15 January 1999 : Friday (Posh vad 13) , MahelavAt 6.45 p.m. Swamishri was escorted into Mahelav with a motorcade of 25 cars, the festive sound of firecrackers, rifles and a music band. The joyful chorus of victory calls honored and heralded the arrival of Swamishri into Mahelav. Swamishri went for darshan to the small mandir on the birthplace of Shastriji Maharaj. After the darshan of Thakorji and the murti of Shastriji Maharaj, Swamishri prostrated and then left for the assembly hall. Here, Swamishri was welcomed with garlands by Pujya Mahant Swami and Pujya Tyagvallabh Swami and other dignitaries.
On addressing the assembly Swamishri said, "Mahelav is a very holy land. Shriji Maharaj, Gunatitanand Swami and Bhagatji Maharaj had visited this place so many times. Shastriji Maharaj was born in this village to accomplish the work of Lord Swaminarayan. His childhood name was Dungar and look what a great task he performed. He spread the Satsang in India and abroad and spread the divine light everywhere. He established the knowledge of Swami and Narayan, atma and Parmatma against a tornado of opposition with tremendous zeal and faith. It could not have been done under any circumstances! He had been blessed by Gunatitanand Swami. We have benefited enormously through the birth of such a great divine person. We are colored by maya and now we need to be uncolored and then re-colored with the colour of God, Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj."
16 January 1999 : Saturday (Posh vad 14) , MahelavSwamishri visited the birth place of Shastriji Maharaj and Nirgundas Swami. On entering the latter's home, Swamishri keenly observed the small house and expressed, "Both great persons were born in very ordinary homes but what an extraordinary feat they performed!"
At 10.30 p.m. Pujya Viveksagar Swami commenced his first discourse on the life and work of Shastri Yagnapurushdas
Swamishri blessed the assembly and then made a tour in the newly built Swaminarayan mandir.
17 January 1999 : Sunday (Posh vad 15) , MahelavSwamishri paid his respects by visiting the places sanctified by Shastriji Maharaj in his childhood. Swamishri also went for darshan to the local Radha Krishna mandir, Swaminarayan Mandir and Boot Mata Mandir.
A polio camp organised by the Sanstha was inaugurated by Swamishri in the presence of the District Collector and other officials. More than 150 babies and children were given the polio vaccine at the camp.
18 January 1999 : Monday (Maha sud 1) , MahelavSwamishri opened a photographic exhibition on the life and work of Shastriji Maharaj.
Swamishri attended a celebration at the Santram Mandir in Nadiad.
On the birthplace, before the murti of Shastriji Maharaj, Swamishri humbly prayed, "It is through your grace and power that such works have been accomplished. You are inspiring and doing everything...
Shower your blessings so that many great works be done through the sadhus and devotees and the Sanstha flourishes..."
During Swamishri's blessings in the morning assembly he said, "Shastriji Maharaj created the Sanstha from nothing. One merely stops in wonder on thinking of his awesome work. He remained enthusiastic in the face of hard times and opposition. His sole mission was to spread the true philosophy of Shriji Maharaj for the redemption of countless people. And so he endeavored in building mandirs of Akshar and Purushottam. His talks were powerful and appealing and he never tired in talking about it to anyone..."
Interview with Prof. Raymond Williams, Wabash College, Indiana, USA: for the new edition of Cambridge Univ. Press' book,"The New Face of Hinduism - The Swaminarayan Sampradaya".
19 January 1999 : Tuesday (Posh sud 2) , MahelavSwamishri visits the local Jain Mandir for darshan.
Devotees and well-wishers who had contributed and helped in the creation of the new Swaminarayan Mandir were felicitated in a specialy assembly by Swamishri.
20 January 1999 : Wednesday (Posh sud 3) , MahelavSwamishri performed rituals for the hoisting of flags and establishment of the golden kalashas on top of the new mandir pinnacles.
After the morning assembly, Swamishri paid his respect to the holy shrine dedicated to Lord Swaminarayan on the outskirts of Mahelav.
Swamishri talked of its glory, "Shriji Maharaj halted here with His entourage of paramhanas for rest while going to and from Vartal. Here we have the well from which the paramhansas drew water for bathing and drinking. Sometimes the sadhus lost their large gourds while drawing water from the well."
An evening of kirtan aradhana by sadhus.
21 January 1999 : Thursday (Posh sud 4) , Mahelav
Yagna for world peace commenced as part of the Murti-pratishtha ceremony for the newly built Swaminarayan Mandir. Three hundred devotees participated in the yagna.
During his blessings in the yagna for world peace, Swamishri said, "Through the rituals of yagna we invoke the presence of God and ask Him to bless everyone with happiness. That there be peace and harmony in the village, the country and the whole world. This yagna is for the happiness of all souls."
The District Collector of Kheda, Shri Bhagyesh Zha, complimented and praised Swamishri, "Shastriji Maharaj was a light born in a very humble home. And this small light illumined the whole world. Since 7.30 a.m. I have been in the presence of Pramukh Swami Maharaj. I can see his ego-free personality. I believe that he has been honored like no one else in the whole world with garlands of flowers and yet his ego-free personality shows that he has conquered ego."
A grand, colourful 1 km long parade took place from Bandhni to Mahelav.
Swamishri addressed the devotees from Tithal. He announced that the Murti Pratishtha (idol installation) celebration for the Tithal Mandir would be held in December 1999. Thereafter, a senior saint announced that Swamishri's 79th birthday would also be celebrated in Tithal.
An exquisite drama and ballet presentation on the life of Shastriji Maharaj - 'Yagnapurush Sukhakari' - was professionally performed for nearly three hours by a cast of 150 children, youths and even senior members of the Sanstha.
22 January 1999 : Friday (Posh sud 5) , Mahelav
Mahelav Murti Pratishtha Mahotsav
After his morning puja, Swamishri performed the murti-pratishtha of a new murti of Shastriji Maharaj on his birth place.
At 9.15 a.m. Swamishri entered, with Vedic rites, through the main gate of the new mandir with Thakorji. While walking to the mandir he released many balloons into the air in honor of the mandir murti-pratishtha ceremony.
In the sanctum sanctorum, Swamishri invoked God amidst mantras and rituals into the beautiful marble murtis. The corresponding invocation rituals were being performed by senior sadhus in the first and third wings where the murtis of Harikrishna Maharaj, Laxmi Narayan and Shastriji Maharaj had been installed respectively. After the ceremony, while the annkut was being placed, Swamishri joined in the singing of the dhoon with a mircophone in hand. He told everyone to sing loudly and jubilantly. During this time the mandir was being showered and honoured with rose petals from a low flying aeroplane.
Swamishri also visited the local Radhakrishna mandir and offered his respects on the occasion of its anniversary day. Swamishri also visited the Amba Mata mandir, Shiv Mandir and the Ram Mandir in the village.
When Swamishri arrived for the morning assembly, a mandir dance was performed by the teenage members of the Sanstha.
Pujya Ishwarcharan Swami announced the celebration of the 'Swaminarayan Mahamantra Bicentenary Celebrations' in three years time (2001) and the venue of Swamishri's 79 birthday celebration (1999) in Tithal.
Swamishri, in his blessings, began on a humble note, "By the grace and divine powers of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj the mandir has been inaugurated with Vedic rites, colour and festivity. Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj put before the world the philosophy of Akshar and Purushottam. They accomplished this task amidst a heap of troubles and obstacles. But because it was the truth people came to accept it. Shastriji Maharaj was so resolute in his faith and goal that whatever he decided, he accomplished it in spite of many obstacles and hindrances. He never spoke or thought in a disheartening manner and neither did he lose hope or got frustrated. "Shriji Maharaj has said one should do Satsang for the redemption of one's soul but not for one's body. And doing satsang solely for the sake of one's soul will give joy, joy and joy; happiness, happiness and happiness; and peace, peace and peace. Shriji Maharaj has given the principle of attaining the state of atmaroop and then offering devotion to God. Shastriji Maharaj fostered this principle and the philosophy of Akshar and Purushottam has become renowned through his efforts and glory."
23 January 1999 : Saturday (Posh sud 6) , Mahelav
Swamishri attended a special assembly for volunteers who had offered their services during the 7-day festival. During his blessings he said, ... You are all very fortunate to have offered your services during this festival. Many have taken leave from work and postponed their work and businesses. God will be pleased upon you all. Since you were born in this holy pilgrim place you too have become holy. No matter how many prostrations we offer to you it will not suffice...
Swamishri left Mahelav and performed the ground breaking ceremony of a new mandir in the nearby village of Padgol.
At 6.20 p.m. Swamishri attended an assembly in the village of Guntli.
At 6.40 p.m. Swamishri travelled to Sunav village and sanctified the land donated for a new Swaminarayan mandir.
Swamishri reached Bochasan at 7.40 p.m.
24 January 1999 : Sunday (Posh sud 7) , Bochasan
A meeting of 100 account keepers of the Hari mandirs in the Kheda district was held in the morning. Swamishri entered the meeting at 10.30 a.m. Bhagvatcharan Swami was addressing the meeting after which an announcement was made that Swamishri would now
bless the occasion.
With humor Swamishri replied, "After the Collector's speech, with respect to protocol, no one can address the assembly." Bhagvatcharan Swami pointed to Swamishri and said, "But the President can!"
Swamishri replied, "If one is the President only then can one speak. We are merely a servant." Even though Swamishri is the President of the Sanstha yet he believes himself as a servant and offers his services.
25 January 1999 : Monday (Posh sud 8) , Bochasan
During Swamishri's lunch time, a sadhu described how a youth had rejected a job offer as a teacher because the interviewer had asked him to stop doing the tilak-chandlo. The youth had appealed to the interviewer to pay him Rs.200 less in wages but allow him to do the tilak-chandlo. However the interviewer refused and the youth did not compromise in his niyam.
With reference to this the sadhu asked Swamishri, "Swami, did the youth take the right decision or should he have taken the job and agreed not to do the tilak chandlo for a while? And start doing it later on?"
Swamishri replied clearly, "In fact he has demonstrated his allegiance and pride for the Sanstha. God will help him in some other way. If one compromises in such a niyam then later he will also compromise his pledges in not eating meat and drinking alcohol. So he has done the right thing."
27 January 1999 : Wednesday (Posh sud 11) , Bochasan
Today, the Supreme Court had scheduled a hearing for the Narmada dam project. Swamishri offered prayers before Harikrishna Maharaj for a successful judgement in favor of the Narmada building project." Let us chant the dhun, so that the judgement is passed in favor of the building project," Swamishri told all the sadhus and devotees before Thakorji. Even after his morning puja, Swamishri chanted the dhun for a favorable judgement.
In the morning Swamishri travelled to the village of Zarola and performed the murti-pratishtha ceremony. In his blessings Swamishri explained, "When dinner has been prepared after a lot of effort and if one does not have it then all the labor put into it becomes useless. Similarly the mandir has been built and if one does not avail of it then all the effort put into it would be fruitless. So one should attend and do Satsang regularly. God is his who worships Him. His doors are always open. Only when one cultivates a desire for moksha and faith in Him does one realise Him..."
Swamishri travelled to Badalpur.
28 January 1999 : Thursday (Posh sud 11) , Badalpur
After a warm welcome in Badalpur the previous day, Swamishri addressed an assembly in the evening. Swamishri stressed the importance of cultivating profound faith in God." ... One should not waver or have doubts in God. Once we become His, then He takes care of us. He will take you to His divine abode. But one requires to be alert and vigilant in one's faithfulness (upasana) towards Him and the moral injunctions (agna) prescribed by Him. And He tests you to see whether your faith is strong or not. The purity of gold is tested only by heating it in a furnace but copper is not put to such a harsh test. Likewise as devotees we face hardships but even in these times we should remain steadfast in our faith and believe that whatever God does is for our own good."
and happiness in the presence of Pramukh Swami Maharaj. After a lot of work and stress all day one finds peace when one sits before Swamishri. Whenever I have sat with him I have always experienced this wonderful feeling."
Swamishri, in his blessings, said, "Today, there is a need to teach spiritual and moral character in the academic curriculum. Because education without character is destructive. And education with character protects the individual. When righteous conduct is taught in schools it brings peace to the students and others. The children should be alert and willing to learn from their teachers, and the teachers should be enthusiastic to teach their students and the parents should take interest in encouraging their children to study. One always needs to be alert and particular in encouraging them in this direction."
After lunch Swamishri reminisced about the hard times during Shastriji Maharaj's period. Swamishri narrated how the Satsang had flourished in Badalpur,"The devotee, Dattram Barot, of Nadiad, sowed and tended the seeds of Satsang here. Shastriji Maharaj had instructed Akshar Swami Jr. to visit this area and inspire people towards morality. And so Akshar Swami travelled extensively in these villages from farm to farm, inspiring people to give up stealing, alcohol and other addictions..."
During dinner time, a book on Shastriji Maharaj's letters was being read out. The following words, "During his travels, Shastriji Maharaj did not pay any attention to night or day," inspired warm memories in Swamishri. He said, "Tired! There was no fatigue in those times. See how much he accomplished in such a short span and that too without any modern means. Shastriji Maharaj travelled, not paying the least attention to his physical body, to enlighten others about the knowledge of Akshar and Purushottam."
Someone added, "Swami, you too have put in a lot of effort." Swamishri, "We have done nothing before the herculean effort of Shastriji Maharaj."
A sadhu asked, "Swamishri once while going from Badalpur to Anand, you had visited thirteen villages."
Swamishri, "But we had a car and all the means. So it could be done but Shastriji Maharaj did not have anything and yet he travelled..."
29 January 1999 : Friday (Posh sud 13) , BadalpurAfter the inauguration ceremony of a school, 'Pramukh Swami Sarvoday Vidyalaya' Shri Madhavsinh Solanki, the former Chief Minister of Gujarat, addressed the assembly, saying, "I have met many Gurus but I find peace.
30 January 1999 : Saturday (Posh sud 14) , Badalpur
In the morning Swamishri went to do darshan at the Akshar Purushottam Mandir. On entering the mandir Swamishri narrated the divine memories of Shastriji Maharaj, "Swami used to stay here. It is a very holy place..."
While returning back to his residence Swamishri opened his window and told the driver to halt the car, "How are you Nagji?" he asked the poor man.
"I am fine, Bapa," he replied. Swamishri blessed him and he was happy beyond description.
Swamishri's car went ahead. A sadhu asked. "Bapa, how many names do you know!"
"Oh, I know him and stayed with him when I was young. Nagji's father, Ranchhodbhai, had once carried Shastriji Maharaj on his shoulder while crossing a river. The reason was because the boatman did not bring his boat by the bank. So Ranchhodbhai had to enter the water, placed Shastriji Maharaj on his shoulders, and then waded to the bank."
Swamishri reached the village of Khadodhi at 10.05 am for the opening ceremony of "Pramukh Swami Uttar Buniyadi School". After its inauguration, Swamishri went to an assembly. The local government official Shri Shirishbhai Shukla said, "By the blessings of Pramukh Swami Maharaj education in this backward area will undoubtedly increase but character and moral values have increased and will spread further in future. There was a time when Badalpur had homes where alcoholic drinks were brewed and sold. But through the efforts of Pramukh Swami Maharaj and the establishment of Satsang, people have refrained from addictions. Today, so many families are economically happier and live with character. I pray to Pramukh Swami to bless us with values and character in life."
Then Swamishri in his blessings, said, "It is pleasing to see that people have a desire for educating their children and are making efforts in that direction. They wish to educate their children so that they become happier in life and offer their services to society. "Generally we fall back in making efforts. Remember, effort and God's grace are important ingriedents. To progress, the need for faith in God is necessary and essential..."
After his blessings Pramukh Swami Maharaj went to the local Akshar Purushottam Mandir and had lunch at a devotee's house. During this time Swamishri was visibly shivering. On enquiring, the attendant sadhus found that Swamishri had a fever. Swamishri was given immediate medication.
All night long the fever and cold persisted.
31 January 1999 : Sunday (Posh sud 14) , Badalpur
Swamishri's fever persisted all day long. He had very little for breakfast and lunch and took rest for the entire day.