to Akshardham Lies with Pragji
In accordance with the wishes of Gunatitanand Swami, Pragji Bhakta used to discourse on the Swaminarayan philosophy to the devotees. Thus, through him, devotees of Sorath realised Swami as the manifestation of Akshar. During festivals, as commanded by Swami, Pragji Bhakta would sit under the canopy in the assembly hall at Junagadh and deliver discourses. Swami used to tell the devotees who came for darshan, “Now I have retired. If you want to listen to religious discourses go to Pragji.” Thus, Swami would direct the devotees to Pragji Bhakta. The devotees experienced great peace by his talks.
Once, Amaidas Kothari, Bechar Bhagat Kothari and some five to seven parshads came there from Vartal to listen to Swami’s discourses and to visit some pilgrim places. Swami spent a great deal of time talking to them and said, “Kothari, I have retired and handed over all the keys to Pragji Bhakta.”
Amaidas was shocked to hear this. He suspected that perhaps Swami had handed over the mandir keys to Pragji. Gunatitanand Swami instantly read his mind and said, “Amaidas, do not worry. The keys of the mandir are here with me, but I have handed over the key to Akshardham to Pragji.”
This story spread to Vartal. People started saying, “Pragji has become the main at Junagadh and Swami has merged his personality into Pragji and is at his command. All the devotees from Saurashtra offer dandvat pranam to Pragji Bhakta first and then they go to Swami. Also Pragji glorifies Swami too much.”
Once, some Darbars asked Swami, “Swami, how is it that instead of giving all your spiritual powers to some Brahmin, sadhu or scholar, you have given it away to this tailor?”
Swami smiled and replied, “I was reluctant to give it to him. But he overpowered me by his selfless, sincere service, love and devotion. In fact, I could not help giving it to him.”
“Then withdraw it,” said the Darbars.
Swami retorted sternly, “It is not possible to withdraw it because its foundation run deep down.”
Then to substantiate his argument, Swami referred to an episode from the Upanishads. He told them, “Vaishampayan Rishi had taught his knowledge to Yagnavalkya. Then, once, the Rishi ordered Yagnavalkya to go to the palace of a king who had no issue. But Yagnavalkya knew that it was not proper for a man who had taken a vow of celibacy to do so. So he politely refused to carry out his guru’s command. The guru was angered and ordered him to return the knowledge he had learnt. But how can that which has been learnt be returned? I, too, have taught brahmavidya to Pragji, and it cannot be recalled. And don’t you think that one who has given paravidya, is capable of making him worthy of receiving it! Besides, God and sadhus do not look at one’s caste, creed or ashram in society.”
The commoners looked upon Pragji Bhakta as one belonging to the lower strata of society, but the devotees saw in him the form of God.