It was a dark and very stormy night. Tossing adrift on the intense sea waves was a merchant ship. Everyone aboard this ship thought that they would never survive the storm – everyone except one merchant, who was returning from abroad with very expensive merchandise. The merchant realized that the only thing that anyone could do in the face of the storm’s fury was to pray to God. With this thought he began to pray, “Oh Purna Purushottam Narayan! Please keep us safe from this storm. When we safely land at a port, I will donate half of my merchandise to a mandir.”
With this promise and strong faith, the merchant continued his prayers. Soon enough, the wind calmed down. The crashing ocean waves slowed to a gentle rocking. All the travelers sighed with relief as the calm night wind blew across their faces. The ship came into port Divbandar, safe and sound.
A few days later, the merchant’s story continues as he set out to fulfil his promise to God. He came to the town of Loj and Ramanand Swami’s ashram. The merchant entered the ashram and went to Ramanand Swami to pay his respects by touching his feet. Before the merchant could say a word, Ramanand Swami said, “Sheth, your ship was stuck in a storm in the middle of the ocean. Today, you have come to fulfil your promise.” He then went on to relate the merchant’s story to those who were present. The merchant was dumbstruck; it was as if Ramanand Swami could read his mind! He realized the spiritual greatness of Ramanand Swami and immediately accepted him as his guru. And, to fulfil the promise he had made during the storm, he donated half of his wealth according to Ramanand Swami’s directions.
Time passed on and the merchant returned to Loj. The whole town was full of excitement. All the sadhus and devotees were in a festive mood because a big annakut was being held in honour of Shriji Maharaj’s arrival! This time, the merchant did not come with valuable merchandise and wealth; he had come to have darshan of Shriji Maharaj.
He remembered what Ramanand Swami had said about Shriji Maharaj, “I am merely the drumbeater. The real leader is Sahajanand Swami.” The merchant entered the assembly, had darshan of Shriji Maharaj from afar and sat down. At that moment, Shriji Maharaj called a young boy to the front of the assembly and said to him, “Look, a merchant from Divbandar is here. Please tell us what he has been thinking.” The young boy began speaking as if he was reading a book and immediately related everything the merchant was thinking.
The merchant was shocked and astonished! Shriji Maharaj displayed the same miraculous powers he had first seen in Ramanand Swami. The merchant began to think, “If Shriji Maharaj’s devotees are this powerful how spiritually great must Shriji Maharaj himself be?”
Shriji Maharaj again read the merchant’s thoughts and said, “By reading someone’s mind, one does not become God. Even my paramhansas and great devotees can read peoples’ minds. But, to turn their minds towards spirituality is a far superior achievement.”
However, the doubts in the merchant’s mind were not yet cleared. Was Shriji Maharaj really the supreme God himself? Yet again, to answer his doubts, Shriji Maharaj said, “I, Purna Purushottam Narayan Himself, have come down to earth to grant salvation to innumerable souls.”
Upon hearing these words, the merchant’s faith in Shriji Maharaj as the supreme Purna Purushottam Narayan, was solidified. He stayed at Loj in Shriji Maharaj’s company for three more days. Even after returning home, he found he could not live without Shriji Maharaj. So, he renounced his worldly life and sought refuge at Maharaj’s feet. Maharaj initiated him and named him Prabhanand Swami. Prabhanand Swami dedicated the rest of his life to Satsang and spread Maharaj’s goodness and glory so that others too could understand his supreme greatness.