Ongoing biography of Lord Shree Swaminarayan from the August edition of Shree Ghanshyam Vijay
The Strength of Junagadh's Spiritual Fervour
Whilst residing in Panchala, the Lord showed Himself to have an illness and in this manner, provided the devotees with an opportunity to serve Him. Shree Hari then bestowed His immense, merciful bliss to all the villagers. After leaving Panchala, Sarvavatari Lord Shree Swaminarayan visited Piplana and then travelled to Junagadh. Many devotees of the Nagar caste lived there. Ramjibhai, Bhimjibhai and many other loving devotees ceremonially welcomed the Lord to their village. Shree Hari resided at the home of Bhimjibhai Nagar.
Each day, Shree Hari would go to the River Karva accompanied by sants and devotees, where He would hold assemblies in the shade of an asopalav tree and describe the illusive nature of the world. After hearing several of these discourses, Hariram Nagar humbly prayed to Shree Hari to make him an ascetic. Seeing his true convictions, Shree Hari initiated him into the sant fraternity and gave him the name Madhvanand Swami. This encouraged another devotee, Ramji Nagar to become a sant. However, Shree Hari said to him, “My disciple! You live in this world, but you are like a lotus flower that lives in water. You are unaffected by the worldly influences. Therefore, you must remain as a gruhasth and serve the sants. This is My command to you.” Hearing this unequivocal directive from Shree Hari, Ramji Nagar changed his mind. He realised that it was not the Lord’s wish to make him a sant. He knew that we should always, unquestionably obey the Lord's commands, and never plead with Him to fulfil our requests if that was not His will. He respectfully accepted the Lord's directive and said, “My dear Lord! I will abide by Your command.”
Whilst in Junagadh, Shree Hari taught Yoga to His sants. The villagers witnessed first hand that His sants contained the true saintly virtues, such morality and humility and they started to say, “As this village is a pilgrimage site dedicated to the deity Damodar, many sages and ascetics come here. However, all those ascetics seem to remain constantly inebriated by illicit drugs and alcohol. It seems that anger and rage exudes from everything that they say and do. They cannot be regarded as true ascetics. The real ascetics are the sants of Lord Shree Swaminarayan.” Consequently, many sincerely devout people became devotees of Shree Hari. In this manner, Shree Hari strengthened the dedication and spiritual fervour of Junagadh's devotees. Shree Hari then visited several other villages of the region, such as Thahnagalor, Derdi, Kotda, Vankiya and Kariyana, and eventually reached Gadhpur.
Dadakhachar's eagerness for the darshan of Shree Hari
The devotees of Gadhpur eagerly waited for Shree Hari to return to their village. Each day, they would console themselves by saying, ‘He will arrive today. If He does not come here today, He will definitely return tomorrow.’ Many such days passed. Everyone became impatient for the divine darshan of Shree Hari. In anticipation of His arrival, they would make food for Shree Hari each day. When they realised that Shree Hari would not be returning that day, they would offer the food to the deity Vasudev-Narayan in the temple, and then give it to the sants. The devotees had decided that until they were granted the darshan of Shree Hari, they would not eat lavish food. In the same manner as Shabri eagerly waited for Ramchandraji, the loving devotees of Gadhpur impatiently longed for the darshan of Shree Hari.
As soon as Shree Hari arrived in Gadhpur, Ebal Bapu and his son Uttamkhachar (Dadakhachar) greeted Him and prostrated in reverence at His lotus feet. Shree Hari was well aware of the exceptional love for Him that was inherent in Uttamkhachar. Shree Hari grabbed both his hands and seated Uttamkhachar beside Him. This delighted Ebal Bapu even more and he said to Shree Hari, “Each day, this Dada would ask me when You would be arriving. In order to console him, I would tell him that You would be coming this evening, or tomorrow morning. He would then go to his mother or aunt and tell them to make lavish foods as You would be reaching the village on that day. So they would make the food. Dada would then sit at the entrance to the courtyard with the food. From the early morning, he would wait for You so that he could offer You the food as soon as You arrived. He would wait until mid-day. Still, You would not arrive. Eventually, when he realised that You would not be coming home that day he would become despondent, go to his aunt and say, “The Lord did not come today. Now you must offer this food to Vasudev-Narayan and then give it to the sants.” The disappointment in Dada's eyes would make everyone cry. We used to tell him that he should eat the food that had been offered to the deity. However, he would always refuse and say, “That food was meant for Shree Hari. If Shree Hari Himself does not eat the food, it should be given to His sants. Until we are granted the Lord's darshan, we should eat only simple food such as chapattis and lentils.” Whilst listening to the words of Ebal Bapu, Shree Hari gently stroked Dada's head with His divine lotus hands. Even at this young age, Dada had true dedication and unsurpassed spiritual convictions for Shree Hari. Acknowledging this, the Lord lifted Dada and sat him in His lap. The Lord said to Ebal Bapu, “This Dada is the great jewel of your entire ancestry.”