|December 31, 1998 |
Des Plaines, IL: Ketan's home
At the age of 11, Ghanshyam Maharaj (Swaminarayan Bhagwan) left His home in Ayodhya and traveled across India for a period of 7 years. In the Gujarat town of Loj, Sukhanand Swami met Neelkanth Varni (Swaminarayan Bhagwan) and asked Him to come to their aasharama (hermitage). During His travels, Neelkanth Varni asked the definition of the five eternal entities. The group's leader, Muktanand Swami, answered Neelkanth Varni's question, and Neelkanth Varni decided to stay at Loj until their guru, Ramanand Swami, returned from Kutch. Neelkanth Varni stayed in Loj with Muktanand Swami and the group of saints for about 9 months [ref. Vachanamrut Loya 3]. In that short time however, He made a great impact on the saints. After less than 2 years since meeting the group in Loj, Ramanand Swami appointed Sahajanand Swami (Swaminarayan Bhagwan) as the head of the group. About 1 month later, Ramanand Swami passed away in the town of Faneni.
At the time, saints meditated while reciting various mantras. On the 13th day after Ramanand Swami passed away, Sahajanand Swami gave the 'SwamiNarayan' mahaamantra. Chanting SwamiNarayan, many attained samaadhi. In samaadhi people witnessed Swaminarayan Bhagwan in the form of whatever God they believed in, and witnessed that Swaminarayan Bhagwan was the supreme God. For example, given in Swami Ni Vato 7/3 [and Harililamrut 5/3], when a devotee of Ramanand Swami (named Shitaldas, later initiated as Vyapakanand Swami) came to Loj, Swaminarayan Bhagwan gave him samaadhi. In samaadhi, he was able to take many forms and do poojana to all the liberated souls in Akshardham at once, only by believing, "Sahajanand Swami is the supreme God." When he came out of samaadhi, Swaminarayan Bhagwan asked him to tell the others what he witnessed. Devotees of Ramanand Swami and those belonging to other groups, however, could not understand Swaminarayan Bhagwan as the supreme God. Thus, God placed them in samaadhi as well and had them witness that Swaminarayan Bhagwan is the source of all incarnations.
Soon, those who simply heard the 'click' of Swaminarayan Bhagwan's wooden sandals went into samaadhi. Given in Swami Ni Vato 9/211, at first, Muktanand Swami was going to tell Swaminarayan Bhagwan that it was not appropriate to give the difficult attainment of samaadhi freely to all. After Ramanand Swami appeared to him in a divine form, Muktanand Swami accepted Swaminarayan Bhagwan as God and wrote the very first manifest aarati. Later, Swaminarayan Bhagwan gave Muktanand Swami a special stick by which he too could put devotees into samaadhi.
In the mahaamantra, Swami is Mool Akshar Gunatitanand Swami, and Narayan is Bhagwan Swaminarayan (similar to Radha-Krishna and Sita-Ram). As suggested by the samaadhi chapter, Swaminarayan Bhagwan left no bar on who could attain liberation. In Swami Ni Vato 1/154, Gunatitanand Swami states that by continuously chanting the SwamiNarayan mahaamantra with an understanding of its glory, one becomes brahmaroopa.