Ongoing biography of Lord Shree Swaminarayan from the September edition of Shree Ghanshyam Vijay
Initiation of the Lord's Heir
One of the greatest poets of the Swaminarayan Sampraday is Sadguru Shree Nishkulanand Swami. He is regarded as an embodiment of the virtues of asceticism at their most elite. In his scripture called the Bhaktachintamani, Sadguru Shree Nishkulanand Swami states;
The staunch ascetic, who had an immense love for the Lord
Manifested with Him, assuming the name Khushal
The great ascetic Khushal who Shree Nishkulanand Swami refers to, is Yogivarya Sadguru Shree Gopalanand Swami, the heir of Sarvavatari Lord Shree Swaminarayan. Sadguru Shree Gopalanand Swami is the great Sant who Lord Shree Swaminarayan subsequently established as the head of the entire Sampraday and leader of the Acharyas of both land divisions. After holding the great divine ordination in Akshardham, Lord Shree Swaminarayan brought Sadguru Shree Gopalanand Swami with Him onto this earth.
Sadguru Shree Gopalanand Swami manifested in a village in Gujarat besides Idar called Todla. He assumed the name Khushal Bhatt. From a young age, he showed himself to possess miraculously divine powers and to have perfected the great virtues of Ashtang (eight-fold) Yog. A great scripture would be collated if all his great exploits were to be described. On one occasion, Khushal Bhatt went to Jetalpur. In the eyes of the world, this was the first time that he and Shree Hari had met. As soon as their gazes met, their extraordinary mutual love became apparent to all. Describing this episode, our Gurudev Jeevanpran Swamibapa has versed;
Their first show of love, shone at the first time they both met
The sparkle of love and affection, instantaneously emanated from them both
This Shreeji-sankalp-murti possessed the same great prowess as the Lord and so there was no need to perform any initiation ceremonies. However, in accordance with the conduct of society, Shree Hari decided to give him initiation into the sant fraternity on Samvat 1864 Kartik Vad 8. On this day, Shree Hari called all the sants and leading disciples from the surrounding villages to Gadhpur. In accordance with the ancient Ved scriptures, Shree Hari performed His own heir's grand initiation ceremony. 'Go' is translated as cow. 'Palan' is translated as nurture. 'Anand' is translated as happiness. This great personage was to become the nurturer of the entire Sampraday's disciples. He was going to enlighten them all with the supreme spiritual knowledge and upasana, and bestow immense bliss to them all. Just as herders tend to their herds of cows, he was to look after all the disciples. Accordingly, Shree Hari named His own Sankalp-swaroop, Shree Gopalanand Swami. The true greatness of this personage is infinite.
Sarvavatari Lord Shree Swaminarayan placed His divine, lotus hands on Shree Gopalanand Swami's head and showed His immense delight. This was the divine sant to whom the Lord was going to entrust the helm of the entire Satsang. Explaining his greatness to all the sants and disciples, Shree Hari said, "From childhood, he showed himself to be a miraculous being. At a very young age, he perfected the virtues of Ashtang Yog, an achievement that the great Yogis are constantly striving to attain, but without success. When he was young, the deity Shamlaji from the murti in the temple would manifest as a child and play with him. At times of famine, he would make sweet roots appear from the ground and feed them to his friends and the other villagers. Those who were dumb have been made to speak by him. He has granted the ability to walk to those who could not stand. He saved a child from a burning house by extending his arm and lifting it out. He slapped a fierce tiger on its face and removed all its ferociousness. He made bitter mahuda berries sweet by merely touching them. He granted life to a dead child and cow. He has granted salvation to numerous unfortunate souls who were being tortured in hell. When he first came to Jetalpur, he granted salvation to the spirits that lived in the well. On that occasion, Gangama had only made a meal for Me. However, from that food, he served the entire congregation. When I wanted the Mahabharat scripture, many others tried to get the manuscript but failed. Only he was able to convince that person to give Me the scripture. When I sent him to the home of Sadashivbhai, everyone witnessed that the Lord Himself came to dine with him. In this manner, he allowed everyone present the opportunity of witnessing this divine experience. There are countless more of his divine episodes. His greatness is boundless. In the same manner as I, he too will captivate great leaders and kings, and impart the spiritual knowledge to them all."
Everyone listened attentively to the nectar-filled words of Shree Hari. As they looked at Swami's face, tears of love filled their eyes and they all bowed down reverentially at his feet. Today, the entire atmosphere was filled with divinity. Even the Sun was shining in such a brilliant manner that its golden rays were performing the abhishek (grand bathing ceremony) of Shree Hari and Shree Gopalanand Swami. The wind was also blowing its gentle, calm and fragrant breeze through the assembly. It seemed as if even the wind and sun were experiencing great delight from the touch of Shree Hari and Shree Gopalanand Swami. Everyone had become immersed in great bliss, an experience that they had never encountered before. No-one had any desire to leave the assembly. They had never before felt such indescribable, immense bliss. Today, the congregation had become truly fortunate to experience this great happiness. It was as if on this day, Kartik Vad 8, the asht (eight) siddhis had come to pay homage to the divine personage who had perfected the ashtang Yog, Yogivarya Shree Gopalanand Swami. Everyone became delighted about experiencing this unforgettable, divine bliss.