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

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

  Sadhu Diksha
Ten months later, on 20 October 1800, Ramanand Swami met Neelkanth in Piplana and initiated Him as a sadhu; naming Him Sahajanand Swami and Narayan Muni. A year later, in 1801 in Jetpur, Ramanand Swami ceremoniously appointed the 21-year old Sahajanand Swami as the Head of the Fellowship.

Matchless Prayer
During this ceremony, Sahajanand Swami requested two boons in the form of a prayer, for the disciples: 'O Gurudev! If ever your devotees face the begging bowl, then let that bowl come to me. And if ever your devotees face pain equivalent to the sting of one scorpion, then let that pain befall me, enhanced ten million fold on each pore'! Ramanand Swami granted the boons. With his task fulfilled, he then left his mortal body.

Ramanand Swami
To understand the factors which led Sahajanand Swami to establish His Fellowship in Gujarat, it is important to briefly consider Ramanand Swami's life. Born in Ayodhya, he left home at the age of eight. Arriving in Kathiawad, he met a Brahmanised sadhu named Atmanand Swami, whom he accepted as guru. The Swami taught him Ashtang Yoga. In a short period, Ramanand Swami attained the eighth stage, samadhi. When the Swami granted him a vision of divine light, this disheartened Ramanand Swami, who wished for the vision of God with form - 'Sakar Brahman'. Therefore he left Kathiawad, travelling south to Totadri and Shrirang Kshetra, where he offered sincere devotion to Ramanujacharya, the exponent of Vishishtadvaita. Soon the latter appeared in a divine vision and initiated Ramanand into Vaishnavism. Ramanand Swami then travelled to Vrindavan in the north. His unalloyed devotion culminated in Lord Krishna's divine vision, fulfilling his long cherished wish. Yet this divine experience neither induced him to remain in Vrindavan, nor return to Ayodhya; both sacred and ideally suited for founding a Fellowship. Divine ordinance inspired him of the imminence of Bhagwan Swaminarayan's incarnation, guiding him to Kathiawad. Here he set about establishing a Bhakti Sampradaya, which would function as a framework for the Lord to found his Fellowship, based on Vishishtadvaita philosophy. And this was his reason for proclaiming himself as a 'drum-beater' to his devotees. Therefore, divinely inspired, Ramanand Swami established a Fellowship in preparation for the Lord Purushottam's imminent arrival in Gujarat. Neelkanth's choice then to end His sojourns in Gujarat, was also divinely pre-destined. For in His own words uttered in childhood - having climbed a tree once to gaze westwards - He remarked that, 'mumukshus (aspirants) reside in the west.' And so He graced Gujarat for these aspirants.

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