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Shastriji Maharaj
Shastriji Maharaj


Sixty-eight Places of Pilgrimage:

Swamishri went to Ashi from Sarangpur. He was accompanied by Yogi Swami2. Regularly Yogi Swami used to get up daily at 3 a.m. in the early morning and sing the morning prayers in a sonorous voice. One such morning he was singing a kirtan of Narsinh Mehta, "Dearer than life to me are the Vaishnavs3" in a sweet, lilting tune. As a part of this poem, the following couplet was sung :
"At the feet of my saint
Lie the sixty-eight places of pilgrimage.
A crore of the Ganges, and
A crore of Kashis"4
On hearing this, old Ranchhod Patel, who was resting in the temple was upset. He said: " Maharaj ! Please don't sing such a song. There are no such saints in this Kali (dark) age. Hence do not bluff." Yogi Swami replied: "All right. I shall sing another devotional song," and he started to sing another song.
That same night Swamishri went to bed after completing his discourse. Ranchhod Bhagat had his bed on the ground floor in the same hall. As he was old and sick, he did not get enough sleep. After all the others retired to bed, he closed the entrance gate of the temple and started counting the beads of his rosary. Exactly after an hour, the entrance door opened automatically. An exceedingly white and apparently divine cow stepped inside. She went near the place where Swamishri was sleeping and bowed to him thrice, by bending her head at the feet of Swamishri.
Ranchhod Bhagat saw all this with his naked eyes. Then the cow went out of the temple. The Bhagat also went out to see where the cow was going. The cow was visible in the moonlight for some distance and then she disappeared. The Bhagat looked all around, but the cow was nowhere to be seen. He was convinced that the sixty-eight places of pilgrimage must have taken the form of the cow and come to be sanctified at the feet of Swamishri.
When Yogi Swami woke up at 3 a.m., Ranchhod Bhagat requested him: "Maharaj, please sing that devotional song about the sixty-eight holy centres of pilgrimage." Swami quizzed : "How is that, Bhagat. Yesterday you were forbidding me to sing it!" The Bhagat explained : "I had the darshan of the Ganges in the from of a cow and that has dispelled my illusion." Then he related the whole story and added that Swamishri was really a very powerful person. Having thus convinced him of his glory, Swamishri returned to Sarangpur.
Here, Swamishri said on one occasion: "Acharya Laxmiprasadji has highly obliged us. It was because of him that we left Vadtal and have now been able to build temples for the upasana of Akshar-Purushottam, and explain the tenets to numerous people." Thus Swamishri had no ill-will for anyone. He was always inclined to see good in all.

Gunatitanand Swami Bhagatji Maharaj Yogiji Maharaj Shastriji Maharaj Pramukh Swami Maharaj Bhagwan Swaminarayan

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