Pragji bhakta

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  1. Early Childhood

  • Birth: Full moon day (Purmina) bright half of Falgun of S.Y. 1885 in Mahuva, Saurashtra.

  • Father was Govindbhai.

  • He visited Laxminarayan Temple with friends and worshipped Hanumanji. The temple of Hanuman was visited by Neelkanth during his travels. He had stayed there for three days.

  • Mahant of temple was Surya-Bharati.

  • He would run away from school with friends to river Malan.

  • Once, he ate seven pounds of sweets.

  • Yoganand Swami came to Swaminarayan Temple of Mahuva and met Pragji. Yoganand S. made Pragji a satsangi.

  • Once, he had sold him mother’s lace to feed sadhus.

2. In Communion With Sadguru Gopalanand Swami

  • Acharya Shri Raghuvirji Maharaj and Sadguru Gopalanand Swami visited Pithvadi. Rathods of Pithvadi invited Pragji to perform poojan. Pragji performed poojan of Acharya Maharaj and sadhus.

  • Gopalanand S. said he was born Bhakta and will inspire thousands to worship God.

  • Attracted to Gopalanand S., Pragji regularly visited Vadtal for communion of Gopal. S. He traveled with Jinabhai Rathod of Mahuva to Vadtal.

  • Once, Gopal. S. told Pragji that one who believes in Shreeji Maharaj with Gunatitanand S. as Akshar remains in constant communion with Shreeji Maharaj.

  • When going to Bombay, he made a coat and stockings for Acharya Maharaj at Vadtal.

  • Gopalanand S. told Pragji to go to Junagadh but did not understand why.
  • Gopal. S. went to Akshardham 4th day of dark half of Vaishakh in S.Y. 1908. Before he left, he said he was going toward the Yogi of Junagadh who is the manifestation of Akshardham—the dwelling place of Shreeji Maharaj.

3. In The Company of Gunatitanand Swami at Junagadh

  • After Gopal. S. reversion to Akshardham, he left Vadtal for Gadhada. Here Sidhanand Swami took him to Junagadh.

  • Pragji realized Gopal. S. words when he felt peace upon meetin Gunantit. S.

  • He would spend 8 months every year in company of Gunatit. S.

  • In S.Y. 1911, G. S. gave discourses on Swarupnishtha and Ekantik dharma which Pragji recorded in memory.

4. Heir To Akshar Gnan

  • Once, Pragji failed to reach Vadtal for a festival and instead went to Sarangpur. G. S. was at Khambhada. Pragji went to Khambhada where G. S. was thinking of him.

  • G. S. asked for bread and took a piece and gave the rest to Pragji.

  • Next day, Praghi and G. S. left for Sarangpur. On the way, G. S. stopped for a nature call near Narayankund. While Pragji poured water, Swami said he is overflowing with gnan but he had not found a worthy person to receive it, and it can be given to one who has control over all his senses and surrenders to him completely. Pragji resolved to become worthy.

5. Prayer For Akshar Boon

  • In S.Y. 1916, idol of Harikrishna Maharaj was installed at Gadhpur. Pragji made beautiful dresses for the idols of Gopinathaji and Harikrishna Maharaj and pleased Acharya Raghuvirji.

  • Idol of Harikrishna was installed at Junagadh at the same time also and Pragji made dresses for these idols as well.

  • Once he asked Swami for illness as a mark of penance. Once he became ill for a period and surrendered to Swami.
  • Following year, Fuldol celebrated at Junagadh. Pragji worked day and night to make a canopy. G. S. was pleased to see Pragji sing with devotion and work and granted a boon. Pragji wanted nothing so Swami gave him money and fame. Pragji denied them both but asked for: (1) Swami’s dwelling place, Akshardham, (2) gnan of Akshar, and (3) to become a true satsangi. Swami agreed to grant boons if Pragji would leave home for good and possess burning desire to have his three boons.

  • Pragji finished the canopy in 1 month.

6. Do or Die For The Guru

  • Pragji left home for Junagadh to serve Swami as he had agreed.

  • Swami was constructing a haveli for the temple. Pragji dug the deep foundations. He prepared mortar with bare feet which would cause blisters and blindness.

  • Swami then told him to do tap: fast two days and eat once the third day. At night, he would sleep for an hour in the posture of gorakh asan (one of the Yoga asans).

  • Pragji went out to call the mountain Girnar upon Swami’s command.

  • For three days, he worked hard to prepare the furnace and fill it with lime. Swami embraced him and touched his head. Pragji went into tears.

  • Once Swami went to meadows of Sankhdawadar near Junagadh to cut grass. Suddenly it rained and Pragji made an umbrella with two sheets for Swami. Swami became pleased and said that “Kalyan lies in three things: atmabuddhi
    , anuvruti, and seva toward those who are spiritually great.”

  • A barber named Karsan increased rates by one paise per head. Gunatit. S. refused him the increased rates. For 6 months, Pragji, under Swami’s command, shaved the sadhus’ heads.

  • Swami would offer Pragji his food from his bowl.

7. Pilgrimage At Thy Feet

  • At night Pragji massaged Swami’s feet after reading scriptures. At night when Swami answered nature’s call, Pragji was there to hold the lamp and pour water.

  • Swami compromised discourses for seva. Pragji took Swami’s work allowing Swami to discourse.
  • Pragji removed a dead dog when G. S. asked why stones had ceased coming. Some said Pragji was a scavenger but Swami said that every living being is a scavenger.

  • After Annakut, Pragji washed vessels in a water pit. Swami dipped his toe in the dirty water and asked, “Where are the 68 places of pilgrimage?” Pragji jumped into the water.

  • Mana Bhagat asked to Swami why he was extracting work beyond capacity from Pragji when Pragji had left home to learn meditation. Swami said he would make him lift stones and realize God.

8. Key To Saintliness

  • On the way to Sankhadawadar, Swami stopped at Malia village. Swami said mango trees would wither away without water and Pragji watered over 300 three 4 times.

  • Pragji finished and came to Swami’s discourse and posed a question: “I know all worldy crafts but guide me to saintliness.” The congregation was stunned by a deep question by an ordinary man. Swami answered that a sadhu (1) looks upon insults and honour equally, (2) has no ill-will, (3) overcomes all pleasures of five senses, (4) realizes truth and remains in communion with Shreeji Maharaj. Swami also said that one with these qualities helps others overcome their faults and lead them to God.

  • Hearing this, Nathu Patel and Manji Thakar said that Swami quenched their spiritual thirst. Swami replied that why wouldn’t he express pleasure upon Pragji who followed him like a shadow and served him. Since then, Pragji remained in meditation in all three states—awakeness, deep sleep, and dreams.

9. Gold From The Dust
  • Swami said to Darbar of Gondal, Abhesinh that bananas grow on banana trees but we find bananas on a cactus. Pragji is an ordinary tailor who has surpassed yogis. Darbar said Swami had rewarded Pragji for services. Swami said he has not been rewarded yet; Pragji is an Anadi Bhakta, and ordinary Bhakta cannot serve like this.

  • During Holi (Hutashani Samaiya), Swami did not see Pragji and sent for him. Swami offered the gongada (unpopped corn) that was left over and Pragji became pleased. Manji Thakar saw this and said Pragji is happy to receive even leftover prasad.

  • Pragji asked, “Is this a token of your divine favor?” Swami replied, “Yes, I am pleased with you.” Pragji took one gongado and said he overcame lust (kama). Then, Pragji ate each grain and said he has overcome all flaws (doshas). Swami said that his flaws burned to ashes and said, “If half a grain of Vithalnathaji’s prasad could produce 84 Vaishnavas, here is maha prasad.

10. Realization

  • Pragji served Swami for 3 ½ years. Swami asked Pragji to sit in meditation for 9 days. At the end, Swami asked what he saw. Pragji said he saw Swami. On the 10th day, Pragji saw light and figure of Shreeji Maharaj dressed as a sadhu. Pragji said to Maharaj that he did not deserve the darshan.

  • Pragji fell at Swami’s feet. Pragji asked Swami why Maharaj wore clothes of a sadhu. Swami said he appeared as a sadhu but look again: Pragji saw Shreeji Maharaj in Akshardham in his glittering dress. Maharaj said he is at Pragji’s command since he had won Swami’s heart.

  • Swam appointed Pragji as the guru saying that he is a rare devotee who people will accept.

  • Pragji began to spread gnan of Akshar as Gunatitanand Swami.

  • Pragji’s father went to dham and he did not want to go to Mahuva, but Swami insisted. After 4 years he returned and talked to haribhaktas about Gunatitanand S.

11. Key To Akshardham Lies With Pragji

  • Amaidas Kothari and Becher Bhagat Kothari came from Vadtal to listen to Swami and perform panchatirthi. Swami said to that he has retired and handed the keys to Pragji. Amaidas thought he referred to the keys of the temple but Swami explained that he meant the key to Akshardham.

  • Once Darbars questioned Swami why he gave spiritual gnan to a gruhastha and not a sadhu. Swami said Pragji had overpowered him by selfless service and narrated the story of Yagnavalkya. Yagnavalkya gained gnan from Vaishampayan Rishi. Vaishampayan ordered Yagnavalkya to go to a king’s palace, but Yahnavalkya refused as he was a celibate. Vaishampayan angrily tried to retrieved the gnan he had given Yagna but could not do so.

  • Swami said he could not take back Brahmavidya and he did not look at Pragji’s caste or creed or station as others did.

12. Akshar Gnan Proclaimed

  • Swami arrived in Sarangpur and met Vagha Khachar who indulged in fights. Swami asked him to accompany him to Junagadh and Vagha did with Pragji as an attendant. While serving, Pragji told Vagha of Swami’s greatness, but Vagha did not like it and removed Pragji of service. Swami persuaded Vagha and Pragji served without preaching.

  • Vagha saw that all devotees at Junagadh were happy except himself. He asked Dama Sheth of Mahuva and Dama told him to keep faith in Pragji and accept Swami as Akshar. Vagha said he wouldn’t believe unless Swami told him in person which Swami did tell him in person. He felt peace after Swami told him he was Akshar.
  • Once Swami asked Balmukunddasji to call Pragji who was fast asleep. Balmukund called him but Pragji did not awake. Then Swami told him to call him by Gunatit. Pragji woke up hearing this call. Swami said Pragji is dead as he has become Gunatit.

  • Once Pragji explained mahima to Kama Sheth of Una. Kama lost temper and slapped Pragji. Maharaj appeared to Kama in a dream. Kama asked forgiveness and prostrated before Pragji.

  • Pragji talked to Kothari Trikamdas of Junagadh about mahima.Trikamdas told Pragji not to spread this to anyone or be beaten. Swami revealed his swarup of immense light to Trikamdas.

13. The Path of Thorns

  • Pavitranand S. lost temper when Pragji talked about Akshar at Junagadh samaiya. Pragji whispered to him that he will have to accept Gunatit. S. as Akshar. Pavitranand S. threatened to excommunicate Pragji. Pragji replied even God could not excomm. him.

  • Gunatit. S. made Pragji apologize to Pavitranand S.

  • Swami set out to tour Sorath and arrived at Upleta. Swami related to haribhaktas that pomegranate seeds remain in a bitter gourd. Pragji would spread Ekantik Dharma.

  • Swami went to Vanthali by bullock cart. Swami asked that Pragji ride on the cart with him. Pragji said he couldn’t go near light of infinite suns. Haribhaktas of Mahuva realized Pragji.

  • Fulchand Seth of Mahuva asked Swami what Akshardham is doing at this moment. Swami replied that Akshardham is preparing dadiya (leaf bowls). Swami loved Mahuva Haribhaktas.

14. Discord in the Fellowship

  • Acharya Bhagvatprasad grew jealous of Swami. He asked Swami to meet him at Una. Swami said to Pragji he wouldn’t let anyone harm his sadhu (Pragji) or excomm. Pragji. Pragji said Swami shouldn’t worry about him.

  • On the way to Una, Swami leanred Krushnaprasad had expired and the plan did not succeed.
  • At Vadtal during Chaitra Poonam or Ramnavmi, people sarcastically said Swami was God and worthy of worship. Swami contradicted and said calmly that Maharaj is Purushottam.

  • Returning to Junagadh, Swami met Hariswarupdas Swami who had insulted him once. Swami garlanded him and said that a good man cannot lose him goodness. Everyone felt ashamed but still wanted to excomm. Pragji. They told Swami who agreed to tell Pragji to stop glorifying Swami. Pavitranand, however, still wanted to excomm. Pragji.

  • On his way back to Junagadh, Swami met Dungar Bhagat of Dhoribhai at Mahelav.

  • Swami visited Sarangpur, Gadhpur, then came back to Junagadh.

15. Excommunicated

  • Pragji returned to Mahuva when he was excomm. Bhandari gave him poisoned sweets. Pragji ate a little and realize they were poisoned. He buried the sweets and digested the poison. Maharaj appeared and massaged his body and told him to take black beans.

  • Swami and Acharya Maharaj came to Mahuva for a reception. Pragji offered special food. Pavitranand accepted although Pragji was excomm.

  • People of Mahuva asked Acharya Maharaj why a Pragji was excomm. Acharya Maharaj promised to bring Pragji back.

  • Pragji’s love for Satsang never diminished and would squat in front of tents to listen to discourses.

  • Swami met Ayodhyaprasad Maharaj at Ahmedabad who was ill. Ramnavmi was held at Ahmedabad. Pragji came here to do darshan of Swami. He camped outside the temple. When Swami came out, he would become happy.

16. Pragat through Pragji Bhakta

  • On Bhim ekadashi samaiyo, Gunatitanand Swami started to cry when he saw the chandani and remembered Pragji Bhakta. He cried out, “He didn’t kill anyone’s father, so why was he excommunicated? Whoever excommunicated him are themselves excommunicated.”
  • After travelling, Gunatitanand Swami approached the gate of Nagarvaadaa and said, “We stayed here for 40 years, 4 months, and 4 days, and now we will travel in Satsang and stay in Mahuva.” He revealed that he was to remain Pragat through Pragji Bhakta.

  • Gunatitanand Swami went to Gondal upon the King’s request and gave vartmaan to Bhagavsihnji.

  • On Aso Sud 12, at night, he reverted to Akshardham.

17. Satsang Svikrutti

  • Pragji Bhakta stayed excommunicated for 3 years but many experienced his divyabhav and saadhutaa and brought him back to Satsang. Everyone began to call him “Bhagatji.”

  • Bhagatji would travel with Shuk Swami, Pavitranand Swami, and Bhumanand Swami and do kathaa in big samaiyaa and bring everyone at peace.

  • Girdharbhai was a Mumuksha who wanted to reach Brahmasthithi and as according to Vachanamrut, he sought the Satpurush. He did samaagam of many old saints but did not find peace. At last, he performed penance in front of Harikrishna Maharaj in Vartal. Maharaj gave him darshan and directed him to Bhagatji. Girdharbhai doubted that a tailor could be an Ekantik Satpurush and did penance again. Maharaj again told him to do samaagam of Bhagatji. Girdharbhai took dikshaa and became Vignadas Swami.

  • Kothari Bechar Bhagat once gave Bhagatji a tailoring job. Bhagatji did the job without taking any measurements and impressed Bechar Bhagat. Bhagatji said, “I have sewn this for the deh, but I can sew one for the spirit. And for that, you’d have to come to my kathaa.” Bechar Bhagat felt peace once he started listening to Atma-Paramatma talks of Bhagatji.
  • In Anand after aarti, everyone sang Swaminarayan dhun. Pavitranand Swami asked, “Since Maharaj, we sing ‘Narnarayan, Swaminarayan,’ so why do you break the tradition of singing ‘Swaminarayan?’” The young saints did not listen to Pavitranand Swami, so Pavitranand Swami left for Vartal. Bhagatji called him to his aasan and did kathaa on the Vachanamrut. From this, Pavtranand Swami found peace and realized Bhagatji’s true form.

  • Meanwhile, Kothari Gordhanbhai fired Kothari Bechar Bhagat from his duty. Bechar Bhagat came to Bhagatji, but Bhagatji told him to look at divya bhaav in every bhakta. Bechar Bhagat put aside his integrity and asked for forgiveness. Bechar Bhagat became a saadhu and became Mahapurushdas. Bechar Bhagat put aside his wordly work and became engrossed in bhajan after his diksha.

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