Erudition was not Ullasram’s only virtue. Ullasram also scrupulously observed the moral codes, possessed unwavering faith in God, and always sided with the devotees with great pride. He fervently believed in Bhagwan Swaminarayan, Gunatitanand Swami, Bhagatji Maharaj, Shastriji Maharaj and the Akshar-Purshottam upasana. He writes about Shastriji Maharaj: “Showering his love and care on me, Shastriji Maharaj frequently came to Bilimora, Kadi, Padra, Sinor, Karjan and other places where I was transferred in my job and graced me with his darshan and discourse. Today, because of my advanced age, I’m able to have his satsang in smaller or greater measure. And owing to that love and care he had showered on me, I never become unmindful of him for even a second, and, in my presence, no one can ever speak ill of him. Whatever few words I write or speak about his greatness, it’s all because of his sublime grace.”
Once, in those days, the editor of a periodical named Sudha, published from Rajkot, wrote blasphemously about Bhagatji Maharaj and Shastriji Maharaj. How could Ullasram, who was bursting with allegiance towards Shastriji Maharaj, tolerate such blasphemy? Addressing the editor of Sudha, in a column titled ‘Charcha Patro’ (‘Response Letters’), Ullasrambhai wrote: “To know about any person perfectly well and to describe his distinguishing features, one first needs to develop a deep acquaintance with him and know profoundly about him. To write or speak about anybody without doing so is like making a fool of oneself.
“Aksharbrahman Gunatitanand Swami has said, ‘Even senior sadhus haven’t been able to understand my opinion. So, how will you know about it?’
“Brother Amrutlal! You yourself are a staunch disciple of Swami Balmukunddasji, who was the direct disciple of Gunatitanand Swami. You have always acted according to Swami’s wish and likings, yet how did you get mistaken?
“The extent to which Swami Balmukunddasji himself understood Bhagatji’s greatness and glory could be discerned from the following incident:
“In 1897 CE (Samvat 1953) Acharya Viharilalji Maharaj was to come to Junagadh to celebrate Janmashtami. Acharya Maharaj had also extended an invitation to Pragji Bhakta to come to Junagadh. During that period, Jibhai Ranchhod was the Kothari of Junagadh, and Shastriji Maharaj, who was studying the Sutrabhashya under Shastri Jivanram in Rajkot from 1894 to 1899 CE (Samvat 1850-55), also frequently visited Junagadh. In fact, it was Shastriji Maharaj who had motivated everyone to invite Bhagatji on this occasion.
“Acharya Maharaj and Bhagatji met each other at Jetalsar Junction and then they arrived together in Junagadh. At Junagadh railway station, Swami Balmukunddasji along with Yogeshwardasji, Jibhai Kothari, several sadhus and thousands of devotees were waiting with garlands, bouquets and crests made of flowers to receive them. With great pomp and ceremony, they welcomed Acharya Maharaj and Bhagatji Maharaj, garlanded them, made them and other distinguished guests sit in decorated buggies, and finally escorted them to the Junagadh mandir. Accommodations for Bhagatji and the devotees from Gujarat were arranged at Acharya Maharaj’s old quarters. Cots, mattresses, pillows, etc. were also provided to them as part of their warm hospitality.
“Once, during this occasion, Bhagatji was lying on a cot. Devotees were seated all around him and listening to his discourse. A few devotees sitting near him were massaging his feet and fanning him. At that time, Dr Umiyashankar suddenly entered and saw Bhagatji in this condition. He straight away went to Swami Balmukunddasji and complained, ‘It is unbecoming that Pragji Bhakta – a householder – is getting his feet massaged! You must bring this mistake to his attention.’ At that time, Swami Balmukunddasji replied, ‘Umiyashankar, you don’t understand anything! You don’t know who Pragji Bhakta is attached to and what he has attained.’ Then, explaining how Aksharbrahman Gunatitanand Swami had blessed him with spiritual enlightenment, Swami Balmukunddasji said, ‘Pragji Bhakta enjoys the bliss of Shriji Maharaj seated in Akshardham all the time. During the murti-pratishtha ceremony in Gadhada in 1893 CE (Samvat 1949), Acharya Viharilalji Maharaj had asked Bhagatji, “Tell me, what is Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s wish on this auspicious occasion?” Bhagatji replied, “The distance between Shriji Maharaj and me seated in Akshardham is the same as that between you and me here! Shriji Maharaj is very much pleased and there won’t be any obstacles in the pratishtha ceremony; thus joyously perform it.” Swami Balmukunddasji then narrated several such instances revealing Bhagatji’s greatness to Umiyashankar. Upon listening to those instances, Umiyashankar was left astonished. He immediately went to Bhagatji, fell prostrate before him, and begged for forgiveness.
“Let me describe one more incident. Before Swami Balmukunddasji left his mortal body, he had gone to Sarangpur. While going to the Narayan Kund for a bath, he happened to pass by the new Akshar-Purushottam mandir that was still under construction. On seeing him coming towards the mandir, Kothari Shankar Bhagat and other sadhus of the new mandir came running towards him and prostrated before him. Swami then asked them, ‘Where is Shastriji?’ The sadhus replied that he was in Gujarat. Then they ushered Swamiji to the mandir and showed him the hall on the ground floor as well as the carved marble grille and pinnacles on the upper floor and the mandir steps. Swami was pleased by the devotional services of the sadhus. Blessing them he said, ‘Many devotees, sadhus and parshads were fortunate to get the seva of Shriji Maharaj, but only Shastriji has taken the wonderful opportunity to do the seva of Swamishri Gunatitanand Swami. There were many ‘nand’ sadhus serving Gunatitanand Swami, but none served him with such understanding of his true glory. Today, you all also understand Shastriji Maharaj’s immense greatness in your heart and perform this unmatchable seva; you, too, are indeed extremely fortunate.’ In this way Swami Balmukunddasji had expressed his deep pleasure.
“Amrutlalbhai! What more shall I say? You yourself are fully aware of the principles of Satsang. You have also stayed in the company of enlightened sadgurus. However, the reason for your misplaced perception is bad company. The questions raised in your monthly magazine will all be answered henceforth. So, don’t worry or be sad.”
The editor of Sudha had also advocated for changing the names of the murtis of Akshar and Purshottam installed in mandirs built by Shastriji Maharaj. While challenging the editor on this issue, Ullasrambhai blushed red with indignation. In his column Charcha Patro (Response Letters) published in Swaminarayan Prakash, he wrote an open letter to the editor of Sudha: “No other sin causes more damage and misery to the jiva than that caused by being spiteful towards the Bhakta of God. There’s an old saying: ‘Jo Kisikã liyã nahi to diyã bãr hazãr’ i.e. ‘Not taking anything from someone is equal to giving him a thousand times.’ Therefore, if you can’t perceive virtues, at least don’t perceive any flaws in Shastriji Maharaj’s works. Perceiving flaws in an enlightened person leads one to becoming demonic and atheistic. Some thoughtless people say that if the names of the murtis installed by Shastri are changed then a compromise [with the old mandir] can be forged immediately. In fact, to speak so is also demonic. Ritually installed murtis are not stone or bronze artworks; they are forms of God consecrated ceremonially by Vedic scholars and the Satpurush. During the installation ceremony of the murtis at Sarangpur and Gondal mandirs, while consecrating the eyes of God, the mirror placed before the murtis had cracked. This proved that God had been invoked into those murtis.
“When the Satpurush consecrates any murti, God is invoked into that murti. Not just that, the Satpurush can create new pilgrim places, compose new scriptures, and also groom others to become enlightened beings. But all of them – murtis, pilgrim places, and scriptures – even together cannot create one Satpurush. All the scriptures eulogize the glory of the Satpurush in this way. So Amrutlalbhai! You ought to be well aware of this fact. Saying anything more to you will be inappropriate.”
Ullasrambhai was a guardian of pure upasana and an ardent disciple of Shastriji Maharaj. He enlightened and kept everyone vigilant through the might of his pen. He also held Vachanamrut parayans at many places and earned both Shastriji Maharaj’s and Yogiji Maharaj’s abundant blessings. Thought-provoking articles penned by him form a part of the proud heritage of early exponents of BAPS.
Ullasrambhai was like a cornerstone of BAPS. In 1956, praising his services, Yogiji Maharaj sanctified his home in Vadodara and performed his arti. Later, in that same year, on Vaishakh vad 14, Ullasram breathed his last in Vadodara – the same city where he had received the first lessons on the Akshar-Purshottam doctrine during his student life from Shastriji Maharaj.
Ullasram Pandya’s meritorious services to Satsang will be remembered for all times to come.