Holy Saints

Bhagwan Swaminarayan initiated approximately 3,000 sadhus in His time. Of those, 500 were known as ‘nand santo’ or paramhansas. Their names ended with ‘nand’, i.e., Brahmanand, Premanand, Muktanand, Shukanand, Gunatitanand, Nishkulanand, Nityanand and many others. These paramhansas underwent 108 different tests of austerities and hardships. Prior to being initiated as Sadhu (ascetics) or Sants (Saints) some of them were kings, royal poets, acclaimed musicians, learned brahmins, royal advisors, and even warriors. Bhagwan Swaminarayan attracted people from all over the Indian subcontinent who surrendered their lives at His feet. The following are short biographies of a handful of those stellar spiritual aspirants.

Brahmanand Swami

Birth Place : Village : Khan

Dist. : Dungarpur , Rajasthan State.

Father : Gadhavi Shambhudanji

Mother : Lalba Devi

Birth Name : Ladudanji

Date of Birth : Vasant Panchami, the fifth day of the bright half of Maha, V.S. 1828.


He was also known as one of Lord Swaminarayan’s Ashta Kavi’s (eight poets) within the Swaminarayan Sampraday.


Before meeting Lord Swaminarayan, Brahmanand Swami known as Ladudanji , was an acclaimed poet frequenting  the royal courts and living a majestic and royal life rivaling that of kings. He learnt about the divine qualities of Bhagwan Swaminarayan while in Bhuj and being skeptical of Him being really God as claimed by many, decided to meet him to verify the truth.  Ladudanji decided to meet Bhagwan Swaminarayan and while on the way, set few conditions in his mind. He thought to himself, if Swaminarayan is really the Supreme Lord, then He would address Ladudanji by his name althought they have never met before, that He would be wearing a garland around His neck and would honor Ladundanji with the same garland, that the Lord will show him His feet, and He will be reading the same scripture that Ladudanji was carring with him  wrapped in a black cloth.


As he entered the court of Dada Khachar in Gadhada Shreeji Maharaj (Lord Swaminarayan)  greeted him with his name and his other conditions were also fulfilled. Ladudanji was convinced that Bhagwan Swaminarayan was the almighty and sang the song Aaj ni ghadi re dhanya aaj ni ghadi, and wanted to immediately serve Him, he requested to become a sadhu. He later relinquished his life of luxury and fame. He was initially named as Shrirangdasji and later renamed Brahmanand Swami. He is known for creating kirtans on the spur of the moment. These kirtans are still sung today. He became one of Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s most trusted sadhus and was put in charge of the construction of three mandirs of Muli, Vadtal and Junagad. He composed over 8,000 kirtans Gujarati and in other languages. Brahmanand Swami’s devotion illustrates epitome of renunciation, faith and devotion.


Brahmanand Swami left this world on 10 bright half of Jyesta in 1888. He lived for 60 years, 5 months and 5 days.

Bhumanand Swami

Birth Place : Keshiya near Jamnagar.
Father : Ramjibhai Kadiya Rathod
Mother : Kuverbai

Birth Name : Rupjibhai
Date of Birth : VS 1852.


He was a sincere and devoted person and composed many kirtans about bhakti.  He composed the Ghanshyam Leelamrut Sagaar scripture.  He was persuaded by a friend to go to Gadhada to find the Lord.  There he did meet the Lord and the scene is captured in the kirtan, ‘Sarve sakhi jeevan jova ne chalo re …’.  After a four day fast he wrote the prominent ‘thal’ that is sung within the sampraday, ‘Jamo thal jeevan jau vari…’.  Bhumanand Swami died in VS 1924 in Manasa

Devanand Swami

Father: Jeejeebhai (Poojari at Shiva Mandir) 
Birth Place: 
Kartik Sud 15, VS 1859. 
Birth Name: 


He was also known as one of Lord Swaminarayan’s Ashta Kavi’s (eight poets) within the Swaminarayan Sampraday.


Since childhood he was a firm devotee of Lord Shiva. Once, Devidaam went alone to the temple to worship Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva pleased at the devotional love of the child gave him HIS darshan (appearance). Child Devidaan was elated with this divine view of his God and prayed to Lord Shiva for his ultimate benediction. In response to his prayer, Lord Shiva directed him to Lord Swaminarayan Bhagwan and told him that the omnipresent Supreme Lord has descended on the earth. Bhagwan Swaminarayan would visit Devidaan’s village and that he will recognise the Lord by a leela (act) He will conduct of His tongue touching His elbows. Surrender to His godly shelter which will ultimately reach to Devidaan attaining fame and moksha (salvation).


Years later, Lord Swaminarayan graced Balol village briefly after concluding a sacred yagna in Jetalpur Dhaam. The entire village community insisted He should spend time with them but due to other commitments, He could not even wait for a meal. His devotee Raiya Khatana offered a porridge of sweet milk while Lord was travelling in a bullock cart.  Shriji Maharaj honoured this hearty meal from His firm follower and relished on the sweet porridge like a child. A stream of the milk trickled down his handto his elbow. In a childlike manner, Lord licked the milk off His elbow with His tongue. Devidaan, who was standing in the crowd of the devotees, saw this act of Shriji Maharaj and words of Lord Shiva echoed in his mind ‘remember this sign and recognise Him.’


Thus, Devidaan became a devoted follower of Shriji Maharaj, and was entrusted to Brahmanand Swami. Brahmanand Swami arranged his Bhagwati Deeksha and Devidaan became Devanand Swami.


Devanand Swami learnt from his Guru Brahmanand Swami the art of constructing poems and mastered the technique of musical verse.


Later Devanand Swami became Mahant Swami of Muli temple on Aksharvaas of Brahmanand Swami.


Devanand Swami passed away in Shraavan Vad 10, VS 1910 in Muli.

Gopalanand Swami

Birth Place: Village – Todala, Sabartantha

Father: Motiram Bhatt
Mother: Kushalbaa
Birth Name: Khushal Bhatt

Date of Birth: The 8th day of the bright half of Maha in V.S. 1837.


Gopalanand Swami is regarded as one of the yogis who attained the position of Ashthangyogi or the master of the 8-fold path in the field of sacred yog.


Khushal Bhatt was married to Adityabai and had two children Harisankar and Anupamba though he was detached with the material aspect of life. He was initiated as a Sadhu (ascetic) by Lord Swaminarayan and named as Gopalanand Swami in Akshar Ordi(Gadhada), Gujarat. Khushal Bhatt showed great interest and pursued study in the Indian science of Vyakaran (grammar), nyaya, Vedanta, mimasa and astrology. Famed as possessing extraordinary intelligence and deep knowledge of religion, he setup a school in Dabhoi to teach and groom young Brahmins.


He heard about Lord Swaminarayan and His divine acts and knowledge from his colleagues Kashiram, Murlidhar and other learned saints such as Sharveshranand Swami. The more he learned about Lord Swaminarayan, the more knowledge he acquired and his miraculous prowess increased. His students started having ‘Samadhi’. One day Khushal Bhatt met a dumb child and cured him of his dumbness. The child started talking.  Although, with the knowledge and the powers, he became a prominent person in the community, his thirst for salvation, his detachment and the desire to meet the real Master remained undeterred.


One day Lord Swaminarayan disguised himself as an ordinary Brahmin and visited the village of Todla. The Brahmin told Khushal Bhatt that if he wants to see the Lord Supreme, then he should follow the Brahmin. Both came to the outskirts of Jetalpur and suddenly the Brahmin disappeared in thin air. Khusal Bhatt continued to Jetalpur where Lord Swaminarayan was holding a sabha(congregation). He saw that the Lord was none other than the Brahmin who had disappeared in thin air in his presence some time ago. Khushal Bhatt realized that it was a miracle played by the Lord and immediately decided to serve Him.  He was given Bhagwati Diskha (initiation) as a Sadhu (ascetic) by Lord Swaminarayan in Gadhpur on Samvat 1864 Kartik Vad 8 and was given the name of Gopalanand Swami.


Gopalanand Swami was grandiose and miraculous personality and possessed equal opulence as Lord Swaminaraya such as clairvoyance, omniscience, control over universe, instant Samadhi (highest meditative state), removing evil notions by mere a sight or touch, sensing others resolves etc. Shriji Maharaj (Lord Swaminarayan) declared him as the leader of the sect because of overall superior qualities. Being elder to Shriji Maharaj by four months, he enjoyed brotherly and friendly interaction with Shriji Maharaj. His submission to Lord was unparalleled. His opulence and grandeur were boundless.


The idol of Hanumanji at the famous Sarangpur mandir was installed by Gopalanand Swami. It is said that Gopalanand Swami touched the idol with a rod and the idol came alive and moved. This rod is still placed in the temple and has been told to possess miraculous powers in curing mental illnesses amongst many.


Gopalanand Swami became a prominent sadhu of Swaminarayan sampraday. He mainly stayed in Vadodra. After the Aksharwas (demise) of Lord Swaminarayan, Gopalanand Swami mentored the Swaminarayan Sampraday for 22 years laying the strong foundation of the Sampraday along with the Acharyas nominated by the Lord. He died in Samvat 1908 Vaishakh Ved 5 at Vadtal. During his lifetime, he wrote 19 books in Sanskrit and 6 books in other languages. One of them was the Shikshapatri in Marathi. The collection and the research of the Vachnamrut was done by Muktanand, Nityanand, Shukanand and Brahmanand Swami but deep knowledge was imparted by Gopalanand Swami.

Gunatitanand Swami

Birth Place: Village Bhadra, Gujarat.

Father: Bholanath Jani
Mother: Sakarba Jani
BirthName: Mulji Jani

Date of Birth: 28 September 1784 (V.S. 1841)


Mulji Jani was born in Bhadra to a Brahmin family. He was the elder of two sons. He first received religious education under his father’s guru, Sadaguru Ramanand Swami, who was also the guru of Lord Swaminarayan. He became a Sadhu (ascetic) with the initiation by Lord Swaminarayan at the age of 25.


From a young age, he experienced constant communion with Bhagwan Swaminarayan. He would tell his mother about Neelkanth Varni’s(Lord Swaminarayan as known prior to his initiation by Sadaguru Ramanand Swami) travels in the jungles of Assam and the foothills of the Himalayas. . On 20 January 1810, at a grand yagna in the village of Dabhan, Lord Swaminarayan initiated Mulji as a Swami (ascetic) and named him Gunatitanand Swami and was known for his selfless service to the other sadhus (ascetic) and devotees..


At numerous times throughout His spiritual endeavor, Lord Swaminarayan sang Gunatitanand Swami’s greatness in front of the other paramhansas, establishing the importance of His legacy in the gunatit (selfless) sadhu for future generations. Lord Swaminarayan had given instructions to all to visit Junagadh and do Gunatitanand Swami’s satsang (spiritual assembly), for one month in a year.


He further gained renown as a preacher and a summary of his teachings were later published under the title ‘Swamini Vato’ (Swami’s talks). One of his legacies was the famous temple at Junagadh. He played a prominent role in its construction, served as the mahant for forty years and provided a template for the administrative development of future religious establishments in the Swaminarayan Sampraday before returning to Akshardham in Gondal in VS 1923.

Muktanand Swami

Birth Place: Amrelli, Gujarat

Father: Anandram
Mother: Radhabai
Birth Name: Mukunddas

Date of Birth: V S 1814


In the Swaminarayan Sampradaya, Muktanand is known as “the mother of Satsang,” a title given by Bhagwan Swaminarayan, due to his affection and care for other swamis(ascetics).


Muktanand Swami was also regarded as the incarnation of Naradji and was considered the principal disciple of Sadaguru Ramanand Swami. He had mastered the eight folded yogic state.


Born as Mukkunddas to father Anandram and mother Radhabai, young Mukkunddas exhibited divine qualities and inclination towards living a life as an ascetic. Concerned that he may renounce the world in pursuit of his religious and spiritual ambitions, his parents got him married. But Mukkunddas faked insanity to escape the conjugal life in pursuit of salvation and in search of true Guru (master).


His search of divine master took him to many hermitages and finally ended when he met Sadaguru Ramanand Swami in Sardhar. Although Mukkunddas wanted to immediately take refuge in Ramanand Swami, it took a while until Ramanand Swami finally gave diksha (initiation) to Mukkunddas. After receiving the Bhagwati Diksha from Sadaguru Ramamand Swami, he was renamed as Muktanand Swami.


Muktanand Swami held main seat as principal disciple of Ramanand Swami. He mastered the eight folded yogic state. Ramanand Swami asked Muktanand to settle in village Loj to open free food camp serve all pilgrims there and told him that one day the Supreme Lord Almighty Purna Purshottam Narayan Himself will come to Loj.  Abiding with the instructions of his Guru, Muktanand Swami proceeded to Loj and awaited the arrival of Lord Purushottam Narayan.


Finally, when Nilkanth Varni (Lord Swaminarayan as known then) arrived at Loj and brought to the hermitage by Sukhanand Swami, it was Muktanand Swami who welcomed the divine young Nilkant Varni and persuaded him to make Loj ashram his home until the arrival of his Guru Ramanand Swami. Although Muktanand Swami was seniormost disciple of Ramanand Swami and also older by age to Neelkhant Varni, Muktanand Swami recognizing the divinity in Neelkhant Varni payed his obeyances to the young ascetic during his stay at the ashram. Neelkhant Varni was initiated as a Sadhu by Ramanand Swami and renamed as Sahajanand Swami. Subsequently Sahajanand Swami was named as the successor to Ramanand Swami although Muktanand Swami was the seniormost disciple. Muktanand Swami accepted Sahajanand Swami as his leader graciously and lived under the auspices of Sahajanand Swami, always respecting him like a Guru.


Muktanand Swami was also an expert instrumentalist, vocalist, preacher and orator besides being a great saint. He was one of the five Sadagurus who compiled the memorable words of Shree Hari in Vachnamrut.  The Aarti that is sung in all Shree Swaminarayan Temples across the world – Jai Sadaguru Swami… was written by Muktanand Swami in praise of Shree Hari or Lord Swaminarayan. Muktanand Swami’s devotional composition, Dhira Dhurandhara, which was routinely sung by Mahatma Gandhi, was published alongside the works of Nishkulanand Swami and other poets in Gandhiji’s Ashram Bhajanavali, a compilation of prayers.

Nishkulanand Swami

Father: Rambhai Suthar
Mother: Amratba
Birth Place: Shekhpat, near Jamnagar
Birth Name: Lalji Suthar
Birth: 16 January 1766


Nishkulanand Swami in his householder life as Laljibhai, was an expert at carpentry. He lived a peaceful family life with his mother, wife and two children. He was a faithful disciple of Ramanand Swami. He became a firm follower of Shriji Maharaj after sad demise of his Guru-preceptor Ramanand Swami and developed rock steady faith and firmness in Satsang-Katha-Kirtans. Driven by the devotional fervour he walked 30 K.M. on feet to and fro every evening to attend Satsang Sabhas of Shriji Maharaj in Bhadra after finishing a hard day’s work in Shekhpat during day He slept in Bhadra to come back home early in the morning.


Once Laljibhai, in course of his carpentry work, had an accident. A sharp tool cut through his forehead, fatally wounding Laljibhai. Profusely bleeding, he slipped into unconsciousness. His mother and wife cried for help, praying to God. Swaminarayan Bhagwan appeared at the scene, glanced at Laljibhai, placed his hand on the wound, while asking his mother to prepare Sheera’(sweet dish). Perplexed mother, obediently went in the house to prepare sheera as instructed, not knowing of the miracle unfolding outside. When the mother returned with the sheera, she was asked to feed it to Laljibhai as a Prasad (offering to Lord). All signs of pain or wound had disappeared without a trace.


There are several incidents that narrate the unblemished, undeterred and doubtless faith that Laljibhai displayed in Lord Swaminarayan. He was initiated into the sampraday by Lord Swaminarayan and named as Nishkulanand Swami.  His name “Nishkul” implies one who is devoid of family or lineage (detached from maya or bonding).


Nishkulanand Swami is regarded as an ideal example of vairagya, or non-attachment to worldly objects and is known as Vairagyamurti Nishkhulanand Swami. His poetic creations displayed this intense sense of detachment.


Nishkulanand Swami composed a scripture named Bhaktachintamani, which describes the life of Swaminarayan along with his sermons and his activities.[8] He has also composed twenty-two other scriptures on various subjects (Purshottam Prakash, Yamdanda, Dhirajakhyan, Chosathpadi, among others) which are compiled as Nishkulanand Kavya. Purushottamprakash, Bhakta Chintamani, Vachan Vidhi, Sneh Geeta, Yamadanda, Dhirajakhyan are the scriptures written by him. He has written 25 scriptures and a large number of Kirtans praising God and divine leelas of Shriji Maharaj


It is said that when Lord Swaminarayan wished to leave this world, he informed Nishkulanand Swami 3 days in advance and asked to prepare a palanquin for his bier. Nishkulanand Swami prepared it discreetly during night so no one would know about it. When Lord left the human body, all the other saints asked him to prepare a palanquin and to their astonishment, they found that on the instructions of Lord Swaminarayan, Nishkulanand Swami had already prepared the palanquin like an obedient disciple, keeping his grief aside while performing his duty.


He continued writing scriptures until his death. He was also a poet and composed many kirtans, or devotional songs, and poems.[9]


The swing with the twelve doors in the Vadtal Temple and the carved wooden doors in the inner temple of the Dholera Temple are a few of his works of art. In Gadhpur he used to display his artistic skills during Diwali celebrations by presenting decorative plants and trees adorned with kindling lights and lighted canopy to cover the seat of Swaminarayan.


The last phase of his saintly life was spent in the Dholera temple. He discarded his elemental existence on the 9th day of the dark half of Ashadha in V.S. 1904 and ascended to Akshardham.

Nityanand Swami

Birth Place: Dantiya, Lucknow District, Uttar Pradesh.

Father: Vishnu Sharma

Mother: Virjadevi

Birth Name: Dinmani Sharma

Birth:  1793 (VS 1812, Kartik Sud 5)


Dinmani Sharma was born in a rich Brahmin family. From a young age, he had shown an inclination towards studying and was sent to a school in Kashi, one of the preeminent arts and scriptural learning centers in India, to learn and acquire knowledge from Jagjit Pandit. There, young Dinmani came to realize that one cannot attain the bliss of God merely through the study of scriptures, but rather, through the association of an enlightened being.


Once he completed his studies in Kashi, Dinmani set out on a quest to find such an enlightened being. His travels took him from Kashi in the north to Jagannath Puri in the east to Rameshwaram in the south. Eventually, Dinmani went to Gujarat in the west and visited Dwarika. It was here that Dinmani first heard the name of Swaminarayan. Dinmani met Swaminarayan in the town of Unza and upon first meeting decided that his journey has ended and recognized that Swaminarayan was the enlightened being he sought. Dinmani was later initiated as a Sadhu by Swaminarayan in Meghpur and given the name Nityanand Swami.


Prior to his initiation, he had already established an impressive knowledge base through his association with great scholars and pundits. Generally recognized as one of the foremost scholars in the Swaminarayan Sampraday on Hindu scriptures, Nityanand Swami’s knowledge and abilities were often displayed in scriptural debates common for the era.


Nityanand Swami was considered one of the foremost scholars and debaters of Hindu scriptures of his era. Along with Gopalanand Swami, Muktanand Swami and Shukanand Swami, Nityanand Swami was one of the four compilers of the Vachanamrutam, the written recordings of the sermons of Swaminarayan.


Nityanand Swami was one of the first to openly state their belief that Swaminarayan was parabrahman. He was steadfast in following the words and deeds of Swaminarayan.


Besides his work in compiling the Vachanamrutam, Nityanand Swami also wrote many other volumes which included the commentary on the Shikshapatri, a code of ethics written by Swaminarayan, the Hari Digvijay, a 49-chapter volume which attempts to establish that Swaminarayan is supreme, the Hari Kavach, the Shri Hanuman Kavach, the Nishkam Shuddhi, the Avatar Charitra, and a number of others.


During the last days of Lord Swaminarayan, Nityanand Swami was with Him. Lord Swaminarayan gave the prints of His lotus feet to Nityanand Swami and told him to install them at Laxmivadi where a Temple would be erected on the ground where He would be cremated.

Premanand Swami

Birth Place: village Dora, near Bharuch, Gujarat.

Birth Name: Hathiram

Birth:  1793 (VS 1812, Kartik Sud 5)


Premanand Swami was born as Hathiram in the town of Dora Bharuch  to Hindu parents who abandoned him at a young age. A Muslim family raised him, his foster father was called Dosatai. Dosatai was a good father and wanted Hathiram to learn the art of music. Dosatai sent Hathiram to Vadodara to learn music. At one occassion, Lord Swaminarayan had arranged a musical concert, which Dosatai and Hathiram attended. He was 11 years old when he met with Lord Swaminarayan for the first time and expressed a desire to remain with Him. With his adoptive father’s permission, Premanand Swami followed Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s instructions to study at a music institution in Ujjain. After  completing his studies, he returned to Bhagwan Swaminarayan and was soon initiated as a Sadhu (ascetic). He was initially called Nijbodhanand but later on he was named as Premanand Swami by the Lord, in recognition of his devotion to the Lord.


Premanand Swami spent the rest his life in the sampraday with Lord Swaminarayan Premanand Swami was known for his poetic and musical talet  and left a legacy of over four thousand kirtans in Gujarati, Hindi and Vraj. Premanand Swami composed the words of the Chesta Pad, which vividly describes Lord Swaminarayan’s daily routine and habits and  is recited daily at all Swaminarayan Temples around the world. Premanand Swami compiled the Vandu Pad, prior to Lord Swaminarayan’s departure from earth, for the purpose of meditation. The Vandu Pad describes the beauty and appearance of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. It is said that if one meditates on God in the way described in these pads, one is liberated from the clutches of kal,(time) karma (effect or fate due to  good and bad deeds) and maya (bondage).


His composition remains unmatched among Indian music composition, and within the sampraday, many of the bhajans sung daily are those composed by Premanand Swami. He is regarded as one of the greatest literary poets of India.


On 21 November 1854 (Magshar sud 1, Samvat 1911 he left for the heavenly abode Akshardham.

Shukanand Swami

Birth Place: Dabhan (Darbhavthi) near Vadtal

Birth Name: Jagnath Bhutt


Jaganath Bhutt was educated in Sanskrit from an early age. As a young child he observed very closely the sants of Swaminarayan Sampraday and he was very impressed with their dedication, sincerity and adherence to the dharma (principles) of sadhu (ascetic). Being a Sanskrit scholar, he was well versed with the scriptures and his close associations with the Sadhus prompted him to take refuge in Lord Swaminarayan.


Bhagwan Swaminarayan, entrusted him under Brahmanand Swamis mentorship, who initiated Jaganath as a sadhu and named him Shukanand Swami.


With his exceptional command on Sanskrit language, he was entrusted with all communication and became the secretary to Lord Swaminarayan. He is one of the five paramhansas who contributed to writing of the Vachanamrut.  He also wrote the Commentary of Satsangi Jivan, Gnan Dip which consists of 39 Sloks, Vishwa Mangal Stotra, Bhagwat 10th Skand in Gujurati, Hari Gita (located in Satsangi Jivan) in Gujurati, Satsangi Jivan 2nd part, Bhakti Adhyay in Gujurati, Dharmamrut in Gujurati, Bhudhi Pradip in Gujurati, Prathnamala in Gujurati and he wrote the Desh Vibhag Lekh as dictated by Lord Swaminarayan.


Shukanand Swami was blessed by Lord Swaminarayan to never fall ill which will hold him back from performing any duty towards the Lord. After Lord Swaminarayans’ departure from earth to His heavently abode, Shukanand Swami prayed to the Lord to take back His blessings so that he could fall ill which would also relieve him from the pain of the separation from the Lord.  He succumbed to his illness and left for heavenly abode on Samvat 1925 Maksar Vad 30.

Sacred Teachings and Timeless Wisdom!

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