Gunatitanand Swami was the first guru after Bhagwan Swaminarayan. He was the incarnation of Akshar, the greatest devotee and divine abode of God (Akshardham).
Gunatitanand Swami: Ideal Devotee
His humility, service and saintly virtues earned him the love and respect of all. Bhagwan Swaminarayan never missed a chance to point out the special spiritual relationship that Gunatitanand Swami had with Him. Shriji Maharaj often announced, "He is Akshar, the highest Abode of God (Akshardham). He serves Me eternally. Through Gunatitanand Swami a devotee can become like Akshar or aksharup and serve Me eternally."
Mahant of Junagadh
The Nawab folded his hands and replied, "There is no one equal to God."
Shriji Maharaj pointed to Gunatitanand Swami and said, "This sadhu is like Me. He is capable enough to do all of the things that I can do. I will keep him here as the Mahant (head)." After making him Mahant, Shriji Maharaj advised all the sadhus and satsangis to come to Junagadh for one month every year to learn from the teachings of Gunatitanand Swami.
Gunatitanand Swami offered his services as the Mahant of Junagadh mandir for 40 years, 4 months and 4 days. Near the end of his life, Gunatitanand Swami told the devotees, "Now I'll travel in the Satsang fellowship and stay at Mahuva." Saying this, he thus revealed Bhagatji Maharaj to be his successor.
Gunatitanand Swami left this earth at the age of 82 in Gondal. The place in Gondal where his body was cremated is called Akshar Deri. His teachings have been written down in a scripture called Swamini Vato. Today, thousands of devotees read the Swamini Vato every day.