Born in Dhari, Saurashtra on Vaishakh vad 12, Samvat 1948 (3rd
June 1892), Yogiji Maharaj became the fourth spiritual successor
of Bhagwan Swaminarayan.
Endowed with saintly
virtues from birth, he became a sadhu in the Junagadh mandir at
the age of sixteen, in 1908. In addition to the strict observance
of the sadhu vows of Panch Vartaman, he served other sadhus
and performed severe austerities.
Soon he joined Shastriji Maharaj in Bochasan to extol the glory
of Akshar Purushottam philosophy. While constructing the Sarangpur
mandir, Shastriji Maharaj appointed him to visit the surrounding
villages everyday to beg alms. Only then could food be cooked
for sadhus and workers. Amidst this penury, harsh insults and
often physical beatings from dissenters, he maintained his sadhuta
- saintliness. Incredibly, in addition to these tribulations he
regularly observed eight to ten waterless fasts a month. Sometimes
he'd forego food for the sole reason that by the time he cooked
and served everyone, since he always ate at the end, there would
be none left. As for sleep, he never retired before 12.30 a.m.,
only to awaken a few hours later at 3.30 a.m.! Only on rare occasions
would he have time for an afternoon nap.
Besides the physical
self-abnegation, Yogiji Maharaj's love for God was awe-inspiring.
Shastriji Maharaj often remarked to devotees that, "Today,
if you wish to witness the supreme bhakti that Vallabhacharya
had towards God, you only have to look at Yogiji Maharaj."
Of the countless instances which revealed his bhakti, one
is noteworthy. Once while walking from village to village in scorching
heat with Nirgun Swami, they arrived at a well at around 4.30
p.m. After offering water to Thakorji - Shri Harikrishna
Maharaj, Yogiji Maharaj offered over eleven dandvats, beseeching
for forgiveness. Curious, Nirgun Swami inquired about his reason.
Yogiji Maharaj replied, "Because we could not offer water
at four o'clock" (the usual time).
"But it was not
our fault that we could not find water," argued Nirgun Swami.
Thakorji suffered such thirst because of my laxity."
also often remarked to devotees that in case Ved Vyas missed citing
any virtue of a true sadhu in the Bhagvatam, then one could
observe these in Yogiji Maharaj!
True bhakti for God simultaneously entails serving His
devotees too with equal exuberance. Of the thousands of incidents
in his life, which illustrate this virtue, only one is cited here.
Once during a festival, when devotees filed to receive his blessings
before availing prasad, a frail devotee bowed at his feet.
Noticing his yellow pigmented eyes, Swami instantly enquired whether
he was suffering from jaundice. The astonished devotee replied
that indeed he was. Swami then requested him to await until all
the devotees filed past. Then summoning a sadhu, he instructed
him to cook food conducive in jaundice!
In 1951, prior to
returning to Akshardham, Shastriji Maharaj bequeathed the successorship
to Yogiji Maharaj. Though the severe penances had tremendously
weakened him, he continued visiting devotees in town and country
with zest, in whatever transport then available. Besides walking,
this included anything from ox-carts, tractors, state transport
buses, trains - in which he religiously travelled third class.
Car travelling only arrived in the last decade in his life.
He was the first
Gunatit hierarch to step beyond Bharat's shores. Visiting devotees
in the Dark Continent - in east and southern African countries
in 1955, he revived Hindu Dharma among Hindus. On this occasion
he consecrated the first mandir in Mombasa, Kenya.
In 1959, he revisited E.Africa, consecrating 3 mandirs in Uganda:
Kampala, Jinja and Tororo. By this time he was so weakened, he
often had to use a wheelchair.
During the late
fifties he inspired urban youths to accompany him in the villages
during their summer vacation. He possessed an innate and phenomenal
ability to strike rapport with youths who were mere teenagers.
Despite the stark contrast, him being an old sadhu in his early
sixties, while the students, raised in the comfort of town and
city life, the latter revered him. Hectic touring in the torrid
heat, observing waterless fasts, sleeping on the bare floor, washing
utensils, clothes, and sweeping floors and cleaning toilets, and
in the winter vacations - bathing in freezing water from wells
or in rivers, were rigors they gladly bore. Though extremely soft-hearted,
Yogiji Maharaj imposed these tough disciplines to mould them.
Therein he weaned away body-consciousness from these fortunate
youths, who therefore progressed rapidly on the path of attaining
atmanishtha. Juxtaposed with the physical toughening, he
judiciously showered on them selfless, divine love. Engulfed in
this divinity, not one of these youths felt like leaving him when
vacation ended. Estrangement from this mystical, sagely personality
emotionally was painful. At the time of parting, not one eye remained
dry. He would then solace them, promising to invite them in their
next vacation. This in itself reflected his divinity, for initially
he coaxed the youths; now, on parting, they clamored to join him
at the earliest.
Little wonder then,
that in 1961, when he consecrated the Kalashs - golden
urns on Gadhada mandir's pinnacles, 51 of these youths offered
themselves at Bhagwan Swaminarayan's lotus-feet, to be initiated
as sadhus! This was a record second to Shriji Maharaj, who initiated
500 in one night, in the early 19th century. The majority of the
youths were graduates from home and abroad, with degrees in engineering,
textile engineering, medicine, agriculture, etc.
In 1970 at the grand
age of 78, despite his chronic illnesses and now fully debilitated
to a wheel-chair, he zealously embarked on a satsang tour of E.Africa
and London. He consecrated a mandir in Nairobi, and the first
Swaminarayan mandir in Europe, a converted church in Islington,
north London. On his return, many youths accompanied him, one
even from London, to become sadhus. Astonishing as it may seem,
the majority had only met him for the first time in their lives
during this tour.
On January 23,1971,
(Posh vad Ekadashi, Samvat 2027), he returned to Akshardham, bequeathing
the satsang to HDH Pramukh Swami Maharaj. He was cremated in the
Akshar Mandir complex in Gondal, where an exquisite marble shrine
has been erected. Adjacent to this, a museum exhibits his holy
relics and rare photographs of his life and work. His countless
miracles, parables and life events have been compiled in nearly
20 books, listed below.
- "O Bhagwan, do good of all."
- "The only worthy endeavor
[in life] is to worship God."
- "Imbibe fraternity, solidarity
and unity in the Satsang."
- "Eradicate stubbornness,
ego and jealousy from within."
- Haji bhalaa sadhu tanki upadhi
taje soi sadhu...
- Manasono avatar mongho nahi male
fari... (4 pads)
- Hari guna gaata...(4 pads)
- Mohanne gamavane ichho maanani
... (4 pads)
- Mana maan kahyutu maaru te kam
- Dhir dhoorandhara shoor sacha
- Yuvak Mandal, Bal Mandal Activities
- Publication of Life & Philosophy
of Shree Swaminarayan by H.T. Dave (c) 1967
- Publication of Harililakalpataru
- Sanskrit text extolling Shriji Maharaj's lila, by Achintyanand
- Sunday Satsang Sabha
- Maha Puja and Pradakshinas of
the miraculous shrine, Akshar Deri, Gondal
- Singing Sanskrit Stotras after
the Shrungar Arti in Shikharbaddh Mandirs - a legacy from Gunatitanand
Swami's period in Junagadh
- Wrote a booklet, Akshar Tirth,
extolling Akshar Deri's glory
- Wrote an inspiring letter to a
devotee and offered a landmark prayer in the mandir in Mahelav,
the birth place of his guru Shastriji Maharaj, which has been
rendered as the Yogi Gita.
- Brahmaswarup Yogiji Maharaj
- 6 vols. - Shastri Sadhu Ishwarcharandas
- Brahmaswarup Yogiji Maharaj
(short Biography) - Mohanbhai Patel.
- Yogiji Maharaj (Satsang
Exam Booklet) - Shastri Sadhu Ishwarcharandas.
- Yogiji Maharaj - Ek Parichay
- Sadhu Aksharvatsaldas
- Yogiji Maharaj -Pictorial
for children - Ramanlal Soni
- Yogiji Maharajni Bodh Kathao
- Sadhu Viveksagardas
- Yogiji Maharajni Satsang Kathao
- Sadhu Viveksagardas
- Yogi Charitam - Sadhu Ishwarcharandas
- Naad Brahman - compiled
- Samarti (Panch Tirthi in
Sorath with Yogiji Maharaj) - Sadhu Viveksagardas
- Tarunai na Marmi - Yogiji
Maharaj (Youths & Yogiji Maharaj) - Sadhu Vivekpriyadas
- Yogi Darshan (Photo Album)
- Images Eternal of Joy (Coffee
Table Book) - Sadhu Brahmaviharidas
- Amrut Parva (75th Anniversary
- Maanav Manna Maalmi - Gunvant
- Digantma Danka - Sadhu
Viveksagardas, Sadhu Ishwarcharandas
- Jogido deto deto - Gunvant
- Tirthamrut -Tirthajyoti
- Premsudharas - compilation
- Yogi Vani - compilation
- Commentaries on Bhaktinidhi
and Purushottam Prakash by Yogiji Maharaj - compiled
by Sadhu Viveksagardas
the over 50 kirtans composed on him by renowned contemporary poets,
the most popularly sung are listed below which reflect his divinity
- Aankhthi Yogi bapane mey joya...
- Dhanya jene maliyo Yogiji no
- Yogi aankhadi tamari aa, Yamunana
- Vanima vansali vagi, Yogi tari
vanima vansali vagi
- Vandan varamvar, Yogijine vandan
- Jugojuga jivajo pyara, Yogi
mari aankhana tara...
- Jogidana jadu mara hrudaye
- Jogidane jowa gayaa re, te
- Deto deto ne deto, Jogido deto
deto ne deto...
- Yogi awo te rang mune shid
- Yogi Bapa amari tame raksha
- Yogiji tamara darshanthi, sukhchen
amone khub male...
- Koti vandan kariye Yogiji,
man mandirma vasnara...
- Gondalwala Yogi tamari murtima
man mohi rahyu...
- Ek katha kahu tame sambhaljo
Dhari mukame pragatyata thai Yogiji sukhakari...
- Bijo aawine kok bole, bawajima
bijo aawine kok bole...
Mare ek Yogi
namanu nanu, sachave maru saghadu ttanu...