- The Founder
Shastriji Maharaj Shri Dharmajivandasji Swami, the founder of the Gurukul tradition was born on 18th June, 1901, the auspicious day of the Rathayatra of Shree Jagannath Bhagawan of Puri, in the Taravada village of Amreli District in Gujarat, India and was named as Arjan. He was very brilliant and studious. He had natural inclination for spiritual learning and reading of religious scriptures.
Since his childhood, he had a natural attraction towards saints, as he aspired to attend all spiritual gatherings. Even at the cost of sleep and food, he used to go and serve these saints at every opportunity he had. One such occasion changed his life forever. He was privileged to receive divine blessings from Saint Shree Balmukundadasji Swami. This created a spiritual fire in his heart and a calling in his soul that shaped the journey for the rest of his divine life.
Being attracted by the pure and virtuous life led by the saints of Swaminarayan Sampradaya, Arjan started regularly attending Swaminarayan Satsangs. At the tender age of 16, Arjan was convinced that the pure life of the Swaminarayan Saints was the optimal method of supreme spiritual realization and salvation and became a Saint. Arjan now became Sadhu Dharmajivandas.
Seeing Gurukul and saints imparting Sanskrit and Religious education to young students on his pilgrimage on foot on the Himalayas, he realized the message of Bhagwan Shree Swaminarayan to preserve and propagate ‘Sadvidya’ all over the world. There he got the inner inspiration to start some constructive and service activities based on the broad and benevolent message of Bhagwan Shree Swaminarayan. Coming back to Saurashtra he established Shree Swaminarayan Gurukul in the year of India’s independence i.e. in 1947-48 at Rajkot – Gujarat.
Shree Dharmajivandasji Swami led a very simple life of devotion, compassion, spiritual inquest and strong righteous principles. This lifestyle had a major influence on his disciples as well. He always emphasized the path of Bhakti and Dharma.
Social welfare activities and betterment of the society were the pillars of his mission. He practiced a vow called Ayachak Vrat i.e., never to ask anyone for any money as donation. He had firm faith in God and believed that all the benevolent activities of the Gurukul should run only with the voluntary donations of the people inspired by the Almighty. This principle is still practiced as a vow by this Gurukul in all its activities.
Success for him was nothing other than the betterment of the society. Success for him was not a destination, but journey. In fact, his life became the source of inspiration to so many saints of other sects, that they too started creating huge institutions for education and social welfare activities.
He was a great successor of Gunatit tradition, a reformer of spiritual activities and Saint-life.