218th Birthday Celebration of Lord Swaminarayan
25 March, 1999 - Chaitra sud 9, VS 2055 : Bhuj
- At 10.45 am Swamishri arrived at Vaandhay village to attend a convention of 40,000 Kadva Patels at the Umiya Mata Mandir.
- Swamishri visited Mankuva, a village sanctified by Lord Swaminarayan.
- Birthday of Lord Swaminarayan was celebrated in the evening with festivity and joy in Bhuj
25 March, 1999 - Thursday : Bhuj
- At 10.45 a.m., Swamishri was welcomed by the president and members of the National Kutch Kadva Patidar Society at Vaandhay village on the occasion of their annual convention. Swamishri was honored and garlanded by prominent members and dignitaries in an assembly of 40,000 members. Swamishri blessed the assembly. Thereafter Swamishri went for darshan at the Umiya Mata mandir and the local Ramji Mandir.
- Swamishri then travelled to the holy village of Mankuva where Lord Swaminarayan had visited. Swamishri specifically visited the home of Aadabhai that was sanctified by Lord Swaminarayan.
- After traveling to Mirzapur, Swamishri returned to Bhuj.
Shri Hari Jayanti Festival
- To celebrate the occasion a village atmosphere of Chhapiya and the home of Dharmadev was set up on the stage. After the preliminary dhun and prayers, a drama depicting the importance of instilling character and values in children was brilliantly performed by members of the Rajkot Satsang center. This was followed by a bhajan sung by sadhus and a dance performed by the Rajkot Bal Mandal. Pujya Viveksagar spoke eloquently on the glory and greatness of Shriji Maharaj.
- The murti of Harikrishna Maharaj was profoundly honored by the devotees of Kutch.
- Swamishri blessed the assembly of 6,000 devotees, saying, "Today is the birthday of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, and we have all gathered here to celebrate this festival. God comes on this earth to redeem countless souls. We celebrate such festivals to enhance our devotion for Him and to become recipients of His joy and blessings. On receiving His blessings we become happy in this world and in the world beyond. Without His grace and pleasure nothing becomes possible. God is pleased only through devotion. He cannot be pleased by offering Him money or power. King Bali pleased God through devotion. He did not ask anything from God in return for his devotion. Prahlad also pleased God through devotion. He too did not ask anything from God. He said, 'I have not offered devotion to you for any mundane things. I have done it purely to be blessed by you and to protect me from my senses and mind and free me of ignorance and worldly desires.'"So devotees have always asked for God's pleasure and blessings. Dada Khachar experienced a lot of difficulties and problems but he never asked anything from Shriji Maharaj except that He be pleased upon Him. He devoted himself to Shriji Maharaj with purity and divinity. He gave up his personal nature and habits that did not please Shriji Maharaj. If we want to please and win God then we must live according to His wishes. We must perform all our duties with the awareness that we want to please God."God's incarnations come on earth to please us. Maharaj says He comes all the way from Akshardham. He comes so that we can have His darshan, offer devotion to Him and be blessed with redemption. Sometimes we feel that we have offered a lot of devotion and effort for Maharaj through offering money or physical efforts. But His effort is more than ours! Shriji Maharaj has come from Akshardham. Any amount of penance, devotion or effort cannot bring God to this earth. He has come out of sheer grace for us. But man becomes egotistic just by the virtue of his spiritual efforts. There was an aspirant inclined towards penance. For many years he performed a lot of penance to please God. His body became emaciated and so God felt pity for him. He then appeared before him and told him, 'Ask whatever you desire.' The aspirant said, 'Maharaj, look at my penance.' Again God told him to ask whatever He wished. But he repeated, 'Maharaj look at my penance'. He had become arrogant by virtue of his effort. But before God our penance is nothing. What is the light of a glow worm before the resplendence of the sun! Likewise, our penance is insignificant before God..."So Shriji Maharaj had performed a lot of penance in Muktinath... By celebrating such festivals of God and listening to His qualities, we should be inspired with the thought that we too should do something that pleases God. It is said that we listen to spiritual talks, but if we live according to what we listen then we will experience happiness..."
- The senior sadhus then garlanded Swamishri with a variety of garlands prepared by the devotees of Bhuj. At 10.10 pm Swamishri performed the festival arti. With jubilant victory calls in honor of the birth of Lord Swaminarayan, a team of sadhus sang "Dharma gher anand bhayo..."Swamishri participated in the singing with devotion and profound joy. This was followed by a bhajan "Sonna bor jule Dharmakishor...". Swamishri humbly and gently rocked the cradle in which the murti of Lord Harikrishna Maharaj was placed. The rhythm and devotion of several more bhajans charged the atmosphere with divinity. The celebration concluded with the victory calls of Lord Swaminarayan.