Ongoing biography of Lord Shree Swaminarayan from the October edition of Shree Ghanshyam Vijay
The Loving Prabhashankar of Piprav
After giving initiation to His own heir, His own Sankalp-murti - Sadguru Shree Gopalanand Swami, in Gadhpur, Sarvavatari Lord Shree Swaminarayan extensively explained his greatness to all the sants and devotees. Everyone came to understand that although Shree Hari and Gopalanand Swami appear to be two separate forms, they are actually one.
A short while later the winter season arrived. Gradually, the cold became more and more intense. In that period, a devotee from Piprav called Prabhashankar came for the darshan of Shree Hari. The Lord Himself made arrangements for his accommodation because that devotee was so pious, he never asked for anything. From a very young age, he had a deep interest in the religious teachings. He strictly followed all the regulations and restrictions of the faith. As soon as Prabhashankar arrived, the Lord embraced him and became extremely pleased with him.
There is No Mercy! There is No Mercy!
The bitter cold of the winter season arrived. When the sants slept at night, they were not given any blankets to cover themselves. However, Prabhashankar was given a blanket. As he lay down to sleep, he thought about the conditions that the sants were experiencing. Instead of chanting 'Krupa-nidhhi, Krupa-nidhhi' (treasure of mercy), referring to Shree Hari, he loudly chanted 'Krupa-nathi, Krupa-nathi' (there is no mercy). The clamour of his discrepant chant suddenly awoke the Lord. The Lord asked Mansang, his personal attendant who was sleeping beside Him to investigate and find out who was making so much noise in the middle of the night. Mansang went outside and saw Prabhashankar sitting up, reciting the words 'Krupa-nathi, Krupa-nathi' (there is no mercy). Mansang said, "Prabhashankar! Do you realise you have awoken the Lord by your loud chanting. Why are you making so much noise so late at night? Speak quietly if you want, otherwise you will continue to disturb the Lord." However, Prabhashankar took no notice at all and continued chanting. Mansang realised that Prabhashankar would not listen so took him to the Lord. Prabhashankar prostrated in reverence at Shree Hari's lotus feet. Mansang complained to the Lord and said, "I told him to speak quietly, but he would not listen. He continued chanting 'Krupa-nathi, Krupa-nathi' (there is no mercy)". Shree Hari asked, "Prabhashankar! Why are you saying there is no mercy?" Prabhashankar replied, "Oh Lord! I was recalling you and chanting 'Krupa-nidhhi, Krupa-nidhhi' (treasure of mercy). However, this Mansang must be feeling so cold. Consequently, he cannot say the words properly and instead, the words sound as if he is saying 'Krupa-nathi, Krupa-nathi' (there is no mercy). By saying these words, he is making an indirect complaint to You that he is cold." Shree Hari understood Prabhashankar intentions and acknowledged that the sants were freezing in the bitter cold.
The next day, Shree Hari called Jivuba and Laduba and said, "Bring some blankets for the sants. These poor sants are having to endure the intense cold nights and I have to bear hearing the words 'Krupa-nathi, Krupa-nathi' (there is no mercy)." Everyone laughed. Jivuba and Laduba said, "Dear Lord! It is true. You have a grand, canopied bed to sleep on whilst the unfortunate sants do not even have anything to cover themselves with. Of course people will say that there is no mercy." Shree Hari also laughed as He heard this. Many other devotees realised that the time had come to please the Lord and gave donations for blankets to be made for the sants.
In this manner, Shree Hari sometimes tested the endurance of the sants. However, the sants had only one aim: to please the Lord, i.e. to see whatever He wished them to see and to remain in whichever manner He commanded. With this objective in mind, the sants always remained contented.
Shree Hari decided to celebrate the spring (Vasant) festival in Gadhpur. He called the sants and devotees from all the villages to Him. A large gathering of sants and devotees congregated in Gadhpur. Muktanand Swami and his group of sants also came. Preparations were made for the colour festival (Rangotsav). Sacks of coloured powder were brought and a huge reservoir was filled with coloured water. On the day of the Vasant Panchmi festival, Shree Hari drenched everyone with the colour and made the day an experience that they would remember for the rest of their lives.
The omniscient Shree Hari was well aware of the severe suffering faced by Sadguru Shree Muktanand Swami in Ahmedabad. However, in order that everyone could also know, He asked Muktanand Swami to talk about his recent tour of Ahmedabad.
The True Kevriks (virtuous, sincere and pious individuals) are the Sants of
In response to Shree Hari's command, Muktanand Swami said, "Oh Maharaj! By Your command, we went to Shreepur - Ahmedabad and lived in the dense forest of tamarind trees near the Dariyakhan Dome region. The area was virtually free of any inhabitants. Only rarely would anyone come there. We imparted Your spiritual teachings to the few people that came to the vicinity. We used to go to a nearby village to beg for alms. Rarely did we receive enough to eat. On some days, we got nothing at all. There were many occasions when we had to suffer harassment from spiteful people. Still, we remained there. Each evening we held religious discourses and then meditated until late at night.
“One day, a large group of people came from the village to perform the cremation ceremony of a village elder who was of the Jain religion. They were surprised to see us all sitting in meditation. A few people came to ask us which denomination we belonged to. Someone asked us if we were of the Kevrik faith (the word kevrik is defined as a virtuous, sincere and pious individual). We replied that we were not Kevriks. Amongst the group, there was an ill-mannered person who arrogantly proclaimed that he and his companions contained the great qualities of kevriks. Saying this, he and his five companions sat down in the lotus posture (padmasan) on the floor. Our sants were sitting in meditation at the time. Just then, a snake fell down from a tree. Hearing the sound of the falling snake, one of villagers opened his eyes and realised that there was a snake in the vicinity. He shouted 'snake', and consequently all his companions immediately stood up and fled in fear of their lives.
“You have commanded us that we must never move our bodies whilst meditating. Even if an insect or other animal climbs on our body, we must not flinch, and should continue with the meditation. Accordingly, the snake slithered over everyone's shoulders, heads, legs etc. and then retreated into the vegetation. The Jain disciples were standing afar, watching the entire incident. They were amazed to see the resolute nature of the sants and conceded, ‘The true kevriks are the sants of Swaminarayan. We have never seen such sants anywhere else.’ They all came to where we were sitting and said, ‘Swami! You are true kevriks (virtuous, sincere, pious individuals).’ I replied, ‘The supreme kevrik is Lord Shree Swaminarayan. We are merely His servants.’ They became extremely pleased and told us that we must go to them to receive alms the following day. However, we did not go to beg for alms. So instead, they brought ghee, floor, sugar etc. to us. This continued for two to three days. We then remembered Your other command that one should not remain anywhere for an extended period of time if lavish food or accolades are being received there. So we fled the region and toured in other districts. We then received Your command and so came here.” The entire congregation was shocked to hear Muktanand Swami's tale about the pains and suffering that they had to endure. Everyone realised their great fortune for being granted the association of such great sants and their immense privilege for being able to live amongst such eminent sants. Only those who have performed great deeds are granted such an attainment. Yet they had effortlessly received this fortune.