years ago. The Maharajas of Bhavnagar, Nawanagar (today’s Jamnagar),
Junagadh and Dhrangadhra were hailing the “Jai” of a ‘phenomenon.’
This ‘phenomenon’ was the poet Ladudan Barot. He was only
28 years old. The Royals showered him with gold coins, gems, pearls, gold
ornaments, and gifted him horses and camels. They also honoured him with
the degree of “Royal Bard”, “Pingal Acharya”,
etc. Why? Because Ladudan really was the greatest, the most intelligent
and most versatile poet they had ever met!
Now all this fame and wealth filled Ladudan with pride. After his astonishing
display of poetics in the Bhavnagar Palace, he heard that, “Bhagwan
Swaminarayan has incarnated and is now in Gadhada.” His pride
of learning, of his intellectual greatness, made him think, “What
? Does he really think he is God? I will only believe him after he passes
my tests.” He then thought of 4 wishes:
With these thoughts churning his mind, he galloped off to Gadhada. Along the way, his mind started getting calmer and calmer. For a few moments this made Ladudan shudder, “Could this be because he is God? No, no.”
In Gadhada, he trotted into Abhal Khachar’s darbar. On his left he saw a large neem tree. People were sitting underneath its shade. There were saffron robed sadhus as well. He suddenly felt drawn towards the tree. As he came closer, his eyes fell on a person dressed in white, seated on a high seat.
He felt a wave of soothing peace roll over him. He did not understand what was happening to him. He did not know that he had got off his horse and was walking towards the magnificent figure in white, with a rose garland around his neck ! He saw the Bhagvat on a black woollen cloth ! Just then he heard a voice. A friendly voice.
“Welcome Ladudanji! Welcome!”
Ladudan nearly fainted. Three wishes fulfilled! “Who is he? Is Swaminarayan really God?” His heart thumped wildly against his chest.
By now Ladudan had reached Shriji Maharaj. Instantly he knelt down at Maharaj’s lotus-feet. As his head touched the feet, he saw the 16 signs on the tender soles of Maharaj! His fourth wish was fulfilled! That did it! His ego of being the best poet crambled. His heart was humbled.
“O Bhagwan! Please forgive me. My ego prevented me from believing you as God. Please forgive me...” Tears filled Ladudan’s eyes.
Shriji Maharaj placed His hands on Ladudan’s head and blessed him. This divine touch transformed Ladudan. His heart was now completely drenched with bhakti for Shriji Maharaj. Being an extempore poet, he instantly composed the famous kirtan.
“Ajni ghadi re, dhanya ajni ghadi,
Shriji Maharaj then gave Ladudan
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