Wednesday 22 March 2023 | Chaitra Sud 1, Samvat 2079
Wed 22 Mar 2023
Acharya Swamishree Maharaj manifested just a short walk from Shree Swaminarayan Mandir Bharasar. The home of Shamjibhai Naran Madhani and Rambai, where Acharya Swamishree Maharaj manifested and spent His childhood years, is today lovingly known as Shree Purushottam Pragatya Dham, after this exact home became a sacred site of pilgrimage for the disciples of Shree Swaminarayan Gadi, in May 2017.
During the Suvarna Mahotsav (50th Anniversary) and Nutan Mandir Mahotsav of Shree Swaminarayan Mandir Bharasar, as well as Acharya Swamishree Maharaj’s Sadbhav Amrut Parva (75th manifestation celebrations), Acharya Swamishree Maharaj Himself performed the grand opening of Shree Purushottam Pragatya Dham. As you enter the Pragatya Dham, there is a divine Murti of Jeevanpran Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa and Acharya Swamishree Maharaj at the centre, with various scenes depicting Acharya Swamishree Maharaj’s childhood all throughout the quaint home
In His infant years, Acharya Swamishree Maharaj's health remained frail, and He frequently suffered from stomach ailments. Various medical treatments were tried, but nothing was effective. Eventually, Shamjibhai took his son to Jeevanpran Swamibapa and placed Him at His 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." And of course, from that day, young Hirjibhai's health improved.
From 1946 until 1953, Acharya Swamishree Maharaj attended the Bharasar Prathmik Shala (primary school). At the age of 11, His education continued at the Shree Ishwar-sad-vidyashram boarding school on the grounds of Shree Swaminarayan Mandir Maninagar. During this time, not only did Acharya Swamishree Maharaj excel in His studies, but He also showed the strongest and most loyal devotion to Lord Shree Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa. Any opportunity He could find, He would immediately be at the service of Jeevanpran Swamibapa and the Mandir. It's no surprise, that He very quickly became the most favourite student at the boarding school. In the late 1960s, Acharya Swamishree Maharaj learnt to play a string instrument called a dilruba – literally translated as, 'stealer of hearts.' Performing kirtan-bhakti (devotional singing) with this dilruba, Acharya Swamishree Maharaj stole the hearts of Gurudev Jeevanpran Swamibapa, Sants and disciples. In the years to come, Acharya Swamishree Maharaj was set to become the heartbeat of many more.
As Acharya Swamishree Maharaj grew into a young man, Gurudev Jeevanpran Swamibapa said to Him, “Hirji! It is My wish that You become a Sant.” Without any hesitation at all, 19 year old Hirjibhai replied, “Bapa, I am ready.”
On Sunday 21st March 1962, Jeevanpran Swamibapa initiated Hirjibhai as a Sant, and named Him Swami Purushottampriyadasji - 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 signalled the true divine identity of Acharya Swamishree Maharaj, as well as the deep and loving bond that was developing between Jeevanpran Swamibapa and His choicest Sant.
On one occasion, whilst visiting the home of Hirjibhai’s father, Shamjibhai, in Bharasar, Jeevanpran Swamibapa said to 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 led by example, showing complete dedication and observance of religious vows and practices, including taking difficult and additional vows at the start of each Chaturmas period.
From 1965, Jeevanpran Swamibapa took Swami Purushottampriyadasji to be His personal secretary and entrusted Him with all His administrative responsibilities. From then onwards, Swami Purushottampriyadasji accompanied Jeevanpran Swamibapa wherever He went to provide spiritual upliftment to souls and disciples residing all throughout the world, a legacy of His Gurudev that Acharya Swamishree Maharaj would later most magnificently carry forward. Jeevanpran Swamibapa would also dictate letters to Swami Purushottampriyadasji before signing them off with any final comments. Swami Purushottampriyadasji created handwritten transcripts of Jeevanpran Swamibapa’s numerous divine discourses and blessings (Ashirwad). He subsequently collated all the discourses and published them as Jeevanparan Swamibapa-ni Vato Parts 1 and 2, a most divine scripture we all now have the pleasure and privilege of reading and hearing due to Acharya Swamishree Maharaj’s diligent and dedicated efforts.
On the very auspicious day of Wednesday 28th February 1979 (Samvat 2035 Fagan Sud 2), Jeevanpran Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa appointed Swami Purushottampriyadasji to be His spiritual heir and subsequent Acharya of Shree Swaminarayan Gadi.
Shortly after this investiture, Jeevanpran Swamibapa visited the United Kingdom, accompanied by His beloved heir, Acharya Swamishree Maharaj. It was during this tour, whilst residing in Bolton, on Thursday 30th August 1979 (Samvat 2035 Bhadarva Sud 7) that Jeevanpran Swamibapa withdrew His divine darshan from this world. Jeevanpran Swamibapa's final words were to His beloved heir, "Now, I will only eat if you feed me with your own hands." Through those words, Jeevanpran Swamibapa revealed that He would give darshan through Acharya Swamishree Maharaj.
Since His investiture as leader of the Faith, Shree Swaminarayan Gadi – the Karan Satsang, in 1979, Acharya Swamishree Maharaj has followed devoutly in the divine footsteps of Gurudev Jeevanpran Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa. Acharya Swamishree exemplified His absolute devotion to Jeevanpran Swamibapa by inspiring the creation of the world-renowned Shree Muktjeevan Swamibapa Smruti Mandir (Memorial Temple) & World Peace Centre in Ghodasar, Ahmedabad, India – at the exact site of Jeevanpran Swamibapa's cremation ceremony.
During the grand opening of Smruti Mandir in 1991, Acharya Swamishree Maharaj inaugurated the three-part biography of Jeevanpran Swamibapa that Acharya Swamishree Maharaj Himself collated over the course of ten years after Jeevanpran Swamibapa withdrew His human darshan – Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa Leelamrut Sukhsagar, another gem of a scripture Acharya Swamishree Maharaj has bestowed Maninagar Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan, Sants, and disciples with.
It is apt that Acharya Swamishree Maharaj's cremation ceremony, forty-one years later, would take place directly directly adjacent to site of His beloved Gurudev's cremation ceremony, on the grounds of Smruti Mandir, the most potent personification of Acharya Swamishree Maharaj's unparalleled and exemplary Guru-Bhakti and love towards Jeevanpran Swamibapa. From His manifestation in 1942 to His cremation ceremony in 2020, each and every divine act of Acharya Swamishree Maharaj's was humbly dedicated to His beloved Gurudev and served to spread His Gurudev's glory all throughout the world.
As Acharya of Shree Swaminarayan Gadi, not only did 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 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, leaving the most profound and indelible impact on the world.