Jethalal’s single most unforgettable contribution is the Swaminarayan ashtak (poem with eight stanzas) in Sanskrit. Shastriji Maharaj was extremely elated when Jethalal sang this ashtak in his sonorous tone for the first time: “Anant kotindu ravi prakãshe…” (“Light of billions of suns…”). He thanked Jethalal and praised his ashtaks before the devotees: “From these verses we come to know the real identity of Aksharbrahman Gunatitanand Swami and also the true identity of Shriji Maharaj. This is why we have consecrated the murtis of Dham, Dhami and Mukta here, according to the principle enunciated by Shriji Maharaj. Therefore, this sacred village of Sarangpur is equivalent to the real visible Akshardham on earth. Professor Jethalal, with the inspiration of Shriji Maharaj, has written in this ashtak, ‘Sadaiv Sãrangpurasya ramye, sumandire hyakshardhãm tulye… (The mandir which is always present here in Sarangpur, is equivalent to Akshardham…). Therefore all sadhus and devotees should memorize these verses and sing them every day after the evening arti.” Thus, Shastriji Maharaj immortalized Jethalal.
In a mere few years, Jethalal pleased Shastriji Maharaj with his endless devotion, despite his seemingly brief association with him. He constantly experienced the blessings of Shastriji Maharaj. Writing about this, he says: “After having come to know Shastriji Maharaj, I have experienced extraordinary love for Bhagwan Swaminarayan in my heart and that everything in the world except Bhagwan is temporary for me. I have written a kirtan narrating this state of mine and I sincerely wish that this kirtan would inspire devotees to increase their love for Bhagwan. I sincerely believe that by constantly reciting and meditating on this kirtan, a devotee would be able to detach himself from worldly possessions and attach himself to God with abundant love, and he will experience true vairagya and will be truly entitled to moksha.
“Vahãlã lãge chhe mane Swãminãrãyan, Akshardhãmnã vãsi re;
“Anya padãrtho kidhã mhen khotã, tãrã darshan no hu pyãsi re…”
“Swaminarayan is dear to me, one who resides in Akshardham;
“I renounced all worldly objects, only desirous to see you…” (Swaminarayan Prakash, July 1940, p. 232).
Jethalal had commenced writing the epic Akshar-Purushottam Charitam on 3 September 1935 and continued writing until he wrote the 278th chapter and completed 10,786 shloks by 1941. He became ill after this. He told his sons on 16 May 1941, “Now I do not want to live in this world.” He told everyone on 21 June, “The desire to surround our pure divine soul by body made of bones and skin is sheer ignorance (agnan).”
When Shastriji Maharaj came to Ahmedabad unannounced, everyone was surprised. However, upon his arrival to Ahmedabad, he went straight to Kadva Pol, the residence of Jethalal. It seemed that he was wrapping up Jethalal’s work in Satsang, and readying him for the eternal. Jethalal was deeply moved upon seeing Shastriji Maharaj and by his showering of love on him. He thoroughly cherished these last moments of his life in the presence of Shastriji Maharaj. Shastriji Maharaj lauded his services and returned to Amli Vali Pol heavy-hearted. Everyone realized that this was the last meeting between the Professor and Swamishri.
Thereafter, the next day, 24 June 1941, Professor Jethalal passed away to Akshardham, while still speaking to his family.
Editor of the Gujarati daily Sandesh eulogized: “Professor Jethalal Swaminarayan holds a definite place among those few famous, intelligent personalities that Gujarat produced. Gujarat has lost a very eminent person by the passing away of Professor Swaminarayan” (Swaminarayan Prakash, July 1941, p. 241).
Ahmedabad Municipality passed a special proclamation to close all schools and government offices in the city on 1 July 1941 to pay their homage to the professor.
Jethalal, the first president of Ahmedabad Satsang Association, inspirer of many satsang activities, ardent campaigner of samadhi, and one who always empathized with the miseries of others and helped alleviate them, was a true living example of dedication to his guru and Bhagwan Swaminarayan. His only mantra in life was unswerving devotion to Akshar and Purushottam, and the Gunatit Satpurush. This great personality will be an ideal role model for future generations of intellectuals who live only by apara vidya and will inspire them to follow the path of spirituality.
The translator, Dhruvkumar S. Patel, is the grandson-in-law of Prof. Jethalal Swaminarayan.