Pujya Muktanandji (Bapu) was born in 1959 in a small village called Sarsai in Visavadar Taluka, Junagadh District. He studied at Sarsai Primary School. Whilst at school, he started visiting an ashram in Chaparda called Surev Dham Ashram which was 4 km away from Sarsai. The Ashram was located between Ambajal River and Drafad River. Due to the beautiful location and peaceful nature of the Ashram, Bapu was attracted to it. As he had no interest in book knowledge, he dropped out of the school at the age of thirteen after completing Standard 8. He came and lived in the Surev Dham Ashram with Bhagvatinandji Bapu. He started developing special interest in observing the natural environment around him. Bhagavatinandji Bapu, already a realized soul, living very simply in this ashram, realized that this young boy had a special gift in observing nature and so took him as his disciple from this young age. They spent countless days and nights sitting under the cloudless skies observing stars, moon and the sun and all the wonders of nature. They spent 3 years together and, in that time, Bhagvatinandji Bapu passed spiritual knowledge to Bapu.
Bhagvatinandji Bapu passed away in 1975 and the ashram became Bapu’s responsibility. As Bapu was only sixteen years old, he came under the guidance of Gopalanandji Bapu (fondly known as Dadaji) who was Bhagvatinandji Bapu’s guru. Bapu spent many years working under Dadaji’s guidance. Dadaji sadly passed away in 2018 at the age of 115. He was the President of the Panch Agni Akhada and was very much involved in running and maintaining the many institutes that are part of this organization. Bapu learnt how to do disaster relief work at this young age from Dadaji. Whenever there was a natural disaster like drought, flood, cyclone or earthquake, Dadaji would instruct Bapu to go to the disaster area and carry out relief work by providing free shelter, food, water, clothes, medicines etc.
After holding eye camps, he realized that there was a lot of suffering amongst the elderly so he started an old people’s home in Mehendarda for about 50 people. Similar homes were also started in Gandhinagar, Chaparda and Gupt Prayag. Similarly, after holding animal camps in Chaparda, he realised how much the animals were suffering which prompted him to start Panjrapols (animal sanctuaries) as well as Gaushalas (dairy farms) in all these places. He also observed that ordinary people were spending way beyond their means in weddings which would leave them in a lifetime of debts. He encouraged community leaders to promote ‘Samu lagnas’ (mass weddings) where the cost of staging a wedding is shared between a hundred or so families thus saving huge amounts of money which could be put towards setting up the new couples’ homes. In addition, to help the environment, Bapu encouraged tree planting and water conservation by building check dams and water reservoirs.
In essence, he has been working tirelessly to affect social change in the local population. This is not easy in an environment where ritualistic and dogmatic beliefs are the norm and, understandably, people are often not happy to swap progress for deep seated beliefs.
In 1989, Pujya Bapu as managing trustee, established Bhagvatinandji Education Trust to raise funds to carry out this social work. In the late 1990’s, BET realised that to bring these changes in a meaningful way, it needed to focus on education. Understanding that it would take at least a generation, if not more, to change the mindset of the population – it is not so easy to change the minds of grown adults, however children are blank slates. In the process, over 20 years, BET has now established educational centres in Chaparda as well as three other locations in Gujarat educating about 8000 children under its education programme.
In 1999, Health Aid Trust, Help the Animal Trust and Help the Elderly Trust were established with Pujya Bapu as managing trustee.
In 2003, Bapu was awarded the Krantikari Sant (Revolutionary Saint) by Saurashtra people.
In 2007, Bapu was awarded ‘The Devarshi award’ by Pujya Rameshbhai Oza of Sandipani Vidyaniketan, Porbandar, which is given to the saint who has devoted himself for the upliftment of society besides his spiritual teachings.
In 2009, Bapu’s 50th Birthday celebration was celebrated by doing a ‘Gyan Tulla’. Gijubhai Bharad, one of the most important pillars of Bapu’s vision, came up with a novel idea to celebrate this momentous occasion. Understanding the importance of reading materials in the villages which could be promoted through libraries, he approached Bapu and requested him to be weighed in books. 700 titles equaled Bapu’s weight. Following this idea, Gijubhai appointed many different authors to write Bapu’s thoughts into 700 titles and printed 1000 copies each which were then distributed into 1000 villages in Gujarat at his cost.
In 2011, Dashabdi celebration was held in Chaparda to celebrate 10 years since the start of the Educational programme. The highlight of this celebration was the visit of Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendrabhai Modi.
In 2012, under Health Aid Trust (HAT), Jay Ambe hospital was opened to treat the local population free of charge. Something that was very close to Bapu’s heart was the issue of pain and suffering experienced by the local population when they could not get adequate treatment due to lack of facility, negligence of the doctors or because they could not afford the treatment. He was overjoyed when the hospital opened in March 2012. But it took another four to five years to establish a good medical team which started seeing 500 to 800 people daily.
In 2018, Pujya Gopalanadji, Bapu’s Dada guru, passed away at the age of 115. After his death, Bapu took on the role of Sabhapati of Shri Panch Agni Akhada.
Due to Pujya Bapu’s quick grasp of any situation / problem and how to resolve it in the most practicable way, in 2019, Pujya Bapu was appointed as working President of Bharat Sadhu Samaj.
At the same time, he was appointed to Sangathan Matri-Akhada Parishad to manage the organisation of Kumbh Mela 2021.
Pujya Bapu is also a trustee of Hari Om Medical Trust, which helps needy village people to get a health facility in Ahmedabad whenever a need arises.
Pujya Bapu is also a trustee of Sanatan Seva Mandal, Dwarka which is helping to educate 500 or so underprivileged children.