ISSO Shree Swaminarayan Temple - Los Angeles

Under Shree Nar Narayan Dev Gadi


Gopalanand Swami

Birth Place : Village - Todala

Tehsil : Idar

Distt. : Sabarkantha

Father : Motiram Bhatt

Mother : Kushalbaa

First Name : Khushal Bhatt

Date of Birth : The 8th day of the bright half of Maha in V.S. 1837.

At the time of Gopalanand Swami's birth his elated parents listening to the prophecy of a brahmin astrologer, named him 'Khushal' (pleasurable).

Khushal Bhatt, learnt scriptures at his schooling age. A brahmin - Kashiram came to Todala in those days from who he learnt about the glory and greatness of Lord Swaminarayan Bhagwan. It was at this stage in his childhood that he vowed to go and do darshan of Lord Swaminarayan.

Meanwhile, he learnt about a visit of Sarveshwaranand Swami in Dabhoi. Khushal Bhatt reached Dabhoi and attended discourses of Sadhu Sarveshwaranand Swami and joined the religious pilgrimage with Sarveshwaranand from Dabhoi to Dabhan where he did darshan of Lord Sahajanand.

Lord Shriji Maharaj rose from his seat, came forward and hugged Khushal Bhatt with great love and affection. Khushal Bhatt submitted to Shriji Maharaj his desire to live with Him forever, but Shriji Maharaj asked him to go back. Honouring the command of his Lord, Khushal Bhatt came back to Todala, started a school there and taught the village children. Besides academic teaching, he gave theological knowledge and spiritual insight to his disciples.

Once a Brahmin came to his village and exhibited his mystic power on the idols Lord Vishnu in his Pooja .. Khushal Bhatt made up his mind to test the spiritual strength of the Brahmin and invited him to his house for a meal. Brahmin came, had a meal, gave an idol of Lord Vishnu to Khushal Bhatt and returned to his camping place. The Brahmin then tried all his mystic means and tantrums throughout whole night to recall Lord Vishnu back to him, but the idol would not go. As he found his prestige at stake, he escaped overnight to other place.

Once, there was no rain in the Todala area and the people, under the fear of the oncoming draught, came to Khushal Bhatt and prayed for him to help to them. Through his meditation, Khushal Bhatt brought the rain along with prosperity in the area. Once during his meditation trance luminosity was emitted in such a great amount from his person that he was become visible from far flung places.

Now came the time for meeting his Guru and God Lord Shriji Maharaj. Khushal Bhatt desired to meet Lord Shriji Maharaj and remain in the everlasting shelter of his God. Shortly after this a Brahmin came to Khushal Bhatt and told him that he was on a visit of Kathiawar. Khushal Bhatt joined him in his pilgrimage. On the way , they discussed divine episodes of Lord Shriji Maharaj and reached Jetalpur. Then the brahmin informed Khushal Bhatt about Lord Shriji Maharaj camping at Jetalpur and asked him to do darshan of Shriji Maharaj. No sooner had he said this the brahmin disappeared into the air!

With this meeting in Jetalpur Dhaam, Khushal Bhatt became a permanent member of this cosmic family and stayed with his God - Lord Shri Hari - till his last breath.

Khushal Bhatt was capable of transforming the impossible into possible. One Brahmin of Bhavnagar changed his mind after promising to sell his Mahabharat Scripture for Rupees 300/-. Khushal Bhatt came to Bhavnagar and visited him. The Brahmin was in Pooja of his Gods but the idols of God turned off their faces from him. This happened repeatedly throughout the rituals of Poojan-Archan but the brahmin though frightened by this miracle continued his pooja. That night and in the middle of the sleep, he saw the God of death to take him to the hell. He jumped from his bed and ran with the scripture and handed it over to Khushal Bhatt at his camping place.

When Khushal Bhatt graced Baroda under Shriji Maharaj's orders, Lord Shri Hari blessed Bhattji by His divine presence by having meals with him regularly. Devotee families used to witness the food disappearing gradually from the Thaal (plate) of Khushal Bhatt. Thereafter, Khushal Bhatt was made a saint and disciple in this Sampradaya by the aministration of Bhagwati Diksha by Shriji Maharaj. Shriji Maharaj gave him the name Gopalanand.

In Baroda, when the devotees in a religious ceremony desired to do darshan of Lord Yagyanarayan. The swamii offered sacrifice to the holy fire with invocation to God of fire and Lord Yagyanarayan appeared before him in His blissful form to receive the sacrifice. Throughout that holy-fire Lord Yagyanarayan gave the divine pleasure of his darshan to the devotees present at the place of holy-fire and received the sacrifice personally from Gopalaland Swami.

Kasiyaji of Petlad was a senior officer in Gaikwar-Government but was against the temple being constructed in Vadtal Dhamm. Out of vengeance he imposed heavy bill on the items being sent to the temple. Observing his attitude for quite some time, the swami came once to the court of Kasiyaji with Dada Khachar and two saints, and sat before the court in a blissful mood. Kasiaji jolted with fear on just one glance at the Swami. Meer Sahib who was sitting besides Kasiaji too felt the fear created by the presence of the Swami. Meer Sahib inquired sheepishly after some time about the purpose of the visit. In response the swami demanded directly the documents related to the exemption from the octroi, for completion of the construction of the temple. Both were so much crushed under the mental pressure that they issued it on the spot and handed it over to the swami.

Vagha Khachar of Saranagpur was serving the devotees and thus was favouring Satsang by all his means. Gopalanand Swami pleased at this devotional love and blessed him by installing the idol of Lord Hanumandada in his place of service and invoked great divine power in that image. The majesty of that image is still famous and Godly power of Hanumandada helps the people troubled by ghosts and other spirits.

One of the swami's followers Narashibhai Maheta conquered his desires for the sense objects and removed it roots and branches with the due blessings of S.G. Gopalanand Swami. While patting the back of his devotee Narshibhai, Swami said to him that his response now to a sensual object shall be similar to that of a supporting pole.

Gopalanand Swami was grandiose and miraculous and also possessed equal opulence as Shriji Maharaj did. Clairvoyance, omniscience, control over universe, instant Samadhi, removing evil notions by mere a sight or touch, sensing others resolves etc. Shriji Maharaj declared him as the leader of the sect because of overall superior qualities. He was elder to Shriji Maharaj by only four months. Hence he enjoyed brotherly and friendly interaction with Shriji Maharaj. His submission to Shriji Maharaj was unparalleled. His opulence and grandeur were boundless. Such a great soul worshipped Shriji Maharaj. It is difficult to imagine the grandeur of Shriji Maharaj Himself

Muktanand Swami

Birth Place : Amareli

Distt. : Amareli (Saurashtra), Gujarat State.

Date of Birth : The 7th day of the bright half of Pausha, V.S. 1814.

Father : Anandram

Mother : Radhabai

First Name : Mukund Das.

At the time of his birth, the child Mukunddas impressed everybody by his spiritually wisdom and was therefore named 'Mukund Das.' In his childhood, he was quite different than the rest of the children in his age group. When children of his age group were indulging in sports, and games Mukund was sitting quietly in seclusion with the closed eyes. Mukunddas learnt Vedas, scriptures and music from his two teachers - Jaduram and Hathiram. Both of whom were scholars in literature and fine arts. The disciple - Mukunddas was a genius, within a few years he mastered the art of music and the knowledge of religious scriptures.

He practiced celibacy with a strong will and firm determination to propagate the path of devotion. His parents were much worried about the attitude of Mukunddas and were sacred of losing such a genius child. To tie him into worldly affairs they arranged the marriage of Mukunddas.

During his conjugal life, Mukunddas stood firm in his resolute of practising celibacy and detachment. Besides these great virtues, he began acting mentally deranged to invoke a sense of dislike from his family members. Thus, acting like a madman he posed himself as a great nuisance. Thus, in such self generated circumstance he left the region under the cover of night.

He visited many villages and towns in his countrywide search for a saint who can help him in overpower his senses against the objects of desire. Thus he reached Dhrangadhra and stayed with the sage Dwarkadas in Rang-Mahol. He served Dwarkadas with his best with a request to help him in controlling and out-rooting desires. Dwarkadas pointed him towards saint Kalyandas of Vankaner who had destroyed his sensual desires and wore an undergarment made of brass. Mukunddas surrendered at the feet of Kalyandas and prayed for his blessing in his mission of destroying sensual desires. But Kalyandas explained to Mukunddas the element of paramount of sense organs and their immense power. Also he disclosed flatly that it was impossible to destroy sensual desires.

Mukunddas was greatly perturbed and cried like a helpless child. In such a distraught state, he heard some divine words telling him to visit Sardhar to meet a great saint. Mukunddas came to Sardhar (Saurashtra). His journey was halted at Ramchandrajis Mandir where he met saint Tulsibhava and remained under his guidance. He earned the pleasure of Tulisbhava by doing Poojan Archan of the Gods in the temple, collecting Bhiksha for the residents of the temple, offering meals to pilgrims at the temple and reading Ramayan-Katha every evening. Saint Tulisbava entrusted to him total responsibility of pantry, Kitchen, store and treasure of the jewellery and ornaments of Gods etc. Mukunddas handled this responsibilities very carefully.

After some time, the audience at the Ram Katha reduced to a remarkable low number. When he inquired about the cause, Tulsibhava said that devotees these days have diverted to Ramanand Swami who was camping close by the temple. Out of his curiosity, Mukunddas went to do darshan of Ramanand Swami. No sooner had he laid his eyes upon the Swami all his mental anxieties and desires vanished. He felt a state of total bliss in the presence of the Swami. Mukunddas recalled the divine words he had previously heard and was sure that they been referring to this Great Swami before him.

Mukunddas began to daily visit the satsang sabhas held by Ramanand Swami and requested that he take him as a disciple .Ramanand Swami refused without permission from his Guru and Tulsibhava refused to permit him to go. Once again Mukunddas adopted the stimulated madness by wasting food grains and funds on the visitors and beggars. Seeing Mukunddas a nuisance Tulsibhava relieved him form his discipleship and Mukunddas came to Ramanand Swami with a written permission from his previous preceptor. Ramanand Swami was gracing Bandhia - a small village in the region at the time and asked Mukunddas to work as labourer in a farm of one devotee Shri Malubhai. Although he knew nothing about agriculture, Mukunddas followed the orders of the Swami and did the job to his best capacity. Mulubhai reported back to Ramanand Swami, highlighting Mukunddas's commitment and dedication. Swami pleased called him back to his hermitage, administrated Bhagwati Deeksha and gave him the sainthood name of Muktanandji.

Thus, Muktanand Swami held main seat as principal disciple of Ramanand Swami. He mastered the eight folded yogic state. Ramanand Swami in one of the sabhas of spiritual heights disclosed that he himself was a small time player of the hand-drum and the real showman was yet to come. He asked Muktanand to settle in village Loej to open free food camp serve all pilgrims there and one amongst these will be Purushottam Narayan. Thus Muktanand Swami awaited the arrival of Lord Purushottam Narayan.

One day, Sadhu Sukhanand a fellow saint and devotee residing at the hermitage found an young saint with divine aura bathing by a well near the village. Impressed by the sight of the divine attributes he took the young brahmchari to hermitage and introduced him to Muktanand Swami on the auspicious 6th day of the bright half of Shravan in V.S. 1856. Muktanand Swami found himself drawn towards the divine presence of the youthful saint and coming forward offered pranams. On a mutual introduction, Muktanand Swami gathered that the visitor was the son of DharmaDev and BhaktiDevi, and had spent seven years in the seclusion of the mountains and forests. His present name was Varniraj Shri Nilkanth Brahmchari.

Nilkanth Brahmchari stayed at the hermitage of Loej. Ramanand Swami in Bhuj during those days knew of this through the correspondence and advised Muktanand Swami to ask Nilkanth Varni to stay and wait for him at Loej. As per the orders from Ramanand Swami Nilkant Varni waited in Loej for Guru Ramanand.

Satsang gives great importance to Muktanand Swami, because the foundation of this great sect was laid by him by closing interactive window between hermitage and neighbour, and separated women from the gents in Satsang Sabha on instance from Nilkanth Brahmchari.

He, though in age was senior to Shri Hari, but in succession to Ramanand Swami he proposed Shri Hari as the successive preceptor and head of the sect. Thus S.G. Muktanand Swami lived under the auspices of Shri Hari who always respected him like a Guru. Muktanand Swami too possessed such sentiments for Shri Hari, that he was always ready to act upon His words.

Muktanand Swami was also an expert instrumentalist, vocalist, preacher and orator besides being a great saint. He was equally at ease in dancing. He could transform any evil element into a divine entity by his affectionate discourses. Shri Hari called him 'The mother of Satsang' because of his motherly love, tolerance and smooth interaction.

Muktanand Swami and fellow saints had a deep influence on the society due to their commitment towards renunciation and strict behaviour. It was obvious that evil forces in general and Khakhi Vairagis in particular were facing hard times due to shortage of intoxicating substances. Therefore, Khakhi Vairayis were always angry at Bhagwan Swaminarayan and his saints. They saw them as their enemies and prowled upon them on any opportune time. Once a mob of 200 such Vairagis laced with deadly weapons rushed to the camping place of Muktanand Swami and his saints. Muktanand Swami was extremely wise and practical. He always acted in tune with time. Without wasting a moment, he rose and ran towards the mob of the Khakhi Vairagis and said loudly with both the hands raised towards the sky

'Great time ! Great fortune ! We have been blessed by the salvaged souls of Vaikuntha. Such an opportunity is available only if there are good deeds of the past ages. We are realy fortunate !'

Khakhi Vairagis were taken aghast at such reaction from Muktanand Swami and the saints following the steps of Mukta Muni ! Then Mukta Muni said to his siants. 'It is not the moment to wait. It is a unique gift. Come on, bow to them.' The atmosphere changed instantly and Khakhi Vairagis temper cooled automatically and bowed to Swami.

There are many instances of his practical wisdom. Though he himself was wedded to renunciation and strict rules of behaviour, he always behaved with practical wisdom and never allowed rigidity to enter into his behaviour. Once Muktanand Swami was on a religious tour along with sixty saints on a mission to propagate religion. They passed three days and three nights without any food in alms. One affectionate devotee invited the saints and cooked Khichadi for them. The saint had a vow to take only food in it's simplest form and as per the vow would not take ghee, milk, oil, jaggary, sugar and other savouries. The devotee cooked Khichadi accordingly, but he added Ghee into the dish which was meant to be offered to God in Thaal. After offering the Thaal, he mixed that Khichadi in the rest. The saints therefore rejected the Khichadi with Ghee. Already having fasted three days they saw a forth day coming. The day following next that was the day of Ekadashi. Hence to avoid the five consecutive days of fasting, Muktanand Swami said to the saints, 'Take Khichadi in Ghee today. Penalty from Shriji Maharaj for this disobedience shall be borne by me. I shall undertake the repentance if there is any from Shriji Maharaj.' With these words, he asked the saint to have the meal. Some saints complained to Shriji Maharaj for non compliance of His command by Muktanand Swami. Muktanand Swami confessed the facts before Shriji Maharaj and prayed for its' repentance. Instead of penalty or reprimand, Shriji Maharaj commanded him for taking care of the saint. he praised him for his timely behaviour and practical wisdom.

A similar episode also took place in Ahmedabad where young saints were studying sankrit. The saints were ordered to take the food only once in a day. But the young and studious saints, after a full day of hard work, felt hungry the next morning. One day, the saints were enjoying surplus loaves of the previous day. Meanwhile, Muktanand Swami came to visit. Seeing the swami before them, the younger saints in fear and panic of being caught dropped the loaves. Muktanand Swami being the Mother figure that he was went to the saints and said, 'I am also hungry. Give me some if you have !' The young saints relaxed and offered a piece of loaf to Muktanand Swami from which he ate a morsel from!

An incident in Gadhada exemplifies his versatility. Some musicians from Gwalior were come to Gadhada after establishing their superiority everywhere. They were very proud of their victories and sent a call to Shriji Maharaj to take part in a competition of instrumental and vocal music. They further prayed that they should be awarded a big prize if they win. Shriji Maharaj invited them into the evening assembly and gave them a befitting welcome at a well decorated venue. Shriji Maharaj asked Muktanand Swami to perform. Swami tied Ghungharu on his feet, took Kartaal in his hand and bowed to Shriji Maharaj before singing. Swami lifted his one leg from the floor and with the toe of the other leg he started slipping backward while singing on the stroke of kartal. He finished the session in half an hour. The musician from Gwealior were all full of praise for the Swami. Then Shriji Maharaj drew their attention towards the dancing floor. The musicians arose and saw for themselves that Swami had drawn with his toe and fingers of his foot a picture of an elephant while in reverse motion. They bowed to Shriji Maharja and Swami and prayed, 'Oh ! This saint is the treasure of arts. We are nothing before him.

Muktanand Swami was equally at ease with poetry too. He composed poems spontaneously. 'Mukund Bavani' is a collection of his devotional poetry. His creations are abstract and meaningful. He has written books on several subjects. 'Muktanand Kavya' is the collection of his works.

Nishkulanand Swami

Birth Place : Shekhpat

Distt. : Jamnagar Saurashtra, Gujarat State

Father : Rambhai Suthar

Mother : Amritbai

Date of Birth : V.S. 1822

Childhood Name : Laljibhai

The saintly poet of 'Tyag Na Take Re Vairagya Vinaa' and thousands of devotional songs was born in Suthar family residing in a small village - Shekhapt. Rambhai and Amritbhi were his parents. His childhood name was Lalji and he become known as S.G. Nishkulanand Swami.

Swami in his householder life, was an expert at carpentry. He lived a peaceful family life with his mother, wife and two children. He was a faithful disciple of Ramanand Swami.

He became a firm follower of Shriji Maharaj after sad demise of his Guru-preceptor Ramanand Swami and developed rock steady faith and firmness in Satsang-Katha-Kirtans. Driven by the devotional fervour he walked 30 K.m on feet to and fro every evening to attend Satsang Sabhas of Shriji Maharaj in Bhadra after finishing a harddays work in Shekhpat during day He slept in Bhadra to come back home early in the morning.

Laljibhai fell prey to an accident when he was working on a log with his chissels. The Sharp implement slipped from his hand due a sudden force of movement, rushed upwards and caught his scalp, giving a fatal wound. Profuse bleeding and the deep cut affected adversely and Laljibhai slipped in to deep unconsciousness. His helpless wife and age old mother cried for help and mercy of God. Shriji Maharaj appeared instantly, looked at Laljibhai, held his head in his lap and placed his blessed hand on the wound. Shri Hari asked his mother to stop crying and told them to prepare Sheera (a sweet dish) and bring it there quickly. Maharaj asked Laljibhai to get up to have sweet dish. Laljibhai returned quickly to the state of consciousness and had Prasadi. Maharaj inquired about his head injury and pain. In reply to it, Laljibhai said that there was no pain or any sort of giddiness. Shriji Maharaj lifted his blessed hand from the wound and everybody saw that there were no traces of the injury what so ever. It was vanished. Thus the mercy and compassion of Lord Shriji Maharaj, saved the life of Laljibhai.

Once, Shriji Maharaj took Laljibhai as his guide in His religious tour of Kutch. To serve to Shri Hari all comforts, Devotee Laljibhai carried with him plenty of money, food and water. But Shriji Maharaj thought that when He himself is with his devotee his followers would never suffer. Shriji Maharaj asked Laljibhai to distribute food to the beggars and poor on their way. Shortly after they were confronted by theives, Shriji Maharaj asked Laljibhai to give away the sack of money. Laljibhai felt thirsty in their onward journey. Land was barren and hot blasts of sandy winds were become unbearable for Laljibhai. He started feeling unconscious due to unbearable thirst, dry tongue and throat. Seeing the precarious state of Laljibhai, Shriji Maharaj said 'Why are you putting yourself to such inconvenience ? There, here and everywhere, there is planty of water. Why don't you have it ? Drink it and quench your thirst.' Laljibhai was a most obedient servant of God. Without raising a doubt, he started drinking the salty desert water. But the water he drank was not saline, but was sweet like nectar.

Lord Shriji Maharaj rested beneath the shade of a tree on their way between the villages of Lakadia and Aadhoi. Shri Hari then inquired, 'For how long will you pull on such life of a housecholder ? Why don't you became a saint ?' In reply to it, Laljibhai submitted himself at the lotus feet of his God to become a saint and Shriji Maharaj initiated Bhagwati Deeksha right at that place and named him Nishkulanand Swami.

Shriji Maharaj felt hungry and asked Nishkulanand Swami to collect alm from Adhoi-a nearby village. But Nishkulanand felt bit nervous in collecting alm from Adhoi, as it was native place of his wife and she at present living there at her father's house. But Shri Hari expressed his desired for the swami to collect alms not only from the village Adhoi, but precisely collect alms from the house of his father-in-law. Nishkulanand Swami obeyed the orders and went to knock on the gate of his In-laws where his wife opened the door only to find Laljibhai standing before her in a saffron robe. She was shocked to see her husbnad in a dress of a hermit and cried like that of a helpless women. Swami in reply and response asked her to cook loaves for them if she desired Moksha and give it in them in alms. Thus he brought alms from the house of his father-in-law and served it to Shriji Maharaj. Shriji Maharaj asked him to camp at and reside in Adhoi to conduct Satsang while he proceeded to Bhuj.

Obedient disciple Nishkulanand Swami stayed in Adhoi, conducted regular Satsang Sabhas and wrote the renown scripture 'Yamadanda. His relatives and in-laws tried at their best in Adhoi to bring Swami back in the fold of householdership, but Swami refused and said

I am pure consciousness - beyond the elements and Maya, the world is mere mirage and miseries

I dont like worldly life even in my dream state

He preached the virtues and spiritual wisdom through his instant Kirtans and sent them back.

His wife sent her eldest son Govind to all religious festivals in his best attires to see, meet and earn blessings from Nishkulanand Swami. She was sending him with a clear cut instruction to bow down at the lotus feet of Nishkulanand Swami. The boy used to offer invariably the prayer and pranam to Nishkulanand Swami, but Nishkulanand Swami, in all such meetings never looked at this child and stood always with eyes down cast and the mouth firmly shut. Maharaj asked Nishkulannad to speak to and look at the child, Swami submitted his fear that a single word to the child or eye-to-eye contact with the child would culminate into loss of the eldest child to that poor mother. Once, during such a visit, when Shriji Maharaj ordered him to have a normal dialogue with the eldest son Govind, Nishkulanand Swami was compelled to talk to him. As soon Swami spoke to Govind, the child made up his mind and became a saint spontaneously. This next generation saint was named 'Govindanand Swami.'

Nishkulanand Swami was an idol of asceticism and detachment. He was never interested in food, habitat or clothing. He keep a coconut shell with him to use it as a cup, glass and bowl to drink water. Once during his religious tour of Baroda, devotees arranged a course of fruits and sweets in milk for his meals. As soon he found this, he asked his disciple to leave the place as the arrangements were befitting for those big persons of society but not for a saint.

S.G. Nishkulanand Swami has strengthened the heritage of Sampradaya with his art and religious literature. The swing with the twelve doors in Vadtal and the most artistic wooden thresholds in the inner temple of Dholera are a few from his treasure of the art. In Gadhapur he used to display his art in diwali celebrations by presenting artisitic plants and trees decorated with kindling lights and beautifully lighted canopy to cover the beautiful seat of Lord Shriji Maharaj.

Purushottamprakash, Bhakta Chintamani, Vachan Vidhi, Sneh Geeta, Yamadanda, Dhirajakhyan are the scriptures written by him. He has written 25 scripture's and a large number of Kirtans praising God and divine leelas of Shriji Maharaj. His language is simple and the style of emotional touch.

The last phase of his saintly life was spent in the Dholera temple. He discarded his elemental existence on the 9th day of the dark half of Ashadha in V.S. 1904 and ascended to Akshardham.

Brahmanand Swami

Birth Place : Village : Khan

Distt. : Dungarpur , Rajasthan State.

Father : Gadhavi Shambhudanji

Mother : Lalba Devi

Date of Birth : Vasant Panchami, the fifth day of the bright half of Maha, V.S. 1828.

At the foot hills of great mountain Mt Abu, there is one small village named Khan, in Dungarpur district of Rajasthan state. Gadhavi Shambhudanji and mother Lalbadevi gave birth to one of our Sampraday's great saints Brahmandand Swami. Once Ramanand Swami had graced this village during his religious tour and had thaal at the house of Shambudanji and started giving satsang discourses to the couple.. During this enlightening Satsang Mother Lalbadevi slipped into sleep due to her advance stage of pregnancy. All of a sudden a voice emerged from within Lalbadevi and prayed to Ramanand Swami, 'Oh Ramanand Swami ! Tell us about glory and greatness of Lord Purushottam.'

Everybody heard this deep and mysterious voice and were surprised to hear it come from within Lalba Devi. Swami, realised that the existence of a Mukta of Akshardham was in womb of Lalbadevi, and addressed him,

'Oh Great soul! You are to sing the glory and greatness of Purushottam Narayan on this earth.'

Then Swami addressed Shambhudanji about the birth of a great soul in his family and praised his fortune. Swami then left for his next destination. After some time, on the fifth day of the bright half of Maha in V.S. 1828, Lalbadevi gave birth to a boy baby. Divine brilliance and bliss were emitted from the new born. They named him Ladudan.

Once Ladudanji attended a marriage ceremony of the king of Udaipur. He was young in his age but due to his brilliance, his schooling was completed well before time. There in the royal court he sang a few poems in Gujarati language praising king and his virtues. Rana of Udaipur pleased at the poetic genius of the child and asked Shambhudanji to allow him to be taught Pingal (sceince of constructing poetry) to the child at the cost of the state. Thus, Ladudanji learnt pingal and Sanskrit scriptures from Ladhaji Rajput of Dhamadka. Ladudanji became a scholar in Pingal, poetry and scriptures.

Ladudanji earned fame and wealth by visitng stately courts of Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur etc. The States and kings were greatly impressed by his poetic genius. He earned many prizes, gifts and honours.

In Dhamadka, he bathed daily in river the Saranganga. There on the river bank, he met a hermit who told him that he was a released soul and will meet his God under the shade of a Khijda tree.

On one occasion Ladudanji visited Bhuj where he had heard about Sahajanand Swami and his divine glory. He went to the residence of Sundarjibhai to do darshan of Lord Shri Hari.

As he entered, he saw Lord Shri Hari clad in white cloth and gracing a majestic seat. With great compassion and mercy, Shriji Maharaj was addressing Satsang of Bhuj. Tears rolled from the eyes of Ladudan as he glanced at Shriji Maharaj. He was overwhelmed with great surge of emotion. From his place, he offered Dandavat pranam and words 'Aaj ni Ghadi re, Dhanya, Aaj in Gahdi' rolled out from his mouth in form of a devotional song praising divine attributes of Shriji Maharaj. Shriji Maharaj rose from his seat, rushed forward and embraced him with great love.

Shriji Maharaj returned to Gadhada with poet Ladudanji. Ladudanji lived a majestic and royal life befitting a courtier. He was always clad in most precious attires and was adorning jewellery befitting royalty. Shriji Maharaj did not like such luxurious life style but instead of preaching directly he changed Ladudanji through the preaching of Laduba, Jivuba where he sent him to try and persuade them to enter marriage. Instead of giving them advise Laduba spoke words which touched Ladudanji's heart and realising who he was and the greatness of Shriji Maharaj he disowned all luxuries and submitted everything at the lotus feet of Shriji Maharaj. Thereafter, there were many instances and invitations from the princely states and kings to grace the court and receive the honour. But he never paid a heed to it.

On the way from Gadhpur to Siddhapur, there is one small village named Gerita. Shriji Maharaj graced Gerita and administrated Bhagwati Deeksha to Ladudanji by giving sainthood name 'Shrirangdasji.' After some time, Shri Maharaj renamed him as Brahmanand.

Like Muktanand Swami, Brahmanand Swami was an excellent poet. His skills and brilliance in temple building is evident in temples like Muli, Vadtal and Junagadh. He was true genius, practical and unique in every sense and very popular because of humour. For him, Shriji Maharaj was like an accomplice as well as his God. If Shriji Maharaj was lost in some thoughts, if he was serious, worried or displeased due to one reason or another, Brahmanand Swami came forward delighted Shriji Maharaj.

One example of Brahmanand Swami's brilliance at poetry can be seen when on one occasion he was sitting in an assembly. Shriji Maharja saw that Swami was dozing. Shriji always kept nuts with him and He threw a nut at the Swami. Brahmanand Swami opened his eyes and said 'I was not sleeping Maharaj, I was composing a poem.' Shriji Maharaj asked him to recite the lyric. Brahmanand Swami started the lyric instantly and audience repeated the lines one after another. He described the divine image of Shriji Maharaj and His exploits.

Besides the construction of great temples in Muli, Vadtal, Junagadh etc, Brahmanand Swami had written scriptures in Hindi and Gujarati. 'Brahmanand Kavya' is the collection of his works.

Devanand Swami

S.G. Devanand Swami is the saintly poet from the group of eight great saintly poets contemporary to Shri Hari. Balol is the brith place of S.G. Devanand Swami. He was born on the full moon day of Kartika in V.S. 1859, in the house of Jijibhai and Benjibaa in Balol.

In his early childhood, he was named 'Devidaan'. and since childhood he was a firm devotee of Lord Shiva. His father too, worshipped Lord Shiva and the heritage of the devotion of Lord Shiva was maintained well in Devidaan. Both father and son went to offer prayers to Lord Shiva in the temple of Lord Sankaleshwar Mahadev at the outskirt of Balol.

Once, Devidaam went alone to the temple to worship Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva pleased at the devotional love of the child gave Darshan. Child Devidaan was elated with this divine view of his God and prayed to Lord Shiva for his ultimate benediction. In response to his prayer, Lord Shiva directed him to Lord Swaminarayan Bhagwan and told him that the omnipresent supreme Lord Shriji Maharaj has descended on the earth. Maharaj would visit your village and you will recognise him by a leela He will conduct of His tongue touching his elbows. Surrender to His godly shelter. You would earn the fame as a great poet and would attain Moksha (ultimate emancipation).

Lord Shriji Maharaj graced Balol after concluding a sacred fire in Jetalpur Dhaam. Whole village came to him for his Darshan. Entire village community insisted He come for meals at there homes, but Shriji Maharaj avoided their hearty invitation , because of his commitments elsewhere. He was in great hurry. But His devotee Raiya Khatana offered a porridge of sweet milk. While gracing a seat on bullock cart, Shriji Maharaj honoured this hearty meal from His firm follower. Pretending to act like a human being to give devotional pleasure to his devotees, he allowed the stream of the milk flow on his hand and reach his elbows. Then he licked it of with his tongue. Devidaan, who was standing in the crowd of the devotees, saw this act of Shriji Maharaj and words of Lord Shiva echoed in his mind 'remember this sign and recognise Him.'

He fell at the Lords feet and prayed, 'Oh Lord ! Please accept me in your service.' 'I have come here to receive you,' said Maharaj in reply. Thus, Devidaan became a firm follower of Shriji Maharaj, and Shriji Maharaj entrusted him to Brahmanand Swami. Brahmanand Swami arranged his Bhagwati Deeksha and Devidaan became Devanand Swami.

Devanand Swami learnt from his Guru Brahmanand Swami the art of constructing poems and mastered the technique of musical verse. With the grace of God and with favour of his guru, he became an excellent poet within a short time. Ragas appeared in human form before him as soon he began his devotional music.

Devanand Swami presented Kirtans on the tunes of musical instruments at the special Satsang Sabha, when Shriji Maharaj installed the idols of Lord Narnarayandev and other gods in Ahmedabad temple. Other singers and composers were highly impressed by vocal and instrumental music of Devanand Swami. With the due blessing from Shriji Maharaj, when he presented devotional music in front of royal musicians of Dharampur State the musicians at the court surrendered to him and worshipped him as their Guru.

Devanand Swami was become Mahant Swami of Muli temple on Aksharvaas of Brahmanand Swami. For rest of his life he served Lord Radhakrishna Dev in Muli Dhaam. His Kirtans are simple, pointed and sharp like the literary works of Bhoja Bhagat. His devotional fever, touches the heart of the listener. Devanand Swami is the Guru of the great poet Dalpatram of Gujarati Language.

On the nineth day of the dark half of Shravan in V.S. 1910, Devanand Swami sent for his devotee tailor and told him that he was to leave for Akshardham on the next day. Devotee tailor was shocked at such words, 'But Swami ! You are fully fit and in sound health. Why are you talking such words ?' Then in answer to it, Devanand Swami instructed him that in the next morning if he sees five steps of Kumkum on the threshold of his house, he should understand that Devanand Swami has left his earthly dwelling. On the next day, i.e. on the tenth day of the dark half of Sharavana, he saw five steps of Kumkum on his threshold. He ran immediately to the temple and found Swami departed to Akshardhaam. Such was the majesty and glory of Devananand Swami.

Adwaitanand Swami

Magniram was a brahmin by caste and belonged to the Dravid region (Southern India).

In his youth, he made up his mind to realise God and discarded his worldly relations leaving his home for the pilgrimage of religious shrines in search of God.

Having found a Brahmin scholar he stayed with him and learnt the scriptures and various disciplines of Hinduism. Magniram became a brilliant scholar. His brahmin Guru offered his daughter to make him his son-in-law to live with them. He offered his property and wealth all at the disposal of Magniram on the condition that he married her.

Mangiram refused to marry. He submitted that he intended to attain his God and was not interested in the worldly life. With this intention, he prayed to his Guru to show him the means to attain God. His Guru asked him to worship and meditate the Goddess of knowledge - Sharada who will show Magniram the path leading to Supreme God.

Magniram went to the forest and did Japa and penance for Goddess sharada. He earned the pleasure of the Goddess who giving him darshan blessed him divine majesty. And in ego of this great achievement he forgot his original need - the attainment of God. Thus he began using his super human majesty as he wished, wielded super human images and became worshipable among the frightened masses. He burnt lush green trees by his tantrums, used his powers to cause boulders and rocks to rocket across the sky like birds and started alighting any thing or place with viscous fire at the mere release of his breath. All these tuntums created an aura of fear among the mortals and people began his worship as God.

Magniram came to Kathiawar, displayed his super human powers and collected lofty gifts from the princely states and rich merchants. If anybody merely hesitated, he made them shiver like a leaf through his demonic display of super human majesty. Such scared individuals were surrendering to his power and were paying the money he desired. Thus, defeating everybody en-route he came to Porbandar and demanded five thousand rupees from the king, 'Either fulfil the demand or Porbandr shall be sunk in the bottom of the sea.'

Hearing this cause the Kind a great amount of distress. After careful thought he found a way for the permanent peace. The king replied,

'Oh great Siddha ! Not only five, but I will give you ten thousand rupees, but it is not a sign of majesty in giving burns to the small frogs like us. But we will believe you as a great entity, if you defeat Sahajanand Swami. Sahajanand Swami has made many greats like you to carry His foot wear. At present He is here in this region and is presently gracing the town of Mangrol. Your victory over Sahajanand would prove your super human power and are worthy of worship.'

These bitter words of the king became most indigestible for Magniram. It hurt his ego and pride - adding fuel to his existing fire. He kicked his cane-stick on the grounds with anger and screamed, 'I am going right now to Mangrol, and will return after my triumph' These words of ego and self esteem, thrown at the king the merely reinforced the faith he held in Shreeji Maharaj. The king of Porbandar was now sure of the permanent peace. Great lions were become like a goat in presence of Swaminarayan, then what was the capacity of that egoist Magniram.

Lord Shriji Maharaj was gracing a mammoth assembly in Mangrol, and was preaching subtle philosophy of religion, ultimate knowledge, detachment and devotion. Then with the shouts and screams, Magniram rushed into the Sabha and demanded Shriji Maharaj give ten thousand rupees, else the whole audience would be killed. Lord Shriji Maharaj looked at him with great compassion, and softly replied, 'We do not have money to give you, but you are free to exhibit your power as per your wish.'

Furious Magniram began his chants of mystic hymns, and used all the means in his hands and within his control. He tried his black-magic and other demonic skills to harm the people and saints in the Sabha. But none from the audience and others were affected the slightest. He continued by using all his weapons, but failed miserably. He was shocked by pitiable failure of his powerful weapons. This posed a serious insult and hurt his ego seriously. At midnight he invoked his Goddess (Devi) Sharada. Goddess Sharada gave him Darshan. He offered worship and prayed, 'Oh Mother ! I am all victorious throughout India on the strength of your powers. Great hermits and saints have surrendered to me. All the kings are scared of me. Nobody dares to look me in the eye. But this Sahajanand had insulted me and made my powers look pitiful. That Sahajanand has shamed me. Make me victorious or I will die.'

Devi looked upon Magniram with anger, 'Oh Fool ! Magniram ! Why and for what reason did you undergo great penance and meditation trance ? Why had you disowned your home and householdership ? Think back to the original cause. You have been treading a wrong path under your false ego of your super human capacity. Those so called powers will not give ultimate emancipation - Moksha. That is something even I am incapable. If you want Moksha, Surrender at the lotus like feet of Lord Sahajanand. He is God Incarnated. Cosmic Gods, deities and Goddesses worship and serve to Him. Such Omnipresent Supreme Lord graces this earth in His human form to emancipate infinite number of souls. Therefore, leave these humbug and surrender to Sahajanand.'

Saying this the Goddess disappeared. Magniram recalled his past, his home, his seclusion, his detachment, his search for God and his efforts to attain ultimate goal of his life. He recalled his pilgrimages, siddhis and his state up to the present status. He spent night in restlessness and agony, and came to the hermitage of Shri Hari early in the morning to sweep the court yard. He swept the courtyard and cleansed the utensils. Thereafter, he came to Shriji Maharaj, offered Dandvat-Pranam with a hearty prayer to forgive him and submitted himself to become a saint and follower of Shriji Maharaj. But Maharaj told him that he was still proud of his physical being, therefore can not be accepted amongst His saints. Magniram expressed his readiness do anything and everything. Then in response to that, Shriji Maharaj asked him to eraze his long hairlocks and place it on the path of the saints. Then Maharaj asked him to collect foot-wear of the saints and hold the bundle on the head while doing pradikshna of the assembly. This act that would crush his ego. Magniram did as per the commandment of Shriji Maharaj.

Shriji Maharaj pleased at his humbleness, compared his work with the act of a Adwait and gave Bhagwati Deekhsa renaming him Adwaitanand Swami.

Mukundanand Brahmchari

'This Mulji Brahmchari is absolutely desire free, and I like his service very much, and this celibate possesses the attributes of cosmic God.' - Vachanamrit.

Such great celibate Mukundanand Brahmchari was born in Machhiyav. 'Mulji' was his childhood name. Since his childhood he had singular resolute of practising celibacy for whole life. The family preisthood and it's income in the village was enough for his livelihood. His father tried to persuade him to marry and explained to him about the impossibility of celibacy in the age of Kali. But the youth - Muljibhai, did not budged from his resolute.

Due to his duties as brahmin priest, he was used to visit the houses of his hosts. He was became most trustworthy among his hosts.

Once a daughter of a host family was to be brought home from her in-laws. Escorting this young lady, Muljibhai was returning to Machhiav. It was a far flung village, therefore when night fell they halted and camped at a midway place. Muljibhai arranged her bed in a small shop, and he himself slept outside. The girl was amorously attracted to the strong and manly physique of Muljibhai and being swept away by the waves of baser instincts of covetousness she came to Muljibhai from her bed. Muljibhai got up swiftly and inquired if she was scared of any thing, assured her absolute safety and peace and asked her to return to her sleep. But after some time she came back again. Muljibhai assured her once again and sent her back. Muljibhai knew nothing about her ill thinking.

Early in the morning, as they proceeded onward Muljibhai found her face pale and weak due to some unknown fear. At heart, she was at fault and the guilt of her thoughts scared her. If her attitude was disclosed to the society in which they lived, her image and respect would be lost. It was at this point Muljibhai knew about the intention of the woman. Since that incident, Muljibhai decided to disown such society and such life as a householder.

One fine morning he left Machhiav, came to Loej, took deeksha from Ramanand Swami and became Mukundanand Swami. He then stayed in hermitage of Loej. After some time, Shri Hari graced Loej and the hermitage Mukundanand worshipped Him with absolute faith.

In Vadtal temple, Shriji Maharaj was gracing a Sabha in the square behind the main dome of the temple and Brahmchari at that moment was standing at the prayer circuit of the inner temple at some height. Shriji Maharaj, called for water. Hearing this Mukund Brahmchari at the top, jumped down to the ground and brought water for Shriji Maharaj. Maharaj scolded, 'Brahmchari ! Why you did so ? What if was fractured due to such risky jump ?' 'Maharaj ! You needed water and if I in such circumstances was to alight steps to serve, it would take time! And if I was to come to harm, you would always be there to protect. ' Such was his dedicate faith in Shri Hari.

In all his three states-waking, sleep and dream - he was fully concentrated in memory of Shriji Maharaj. Once, in some village, Shriji Maharaj was addressing a late evening Satsang at the residence of a Satsangi. Brahmchari was sitting on the floor besides the bedstead of Shriji Maharaj. He in his drowsiness the Brahmchari slipped into sleep but then, all of a sudden he awoke, got up, ran in haste to Shri Hari, took Maharaj in his arms and ran out from the house. The assembly was shocked and startled at such rustic act from the Bramchari and his escape with Maharaj.

'Brahmchari! What is this ?' Asked Maharaj. 'Oh Maharaj ! In my dream state I saw fire devouring you and the house. Therefore, I took you from there and ran quickly from the house to save you from the fire.' Replied the Brahmchari.

Celibacy in all eight ways-and forms was compulsory for all the saint of Shriji Maharaj, but keeping in view his virtue of absolute celibacy, he was allowed to converse with lady Satsangis.

Once Maharaj was gracing Jetalpur Dhaam. Due to the occasional separation from Maharaj, Dada Khachar, Jivuba, Laduba and others in Gadhada were plunged in great grief and sorrow. To console and comfort these devotees, Shriji Maharaj sent Brahmchari to Gahdada. Brahmchari went to Gadhada like enlightened disciple Uddhavji of Lord Shri Krishna had gone to comfort the Gopis. He pacified them in their grief of separation through his enlightening dialogues. S.G. Vasudevanand Brahmchari has narrated this episode in his Satsangi Bhushan (3.25-27) and Muktanand Swami has written 'Uddhav Gita' on this episode.

He was most capable and absolutely detached and ready to face the insults at any extent to serve Shriji Maharaj.

Once Shriji Maharaj ordered him to not to wear shoes or chappals. He accepted it very politely and obeyed to the orders. Then Shriji Maharaj stopped curd, milk, butter oil and sugar in his meals. He accepted this too with great pleasure.

Once Shriji Maharaj asked him to go away from His personal service. He accepted it too and lived in remote village Dabhan where he continued his devotional worship. Then in such severe punishment came the season of summer with the crop of sweet and fragrant mangoes. Satsangis in Dabhan desired that Brahmchari being a saintly soul, should take some mangos to Shriji Maharaj to present it in the thaal. Nobody thought of the inconvenience of Brahmchari - his bare foot, no sumptuous food, extreme heat and heavy weight of mango-basket ! It was mid summer and the sun was very hot, the earth was like furnace, the land was saline, deserted and sandy and his body extremely weak.

In such state he treaded the path to Gadhada holding a 30 kg basket of ripe mangoes. He treaded this rout of 90 km bare footed, reached Gadhada, placed the basket near Maharaj and offered dandvat Pranam. But Maharaj, He did not pay any attention and spoke nothing to him.

Brahmchari went out. One senior lady devotee asked 'Oh Brahmchari ! Why have you not been here these days ?' In reply, Brahmchari told her, his tale of grief and separation. That old lady rushed back to Maharaj to scold Him for his treatment towards the Brahmchari. 'You call your self the ocean of mercy, but have punished that pitiable celibate for no fault. ' Maharaj asked her to send Brahmchari back. Thus, Mukundanand Swami came back to Maharaj and had a meal with the mango juice. Since the day of that meeting, Mukundand Swami lived permanently with Maharaj.

Once Shriji Maharaj ordered Brahmchari to address assembly. Brahmchari stood and said, 'I have very little to say except first and foremost Lord Shriji Maharaj is the Supreme God. None paralleled Him, and none will parallel. I repeatedly say that this only is the truth. Secondly, there should be no change in following his commands, live within the limits prescribed for you by him. That is all.'

Shriji Maharaj pleased at his humbleness, compared his work with the act of a Adwait and gave Bhagwati Deekhsa renaming him Adwaitanand Swami.