Spirituality Sadhu story & glory Part 2 last month, we began a three-artic Paramtattvadas its series for the
Shree Swaminarayan Mahamantra Bicentenary Celebrations
by discovering the what and why of mantras.
In this month's installment, we go back to the time
when Lord Swaminarayan first passed on the mantra
and through various incidents try to understand its profound glory.
The Swaminarayan Maha Mantra History
Night had settled in long ago. Even the moon was mourning tonight, it seemed. It stood solemnly alone in a clear, cloudless sky, at half-mast. The winter winds blew with a sharp, penetrating chill. As they hustled past the entwining branches of the barren trees, their whistling added an eerie harmony to the sobbing of the devotees within the village. Faneni, an otherwise quiet and cheerful village found cradled in the southern portion of west Gujarat, was crying tonight. Ramanand Swami had passed away.
The near and dear devotees such as Mayaram Bhatt, Parvatbhai, and Velabhai had sent out word to others residing near and far as soon as Ramanand Swami had shown signs of fever after arriving in Faneni. It was clear that Ramanand Swami had decided his duties here on earth had been fulfilled; he had revealed Varni as God-manifest and had established Him as the head of the Fellowship he had until now been guardian of. Now there was no reason for him to stay on.
As devotees began gathering in this small, unassuming village, the probable seemed more and more certain. After his routine early morning rituals on the morning of Magshar sud 13, Samvat 1859, Ramanand Swami sat upright in a meditative posture, quiet and composed. He looked compassionately to the mass of devotees gathered before him, as if bidding them all farewell. And then he closed his eyes for the very last time. He left his physical body and took his place in the abode of God.
Naturally, devotees who had reverently served Ramanand Swami for years felt the loss deep within their hearts. Muktanand Swami, senior-most among Ramanand Swami's disciples, courageously tried to comfort and console the devotees and younger sadhus. Meanwhile, Sahajanand Swami helped in seeing to the final rites.
Events seemed to be taking their natural course. The usual discourses and rituals after a passing away had been continuing for thirteen days now. But then, on the fourteenth day after the passing away of Ramanand Swami, Sahajanand Swami called an assembly of the gathered devotees and sadhus. It was to be a historic assembly in the Fellowship, one that followers would look back on with pride, and celebrate for generations to come.
As Sahajanand Swami addressed the gathering, His words of consolation and wisdom struck a deep chord within everyone. Their grief vanished. Peace reigned. Suddenly, the prophetic words of Ramanand Swami came rushing back to male and female devotees alike. "I am merely the drum-beater hailing the arrival of the hero. Varni is the real performer."
Spirits began to lift and everyone looked upon Sahajanand Swami as their succour and saviour, their new spiritual master.
And then, for what can be called the first time ever, the world heard the divine name 'Swaminarayan'. Sahajanand Swami explained to His devotees, "This shall be the mantra that you all should now chant and use in worship."
In this way, Lord Swaminarayan, as Sahajanand Swami later came to be known, graced the Satsang Fellowship with the divine Swaminarayan Mahamantra on Magshar vad 11, Samvat 1858 (1801 CE).
It was in this very assembly that Lord Swaminarayan had granted Shitaldas, an aspiring seeker who had arrived in Faneni with the hope of having Ramanand Swami's darshan, with a divine vision of Akshardham. As the incident is narrated in the Harililamrut (V/4:45-54), Shitladas uttered 'Swaminarayan' and saw the 24 avatars of God merge into Shriji Maharaj. He also saw countless liberated souls, including Ramanand Swami, surrounding Shriji Maharaj.
When Shitaldas awoke from his trance and narrated his vision to the assembly, many staunch followers of Ramanand Swami could not bring themselves to believe that their guru would be serving the young Sahajanand Swami in Akshardham. They, too, pleaded for such a vision. Maharaj simply told the assembly to chant 'Swaminarayan'.
Sure enough, each and every devotee of the assembly had the same vision that Shitaldas had described: Shriji Maharaj, resplendent at the centre of Akshardham, surrounded by countless liberated souls, each equally resplendent, standing eagerly in His service. Upon awakening, everyone bowed at the feet of Maharaj and begged forgiveness for their skepticism.
On this occasion, Shriji Maharaj explained and elaborated upon the profound glory of the Swaminarayan mantra. This has also been poetically penned in the Harililamrut. (see box)
Helps Drive Away Evil
Many incidents in the Satsang Fellowship's history testify to the truth that the chanting of the Swaminarayan mantra can dispel evil spells and spirits, and even drive away Yama, the Lord of Death.
Glory Of The Swaminarayan Mahamantra
This is a free translation of "Je Swaminarayan nam leshe..." which describes the glory of the Swaminarayan Mahamantra as explained by Shriji Maharaj and noted in the Harililamrut.Utters he the Swaminarayan mantra, his sins forever are all burnt asunder.
I have indeed heard mantras a many, but this alone is the supreme amongst any.
If 'Swaminarayan' even once be said, 'tis worth other mantras a thousand times instead.
Who can ever be able to describe the fruits of its chanting that the scriptures ascribe.
Extremely powerful, the six-letter* mantra can grant, all wishes and desires by its mere chant.
It blesses with bliss and wipes away all woes, and ultimately grants the Abode of all abodes.
Than the Gayatri Mantra, 'tis far far greater; sing its glory, the Destroyer, Sustainer and Creator.
Wherever great souls rest and reside, in their daily chanting this mantra does abide.
If even uttered with one's last breath, grave sinners are redeemed ultimately after death.
That mantra dispels evil spirits and spells; instead, a pious understanding within one dwells.
Whosoever 'Swaminarayan' utters; from him, death and disaster forever flutters.
Whether sincerely or insincerely, the mantra be said; no doubt there can be, all shackles will be shed.
Six letters* there may be, but the Shat-Shastras they hold; overcome births and deaths, both new and old.
Come rain or shine, at day or night; remember it always, in pleasure and plight.
Pure or impure, however the body be; remember the holy name with utmost sincerity.
Just as for the body, fresh water cleanses, this mantra purifies the spirit and senses.
Great and glorious, the Swaminarayan Mahamantra, can burn the sins of even the gravest sinner.
Purifies the soul and grants salvation, if only one chants it with faith and devotion.*In the Gujarati language 'Swa-mi-na-ra-ya-n' is spelt with six letters.