Meeting Sadguru Gopalanand Swami
It was during this period that Acharya Shri Raghuvirji Maharaj and Sadguru Gopalanand Swami visited the village of Pithvadi near Mahuva. The Rathods of Pithvadi had especially invited Pragji Bhakta from Mahuva to perform pujan of Acharya Maharaj and Swami. A huge assembly of sadhus and devotees was organised as per the tradition of Satsang. The ten-year-old Pragji Bhakta had put on beautiful clothes for the occasion. He boldly stood before the congregation and performed the pujan of Acharya Maharaj and the sadhus, performed arti and then prostrated before them.
The child caught the attention of Acharya Maharaj. Devotees introduced the child devotee. Sadguru Gopalanand Swami, who had been observing the child since he came to the congregation, said, “This child is a born devotee.” The devotees asked Swami to say more. Swami replied, “He is very great and will inspire thousands of people to worship God.” These words of Swamiji made the child all the more loved by the people.
Pragji Bhakta was instinctively attracted towards the luminous figure of Sadguru Gopalanand Swami. From then on he regularly visited Vartal to stay in the company of Gopalanand Swami. He was always accompanied by the elderly Jinabhai Rathod of Mahuva, whom he served during their journey. At Vartal he always sat by Gopalanand Swami’s side and ate only simple food, like, gram and jaggery. He served Gopalanand Swami with great devotion and listened to his discourses with great faith.
Pragji Bhakta’s love and devotion towards Gopalanand Swami became deeper and more intense. He longed for more and more satsang. He desired to stay in the service of Swami all the time. One day he asked Swami about this. Swami told him, “One who accepts Shriji Maharaj as the incarnation of all incarnations and becomes attached to Gunatitanand Swami, remains constantly in communion with Shriji Maharaj and me – whether such a devotee is a renunciant or a householder.”
This made Pragji Bhakta aware of the greatness and eminence of Gunatitanand Swami, the choicest devotee of Shriji Maharaj. But Pragji Bhakta was too deeply attached to Gopalanand Swami to ponder over this revelation.
Out of his deep love and reverence towards Swami he thought of renouncing the worldly life. But Swami commanded him to worship God while remaining as a householder. Once Pragji Bhakta went to Mumbai to learn the craft of tailoring. Then, he prepared a beautiful coat and a pair of stockings for Acharya Maharaj and went to Vartal to offer them to Acharya Maharaj, who was greatly pleased by this.
As he had great attachment for Gopalanand Swami, Pragji Bhakta often became sad when, in the course of his work, he forgot him. Seeing this, Gunatitanand Swami used to tell him, “If you attain gnan from the sadhus, then even while leading the life of a householder you will not be able to forget God and His holy Sadhu.”
Overwhelmed by his love, once, Gopalanand Swami told Pragji Bhakta, “Go to Junagadh. All my promises to you shall be fulfilled there.”
In V.S. 1908 (1852 CE) Gopalanand Swami was taken ill at Vartal. The devotees of Vadodara wanted him to spend his last days with them. But Swami promptly replied, “Now my attention is towards Maharaj in Akshardham or towards the Jogi of Junagadh.”
Pragji Bhakta requested Swami to explain the significance of his reply. Gopalanand Swami said, “The Jogi of Junagadh is himself the manifestation of Akshardham, the dwelling place of Shriji Maharaj. He is not even an atom’s width away from Shriji Maharaj.” So saying Gopalanand Swami passed away to Akshardham on the fourth day of the dark half of Vaishakh.