After the devotees who had come for the festival had dispersed, the devotees of Mahemdavad requested Maharaj, “Please send a learned sadhu to our village to defeat the Vedantis and spread Satsang.”
Mahemdavad was a stronghold of Vedanti Brahmins. They prevented people from becoming satsangis by using their pseudo-knowledge of Vedant philosophy. Maharaj tried to send a learned sadhu but nobody was prepared to go. At last He ordered Swami to go with the devotees to Mahemdavad.
When the Vedanti Brahmins of the village heard of Swami’s arrival, they came to the mandir to defeat him in debate. Soon, there was a large congregation in the mandir. Swami addressed them, “Pundits! You have merely theoretical knowledge of Brahma, and have learnt only to repeat, ‘Aham Brahmãsmi’. But you have neither achieved the brahmic state nor have you realized God. Shukdevji had attained the brahmic state and was thus above material attractions and passion for women. Shukdevji possessed the all-pervading brahmic energy and, therefore, when Vyasji called him he replied through a tree. If you have attained a similar brahmic state, come here and reply to me from this pillar.
“But you have not attained that brahmic state. Your mundane desires have not gone yet. You indulge in numerous ploys even for a penny. You have many friends and enemies. Your ego has not yet dissolved. Also, you have not lost the sense of ‘I’ and ‘mine’. You have not attained equilibrium in good or bad taste. For you, a delicate and a rough touch do not mean the same thing. You are still fascinated by attractive material objects. A sweet sound still charms your ears. So, you repeat the phrase ‘Aham Brahmãsmi’ like a parrot, but you can’t be called Brahma.
Na hi svãtmãrãmam vishayamrugatrushnã bhramayati.
‘Sensuous pleasures, which are like a mirage, cannot lead one who is a knower of atma astray.’
“When you attain that state, you will not have to tell others ‘I am brahma’. People will automatically come to know that. Shukji or Jad Bharat never went around telling everyone. But the world knew of their brahmic state. Where there is incompleteness, there is ego. So as long as you merely utter ‘Aham Brahmasmi’, you are incomplete, and you worship only the letters and not the spirit behind them. Shri Krishna has said in the Bhagvad Gita:
Atmaupamyena sarvatra samam pashyati yoarjuna;
Sukham vã yadi vã dukham sa yogi paramo matah.
‘O Arjun, one who, like he sees himself, sees everyone equally in matters of happiness or misery, that yogi is superior.’
“Have you attained that state? Do you have a desire to share the happiness as well as the woes of others? When somebody’s son dies you preach to him the knowledge of Brahma, but when your goat dies, you shout and cry.
“The false knowledge of such hypocritical pundits will no longer survive. Swaminarayan himself is Parabrahma and many have become, are becoming and will continue to become brahma by worshipping him. So after shedding all your hypocrisy, if you really wish to attain the brahmic state, I can take you to Parabrahma. You may read or contemplate on many shastras but you’ll never attain the brahmic state, unless you surrender yourselves to Parabrahma Paramatma Swaminarayan. And I am the eternal Brahma sustaining the innumerable cosmos.”
As soon as Swami had finished his statement, floods of divine light emanated from his body. The pseudo-pundits who were sitting there were dazzled. The building in which Swami was sitting began to shake as if life had come into it. The Pundits were frightened and thought that the house might collapse. On seeing their anxious faces, Swami smiled and said, “Don’t be afraid. It won’t collapse. If you are brahma, absorb this light.”
Then, Swami himself absorbed the light in order to pacify them.
All of them cried, “You are indeed Brahma!” Then Swami said, “I am indeed Brahma, but Swaminarayan is Parabrahma. So if you are convinced, come for his darshan.”
Some of them were so impressed with Swami’s divine power that they touched his feet and became his disciples. Some of them felt defeated and went home. But from then on they were convinced that ‘among the sadhus of Swaminarayan there is certainly a divine genius.’