Nityanand Swami, the greatest scholar of holy fellowship, was born as Dinmani Sharma in Dantia, a town near Lucknow. He was born into a very rich Brahmin family. His father was Vishnu Sharma and his mother was named Virjadevi. For his education, he went Banaras to learn and acquire knowledge from Jagjit Pandit. He had studied several scriptures like the Vedas, Vedanta, Nyay etc. and became a very learned scholar.
He had a desire of meeting God, so he left home in the search of God. When he first met Bhagwan Swaminarayan, he was convinced that He could be anyone but God Himself by just seeing His teeth. Bhagwan Swaminarayan initiated him as a saint and named him Nityanand Swami in Meghpur in 1802 AD.
Even though he was born in a rich and aristocratic family, Nityanand Swami lived a life of detachment and modesty. On one occasion, Bhagwan Swaminarayan told a group of saints who studied under Nityanand Swami, “Nityanand Swami’s destiny is like that of multimillionaire; despite this, he is living a simple life, full of austerity. He is helping you in study, so consider yourself fortunate and hold him in highest esteem.”
On the basis of Vedic scriptures, Nityanand Swami upheld the new Swaminarayan movement. When a section on Upasana in the scripture Satsangi Jivan was to be written, Nityanand Swami insisted that Bhagwan Swaminarayan must be described as the Supreme Godhead. To test his belief, Bhagwan Swaminarayan excommunicated him, but for seven days, Nityanand Swami remained steadfast in his belief. Later, Bhagwan Swaminarayan garlanded him and praised him in the whole assembly and appreciated his understanding.
Once, Bhagwan Swaminarayan asked a group of saints their specialty was. At his turn, Nityanand Swami stated that that by His grace, there is nobody in the world that could win a debate against him regarding the Godliness of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and the Vedic base of the holy fellowship! Even Bhagwan Swaminarayan used to hear discourse from Nityanand Swami on scriptures was his specialty! Through his life, Nityanand Swami contributed immensely to winning debates over Bhagwan Swaminarayan as an incarnation and the Vedic base of the holy fellowship.
One time, the 56-item-food festival was arranged by the Vallabh fellowship in Ahmedabad in Vikram Samvat 1886. On that occasion, more than 50 scholars of the Vallabh fellowship were gathered to malign the Swaminarayan fellowship. Nityanand Swami participated in the religious debate. By his sharpwitted arguments, he proved that the Swaminarayan fellowship is a pure Vaishnav fellowship. The scholars who opposed him through jealousy were defeated. On another occasion, by holding discussions with Shankaracharya in Chhoti Kashi (Umreth), he established the Vedic approval and popular acceptance of the Swaminarayan religion. He defeated the scholars in the royal court of Gaikwad II in Vadodara in discussions on Vedic scriptures. Nityanand Swami also won a debate in Junagadh. Nityanand Swami was one of the four saints who compiled Vachanamrut, the leading scripture of the holy fellowship. Also, as per Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s wish, Nityanand Swami composed Hari Digvijay. This scripture describes and proves that Bhagwan Swaminarayan is the Almighty Supreme Godhead through numerous discussions and debates and scripture consists of 49 chapters. In addition, Nityanand Swami wrote several other scriptures like Shree Harikavach and others. He also translated the original Shikshapatri from Sanskrit to Gujarati.
After serving the divine fellowship for 54 years, Nityanand Swami left his mortal body at the age of 76 years, in Samvat Year 1908 at Vadtal. In order to commemorate this great saint, a marble monument was set up at the spot of his cremation at Gnan Baug, Vadtal.
An idol of non-attachment
Samvat Year 1822-1903 (1766-1847 AD)