Brahmanand Swami was born as Ladudan Barot on the auspicious day of Vasant Panchami in the village of Khan, near Mount Abu in Rajasthan. His father was Shambhudanji and his mother was Laluba.
Once, Ladudan went to the local King’s palace and sang a few poems in praise of the King and his virtues. Seeing the poetic genius of the young Ladudan, the King asked Shambhudan Gadhavi to allow Ladudan to be taught Pingal (art of constructing poetry) at the royal expense. Thus, Ladudanji was sent to Bhuj, where he learned Pingal and other scriptures until the age of 28. By the completion of his education, he had become erudite in poetry and other skills.
He then became a very famous poet and soon became highly respected by the great kings. Ladudan earned fame and wealth by visiting the stately courts of Bhuj, Dhangadhra, Jamnagar, Junagadh and Bhavnagar; all of them were highly impressed by his poetry. Everyone invited him to become their main bard with great perks and benefits.
Ladudanji lived a royal and majestic lifestyle. He was always adorned with jewelry befitting kings. However, after coming into contact with Bhagwan Swaminarayan, he renounced everything and became a saint. Even after his renunciation, the King of Vadodara offered him the opportunity to become the main bard with quite extravagant benefits, but he expressly refused. Brahmanand Swami, whose whole body was once covered in exquisite ornaments, now wore clothes made from jute, the rough material from which sacks were made, and lived a simple, ascetic lifestyle. This remarkable transformation was due to nothing more than Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s command.
Munibawa was a highly influential head of a religious organization and was considered to be the God of Surat; however, he was strictly against the Swaminarayan religion. Brahmanand Swami went to study Sanskrit in Surat, and, captivated by his personality, Munibawa agreed to meet Bhagwan Swaminarayan and later became His disciple.
Brahmanand Swami was a versatile genius. Apart from music and poetry, he was a master in sculpture and architecture. The magnificent temples of Vadtal, Junagadh and Muli were constructed under his guidance and supervision.
Once, Bhagwan Swaminarayan asked a group of saints what their specialty was. On his turn, Brahmanand Swami mentioned that when he composed a kirtan, he didn’t need to find words. He could choose any word at ease! Due to this extraordinary capability, Brahmanand Swami was able to instantaneously make kirtans, and composed more than 12,000 over his lifetime. A few among them are compiled and published as Brahmanand Kavya, a copy of which is preserved in the British Museum in London.
Brahmanand Swami was at one time constructing a temple in Junagadh. At that time, Junagadh was ruled by Nawab Hamid Khan. Once, a poet from Lucknow came in the court and challenged the main bard of Nawab. In those days, such competition was a typical event. It was a matter of great concern for the main bard because losing meant not only humiliation, but also loss of the post as main bard. However, he came to know that Brahmanand Swami, a great versatile saint of Bhagwan Swaminarayan was in Junagadh. He immediately came to meet him at the construction site of the temple and made a heartfelt request for help to Brahmanand Swami. Brahmanand Swami told him not to worry. He then immediately composed a song, which used only letters, which did not require the meeting of the two lips when uttered. Examples include a, d, k, r and such others in English. Then Brahmanand Swami instructed the main bard of Junagadh to challenge the poet of Lucknow to sing a song while keeping a needle between his two lips. When he failed the main bard should sing the song Brahmanand Swami wrote while doing the same. The main bard of Junagadh did exactly that same and won the competition. Later, the main bard of Junagadh joined the holy fellowship.
Bhagwan Swaminarayan promised that if recited 100 of Brahmanand Swami’s kirtans daily with ardent devotion, He would give His darshan to that a devotee.
Brahmanand Swami also had a very good sense of humor and amused Bhagwan Swaminarayan with his wit whenever possible. Because of his devotion and love for Bhagwan Swaminarayan, Brahmanand Swami was widely known as the dear friend of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. His friendship was not a mere acquaintance; his friendship with Bhagwan Swaminarayan had imbued him with God-like qualities. One such incident was that with just one touch he made the Nawab of Junaghadh’s aroused horse free of sensual desires to such an extent that it could never be used as a stud.
Such was his deep love for Bhagwan Swaminarayan that when Bhagwan Swaminarayan decided to depart from the world, He ordered Brahmanand Swami to go to Junagadh because Bhagwan Swaminarayan knew that Brahmanand Swami had the power to bring him back to earth if He left His physical body in his presence! Brahmanand Swami departed from this world in Muli temple on the tenth day of the bright half of Jyeshta in Samvat Year 1888, exactly two years after Bhagwan Swaminarayan left this world. He lived for 60 years, 5 months and 5 days.
H.G. Briggs noted, “Brahmanand , one of the early coadjutors and bossom friend of the Reformer, he was a Hindu-classic scholar of no ordinary ability, of singularly mild deportment, and a benevolence of despotism and character rarely met, he was a poet too and his songs and allegries are still recited with enthusiasm”
The Invincible Sanskrit Scholar, Pundit
Samvat Year 1832-1908 (1776-1852 AD)