Premanand Swami was born to Hindu parents but his parents abandoned him at a young age then he was raised by a Muslim family.
At the age of twelve, first time he came for the darshan of Bhagwan Swaminarayan in Gadhada. He sang very good songs hearing it Bhagwan Swaminarayan was very happy and remarked, “This boy is very good!” Saints said, “He was raised in Muslim family”, Bhagwan Swaminarayan said, “It’s value of flower that counts not where he was raised!” Bhagwan Swaminarayan initiated him as saint and later became His first-rank saint Premanand Swami!
When given initiation, he was named Nijbodhanand Swami. His name was later changed to Premanand, due to his extreme devotional love; Bhagwan Swaminarayan praised Premanand Swami as an idol of love and often referred to him as “Premsakhi.” Premanand Swami was known for his poetic and musical talent. While singing, he would become deeply engrossed and would make the whole atmosphere devout and full of affection towards Bhagwan Swaminarayan.
His singing could change the evening atmosphere into that of early morning. Once, Hamid Khan, the Nawab of Junagadh and connoisseur of music, rebuked his court master singer, “First listen to the kirtans of Swaminarayan’s fakir Premanand, then sing before me; his music comes from the soul.”
Many a times Premanand Swami sang kirtans remembering Bhagwan Swaminarayan, till very late night in his hut, near bank of Ghela River. Bhagwan Swaminarayan Himself stood outside his hut for hours listening to the kirtans. Such was his extreme devotion towards Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Bhagwan Himself had such loving attraction to Premanand Swami’s devotion.
Premanand Swami was a born poet. His kirtans are so effective and impressive that listening inclines one toward deep love of God. Premanand Swami also composed more than 10,000 kirtans and a few among them are compiled and published as Premanand Kavya.
The great Poet Nanalal remarked, “The kirtans by Brahmanand and Premanand shine equally brilliantly when compared to those composed by their contemporaries.”
As referenced in Vachanamrut Gadhada II. 48 that in the assembly Premanand Swami sang the kirtan ‘Vandu Sahajanand Ras Rup, Anupam Sar-Ne Re Lol...’ hearing which, Bhagwan Swaminarayan was very much pleased and commented, “The kirtans you sang were very wonderful. After listening to them I thought in My mind since this sadhu thinks about Bhagwan in this way, let Me get up and prostrate before him. A person who is able to visualize God in this manner has accomplished everything and has nothing more left to achieve.”
Premanand Swami also had composed “Nitya Chesta” which is sung and recited daily at all Swaminarayan temples in which he minutely described the form of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, His activities, and many other attributes. On this and such other works, M.C. Parekh has commented:
“The very act of eating and drinking of Swami Sahajanand, the way he walked, the way he rode, his manner of speaking, in fact everything relating to him has been described so closely and fully that it would be difficult to find a parallel to it in any literature, religious or secular. His disciples believed fully that their Master was divine, and hence to them his person and everything that he did and said were divine. In their eyes the entire universe was centred in him, and everything relating to him was of the very essence of life and life eternal.” At the age of 71, Premanand Swami left this world at Gadhada in Samvat Year 1911. K.M. Munshi, a great versatile personality, freedom fighter and foremost writer in Gujarati literature has complimented Premanand Swami, saying, “After the medieval era of Mirabai and Narsinh Mehta, if there is any such devotion flowing in the poem after them then, it is in the poems of Premanand Swami.”