Gopalanand Swami was born in the was born in the Sabarkantha District’s, Todla Village of Bhiloda Taluka, Gujarat on Monday of Maha sud-8th of Vikram Samvat 1837. Todla is a beautiful village in the Aravali mountain range. His father was an Audichya Brahmin named Motiram Sharma and his mother was Kushaladevi. He was named Khushal.
Khushal Bhatt learnt scriptures at young age. He learnt about the glory and greatness of Lord Swaminarayan Bhagwan from Kashiram who came to Todala. So, he vowed to go and do darshan of Lord Swaminarayan. Meanwhile, Khushal Bhatt learnt about the visit of Sarveshwaranand Swami to Dabhoi and went for his darshan and attended his discourses. He joined Sarveshwaranand Swami and went to Dabhan where he had the Darshan of Sahajanand Swami. Shreeji Maharaj rose from his seat, came forward and hugged him with great love and affection. Khushal Bhatt expressed his desire to be with him forever, but Sahajanand Swami sent him back to Todla. Honouring God’s desire Khushal Bhatt went back to Todla and opened a school. He gave theological knowledge and spiritual insight to his disciples besides academic teaching.
One day Lord Swaminarayan disguised himself as a normal Brahmin and arrived at Todla. He told Khushal Bhatt that if he wants to see the Lord Supreme, then follow me. Both came to the outskirts of Jetalpur and suddenly Lord Swaminarayan disappeared. Khusal Bhatt went into Jetalpur and met Lord Swaminarayan. He immediately decided to serve Him. Khushal Bhatt went with Lord Swaminarayan to Gadhpur. At Gadhpur, Khusal Bhatt was given Bhagwati Diksha on Samvat 1864 Kartik Vad 8 and baptised him as Gopalanand Swami.
Lord Swaminarayan gave Vadtal Gadi to Raghivirji and Ahmdabad Gadi to Ayodhyaprasadji. Nityanand Swami was given the task to look after the Vadtal Temple and Brahmanad Swami was given the task to look after the Ahmdabad Temple. But all the religious control and mediator ship was given to Gopalanand Swami. Lord Swaminarayan instructed everyone to obey Gopalanand Swami.
Gopalanand Swami was glanderous and miraculous. His submission to Shriji Maharaj was unparalleled. Kashtabhanjan Temple at Sarangpur established by Swami on Aso Vad 5, V.S. 1905. Sukhanand Swami and Gopalanand Swami did the AArti of Hanumanji, Gopalanand Swami stoon in front of Hanumanji and concentrated his powers into the murti and Suddenly Hanumanji began to move. Gopalanand Swami had a stick which has immense powers to destroy evil. This still is still being used in Sarangpur Temple.
There are innumerable instances of Goplanand’s Swami’s powers. Sheth Hemraj Shah of Sundariayana was an expert in pulse reading. He was well known in his community of Dhandhuka and Vaishnava sect followers. He was equally Vallabhacharya as his Guru. He was very kind by nature and hence he was always ready to oblige anybody as a pulse reader. His sons were devoted to Swaminarayan but he himself was not. Once gopalanand Swami called Vaidya Hemraj Shah and asked to examine the pulse. Swami narrowed down and withdrew life element from the whole body and made it almost lifeless. Vaidya pursued hard to read the pulse of Swami, but in vain. In spite of the whole body being life-less, swami was talking to him very naturally. Vaidya Hemraj was very surprised and could not believe it because such highest fete was only possible for Shree Krishna. Hemraj Shah saw divinity in Swami and bowed in his feet. He said “I am not God. But whom I also worship is Lord Swaminarayan and He is almighty God. You also worship him. Only then you will have welfare.” Hemraj Shah became the devotee of Swaminarayan Bhagwan from that day onwards.
Another instance that took place which was in Vadodara. Krishnaram Shashtri of Vadodara was a staunch devotee of Swaminarayan. He was highly learned also. Maharaja of Vadodara Sayajirao Gaekwad (II) had 300 scholars in his court and Krishnaram Shastri was one of them. Once eclipse was on the horizon. Krishnaram shastri miscalciulated and said that there would be no eclipse. Other scholars went on saying that eclipse was certain to take place. Debate heated up and other scholars challenged to bet life. Krishnaram’s over-confidence prevented him from giving a further thought and accepted the challenge. In the evening, when he reached home, he went for recalculation and he realised his mistake. He had already accepted the challenge and risked his life in the court. He became very sad and frustrated. He stopped taking food and water. When his son Dayabhai came to know about his plight, he also felt worried. He came to Gopalanand Swami and he mentioned about this situation. Gopalanand swami came to Krishnaram Shastri and scolded him and said, “Do not repeat such an act in the future. I will have to change the motion and movement of earth, sun and moon. Go to the court and tell that there won’t be any eclipse.” The other Scholars sensed the secret and hence they came to Gopalanand Swami. Swami said to them, “Nothing can be done now. The key of universe is in the possession of Krishnaram. His word will be final.” And that day really passed without an eclipse. Gopalanand Swami changed the movements of earth, sun and moon only to protect the devotee.
A student of Vadodara, Trayambakanth had a keen desire to study scripture but his memory was weak and could not remember what he studied. His teacher, who was Pundit, drove him out with a view of warding off other students. Trayambakanth was a devotee of Swaminarayanand he often visited Gopalanand Swami. He came to him and explained his problem and he was in tears. Swami placed his hand on his head and blessed him and said, “Now go to your teacher and request him to ask any question from any scripture.” Trayambakanth went to his teacher and requested to ask any question. But the teacher humiliated him and commanded him to leave. But he insisted teacher to ask something. Then the teacher asked him very difficult verse. Trayambakanth revealed it’s five different meanings. Teacher immediately grasped the secret and asked Trayambakanth, “Have you met Gopalanand Swami? Now you are the most accomplished scholar, even my Guru!”
Such monumental was the consequence of Swami’s grace. Trayambakanth was the recipient of such glorious punditry only due to Swami’s grace. Gopalanand Swami’s words were filled with power and energy. He could lead anyone at any time into Samadhi and expose him to divine experience. How so ever evils, he could transform into a staunch devotee. His opulence and grandeur were boundless. Such a great soul worshiped Sheeji Maharaj.
He mainly stayed in Vadodra. After Lord Swaminarayan left this world, he lived for another 22 years making sure the Swaminarayan sampraday was running properly. He died in Vaishakh Ved 5 Samvat 1908 at Vadtal. During his lifetime, he wrote 19 books in Sanskrit and 6 books in other languages. One of them was the Shikshapatri in Marathi.