The ongoing biography of Lord Shree Swaminarayan from the March 2005 edition of Shree Ghanshyam Vijay.
The Lord Assumes Numerous Forms to Dine at Multiple Places Simultaneously
After spending many days in Kariyani and showering His divine bliss to all the devotees there, the Almighty Lord Shree Swaminarayan returned to Sarangpur. On this occasion, all the devotees requested Shree Hari to dine at each of their homes. If Shree Hari went to every house, He would have to remain in Sarangpur for over five months. Still, the devotees were adamant that until Shree Hari had taken a meal at all their homes, they would not allow Him to leave Sarangpur. For a short while, Shree Hari looked as though He was confused. Then He said, “I have to leave the day after next. You all can make a meal for Me tomorrow. I will come to all your homes and dine.”
The next day, all the devotees lovingly prepared a meal for Shree Hari. Shree Hari first went to Jeevakhachar’s royal court. Jeevakhachar thought that as Shree Hari was going to dine at all the homes, he should serve the Lord only a small amount of food. However, Shree Hari said, “Jeevakhachar! Why have you given Me only this much food. If you do not serve Me properly, I will remain hungry.” Jeevakhachar became extremely pleased because the Lord was showing him so much affection by asking him for more food. He lovingly served the Lord with all the food that he had prepared. Jeevakhachar became inquisitive about what the Lord would be eating at the other homes. He sent his servant to the homes of Murukhachar, Vastakhachar and some of the other devotees to see what was happening there. The servant returned astonished, and said to Jeevakhachar, “Shree Hari was present at all the homes simultaneously. He assumed multiple forms and dined at the homes of all the devotees simultaneously. Shree Hari must have dined at over 150 homes today.” Jeevakhachar thought, ‘Maharaj! Your actions are truly divine and extraordinary. You are so great, You are able to do whatever You will.’
Everyone in the village came to know about the miracle that Shree Hari had shown. To grant His immense divine bliss to each and every devotee, He had assumed numerous forms. Consequently, everyone in the village gathered at Jeevkhachar’s royal court for the Lord’s darshan. Many people requested the Lord to grant them the Vartman ceremony, and initiate them into the Faith. Shree Hari sprinkled water over all these new devotees and performed the Vartman ceremony. He then commanded, “I have now performed Vartman to you all. From now on, you must all abide by the commandments of the religion. If you behave in accordance with the stipulations of this Faith, you will remain contented in this life and at the end of your life, I will grant you salvation.”
Lakha Patel was one of these new devotees. His mother was very old so Lakha thought that he should ask the Lord to grant her salvation. Lakha brought his mother to Shree Hari and said, “My Lord! Have mercy and perform the Vartman ceremony to my mother so that she too can attain salvation.” The old lady was unaware about what was going on when Shree Hari was performing the ceremony. Shree Hari said to her, “Do not worry! When the time comes, I will grant you salvation.” The old lady was hard of hearing. Consequently, she did not understand anything that the Lord had said. She unknowingly replied, “Very well Sir!” Three days later, Shree Hari gave darshan to her. The old lady told her relatives that the Lord had come to take her so they should not go to work in the fields that day. Shree Hari took the lady to Akshardham. This was witnessed by many of the village people. Everyone was amazed to observe this extraordinary divine episode of Lord Shree Swaminarayan.Punjasa and Vanasha become Affiliated to the Satsang
Dosakhachar, the king of Sundariyana, came to Sarangpur for Shree Hari’s darshan. The devotees Manchakhachar of Kariyani and Ebalkhachar of Gadhpur were his friends. Through them, he had become introduced to the Satsang. Dosakhachar requested the Lord to visit his village. Accepting his humble wish, Shree Hari travelled to Sundariyana. The king had thought of many different ways to please the Lord. Shree Hari lovingly fulfilled all of Dosakhachar’s spiritual desires and thereby strengthened his faith. The king had two chief ministers to advise him. The two ministers, Punjasa and Vanasha, were brothers and staunch adherents of the Vaishnav branch of Hinduism. Their father, Himraj Shah, was an elder of the Vaishnav faith. The resolute obedience of their father to the doctrines of the faith had been instilled into both brothers. At the time, many ignorant people believed that Lord Shree Swaminarayan had started a new, unfounded cult, and that He used black magic, spells and incantations to lure people to Him. They believed that it was only the simple-minded people, such as the Kathi community, who believed Him to be the supreme Lord. The two brothers thought, ‘It does not matter if our king has become a follower of Swaminarayan. We will back him in issues relating to the kingdom, but we will not blindly follow his lead when it comes to abiding by this new, so-called religion.’ Due to their ignorant beliefs, the two ministers did not go for the Lord’s darshan. The king knew that they were firm adherents of their own faith and consequently would remain distanced from Shree Hari. However, he thought that it was his duty to introduce his employees to the path of eternal salvation. Furthermore, the king and his two ministers had a very close relationship. Therefore, he was adamant that they should become devotees of Lord Swaminarayan.
The king went to the home of the two ministers. Punjasa and Vanasha understood why the king had come unexpectedly to visit them. However, out of courtesy and respect they asked, “What is the reason for coming here today?” This civility of the two brothers made the king laugh. He replied, “You are frightened by Lord Swaminarayan. It is natural that those who have not come into contact with Him will be frightened. However, do not think that I have become His devotee without being sure of His greatness. If you come with me and see for yourself, you too will realise that the doctrines of the Vaishnav sect are merely theoretical. No-one abides by the rules. In contrast, in the Swaminarayan religion, the sublime principles are adhered to and put into practice.”
Punjasa said, “Your highness! You may be telling us the truth, but until we experience His supremacy for ourselves, we will not believe in Him.” The king agreed with Punjasa and said, “You are absolutely right. That is the way it should be. Before you buy something, you thoroughly examine each item. Similarly, you must see for yourselves and experience just how great Lord Swaminarayan is. As a matter of fact, the Lord continually tries His devotees. He never holds back in testing His devotees. So why shouldn’t you do the same to Him?” The king’s words pleased the two brothers. They said, “Your highness! We will think of something for Lord Swaminarayan to do. If He is able to read our minds and then fulfil whatever we ask Him to do, we will believe Him to be God.” The king replied, “That is perfect. Decide what you want Him to do and then we will immediately go to Him.”
Both brothers accompanied the king to where Shree Hari was presiding. The king introduced them to the Lord. Shree Hari said, “If these are your ministers, they are also mine.” Everyone sat down in the assembly and Shree Hari commenced His sermon. Whilst talking, Shree Hari repeatedly stretched out His left leg. After a short while, He also started to stretch out His right leg. The first of their two thoughts had been fulfilled. In the Lord’s lotus feet, the two brothers saw the 16 marks of divinity. They had read in the ancient Samudrik scriptures that the supreme Lord has these 16 marks on His feet. They witnessed these marks on Shree Hari’s lotus feet with their very eyes. Shree Hari then said to the two brothers, “In your house, on the top shelf of your storeroom, there are three new quilts bought from the city. Bring them to Me.” Now, the second thought had also been fulfilled. The two brothers sat in amazement and stared at Shree Hari’s lotus face. With His merciful gaze, Shree Hari gently smiled at them both. Punjasa and Vanasha could not contain their delight. Their souls had suddenly become illuminated. They immediately prayed to Shree Hari to initiate them into the Satsang. They knew that their father would not be happy. However, they also knew that they had found the true, supreme Lord and therefore must not abandon the opportunity of remaining affiliated to Him. They were adamant that in time to come, their father too would understand the Lord’s greatness. When their father first heard that they had become followers of Lord Swaminarayan, he became deeply hurt. However, he knew that his sons would never waiver from their newly found faith. To prevent a commotion in his home, he remained silent. The two brothers were from one of the Vaishnav faith’s most prominent families. Many of that faith’s elders and teachers came to convert them back. However, the two brothers remained steadfast. They respectfully and clearly explained the greatness of the Swaminarayan religion to everyone. Due to the firmness of their convictions, no-one was able to hinder their dedication to the Lord.