Who in the Swaminarayan Sampraday has not heard the name of Dada Khachar? Whose single-minded devotion to Maharaj has been famed in our scriptures and at whose deep love and generosity, Maharaj set up residence at Gadhada at the Darbar of Dada Khachar. In the beautiful fruit orchard of Lakha Patel, there was a neem sapling near a banana plant. Two saints arrived at the orchard and announced "God would sit under this neem tree." Ebhal Khachar and his brother-in-law, Ghela Dhadal came there for some personal work at this time. When they heard about this neem tree they requested from Lakha Patel to give it to them and so they brought it back to Gadhada and planted it in the Darbar. Ebhal was a disciple of Ramanand Swami. After Swami's demise he had heard of the inauguration of Sahajanand Swami as his successor. At this time Sahajanand Swami had come to the residence of Macha Khachar at Karyani. Macha invited Ebhel's family to Karyani for darshan of Maharaj. It was then that the family first had darshan of Maharaj. Later Maharaj would come unannounced to Gadhada and sit under the neem tree. His belief in Maharaj's divinity began to strengthen.
Ebhel (or Abhay Raja as he was also known by) had two wives, Somadevi and Suprabha. On the 6th Day of the bright half of Posh, V.S. 1857, Somadevi delivered a son. He was named Uttam. He was later known by 'Dada'. Dada possessed all the great qualities of a Bhakta. When he was a young man, the reins of the kingdom were handed over to him.
Dada had realised very early on that Maharaj was Purna Purshottam. He was always adamant in following Maharaj's command even at one owns sacrifice. Maharaj once suggested, "The Sadhus who come here need a place to stay." Dada replied, "If it is your wish then we shall free up the Darbar and they can happily stay here." "But where will you stay Dada?" "Maharaj, I will stay with the Sadhus and the women of the family will stay with the Sankyogis."
When Maharaj heard this he was greatly pleased with Dada's generosity. Hence Dada would not care for his own life, wealth or his family. To honour Maharaj's wishes, he set aside a large portion of the Darbar for the saints. He himself stayed with the saints and his wife and two sisters lived with the women ascetics in a separate room.
Indeed Maharaj had once instructed Dada to transfer all the assets to his two sisters, which he did without question.
Once Dada was away from Gadhada and an attack was devised by the enemy. Maharaj learning of this took up arms himself with bow and arrow, shield and armoury. He told all, "Don't worry, I'm capable of destroying thousands of armies myself!" His wrath was shown to the enemy. They fled! Thus Maharaj had a great affection for Gadhada and so he defended it in the absence of Dada Khachar. Indeed when Dada was arranged to be married, Maharaj and the saints went in the 'jaan' to the wedding.
Grand Temple at Gadhada
Dada and his sisters firmly requested that Maharaj build a temple in Gadhada. Indeed they offered their own land, the place of residence for the purpose. Maharaj was touched by their deep devotion and selfless attachment to him.
A massive temple was constructed in the courtyard of Dada's darbar. Maharaj himself had brough stones on his head from river Ghela for the foundation of the temple. The idol of Gopinathji was installed which exactly resembled Maharaj's form.
Great festivals such as Ankoot were celebrated at Dada's Darbar. There was never a time when the home of Dada was empty of saints or haribhaktas. It is no wander that Maharaj took residence in the Darbar at Akshar Ordi for 30 years. In the Vachanamrit, the Gadhada Prakran is the most prominent and lengthy. Dada passed away to Akshardham in V.S. 1909.
When Dada Khachar was hardly sixteen years of age, Ebhal Khachar died and went to celestial world. He had to take care of four sisters, one paternal aunt and her two daughters. Both the sisters were Sankhyayogi and wanted to lead the life in devotion. Dada Khachar nourished tremendous faith in Shri Hari. Dada Khachar handed over all the affairs of his court to Shri Hari. He took over for the sake of Dada Khachar. He used to take care of the regime with the help of several assistants. Shriji Maharaj once said to Dada Khachar, "You are a devoted person. Why do you need power and wealth? You should give away everything to your sisters." Dada Khachar instantly followed the command.
Shriji Maharaj further said, "Your sisters will need someone to look after the administration. Will you serve as their administrator?" Dada Khachar never replied in negative to any question put forth by Shriji Maharaj. Due to his such unflinching devotion, Shriji Maharaj made Gadhada his second home. After a long interval Shriji Maharaj returned his assets to Dada Khachar. It was accepted by Dada Khachar only then.
Once a lady stole some ornaments from the court of Dada Khachar. She fled up to the outskirts of the village and then could not find the proper road to proceed further. So came back to the court and submitted back whatever she had stolen from there. Shriji Maharaj came to know about this incident and ordered to behead the thief woman. But Dada Khachar intervened and said, "Maharaj, the lady is very old and she chants your name. How can we behead her?" Shriji Maharaj said to Dada Khachar in a scolding tone, "If these are your policies, no one will ever obey you. Dada Kachar replied with calmness even if my kids have been killed by someone, I would not hit back on him. Besides this lady chants your name. She cannot be thrashed or killed. Shriji Maharaj praised for the sense of understanding of Dada Khachar. He adored Him with garland of flower. The garland was a symbol of the warmth of Shriji Maharaj at heart.
There are numerous references to Dada Khacher's devotion in Vachanamrut.