Acharya Swamishree Maharaj manifested on Thursday 28th May 1942 in Bharasar – Kutch, Gujarat India, at the home of father Shamjibhai Naran Madhani and mother Rambai. He had one older brother (Harji), two older sisters (Ratanbai and Tejbai), and one younger sister (Hirbai). Jeevanpran Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa gave Him the name ‘Hirji’; radiant diamond – He who would emanate the glory of the supreme Faith all around the world.

During Jeevanpran Swamibapa’s Golden Jubilee in 1957, young Hirjibhai strikes a  distinctive pose while enacting the role of Chandra in a devotional play called  ‘Balidan’ (sacrifice)
During Jeevanpran Swamibapa’s Golden Jubilee in 1957, young Hirjibhai strikes a distinctive pose while enacting the role of Chandra in a devotional play called ‘Balidan’ (sacrifice)

In His infant years, Acharya Swamishree Maharaj had a stomach ailment that meant that He remained frail. Many types of medical treatments were tried, but nothing was effective in curing the illness. Eventually, Shamjibhai took his son to place Him at Jeevanpran Swamibapa’s divine lotus feet. Jeevanpran Swamibapa said, “You have come to surrender Him to me. Do not worry; He is mine and will always be Mine. You will not understand My words now, but at the right time, everyone will understand what I am saying.” From that day, young Hirjibhai’s health improved.

From 1946 until 1953, He attended the Bharasar Prathmik Shala (primary school). Thereafter, at the age of 11, He moved to the Shree Ishwar-sad-vidyashram boarding school on the grounds of Shree Swaminarayan Mandir Maninagar to continue His education. In the late 1960s, Acharya Swamishree Maharaj learnt to play a string instrument called a dilruba – literally translated, ‘stealer of hearts.’ Performing kirtan-bhakti (devotional singing) with this very dilruba, Acharya Swamishree Maharaj stole the hearts of Gurudev Jeevanpran Swamibapa, Sants and disciples.

On Sunday 21st March 1962, at the age of 19, Jeevanpran Swamibapa initiated Hirjibhai as a Sant, and named Him Swami Purushottampriyadasji. This name reveals His true identity – the Swami who is beloved to Purushottam (the supreme Lord). Purushottam was also Jeevanpran Swamibapa’s name before He was initiated as a Sant, and so this name also signifies the immense love that Jeevanpran Swamibapa had for His soon to be choicest Sant.


Initiation into the Sant Fraternity

One day, Gurudev Jeevanpran Swamibapa said, “Hirji! It is My wish that You become a Sant.” Without any hesitation, young Hirjibhai replied, “Bapa, I am ready.”

Hirjibhai offers poojan to Jeevanpran Swamibapa during His Sant diksha – initiation into  the Sant fraternity
Hirjibhai offers poojan to Jeevanpran Swamibapa during His Sant diksha – initiation into the Sant fraternity.

On Sunday 21st March 1962, at the age of 19, Jeevanpran Swamibapa initiated Hirjibhai as a Sant, and named Him Swami Purushottampriyadasji. This name reveals His identity – the Swami who is beloved to Purushottam (the supreme Lord). Purushottam was also Jeevanpran Swamibapa’s name before He was initiated as a Sant, and so this name also signifies the immense love that Jeevanpran Swamibapa had for His soon to be choicest Sant.

Jeevanpran Swamibapa said to Hirjibhai’s father, Shamjibhai, “By giving your Son to Me, you have done a great service to this entire religion. He will personify the great virtues of renouncement, asceticism, spiritual knowledge and devotion. He will explain the supreme philosophy of the Lord all around the world. His faith and dedication to Me will become an example for all those who want to lead a disciplined, spiritual and moral life.”

Swami Purushottampriyadasji soon became a highly respected Sant and Jeevanpran Swamibapa’s closest confidante. He remained steadfast in His observances of the religious vows and led by example, including taking staunch additional vows at the start of each Chaturmas period.

Swami Purushottampriyadasji used to write His Chaturmas vows on notes that were  signed in approval by Jeevanpran Swamibapa, such as this note from 1975
Swami Purushottampriyadasji used to write His Chaturmas vows on notes that were signed in approval by Jeevanpran Swamibapa, such as this note from 1975.

Swamibapanu Hir (Swamibapa’s Diamond)

From 1965, Jeevanpran Swamibapa took Swami Purushottampriyadasji to be His personal secretary and entrusted Him with all administrative responsibilities. Swamibapa would dictate letters to Swami Purushottampriyadasji before signing them off with any final comments. Swami Purushottampriyadasji noted Jeevanpran Swamibapa’s Ashirwad in handwritten transcripts that would form the basis of the, ‘Shree Jeevanpran Swamibapa ni Vato’ scriptures.

On Wednesday 28th February 1979, Jeevanpran Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa appointed Swami Purushottampriyadasji to be His heir and subsequent Acharya of Shree Swaminarayan Gadi.

During the investiture ceremony, Jeevanpran Swamibapa stated, “I hand  over the helm of the Karan Satsang – Shree Swaminarayan Gadi to Shree Purushottampriyadasji  Swami. In every respect, Lord Shree Swaminarayan, Jeevanpran Bapashree and I,  will work through Him, and will always remain with Him.”
During the investiture ceremony, Jeevanpran Swamibapa stated, “I hand over the helm of the Karan Satsang – Shree Swaminarayan Gadi to Shree Purushottampriyadasji Swami. In every respect, Lord Shree Swaminarayan, Jeevanpran Bapashree and I, will work through Him, and will always remain with Him.”

Since His investiture as leader of the Faith in 1979, Acharya Swamishree Maharaj has followed devoutly in the divine footsteps of Gurudev Jeevanpran Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa. Not only has Acharya Swamishree Maharaj tirelessly and so selflessly spread the supreme tenets of Lord Shree Swaminarayan, Jeevanpran Shree Abji Bapashree, and Jeevanpran Swamibapa, throughout the world – providing spiritual guidance and upliftment to innumerable souls, guiding them onto the divine path to absolute salvation, He has established dozens of new Mandirs, centres of spiritual, cultural and social progress all throughout the world, instigated countless charity initiatives, and campaigned on societal issues such as equality, social mobility, sustainability and world peace.