Born as Pragji Bhakta in Mahuva, Bhagatji Maharaj was the second spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. As a young child, he encouraged his friends to engage in devotion to God and was a role model for others in the village, both young and old. Pragji Bhakta spent much of his time at the Swaminarayan mandir in Mahuva, where he met Gopalanand Swami, a senior paramhansa of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. After this initial meeting, Pragji Bhakta became interested in furthering his understanding of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and His philosophy. He developed a close relationship with Gopalanand Swami, who before passing away told Pragji Bhakta to go to Junagadh and stay with his guru, Gunatitanand Swami.
Pragji Bhakta immediately recognized Gunatitanand Swami’s greatness as a spiritual leader and as Aksharbrahma. Pragji Bhakta was extremely devoted to Gunatitanand Swami and continues to be a leading example of following the agna of a guru. There are countless incidents of Pragji Bhakta’s willingness to go to great lengths to serve Gunatitanand Swami and his devotees. In one incident, Gunatitanand Swami commented that the mango trees of a particular grove were drying up and withering. Without being explicitly asked, Pragji Bhakta took it upon himself to water each one of the 300 trees with four pots of water collected from the local river. This is but one example of the type of commitment Pragji Bhakta possessed for the wishes his guru, whether implicitly or explicitly expressed.
Throughout Gunatitanand Swami’s lifetime, Pragji Bhakta became known as one of his most devout followers. Gunatitanand Swami also frequently referred to Pragji Bhakta as containing the qualities that made him Akshar, the embodiment of Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s ideal devotee. After Gunatitanand Swami passed away, Pragji Bhakta became the second spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and spent his life spreading the philosophy of Bhagwan Swaminarayan amid the insults and abuses hurled upon him by misguided and envious detractors.