In the Swaminarayan Sampraday, DHARMAKUL refers to the divine lineage (GURU PARAMPARA) starting from Bhagwan Swaminarayan up to the present & future lineage of Acharyas (GURU). Dharmavanshi means belonging to the lineage of Dharmadev – the father of Bhagwan Swaminarayan.
To be or become ‘Dharmakul Na Aashrit’ or to be ‘seeking refuge’ in the Dharmakul implies that one had to be initiated by the respective Acharyas into the authentic Swaminarayan Sect so that one can qualify to:
The initiation of all Swaminarayan followers including the Sadhu’s (Saints), by the respective Acharya is what qualifies one to be in the genuine Swaminarayan Sect.
The Bible declares : “Blessed are the peace makers for they shall see the kingdom of God.” The kingdom of God known as Akshardham was always all around Bhagwan Shree Swaminarayan wherever he went. Sadguru Gopalanand Swami was the most prominent saint, who loved, served and respected his Master to such an extent that he justified his title as a Swami (the Master). He was one of the most learned disciples of Shree Hari and in argument he can be compared with Burke, Sheridan and Pitt of British parliament. Like the ill wind that blows nobody any good as Shakespeare said, he defeated in arguments all evil-minded scholars of Baroda, who thought, spoke or did no good to the society in the name of religion. Their conspiracy to defeat the philosophy of the Swaminarayan way of life at the royal court of Baroda miserably failed and this opened the floodgates of popularity of Swaminarayan way of life in the vast Baroda State.
Before His departure from this mundane world Shree Hari used to point His finger at Sadguru Gopalanand Swami and told all His disciples and saints : “All of you have to follow his word.” And all of them said: “We will follow your command both in letter and in spirit.”
In the chapter of arrangements to be followed after his final departure from this mundane world dictated by Shree Hari (Desh Vibhagano Lekh) Shree Hari stipulated in clear terms that the judgment of Sadguru Gopalanand Swami should be irrevocable.
When the icon, murti, of Shree Hanumanji was installed at Sarangpur, Gopalanand Swami transferred so much of his spiritual personal power into that murti that even today that icon, Murti, of Shree Hanumanji, though apparently inanimate has miraculous powers to free people who are in the clutches of evil spirits, ghosts and goblins.
Vagha Khachar, the ruler of Sarangpur while wiping the tears from his eyes with the sleeves regretfully said to Sadguru Gopalanand Swami that because of his own financial limitations he couldn’t treat the saints and followers with due hospitality and he requested this divine saint to solve this problem.
Sadguru Gopainand Swami drew a picture of Hanumanji and asked Kanji, a sculptor to prepare a grand icon murti of Shree Hanumanji. The murti was installed at a temple on the fifth auspicious day of the month of Ashvin in Samvant 1905.
Sadguru Gopalanand Swami, supporting his chin on a long rod of bamboo, transferred a part of his spiritual power to the murti. That bamboo rod is still kept for Darshan at the temple.
Once he accompanied Shree Hari who was on his way to visit the British Governor at Rajkot and the thorns of a berry tree pricked Lord’s dress. Upon this Gopalanand Swami said to that tree: “The Lord passed under you but you don't you change your evil nature?” And all at once the berry tree shed all the thorns forever! The thornless berry tree is still there in Rajkot!
Many are the miracles he performed. He could heal lame persons and make then walk. He could make the dumb recite Vedic Mantras. Once he slapped a tiger so hard that he fell on the ground. Later on he ran away to the jungle and never repeated his folly of devouring people. (In this case he had devoured a young boy of ten). He brought to life people killed by serpent bite. He could drive away servants of the god of death. He would plant a sapling and at once a large banyan tree would grow out of it ! Shree Hari initiated him as a saint at Dabhan when he was twenty seven, on the eight-day of the month of Kartika in Samvat 1864.
Because of his impressive personality and sermons all the eminent persons including Maharaja Sayajirao, the ruler of Baroda state, adopted the Swaminarayan way of life. And most of the subjects of Baroda state did the same.
Because of his blessings the childless ruler Bharatsinh Raol got a son. And the religiously devoted queen Fulkunverba got a Swaminarayan temple built just opposite the balcony of her royal palace.
Because of his miraculous power Hemraj Shah a prominent Jain leader followed the Swaminarayan way of life.
When Sadguru Gunatitanand Swami became the Mahant at Junagadh temple, as per the agreement Gopalanand Swami would enlighten him for a month annually and narrate to him what Shree Hari did and said for all that time.
In Samvat 1904, he was sick but he recovered by fasting for twenty days.
Once during a famine he asked people to pray to God, with him. They did so and it did rain.
He lived for about twenty two years after the ascension of Shree Hari to Akshardham and spreading the Swaminarayan Way of Life far and wide he breathed his last on the fifth day of the dark half of Vaishakh in Samvat 1905 at the age of seventy one years, three months and twelve days.
His holy memorial is at Jnana Baug, Vadtal.
Praising him Shree Hari declared in one sermon (G.M. 62. Vachanamrit) “At present Gopalanand Swami is the (best) example of perfect service to God.”
His Gujarati books include : 1. Varta Vivek, 2. Advaita Khandana, 3. Updeshi Vartao 4. Puja Paddhatina Pana 5. Bhakta Siddhi Bhashan Tara and 6. Sampradaya Pradip.
He also translated Shikshapatri into Gujarati. His Sanskrit works include: 1. Viveka Deepa, 2. Vishnu Yaga Paddhati, 3. Pujavidhi, 4. Bhakti Siddhi, 5. Haribhakta Namavali, 6. Brahma Sutrartha Deepa, 7. Ishadi Upanishad Bhashya, 8. Shree Bhagwad Geeta Bhashya, 9. Shukabhipraya Bodhini Tika on the 2nd canto of Smd. Bhagwata, 10. Goodhartha Bodhini Tika on the 10th canto of Smd. Bhagwata, 11. Krishnabhipraya Bodhini Tika on the 11th canto of Smd. Bhagwata, 12. Shrutyartha Bodhini Tika on Veda Sukta and Anvayartha Prakashika Vyakhya and 13. Shandilya Sutra Bhakti Prakashika Tika etc.