A group of children was chanting the Ramdhun in the mandir courtyard. In the middle a handsome little boy was dancing while singing devotional songs. All those visiting the mandir to offer their prayers were deeply impressed by the child’s ardent love towards God. They forgot everything else and stood there like statues watching this little boy dancing and singing in praise of God. When the children stopped singing, the people discovered that the leader of the group was Pragji, known as Bhagat, the son of Govindbhai of Mahuva.
Pragji Bhakta regularly visited this Lakshmi-Narayan mandir with his friends. It was here in front of the small shrine of Hanumanji under the pipal tree, that Shriji Maharaj had stayed for three days when He was travelling as Nilkanth Varni. The child Pragji Bhakta always served the murti of Hanumanji.
Mahant Suryabharathi was greatly pleased with the devotion of the child. Pragji Bhakta served the mahant and attentively listened to the story of Shri Ram and pondered over the high ideals exemplified by the great characters of the Ramayan.
In the luscious green seaside town of Mahuva in Saurashtra, this child devotee was born to a tailor family on the full moon day of the bright half of Fagan in V.S. 1885 (1829 CE). The child was very beautiful and luminous and was loved by all.
The child devotee was sent to the local school, but he was too active to remain within the walls of the school. Often, he would run away with other schoolboys to the river Malan that flowed along the outskirts of Mahuva. He would sit in the dry areas of the riverbed and talk to his friends, “I have studied everything. I have come to worship God and make others worship God.” Young children always stayed in his company and everyone had a natural attraction towards Pragji Bhakta.
Once, a festival dinner was arranged at Pragji’s house. Pragji Bhakta went to his mother and said, “Mother, I am terribly hungry. Please give me something to eat.” However, his mother refused to give any food as she had not yet sanctified the food by offering it to God. But, when she went out to do some work, Pragji Bhakta entered the kitchen and ate all the sweets, weighing 3½ kg. Then he climbed up into the loft and slept.
On returning, his mother was shocked to see the sweets missing. She asked everyone in the house about them. She thought that perhaps some stray dog might have eaten the sweets. But, then, Pragji Bhakta called out from the loft, “l have eaten all the sweets.” His elder brother chased him, but Pragji Bhakta jumped onto the veranda and escaped.
The story of this feat of little Pragji Bhakta quickly spread throughout the entire town. Everyone exclaimed, “He is a miraculous boy!”
Once, a great sadhu, Sadguru Yoganand Swami, came to the Swaminarayan Mandir in Mahuva. Pragji Bhakta, who loved to serve sadhus, met this holy man. He experienced inner peace by the darshan of Swami. Pragji Bhakta accepted the vartman from him and became a satsangi. Now, Pragji Bhakta spent most of his time in the mandir in the service of the sadhus. Once, he sold a precious lace of his mother’s sari to feed the sadhus. Yoganand Swami, who was deeply impressed by the zeal, devotion and love of this child observed, “He will be a great devotee.”