Gunatitanand Swami pointed to Bhagatji Maharaj as the second guru in line after Shriji Maharaj.
Bhagatji Maharaj's real name was Pragji. He was born on 20 March 1829 in the beautiful sea-town of Mahuva to Govindbhai, a tailor by caste. Pragji showed great love in worshipping God from a young age. Pragji could always be found at the mandir, where the young children gathered around him and listened to his great talks about worshipping God. Because everyone in the village looked up to Pragji and praised his love for God, he was affectionately called "Bhagat."
"GO to Junagadh"
After joining the Satsang, Pragji Bhagat came into contact with Sadguru Gopalanand Swami, a senior sadhu initiated by Bhagwan Swaminarayan. Gopalanand Swami taught him that Gunatitanand Swami is Shriji Maharaj's greatest devotee and his divine abode, or Akshardham. Before passing away, Gopalanand Swami commanded Pragji Bhagat to g o to Junagadh and stay in the contact of Gunatitanand Swami.
Sermons, Service and Obidience
Gunatitanand Swami's inspiring talks impressed Pragji Bhagat. He accepted Gunatitanand Swami as his guru. Pragji Bhagat was eager to learn the true spiritual knowledge from Gunatitanand Swami. He made up his mind to be worthy of attaining Swami's knowledge by totally surrendering to him. Pragji Bhagat listened attentively while Gunatitanand Swami explained to him the teachings of Shriji Maharaj written in the Vachnamrut.
While learning the true spiritual knowledge, Pragji Bhagat tirelessly served Gunatitanand Swami without any concern for his body or thought of his family. According to Gunatitanand Swami's wish, Pragji Bhagat left home and joined in the construction work of the new haveli (mansion) in Junagadh. He dug deep foundations; he himself prepared the mortar by pounding the lime with his bare feet! He was not worried about getting blisters or becoming blind from the scorching lime. While performing these difficult tasks, he would eat only once every three days and sleep for only one hour each night. The more that Pragji Bhagat worked, the more Swami became pleased. This encouraged Pragji Bhagat to work even harder. His every action taught others that it is the duty of a disciple (shishya) to carry out all the commands of his guru without any hesitation and doubt.
Through his service and obedience to Gunatitanand Swami, Pragji Bhagat was blessed with the God-realised state (gunatit sthiti). He constantly began to feel Bhagwan Swaminarayan's divine presence in his heart. Before returning to the divine abode, Swami told the devotees and sadhus that the key to Akshardham is in Pragji Bhagat's hands. Swami commanded everyone to obey Pragji Bhagat's wishes and listen to his talks. In this way, Gunatitanand Swami revealed Pragji Bhagat as the next guru.
Pragji Bhagat, now respectfully called Bhagatji Maharaj, was accepted as guru by many well-known scholars and sadhus, even though he was a householder. Bhagatji Maharaj openly and proudly preached that Gunatitanand Swami is Akshar and Bhagwan Swaminarayan is the supreme God. He tolerated every incident of physical or verbal abuse with humility. Most importantly, he taught the knowledge of Akshar Purushottam (the worship of God with his greatest devotee) to his beloved disciple Sadhu Yagnapurushdasji, or Shastriji Maharaj. After pointing to Shastriji Maharaj as the next guru, Bhagatji Maharaj left this earth at the age of 68 in his village Mahuva.
Lifespan: 68 years
From: 20 March 1829 CE
to 7 November 1897 CE
Birthplace: Mahuva, Gujarat, India