Well known author Ranjit Patel, a.k.a. ‘Anami’, who came to know him very closely wrote in Prabudhha Jivan: “An unassuming, unpretentious, sage-like social worker, a Sanskrit scholar and a great scholar of mathematics. He wholeheartedly involved himself in the Rashtriya Sanstha (National Institute) of Kadi and became its vice-president and later its president. He played a leading role in organizing, shaping and strengthening it. Years back he wrote dramas like Maharana Hameer Sinha and Parakrami Gaurav or Pride of India, which have been published. Very few students of Gujarati literature are familiar with these works. I have also found a patriotic poem Swadesh Seva Ashtakam penned in Sanskrit by Prof. Swaminarayan. In it, we can clearly see his intense patriotism. This poem exhibits the same patriotic devotion found in Bankim Babu’s Anand Math and Tagore’s Ghare Bahire novels. This poem will doubtlessly refresh our memory of this patriot.”
Professor Swaminarayan had a special honour to meet Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad on 4 January 1926 when His Highness visited the Sarva Vidyalaya in Kadi. In this we can see the Maharaja’s ability to recognize a true human jewel and Professor Jethalal’s unique personality.
Among various public services, he also served as president of the Hindu Mission and carried out activities on behalf of the Hindu Sabha. His beliefs and values were strongly influenced by the principles of the Arya Samaj. At the same time, he had unabated enthusiasm to serve in the political field. In this vein, he tirelessly campaigned and eventually succeeded in rescinding the order for the unjustifiable increase in taxes imposed on farmers of the Viramgam region. After this successful campaign, he joined the Dharasana Satyagrah (peaceful resistance) in 1931 and willingly faced incarceration.
He toured many villages to rouse public awareness, without caring for his personal health. As a result he developed diabetes during his incarceration. On one side were his family troubles and on the other side his incarceration.
Adding insult to injury, he started suffering from tremors. His body became emaciated and all hopes of his survival were lost. Jethalal’s eldest son, Shantilal Swaminarayan, reminisces about these critical days of his life and writes: “During 1933, his body was completely spent due to his many family troubles. He started experiencing frequent episodes of tremors. He could barely respond to any conversation. Even, saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ would take him 15 minutes.”
Meets Shastriji Maharaj
During these trying circumstances, there was a sudden turn of events in Jethalal’s life. Shantilal came in contact with a well-known educationalist, Vinayakrao Trivedi. Shantilal learnt from him that Trivedi had recovered from his own debilitating health, caused by insomnia, only by the blessings from a great sadhu, Shastriji Maharaj. On his advice, Shantilal located Shastriji Maharaj and went to the village of Nayka on the outskirts of Ahmedabad to receive his blessings. At first glance, Shantilal realized that Shastriji Maharaj was indeed a great sadhu. He passionately explained to Shastriji Maharaj his father’s predicament and begged for his blessings. Shastriji Maharaj said, “Shriji Maharaj will take care of everything. For now, stay with us during our vicharan (travels).”
After travelling with Shastriji Maharaj for a few days in the surrounding villages, Shantilal returned with him to Ahmedabad and took Swamishri to grace his residence. On arrival, Swamishri looked at the professor, initiated him into Satsang and told him, “Just as you have dedicated yourself to the service of the nation, dedicate yourself to the service of Bhagwan Swaminarayan.” Saying this, he instructed him to work on an epic scripture in Sanskrit depicting the life and work of Akshar-Purushottam Maharaj. But the question was how could he write a scripture of such magnitude in Sanskrit when he was barely able to speak, stand or hold a pen to write? However, Shastriji Maharaj blessed him and said, “You just say yes, your health will improve and we will manage all your temporal affairs and responsibilities.”
Professor Jethalal agreed and Shastriji Maharaj blessed him profusely. Then, a miracle happened. Shri Shantilalbhai writes: “My father gained 20 pounds weight in only 18 days. He was able to walk seven miles by the tenth day!”
Doctors and hakims (practitioner of indigenous medicine) were not ready to believe this miracle. Even Jethalal himself was not ready to believe this miracle! Jethalal felt that he was now reborn. He decided to dedicate his new life in the service of Shastriji Maharaj. Therefore, Jethalal, who was rescued from death, picked up his pen for this mission. It was the morning of 1 July1935. After his morning meditation on guru Shastriji Maharaj, he experienced the vision of Akshar-Purushottam Maharaj in his heart. Bowing to these dual images of Akshar-Purushottam Maharaj, Jethalal experienced an incessant flow of divine inspiration. The following verses flowed forth from his pen:
Mumukshu jivouddhãrnãya shãshvatam maheetalesmin-avateernamishvaram,
Anantshaktim prakatam dayãmayam nanãmi tam sãkshara-Pururshottamam.
“Incarnating on this earth to free the souls desirous of moksha, omnipotent with infinite powers, omniscient, omnipresent, currently present and visible to us mortals, full of love and compassion, I bow to Purushottam Bhagwan along with his eternal abode, Akshar.”
This was the auspicious beginning of Akshar-Purushottam Charitam. Thereafter, his pen flowed uninterruptedly and with absolute lucidity.
Professor Shantilal Swaminarayan, his eldest son, writes about one more miracle, while reminiscing about the preparation of the epic book, “Jethiba, the mother of Khengarjibhai Chauhan, the principal of Tutorial High School, used to experience samadhi (the eighth and highest meditative state according to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra’s Ashtang-Yoga). She experienced samadhi merely by the blessings of Swami Shri Yagnapurushdasji. My father used to recite the verses from his new epic and he wrote and sang kirtans at the same time. There was an illiterate young girl named Sarju who also used to experience samadhi and during this state of samadhi, Shastriji Maharaj through her used to correct any grammatical errors” (Swaminarayan Prakash, August 1951, p. 440).
In order to please his guru Shastriji Maharaj, Jethalal focused his mind completely in his endeavour of writing Akshar-Purushottam Charitam. Jethalal was convinced that the speed at which the writing of this epic was progressing was nothing short of a miracle. He writes, “I have started writing this epic Akshar-Purushottam Charitam in Sanskrit as per the wish of guru Shastriji Maharaj and so far, I have written 6,000 verses. The writing has progressed up to the period when Shriji Maharaj graced the village of Loj. My life was coming to an end due to my illness, but Shriji Maharaj, has exhibited his divine power and miraculously prolonged my life. Though mathematics was my primary field of study, he has empowered me to write an epic narrating his divine lila (acts) in the Sanskrit language. This is no ordinary miracle. Experiencing this firsthand, I tell you from my heart and mind that Shriji Maharaj himself is manifesting in Satsang through Shastriji Shri Yagnapurushdasaji (Likhitan Shastri Yagnapurushdas, Volume 1, p. 332, Date: 12 July 1937).
Again, after some time, Jethalal reiterates, “This was a life-altering moment for me. Though I was completely broken physically and mentally, I immediately became a strong volunteer. I have written ten thousand verses narrating the glory of Akshar-Purushottam Maharaj. Day by day my life has turned progressively to a spiritual path. I have now been awarded a professorship at Sheth Lalbhai Dalpatbhai Arts (L.D. Arts) College. I had earlier resigned from the prestigious Gujarat College, a government institution, to serve the cause of farmers. In addition to my new responsibilities as a professor, I have been doing God’s work in accordance with the wishes of the divine sadhu Shastriji Maharaj.”
Jethalal would read the verses to Shastriji Maharaj as soon as he had completed them. Shastriji Maharaj would feel very happy as he listened to them. Shastriji Maharaj would even call Jethalal to read and narrate these verses whenever a parayan (series of discourses on spiritual books) was organized, be it in the Suryanarayan Vadi in Mumbai, Kashivishvanath Mandir in Ahmedabad or any other place.
Discourses on Akshar-Purushottam
During the month of adhik Bhadarvo in V.S. 1992 (1936 CE), Shastriji Maharaj had organized one such discourse on the Satsangijivan at the request of devotees from Ahmedabad. A parayan was organized in Kashivishvanath Mandir on the bank of river Sabarmati on the outskirts of Ahmedabad and Shrijiswarupdas Swami was delivering the discourses. At about six o’clock in the evening Shastriji Maharaj was discoursing to the devotees. Thereafter, as instructed, Jethalal sat on Shastriji Maharaj’s vacant seat and started reading a chapter from Akshar-Purushottan Charitam. Some of the devotees did not like Jethalal sitting on the same seat that Shastriji Maharaj had sat earlier to give his discourse. On behalf of these devotees, Babubhai Kothari complained to Shastriji Maharaj, “The professor fails to observe proper reverence to you. He sits on your seat to give his discourse! This is not proper for a devotee.”
Shastriji Maharaj admonished Babubhai and said, “Professor is giving discourse on the deeds of Akshar-Purushottam Maharaj. For this alone it is alright with me even if he were to sit on my head much less on my seat.”
Babubhai was completely perplexed. His head bowed with respect to Shastriji Maharaj, a staunch worshipper of Akshar-Purushottam, and to the unswerving faith of Jethalal to the Akshar-Purushottam principle.
Yes, Jethalal, a Kadva Patidar, became an author, speaker and a poet all due to the blessings of Shastriji Maharaj, and also became an active campaigner of the faith as well. This unprecedented and incomparable inspiration of Shastriji Maharaj pervaded every pore of Jethalal’s persona. Jethalal wanted to spread Shastriji Maharaj’s unparalleled spiritual qualities and power throughout the world. He was restless day and night to do everything in his power. For this, he kept up a steady stream of his writings in daily newspapers. He started writing articles in newspapers of his time: Praja Bandhu, Sandesh, Gujarat Samachar and others about the divine samadhi experienced by many merely by the blessings of Shastriji Maharaj. Jethalal also continued his writings with vivid narrations on samadhi in Swaminarayan Prakash. Thousands of aspirants started flocking to witness these miraculous samadhi episodes.