Submitted By supersaving11
Shantilal was born in the village of Chansad, Gujarat, on 7 December 1921. His parents, Motibhai and Diwaliben Patel, were disciples of Shastriji Maharaj and followers of the Akshar Purushottam faith. Motibhai and Diwaliben were both involved in the Swaminarayan fellowship; Diwaliben’s family’s association with the Swaminarayan fellowship extended to the time of Bhagatji Maharaj. Shastriji Maharaj had blessed young Shantilal at birth, and had told his father, “This child is ours; when the time is ripe, please give him to us. He will lead thousands to the devotion of God. Through him, thousands will attain liberation.”
Shantilal’s mother described him as a calm and soft-spoken, yet energetic and active child. His childhood friends recall that Shantilal developed a reputation in the town and in school as an honest, reliable, mature, and kindhearted boy. Even as a child, he possessed an uncommon empathy that led others to seek out and trust his opinions and judgments in matters large and small. Shantilal was raised in a simple home environment, as his family was of modest means. Although he excelled in his studies, in the seventeen years he spent at home before becoming a sadhu, Shantilal only had the opportunity to attend school for six years. As he grew older, Shantilal helped his household by doing chores on the family farm.
Early spiritual inclination
Shantilal was strongly inclined towards spirituality from a young age. Upon completing his schoolwork, he would often rush off to the village’s Hanuman temple, where he and a childhood friend would listen to the discourses of a Hindu "holy man" named Haridas. Shantilal’s daily “darshan”, or worship, at the Swaminarayan mandir in Chansad, and his association with Shastriji Maharaj and his disciple sadhus whenever they came to the village, further reflected Shantilal’s…...