Shastriji Maharaj was constructing a mandir in Atladra (Vadodara). Excavation for the foundation and masonry work were going on at the same time. I was in seva with Kothari Aksharswarupdas. At that time everyone had to work very hard: digging the earth for the foundation, supplying bricks, crushing lime and supplying it to masons, and lifting stones and conveying them to the masons. At that time the labour work was done by sadhus and devotees. I, too, was present at that time and was engaged in doing seva.
Once, Swami Shastriji Maharaj was sick in Sarangpur. Tulsibhai, the son of Daji Ishwarbhai (brother of Mota Swami), had coincidentally gone to Sarangpur for Swami’s darshan. At that time Swami remembered me two or three times, saying that if 'Narayanda' came here he would read katha.
Whenever I had the Bhaktachintamani with me Swami made me sing from it. Tulsibhai heard Swami say that if Narayanda came I’d like him to read the Bhaktachintamani. After Tulsibhai heard Swami remembering me several times, he departed and went to his village, Purushottampura. From there he came to Atladra. During the night sabha he spoke about Shastriji Maharaj’s illness. He also narrated some other incidents (of Swami). Then he told me, “Swami Shastriji Maharaj remembers you a lot.”
I felt that since Swami has remembered me two to three times, and that he wishes that I come, I should go.
At that time I had not booked my train ticket. There were no other arrangements, but I got ready to go. My dhoti-gataryu and jholi were ready. Inside the jholi were my puja and eating bowl (pattar). I tied up my belongings. Then I did the evening katha. Another sadhu and I left the mandir in Atladra at 11.30 p.m. I was resolute about reaching Sarangpur by whatever train was available.
It was the monsoon season. When we left from Atladra (mandir) it was drizzling. However, on reaching the railway station the rain had increased. Vadodara is a very big junction station. Fast and local trains come and go. The Saurashtra Mail arrives and heads towards Kathiawad. I decided to take it and go to Ahmedabad, and from there take another train to Dhandhuka.
It was raining heavily when the Saurashtra Mail arrived in Vadodara at three in the morning. The passengers were sleeping. The windows were closed and there were lots of passengers inside. I climbed the carriage steps and tried to open the (carriage) door, but to no avail. No one opened it. The people inside had locked it and were sleeping. The train started. We held on to the iron rods of the door to stay put. The rain was lashing and the winds were howling, but we remained standing on the carriage steps. The train was going to stop at two places: Nadiad and Mahemdavad, before it would reach Ahmedabad. No one opened the door along the journey, so we remained standing all the way to Ahmedabad. Since it was raining we were drenched when we reached there.
On arriving at Ahmedabad station we had to change to another train. The small metre guage train to Dhandhuka came via Botad. The entire region was buffeted by rains. It was the same in Saurashtra. On alighting at Ahmedabad, we headed for the other train. But we got news that the train had been cancelled, because the torrential rains had displaced the tracks in the middle of the route. Thus the train could not go. With the train cancelled, I thought, how should we proceed? Then I thought we should get back onto the Saurashtra Mail. The train was going to proceed to Viramgam and from there we could catch the small metre guage train to Botad.
We thus got back onto the Saurashtra Mail. Many passengers had got off at Ahmedabad station so we got a good place to sit. It was still raining. As we passed by two to three stations the Ticket Collector arrived.
Everyone had to show their tickets to him. We had our tickets, but they were for the Dhandhuka train and not for the present one. So, he told us, “Your tickets are not valid for this train. You’ll have to pay for the journey.”
“We don’t have any money. We were going to travel by the other train but because the railway tracks were displaced we came back onto this one.”
“But you’ll have to pay for it.”
I replied, “We are sadhus. We don't keep money, and there’s no one with us. Because of what has happened we had to catch this train. If we come across a devotee of ours we can ask him to pay you. However, right now we don’t have any money at all.”
By God’s grace he understood our plight and agreed. He felt that we were sadhus and that whatever we said was true. Thereafter, he did not press us further.
Then we got off the train at Viramgam and got onto another train, which covered a longer route via Surendranagar to Botad. [Finally] we got off at Botad station. It was raining heavily. Water had inundated the roads and surrounding lands. We could not find a horse-carriage to take us to Sarangpur, which is 10-12 km away. There were no means to reach Sarangpur. A man from another mandir had come with a bullock cart. He said, “Put your baggage in here. I’ll take it for you.” We placed our potlas in the cart and started walking. There was water all around. At some places the water level touched our abdomen, in some areas it was neck-deep, and at other spots it was more than neck-deep. The river had swollen because of the water that was flowing in from rivulets. We felt that if we entered it we would get carried away or drown. So, we remained standing where we were.
Soon, a shepherd came from the direction of Botad. He asked us, “Where do you want to go?”
“Come, I will accompany you.”
I felt good about having his company. We began to walk along with him. Where there was more water, he would hold our hands and help us wade through. That’s how we reached Sarangpur. The shepherd went his way when we reached the outskirts of Sarangpur.
We went for Shastriji Maharaj’s darshan. He was lying awake on a cot in his room. I had his darshan and prostrated before him. Swami was very pleased to see us. He asked about how we came from Atladra. I explained everything. On hearing about our circumstances he became pleased with us. He sat up on his cot and embraced me. I was hesitant because my clothes were wet and so Swami’s clothes would get wet, but still he embraced me. He happily placed both his hands and blessed me. He said, “You have undertaken so much trouble to come here, thus Maharaj will be pleased.” Then I took a bath and did my puja.
At night I sang the Bhaktachintamani. Swami was very pleased on that occasion. I was able to offer my bhakti towards him. Though I had to tolerate a little pain and discomfort, I felt satisfied because Swami was pleased with me and I was able to be of a little service to him.