August 02, 2002
Friday Meeting

Vasudev Swamiji (Rajkot Swaminarayan Gurukul), gave the following story about Naranarayananand Swami during Swaminarayan Bhagwan's time.

Once, Swaminarayan Bhagwan asked His saints to go meet people in different parts of the country and spread His spiritual message. Seeing that Naranarayananand Swami had stayed behind, God asked why he did not go? Naranarayananand Swami responded that he would be unable to speak to people because of his lack of education. To his surprise, God commanded that he give vartamaan (initiate as a devotee) to the King of Indor in Madhya Pradesh (a state in the middle of India) along with 250 other people. Initiating a devotee consists of three rites: first is placing a kanthi around the devotee's neck; second is placing a tilak-chandalo; third is placing water in the devotee's palm and repeating a mantra.

After God's command, Naranarayananand Swami had no choice but to comply and thus he and the accompanying saints spent the first couple days studying the behavior of the king and his people. They noticed that during his morning poojaa (prayer), the king was completely alone. They planned to arrive at exactly that time, and while one saint would hastily give the kanthi, another would apply the tilak-chandalo, a third saint would put the water, and Naranarayananand Swami would recite the blessings, so that they could escape after fulfilling Swaminarayan Bhagwan's command. The following day, the group of saints came near the king's palace and since they were chanting the "SwamiNarayan" mantra out loud, the soldiers figured the king had called them and allowed them to pass. The guards inside did not say anything either, thinking the door soldiers must have already allowed them inside for some reason. The saints hurriedly entered the king's room and gave him vartamaan as planned.

The saints escaped quickly, but the king was very impressed by their blessings and remained lost in thought. After he got ready and entered the meeting hall, the assembly asked why he was wearing the tilak-chandalo and kanthi. He responded that he had met a great guru that graced him with powerful blessings, and whose God was Swaminarayan Bhagwan. The assembled ascetics who opposed Swaminarayan Bhagwan began criticizing the king's hasty move, and so the king decided to hold a debate in which the saints could answer the people's questions. The king ordered the minister to call back the saints. He then asked Naranarayananand Swami and his group of saints to return the next morning for the debate.

Naranarayananand Swami again began wondering what to do. He knew he did not have the capacity to withstand the questions that would be posed to him in the debate. It was typical for the debating ascetics to carry with them all of their reference books, but he and the other saints had come empty handed. Naranarayananand Swami came up with an idea. The following day, he tied all of their sandals in a big cloth and carried it into the debate. The assembled people thought that such a large assortment of scriptures must mean the saints were very learned. Naranarayananand Swami then prayed to God asking that no one be able to speak for as long as he kept his eyes closed. The next morning, the king welcomed Naranarayananand Swami and sat him on a high throne. Naranarayananand Swami requested that everyone ask the questions one-by-one, and that he would keep his eyes closed while answering. He also stipulated that when he opened his eyes, the debate would be over and no further questions would be allowed. If he were to emerge from the debate victorious, he asked that everyone accept the vartamaan and become devotees of Swaminarayan Bhagwan. The king and the assembly agreed and Naranarayananand Swami closed his eyes. Because of the power of God, the debaters, who had been planning a list of questions to ask, were unable to ask a single one. The debate was supposed to last for several hours but since Naranarayananand Swami kept his eyes closed, no one was able to speak. After a few hours, out of frustration, the king declared that he would not waste his guru's time any longer than for a half hour more. Naranarayananand Swami again closed his eyes, and once again, the eager opposing ascetics found themselves dumbfounded. The king was forced to end the meeting without any discussion. When Naranarayananand Swami opened his eyes, the ascetics found their tongues and began arguing amongst each other as to why no one had asked any questions. Still, by the rules of the debate, all of the assembly had to accept the vartamaan. When the ordeal was over, the frustrated ascetics and townspeople inquired about the great books the saints were carrying? Naranarayananand Swami smilingly responded these are "kantak-rakshak shaastra," which literally means scriptures that save us from thorns!



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