This Land of Jhalavad…
Dry thorny bushes, leaf-less trees in every direction…
Flowers here are small and water is merely a mirage; Flowers and leaves shrivel without water, the intense scorching summers…
This Land of Jhalavad…
Look in the distance for miles and miles, you’ll not see a single hill;
Just vast, open and flat land merging into the horizon.
This Land of Jhalavad…
In these few words, poet Prajaram Raval has painted a picture of Jhalavad. It is a region nurtured by the Jhala and Rana Kshatriya communities. Limbdi is a city of Jhalavad, brimming with dharma and known as Little Kashi. The new BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Limbdi is located at the mid-point on the highway between Ahmedabad and Rajkot.
The Jhalavad region has been sanctified by Bhagwan Swaminarayan and has a rich historical connection with the Swaminarayan Sampradaya. It has been the cradle of many courageous, dedicated and wise devotees of all communities. Even today, the stories of these devotees inspire devotion and sacrifice. Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj reached even the remote villages of this region, enduring the rough terrains on their bullock-carts. Although times have changed and the infrastructure is now vastly improved, one thing remains: the open tree-less terrains.
In 1996, Pramukh Swami Maharaj consecrated a shikharbaddh mandir in this region at Surendranagar. The mandir in Limbdi is the second in this region. Commuters on the Ahmedabad- Rajkot highway are naturally drawn to this grand mandir right by the roadside.
About 100 years ago, Jhaverbhai Diwan, a leading devotee in the time of Shastriji Maharaj lived in Limbdi. Jhaverbhai introduced Maharaja Dolatsinhji of Limbdi State and other officials to the divine personality of Shastriji Maharaj. It was through the assistance of Limbdi State that the land for the shikharbaddh Sarangpur Mandir was obtained. Shastriji Maharaj, Yogiji Maharaj and Nirgundas Swami frequently visited Limbdi, where Chhaganbhai Khatri, a native of Mojidad, had taken up residence. In 1955, Chhaganbhai was introduced to Satsang by Merubha Bapu of Chachana, who was present at the groundbreaking ceremony of the Sarangpur mandir performed by Shastriji Maharaj. Thereafter, satsang began to spread gradually throughout the Jhalavad region.
Chhaganbhai was very knowledgeable and wherever he went he conducted discourses. As a result Nathubhai Soni, Chunilalbhai, Shivlalbhai of Umrala, Pranshankarbhai, Lakshmishankarbhai, Shivubha Bapu, Nagardas Bapa, Gordhanbhai, Jethalalbhai, Chandulalbhai, Lakshmichandbhai, Laljibhai Master, Ghanshyambhai Bhaichandbhai Shah, Narsinhbhai, Narayanbhai and other devotees joined the Satsang.
Chhaganbhai also kept in touch with Pitambarbhai, Kesarbhai, Dharamshibhai, Motibhai, Bhagwanbhai, Bhudharbhai, Kasalchand Kothari, Balubha Bapu, Umedsangbhai, Lakshmanji and Ghanshyamji of Chachana, Kalyansang of Sauka, Hathubhai and Jashubhai of Fedra, Talshibhai Patel of Navagam-Sejakpar, Vashrambhai, Bhudharbhai Patel, Popatbhai, Makanbhai, Raghubhai of Pandari and other devotees, and as a result frequently benefited from the company of Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj.
Also, the saintly Santvallabh Swami constantly toured the entire region and strengthened Satsang. After him, Hariprakash Swami and Ghanshyamcharan Swami toured the area for over 30 years. Thereafter, Amrutcharan Swami and other sadhus have continued to nourish the Satsang.
The first satsang sabha in Limbdi took place at Muljibhai’s home. Yogiji Maharaj encouraged the devotees to attend the sabhas with regular letters. On 9 September 1953, he wrote that 3,000 devotees will attend the satsang sabha in Limbdi.
Initially, no more than 60 devotees attended the sabha. However, Rajnikant Bhudharbhai Parmar, a relative of Ghelabhai of Acharda, resolved that he would not eat gur until the sabha attendance reached 100. After some years, his austerities bore fruit.
By the wish of Yogiji Maharaj, Ramjibhai, son of Chhaganbhai, donated his mudbrick house for use as a mandir, where, in 1964, murtis were consecrated. Later, this place was renovated by the support of Bhupendrabhai Shah and in 1975 Pramukh Swami Maharaj performed the reconsecration of the murtis.
At present, the senior devotees include Muljibhai Khatri, Bhupendrabhai Shah, Prabhubhai Mistry, Vasantbhai Soni and the main satsang activities coordinators are Pravinbhai Jajal and Gatorbhai Patel. Under this mandir’s jurisdiction are two satsang regions: Limbdi and Chuda, with a total of 34 satsang centres.
As satsang continued to grow, the need for a bigger mandir became apparent. In 1985, Pramukh Swami Maharaj expressed such a wish and then the search for suitable land began. Once, Swamishri was travelling on the highway and saw the land on which the new mandir has been built and liked it. After it was purchased, Santswarup Swami undertook the responsibility of coordinating the mandir construction project. Then, with the help of Jnaneshwar Swami and Aruni Bhagat, the 8-acre land adjacent to the initial 4.5 acres was purchased.