The ongoing biography of Lord Shree Swaminarayan from the May 2005 edition of Shree Ghanshyam Vijay.
Shekhji Attains the Ability to Lead People into a Trance
All those who were fortunate to come into the divine gaze of the Almighty Lord Shree Swaminarayan, immediately fell into a trance (samadhi). However, there were many people who lived far from where the Lord was presiding. These people did not have the opportunity of personally meeting the Lord. Therefore, Shree Hari gave divine powers to certain individuals so that they too could lead people into trances. Thereby, Shree Hari ensured that the Swaminarayan Faith was spread to far away lands. After seeing the majesty of Shree Hari, Shekhji, from the village of Gondal , became a devotee. Previously, he adhered to Islam. On one occasion, Shekhji came for Shree Hari’s darshan. Shree Hari asked, “Shekhji! Will you go to the Sindh region (in Northern India ) and spread the Faith there?” Shekhji replied, “Maharaj! I am not educated. How will I be able to teach others?” Shree Hari replied, “There is no need for you to do anything else. All you will need to say is ‘look at my beard’. When you say these words, whoever looks at your beard will immediately fall into a trance. However, be warned. Do not tour anywhere in the region of Gujarat . Go straight to the Sindh province and commence the spread of our Faith there.”Shekhji Test’s His Powers of Trance
Shekhji bowed down to Shree Hari and headed off in the direction of the Sindh region. When he reached Ahmedabad, a thought came to his mind. ‘I should test the powers of my beard. Can people really fall into a trance by looking at it?’ He called someone and asked, “Do you want to fall into a trance?” The other person was eager to experience the wonderful state. Shekhji immediately commanded, “Look at my beard!” As soon as the man looked at Shekhji’s beard, he fell into a trance in which he witnessed the divine abode of the Lord. When he awoke from the trance, he expressed his immense gratitude to Shekhji for allowing him to experience such amazing bliss and fell at Shekhji’s feet. Many other people became aware of Shekhji’s powers. As news of Shekhji’s powers spread, more and more people became eager to experience a trance state. They would invite Shekhji to their homes and feed him lavish dishes. Every morning, afternoon and evening, Shekhji would visit someone’s house, dine a sumptuous meal and then lead the householders into a trance. Shekhji’s ego became greatly inflated and he forgot Shree Hari’s command. Instead of going to the Sindh region to disseminate the glory of the Faith to the people there, he started to tour Gujarat instead.Shekhji’s Inability to Control His Conceit
Muktanand Swami was touring the regions around Ahmedabad in accordance with the Lord’s command. He became aware that Shekhji too was travelling through the region, leading people into trance. Muktanand Swami realised that Shekhji was fast becoming entrapped into the lair of arrogance. He thought he would try explaining to Shekhji the error of his conduct. Muktanand Swami went to Shekhji and questioned, “Shekhji! Maharaj told you to go to the Sindh region. Why have you remained in Gujarat ?” Shekhji replied, “Muktanand Swami! Do you know who I am? Just as Swaminarayan leads people into a trance, I can do the same. What is the difference between Sahajanand and me?” Swami realised that Shekhji’s arrogance had become inflated beyond control. He wrote a letter to Shree Hari and explained the situation.
Shree Hari read the letter and gently smiled. The sants asked, “Maharaj! What is in Muktanand Swami’s letter that makes You smile? Have mercy and tell us what the letter contains.” Shree Hari replied, “The insolence of souls is beyond belief. I mercifully give special abilities to people. This makes them so arrogant that they start believing the powers to be their own. They start regarding themselves to be supreme. I commanded Shekhji to go to the Sindh region for the spread of the Faith. Instead, he has started to establish his own greatness right here in Gujarat . He is touring the region saying that there is no difference between Sahajanand and him. Souls are so unruly. They cannot contain the arrogance of the powers that I have given them for a particular purpose. Instead, they start believing the ability to exist due to their own greatness.” Saying this, Shree Hari slapped the seat He was presiding on with His hand and said, “He who gives powers, also knows how to take them back.”
As soon as Shree Hari spoke these words, Shekhji’s ability to lead people into a trance state was retracted. However, Shekhji was unaware of this. At the time, Shekhji was indulging in an exquisite meal. When he had eaten, he called his host and said, “Look at my beard.” Nothing happened. The other person said, “I cannot see anything in your beard. All I see are your whiskers.” Shekhji told him to look again and concentrate. Still nothing happened. The other person became angry. He called everyone in the village and declared Shekhji to be a fraud. Some of the people got together and started plucking the hair from Shekhji’s beard. Rather than being honoured, Shekhji started being insulted.Shekhji Realises His Mistake
Eventually, Shekhji understood that he had made a grave mistake. He realised that because he had not obeyed Shree Hari, he had to tolerate this abuse. He thought about going to the Lord and asking for forgiveness. However, he was scared that the Lord would not accept his plea. Nevertheless, he resolved to go to the Lord and accept whatever punishment He gave. Shekhji knew the value of the Lord’s divine shelter and wanted to remain there, under any circumstances.
Shekhji went to Gadhpur where Shree Hari was presiding. Shree Hari saw Shekhji coming towards Him and commanded His attendants to close the doors of the royal court and not allow Shekhji to come anywhere near Him. Shekhji stood far from the Lord and pleaded for forgiveness. He wept uncontrollably and cried, “Oh Maharaj! I have wronged, but You have to pardon me. Your divine shelter is so precious. I must remain at Your lotus feet.” Eventually, Shree Hari relented a little and replied, “If you have a desire to remain in the Satsang, you must look after Dada Khachar’s stables and take care of all his horses. You must do all the menial work in the stables. Will you be able to live in that manner?” Shekhji immediately agreed to Maharaj’s conditions. Seeing Shekhji’s determination to remain in the Satsang pleased Shree Hari, so He said, “Shekhji! I forgive you for all your sins. You may remain in the Faith, but you must humbly serve the sants and devotees in order to please Me.” From that day onwards, Shekhji lived a very simple life and performed all the menial tasks for the sants and devotees.