Sadguru Shree Nityanand Swami
The Early Years
In a place called Datiya near Luknow, there lived a Yajurvedi brahmin called Vishnu Sharma and his wife was Virjadevi. The couple was firmly devoted to God even though they were quite wealthy and as a result earned great reputation. Due to merits earned in their previous birth, they were blessed with two sons called Govind and Dinmani. Dinmani was born on the auspicious day of Chaitra Sud 9 (Ramnavmi day) of V.S. 1848.bOf the two sons Dinmani showed more interest in studies. He had a very noble and honorable behavior and was always courteous and polite to all, which made him dear to everyone. In accordance with custom he received Yagnopavit at the age of eight by his father.
In Search of Satpurusha
With a desire to attain scholarship, Dinmani came to Kashi, famed for its scholarly excellence. But whilst pursuing his studies, he had learnt that in order to attain God and Mukti, you would need to associate with a true Saint (sadhu) who is endowed with qualities of Dharma, Gnaan, Vairagya and Bhakti. With the knowledge that such Satpurusha can be found only at places of pilgrimage, he set off on pilgrimage in search of such a Satpurusha. He visited many holy places but his desire to meet a true Satpursha remained unfulfilled. As days passed he was losing all hope. Although disappointed, he was not disheartened in the knowledge that his search would be fruitful someday and continued moving on from place to place.
He came to Gujarat wishing to carry on to Dwarika. On his way from Dwarika he came to a village called Visnagar. It was at this place that he heard news that “Lord Supreme had manifested as Swaminarayan and is touring Gujarat with his Paramhansas. Thousands were seeking shelter at his feet.” On hearing this, Dinmani felt great joy in his heart in the anticipation that the Satpurusha that he was seeking was Swaminarayan. He was told to go to Fareni, where Maharaj was residing. There he met Swami Shatanand who informed Dinmani that Maharaj was currently in Siddhpur but would later be visiting Unza, a town in North Gujarat. Swami headed off to Unza to meet up with Maharaj. He heard from Shatanand Swami, the excellencies of Maharaj which increased his craving to meet Maharaj even more. Arriving at Unza, he saw thousands of people near a lake on the outskirts of the town where the Lord was seated on a decorated platform. On seeing the Lord he enjoyed divine bliss and realized that he had found what he was seeking, indeed he was more than the Satpurusha – he was the Almighty God Supreme! At once he rushes towards the Lord and fell at his feet like a most obedient servant. He prayed, “O Lord, you are everything to me. I want to be your devotee, please grant me permanent place at your feet. Maharaj arose from his seat and embraced Dinmani with love. The Lord realizing his inner desire to renounce everything accepted his plea. He received Bhagwati Diksha at Meghpur and was from then on named Nityanand.
True to his name, he beamed always with the satisfaction of attaining God. Having already mastered the Vedas and other scriptures, Maharaj instructed him to expand his knowledge and attain scholarship in Nyaya, Mimamsa and other Darshan Shastras. He was sent to a Great Scholar of such standing, one Purushottam Bhatt of Nandol, for training to develop these. His sharp intellect developed within no time impressing other scholars of the time. Even the great Bhattji was taken aback by his supreme intellect.
Maharaj recognized and appreciated his great learning and appointed him as one of the important Sadgurus. He blessed him by saying, “Where ever you may go you will win in debates. But you will still remain unaffected by your achievements, showing no pride.” Maharaj asked Nityanand Swami to teach the younger saints of the order, which he did and they too achieved great learning. Of these, Atmanand, Yoganand, Vasudevanand and Bhagwadanand attained great scholarship.
The great Debater
The leading Pandits of Maharaja Sayaji Rao of Baroda were becoming increasingly jealous of Swami Nityanand Swami and challenged him to a debate. Nityanand Swami easily defeated the Pandits and established the facts and philosophy of the Swaminarayan Sampraday, explaining that it was „Sanatan‟ (a Vedic religion) and in accordance with the Vedas. He set the record to establish that the philosophy of Lord Swaminarayan was indisputable. Similarly he was instructed by Maharaj to take part in a debate set by the Nawab of Junagadh. Narsinh Pandia posed questions “How is it that God‟s hands, face, head and other parts have been left out and we‟ve been asked to worship his feet only?” Nityanand Swami finding this simple and shallow answered rightly that “Worship of the feet is Dasatvabhakti (devotion as a servant) which is the finest form of worship.” Pandia however did not agree and came up with a ridiculous notion that “God‟s feet are holy as the rest of the body is endowed with Maya.” The assembly burst into laughter. Even the Nawab set Pandia straight answering that “All parts of God‟s body are holy!”
Pandya continues asking ridiculous question and commenting his views. The Nawab lost his temper and drove him out of the royal court. The other Pandits, jealous of Nityanandji were discouraged. Nityanand Swami then dwelt upon the divine form (swarupa) of God, devotion and worship. The Nawab was greatly pleased to hear his interpretation of the scriptures.
Working tirelessly in defending the Swaminarayan Sampraday through debates etc. he had enhanced the prestige and standing of the Sampraday. He influenced many to come out of their old beliefs and seek shelter to Shreeji Maharaj. He was quite rightly called Vidhyavaridhi (an ocean of wisdom).
Maharaj Ni Sachi Orkhana
Nityanand Swami had an unshakeable faith in the supremacy of Lord Swaminarayan. The question of Maharaj‟s divinity was once raised. Most of the saints compared him to the incarnations like Rama and Krishna. But it was Nityanand Swami who was firm in his belief that Maharaj was more greater than this. He had observed, “Shreeji Maharaj is the fountain-head of all incarnation (sarva avatar na karana). He is the cause of all causes. He is Paratpar Shakshat Purushotam Narayan. How can we resemble him to other incarnations?”
The saints were divided on this issue. Even Maharaj himself took an opposing view. Maharaj tried his best to dissuade him from such belief but Swami was firm in his conviction. In his divine leela, Maharaj called him an obstinate person and excommunicated him from the Sampraday. This did not bother Nityanand Swami in any way and although he stopped attending assemblies he continued to absorb himself in constant meditation and Bhajan refraining from taking meals. This continued for seven days. On the eighth, Shreeji Maharaj invited Swami back to the assembly, performed his poojan and offered him his garland as a token of love and appreciation of his devotion. The people and saints alike were surprised of Maharaj‟s sudden change in his attitude towards Nityanand Swami. Maharaj then announced to the paramhansas, “Hear Me, Nityanand Swami is absolutely right in his belief. A devotee must possess such qualities. You too should worship My Swarupa the same way he worships.” Thus it was by Swami Nityanand‟s penance that we two are able to worship Lord Swaminarayan as Paratpar Shakshat Purushotam Narayan.
The Debate at Ahmedabad
The debate at Ahmedabad really glorifies the really stature of Nityanand Swami as a Super Scholar. The debate took place after Maharaj‟s departure from this world, with an attempt to destroy the Sampraday by disgracing it now that Maharaj was no longer present. Towards the last phase of the Lords stay on Earth, Shreeji Maharaj held Raghuvirji Maharaj‟s hand and gave it to Nityanand Swami and proclaimed “Swami, you should always stand by Vadtal Gadi and enhance its prestige.”
The Pandits of Maharaja Sayaji Rao requested permission to attend the debate at Ahmedabad. Sayaji Rao reminded them that they would have to face Nityanand Swami but they were content in the thought that Swami is in Varodara and would not be attending the debate in Ahmedabad. Ayodhyprasad would only invite Scholars from Ahmedabad Gadi. They were granted permission.
Sayaji Rao sent a letter to Acharya Maharaj of Vadtal, requesting him to send Nityanand Swami to Ahmedabad to take part in the debate. Acharya Maharajshree quickly acceded to the Royal request and commanded Swami
to leave for Ahmedabad. The Pandits at Ahmedabad, in the absence of Nityanand Swami thought they would win but when Swami arrived, all their hoped were shattered. In one cart was Swami and in another two carts were Swami‟s scriptures along with 40 of Swami‟s disciples. Swami resembled Bhagwan Veda Vyaas. Adi Acharya Ayodhyaprasad sent and ensemble to receive Swami with pomp and pleasure. In a commanding voice he bellowed, “Lord Swaminarayan is the Supreme Lord! Reveal yourself, who dare destroy his Sampraday! Ask your questions!” All became silent. No one would dare ask a single question. Such a commanding personality and intellectual genius was he. Nityanand Swami clearly and commandingly outlined that the Swaminarayan Sampraday was authentic and Maharaj was Shakshat Purushottam Narayan, lying to rest any doubts which existed. All present accepted the greatness of Lord Swaminarayan.
Nityanand Swami had written many scholarly books. He was chiefly responsible for compiling the Vachanamrut. He also suggested to Acharya Maharaj to preserve the things used by Shreeji Maharaj as Prasadi Ni Vastu. He had a keen interest in building a memorial temple at Laxmi Vadi where Maharaj was cremated.
His Sanskrit Works include:
Hari Digvijay Hari Kavach Shri Hanuman Kavach Shandilya Sutra Bhashya His Prakrit Works include: Bhagawat Dashama Skhanda Puruvardha, Bhagwat Pancha Skanda Vidur Niti Bhagwat Geeta Vaikuntha Darshan Kapil Geeta Guna Vibhag Avatar Charitra Narayan Kavacha Nishkam Shuddhi Shikshapatri Bhashya
Nityanand Swami rendered great service to the Sampraday. He told Adi Acharja Raghuvirji Maharaj, “Now the Sampraday is firmly established. Those who dispute it have stood aside. Therefore look after the Satsang.” Giving this advice, in Vadtal, he left with Maharaj and countless Muktas to Akshardham on Magshira Sud 11 S.Y. 1908. All were disappointed by the loss of such a intellectual genius!