Biography of Abjibapashri
Lord Shri Swaminarayan moved a lot in Kutch during V.S. 1861 to 1867 (A.D. 1805 to 1811). During such tours He visited village Baladia -18 kilometres south of Bhuj in Kutch- several times. There lived Natha Patel and his three sons- Gangdasbhai, Rudabhai and Tejabhai. They were staunch followers of the manifest Lord Shri Swaminarayan and for most of the time they used to remain in devotional activities. Rudabhai, who was endowed with sublime spiritual state, had two sons- Premjibhai and Panchabhai. This Panchabhai became fortunate to fondle Anadi Muktaraj Abjibapashri as his son. Panchabhai’s wife Devba also was a great devotee of God. They were living a life of total resignation to the wish of God. Though their financial condition was poor, they always offered loveful devotion to God.
Whenever Shriji Maharaj happened to visit Baladia, He invariably would go to the pond Kali Talawadi and bathe in that pond with His saints and devotees. Devba would every morning go to this holy Kali Talawadi for taking bath. On one early morning of a Thursday, the 3rd day of the first half of the month of Posh in V.S. 1900 Devba went to Kali Talawadi as usual along with other ladies of the village. After the bath she sat at the place where the Lord used to sit and address the assembly, and she meditated on the Lord. Soon she saw a multitude of divine light and she had divine vision of the Lord in that light. Full of grace, the Lord said, “I am pleased with you, hence ask for any boon you desire.” Devba said, “My Lord! Kindly give me a son like You.” Smiling, Lord Shri Hari said, “There is none who is equal to Myself; however, My anadi muktas are akin to Myself. One such anadi mukta will manifest as your son and will fulfil all your desires.” Experiencing bliss unbounded, Devba returned home and told Shri Panchabhai about the vision she had.
In accordance with the boon granted by the Lord, an anadi muktaraj was born of Devba at Baladia at around 09.10 p.m. on Prabodhini Ekadashi (the 11th day of the bright half of the month of Kartik) of V.S. 1901 (20th November, 1844). When reverend Sadguru Swami Shri Achyutdasji of Bhuj temple visited Baladia, he initiated this anadi muktaraj and named him as Abjibhai.
The divinity bestowed upon by Lord Swaminarayan was overflowing from such Anadi Muktaraj Abjibhai. He used to give joy to his parents and his chums by his innocent playfulness. He used to accompany his mother Devba to take bath in Kali Talawadi. Sometimes he would go there with his friends.
Right from his childhood, Anadi Muktaraj Abjibhai used to enter and remain in trance which sometimes would last for days together. He used to remain engrossed in murti. During trance, his pulses would remain stopped and he would not do bodily functions such as eating, drinking or excretion. In his later age, this trance was converted into sahaj sthiti (a usual unbroken status). In his boyhood and adolescent age, he used to be in the service of his parents and saints who visited the temple of Baladia; and he had established a routine of non-stop katha–kirtan, meditation and worshipping. With his own example, he showed everybody how to live household life remaining attached with the Lord with undivided attention like smooth laminar flow of oil. He learnt by heart 1100 kirtans each with four padas. Shunning sweets and oily preparations of food, he used to eat only khichadi made from math (a kind of bean) and simple vegetables of carrot or sweet potatoes. Plain dress and straightforward living! Whoever came in his contact did get the touch of divinity overflowing from him.
Like Anadi Muktaraj Parvatbhai who appeared on this earth with Lord Swaminarayan, Abjibhai lived household life as a farmer. He loved to spend his time in brahmyagna at secluded places like Kali Talawadi. Reverend saints like Sadguru Nirgundasji Swamishri of Amdavad Temple, Sadguru Achyutdasji Swamishri of Bhuj Temple, Sadguru Harinarayandasji Swamishri of Muli temple etc., who were acclaimed as great religious personalities then, used to show their relation with Muktaraj Abjibhai as if they were divinely associated with him from time immemorial! Abjibhaishri used to go for darshan of Sadgurushris, and the Sadgurushris also used to come to Bhuj and Baladia temples and ask Abjibhaishri to talk about the greatness of the Lord. Whenever the saints used to come to Baladia, brahmyagna would always remain on.
In Kutch, elderly people are addressed as ‘bapa’ (i.e. father). As Abjibhai had infinite paternal affection for one and all, everybody started addressing him as ‘Abjibapashri’ or simply ‘Bapashri’.
In V.S.1971 (A.D.1915) Bapashri, in consultation with saints and leading devotees of Bhuj and Baladia, decided to erect a chhatri at the sacred place on the bank of Kali Talawadi and to install the Lord’s charnarvinds (impressions of the feet) therein. But on the way from Baladia village to Kali Talawadi, and around the sacred place on the bank of Kali Talawadi, lots of wild vegetation had grown and dreaded animals and ghosts resided in that area. Hence, people were scared to go to that area after sunset. Hence, Bapashri, by his mere will, made the dreaded animals to leave the place and liberated the ghosts by sending them to Akshardham.
Then a chhatri was built at the place where Lord Shri Hariji used to sit on the bank of Kali Talawadi. A stepped quay was built to facilitate bath in Kali Talawadi. As the construction work was finished, Bapashri arranged a convention of all satsangis and a yagna which was held from the 11th day of the dark half of Fagan to the 3rd day of the bright half of Chaitra of V.S.1971 (11th to 18th March, 1915). At that time thousands of saints and devotees had come to attend this yagna, and it was one of the major yagnas of the sect. Everyone was engrossed in the divine environment around Bapashri. With his own hands, Bapashri installed the footprints of the Lord in the chhatri and performed arti. At that time, a halo of divine light was seen around the footprints. There was showering of sandal and flowers from the sky. Every one was deeply moved and was engrossed in divine bliss. Then the Sadgurus requested Bapashri to grant a boon on this divine occasion. Anadi Muktaraj Bapashri, granting the boon to everybody, said:
“Whoever has come to this chhatri and this yagna or has served here or has dined here; as well as all the deities who have come in the sky for darshan– all of them will get liberation! Furthermore, whoever -deities, human beings, animals or birds etc.- will come here at this blessed chhatri, or have darshan of this footprints, or take bath in the pond or be of service to this place- all of them will be granted liberation. This yagna is not of seven days, it is of seven maha–kalpas!”
What a grand and compassionate boon! Thus, a permanent source of ultimate liberation was started by Bapashri. And from that moment, everyone realized the greatness of the place.
In the year of V.S 1978 (30th April, 1922), Hanumanji was installed at that place and was named Bhidbhanjan (destroyer of distress) Hanumanji to remove distress of human beings.
As Bapashri used to remain engrossed in the murti of Shriji Maharaj, he exhibited innumerable miracles like appearing at multiple places at the same time, a little cooked food sufficing for any number of people, endowing many saints and devotees with realisation of the divine form of Shriji Maharaj, foretelling one’s day of demise, giving darshan along with Shriji Maharaj to one who is about to die, and transporting one to Akshardham, letting one remain alive even if one is destined to die, sending innumerable jivas -be they human beings or beasts or birds or ghosts or be they evil or good, deserving or non-deserving- to Akshardham, protecting the devotees during the time of calamities etc.
In those days, to come to Baladia from Saurashtra or from any parts of Gujarat was full of many hardships. But, the personality of Bapashri was so magnetic and divine that in spite of all these hardships, saints and devotees in large numbers used to come to Baladia for his darshan and blissful proximity and to take advantage of the divine grace flowing through him. Uninterrupted brahmyagna was always in full swing wherever Bapashri used to be.
Bapashri used to emphasize mainly on the greatness of the Lord and overflowing bliss of the Lord. He used to say, “Shri Swaminarayan Bhagwan is the supreme incarnation and is the cause of all the causes, ever with form, ever blissful. Know him as such and get engrossed in His murti only. Get absorbed in His murti. Get detached from everything else and attach with murti only. When the sun rises, darkness of night gets removed instantly; likewise, when one establishes an unwavering attachment with His divine form, the affinity in five vishays or miracles or opulence etc. vanishes. Such knowledge is the kaivalya gnan (absolute knowledge). One should not remain in vachyarth (theoretical knowledge in the intellect), but attain the lakshyarth (experiential knowledge). For every aspirant, the highest and sublime-most aim is to attain the position of anadi mukta of Lord Swaminarayan.”
Bapashri not only elucidated this position in vivid details, but also bestowed upon many this marvellous spiritual state.
Bapashri also used to explain: “Whatever is the attainment of muktas, nobody can attain the position of the Lord Himself, and no devotee ever longs for the position of his master. Shri Hariji is the Lord and all anadi muktas are His servants. Shri Swaminarayan Bhagwan is one and only one, whereas anadi muktas are innumerable. The Lord keeps them all ever-engrossed in His divine bliss. Lord is the giver of bliss to them and the muktas are the receiver of the bliss.”
The satsang of Kutch is divine and they behave in accordance with the commands of Shriji Maharaj. This is because of Bapashri. He not only lived in the strictest conformity with the injunctions of Shriji Maharaj, but also made others to live so. He laid lots of stress on obeying all the dictates of the Lord. He used to say that if anyone disobeys it, it is his unnatural death. If any one happened to transgress the limits of religious practices laid down by the Lord, Bapashri was distressed much and never kept his side. He always sided with dharma. He made all the saints who came to him avoid contact of wealth and woman in absolute sense.
Sadguru Shri Ishwarcharandasji Swami had excellent study of Vachanamrut of Lord Swaminarayan. He remembered by heart each and every word of it. Moreover, through his able guru Sadguru Shri Nirgundasji Swamishri he had understood the deeper meanings, which the Lord wanted to convey. Later, when Sadguru Swamishri Ishwarcharandasji, by the recommendation of his guru, associated with Bapashri, he learnt from Bapashri the interpretation of the Vachanamrut, and he was overwhelmed and awed. The Vachanamrut is para–vani (divine speech) of Lord Swaminarayan, and is as if another divine form of Lord Himself. Swamishri felt that if the interpretations of inner meanings of Lord Swaminarayan’s vachanamruts as given by experienced and competent teacher like Bapashri could be collected and given to spiritual seekers, it would be one of the greatest boons. He requested Bapashri to dictate the commentary on the Vachanamrut and explain the hidden meanings so that the commentary becomes an everlasting source of ultimate liberation. By the grace and wish of Lord Swaminarayan, Bapashri had come to this earth for the very same purpose. So he dictated the Rahasyarth Pradeepika Tika- a commentary kindling inner meanings of the Vachanamrut. It includes brief summary of each vachanamrut as said by the Lord as well as the questions which could arise while reading the Vachanamrut and their answers given by Bapashri. Reading this, one can understand the greatness of the Lord as it is, as well as one can easily attain the state of ultimate liberation which is to stay engrossed in murti of the Lord.
Bapashri also used to talk about the eminence of the Lord, and other allied topics. Sadguru Swamishri Ishwarcharandasji thought that the future generations of aspirants would be greatly benefited if the ‘talks’ of Bapashri could be noted down and published. He took consent of Bapashri and noted down word by word. Those ‘talks’ have been published in two volumes having more than 1000 pages, and many aspirants have taken great advantage of the book and have attained the highest peaks of spiritual attainment.
Leading many souls to the divine form of Lord Shriji Maharaj, Bapashri discontinued his human appearance which he was showing while eternally remaining in the divine Person of the Lord, on Friday, the 5th day of the bright half of the month of Ashadh, V.S. 1984 (22nd June, 1928). Thousands of saints and devotees from all around came for his last darshan. The last rites were carried out by the south side of the chhatri, and in his divine memory, another chhatri was built up by leading saints and devotees.
Entire human race is indebted to Bapashri because of his boon of ultimate liberation to all who comes to the chhatri sthan and because of the knowledge of the divine form of God he revealed to us. Millions of prostrations in the feet of such benevolent Bapashri!
ET LORD SHRI SWAMINARAYAN TRIUMPH
Many Saints and devotees became happy by taking advantage of the divine knowledge that Shriji Maharaj had preached in our (Swaminarayan) sect. When Shriji Maharaj disappeared, Saints and Muktas continued the tradition of that knowledge and many Mumukshus were made happy. Swami Nirgundasji, the disciple of Sadguru shri Gopalanand Swami, was also the enjoyer of that knowledge and happiness and he used to give happiness to his disciples and Mumukshus who were associated with him. When Anadi Muktaraj Abjibapashri used to come from Kutch to Amdavad on pilgrimage along with devotees’ group, he also used to associate with Swami Shri Nirgunadasji. Swami Shri would often say about Bapashri that his life support (Mara Jivan Pran) had come. On this, those who were with Swami asked him about Bapashri. Swami said, “Presently there is no one in the Satsang like him- he is second to none. Therefore, associate with him”. So, many saints and devotees of Gujarat used to go to Kutch to associate with Bapashri. Similarly, Bapashri used to call them often by writing letter.
In Samvat 1959, Bapashri had arranged a grand Yagna in which he had invited many saints and devotees of various places by sending them invitation cards. Again, in Samvat 1962, Dhanba had arranged Yagna in Rampar in Kutch. Then also, Bapashri wrote letters to Swami Vrundavandasji and Swami Ishwarcharandasji informing them that Yagna was going to be held in Rampar, which was as grand as the Yagna, which they had performed in the year Samvat 1959. Moreover, the Sankalp (the Sankalp was that whosoever ate prasadi of Yagna would go to Akshardham) which they had done in that Yagna, the same Sankalp, had been done for the prasadi of Rampar’s Yagna so all should come. Bapashri asked in the letter to bring all saints and devotees who want to come and to inform by letter Swami Balkrishnadasji, Purani Dharmkishordasji, Saint Harivallabhdasji, etc. of Muli. Then Swami, etc. went to Rampar. Devotees of Muli, Balol and other villages were informed by letter and they all came- some early, some late. Bapashri came to Rampar from Vrushpur (Baladia) and attended Katha. Katha came to end on the morning of Vaishakh Sud 1st (ekam).
On the same day at 2.00 p.m. Bapashri, Swami Ishwarcharandasji, etc. and some devotees started from Rampar. On the way they wanted to bathe in the Virdi of Sarli but since the water of Virdi was not good, they went to the west side were there was ‘Stream’ (Dharo) and bathed in it and met all in the water and came out and changed clothes, sat and drank water. Thakker Govardhanbhai Damodarbhai of village Radhu had sent pomegranate with Swami Ishwarcharandasji and Sukhadi which was sent by Ranchhodlalbhai Sevakrambhai were offered to Thakorji then all saints and Devotees took Prasad. Then all met one another and came to Vrushpur. As ‘Kalash‘ (Golden pot) was to be installed on the spire of the Bhuj temple, Bapashri and all saints went to Bhuj on Vaisakh Sud 5th and Kalash was installed on 6th.
On the day of Vaishakh Sud 15th Bapashri, Swami Ishwarcharandasji, etc. saints went to Vruspur. On that night Katha-Varta came to end, the assembly dispersed, Bapashri told Ishwarcharandasji Swami that he had been hearing his talks for the last fifteen years but he was not writing them. Therefore, henceforth whatever talks he delivered to be written so that they might be very useful in future- so start writing from now onwards. Accordingly, from Vaishakh Vad 1st onwards Swami wrote down all the talks containing divine words emanating from the lips of Abjibapa himself for the benefit of devotees and saints. The aim was that if saints and devotees read and remembers these talks, Shriji Maharaj and his Muktas would be pleased and saints and devotees would be blessed with salvation by Shriji Maharaj.