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Introduction Nitai or Nityananda was a Vaishnava saint, famous as a primary religious figure within the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition of Bengal, is an expansion of…
Gopalanand Swami (1781–1852) was one of the top most prominent Paramhansa of the Swaminarayan Sampraday who was ordained by Swaminarayan. He worked alongside Gunatitanad Swami to spread the Swaminarayan Satsang. Within the Swaminarayan Philosophy it is believed that Gopalanand Swami is the manifestation of Lord Vishnu/Lord Krishna, he is regarded as Anadi Mahamuktaraj throughout the Swaminarayan Sampraday and forms the Mukta part of the trinity of Dham-Dhami-Mukta also known as Mukta-Akshar-Purushottam.
Born Khushal Bhatt, he was born in the Aravalli District’s, Torda Village of Bhiloda Taluka, Gujarat. Torda is surrounded by mountains. His father was an audichiya brahmin, Motiram Sharma and his mother was Kushaladevi Thakar. Gopalanand Swami pursued deep study and showed great interest in grammar, Indian philosophy of Nyaya and Vedanta. Gopalanand Swami was a scholar, with knowledge in Vyakaran (grammar), Nyaya, Mimasa, Astrology etc. He was married to Adityabai and had two children Harisankar and Anupamba though he felt no attachment. Swaminarayan gave diksha (the becoming of a saint in which vows such as celibacy and renunciation of all personal possessions and of all worldly duties, including family ties are taken) to Gopalanand Swami in Vadodara, Gujarat. Swaminarayan held Gopalanand Swami in very high regard and he was very learned in Ashtanga yoga. Gopalanand Swami died in 1852 in Vadtal. Gopalanand Swami spread the belief & reality that Bhagwan Swaminarayan is the Supreme Being higher than all.He is still alive with the divine body, hanuman Ji, in salangpur.
Khushal Bhatt once learned about the visit of Sarveshwaranand Swami to Dabhoi and went for his darshan and attended his discourses. He joined Sarveshwaranand Swami and went to Dabhan where he had the Darshan of Sahajanand Swami. Shreeji Maharaj rose from his seat, came forward and hugged him with great love and affection. Khushal Bhatt expressed his desire to be with him forever, but Sahajanand Swami sent him back to Toddla. Honouring Goda’s desire Khushal Bhatt went back to Toddla and opened a school.
Khushal Bhatta’s meeting with Shreeji Maharaj in Jetalpur is also a miraculous episode. Later Khushal Bhatt was initiated as Gopalanand Swami by Shreeji Maharaj in Gadhada.
Gopalanand Swami was a master of Ashtanga Yog. He is a great Nadi Vaidya (Ayurved physician who identifies illness using the pulse) Hemraj Shah of Sundariyana was a staunch devotee of Lord Shree Krishna. Even though he was very learned, kind in serving the ailing without distinction of rich or poor and chief in his Brahmin caste, he disliked the fact that his sons were devotees of Lord Swaminarayan.
Once Gopalanand Swami called him on the pretext of his illness and asked him to check his pulse. Swamiji by his yogik talent made his body such that there was no pulse, his body felt as if it were a dead body, but at the same time Swami was talking to Hemraj Shah. Â Hemraj Shah was astonished by this and knew that only God (Shree Krishna) can do it. He bowed at Swami’s feet and said, “you are Lord Shree Krishna”. Swami replied I am just a devotee and my Lord is Lord Swaminarayan. Hemraj Shah then became a staunch devotee of Lord Swaminarayan.
Krishnaram Shastri was a renowned Astronomer in the Gaikwad kingdom of Vadodara, Gujarat and a devotee of Lord Swaminarayan. Â Other scholars in the kingdom envied him as the kingdom had a liking towards him.
Once there was a lunar eclipse forecast And Krishnaram declared that according to his calculations the eclipse will not occur. Other scholars were adamant that the eclipse will occur and thus from a war of words, the exchange turned into a bet, where others asked Krishnaram if he would bet his head, to which Krishnaram agreed. He then returned home and calmly did his calculations again and to his shock found that the eclipse was actually going to occur as the other scholars said.
He felt very sorry for his behavior and approached Gopalanand Swami and told him of his situation. Gopalanand Swami told him never to indulge in such activities. Swami told him that he shall change the positions and the speed of the earth and the moon to save him. Â Swami did so and to everyone’s surprise the eclipse did not occur when it was supposed to.
Once Swami traveled from Gadhada to Vadtal and was sick. He was tired and ill so a younger sadhu remained at his service for the entire night without taking any rest. When Swami awoke in the morning, he noticed the sadhu still serving him and asked him, have you had anyrest?? the sadhu replied, you are older to me and ill and tired, but I am young and able, so it does not matter if I don’t rest for a night. Gopalanand Swami was extremely pleased by his attitude and asked him to make a wish. The young sadhu told Swami about his fight against sensual desires and how he performed austerities to overcome those, but that he could not overcome those. Swami said, from now on, all such desires that harass you will get destroyed and you will be a an absolute celibate. After that the sadhu was relieved of such malicious desires.
When the Swaminarayan died (Gadhadha, year 1830), he left responsibility of the Swaminarayan Sampraday and the Acharyas in his hands and he looked after the satsang after the death of swaminarayan. Further, it is said that Swaminarayan had asked Brahmanand Swami to overlook the completion of the Junagadh Temple because he knew Brahmanand Swami had powers to bring a person back to life after death. He therefore instructed Gopalanand Swami not to inform Brahmanand Swami about his death till after the cremation of his mortal remains.
Gopalanand Swami arranged for an idol of Kastabhanjan Dev Hanuman to be installed in the Sarangpur temple which is said to have come alive and moved when installed by him. He wanted to see the idol of Hanuman interactive.