The Kartik sud ekadashi was approaching. This is Ahmedabad’s ekadashi. I still had a fever. So, Nirgundas Swami said, “Let’s go to Ahmedabad. We’ll get you treated there and you’ll get well.”
On Kartik sud 10, we took the train to Ahmedabad. We stayed on the first floor of Babubhai Kothari’s house in Amblivali Pol. Babubhai lived on the ground floor and the upper level was an open balcony. Swami and the other sadhus stayed there when they came. It was a small area, so there was room only for Swami’s bed and a few devotees to sit for discourses.
That night, Shastriji Maharaj came from Sarangpur with annakut prasad and the devotees also came for darshan. I was ill and resting in a corner, when Swami asked, “You have come. Very good.”
I said, “I’ve had a fever for a few days.” Swamishri said, “You have a fever, but will get better.” Then he stroked his hand on my head and then I went to sleep. There was no separate room at that time, so I slept in the corner.
Late at night, before he went to sleep, Swami came over to me and said, “Now your fever will go.” My mouth was bitter and so I did not like to eat. So, Swami gave me some ukalo which someone had brought. Then again he stroked his hand over my whole body. While chanting, “Swaminarayan… Swaminarayan…” for about ten minutes he stroked with his hand over my body and blessed me. Then he said, “You will get better and nothing will happen. I want to give you parshad diksha in the morning,” and he went to sleep.
In the morning, my fever had suddenly gone. Swami had hot water prepared for me to bathe. After bathing and puja, he called me and said, “Today is ekadashi, so I will give you the parshad diksha.” I said, “Fine, whatever you wish.”
I asked, “What about the studies? You had said about studying at Khengarjibhai’s school.” Swami said, “We will talk about all that later. After this is done, we will talk to Khengarjibhai about the arrangements.” I said, “Fine.” Then he sat me opposite and said to Babubhai, “Bring some kumkum, rice and sugar crystals.” I was wearing a shirt and trousers. Swami gave me some cloths and said, “From now on wear a dhotiyu and this cloth as an upper garment.”
With this, Swami gave me diksha and said, “Today is ekadashi, so do a nirjala (waterless) fast. Do not eat or drink anything. Today is a major ekadashi, so you cannot eat even faral.” I said yes and observed the fast (Kartik sud 11, Samvat 1996; 22 November 1939, Wednesday).
Before, in Samvat 1992, when I stayed with Swami, he made me observe fasts. When we went from Sunav to Vaso, he told me to observe a fast. The next day I vomited. Swami knew this, but because it was a major ekadashi, he made me observe a nirjala fast.
We left on Kartik sud 13 to go to Bochasan. There, Swami said, “I want you and Aksharjivandas to study; but Sanskrit instead of English. Now you are a sadhu. What is the need for English? We will not be doing a job or business. By studying Sanskrit, you can read our shastras. You can discourse on the Satsangijivan and our shastras.” As he spoke, I gave up the wish to study English from my mind.
Swami said to the devotees, “Shastri Vitthalram of Bhadran is ready and the mandir is there. Aksharjivandas, Brahmachari, Harishankar and him – these four can go there to study.” Then we went there to study.
After taking parshad diksha, I stayed about 2-3 months in Bhadran. Here, I studied basic level Sanskrit under Vitthalram Shastri. Then there was a parayan in Ahmedabad. So Shastriji Maharaj called us there. So we went.
There, Shastriji Maharaj said to me, “I want to go from here to Gondal. Have you had darshan of Gondal?”
I said, “I haven’t seen either Gondal or Sarangpur.” Swami said, “Come on, I will take you there.”
In Bhadran, I was placed with Hariswarupdas, so I thought since I was with him I should at least tell him. So, I casually told Hariswarupdas that since Swami has told me, I am going to Gondal and will return to Bhadran afterwards.
Hariswarupdas became annoyed and said, “Go if you want, but I won’t take you back. You won’t be able to stay for studies…” He spoke sternly, so I thought that if he did not take me back, my studies will stop.
So, I went to tell Swami. He immediately called him and scolded him, “What are you thinking? Is it proper to speak like this to youngsters who have come? He would be discouraged and worried. I want to take him for darshan so I will take him. And I will send him there on his return.” Swami spoke so forcefully that Hariswarupdas could not say anything.
Then Swami took me to Sarangpur for darshan and then to Gondal. It was Swami’s wish to give me bhagwati diksha here in the first half of Posh. Swami told Harjivandas (Kothari) to talk to me about taking diksha.
From the beginning, Harjivandas was close to me. I had first met him in Bochasan. As instructed by Swami, Harjivandas spoke encouragingly to me that night till about 2.00 a.m. In Gondal, Shastriji Maharaj’s room, which had a small roof with foreign tiles, was where the limbdo (neem tree) stands in the square behind the kitchen. Opposite this was a square where, at present, we have made a dining area. We sat there.
First, Swami told me, “We will keep you in Ahmedabad and teach you English in school.” So, I had a small wish to study English, but Harjivandas explained, “It is Shastriji Maharaj’s wish for you to study Sanskrit, so you should study Sanskrit. There is no need to insist on studying English. Study what Swami says. Why study anything else? And Sanskrit will be of more use than English?”
I said, “Okay, since it is Swami’s wish, let me become a sadhu and study.”
Shastriji Maharaj was sleeping in his room. Later, this room was where the pujari stayed.
At the time, the roof of the room had tiles from abroad. There were only two rooms and an open verandah. The floor had lippan (mixture of earth and cow dung used to coat the floor).
When I agreed to take the sadhu diksha, Harjivandas woke Shastriji Maharaj up late at night, at 2.00 a.m. As we entered, Swamishri heard some noise and immediately awoke, asking, “Who is it?”
He sat up and was delighted to hear the news. Swami said, “Good. We will give you diksha in the morning.” Then he placed his hands on my head, and embraced me. He also blessed Harjivandas. Swami expressed great pleasure.
Swami told him, “Tell Yogi Maharaj not to do the mahapuja early. Tomorrow is Wednesday, so the first two choghadias are auspicious. We will perform the rituals in the second choghadiya. That’s when we want to give him diksha, so don’t do the mahapauja early.”
The next morning (Wednesday, 10 January 1940), Yogi Bapa did not do the mahapuja early. Shastriji Maharaj finished his bath and puja and then came to the Akshar Deri. It was 8.00 a.m. and the amrut choghadiya. Swami was seated where the mahapuja takes place at present, between the two pillars. Yogi Swami sat towards the Deri and I sat on this side. Then after the diksha mahapuja rituals, Swami gave me diksha and placed a saffron upper cloth around me.
Then the naming was discussed. Harjivandas said, “Narandas was a great sadhu of Junagadh, so name him Narandas.” When Yogi Bapa was asked, he said, “Whatever Shastriji Maharaj decides is fine.”
Shastriji Maharaj said, “Let us name him Narayanswarupdas. That is a good name. We want to educate him, make him a scholar, make him great and powerful…” He spoke for a while and then said to Yogi Bapa, “You bless him and give him a dhabho (a big pat on the back) that he truly becomes a great scholar and does great service for the satsang.”
Yogi Bapa gave me a dhabho. This was his way from the beginning. He blessed, “He will be special. He has your blessings and grace, so he will become great.” We stayed in Gondal for a few days. So Yogi Maharaj would sit with me daily and talk about sadhuta, “We have become sadhus. So, to please Swami it is necessary to develop saintliness.” He spoke in his special style. Sometimes half-an-hour, sometimes an hour, depending on the time available. In the end, we stayed in Gondal for a month.
I wanted to travel with Swami, but he said, “No, I want you to study Sanskrit.” He spoke to Harjivandas and Yogi Bapa, “Do whatever you have to and get a good shastri to teach him. He will become a good scholar.” With this, he kept Aksharjivandas and me in Gondal to study. Swami spoke encouragingly, “This Akshar Deri is a sacred place, it is supreme. Study here. It is a great place and Yogi Bapa is also here.”
In the beginning everything was new. So, it felt strange and it was natural to want to go with Swami. But Yogi Bapa insisted, “Stay here. Swami will be very pleased and this is a supreme place.” Harjivandas also said, “There is a shastri here and I will get him here to meet you.” Realizing Swami’s wish, I stayed there to study. A shastri came there to teach us. Together with studies, we had to do seva as well. Yogi Bapa would send us to do all types of seva: sweeping everywhere and serving in the kitchen. He taught me to serve the murti of Ghanshyam Maharaj in the mandir and other seva related to Thakorji. We also helped in the mandir construction. At that time, Aksharswarupdas was the kothari. In addition to all the seva, we did arti in the morning and evening and filled the lamps. We served and studied. Yogi Maharaj sent us everywhere. He would take us in the kitchen to help in the cooking. We made the small flour balls for making chapattis. At first I could not roll them into round, flat shapes. Yogi Bapa would be the first in the kitchen. Aksharjivandas would also come.
I had a wish to become a sadhu from the beginning and Shastriji Maharaj nurtured it and made me a sadhu, gave the honour of this seva and granted happiness.