Once His Holiness Radhanath Swami Maharaj visited a temple and he saw that the brahmachari ashram (monastery) was in complete mess. The brahmacharis’ (monks) clothes were scattered, the floor had thick layer of dirt, the walls and the ceilings had cobwebs, plates and glasses were everywhere, the bathroom was unclean.
Maharaj during the class spoke about the importance of cleanliness. He explained them how Srila Prabhupada used to say that cleanliness is next to godliness. Everyone heard him, appreciated the class, accepted their mistake and decided to do something about it.
After few days Maharaj again came to the brahmachari ashram and found that nothing has changed. It is still unclean and in mess. Maharaj did not say anything, he gave class. As usual everyone was happy after the class. It was lunch time so all the brahmacharis took their plates and rushed to the prasadam (dining) hall. One of the monks had gone to washroom and when he came out, he heard some noise in the ashram. He was surprised because he knew that at the lunch time the ashram is always empty.
When he tried to figure out from where the noise is coming, he saw that Maharaj has taken a broom, a bucket of water and was cleaning the ashram. He was shocked. He frantically dialed the number of the senior monk and told him what is going on in the ashram. As soon as the message went all the monks ran towards the ashram.
But Maharaj requested all of them to stay out. No one was allowed to enter inside. The monks begged forgiveness and said that they will themselves clean the ashram. But Maharaj politely declined and said that now it is his turn to do the service.
All the monks were feeling terrible because their spiritual father and one of the most prominent sannyasis of the Krishna conscious movement who have thousands of disciples all over the world was cleaning their dirt. But they were helpless.
Everyone learnt a very important lesson about the importance of cleanliness that day which they would never ever forget in their life. This is not just applicable for the monks but for all of us too.
A great leader teaches not just by his words but also by his examples.
(The article is based on a class given by HG Radheshyam Prabhu at Iskcon Goshala in Kolkata)