|August 30, 2003 |
Des Plaines Mandira
Nishkulanand Swami, or Lalji Suthar, was born on Vasant Panchmi in 1822 VS (1766 CE) in the village of Shekhpat near Jamnagar to Rambhai and Amritba. Mulji Sharma (Gunatitanand Swami who lived in Bhadra) and Lalji Suthar both lived villages apart, but would regularly meet to discuss the glory of God and Ramanand Swami (Swaminarayan Bhagwan's guru) [ref. Swami Ni Vato 10/159].
The story of his becoming a saint reveals his great faith in God. Swaminarayan Bhagwan once asked Lalji to accompany Him across Kutch (in 1860 VS or 1804 CE). At the time, Lalji's wife had gone to her parents home in Adhoi. During the journey, first, Swaminarayan Bhagwan asked Lalji to give up all of their food and water to some beggars. Then, Swaminarayan Bhagwan helped a theif by advising him that Lalji may be hiding money in his shoes. Finally, after making him a saint, Swaminarayan Bhagwan asked Lalji to ask for alms at his in-laws's home. ("Nishkula" indicates being above bodily relations!) His family tried to have him return home, but Nishkulanand Swami was resolute [ref. Swami Ni Vato 13/124]. In fact, his son was later initiated as Govindanand Swami.
In Vachanamrut Gadhada Last 26, Swaminarayan Bhagwan states, "Those who are like Mayaram Bhatt, Mulji Brahmachari, and Nishkulanand Swami, do not fall back even if they come in contact with women, wealth, etc." Yet, Gunatitanand Swami explains his elevated understanding: when Swaminarayan Bhagwan announced that Nishkulanand Swami would be the mahanta of Gadhada, he went away to Gadhadi [ref. Swami Ni Vato 9/334]; once, when Swaminarayan Bhagwan asked him to sit at a place and have His darshana, Nishkulanand Swami did not follow the order because women were in sight [ref. Swami Ni Vato 9/265].
Nishkulanand Swami's devotion eternally remains in the many scriptures he authored (see "Swaminarayan Scriptures"), the Akshar Ordi (Swaminarayan Bhagwan's residence in Gadhada) that he constructed, amongst other expressions such as the famous "12-doors swing" (during the Holi/Fuldol celebration at Vadtal in 1872 VS or 1816 CE). After Swaminarayan Bhagwan passed away, Nishkulanand Swami chose to stay at Dholera (which he constructed) under Adbhutanand Swami, and passed away at the age of 82 in 1904 VS.