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Swamishri's 79th Birthday Celebration Assembly, 16 Dec 99, Valsad

Drama and Real Life Presentation

On the main Birthday celebration assembly, parallels on the spectacular moral and spiritual transformations of people by Lord Swaminarayan and Pramukh Swami Maharaj were effectively presented. The saga of transformations by Lord Swaminarayan (Then) were enacted on stage while the transformations inspired by Pramukh Swami Maharaj (Now) were narrated and the corresponding persons were called on stage for Swamishri's blessings

(1) Then:

Unflagging Morals

Abhaysinh Darbar was a staunch disciple of Lord Swaminarayan. Invited to a party hosted by the Jamsaheb, the King of Jamnagar, Abhaysinh was offered liquor. But he refused.
The Jamsaheb took it as an insult and roared that he could not refuse his offer. But Abhaysinh remained steadfast. The Jamsaheb was impressed and acknowledged his resolve.


  • Gambhirsinh Rathod. He joined the army at the age of ninteen. At 24 he became a commando in the Special Task Force and was posted in the harsh Siachen Glacier border. There, at 21,000 ft. in temperatures of -40C he did not forsake his routine of chanting the rosary. And even amidst the Kargil war he did not lapse in doing his rosary at -18C. The meager ration of three 'puris' and at times only a mouthful of water a day, did not deter him from waiving his daily routine of worship and chanting the Swaminarayan mantra.
    Gambhirsinh Rathod's faith and audacity is a blessing from Lord Swaminarayan and Pramukh Swami Maharaj.

  • Arvindbhai Patel of Vadodara was a man steeped in all vices and crimes. A new flicker of hope appeared when he married a lady who was a Swaminarayan devotee. She told him to go and have the darshan of Pramukh Swami Maharaj and receive his blessings for a better life. But Arvindbhai was adamant in his immoral ways and told her that no one, not even God, could change him. But his wife patiently prayed and performed 11 rosaries each day for a change in his life. And the day dawned in 1992 when Arvindbhai went to see the Bicentenary Celebration of Yogiji Maharaj at Gandhinagar. There, he met Pramukh Swami Maharaj and from thenceforth he renounced all his addictions and vices. Many tried to entice him but he remained unflagging in his resolve. Ever since his transformation he has redeemed 500 people from the shackles of liquor drinking.

  • Manubhai Patel (Seagull) of Vadodara reflected his mettle as a Satsangi by not giving up his puja in difficult circumstances.

(2) Then :

From Sinner to Devotee

About 200 years ago the dramatic transformation of Joban Pagi, a hard-core criminal and outlaw, by Lord Swaminarayan was a blessing on Gujarat. Through the divine grace of the Lord, Joban Pagi gave up his evil ways and became a law-abiding, God fearing devotee.


Today, through the effort and grace of Pramukh Swami Maharaj many morally errant people have been transformed and reinstated to a life free of addictions, violence and licentiousness.

  • Ramsang Bapu. For forty years, the late Ramsang Bapu of village Odarka (Bhavnagar district) wreaked havoc and terror in the entire district. Steeped in binging, gorging meat, stealing, extorting money and even involved in murdering 20 people, Ramsang Bapu seemed beyond moral reclamation. Even the police dared not challenge him. But in 1978 a new horizon dawned on his dark world of criminalism. At the visit of Pramukh Swami Maharaj in Odarka, Ramsang Bapu gave up everything. He said, "No other power in this world could have changed me other than Pramukh Swami Maharaj, because he is a God communion sadhu." Thereafter Ramsang Bapu became a changed man. He became a staunch disciple and lived a pious life till he breathed his last.

  • Raichand of village Kosamkuva described his unsavoury past: "I am a tribal of the Korcha class. Formerly, our principal activity was to prepare and indulge in liquor drinking and robbing people. When a child turns five, he is given bidis, snuff and liquor. And when we meet to celebrate there is always friction, skirmishes and slaughtering of animals for food. But all this suddenly changed when I met Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Because of Swami I gave up my vices and addictions and became a devotee. I had never dreamt that my village would be transformed. Today, we have 80 families who are devotees. We all do daily puja and have given up our wrong habits. Today, not even one of us breaks a brush stick without the proprietor's permission. We are grateful to Pramukh Swami Maharaj."
    The Korcha community has attained dignity and respect. Raichand was instrumental in reforming the community.
  • Even villages have embraced an en masse change for the better. The people of village Nava Samera in Sabarkantha district (Gujarat) were inclined towards addiction and stealing. They were also steeped in ignorance and abject poverty. The situation, however took a new turn the day Parvatsinh visited the village school. His discourses and efforts fired them to snap off their slavish bonds of addiction and moral poverty. Today the entire village is liberated from addictions and have adopted a pious lifestyle. The local folks are now building a mandir, an oasis in their once spiritually barren village.

(3) Then:

Freedom from Superstition and Black Magic

Once Khimo Suthar, a profound devotee of Lord Swaminarayan, was sailing from Bhavnagar to Surat. A tantrik (one who engages in superstitious practices and black magic) bavo, opposed to the moral and spiritual mission of Lord Swaminarayan, applied all his mantras to destroy Khimo Suthar, but failed. This stirred his curiosity about Lord Swaminarayan, and on seeing Him in Gadhada, the tantrik was impressed and felt peace at heart. He surrendered at the Lord's feet and became His disciple, later taking the saffron initiation into the holy order of paramhansas. From an adversary he was transformed into Shunyatitanand Swami.


  • Ranjitsinh Parmar,he worked as a city surveyor in Surat. He happened to get associated with a tantrik. Under his tutelage he started learning the black arts. The daily training place was a cremation ground. The time, 1.30 am - 4.00 am. After six months he accomplished the art of killing through mantras, hypnotism, making someone unconscious, stealing, talking to and controlling a ghost, etc. One day he tried out his powers by throwing some powered grains on a tree. The next morning the tree had withered and turned dry. A few days later, a businessman wanted his opponent dead. The tantrik guru assigned Ranjitsinh for the task. Ranjitsinh made a flour doll, pinned the victim's name on it and applied his mantras to destroy him. But nothing happened. The tantrik guru, through his powers, found the victim was spiritually affiliated to a very powerful guru. So he informed Ranjitsinh as to why he had failed in killing the victim. This made Ranjitsinh curious and when he met Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the guru of the person he was trying to kill, he gave up his unrighteous way, and became a devotee.
  • Pramukh Swami Maharaj has inspired many such transformations, namely, Udabhai Solanki (Manjipura village near Dakor), Sodhabhai (of Talaja), Vithalbhai Rathva (Pavi Jetpur) and Govindbhai Patel (Amdavad).

(4) Then:

An Illustrious Movement

The high moral standards inspired by Lord Swaminarayan in the lives of countless became a hallmark of Swaminarayan devotees. Ever since, the Fellowship has been known as an illustrious movement. There are many sagas that reflect the moral and spiritual excellence of Swaminarayan devotees.
Govind Bhagat, an untouchable by caste, worked as a gardener in the palace grounds of the Nawab of Junagadh. Once, while tending the gardens he found a gold anklet belonging to the queen. Though he was a very poor man, he returned it back to the queen. The queen was impressed and inquired of his high moral stature. Govind Bhagat revealed that he was a follower of Lord Swaminarayan who preached a high level of morality.


  • Pratapbhai Rathod - The scruples of Pratapbhai Rathod, a cashier at the Bank of India, Mumbai, were mirrored through his honesty at work. One morning, an employee of a big business company had brought Rs.110,000 to deposit in his bank. He gave it to Pratapbhai, took the receipt and left. Out of sheer instinct Pratapbhai counted the eleven bundles of Rs.10,000 and to his astonishment he found a surplus of Rs.40,000. Immediately he filled an excess slip of Rs.40,000 and deposited it in the vault box. On realising the error, the owner of the business company returned to the bank. The bank authority informed him about the excess Rs. 40,000. The owner then enquired about who the cashier was. When Pratapbhai appeared before him, with a tilak chandlo on his forehead, the owner enquired whether he was the disciple of Pramukh Swami Maharaj? Pratapbhai was honored by the Bank of India for his honesty.

  • Akshaybhai Barot, a bank employee, found an open bank locker with its key in its place. The locker had Rs.100,000 worth of jewellery. Akshay Barot locked it and enquired about its proprietor and returned the key.

  • Jagdishbhai Tandel, a fisherman by caste, of Kolak village, district Valsad, was going through rough times. He barely eked a living by working on a sales counter in a cloth merchant's shop. One day he found a packet containing Rs.10,000. Jagdishbhai, without the slightest thought of coveting it, returned the amount to his shop owner.

  • Janakbhai Ravat, a college student, returned back Rs.27,000 dropped by a couple travelling on a scooter.

(5) Then:

Unflinching Faith

The holy Fellowship of Satsang is a treasure of inspirations. Great stars have always remained immortal beacons for all of humanity. In the time of Lord Swaminarayan Devji Bhakta was one such illustrious star. When his 16 year old son died, he and his wife did not mourn his death but took it as the wish of God. "God has made him more happier," he told those who came to console him. And to acknowledge this grace of Lord Swaminarayan he sent his wife to Gadhada to offer a feast to Shriji Maharaj.


  • "He belonged to God and God took him away." These words of Gopalbhai Patel of Sangli reflected his unflinching faith in Lord Swaminarayan and Guru Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Despite the death of his tender 16 year old son, due to a heart valve problem, Gopalbhai did not see it as a loss. He honored the occasion by distributing sugar crystals to the people in Sangli. He also went to Akshar Mandir, Gondal, and offered thaal to Thakorji. Prevailing in the Lord's wish is a stamp of an ideal devotee.

  • When Kiritsinh Rana of Bhavnagar lost an only son of 27 years old, he preached to those who came to console him, "It is the wish of Maharaj. He is a lot more happier now..."

  • Since 1995 the story of Ghanshyambhai Tandel, a local 25 year old youth of Kosamba town, is a saga of pain and faith. Afflicted with cancer, his spiritual tenacity is commendable and exemplary. Even after undergoing ten operations, losing his right arm and shoulder, and experiencing excruciating pain, Ghanshyam Tandel has not lapsed in his duty as a Bal Nirdeshak (senior volunteer for children's activities). He happily accepts his share of pain and says, "I would not have been able to accept all this without Satsang and the blessings of Pramukh Swami Maharaj."
    The living Devji Bhagats of today are shining examples of par-excellent faith in the face of adversity and tragedy.

(6) Then:

The Glory of Death

The Hindus believe that God comes to take the atma of an individual to His divine abode during the time of death. In the Swaminarayan Sampradaya thousands of incidents have been chronicled where Lord Swaminarayan has come to receive the atma.
The story of Jekaranbhai, in the time of Lord Swaminarayan, eloquently testifies to this well known fact. Jekaranbhai of village Rajpur had been informed of his death by Lord Swaminarayan twelve months in advance, and that He would come to take his atma to His abode. And true to His word Lord Swaminarayan came to receive Jekaranbhai 12 months later.


The divine promise of Lord Swaminarayan, of receiving the atma of his devotees and transporting them to Akshardham, is also a living fact today.

  • The neighbour of Harshadbhai Patel, Amdavad, saw Pramukh Swami Maharaj and forty sadhus in the early hours of Janmashtmi day 1998. When she enquired later from Harshadbhai, the latter revealed that she had been blessed to have seen Pramukh Swami Maharaj because it was the time when her mother passed away. Lord Swaminarayan in the form of Pramukh Swami Maharaj had come to receive the soul of Harshadbhai's mother.

  • On 11 March 1999, Ronak, a child of Pundha village, was breathing his last on his mother's lap. Suddenly, Ronak said, "Swami Bapa has come to take me." And so saying he passed away.

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