Faith is the foundation of all religions of the world. Faith begins where all reasoning ends. Faith can move mountains but mountains cannot move faith. You have faith because you have faith. Thus faith is both the cause and the effect.
Faith is inherent in men. It cannot be forced or superimposed. Faith cannot be changed. At the golden Temple of Sikhs at Amritsar, there is a sculpture which shows a man whose head is being sawed by a jigsaw and underneath it is written : ‘Even if my head is cut into two pieces, I will not give up my faith.'
You have faith in Godhood of Bhagwan Shree Swaminarayan. So even if you are offered all the treasures of the world or full authority over the whole world, you will not exchange your faith for the same.
While faith is integral part of your personality, same is not true about your confidence. Suppose you have employed a servant. He is honest, sincere and hardworking. You have got confidence in him because he has worked for many years. But he may run away one day, with ornaments, may rape your daughter or your wife or even murder someone. He may also leave you all of a sudden for some reason. Then your confidence built over many years is lost all of a sudden. But faith is never lost, come what may.
The boy who stood on the burning deck when all but he had fled, in the poem Casablanca had faith that his father would certainly come to save him as he had asked him to stay there till he came.
When a great sinner came to the Saviour for pardon, the latter gave him a dry log and asked him to plant and water it and promised the pardon of all his sins when the log would sprout. He did so, much to the laughter of all. But because of his faith the log sprouted all of a sudden after many years!
Utkarsha Muni was a student of the great sage Agastya. When the learning was completed after 14 years, he said to his Guru: ‘Ask for anything as your fees.'
Agastya Muni said: ‘Show me God before my eyes and that would be the fees.'
Utkarsha Muni had heard that Lord Rama had come to the forest-Dandakaranya. So, he at once rushed to Dandakaranya shouting there: ‘O Lord Rama, please come to me. I want to show you to my Guru!'
But search for God is not so easy. His legs bled profusely because of injuries caused by sharp stones. He received innumerable cuts and bruises on his body by thorns. Hunger tried to harass him and thirst tried to thwart his efforts. Ferocious animals threatened to kill him and cobras tried to swallow him. He went on calling for Shree Rama who took piety upon him at last and appeared before him.
Utkarsha Muni practically dragged Him to Agastya Muni and said : ‘Here is God in person. Have Darshan to your heart’s contentment.'
Shree Rama was pleased with the faith of Utkarsha Muni and said: ‘Ask for a boon.'
Utkarsha Muni said: ‘My Lord, I want you to stay in my hermitage as long as you have to live in the forest.'
Shree Rama said: ‘Well, I will, but at times while going elsewhere my bags and baggage will always be at your hermitage.'
Thus, out of 14 years, Shree Rama stayed for 12 long years at the hermitage of Utkarsha Muni. Why? Because of his faith in Shree Rama.
The short history of Swaminarayan Dispensation is studded with many examples of such faith. At the command of Bhagwan Shree Swaminarayan Mulji Sharma had rushed to burn his own house. Swami Nishkulanandji had shaved off his head and moustache and worn saffron-coloured robe. Dada Khachar had bequeathed his state and treasures to Shree Hari.
And, because of faith all of them became immortal. When Arjuna developed full faith in Lord Krishna, he won the battle of Mahabharat.
Bhagwad Gita decleares: ‘As is the faith, so is the man.'
When one has such deep faith in Bhagwan Shree Swaminarayan, one would be able to practice absolute devotion inevitable for redemption. This is called Ekantik Bhakti – absolute devotion.
A woman once heard a sermon where the preacher said: ‘Faith moves the mountains.’ Now there was a mountain-range near her house, obstructing sunlight. So she asked the mountain repeatedly to move away but when the mountain did not move, she exclaimed: ‘I knew that the mountain would not move!’ The faith of most of the people is like this. Many have confidence (but not faith) in Bhagwan Shree Swaminarayan because their materialistic ambitions are fulfilled. But when something adverse may happen even the confidence would be lost.
So, we must have faith in Bhagwan Shree Swaminarayan and with such faith we should stand like a rock against all storms of life, come what may!