Swaminarayan Philosophy

Introduction

Hinduism has been preserved by its many streams and faiths. The richness and diversity has provided fuel for many spiritual paths, the ultimate destination of which is the same, the Supreme Reality.The Swaminarayan movement was founded by a great social and spiritual reformer, Lord Swaminarayan (1781-1830 AD). As a manifestation of God Himself, Lord Swaminarayan arrived on this earth during a time of great social and spiritual turmoil. But in the short span of 49 years, He addressed many social ills, revive Hinduism and provided a spiritual path, the Swaminarayan Philosophy, to last the ages.

A Summary of the Life and Work of Lord Swaminarayan

Lord Swaminarayan appeared on earth on 3rd April 1781 in the North Indian village of Chhapaiya, near Ayodhya. From the beginning, stories and experiences abound that indicated His extraordinary nature…

Childhood


Known then as "Ghanshyam", by the age of seven He had already mastered the Holy Scriptures the Vedas, Upanishads, Ramayan, Bhagwatam etc.

Teenage Asceticism

When only 11 years old, He renounced his family and became a yogi. Then known as "Nilkanth Varni ", He proceeded to climb the Himalayas barefooted and perform severe austerities, such as standing on one leg and meditating in bare body amidst snowstorms for 3 months.

He then embarked, on foot, on a momentous 7-year pilgrimage of over 12,000 kilometers in His search for a spiritual guide. At the age of 18, He ultimately reached His goal by adopting Ramanand Swami as His Guru in the state of Gujarat.

Guru Ramanand Swami initiated Nilkanth as a sadhu and gave him the name "Sahajanand".

The Swaminarayan Movement - The Beginning

Recognizing Sahajanand's spiritual greatness and overlooking more senior sadhus, Ramanand Swami ceremoniously installed Sahajanand, at the tender age of 21, as His spiritual successor.

Soon after the death of Guru Ramanand Swami, Sahajanand gathered all of His disciples and instructed them to chant the Divine mantra "Om Swaminarayan". By doing so, He Promised to bear their every burden and to provide them with His strength and guidance.From then onwards He was known as
"Lord Swaminarayan".

Social and Spiritual Reforms

To arrest the significant decline in social, cultural and moral standards, Lord Swaminarayan, through the Shikshaapatri (a sacred book of ethics), outlined the Hindu moral codes for everyday life. It provided practical guidance on familial, social, financial, hygienic, moral, and spiritual issues.

Lord Swaminarayan also initiated 500 ascetics, which were of the highest degree. Selfless and spiritually motivated, they practiced strict disciplines and continuously moved through society, carrying the message of purity. They helped abolish superstitions, addictions and inhumane practices such as Dudhpiti and Sati. They also dugged wells and set up alms-houses in times of famines and droughts.


His Teachings and Philosophy


The basic foundation of the Swaminarayan philosophy involves a principle called "Vishishtha Adwaitvad". This concept stipulates that the Lord can not dwell on this earth without His Divine Abode. Lord Swaminarayan referred to Anadi Mul Akshar Murti Shri Gunatitanand Swami, a God-Realized saint who had risen above all qualities to attain oneness with the Lord, as His Abode.

Five Spiritual Vows :

DO NOT STEAL
DO NOT EAT MEAT
DO NOT TAKE ALCOHOL OR ANY INTOXICANT
DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY
DO NOT INDULGE IN AN IMPURE LIFE



Lord Swaminarayan directed his followers to observe 5 spiritual vows that are common for most Hindus.

The observance of these vows would purify His followers lives and prepare them for spiritual advancement. For His sadhus, Lord Swaminarayan prescribed 5 primary principles called the "Panch Vartamaan".

"Panch Vartamaan"
NISHKAM Lust - free Lifetime celibacy
NIRLOBH Greed - free No possessions. Not even to touch money
NISSNEH Attachment - free Unattached to place, people or family
NISWAD Taste - free No Preference in food or taste
NIRMAN Ego - free Untouched by pride or anger

The Holy Scripture of the Swaminarayan faith is called the Vachnaamritam and consists of a historical collection of 262 spiritual discourses delivered by Lord Swaminarayan in the Gujarati language. It is a catechism, filled with logic, metaphors and analogies, and divine revelations that provide philosophical and practical answers to the mysteries and questions of life.

* How to overcome depression
* How to identify real friends
* How to calm anger
* How to remove ego and jealousy
* How to develop faith
* How to recognize a true guru
* How to realize God

The Swaminarayan Movement - Today and the Future

The Spiritual Succession

At the age of 49, Lord Swaminarayan left this earth for His Divine Abode. But in His teachings, Lord Swaminarayan assured his followers that he would continue to manifest on earth through an uninterrupted succession of Gunatit saints. Guided by these saints, Lord Swaminarayan's devotees would reach "Akshardham", or the Highest State of Consciousness.

Gunatitanand Swami Gopalanand Swami Bhagatji Maharaj Jaga Swami Shastriji Maharaj Yogiji Maharaj
Anadi Mul AksharMurti
Shri Gunatitanand Swami
(1785 - 1867)
Anadi Mahamukt
Shri Gopalanand Swami
(1780 - 1852)
Brahmaswarup Param Pujya Bhagatji Maharaj
(1829 - 1897)
Brahmaswarup Param Pujya Jaga Swami
(1827 -1901)
Brahmaswarup Param Pujya Shastriji Maharaj
(1865 - 1951)

 

Brahmaswarup Param Pujya Yogiji Maharaj
(1892 - 1971)

 

Saheb

Guruvarya Param Pujya Sahebji is such a Gunatit saint, for a new day and age...

The Ongoing Quest

The Swaminarayan order is arguably the fastest growing segment of the Hindu religion. Within the order are several branches, of which some of the most significant are mentioned below the present head of several branches:

  • The Anoopam Mission - under the direction of Guruvarya Param Pujya Sahebji
  • Gunatit Jyot - under the direction of Param Pujya Pappaji
  • The Yogi Divine Society - under the direction of Param Pujya Hariprasad Swamiji
  • Represents the "Gunatit Samaj" founded by Param Pujya Kakaji
  • Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) - under the direction of Brahmaswaroop Param Pujya Pramukhswami Maharaj
  • The Vadtal gadi - under the direction of Acharya Param Pujya Rakeshprasadji Maharaj
  • The Amdavad gadi - under the direction of Acharya Param Pujya Koshalendraprasadji Maharaj
  • The Maninagar Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan - under the direction of Acharya Swamishree Purushottam priyadasji Maharaj

Each branch of the Swaminarayan order is led by a Divine Guru and all share the same goal espoused by Lord Swaminaryan: the continued moral, spiritual and cultural upliftment of humanity.

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