A pilgrimage of love

The global spiritual force J P Vaswani, the Dada we all love, turns 91 this month. In a rare, exclusive and inspiring interview with Manoj Khatri, our beloved Dada talks about 91 years of spreading love and compassion on this planet.

Dada Vaswani

For the last 50 years, one man has been inspiring millions around the globe just by being himself. He is the epitome of humility, fountain of love and compassion and a storehouse of enthusiasm and energy. Dada J P Vaswani is the source of joy, of faith and peace to his followers. In addition to being a non-sectarian spiritual leader, Dada is a universally acclaimed humanitarian, philosopher, educator, writer, orator and messiah of ahimsa. As the spiritual head of the The Sadhu Vaswani Mission, he is the moving, inspiring, life-giving and life-sustaining force behind its multifarious activities. Holding aloft in his hands, the torch bequeathed to him by his Master, Dada carries across the globe the message of India’s immortal culture.

His energy and enthusiasm even today is nothing short of miraculous. Dada turns 91 on August 2. Incidentally, August 2 is also the International Forgiveness Day. How befitting! As a small gesture of love towards the Master as he celebrates 91 years of his ‘earth-pilgrimage’, we bring to you a very special interview with Dada in an attempt to bring you closer to the guru.


Manoj Khatri [MK]: How does it feel, celebrating your 91st birthday? How do you view your journey of life. from 1918 to 2009?

Dada J P Vaswani: By God’s grace, I have never felt that I have become old. I believe that a person is as young as he thinks himself to be. So it is that I am happy in the company of youth who, I believe, are the builders of a new and radiant tomorrow.

My earth-pilgrimage, as it seems to me, began earlier than 1918. The journey has two fundamental aspects: the physical and the spiritual. On the one hand, man is a material substance—a few pounds of dust. “Dust thou art, to dust returnest.”

On the other hand, he is what different traditions have referred to as spirit, Atman, soul, life force, consciousness or monad. How matter and spirit come together to create what we call life is a great mystery. The great English poet, William Wordsworth, reminds us, “Trailing clouds of Glory do we come from God who is our Home.” And William Blake sings, “The source of life descends to be a weeping babe.” We may believe it or not, each one of us is linked to the Higher Power. The link is called in many ways. Some call it Guardian Angel. The Jews refer to it as Lailah. The Buddhists call it Avalokiteshwara, Kuwan Yin or Kannon. We become aware of it in moments of deep silence or inspiration or archetypal dreams or mystical visions.

MK: Please reveal the secret of your health and longevity to us. is there a potion?

Dada J P Vaswani: The secret of health, to my mind, is:

  1. Daily practice of silence
  2. Holding in the heart no grudge against anyone
  3. Rejoicing in the success of others
  4. Doing as much good as a person can, to as many as he can, in as many ways as he can and on as many occasions as he can.

MK: Can you share with us an event or a happening about your childhood or youth, something that is not public knowledge, but is still very dear to your heart—something that inspires you even today?

Dada J P Vaswani: I remember how once I was treated very roughly by someone very dear to me. It was an experience, which could have thrown me off my balance. I felt deeply hurt. At that time, I felt someone whisper in my ear: “To err is human, to forgive divine.” Immediately I cried: “I forgive! I forget! I bless everyone!” Since then I am trying to learn the lesson: “Forgive even before forgiveness is asked.” When you forgive, you are filled with the peace that passeth, surpasseth understanding. And there is no wealth richer than inner peace.

MK: Besides Sadhu Vaswani, can you name any three role models in your life?

Dada J P Vaswani

  1. Baba Chetanram
  2. Jamshed Nusserwanji
  3. My own revered, beloved father—Shri P L Vaswani—a picture of simplicity, sympathy and selfless service.

MK: What has been the most important lesson of your life? How did you learn it?

Dada J P Vaswani: I cannot say that I have learnt a lesson, but I am trying to learn many lessons, chief amongst them is that I am nothing—a zero—and the Guru and God are everything.

MK: Please describe the most beautiful memory of your life?

Dada J P Vaswani: The most beautiful memory of my life is of the time when I did something [I will not relate it], which made my Guru’s heart happy and he called me to himself and enfolded me in an embrace—the impact of which, I feel till today.

MK: What role has humour played in your life? Can you share you favourite anecdote/joke?

Dada J P Vaswani: I was once asked, “Which among the five senses is the most important?” My answer was: “None of the five senses, but the sixth sense—the sense of humour.”
Once, Bishop Felton J Sheen had to deliver a lecture in the Town Hall. He decided to walk there but lost his way. He said to a boy: “Can you take me to the Town Hall?”
“Gladly,” answered the lad.
On the way the boy asked the Bishop why he was going to the Town Hall.
The Bishop answered, “To deliver a lecture.”
“What is the topic?”, inquired the boy.
The Bishop’s answer was, “The Way To Heaven.”
The boy began to laugh. As he did not cease laughing, the Bishop asked him the reason and the boy answered, “You don’t know the way to the Town Hall and you are going to tell the people about the Way To Heaven? Ha! Ha! Ha!.”

MK: In your childhood, what was the one value that you think shaped your personality and inclined you towards spirituality?

Dada J P Vaswani: Love of Truth and Compassion. I continue to be a seeker of Truth, Love and Humility.

MK: As a young man, did it ever occur to you that you would some day influence so many millions around the world?

Dada J P Vaswani: By God’s grace, I am aware of my insignificance. When people tell me that I am a VIP or treat me like one, I say to them, “Yes, I am a Very Insignificant Person.” Who am I to influence others? The power that transforms is the power of love. In my daily life, I seek to bear witness to the ideal of Love. Love bears: Love cares: Love dares: Love knows that it is nothing, the Beloved is All!

MK: You travel even at this age. where do you get so much energy from?

Dada J P Vaswani: The Source of Energy is within each one of us. All we have to do is to contact the Source.

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Manoj Khatri
Manoj Khatri has spent the last two decades learning, teaching and writing about wellbeing and mindful living. He has contributed over 1500 articles for several newspapers and magazines including The Times of India, The Economic Times, The Statesman, Mid-Day, Bombay Times, Femina, and more. He is a counseling therapist and the author of What a thought!, a critically acclaimed best-selling book on self-transformation. An award-winning editor, Manoj runs Complete Wellbeing and believes that "peace begins with me".


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