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The reason for the manifestation of Bhagwan Swaminarayan on this earth was to expound the true form of upasana and establish ekantik dharma. Brahmaswarup Swami Yagnapurushdasji, also known as Shastriji Maharaj, was instrumental in disseminating this philosophy. Dungarbhai, as he was called in his childhood, developed an inclination towards Satsang right from his childhood, and hence was called Dungar Bhagat. Dungar Bhagat was fearless by nature due to his immense faith in Bhagwan Swaminarayan. A brilliant student at school, his sharp memory and striking oratory earned him kudos.
When Dungar Bhagat asked his father for permission to become a sadhu, his father put up a lot of resistance. Undeterred, yet with folded hands, Dungar Bhagat spoke to his father at length about renunciation and detachment and finally truth dawned upon his father who then willingly gave consent to his son to become a sadhu.
At Vartal, he was given bhagwati diksha and was renamed as Sadhu Yagnapurushdas. When Yagnapurushdasji came in contact with Pragji Bhagat, his spiritual discourses permeated Yagnapurushdasji's heart. Pragji Bhagat was the most elite disciple of Gunatitanand Swami and Yagnapurushdasji accepted him as his Guru. Thereafter, a powerful bond developed between Pragji Bhagat and Yagnapurushdasji. Pragji Bhagat explained to him the theory of Akshar and Purushottam, where one has to identify oneself with Akshar and offer devotion to Purushottam. The bond between Pragji Bhagat and Yagnapurushdasji created envy among others. They compelled Acharya Maharaj to ask Pragji Bhagat to quit Junagadh mandir. Pragji Bhagat went to Vartal where Yagnapurushdasji also joined him. Here they boldly preached the Akshar Purushottam philosophy, which aroused some self-centred opponents. Yagnapurushdasji was subjected to physical harassment which he bore with all his inner strength, courage and determination. His faith in what he believed was true and helped him to face all the arduousness with a smiling face. Yet, he did not complain to anyone and relentlessly carried on his crusade.
When he was sent to Rajkot, he frequently visited Junagadh where he came in contact with Jaga Bhakta. Jaga Bhakta, graced by Aksharbrahma Gunatitanand Swami, was also a firm believer of the Akshar Purushottam philosophy. Here again, some elements within the mandir influenced the Kothari to ban Jaga Bhakta from giving discourses. When Yagnapurushdasji told the Kothari about the greatness of Jaga Bhakta, he realised his mistake and immediately lifted the ban on Jaga Bhakta. Jaga Bhakta appreciated Yagnapurushdasji's efforts and blessed him.
Now Yagnapurushdasji had a desire that his guru, Bhagatji Maharaj, who had been turned out of the Junagadh mandir, be given a rousing reception in the same mandir. On his insistence, Acharya Maharaj invited Pragji Bhagat to Junagadh on the occasion of Janmashtami and was given the same protocol status as that of the Acharya. In the gathering, the bold Yagnapurushdasji hailed the glory of Akshar Purushottam. Some time later, Pragji Bhagat abandoned his mortal body and ascended to Akshardham.
Yagnapurushdasji was then entrusted the management of the Sarangpur mandir. Here, he brought about a sea change in the mandir. He renovated all the places consecrated by Shriji Maharaj and the financial condition of the mandir improved remarkably, which won him much respect. Before Jaga Bhakta ascended for Akshardham, he called for Yagnapurushdasji and asked him to propagate the gospel of Akshar Purushottam.
The first Akshar Purushottam murtis were installed at Vadhvan. His opponents tried ways and means to hinder him, yet he was undeterred and daring. At the same time, he was kind enough not to complain against any of his wrongdoers. The world has seen fearless and daring persons. It has also seen humble and compassionate ones. Yagnapurushdasji was a rare and judicious combination of both.
He once ate khichdi knowing that it was poisoned so as not to disregard the prasad. An unsuccessful attempt was made to burn him in the kitchen fire. His opponents made many such attempts to harm him but every time they had to bite the dust. He confidently told his worried devotees. "Nothing is going to happen to me." Thus Yagnapurushdasji exhibited the faith that God would always protect him.
Determined to carve a place for Akshar Purushottam, Yagnapurushdasji left Vartal mandir with five sadhus and a few devotees and built the first Akshar Purushottam mandir at Bochasan. Within a short time, he built mandirs at Sarangpur, Gondal, Atladara and Gadhada. At Gadhada, he fulfilled Shriji Maharaj's desire and built a mandir on the hillock. Even while Yagnapurushdasji was building mandirs, his opponents were trying all ways and means to hamper his goal. Yet, Yagnapurushdasji with his impeccable faith in Akshar Purushottam Maharaj and 'never say die' attitude, accomplished this Herculean task.
When Swamishri appointed 28-year-old Sadhu Narayanswarupdas as his successor for carrying on the administration and management of the BAPS and for developing Satsang, there was some disagreement among the leading devotees. But Swamishri was absolutely firm in his decision, which he had taken with foresight and considered deliberation.
Thus, Yagnapurushdasji with the grace of Shriji Maharaj performed the uphill task of propagating the philosophy of Akshar Purushottam and revived the ideal of sainthood. He also gifted us with great saints like Yogiji Maharaj and Pramukh Swami Maharaj.

Other Articles by Subramanian Iyer

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