Bhagwan Shree Swaminarayan
Purna Purushottam Narayan, Shree Swaminarayan took incarnation on April 2, 1781 CE, (Chaitra Sud Navami, Vikram Samvat 1837) in Chhapaiya village (near Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh) in a Sarvaria Brahmin family.
In his early years, he was known as Ghanashyam. At the age of eleven years His parents attained liberation. Seeking to lead a life of asceticism for the inspiration to the human beings, he left His home and became famous as Neelkanth because of His observance of severe austerities. In the jungles of the Himalayas He performed Tapascharya at Pulhashram. He decided to proceed to Bengal. On his way, in Nepal, he met a great Gopal yogi, who taught him yoga. In Bengal, he dissuaded the monks from performing animal sacrifices. He then proceeded to south India, then to Maharashtra and finally entered Gujarat (Saurashtra) and met Shree Ramananda (believed to be an incarnation of Uddhavji, a great devotee of Bhagwan Krishna). On His request, Shree Ramananda Swami gave Him initiation (Diksha) and thus Neelkantha became known as Sahajanand Swami and Narayana Muni.
After declaring Him, at the age of 21 years, as the spiritual head of his disciples, Shree Ramanand Swami recommended Him to protect and propagate Bhagawat Dharma or Ekantika Dharma as prescribed in Bhagawat (11th Canto) and as in Vasudev Mahatmya of Skanda Purana. After His guru’s earthly departure He gave the ‘Swaminarayan’ mantra to His followers, henceforth became popularly known as Swaminarayan. He propagated the path of Bhakti or devotion to God.
Bhagawan Swaminarayan’s preaching transformed the once turbulent Gujarat into a land of peace. As an incarnation, He tirelessly worked for thirty years and affected a peaceful revolution by establishing morality and faith.
He deplored violence, and put an end to the bloody sacrifices in yagnas prevailing at that time. He eradicated the practices of female infanticide and burning of widows (sati). He advocated education for all, including women. More importantly, he said, ’I have incarnated upon this earth, not to kill demons, but to uproot demonic elements from the human mind; not to liberate man temporarily from the poverty and pain of this life, but to emancipate him forever from the transmigratory cycle of births and deaths which lies at the root of all pain and poverty.’
Water was scarce in Gujarat. The Saints, led by Bhagwan Shree Swaminarayan, dug wells and ponds. They begged and collected food for distribution to the needy. They taught people about the glory of God, instructed them to abstain from alcohol, meat-eating, stealing and adultery.
Bhagwan Shree Swaminarayana set the five vartamans (rules to observe daily) for the saints - Sadhus to follow: Nir-Lobh (No greed), Nish-Kam (No lust), Nis-Swad (No taste), Nis-Sneh (No attachment) and Nir-Man (No ego). According to Bhagwan Shree Swaminarayan, real devotion can flourish only when one realizes one’s nature as a spiritual being, not just a physical body. To reach this high state, one’s life has to be grounded in righteousness and chastity, and have a profound spiritual association with a God-realized guru.
He taught that, there are five ultimate, ontological, eternally existing categories, namely, Jeeva (individual soul), Ishwaras(devas),Mmaya (prakriti, primordial material substance), Brahman (God’s abode), Parabrahman (Supreme God). There are infinite universes and hence infinite Ishwaras but Parabrahman, the Supreme God, is one and without second.
Brahman, also known as AksharaBrahman, is absolutely a unique reality in the metaphysical hierarchy of the Swaminarayan Philosophy. Akshara Brahman is eternally emancipated, all-powerful and omniscient. It has the nature of sat, chit and ananda, and has eternal relation with Parabrahman, both as His ideal devotee in the personal form and as His limitless ultimate abode in the impersonal form. All the four distinct categories are below Parabrahman, who is completely independent, self-existent and the highest reality.
He is transcendent, with eternal divine form and immanent. This Parabrahman is Bhagwan Swaminarayan. Ultimate liberation is achieved by attaining Ekantika Dharma.
It consists of Dharma – the ethical code prescribed by Shrutis and Smrutis (scriptures), Jnan (Gyan) – the comprehensive knowledge of jeeva, ishwara, maya, Brahman and Parabrahman,Vairagya – non-attachment to everything except God, and Bhakti (devotion) – the intense love with the knowledge of greatness and glory of God. Among them Bhakti is the leading element and other three are necessary supportive components.
This ultimate liberation is pursued under the guidance of the God-realized Sadhu. ShreeSwaminarayan enriched humanity by a tradition of sadhus, a legacy of Mandirs – Temples and spiritual centres, and treasures of spiritual and moral wisdom in two main texts: VachanamrutamandShikshapatri. Bhagwan ShreeSwaminarayan established Mandirs for the propagation of Vedic Dharma at Ahmedabad, Bhuj (Kutchha), Vadtal, Dholera, Junagadh and Gadhpur. He performed the Pretishtha of the Murties of Shree Nar-Narayan Dev, Shree Lakshmi-Narayana Dev, Shree Gopinathji Maharaj, Shree Shree Harikrishna Maharaj (His own Murti), Shree Radha-Raman Dev, Shree Madan-Mohanji Maharaj and others in these Mandirs.
Bhagwan ShreeSwaminarayan’s great disciples, who contributed much to the Sampraday, are Gopalanand Swami, Muktanand Swami, Gunatitanand Swami, Nityanand Swami, Brahmanand Swami, Shukanand Swami, Nishkulanand Swami, Premanand Swami and many others. Four senior sadhus compiled the sermons given by Bhagwan Shree Swaminarayan, which is known as the Vachanamrutam. In this holy book, the philosophy of Bhagwan Shree Swaminarayan is stated nicely in the form of questions and answers. Bhagwan ShreeSwaminarayan Himself wrote the Shikshapatri, a booklet of 212 shlokas in Sanskrit which describes the codes of conduct for His sadhus and householder disciples. In addition to this, Satsangi Jivanam by Shree Shatanand Swami, Shree Haridig Vijay & Shandilyasutra Bhashyam by Shree Nityanand Swami, Brahmamimamsa by Shree Muktanand Swami,Dasopanishad Bhashyam and Gita Bhashyam by Shree Gopalanand Swami, Satsangibhushanam by Shree Vasudevanand Brahmachari, and Bhaktachintamani by Shree Nishkulanand Swami are the most prominent works, which clarify various aspects of the philosophy and traditions of the Shree Swaminarayan Sampraday.
Bhagwan Shree Swaminarayan left for His divine abode, Akshar Dham at the age of 49 in 1830 CE at Gadhpur, Gujarat. Before leaving His human body, in 1826 CE, He sat two acharyas of two piths; (one at each, Shree Lakshminarayan Dev Pith at Vadtal and Shree Nar-Narayan Dev Pith at Ahmedabad) as His successors.
The first acharyas were Shree Raghuvirji Maharaj and Shree Ayodhyaprasadji Maharaj, Bhagwan Shree Swaminarayan’s own nephews. Presently Shree Rakeshprasadji (Vadtal) and Shree Kaushalendraprasadji (Ahmedabad) are the Acharyas of the original Sampraday
Sadguru Shree Gunatitanand Swami
Known as Akshar Brahm, was a prominent Saint, who has given the most valuable contribution for spreading of the Swaminarayan Sampraday (Holy Fellowship).
He was born at 'Bhadara' in Saurashtra on the full moon day of the month of Aasoin the S.Y. 1841. His name was Muljibhai. From the childhood he had a divine vision and he could see with his inner eyes, what Ghanshyam (Bhagwan Swaminarayan) was doing in his childhood at Chhapaiya, far away in U.P.
By this divya Drashthi, he could see the Thread-Ceremony of Ghanshyam on the very day and he described the same to his family. Thus he had Divine Vision and he could have the holy glimpse of sight of Bhagwan Swaminarayan Occasionally.
Once after getting divine holy sight of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and inspiration, he left worldly attachments and renounced home in the S.Y. 1865 and he was given initiation as a Saint by Bhagwan Shri Swaminarayan in the S.Y.1866. He was possessing all saintly virtues. He was living very simple but highly spiritual and serviceful life. Bhagwan Swamianrayan was very happy with on him on the account of his ever readiness to serve the sick Saints and thus setting up an ideal example for the same.
He spent about 40 years in Junagadh, as the Mahant(Head) of the Swaminarayan- temple. On this status also, he used to render services even cleaning and assisting construction work in the temple. Though he was uneducated he used to give preaching for hours on high philosophy in a very simple, practical and impressive way, spellbound the mass. By his talks, there was a change of heart even of wicked persons and they were inspired to lead noble life. The book 'Swami ni Vato' regarding his preachings is an everlasttime memory of Swamiji, which is inspiring and guiding many on the path of salvation.
By his blessings, disturbing worldly desires were subjugated. Even the sense of taste and passions were controlled under immediately. He left his physical body at Gondal in the S.Y.1923. independently, sitting in 'Padmasan' pose ,after announcing in advance.
Sadguru Shree Balmukunddasji Swami
Sadguru Swami Balmukunddasji, the disciple of Sadguru Gunatitanand Swami was also a powerful saint, having extraordinary divinity. He was born in the village 'Kalej' in Saurashtra on the third day of Chaitra in the V.S. 1887. His name was Gordhanbhai. From the childhood he had inclination towards devotion to God. Coming in contact with Gunatitanand Swami, there was the inner inspiration to renounce the home.
Soon after his initiation as a saint in V.S. 1909, Yogiraj Gopalanand Swami blessed him and forecasted that he would be highly capable to shoulder the responsibility of its of sampraday.
Aacharya Maharaj Shree of Vadtal had high regards for Swamiji on account of his extraordinary calibre. He had undergone severe penance and was strictly following the Code of Conduct for Saints as prescribed by Bhagwan Swaminarayan.
He had unshakeable faith in Bhagwan Swaminarayan as the Supreme Lord. This true Saint had many a times divine holy sight of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. He was a 'Vachan Siddh' Saint and so whatever he said out of inner inspiration actually took blace. He had to removed distresses of many devotees. He was preaching all to worship God by becoming Brahm-Swarup, considering the soul, separate from physical body.
By his blessings many got rid of worldly desires, and by chanting the name of Swaminarayan, in his presence, before God, many could leave physical bodies on the spot, attained final salvation and miraculously went to the divine abode of God. This great saint forecasted the day and time of his departure from this world, and accordingly he left for 'Akshardham' in the V.S. 1972 at Junagadh.
Sadguru Shree Dharmaswarupdasji Swami
Sadguru Swami Dharmaswarupdasji was a very kind hearted saint, who was able to visualize God, continuously all the time. He was born in the village Mota Gokharvada in Saurashtra and his name was Arjanbhai. From the childhood he liked to remain in contact with saints. As he did not like worldly life, hence one day he left home and went to Junagadh temple. His father did not like this, so he punished and brought him back and locked him up but on the next day miraculously God put him in Junagadh temple.
Sadguru Gunatitanand Swami, highly pleased by his serviceful nature, non-attachment and aptitude for devotion & blessed him. Sadguru Gunatitanand Swami entrusted him to Swami Balmukunddasji, who got him initiated as a saint. He used to warn the devotees against the difficulties and saved them from the same. He constructed many new temples.
He finally decided to go to 'Akshardham' (God's abode) after completing the reading of the holy scripture 'Vachanamrutam' for 108 times. But other saints didn't allow him to complete this so that he may not pass away, but he was firm, completed the reading and announcing in advance he left for 'Akshardham' in the V.S. 1961.as determined by him.
Sadguru Shree Gopinathdasji Swami
Purani Swami Gopinathdasji was possessing remarkable virtues who has rendered note worthy services for the Sampraday (holy fellowship). He was born at the village ‘Vankia’ in Saurashtra in the V.S. 1920. His name was Govindbhai. After the contact with Swami Balmukunddasji in Vankia temple, he left home and got initiation of saint under the care of Swami Dharmswarupdasji in the S.Y. 1934. He was a learned Sanskrit scholar with practical wisdom. Adbhutanand Swami had blessed him that he would become prominent amongst the learned persons. Accordingly, his contributed to prove Swaminarayan ‘sampraday’ (sect) as Vedic in the conference of ‘Panditas’ at ‘Kashi’ in the V.S. 1964 was highly abbreviated. In the recital (Parayans) of the religious scriptures, he was describing every event very lucidly and explaining the gist in sweet tone, simple words and in interesting manner, as a result of which number of people eagerly attended his discourses.
As per the desire of Balmukunddasji Swami & under his instructions, temples at Jetpur and other places were constructed, and many were renovated. Services for some necessities in Junagadh temple were rendered by him. In Gondal temple and ‘Akshar-Deri’ etc., he had done new construction works. He had put in practice the sermons of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, with the knowledge of His greatness. He was very kind hearted and by his blessings, the desires of many were fulfilled. Once he sat chanting the names of Bhagwan Swaminarayan with firm determination, and he had His actual holy darshan. When he left his physical body in the V.S. 1974 at Gondal, some saints witnessed his miraculous passing away from the world along with God in divine ‘Viman’(divine aeroplane).
Sadguru Shree Narayandasji Swami
Sadguru Swami Narayandasji was an ideal saint, active for the serviceful activities of holy fellowship, passive for worldly affairs and ever eager to listen to the holy scriptures. He was born in the village 'Vankia' on the tenth day of bright half of the month of Chaitra in V.S. 1906. His name was 'Arjanbhai'. Arjanbhai was blessed with pleasure by Sadguru Gunatitanand Swami, when he met him at Bagasara for the first time..
He gave services during construction work in Junagadh temple. The talks of Gunatitanand Swami awakened him and the hidden seeds of 'Vairagya' - non attachment grew in his mind. After some time he came to Junagadh and Balmukunddasji Swami got him initiated as Saint. As the Mahant(Head) of the Junagadh temple he had carried out many additions and alterations in the holy buildings like the assembly hall (Narayandas Haveli) constructed by him, reminds us of his beneficial services.
Similarly in Gondal temple also he had helped for such constructions. There are many incidents regarding fulfillment of Blessings given by him and He had inspired many and directed them on Spiritual path. Though he had no formal education but he had encouraged many saints like Swami Dharmjivandasji for higher Sanskrit studies. He had listened many Religious scriptures from Shastri Swami Dharmjivandasji and got highly pleased, and had heartily blessed him. This realised saint left for 'Akshardham' (God's abode) in the V.S. 1983 at Rajkot.
Shree Dharmajivandasji Swami
The Founder - Shree Swaminarayan Gurukul
Shree Dharmajivandasji Swami
The Founder - Shree Swaminarayan Gurukul
The Guru-Shishya tradition is the unique feature of Sanatana Dharma, otherwise known as Hinduism. From the Guru the disciple directly receives the knowledge, capacity, virtues, ideologies, values and objectives of life, in a practical, personal and vibrant manner. The vision of Guru becomes the life and mission of Shishya. In such a divine lineage of Guru parampara of Swaminarayan Sampraday, appeared Sadguru Shatriji Maharaj Shree Dharmajivandasji Swami, a great versatile scholar and man of vision, a tough minded optimist and kind hearted Guru, a staunch advocate of Karma and Bhakti yoga and considered to be the Saint of the century by thousands of people of Gujarat. He founded the first Shree Swaminarayan Gurukul at Rajkot in the year 1948, with the intention of providing a value based education system to everyone, especially to the under-privileged.
Born in the year 1901, on the auspicious day of the Rathayatra of Shree Jagannath Bhagawan of Puri, 18th June, to a humble farmer Shree Bhurabhai, in a small village Taravada on the banks of river Shetrunji, Amreli district of Saurashtra and was named as Arjan. As a child, he was very brilliant and studious. Since his childhood, he had a natural attraction towards saints and sadhus, as he aspired to attend all the spiritual gatherings. Even at the cost of sleep and food, he used to go and serve these saints at every opportunity he could find. One such occasion changed his life forever. He was privileged to receive divine blessings from Saint Shree Balmukundadasji. This created a spiritual fire in his heart and a calling in his soul that shaped the journey for the rest of his divine life.
From Arjan to Dharmajivandas
Being attracted by the pure and virtuous life led by the saints of Shree Swaminarayan Sampraday, Arjan started regularly attending Swaminarayan Satsangs. At the tender age of 16, Arjan was convinced that the pure life of the Swaminarayan Saints was the optimal method of supreme spiritual realization and salvation. Without hesitation, he took the vows of leading such a life and became a Saint. Arjan now became Sadhu Dharmajivandas.
His vision and mission of life started getting shape. He started studying Sanskrit and other spiritual scriptures as he regularly dwelled deep in to religious and philosophical studies under various renowned scholars. In a profound effort to enlighten the rural masses, he started traveling to all the nearby villages to conduct regular spiritual assemblies. He even attained the laurels & became the Mahant of Junagadh temple.
However, the routine rituals and monotonous life style was not acceptable to him. He felt the need to incorporate a pertinent void from the social structure. A void, if filled, would uplift whole society. In order for this seemingly impossible task to be accomplished, he felt the scope of education to expand and incorporate spirituality. Schools, colleges, and universities may multiply in numbers, students may get Degrees, they may flourish in their worldly lives, but the fundamental ingredients to uplift society are lost out. Unless devoted selfless persons with ideals practiced in life leads, the main purpose of education is vitiated.
The Himalayan Vision
Pondering over this, he went on a pilgrimage to Himalayas, where one day he saw a guru teaching his disciples, the Raghuvamsha of Kalidasa, one of the greatest poets of Sanskrit literature. This immediately struck his intellect and made him come to a realization that a value-based education system was the missing element in the society. The idea of rejuvenating the younger generation with modern education, complemented with spiritual principles of life, started taking shape and led to the creation of first Shree Swaminarayan Gurukul in the year 1948 at Rajkot.
Growth of Seeds
The foundation stone was laid on an auspicious day, the Vasant Panchami, the 11th of May, 1948. On the 15th of August, 1960, the first school was started. Slowly the Gurukul tree started growing and two more Gurukuls at Junagadh and Ahmedabad were established before he attained the feet of the Almighty, on the 5th of February, 1988. Even after his departure to Akshardham, the power of his vision continued as establishment of more Gurukul-branches and centres in Gujarat, India and cross the globe. Till date, thousands of students have completed their high school and college studies from Gurukul and its branches.
Simple and pious life
Shree Dharmajivandasji Swami led a very simple life of devotion, compassion, spiritual inquiry and strong righteous principles. This lifestyle had a major influence on his disciples as well. He led a very pious life of penance. He was able to sing more than 750 Kirtans, recite 3000 shlokas, and memorised all the 18 chapters of Bhagavad Gita in 18 days. He always emphasised the path of Bhakti and Dharma. Social welfare activities and betterment of the society were the pillars of his mission. He practiced a vow called Ayachak Vrat i.e., never to ask anyone for any money as donation. He had firm faith in God and believed that all the benevolent activities of the Gurukul should run only with the voluntary donations of the people inspired by the Almighty. This principle is still practiced as a vow by this Gurukul in all its activities. But his indomitable will power and staunch belief in the power of Bhagwan Shree Swaminarayan, brought him success in all his endeavors. Success for him was nothing other than the betterment of the society. Success for him was not a destination, but journey. In fact, his life became the source of inspiration to so many saints of other sects, that they too started creating huge institutions for education and social welfare activities.
His Himalayan vision, which transformed the lives of thousands of people, still continues and will continue forever through his disciples, who with the same missionary spirit and zeal, are striving hard for the betterment of the whole world.