Distinct features made Lord Swaminarayan unique and divine. He had many beauty spots all over His body. These features and cheens are those that only Almighty God Supreme would possess.
The Lord has sixteen symbolic icons on his Lotus Feet, with nine cheens on His right foot and seven on his left foot. These cheens are unique to Almighty God and no other human being on earth possesses such features. One can recognise Almighty God Supreme by observing his divine Lotus Feet.
One gains guidance and help to the path of righteousness and salvation through meditating and focusing upon the Lotus Feet of Lord. Nishkulanand Swami examined the qualities of each cheen. One achieves the following results of the mind and soul through meditation upon each cheen.
Nishkulanand Swami writes in 'Chinha Chintamani' Saints appreciate Swask (sacred cross), a clear mark appearing on the right foot-sole, which is a source of total welfare. SWASTIK 1 14 On the right foot of Lord Swaminarayan there is Swask mark which is the symbol of auspiciousness, welfare and richness. Everyone who took shelter at the feet of Lord Swaminarayan got their life full of auspicious events full of welfare. Therefore, Muktanand Swami says : Great devtas like Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh worship the feet of the Master (Guruji). Brahman-like liberated souls serve the Master. Even the fallen souls like pigs, dogs and donkeys take shelter at the Lord's feet they become one with Brahman by worshiping Lord Swaminarayan. The devtas like Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh and Brahman-like liberated souls worship the auspicious feet of Lord Swaminarayan. If the souls trapped by lust and anger living the life of pig, dog and donkey; take shelter at the feet of Lord Swaminarayan they can become one with Brahman. The Swask is the symbol suggest the welfare–causing auspicious quality of Lord Swaminarayan. It covers all four sides and suggests all pervasive and perennial welfare.
Easily able to overcome hardship arising from the elements of the universe
By watching the Octagon (on the sole), crores of pains are destroyed; the Kaal (death) cannot kick, and pleasure overflows the heart. ASHTAKON 2 16 There are eight angles of Octagon, in the same way on this earth there are four directions – east, west, north and south and there are four corners – North-east, South-east, South-west and North-west. In this way the evil effect of Kaal spreads in all the eight directions. If one contemplates the octagon mark on the feet of Shri Hari he is saved from the evil forces of Kaal which are always painful. The best place to save oneself from the terror of Kaal is at the feet of Lord Swaminarayan. By disowning such sense and understanding one can connect his soul with the idol of Shri Hari. One can save himself from the clutches of Kaal and gets his heart full of happiness. So Muktanand Swami writes in Vivek Chintamani :
There is terror of Kaal for all unto 14 universes, if one stays in the service of Hari; the Kaal will not engulf him, so says Muktanand.
This statement emerges directly from the personal experience of Muktanand Swami. It was midnight and Muktanand Swami was contemplate by singing while sat at one place, and suddenly the Kaal with his horrible figure came and stood there at a distance. So Muktanand Swami asked “Who are you? And what do you want to do here?” He replied, “I am the Kaal and I have been hungry for many days. I am here to eat a man.” Muktamuni thinking of unexpected troubles said, “You go away from here immediately. If Shri Hari comes to know of your arrival, you will be punished.” So Kaal went away from there.
But an idea entered the mind of Muktamuni that Kaal has gone back today but if alms and devotion are given to him, he may feel satisfied. Being an ascetic himself what would he do? He took a vow, “Dinner should be arranged for saints. One cloth be given to Brahmin, a cow worth rupees 5/- should be given and a food-plate should be offered to Shriji Maharaj.” Then he went back to his meditation.
Next morning as he was free from his daily rituals, there came Mukund Brahmachari whom he offered a seat. Then he told him about the appearance of Kaal and his vow for pacifying him. Then he did the Puja of Brahmachari, offered him a bed-sheet and then asked him to offer food-plate to Shriji Maharaj and said, “you also have the food.” Brahmachari replied, “as you wish.” And he went from there.
On his way Shriji Maharaj met him. Shriji Maharaj asked “Where are you coming from today? “So Brahmachari talked about appearance of the Kaal. Shri Hari told him that everyone has been protected so let the food be fine. So Dada Khachar and his family arranged for best food. All the saints were called and offered food. Thus, Muktamuni accepted the remedy to send the Kaal back. Such richness and competence had come to Muktanand Swami due to the power of the shelter in Shri Hari's feet. Mukta says Kaal does not engulf him, who serves Shri Hari's feet.
The clutches of the cobra called Kaal spread unto 14 worlds and destroys all, but he cannot defeat the devotees of Lord Swaminarayan. In this way the two elements – protection from Kaal and pleasure of heart – are included when one remembers the mark of Ashtakon i.e. Octagon. While remembering Octagon it should be firmly convinced that Lord Swaminarayan protects me at every place and every moment. I contemplate on the Octagon in the feet of Lord Swaminarayan who brings ever lasting pleasure in my heart.
Control over mind and senses, in the same way an elephant owner controls his elephant by using the ankush
As anlius controls a reckless and errand elephant, the anlius-mark on Shri Hari's foot; controls and directs the devotee's mind, to the shelter of the Master.
The contemplation of the anlius (Ankush i.e. goad) mark on the foot-soles of Shri Hari inspires us to keep our mind under control. Though the Ankush is small it can control a huge elephant.
If we hold Shri Hari's words in our heart the movements of mind are stabilised at the feet of Shri Hari and the mind comes under control.
In holy fellowship many devotees had made oblation of their senses and mental modification in the sacrifice of Yoga-Yajna and had got the realisation of the form of Lord Swaminarayan; and these incidents have been recorded in the history of our holy fellowship.
There is a village called Chhapri in Saurashtra and in this village there lived Janbai - a devout, firm lady devotee of Shriji Maharaj. As she was Yogabhrashta (who had yoga-practice half way in previous birth) soul her mind could not be united with any worldly means.
Once Janbai along with her mother Kamalbai went to Gadhada and there she had the darshan of Shriji Maharaj under a Neem tree and there she had a miraculous experience i.e. peace spread in her mind and soul. As Janbai went home she took a firm decision that she would not prefer to marry. She made up her mind that she wanted to follow Sankhya discipline and for her to ensure she will remain in devotion of Shriji Maharaj. She started to live in a separate room and started to do Bhajan following strict Sankhya disciplines .
Janbai kept on using her senses and the force of mind with Shriji Maharaj. Her devotion became so strong that using a string, she tied her hair to a plank in the roof of her room, squat on floor and put a pair of grinding stones in her lap, then began the meditation of Shriji Maharaj! Gradually, the form of Shriji Maharaj began to seal in the soul of Janbai.
Mother asked, “Will you come for Darshan in Samaiya?” Janbai replied, “You may go I don't want to come. If Shriji Maharaj wants to offer Darshan, he will give it to me right here.” In this way her devotion became mature. Some days later her mother Kamalbai returned from the Samaiya.
During this period saints came to Chhapri village and Kathi Ravat gave them accommodation. Katha-varta preaching continued till late night, then father and son went to bed. A swami was changing Mantra on rosary in the veranda who saw an old woman entering Janbai's room. He thought if a male has entered the room in the guise of a woman it would be shameful because Janbai was a Sankhyayogini.
The next day he told the Kathi, “You stay here till midnight and keep a watch on the unknown strange old woman entering Janbai's room at midnight.” The next day the brother of Janbai sat to keep a watch and the old woman came and entered Janbai's room, her brother brought a lantern and knocked on the door and Janbai opened the door. Her brother asked, “Did anyone come here?” Janbai said, “No one is here, you can search the room.” The brother could find no one so he said, “O sister! tell me the truth, otherwise I will end my life with this dagger!”
At last Janbai said, “The wife of the baniya Laxmichand in this village has become chudel (horrible female ghost) after her death. She comes to me to listen to religious means.” Her brother said, “How can I believe it?” So the chudel in her original form manifested and said, “I did not follow rajaswala (menses period) discipline and I had fallen in bad company; so I have got the body of a ghost but now I have come in contact with Janbai and understood the ways of Satsang. So she will take me to the abode.” – All who were listening were overwhelmed to hear this!
Then the group of saints came to Gadhada and the Swami narrated the incident to Shriji Maharaj. Shriji Maharaj had visited Chhapri village in divine form. He had gone to Bhatavdar to get Dada Khachar married and had visited in Chhapri village. He was accompanied by Parshada – Kamalbai arranged for a fire to warm himself. Shriji Maharaj asked Kamalbai, “Will Janbai come here or shall I go to her room?” So Janbai's mother Kamalabai informed Janbai that Shriji Maharaj had come. Full of enthusiasm Janbai came running and plunged her head before the feet of Shri Hari and with tears of joy she began to pray, “O Maharaj! now call me to your abode and bless me with the bliss of your form.” Shriji Maharaj said, “I will call you here in one month.” Then Janbai said, “I am not alone but we are three.” Maharaj asked, “Who are the other two?” The reply came, “The daughter of my mother's sister and the wife of the Baniya called Laxmichand. There is an agreement among us that three of us will go to Akshardham together. So along with me they should also get welfare (salvation).”
Shriji Maharaj said, “Do you keep this group of ghosts with you?” Janbai said, “Yes, Maharaj.” “Ok I will do the welfare of all the three!” Saying so Maharaj disappeared and in one month all the three were taken to imperishable abode by Shriji Maharaj. At the centre of this incident there is the yoga-yajna of Janbai. She controlled her mind and senses and got united with Shriji Maharaj and she had the realisation of Shriji Maharaj :
In this way the mark of Ankush on the foot of Shri Hari inspires us to control mind and senses and from there get the Darshan of Lord Swaminarayan.
Mohan Chhel has enchanted me into love. Has stolen my mind by the force of love, I have forgotten my body. Garments like Jama Jarida, precious pearls studded laces. Interesting face, alluring eyes, showering the rain of love. Says Premanand I will keep reserved, my heart for beloved Ghanshyam.
In this world real essence lies only in the Form of Lord Swaminarayan – when this truth is realised the devotee gets connected with love to the real form of God. In the naughty devotional love the ego of the devotee is dropped off and the feeling of oneness with God emerges. In the climax of devotion the sense of doing is uprooted and feeling comes that God has caught me in love – this is the climax of devotional love.
When our mind, senses and heart gets intensely attached in the Form of Lord Swaminarayan our existence gets steadfast in the form of Lord Swaminarayan, desire goes away from body then the relive of body has no place!
My mind has been stolen and I have forgotten the body. My Lord is the essence of all essence. His eyes are full of love and affection and they shower only love.
If you go to a diamond-shop and ask for a hardware material like nail you will not get it there. In the same way only love, compassion and grace always flow from His eyes. The happiness of the idol of God is never destroyed because it is faultless happiness.
For this reason we should have some reservation in our body senses and heart for Lord Swaminarayan.
Constant focus on Lord Swaminarayan is achieved, forces of maya are kept at bay, just as the lotus flower remains on water
Lotus stays in water but water cannot wet it, if so it inspires us to live detached life and engage ourselves in the devotion of Lord Swaminarayan. The saints of Shri Hari who remained connected with the lotus mark in the foot of Shri Hari did a lot of activities under the instruction of Shri Hari and by moving in society they inspired many souls to seek shelter at the holy feet of Lord Swaminarayan but they did not create any worldly bondage therefore Muktanand Swami has sung :
The manifested Sahajanand, through his magic has stolen my mind, and dropped the loop of Brahmanhood in my neck.
Shriji Maharaj had dropped the noose of Brahman element in the neck of the saints therefore the pleasant five objects of the world could not allure them. The saints had shown extreme love for the idol of Shri Hari. It is not possible that the mind will not be carried away by worldly objects. But the saints had such strong aattachment in the idol of Lord Swaminarayan and there was such magic in his speech that the mind of his seekers will not wander any where.
Once about 250 saints took a short tour, as per the instruction of Shri Hari, reached Jamnagar and halted at Lakhota tank in the North of the town. As saints took a begging round people gave them flour, grain, loaves and cooked food. The saints put everything together and made balls from that material and distributed those balls amongst them. Sometimes they got only a little to eat; but they continued the Kirtan and religious discussions. Once as their religious discussions were in progress Jam Saheb - the king, happened to pass from there riding a horse carriage with a purpose to go for Darshan at Hanumanji temple.
When he saw such radiant Sadhus he asked his secretary, “Whose Sadhus are these?” The secretary replied, “These are the saints of Swaminarayan.” Jam Saheb asked, “Where do these many saints get their meals from?” The secretary said, “They beg in the town and eat their meals.” The king said, “How would begging suffice for these many saints, tell them to come and eat at the place where we have arranged.” The secretary told the same to Swamis, to which Swarupanand Swami replied, “We do not have our Guru's permission for that.” The secretary said, “Maharaja Saheb wants it so you have to eat the meal.” Swarupanand Swami said, “Hell with your town we will go to other place.”
The secretary reported this to the King. The King replied, “We do not want to displease the saints. Go and tell them that we do not know your ways of discipline but we request you to show us such solution that our food can go into the sacred mouth of saints like you.” Listening to such humble words of the Maharaja the Swami said, “When our Sadhus take a begging round in the town you may put your food in the bag, the saints will eat the same.”
The next day when saints went round the town he put flour, gur, ghee etc. in their bag and the saints brought the same to their halt-place. Swami said, “O Saints make Kuler (sweet powder) and offer it to the God.” The King arranged for their meals for six days and the saints also blessed the King wishing his welfare. But senior Swarupanand Swami told, “O Saints, now the town is alert, get up from here. We should not stay at the place where we get much respect.” All the saints set out from there. As they could get nothing to eat on their way they had to eat vetch (guvar) leaves to depress their hunger.
Water cannot stain the lotus, the saints live such life in this world; no evil effect can enter due to, the power of the foot-mark of the God.
The King had made the offer from his side, though the aracon could not work on the saints because Brahman element and the words of Shriji Maharaj were confirmed in their hearts. Water means the aracon of worldly pleasures and lotus means the absolute saints, devotees of Lord Swaminarayan. There were a number of household Satsangis. They possessed royal property, land, and estate but they were not trapped by worldly means. Though they lived luxurious household life they showed extreme devotion for Lord Swaminarayan.
Such immutable devotee was Shivlalbhai from Botad, the son of Bhaga Doshi, born with golden spoon in his mouth. But by coming in contact with great Saints like Gopalanand Swami and Gunatanand Swami his being was ascent towards Lord Supreme.
Though a millionaire he was not wealth-oriented, his body was worldly, but mind was ascetic; Believe him as Janak Videhi, living like lotus in water.
Shivlalbhai's body was worldly but his mind was like that of ascetic. Though he was a millionaire he was never attached to wealth and money. Once Swami asked him, “Shivlal where had you gone?” Shivlalbhai said, “I had gone to the market and I have bought one grand meal from there.” Swami asked, “What meal?” Shivlalbhai said, “I purchased gold from one market, sold it in another market and earned money and with the profit, I want to offer a grand meal to saints from that amount.”
To this the Swami said, “That is alright. But do you ever think to purchase crores tones of ashes?” Shivlalbhai said, “No Swami.” Then the Swami explained that leaving the Moor of Shriji Maharaj everything else is as useless as ashes. What did you earn by leaving Satsang for doing business in the market? By listening to such talks full of wisdom Shivlalbhai could remain unattached to wealth, money and luxury. In this way the mark of lotus on the foot of Shri Hari suggests to remain steadfast in devotion while remaining unattached in this world.
Guided through life with the principles of Lord Shree Swaminarayan, in the same way that wind guides the sway and direction of a flag
Ketu stands for the saint, as flag's movement is controlled by wind; great saints also act, as per order of the Master (God).
The contemplation of the (Ketu) Flag – mark on the feet of Shri Hari inspires and benefits the devotee. As the flag keeps on fluttering and powered by wind, the real saints and devotees should remain under the commands of Lord Swaminarayan. One who follows God's words his words are followed by all.
During Shriji Maharaj's stay in Gadhada, on a rainy and cyclonic day in monsoon, the roofing had been damaged and water began to leak in the room in which Shriji Maharaj was relaxing. Shriji Maharaj called out but there was no one. Dada Khachar suddenly came there Shriji Maharaj said “Dada, put this in the proper gap” but the leakage was at a height where Dada could not reach. Understanding the situation he said, “Dada, keep your leg on my shoulder and repair the roof.” Dada also thought “Water-leakage will spoil the God's chamber and how can I reject the order of Shriji Maharaj?” So Dada Khachar put his leg on Shriji's shoulder and began to repair the leakage spot. Eventually Jiva Khachar who happened to pass from there saw this scene and spoke “Hello Dada! What are you doing? One should not put his leg on God's shoulder, you will have to go to the worst hell.” To this Dada Khachar replied, “O Jiva Bapu! If I have to visit the worst hell seven times I am ready for it, if only I get a chance to obey my Lord Swaminarayan's order.” By the sincerest obedience of Dada Khachar, Shriji Maharaj was overwhelmed and He told Jiva Khachar, “O Khachar! you hesitated to put your leg on my shoulder but you have placed your foot on my tongue. What of that!”
Listening to these words all understood the real meaning of the obedience of the commands of Shriji Maharaj. So that person is benefited who acts as per Shri Hari’s commands. So this was about Ketu or flag which symbolises firm obedience of orders. Ketu represents omnipotence of the Lord and obeisant of his sacred commands.
Attainment of salvation
As I watch both feet, I'm filled with pleasure, Nishkulanand covets, the two rising lines.
The mark of rising lines on both the soles of Shri Hari feet is the symbol of upward journey and progression spiritual path. It suggests that when the soul is freed from Maya and all bondage of worldly means it gets upward progress culmination into a flight to the imperishable abode Akshardham - the source of eternal bliss.
The mark of rising lines on both the feet soles of Shri Hari is the symbol of upward journey and progression spiritual path. It suggests that when the soul is freed from Maya and all bondage of worldly means it gets upward progress culmination into a flight to the imperishable abode Akshardham - the source of eternal bliss.
Urdhava Moolam Adhah Shakha. Here Urdhva means upward, Moolam means root, adhah means downwards and Shakha means branch. In the cosmos tree the root is upward and the branches are downward. It means God is the root of the tree (universe). In this universe we enjoy the pleasures of five objects which is the creation of God. But the creator is God. When the energy of the body rising from Muladhar chakra going upward across Ajna Chakra, and reach towards Brahma-Randhra, the soul gets genuine spiritual pleasure - the ever lasting bliss.
When the vision of devotee makes upward progress he gets detached from worldly material pleasures and his mind becomes steady in the form of Lord Swaminarayan. The condition of such devotee is described by Premanand Swami :
To us life means Dharma's son, Who is Life and soul of all devotees; The light for holy fellowship. That Son of Dharma is dearer than soul, he is yoga, yajna, all sacred means. Premanand says that in idol of Ghanshyam, lies supreme principle of ours.
Premanand Swami says that the life of our life is one and only one dear son of Dharmadev i.e. Lord Swaminarayan. As in Ramayan Hanumanji bares his chest and offers Darshan of Rama-Sita. The Nand saints had absolute relation with the idol of Lord Swaminarayan in respect of senses, mind, intellect, self-consciousness and vital force. In Holy Fellowship the force support their physical and spiritual existence is Shriji Maharaj; and the holy fellowship is radiant due to Him only. Lord Swaminarayan had raised a group of saints and devotees who lived a faultless and spotless life.
You may practice yogic exercises, Yajna or other means and acons to get fame-everything is included in the idol of Lord Swaminarayan. All the mysteries of Vedanta ends before the idol of Lord Swaminarayan. Premanand Swami says that we have only one principle that is the idol of Lord Swaminarayan.
All the principles of vedic classical theories are realised as soon as you start to contemplate and get in communion with the idol of Lord Swaminarayan. When you get this type of highest understanding, your journey starts towards Divine Consciousness. So the rising line in the feet of Shri Hari inspires to make progress from worldly elements to spiritual element. It inspires for the progress from Jagat (world) to Jagadishwar (Shri Hari).
We have tried to understand the meaning and significance of the marks on the feet of Shriji Maharaj. We get detailed information about how to contemplate on the marks.
Inner negative forces and evils are overcome
Those who watch Vajra-mark become fearless, the fear of Kaal (death) and Karma, is removed from the heart.
The soul becomes fearless are gaining Darshan, contemplation of Vajra-mark. Vajra is a steel-weapon which protects the warrior from the attack of the enemy's. In the same way by the contemplation of Vajra-mark on the foot of Shri Hari makes us free from the bondage of death (Kaal).
By taking shelter at the holy feet of Lord Swaminarayan many souls have attained fearlessness. The mark of Vajra on the foot of Lord Swaminarayan can let down the force of Kaal (death) and acon (Karma). Anyone who keeps connection with this mark will become fearless in all respects.
Brahmanand Swami was building atemple there in that city, and they ran a lime-chimney-furnace as lime was required in construction work. There was a jealous Sadhu in that city who practice black magic and did not allow furnace-fire to be on. Gopalanand Swami asked Brahmanand Swami “Where is the furnace?” They went there in a small cart. Gopalanand Swami was there, he asked for some milk and then made three circles of milk-stream around the furnace using “light, light, light”. As he used three mes the fire was lit and flames began to come up as if ghee was offered in the sacrificial fire! Flames leaped up on all four sides. As the fire was blazing the disciples of the Sadhu who noticed the scene took to their heels and told their guru, “O Guru the furnace is burning bright.” Guru asked who lit the fire? “They replied,” A Sadhu called Gopalanand has come and he has lit it.” The Sadhu said, “Now we cannot do anything.”
Any expert in Mantra-Tantra could not compete with Gopalanand Swami because he always remained connected with the element of Vajra mark on the lotus foot of Lord Swaminarayan. So when at any point in the life one faces the fear of Kaal (death) and Karma (acon) one should remember the Vajra mark and contemplate on the idol of Lord Swaminarayan and that will protect us.
Liberated from the desire of taste
If you have once tasted the Jambu fruit, it contains the essence of all the tastes. So great that it destroys the desire for all other tastes; and ultimately the world seems quite tasteless.
The contemplation of Jambu mark on Shri Hari's foot inspires us to find all the tastes in the idol of Shri Hari. As the taste of Jambu is sweet and superior to all other tastes – if one can have such realisation through experience his desire for all other worldly tastes will be diminished. If one can get confirmed understanding of the fact that total and ultimate happiness lies in devotional contemplation of the idol of Lord Swaminarayan, the world becomes uninteresting to him.
Brahmanand Swami had experienced all the pleasures of the world very closely. He had received name, fame, honour, royal patronage and yet he felt a vacuum within himself, which could be filled only after he established communion with the form of Shriji Maharaj. After the Darshan, memory, and experience he sang :-
Like illusory desert water, pleasures of the world. Countering them all as false, I have forsaken all desires. I have chosen my Lord, at the cost of my head.
The world looks insipid when profound love rises in the form of God. The form of God is in the place of Jambu fruit and when one can concentrate his mind on this form, then desires for happiness will rear.
Bhagwan Swaminarayan is the source of divine bliss so when our mind and heart intensely dragged towards him, the mind will rear from objects of worldly pleasure. Therefore, it is necessary to be associated with the form of God. When desire wanders among worldly objects add some knowledge to your reasoning telling that this soul has travelled through 84 lakh species (births) and yet does not feel satisfied even are enjoying worldly object's therefore such type of pleasure is imperfect and perishable. But the bliss derived from the Moor of Lord Swaminarayan is perfect and eternal. So the contemplation of Jambu fruit teaches us that rapture lies only in the form of God, therefore one should not try to find pleasure from worldly objects.
Attainment of inner tranquillity and eradication of sins
The persons who contemplate on Java-mark, any pain or misery does not touch them; their brain gets happiness, and heart gets limitless pleasure.
The grain of Java (Barley) is the symbol of purity and sacredness, for that reason it is used as sacrificial material. The contemplation of Java on the foot of Shri Hari inspires in us the principle and ideal of Yajna theory. It means the fire of Brahman element is burning in our soul and the subjects of senses should be sacrificed in that fire. All the acons of senses should be used in the service of God and in the devotion of God. This can help us to confirm our devotion. The movements of mind and intellect are to be centralised in the soul first and then if one meditates upon the idol residing in the soul, the force of Maya cannot harm the soul. He becomes an absolute devotee whose soul remains untouched by any sin. The soul of such devotee is enlightened and at the centre of that light he get the Darshan of the blissful form of Lord Swaminarayan and therefore the mind of such devotee attains supreme joy and experiences limitless bliss in the heart.
To understand and confirm this principle curious devotees should read again and again Vachnamritam Gadhada Madhya Chapter – 8 which will open so many spiritual locks and the path of contemplation and meditation will become simple.
In this Vachanamritam, Shriji Maharaj says, “There are ten senses and the mind is the eleventh – all should be drawn from the subjects in which they wander and should be sacrificed into the fire of Brahman and this is called Yoga-Yajna; and while practicing this Yoga-Yajna the devotee gets the Darshan of God. In such soul identified with Brahman there manifests Lord Parabrahma Purushotam; and this is the fruit of Yoga-Yajna.”
So contemplation of Java-mark expresses the concept of the material for Yagna i.e. sacrifice in Yoga-Yajna. As Java is offered in Yajna we should also offer the java in the form of ten senses and the mind as eleventh in the Yoga-yajna described by Lord Swaminarayan. So Java is important to bring to us the Darshan of Lord Swaminarayan.
Permanent and inseparable bond developed with Lord Swaminarayan. In the same way that a fish cannot live without water
The absolutely conscious saints, remain detached from all worldly means; like a fish that lives a wandering life, fluttering in water.
The mark of fish on the foot of Lord Swaminarayan gives the strength and inspiration to remain detached in the world. As a fish keeps on moving and fluttering in water, and does not live at a fixed place, in the same way the absolute devotees of God do not limit themselves to space or time. They are not bound by worldly means. Devotees should live such a detached life and practice devotion to Shriji Maharaj.
In this analogy fish means our soul and water means worldly means. Here the fish is given two adjectives. The devotee does not get bounded anywhere and skillfully remains detached. We should remain alert at the gate of awareness(our consciousness) – such are the words of Shriji Maharaj. We should remain conscious and alert in the world and in the path to God. Consciousness brings discrimination which generates cleverness. So clever means the one in whom wisdom has been confirmed. Cleverness and wisdom give the power of judgement. The clever devotee has the power to analyse all the circumstances in his daily life either it being pain, joy, temptation or any other worldly affairs. He is not bound by any of them. When he fully understands that the universe is the creation and possession of Lord Swaminarayan, he gets freed from the sense of possessiveness.
The fish keeps on fluttering, moving and gliding in water but does not possess any part in water. The seekers should follow this example in their spiritual life. The devotee who adores the feet of Lord Swaminarayan and believes that the earth belongs to the All Mighty. He considers the pleasures of 14 worlds like a straw of grass and therefore they become worthy of the imperishable abode which is above the 14 worlds.
We should understand that all us individuals are the fishes in the water of the ocean-like super soul, omnipresent Lord Swaminarayan. Omnipresent means within and without, internal and external, in consciousness or dream, in speech and listening; where we wander we wander in His creation only! You become detached when you move from the effect to cause. If you have affection for a saintly person it is not binding but affection for common person can be binding because saintly person is having communion with God and the other one is dealing with the world. In this way if we link up our actions and everything with Lord Swaminarayan and keep ourselves detached we shall be able to live like a fish.
The three forms of suffering, being mental suffering, suffering imposed by other beings and natural hardships are eliminated
The mark of triangle adores the left foot, contemplates on the three kinds of miseries; born out of Sava, Rajas, Tamas , can be destroyed, which can benefit the seeker.
There is a triangle-mark on the left foot of Shri Hari. Its three angles suggest three types of troubles in the world. The contemplation of this mark can pacify Adhibhut (worldly troubles), Adhidaiva (troubles from dies-stars) and Adhyatmik (pains of the body) - these three types of troubles. The devotee who takes shelter at the feet of Lord Swaminarayan is always protected by him. The devotee who has full affection for Shri Hari always obeys his commands which detains and destroys all on-coming pains of the (material) body; and along with these panchbhauk (five types of material) pains are also prevented. The commands of Shriji Maharaj are so subtle and comprehensive that by obeying them all these pains and troubles are destroyed e.g. It has been ordered that on the occasion of Solar or Lunar eclipse one should chant Swaminarayan Mahamantra dhun and then are take bath. The atmosphere has a negative effect of the creation of five fundamental elements and pains caused by it to the mind and body of human beings. If you closely study the effect of eclipse during that period you feel somewhat discomfort. The activity of mantra jaap spreads spiritual vibration in the atmosphere and saves us from negative effects of the eclipse. By taking the bath finally the mind and the body become cool and quiet. In this way Shriji Maharaj saves us from all physical and material worldly troubles and pains.
Some pains come due to bad luck and Shriji Maharaj protects us from them. Previously Shriji Maharaj has protected his devotees from such type of pains which have been documented by Nishkulanand Swami. In Bhaktachintamani Chapter – 137 he writes the story of Pranvallabh.
In Amdavad there lived a Brahmin Satsangi called Pranvallabh. He always worshipped Lord Swaminarayan with firm determination that this world is temporary and perishable. Once Pranvallabh went to take bath in Godavari Tirth along with his relative. But unfortunately the epidemic of plague had spread there. It was a deadly disease and had come as natural calamity. The disease caught Pranvallabh and his body was nearing his death. Pranvallabh remembered Shriji Maharaj, So Shriji Maharaj manifested Himself and appeared to offer Darshan and said, “O Pranvallabh! I am here to take you away to my imperishable abode, if you have any last wish just tell Me.”
To this Pranvallabh replied, “O Maharaj! I did not have the scope to tell my people that I am to leave for Your abode. People will believe and say that Pranvallabh died from plague as others have died.” So Shriji Maharaj said, “Now, go back to your body and come to me after proper clarification.”
All the relatives and companions carried the body of Pranvallabh to cremation ground and when it was placed on pyre his body began to move; the people standing around said, “Pranvallabh is dead, how can he come back into his body?” Suddenly Pranvallabh got up and on being asked he explained how he was given the chance to come back. Pranvallabh said, “Brothers! I was in the abode with Shriji Maharaj, but I have come here to tell you something. The reference to the words of Pranvallabh has been made by Nishkulanand Swami in his Bhaktachintamani like this .....
The force of Kaal (death) is very heavy, it will kill all men and women; so chant the name Swaminarayan, if you want to survive. Believe my words and, continue kirtan by clapping your hands; then he demonstrated dhun, and himself also joined in clapping.
Pranvallabh said, “At present there is a natural calamity, the force of Kaal in the form of the epidemic is very heavy, and many men and women are likely to die in it. There is only one remedy to save oneself just chant “Swaminarayan Swaminarayan”. If you believe me start changing the dhun “Swaminarayan, Swaminarayan” clapping your hands. He showed the method of dhun and clapped too, with others. And while sing on the pyre he demonstrated Swaminarayan dhun and the sound of dhun started spreading in the crematorium!
He asked to stop dhun and told everyone that now he was leaving for the abode. He squad legs in Padmasan, made his mind stable in the idol of Shriji Maharaj and before the eyes of all he proceeded to the imperishable abode of Lord Swaminarayan! The people around were filled with surprise and pleasure to witness this miracle! In holy fellowship a Satsangi has not to experience ever lasting pain or pleasure. If pain comes Lord Swaminarayan is always there to help and support and for this reason the followers always feel happy.
The strength and power at the lotus feet of Lord Swaminarayan can be understood when one studies and understands the deep meaning of every mark and day by day contemplate on it, only contemplation can give us auspicious inspiration. That will lead us to the firmness in the form of God. If one get this much by contemplation on Lords lotus feet, think of the gain if you contemplate on the Moor.
But who remains in touch with the lotus-feet of Lord Swaminarayan and understands the importance of the divine marks gets free from such troubles. The triangle mark on the left foot of Shri Hari is the pacifier of psycho, physical and natural troubles. Devotional practice should be done with firm belief that I will get protection from all these pains and troubles.
Blessed are those who are drenched, in the devotion of Shyam Sundar. Kirtan runs from breath to breath, don't allow the thread to break; As bird Chakora to the moon, he keeps the image of the master in the eyes. Firm devotion is accepted, all troubles are gone; adoring the feet of Shyam all day, achieves spontaneous Samadhi. Now fourteen worlds look like a straw, Brahmanand praises such loving seekers, who deserve the Supreme abode.
God himself has created this world, and has spread himself in every body, so aracon to such thing is very natural, but the world is the effect and God is the cause. During our travel from self to universe the souls come across many other souls, shapes and forms and sensuous objects. If the soul has not got a touch of real knowledge it is carried away by such worldly objects. Brahmanand Swami here says, blessed are the devotees who have been enamoured in the charming form of Shyam Sundar alias Lord Swaminarayan. They are freed from all worldly pains and troubles who have confirmed their faith in the manifested Lord Swaminarayan.
All troubles are gone, when firm devotion is accepted. As I adore Shyam's feet day and night, I enter into Samadhi. When there starts to be genuine adoration for the lotus-feet, meditation becomes effortless. This is the influence of the lotus feet of Lord Swaminarayan.
Easily able to break away from the cycle of birth and death, in the same way that one is able to easily stride over the foot print of a cow
(Cow Hoof Print)
People contemplate on Gopada because, there are such qualities in it; which can give the scope to cross immediately, this boundless ocean of worldly life.
As per the Hindu traditional and cultural concept the foot of a cow suggests upward movement towards heaven. The devotee who contemplates on Gopada gets the strength and power to cross this painful worldly ocean and reach to the proximity of God. So Nishkulanand Swami says :
O Dullard! be alert, grasp the opportunity, start the worship of the feet of indestructible Shri Hari; in order to destroy the dual of pain and misery, and end the cycle of 84 lac births.
When life comes to end and when it is time to go to the Lord's abode, crossing the worldly ocean, one needs a boat in the form of the worship of Lord Swaminarayan's idol. Only that person who takes shelter in the feet of Lord Swaminarayan, gain free from Maya killing the pains of many births – again the abode of Shri Hari.
By remembering the Gopada mark in the foot of Shri Hari one's thinking is confirmed that he has not to be gripped by Maya but his ultimate goal is the Lord's abode. So teach your soul, “Be aware, be alert, don't be caught in the worldly means. People who have left have gained nothing from the material world. So make sure that your goal is to reach the imperishable abode of Lord Swaminarayan and remain in connection with the divine feet of Shri Hari. This type of instructional dialogue with subconscious mind keeps one aware of one’s ultimate goal.
In this way Gopada is the mark which inspires us to leave this perishable world and ascend to imperishable Akshardham of Lord Swaminarayan.
Inner enemies are overcome
Shri Hari gets pleased on him, who contemplate on the bow-mark; as it destroys the polling effect of, lust, anger, ego and greed.
As the bow destroys the enemy. The bow and arrow in the form of the Lord's worship and devotion destroys the internal enemies like desire, anger, ego and greed and by destroying them the devotee can get bliss from the God. The Lord showers His grace on the soul who fights against senses, mind and intellect and minimising their force strengthens devotion. So Nishkulanand Swami says :
With a courageous heart without being lazy; keep-on fighting and never step back, untill your death. Considering the unshaken night and day internal fight; Shri Hari comes to help such brave devotee.
A bow is the symbol of bravery and challenge and the Gandiv(bow)-master Arjuna is its ideal. Arjun symbolises devotion and bow is the mark of the symbolic fight with internal enemies . So the devotee fights courageously against the force of five material subjects and never steps back untill the end of his life. He defeats all the enemies which become obstacles in the path of mediation. He perfects his ideals of mediation with the help of fighting weapons like Kirtan, holy association, and Katha-varta (listening to holy sermons).
Considering the zeal of such devotee Shri Hari runs to help him. The clouds of lustful desires anger and greed disperse from his heart and the mind becomes calm and quiet and in that quiet heart he gets the Darshan of Lord Swaminarayan in his blissful form.
If we turn to mythology we will find that God had assumed the form of Nrusinha(half lion and half man) to kill Hiranyakashipu and save Bhakta. Then Prahaladji earnestly prayed to Shri Hari, “O Lord! You have protected my body but I do not consider it as protection. I will consider it as total protection when I am protected from internal enemies like desire, anger, greed and ego. Such protection will purify my mind and heart and make me able to get connected with your form divine. When I get such state of consciousness, I will consider it as real protection.
It is very needful for all to keep in mind the earnest prayer of Prahaladji. We should try to detect the defects which become obstacles in the path of God's devotion and should release arrows of Kirtan, Smaran (changing Mantra within), Manasi Puja (mental worship) to minimise their force and remember Lord Swaminarayan. Then He will definitely shower His grace upon us.
In this way the mark of bow on the foot of Lord Swaminarayan inspires the seeker to fight against internal enemies and to strengthen the power of Kirtan, Katha-varta and devotion.
The heart remains pure and does not get polluted by worldly objects and pleasures, in the same way that space remains pure
Devotees who watch the mark of Vyom, are not detained in their path; because limitlessness is, the attribute of the space (Akash).
That devotees who again and again recollect the mark of Vyom on the foot of Lord Swaminarayan do not experience any hindrance in their devotion. Vyom possesses the quality of being cover less and immutability.
The sky is the support for earth, water, air, and light and it spread itself everywhere, and it is never disturbed by any cover. The mark of Vyom on the foot of Shri Hari strongly inspires the devotee to get close to the form of Lord Swaminarayan by crossing all worldly barriers.
The Nand Saints of Shriji Maharaj were as untouched and immutable as the sky. Once Gopalanand Swami adorned Umreth. There a Brahmin had taken a house on mortgage and then he died. The owner of the house approached the dead Brahmin's son and said, “Here is your money, give me back the mortgage-deed.” The son searched in the house but could not trace the document. So he went to Gopalanand Swami and said, “O Swami! The owner of the mortgaged house is demanding the document but I can't get it anywhere. My father must have placed it some where but now he is dead. What to do?”
Then Swami asked a saint to enter Samadhi to go and inquire in Akshardham, but the saint did not see the Brahmin there. He returned from Samadhi and reported the same to Swami. So Swami asked, “To whom was the Brahmin deeply attached in holy fellowship?” The Swami replied, “He was much attached to Amoghanand Swami.” So Swami asked, “And what was the subject of his study?” All said, “He was studying Ramakatha”. Then the Swami asked the son to go into Samadhi and reach Vaikunth. As he entered Vaikunth he saw Lord Shri Ramachandraji singing on his Singhasan and Amoghanand Swami was reading Ramakatha there! The father of the boy singing nearby. The boy asked his father to show where the document was, because the owner was demanding it from him. The father said, “There is a wooden beam in the house and in it I have made a hole which is sealed. You will get the document when you open the seal.
The son reported this to the audience after awaking from Samadhi. He went home, called a carpenter, opened the seal in the beam and handed over the document to the owner.
Thus Gopalanand Swami felt no hindrance or cover! Even on his word persons could go to other Loka (world) and get the experience. At the root of such achievement there is the power of the shelter of Shri Hari's Lotus feet which have the limitlessness and purity of the sky.
State of calmness attained in the heart at all times, in the same way that the moon always appears calm and at peace
Moon makes things cool, being its basic quality, does not cause burning, in the heart that remembers it.
There is a half-moon mark on the foot of Lord Swaminarayan. When the moon rises coolness begins to spread in all directions. When a devotee begins to contemplate on the moon on the foot of Lord Swaminarayan, quietness and coolness spread in the mind and his soul and heart become stable.
The heart of man is usually covered by disturbances, confusions and peace-breaking thoughts. One who has to deal with worldly affairs has to face troublesome, painful and disturbing situation. Believing money as means of happiness today’s man runs after it but if the money earned by him is not fair, it becomes a cause of many troubles in life. Only Lord Swaminarayan can uproot all these because he himself has offered the definition of the abode in which he lives. My abode you know, is called imperishable and nectar-like. It is cool and quiet, radiant beyond comparison. I live there forever, two-armed is my divine form.
Lord Swaminarayan's imperishable abode is divine, eternal and radiant and it has been compared with nectar. Though it is radiant it is cool and quiet. These two are its basic qualities. If any soul contemplates on Lord Swaminarayan it becomes abode-like because Lord Swaminarayan dwells in that soul. That soul becomes enlightened and the darkness of Maya is removed from it, and there spreads peace, coolness and quietness in that soul. This pleasure is divine pleasure which can match nectar in heaven, so Nishkulanand Swami sings:
The brave Swaminarayan dwells in my heart, all doubts and grief are pacified, and the mind has become stable and quiet. Nishkulanand says that after reaching the blissful state, the heart has no regrets now.
In this way by holding the form of Lord Swaminarayan the heart becomes free from all doubts and regrets; the conscious gets stabilised and becomes free from the shadows of doubts and agonies. So the contemplation of half Moon brings coolness and quietness in the heart.
Goal of salvation and aims in life are attained
How can I describe Kalash ? It always stays on top; if you hold it at heart, nothing remains to be done!
Kalash is the highest structure of supreme embellishment in the classical structure of a Hindu temple. It is the symbol of perfect beauty and fulfilment. If the devotee practices worship with perfect fulfilment his devotion also shines out like Kalash and nothing remains to be done by him. So Kalash symbolises the principle of fulfilment and gratitude.
Though we practice devotion we feel a void within our self and therefore fulfilment is lacking. But when you realise the real glory of Lord Swaminarayan and when you are filled and overwhelmed by the proud sense of belonging to Purushotam and Godhood then you feel very much fulfilled and sated. Explaining this point Nishkulanand Swami says:
Crores of welfare have come, my luck laughs today; Achieving god direct and now, all my dues are paid. 1
There is no loss as I get, sweeping showers of nectar; Why do I count one welfare? Crores of them have spread. 2
Hunger, thirst and poverty are gone, don't call us poor now; We are no longer money-less, profuse wealth has come. 3
Blessed is this eventful day, chanced to meet Maharaj; Says Nishkulanand drums of victory, are sounding sweet aloud. 4
Lord Swaminarayan manifested on this earth and those who adored his idol have become blessed. Showering of divine Nectar happened! Means the devotees experience pleasure in the Moor, in the Mantra, in the scriptures and in the company of the saints-devotees of Lord Swaminarayan. All these things take the soul towards immortality and blissful state of consciousness.
Therefore welfare is not single or one-way but it is all round many folded and many sided. Wealth has come to us in the form of contemplation and enlightenment of Lord Swaminarayan, so do not call us poor. Today we find world wide acclaim for the knowledge and the way of life prescribed by Lord Swaminarayan, it is like being drums of victory. We have achieved Lord Swaminarayan and got attached to his idol, nothing is wrong or lacking in life now. We feel obliged, fulfilled and proud. So the mark of Kalash on the foot of Shri Hari symbolises the climax of devotion.