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The Bicentennial Anniversary of
Bhagwan Swaminarayan's Advent in Loj, Gujarat.

( A.S.1856-2056, C.E. 1799-1999 )


Forest Sojourns
At the age of 11 Ghanshyam left home to visit the sacred shrines and mandirs in India. This remarkably audacious venture was known as 'Kalyan Yatra' - a pilgrimage to redeem. Neelkanth, as He was known during His seven-year sojourn, redeemed countless yogis and aspirants who had long been offering devotion and performing austerities to earn both the Lord's grace and 'darshan'. Far from being an aimless wandering, His route (see map below) specially sought out and graced these pious souls. Further, He re-infused divinity in the sacred places of pilgrimage and rivers, where devotees had been absolving their sins for thousands of years.


During His journey He encountered several mundane enticements which would have overwhelmed and tempted a lay teenager. In Shripur near Haridwar, the mahant of a wealthy ashram with an annual income of one lakh rupees offered Neelkanth the mahantship after witnessing a wild lion instantly being tamed by Him. On a pilgrimage to Badrinath, the young Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab requested Neelkanth for His permanent company. In Vanshipur in the Himalayan foothills, the king and queen vehemently urged Him to marry their two princesses. In Butol, Nepal, King Mahadatt Sen and sister Mayadevi offered their kingdom, urging Him to rule it. In Sirpur, near Kamakshi in Bengal, Raja Siddhavallabh offered riches. In Jagannath Puri the king offered his palace. All these mundane allures, of wealth, women and power He politely declined.




© 1999, Bochasanwasi Shree Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha, Swaminarayan Aksharpith