Bhagwan Swaminarayan did not simply focus on getting rid of people that were a menace to society. Rather, His focus was on ridding those people of their inner instincts that made them a menace to society. Bhagwan Swaminarayan transformed the lives of thieves, sorcerers, tyrants, and even those from the lower strata of society that most people ignored.
Joban Pagi was an infamous organized crime leader of India in the 18th century. His mob of thieves and warriors controlled the trade routes from Gujarat to Pune and even to Kolkata. After hearing about Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s famed horse, of the celebrated Rozo breed, Joban decided to steal it. He tried to break into the horse stalls for three straight nights, but each time he was met with the divine presence of Bhagwan Swaminarayan standing next to the stallion. Joban realized that Bhagwan Swaminarayan was no ordinary person—He was God. He came into the spiritual assembly on the following day and admitted all of his sins to Bhagwan Swaminarayan. From that day onward, he became Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s disciple and started following the dharmic codes of a devotee, completely transforming his life.
The Kathi darbars were rulers; some ruled one village while others ruled many. They were powerful, generous, and, unfortunately, at times brute. Bhagwan Swaminarayan understood that transforming their attitude towards their subjects would make life better for tens of thousands of people across Kathiawad. He taught these rulers to care and provide for their subjects. Citing examples of great kings like Janak, Dasharath, and Harishchandra, Bhagwan Swaminarayan taught these darbars to love, appreciate, and reward their subjects. He insisted that it was their responsibility to educate, train, and set an example for their villagers.
Bhagwan Swaminarayan also focused on individuals that the rest of society had neglected for years. Sagram Vaghri was one such example. Sagram was of the Vaghri, or ‘untouchables,’ caste. He was illiterate and did not appreciate basic moral, spiritual, or ethical codes. Bhagwan Swaminarayan visited Sagram’s home, a practice considered unorthodox at the time. Moved by the respect Bhagwan Swaminarayan had for him, Sagram started following the dharmic codes laid down by Bhagwan Swaminarayan. Sagram stopped eating meet, beating his wife, and stealing. Once while traveling with his wife through a forest during the worst famine in Indian history, he found a gold bangle on the floor. Despite the difficult living conditions and rampant hunger due to the famine, He was not tempted to take it. He also wanted to ensure that his wife was not enticed to take the gold bangle. He tried to cover it up with dust before his wife, who was a few steps behind him, could see it. His wife took notice and said, “Sagram, why are you covering dust with dust? Anything that does not belong to us is as good as dust to me.” Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s universal message was able to transform hundreds of lives, from rulers to the lowest strata of society.