Devout Childhood Pragji Bhakta, the son of Govindbhai, was born in Mahuva on Falgun sud 15 VS 1885 (1829 CE).

Pragji was devoted to God from childhood and often led the village boys in dancing and singing in praise of God.

Inspirer The children of the village were naturally attracted to Pragji Bhakta, who often sat with them narrating stories of God from the scriptures. The boys would sit spellbound as Pragji discoursed. He was interested only in God and often said, "I have already finished studies. I have come to worship God and inspire others to worship God."

Communion with Gopalanand Swami As he grew older, Pragji Bhakta spent much time serving at the Swaminarayan Mandir in Mahuva. Once, Acharya Raghuvirji Maharaj and Gopalanand Swami visited Pithvadi, near Mahuva, and the devotees there invited Pragji Bhakta to offer pujan. Seeing Pragji Bhakta's sincere devotion, Gopalanand Swami remarked, "He is a born devotee. He is very great and will inspire thousands to worship God." From then on, Pragji Bhakta went regularly to Vartal to serve and listen to the discourses of Gopalanand Swami.

Gunatitanand Swami as Guru As time passed, Gopalanand Swami revealed to Pragji Bhakta that Shriji Maharaj was supreme God and Gunatitanand Swami was the incarnation of Aksharbrahma, the choicest devotee of God. In VS 1908 (1852 CE) Gopalanand Swami fell terminally ill. He advised Pragji Bhakta to go to Junagadh to serve Gunatitanand Swami. Gopalanand Swami's passing away caused Pragji Bhakta much sadness, but when he met Gunatitanand Swami, he felt at peace, and accepted him as guru. A strong bond developed between guru and disciple. Once, as Pragji Bhakta helped Gunatitanand Swami to wash his hands, Swami said, "I have yet to find a worthy person to receive the true knowledge of God. It can only be given to a valiant soul who has control over all his senses and is prepared to surrender himself completely to me." Pragji Bhakta immediately resolved to become worthy of such grace.

Dedicated Service Pragji Bhakta earned the innermost blessings of Gunatitanand Swami by obeying his every wish. Whatever the task, Pragji Bhakta fulfilled without concern for physical hardship. Once, while the haveli in Junagadh was under construction, Pragji Bhakta prepared the required lime mixture, pounding it with his bare feet. Many cautioned that the heat of the lime mixture would make him blind, but Pragji Bhakta simply replied, "I want to please Swami. I have dedicated my life in the service of Swami."

Glory of Gunatitanand Swami Once, after the Annakut festival, as Pragji Bhakta was washing utensils, Gunatitanand Swami came and stood by the edge of the waste water pit. The dirty water touched his toes. At that moment, Swami asked, "Where can one find all the 68 places of pilgrimage?" Understanding the deeper spiritual meaning of the question, Pragji Bhakta jumped into the pit of dirty water. For him it was a spiritual bath since he knew that all 68 holy places lay in the water pit after Gunatitanand Swami's toes had touched it!

Watering the Mango Trees Once, at a mango grove in Malia village, Gunatitanand Swami saw the mango trees and commented that they would wither away for want of water. Understanding the implicit wish of Gunatitanand Swami, Pragji Bhakta watered each of 300 mango trees with four pots of water collected from the nearby river. Several hours later, drenched with water, Pragji Bhakta entered the assembly. Swami was pleased by his devout service and blessed him.

Darshan of Shriji Maharaj Pragji Bhakta served Gunatitanand Swami with body, mind and soul. In addition to the physical service Pragji Bhakta also observed rigorous austerities. For three-and-a-half years, he observed a waterless fast for two consecutive days and ate only once on the third day. In this way, he earned Swami's blessings. Gunatitanand Swami instructed Pragji Bhakta to sit in meditation for nine days and on the tenth, Shriji Maharaj granted him His divine darshan. Maharaj said to Pragji Bhakta, "I am under the loving command of Swami and you have won Swami's heart. So, from now on, I am at your command, too."

The Key to Akshardham By the grace of Gunatitanand Swami, Pragji Bhakta had attained the ultimate knowledge of God. He untiringly discoursed to the devotees on the philosophy of Akshar and Purushottam as revealed by Bhagwan Swaminarayan in His Vachanamrut scripture. Pragji Bhakta preached that Gunatitanand Swami is Mul Akshar and Shriji Maharaj is Purushottam. Gunatitanand Swami also highlighted the glory of Pragji Bhakta and said, "I have handed over the keys of Akshardham to Pragji."

A Shirt for the Soul By profession, Pragji Bhakta was a skilled tailor. Once, the most senior administrator of Vartal, Kothari Bechar Bhagat, asked him to make a new shirt for him. Without taking any measurements, Pragji Bhakta prepared a shirt. Bechar Bhagat was amazed that although Pragji Bhakta had not taken any measurements, the shirt fitted him perfectly. He was very pleased with Pragji Bhakta's skill. Pragji Bhakta then commented, "This shirt will cover your body but I can prepare a shirt that will adore your soul, too."

Glory of Pragji Bhakta After Gunatitanand Swami had passed away and returned to Akshardham (in 1923 CE), Pragji Bhakta continued to spread the true knowledge of Akshar and Purushottam. On a visit to Petlad, Pragji Bhakta, together with a group of sadhus and devotees, were the guests of the Rao Saheb. The Rao Saheb's senior bodyguard was a Muslim and a great aspirant. He offered his respects to Pragji Bhakta, who then talked to him about the four types of Satpurush. As Pragji Bhakta discoursed, the bodyguard experienced divine peace. At the end he commented to the sadhus and devotees, "You are all fakirs of Khuda (servants of God) and he (Pragji Bhakta) is Khuda himself. Therefore, even if he beats you with a cane or throws shoes at you follow him wherever he leads you."

Miracle in Meditation On one occasion, Pragji Bhakta displayed his divine powers. In VS 1913 (1857 ce) Pragji Bhakta and a group of devotees were on their way to Gadhada. Heavy rains, poor visibility and the rough, thorn-laden road troubled everyone. So Pragji Bhakta made them all sit in a circle and asked them to hold each other's toes and pray to Shriji Maharaj with eyes shut. After a while he allowed them to open their eyes. To everyone's surprise they were now seated on the banks of river Ghela in Gadhada.

Calming the River In VS 1914(1858 CE), Pragji Bhakta was leading a group of devotees to Junagadh for the darshan of Gunatitanand Swami. Heavy rains had caused the river Shetrunji to overflow and the powerful water current prevented the boatmen from taking them across. But Pragji Bhakta led the devotees into the water and as they advanced on their path the current abated and the water barely reached chest height. The boatmen and others watched in surprise and Pragji Bhakta and the devotees reached the opposite shore.

A Life of Service, Devotion and True Knowledge Pragji Bhakta's discourses revealed the true knowledge of Akshar and Purushottam and inspired many onto the path of God. Brahmaswarup Shastriji Maharaj, too, was drawn by his saintly virtues and pure life. After instating Shastriji Maharaj in his place, Pragji Bhakta passed away to Akshardham on Kartik Sud 13 Vikram Samvat 1954 (1898 CE).