In the mid-18th century, Atmanand Swami travelled throughout the holy land of Saurashtra, in Gujarat, which is famous as the land of sadhus. Some of his devotees lived in the village of Latipur in Halar district (near Jamnagar). One of the devotees was Vallabhji Jani. A son, Bholanath, was born to him by the blessings of Swami. Similarly, a daughter, Sakarba, was born to Sukhdev Dave, who was also a devotee of Atmanand Swami. Both families were delighted with their newborn children. With the passage of time, and as instructed by Atmanand Swami, Bholanath and Sakarba joined each other in wedlock. Atmanand Swami blessed Bholanath on his wedding ceremony.
Some time later Atmanand Swami appointed his chief disciple, Ramanand Swami, as his successor and ordered everybody to obey him. Having done this, he passed away.
After the death of their parents, Bholanath and Sakarba lived a happily married life in the beautiful village of Bhadra, situated on the banks of the river Und. Bholanath had deep faith in the deity Shiv. Sakarba, on the other hand, was a staunch devotee of Bhagwan Krishna. Yet, both of them co-operated with each other and worshipped their own deities. The couple was happy in all respects, but there was one thing lacking in their life; they had no son. The couple decided to go to Prabhaskshetra, in order to please and pray to Bholanath – Shiv – to fulfil their desire for a son.
Bholanath and Sakarba set out for Prabhas with a group of pilgrims from their own village. They made a night halt at a Patel’s house in the village of Mekhatimbi. The date was 1 April 1781 (Chaitra sud 8, Samvat 1837).
Patel had a heart-to-heart talk with Bholanath, who was a simple man and was one of the pilgrims who had put up at his place. In the course of their conversation Patel came to know that both Bholanath and his wife had set out on a pilgrimage with a desire to get a son. Patel was a staunch follower of Atmanand Swami. So he told Bholanath, “Remember Atmanand Swami and your desire will certainly be fulfilled.”
On hearing this, there was a spark in Bholanath’s heart. He remembered the blessings which Atmanand Swami had given him on the occasion of his sacred thread ceremony.
That same night Sakarba had a dream in which she had a vision of Atmanand Swami. Swami gave his blessings and said, “Tomorrow, Bhagwan Purushottam will take birth at Dharmadev’s house in the Sarvar region; and four years from now, Akshar, the abode of God, will take birth as your child. So there is no need for you to go to Prabhas.”
Sakarba woke up with a start. Akshar, the abode of God, would be born as her son! The joy of this couple knew no bounds after receiving the blessings. They left the group of pilgrims and returned home. They had faith in Atmanand Swami’s words and passed their days happily. And then that auspicious day arrived!
At Bholanath’s home on 17 October 1785 (Aso sud Punam, Samvat 1841), Sakarba gave birth to a son who was the incarnation of Akshar, the abode of Purushottam. The people of Bhadra rejoiced when they heard this good news in the delightful atmosphere of the Sharad season. After his early morning ablutions Bholanath gave alms to the people. Women of the village came to Sakarba’s house with various gifts and presents. They congratulated her when they had the darshan of the child. Bholanath’s house became a place of pilgrimage!
Bholanath called an astrologer and had the horoscope of his son prepared. Seeing that the child was born in the best possible positions of the planets the astrologer said, “Bholanath! This son of yours is a great form of Narayan. He will become very great and will liberate countless people. He will be an eloquent speaker like Brihaspati and will spread the bhagvat dharma.”
After some time Ramanand Swami arrived at Bhadra. Bholanath showed him the horoscope of his son and requested him to give him a name. Swami named him ‘Mulji’, gave his blessings and said, “According to the blessings of Atmanand Swami, this child is Akshar, the incarnation of the abode of the supreme Purushottam Bhagwan who has taken birth in the Sarvarregion. And that Purushottam Bhagwan will visit your home.”
Sakarba experienced great joy in having such a gem-like son born to her. Her motherly affection was overflowing. At the same time a unique sense of devotion also flowed from her heart when she thought about the divine personality of her son. Her heart danced when she saw or embraced Mulji. Anyone who saw the serene and moonlike lustre on Mulji’s face felt a divine peace.