also followed up by ensuring that she prayed for that devotee until their issues were resolved.  Caring so much that she would call them back to ask if everything was fine again. 

 

P. P. Jyotiben in Guruhari Pappaji Maharaj’s words

 

“Jyotiben, Maharaj nu, Prabhu nu pandlu (leaf) thai ne jive chhe.  Maharaj halave em hale chhe. Chalave em chale chhe ane, Maharaj ni seva-roop, bhakti-roop badhu karya kare chhe.  Jyot ane Jogi na thai ne 100% Jyotiben jive chhe.  Pale pal nu jivan e Jyotiben nu jivan chhe.  A pade prabhu ni bansari thai ne jive, ne pachhi ena man ma koi abhipray nahi.  Bhul hoy to vadhi nakhe ne biji minute e prem thi modha ma kodiyo muke. 

 

Etle e sahu na adarsh chhe.   Maharaj no sidhant ke koi nay abhav avgun ane khatpat ma nahi padvanu.  Jyotiben e aa karyu.  Koi ni khatpat ma padya vina mahatmya-yukta seva karya kari.  Gunatit Samaj ma jya jay tya bhakto na atmiya bani jay.  Sarva-deshiyata e emni vishista gun chhe.  Emna sankalpe sahaj aj lok, bhog, deha ne paksh thi par badha jata rahe chhe.

 

Translated :

 P. P. Jyotiben is a swarup of Maharaj, she is an instrument of Maharaj.  Everything she does is inspired by Maharaj, she walks, talks and does only when she is inspired by God.  All that she does is “bhakti-rup”.  Her whole being is for Jyot and Jogi – she lives 100% for the service of God. Not a single breath is taken or deed is done unless it is inspired by Maharaj (Swaminarayan Bhagwan).  She always lives in the current moment. Nothing is calculated – each moment is inspired by God.   She is an instrument of God (Prabhu ni Bansari) and she holds no preconceptions, prejudices or fixed ideas about anyone; hence this is why she can easily scold someone one minute and the very next minute she will be lovingly giving them prasad. She upholds exemplary virtues and is the “ideal” (adarsh) personification for us all to emulate. 

 

Swaminarayan Bhagwan’s main principal or code of conduct is not to ever take offence of other devotees, find faults with their character or to gossip, P. P. Jyotiben has always lived every moment by this code.  She has performed mahatmya-yukta seva (serving fellow bhakto realising their divine qualities) without ever engaging in gossip or indulging in the practice of seeing faults in others.” 

 

Wherever she sets foot in the wider Gunatit Samaj, she engages first and foremost in the true spirit of harmony and friendship (atmiyata).  Her most outstanding virtue is that of “sarva-deshiyata” – whereby she treats every devotee of the Gunatit Samaj with equal and utmost love and respect. This is the reason she is adored by all.  She has acquired such divine spiritual power that her sankalp (spiritual determination) leads all her devotees beyond the worldly forces (lok, bhog, deha, paksh), which plague us.  She has the power to take them all to a higher plane where such forces cannot trouble them anymore.

 

Prayer

It is our prayer that this small glimpse of the life and times of Param Pujya Jyotiben gives everyone darshan of the extraordinary divine soul that P. P. Jyotiben was. 

On the occasion of P. P. Jyotiben’s 85th Birthday, we pray at the lotus feet of our divine Guruhari Pappaji Maharaj and Param Pujya Jyotiben to give us the strength to practice P. P. Jyotiben’s lifelong message:

Garju thai seva karo, divyabhav rakhi khamo - Serve with supplication, keeping divine sentiments and accept all things.

 

 

Sahanajanand Swami Maharaj ni Jai

Guruhari Pappaji Maharaj ni Jai

Param Pujya Jyotiben ni Jai

Gunatit Swarupo ni Jai

Gunatit Samaj ni Jai

 

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