Superstition is a very bad thing. It is difficult to wipe out superstition once it enters into one's mind. Seval is a small town near Cambay. There lived a Brahmin named Sevakram. His wife's name was Sunanda. When Sunanda gave birth to son, Sevakram became doubtful about his child's parenthood. So he took the new born son to Cambay and left him near a mosque.
The next morning, a Mohmedan Jai saw this abandoned child. Jai was childless so he took away the boy at his home and brought him up. He gave the name HATHI to that boy.
Hathi was still a child. His foster parents passed away because of plague. Now, Hathi was taken care of by his uncle (Maternal) Doshabhai at Ahmedabad. Doshabhai was a Vaishnav was harassed by his caste-fellows. He was at times locked up in house. Such types of mischief was played against him. But Doshabhai was especially favoured by Shriji Maharaj. Doshabhai successfully passed all these hurdles. He came out shining brilliantly as gold purified into a furnace.
The child Hathi was very much loved by Doshabhai. On seeing Hathi's love for music, Doshabhai encouraged Hathi in that direction. He was sent to vadodara to learn music. Hathi worked hard to accomplish greatness in music. After having accomplished music, he returned to Amdavab. Doshabhai was pleased.
After sometimes Doshabhai went to Ghadhada for Shriji Maharaj's Darshan along with Hathi. There Maharaj was pleased with Hathi's art of music. Maharaj asked Doshabhai, "Who is this ?" He is my cousin. His parents died when he was a child. So I have brought him up," replied Doshabhai. " Now I will look after him. Leave him here," said Maharaj
Doshabhai considered Maharaj's pleasure as the success of his life. He left Hathi in the service of Maharaj. Maharaj initiated Hathi and gave him the name of Premanand. Premanand's personality blossomed extraordinary under Maharaj's shelter. Not a single lapse could be found in his art of playing musical instrument and singing songs.
One day Shriji Maharaj was seated on a wooden cot at Dada Khacher's court. Everyone had put on white dress. They put on garlands of white flower round their necks. The meeting of saints and followers was being organised. A Brahmin couple on pilgrimage came for Shriji Maharaj's Darshan. They were Sevakram and his wife Sunanda. They arrived here after completing their pilgrimage of Cambay to Pawagadh and Dwarika. Sunanda took her seat among ladies. Sevakram stood alone in a corner. Shriji Maharaj said to him, "O Brahman, are you educated?" "In knowledge or education I only know Mataji's DHOL," replied Sevakram.
"Then recite it," commanded Maharaj. Sevakram recited it. Maharaj was pleased. Premanand Swami was present there in the meeting. Maharaj looked at him and said," Swami, could you compose a devotional song in the style and manner of Sevakram?" "Is there anything impossible thing once you command?" said Swami, "Sit before me and listen to what I sing," continued swami. Thus steadying his glance on Maharaj, Swami started singing a song eulogising Maharaj. As soon as the GARABI song was over, Maharaj was pleased and said, "On hearing this devotional song I thought that a saint who meditates on God so dearly should be honoured by falling at his feet. The person who mediates on God so dearly has attained the final state of deliverance - beatitude bodily. He has achieved his goal. He has now nothing left to do. The Satsang of such a saint is rare."
A student may fail in degree certificate by studying BA., M.A or any other faculty. But Shriji Maharaj's above mentioned certificate reaches the top where all other worldly certificates of universities fail to do so.
Shriji Maharaj said to Sevakram, "Do you know any more song?". The Brahmin sang one more song very emotionally. As soon as the song was over, Shriji Maharaj looked at Premanand Swami, "How was that ?" Within a wink of an eye, Premanand began to sing. Maharaj's joy knew no bounds. Maharaj once more asked Sevakram, "O Brahmin, have you any issue ?" On hearing this Sevakram's face lost its lustre and joy.
"Maharaj," said Sevakram, "God had given me a child but I abandoned him on being doubtful about his birth. When I pushed back the first favour of God, how can he show another favour ? So I am childless," answered Sevakram with sorrow at heart.
"Could you recognise the abandoned child ?" asked Maharaj. "How can I recognise him by face ? But I can remember at present the lines in his palms and soles, " said Sevakram. "Then have a look at Swami's (Premanand's) line," advised Maharaj and he asked Premanand to show his lines in palms and soles to Sevakram.
Sevakram saw Swamiji's line in palms and feet. On seeing the symbols of flag and the moon in hands, upward linings in feet and rising fortune lines in forehead, Sevakram was confused. He said to Maharaj, "I do not follow anything. How can an abandoned be alive ? But this one seems to be the same." "Yes, he is the same," said Maharaj. Brahmin's eyes were full of tears. He fell to Maharaj's feet often and often. When he saw his son as a saint of Maharaj, Sevakram was pleased a lot. He went home joyfully.
Premanand Swami's poetic abilities were wonderful. Once Shriji Maharaj halted under a pipal tree in the outskirts of Bar Patoli village. There he heard a Koli on the tree. The Koli was singing a song RASDO. Premanand Swami was just before Maharaj. Maharaj said to Swami, "I like this RAG very much," Swami understood Maharaj's meaning. He at once composed a devotional song and recited it before Maharaj. Once Shriji Maharaj was standing in the AKSHAR Oradi. There JAYA, LALITA and ROOPA etc. asked him a question., "Maharaj, tell us about the place from which you come and the reason of your place from which you have come, and the reason of your coming here," What Maharaj answered to ladies was heard by Premanand. Therefore swami took a pen and a paper to write it down. Maharaj asked, " Swami, what are you doing ?""I am transforming what you are saying in a devotional song, "said Premanand.
Premanand Swami has composed more than four thousand songs. His songs are full of devotion. Premanand Swami had the same feeling and love for Maharaj as Gopis had for Lord Krishna. Many a time he lost the sense of his existence while singing devotional songs. Listeners were also totally merged into emotional trance. Maharaj recognised well this lose of Swami for him. So he called him lovingly "PREMSAKHI", Swami himself noted this loving name in his compositions. Swami's Sakhibhawa was really wonderful. Premanand Swami has composed numerous songs even in Hindi. His certain compositions are so composed as would create resonance of Mridangam (drum) with which in the accompaniment we seem to be dancing with its rhythm. Such was the magic of his words. Swaminarayan Sampraday has eight saint poets. Premanand Swami is among Muktanand, Brahmanand, Nishkulanand, Devanand etc.
Once the Nawab of Junagadh invited Shriji Maharaj in his palace. The Nawab was fond of music and knowing well the art. Moreover he keenly desired to hear Premanand's songs. Swami also accompanied Maharaj in his palace. Muslim musicians sang some songs. Then Swami sang two GHAZALS; "O Nand Dulara, Kishan, give me your ears! I have sacrificed my belongings on your name. I have sacrificed my belongings on your name. I have become a `FAKIR' (Sadhu) and roamed everywhere. I have a keen desire in the bottom of my heart to have your glimpse. If you find in this any impoliteness, please forgive me. But please give me your Darshan. "On seeing the mastery on Music and language, the Nawab was spell bound.
This type of total surrender to God is known as PREM LAXANA BHAKTI. In this type of worship, the devotee tells the Lord in a tone of challenge: keep me either in your feet or stay in my heart. Swami had pride of a devotee in him. He had a firm belief and faith in his heart that Shriji Maharaj is PRAGAT PURUSHOTTAM. So his worship was dedicated to Shriji.
When Shriji passed away, Swami was sorrowful at the thought of Separation. On the thirteenth day after Shriji's death, he sang a song of separation. His face enlightened while singing as if had a personal interview (SAKSHATKAR) with Shriji. But alas! The next moment he realised that Shriji was in Akshardham. Hence he sang with tears in his eyes. The line of the song was yet to be completed, but tears began to role down on the checks of devotees. The more Swami described Maharaj in fine form with Lotus-eyed, sweet tongued, movements of his hands, white dressed, wearing flowers, pink garlands, ornamental crest, the more sobs could be heard. When swami came to sing the last line, the gathering of thousands was sobbing.
Once there was a SAMAIYA at Ahmedabad. There in presence of thousands of devotees, Premanand Swami sang Shriji's GARBI so emotionally that listeners eyes began to shed tears. Swami's voice choked while singing. This also happened at the SAMAIYA at Vadtal. The gathering of twenty five thousand people wept profusely on hearing Swami's songs.
Swami passed away after twenty five years after Shriji's death. Many of his songs are sung in many temples today.