Holy Pilgrimage - Hindu temples in United Kingdom-18/1

Holy Pilgrimage - Hindu temples in United Kingdom

 BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir
Ribble Bank Street
Off Gerrard Street Preston PR1 8NF Lancashire UK
Phone: 01772 497367/200256

E-mail: info.preston@uk.baps.org

About BAPS :

The BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha is a spiritual, volunteer-driven organization dedicated to improving society through individual growth by fostering the Hindu ideals of faith, unity, and selfless service.

In the joy of others lies our own.” – Pramukh Swami Maharaj
True spirituality speaks the language of love.” – Pramukh Swami Maharaj
Better the world around you by bettering yourself.” – Pramukh Swami Maharaj
Many ask, "How can you mix spirituality and social service?"
We ask, "How can you separate the two?"

Those who wish to sincerely serve society must be spiritually pure and only those who are spiritually pure can sincerely serve society! 
Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) is a socio-spiritual Hindu organization with its roots in the Vedas. It was revealed by Bhagwan Swaminarayan (1781-1830) in the late 18th century and established in 1907 by Shastriji Maharaj (1865-1951). Founded on the pillars of practical spirituality, the BAPS reaches out far and wide to address the spiritual, moral and social challenges and issues we face in our world. Its strength lies in the purity of its nature and purpose. BAPS strives to care for the world by caring for societies, families and individuals. Its universal work through a worldwide network of over 3,850 centers has received many national and international awards and affiliation with the United Nations. Today, a million or more Swaminarayan followers begin their day with puja and meditation, lead upright, honest lives and donate regular hours in serving others. No Alcohol, No Addictions, No Adultery, No Meat, No Impurity of body and mind are their five lifetime vows. Such pure morality and spirituality forms the foundation of the humanitarian services performed by BAPS.
The BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha strives to better society through individual development by instilling values, promoting spirituality, cultivating skills, and nurturing growth.  We aim to preserve Indian culture and the Hindu ideals of faith, unity, and selfless service in diverse communities around the world.  We envision a society whose joy lies in the joy of others.
Based on the teachings of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and under the leadership of Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha promotes harmony amongst individuals, families, and diverse communities.  Understanding that the synergy created from development at the individual level leads to greater societal growth, the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha provides for the spiritual, cultural, physical, and emotional needs of people from all walks of life.  
With over 880 sadhus and  55,000 volunteers, the organization helps 3,850 communities around the world through its various humanitarian services and grassroots initiatives.  
Through these efforts, the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha sustains the universal value of Hindu culture—encouraging devotion to God by imbibing such faith in all aspects of life. 
The core philosophical principles, disciplines, and practices which identify the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha and its followers are rooted in ancient Hindu scripture, the Vedas.  This solid foundation resonates with millions of people around the world:
  • We are the atma and are not this body.  This atmagnan is essential for a spiritual aspirant to reach Paramatma.
  • Spiritual aspirants should not consume addictive substances nor should they eat onion, garlic, and other tamasic foods.  A vegetarian diet (no meat, no eggs, no poultry, and no seafood) should be followed.  One should not steal.  One should not commit adultery.
  • Bhagwan Swaminarayan is always present on Earth through the gunatit guru.
  • Selflessly serving God, the gunatit guru, and the community is the only way to rid one’s self of base desires and faults.
  • One can only attain moksha by pleasing the gunatit guru and eradicating inner vices (anger, lust, greed, envy, and attachment) by imbibing ekantik dharma.

As a socio-spiritual organization, the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha engages in a broad array of activities, which makes answering the question ‘what does BAPS do?’ difficult. This section organizes BAPS’ more than 160 activities in 6 categories that summarize the major areas of our service.  We encourage you to explore each of the following sections. 

Spiritual Living:

Bhagwan Swaminarayan established the Swaminarayan faith and renewed the ideals of Hinduism in 18th century India. He established a spiritual way of life and code of conduct to be followed. ‘Satsang’ is the word used by Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s followers to describe the process of associating with God and the guru to achieve spiritual enlightenment. Literally, ‘sat’ and ‘sang’ in Sanskrit mean ‘association with the truth.’ Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s followers are commonly referred to as ‘satsangis’ as they identify with Swaminarayan satsang.
Satsangis live their daily lives in accordance with a righteous code of conduct, or dharma, which is defined by the Swaminarayan scriptures as well as by the living guru. As explained by the current guru, Pramukh Swami Maharaj, “Paraspar preeti prasaravey te dharma,” which means, “That [code of conduct] which increases love and peace is worthy of being called dharma.”
The central religious tenet for BAPS satsangis is bhakti, or devotion to God. Bhakti, when combined with dharma, gnan (spiritual knowledge), and vairagya (detachment), leads to one becoming an ideal devotee, or an ekantik bhakta. This is achieved in the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha by devoting oneself to God as per the example set by the guru. The guru is the ideal bhakta of God; hence, the guru guides spiritual aspirants on the path to spiritual bliss, a state that he enjoys continuously. 

What People Say

BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha is an accredited and respected organization. It has won international recognition for its activities, and also built up goodwill amongst all the communities that it interacts with. Its devotees and volunteers have been honored and the organization has been awarded for its efforts.


BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha is a registered and reputed Charitable Trust in India, and an NGO in Consultative Status with the EcoSoC of the United Nations. It has won many awards and honorable mentions for its activities, including International awards for Environmental activities and National awards for Child-upliftment and for Animal care.
  • Its spiritual activities are rooted in the Mandirs – centers of faith and devotion. Devotees come to the mandirs to pray and offer their devotional and voluntary services as well. Daily Arti and Thal, and weekly assemblies strengthen the devotees in their faith.
  • As part of its medical activities, BAPS runs charitable hospitals and clinics, diagnostic and donation camps, and mobile medical vans in rural areas. It also actively organizes anti-addiction drives against tobacco and alcohol abuse. Herbal medicines based on Ayurveda are offered through BAPS Herbal Care.
  • Education is another focus area, with many schools and hostels being managed by BAPS.
  • Pro-environmental actions such as tree planting, waste recycling and well recharging have been part of BAPS activities since its inception.
  • The BAPS Women’s Wing manages parallel community development activities targeted at women in different age groups, including vocational training and regular assemblies.
  • BAPS works for Community Development in each center where it has a presence. From cleaning up the city after floods like in Surat, to participating in local events like ‘Toronto Doors Open,’ BAPS actively engages the local community and works with it.
  • In natural and man-made calamities, BAPS has been active in providing Disaster Relief. It has been at the forefront of relief measures in India and abroad, since famines of the 1970s, after the earthquake in 1993 in Latur, Maharashtra and the one in 2001 in Kutchch, Gujarat, or the tsunami in 2004 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and floods in 2006 in India.
  • BAPS has been active in Rural areas in India, working at mitigating social, educational and economic disparities. Medical and educational services form the bulwark of BAPS’ rural activities. It also engages actively in awareness campaigns and common assemblies to remove addictions and superstitions.

Bhagawan Swaminarayana:

Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s life and work has not only influenced communities in Gujarat, India but has affected change throughout the world.  He reestablished Hindu Sanatan Dharma, cleansing traditions and rituals of the impurities that had seeped in over time.  His contributions have been hailed by Hindus and dignitaries of other faiths as truly transforming the lives of millions of individuals.  He improved societal standards and, most importantly, the innate nature of people, eradicating them of lust, anger, greed, and envy.  Bhagwan Swaminarayan was not a mere social worker; He was God incarnate.  Bhagwan Swaminarayan did not simply reform society; He spiritually charged it with faith, virtue, and integrity.  His life and work speak for themselves.

The Current Spiritual Guru - Pramukh Swami Maharaj

The guru in the Hindu tradition is the gateway to moksha. He is the guiding light in the lives of his followers. They come to him for everything – spiritual enlightenment, moral development, and even worldly advice. And the guru listens.
His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the guru of all devotees of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, has lent his ears to millions of individuals around the world and shared their sorrows. He has given them the courage to overcome personal battles. He comforts and advises on mundane issues, such as where to place a well in their field or where to set up manufacturing plant, and on significant matters, such as how to secure moksha. Pramukh Swami Maharaj has steered the reins of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha for the last many decades, effectively administering its spiritual, cultural, personal development and humanitarian activities. 


In the Hindu tradition, the discussion and understanding of philosophy is a fundamental tool for a spiritual aspirant to attain moksha, liberation of the soul from the cycle of birth and death. The sound philosophical base of the Swaminarayan Sampraday, and particularly the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, is grounded in the Aksharbrahma-Parabrahma philosophy derived from the Vedas and revealed by Bhagwan Swaminarayan. This philosophy teaches aspirants to worship Paramatma and to realize their true form to be the atma and not simply the body. The attainment of ekantik dharma is at the heart of the practical application of this philosophy in the life of a spiritual aspirant. Bhagwan Swaminarayan taught His followers that the path to moksha is a comprehensive approach combining dharma, bhakti, gnan, and vairagya. This philosophical understanding is maintained with the continued presence of Aksharbrahma in the form of the guru. Today, Pramukh Swami Maharaj offers spiritual guidance on the path towards moksha to millions of people by leading a life of utmost discipline and adherence to the Aksharbrahma-Parabrahma philosophy.  

The Five Eternal Elements

When Bhagwan Swaminarayan set out on His spiritual journey at eleven years of age, He halted only after getting a reply to the question He had asked all across India. On His quest, He asked about the five eternal elements as revealed in the Vedas. He found a reasonable answer in Loj from Ramananad Swami’s chief disciple, Muktanand Swami. He accepted Ramanand Swami as His guru and then established the Swaminarayan Sampraday in Gujarat. Bhagwan Swaminarayan describes these five eternal elements and their relationship in great detail throughout the Vachanamrut. These five eternal elements are: jiva, ishwar, maya, Brahma, and Parabrahma. 

Jiva - The Soul

One's true identity is not this human body, but the jiva that resides within it. The jiva, also called 'atma' or soul, is eternal - it cannot be destroyed. The jiva has no gender; it is neither male nor female.
Bhagwan Swaminarayan discusses the nature of the jiva throughout the Vachanamrut. It is said to reside in our bodies in the same area as the heart. “Childhood, youth, old age, stoutness, thinness, birth and death are all aspects of the body; so they should never be thought of as belonging to the atma. On the other hand, being uncuttable, being unpierceable, not aging, being immortal, being the embodiment of gnan [wisdom], being the embodiment of bliss, and being characterized by eternal existence are all aspects of the atma; they should in no way be considered as belonging to the body.” The jiva is free and pure, but we believe that we are restrained by maya. Once we understand that we are not this body and worship Purna Purushottam Narayan, we realize that our jiva is free from the clutches of maya and is worthy of moksha. The very essence of the Brahma-Parabrahma spiritual journey is to believe one’s self to be the atma and not this body, to become atmarup, and to worship Purna Purshottam Narayan. 

Ishwar - Divinities

Ishwar transcends the jiva. It is the next element above the jiva. These beings partake in the creation, sustenance, and destruction of each universe. Ishwars are conscious spiritual beings that have greater realization than jivas. While the jiva must work to realize its divine presence within the human body, ishwar is aware of that divinity. There are infinite ishwars, and but they are all bound by maya. Just as Purna Purshottam Narayan controls the jiva, He also controls the ishwars. Like the jivas, ishwars too aim to surpass maya and attain moksha. 

Maya - Ignorance

Maya is the ignorance that separates the jivas and ishwars from Brahma and Parabrahma. It is the desire that hinders a spiritual aspirant’s path to moksha. Maya directly translates to attachment for worldly objects. Maya is the instrument through which Parabrahma facilitates karma and moksha. Only when a devotee is able to overcome maya — overcome the darkness of attachment to worldly objects — is he or she able to attain moksha. Maya manifests from physical matter, and it is difficult for the jiva or ishwar to transcend. Bhagwan Swaminarayan has advocated the jiva to engage in constant bhakti or devotion to God, to be able to move beyond maya and towards one's liberation.

Aksharbrahma - The Eternal Abode

The gunatit sadhu, Aksharbrahma, is the pathway to God and to moksha. It is only through Aksharbrahma that a jiva can associate itself with God and understand Him well enough to seek complete refuge in Him, thereby bringing the jiva out of the darkness of maya and into the light of Parabrahma. Aksharbrahma is known to have two forms. One, which is formless and pure chaitanya, is known as Chidakash. In its other form, that Aksharbrahma remains in the service of Purshottam Narayan (Vachanamrut Gadhada I-21) and is the abode where God and the liberated jivas reside. Pramukh Swami Maharaj is revered as the current form of Aksharbrahma by Swaminarayan devotees around the world. He guides jivas to realize their true form and steer them past the bounds of maya to attain moksha.

Parabrahma - God

The Supreme God is referred to as Purna Purushottam Narayan or Parabrahma. In the Vachanamrut, Bhagwan Swaminarayan has described this Supreme God as all-knowing, all-powerful and yet compassionate. This Parabrahma governs all the other four elements of jiva, ishwar, maya and brahma. Swaminarayan devotees believe Bhagwan Swaminarayan to be Parabrahma.
In the Vibhuti Yoga Adhyaya of the Shrimad Bhagavad Gita, Shri Krishna speaks of that Supreme God living and working through him.
Bhagwan Swaminarayan in the Vachanamrut says that Purna Purushottam Narayan resides in Akshardham and visits this Earth to establish dharma for the sake of His devotees. He describes the characteristics of this Supreme God: He is the all-doer (sarva karta); He has a divine form (divya sakar); He is supreme and above all else (sarvopari); and that He is always present in human form (pragat). 

Worship of God with the Guru - Akshar Purushottam Philosophy

The Akshar Purushottam Upasana is a philosophy that establishes worshiping God along with His sadhu.
As per this philosophy, Parabrahma is Supreme God. He is the ultimate entity - the creator, sustainer, and destroyer. Akshar or Aksharbrahma is Parabrahma’s ideal devotee. Akshar remains present on Earth through the 'gunatit' ideal sadhu. God works through such an ideal sadhu.
The Sanskrit word upãsanã is a compound of two words: ‘upa’ meaning near; and ‘ãsanam’ meaning to sit. Upasana is the spiritual means for a devotee to attain an eternal place near God.
To develop complete conviction in this upasana, a devotee must develop firm faith in five truths: a) God, or Purna Purshottam Narayan, is the all-doer (sarva karta); b) He has a divine form (divya sakar); c) He is supreme and above all else (sarvopari); d) He is always present on Earth in human form (pragat); and e) the gunatit sadhu is the pathway to moksha. The essence of the Aksharbrahma-Parabrahma spiritual journey is to believe one’s self to be the atma and not this body, to become atmarup, and to worship God.
This philosophy is the foundation of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha. It was revealed by Bhagwan Swaminarayan and formally established by His third spiritual successor, Shastriji Maharaj. Bhagwan Swaminarayan outlines this upasana in the Vachanamrut.

God - Purna Purushottam Narayan

Hindus believe that there is only one Supreme God, present in many different forms. That one Supreme God is referred to as Purna Purushottam Narayan. In the Vachanamrut, Bhagwan Swaminarayan has described this Supreme God as all-knowing, all-powerful and yet compassionate. Swaminarayan devotees believe Bhagwan Swaminarayan to be that God.
In the Vibhuti Yoga Adhyaya of the Shrimad Bhagavad Gita, Shri Krishna speaks of that Supreme God living and working through him.
Bhagwan Swaminarayan in the Vachanamrut says that Purna Purushottam Narayan resides in Akshardham and visits this Earth to establish dharma for the sake of His devotees. He describes the characteristics of this Supreme God: He is the all-doer (sarva karta); He has a divine form (divya sakar); He is supreme and above all else (sarvopari); and that He is always present in human form (pragat).

The All-Doer - Sarva Karta

The notion that God, Purna Purushottam Narayan, is the all-doer is a Hindu concept found in the Ishaavasya Upanishad, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Vachanamrut. For a believer, it is important to understand Purna Purushottam Narayan to be the all-doer because that knowledge itself is moksha; it is the key to salvation. It is because of the will of God that the universe comes to exist. The trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh are the creator, sustainer and destroyer, respectively, of the universe. However, the will and the power to perform their duties originates from Purna Purushottam Narayan.
When a devotee understands that all things happen at the resolve of Purna Purushottam Narayan, he or she has completely surrendered to Him and can become fearless knowing that all that befalls him or her has been willed by Purna Purushottam Narayan for his/her benefit.
This does not absolve the devotee of responsibility - although the circumstances are not in the individual's control, how each person deals with it is up to the individual. The devotee needs to have faith, keep God at the center of all activities and decide on his/her actions accordingly.

Having Divine Form - Sakar

A principal belief of Swaminarayan devotees is that Purna Purshottam Narayan is 'sakar', that He has a divine form. In Vachanamrut Gadhada II-13, Bhagwan Swaminarayan describes the true form of God. He states that God, having a human form with two arms, two legs, and two eyes, sits at the center of one’s soul. That divine form is surrounded by very bright divine light. As spiritual aspirants, we must progress past that light through meditation and understanding, to see the physical form of God. If one cannot see that form, the devotee's mind becomes affixed on the light, limiting his spiritual progress and keeping him from liberation. In Vachanamrut Gadhada I-45, Bhagwan Swaminarayan cites the ancient Hindu scriptures saying, “Purushottam Bhagwan eternally possesses a form, and that form is luminous. The Shrutis also mention, ‘That God looked towards maya….’ Now if this scripture refers to God as able to see, does that mean that He only has a pair of eyes and nothing else? In reality, He does have hands and feet; this proves that God has a form.” Further mention of this belief is found in various Hindu scriptures including the Mundak Upanishad and in the philosophies of Ramanujacharya, Vallabhacharya, and Madhvacharya. Bhagwan Swaminarayan strongly asserted the existence of God’s divine form and urged that devotees should believe the same to be true, saying in Vachanamrut Gadhada III-39, “To realize God as being formless is a sin much graver than even the panchmahapap, the five grave sins. There is no atonement for that sin…. One should keep a firm conviction in the form of God and staunchly worship Him. This is My message to you. So please imbibe these words firmly in your life.”
Believing Purna Purushottam Narayan to have a form is the basis for many Hindu beliefs and rituals, such as murti puja, bhakti, and even the building of mandirs.

Above All Else - Sarvopari

God, Purna Purushottam Narayan, is sarvopari, the Supreme God. When a devotee truly understands that God is absolute, that devotee’s jiva is worthy of attaining moksha and staying eternally in His presence in Akshardham.
Akshardham is the divine abode of Bhagwan Swaminarayan where His eternal form is present along with Aksharbrahma, in the presence of all the liberated jivas. Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s greatness is revealed in the Vachanamrut, when He speaks about His incarnation on Earth as having the sole purpose of liberating countless souls. Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s first spiritual successor, Gunatitanand Swami, also discusses this unparalleled greatness in his work, the Swamini Vato. Paramhansas who lived during Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s time also documented their interaction with His supreme form in the Bhaktachintamani, Haricharitramrut Sagar, and Harililamrut.
The belief that the form of God a devotee worships is the Supreme Being is necessary for devotees to secure the confidence and faith needed to progress on their spiritual journey. Bhagwan Swaminarayan has advocated that His devotees maintain firm faith in the Supreme God's omniscience while also respecting all other divinities.

Always Present - Pragat

Bhagwan Swaminarayan promised His followers that He would remain present on Earth to provide guidance. He remains present through His ideal devotee, Aksharbrahma, through His scriptures and His divine murtis. In Vachanamrut Gadhada I-68, Bhagwan Swaminarayan explains, “God says that He dwells with all His powers and divinity in the eight types of murtis and the God-realized or Gunatit Sant.” The Shrimad Bhagavata Purana states that God’s presence through Akshar is more prevalent than His presence through a murti. One of the six reasons that Bhagwan Swaminarayan manifested on Earth was to establish His eternal presence for each generation of jivas.
It is through the association with Akshar that a spiritual aspirant attains moksha. Purna Purushottam Narayan is present today through the gunatit sadhu. Pramukh Swami Maharaj is the gunatit sadhu through whom Purna Purshottam Narayan works today. 

Guru – Aksharbrahma – The Gunatit Sadhu

Realizing God's glory is the first half of understanding Swaminarayan philosophy. The second part is appreciating the glory of God's eternal abode, Aksharbrahma. Aksharbrahma's authority is second only to that of Parabrahma in the entire universe. The Chandogya and Mundak Upanishads both mention that Aksharbrahma is responsible for the creation and sustenance of this universe.
Aksharbrahma is manifest both with form and without form.
When understood without form, he pervades God's entire creation and forms the basis of all that creation.
With form, Aksharbrahma can be understood in three ways; As the abode holding God and His liberated devotees; As being in personal attendance to God in His abode; And as being present on earth as the gunatit guru to guide Parabrahma's devotees.
In Vachanamrut Gadhada I-54, Bhagwan Swaminarayan cites the Shrimad Bhagavata Purana and says that the gunatit sadhu, Aksharbrahma, is the only pathway to God and to moksha. He is responsible for helping the jiva realize Parabrahma. God works and accepts the devotion of spiritual aspirants through Aksharbrahma. It is only through Aksharbrahma that a jiva can associate itself with God and understand Him well enough to seek complete refuge in Him, thereby bringing the jiva out of the darkness of maya and into the light of Parabrahma.
The Shrimad Bhagavata Purana states, “God dispels the ignorance of maya through His Dham [abode].” Aksharbrahma is that Dham. Bhagwan Swaminarayan elaborates by saying, “That Aksharbrahma has two forms. One, which is formless and pure chaitanya, is known as Chidakash. In its other form, that Aksharbrahma remains in the service of Purshottam Narayan.” (Gadhada I-21). Association with Aksharbrahma to help the jiva realize Parabrahma is known as becoming aksharrup or brahmarup.
In the Shrimad Bhagavad Gita, Shri Krishna tells Arjun, “One who becomes Brahmarup, whose mind is always content, who does not lament in any way, who does not crave for any object, who has equanimity for all living creatures – that individual attains my bhakti.” For the jiva to reach this state, it must be guided by Aksharbrahma. That Aksharbrahma should become the jiva’s guru and teach the jiva about the glory of God so that the jiva may understand Him.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj is revered as the current form Aksharbrahma by Swaminarayan devotees around the world. He is helping aspirants on the path to spiritual enlightenment. His true greatness is not his dedication to society through humanitrarian services or even his construction of mandirs and complexes to preserve Indian culture. His true greatness lies in guiding jivas to realize their true form and steering them past the bounds of maya to attain moksha. Those that come into contact with him can sense that God resides in his pure heart.


Scriptures are an integral component of religion. They preserve the religion's sacred teachings and doctrines. Many cultures and religions have survived for thousands of years because their teachings have been safeguarded in the form of scriptures, passed on from one generation to the next.
Hindu Sanatan Dharma has three scriptures that form the basis of its philosophy and teachings. These are the Upanishads, the Brahma Sutras, and the Shrimad Bhagavad Gita. Together these three are referred to as the Prasthanatrayi, or ‘the three that establish Hindu Dharma.’ All Hindu schools of thought, including the Swaminarayan faith, base their philosophy on these three scriptures.
Within the Swaminarayan Sampraday, the Vachanamrut, the Shikshapatri, and the Swamini Vato set forth the principles and doctrines of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. The Vachanamrut is a compilation of His teachings to the sadhus and followers - a unique compendium of question-and-answer sessions in Gujarati prose. The Shikshapatri is the code of conduct written by Bhagwan Swaminarayan for all His followers - sadhus and lay people. The Shikshapatri is unique for its transparency, written in times when access to knowledge and rules was usually limited to just a few. Swamini Vato is a compilation of the teachings of Aksharbrahman Gunatitanand Swami, which supports the Vachanamrut and clarifies its philosophy.   
The philosophy and basic beliefs of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha followers stem from these scriptures, Hindu beliefs, and guidance from the spiritual lineage that has continued the work of Bhagwan Swaminarayan.  


There are three scriptures that are unique and central to the Swaminarayan faith. Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s discourses over a 10 year span have been documented in the Vachanamrut, the main scripture of the Swaminarayan faith. Bhagwan Swaminarayan personally dictated the basic code of conduct to be followed by all disciples in the Shikshapatri, a short list of basic precepts. Quotations from the first spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, Gunatitanand Swami, form the third main scripture, Swami ni Vato.
Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s daily discourses to devotees and sadhus have been documented in the Vachanamrut, the main scripture of the Swaminarayan faith. The Vachanamrut is a historical collection of 273 spiritual discourses delivered by Bhagwan Swãminãrãyan between 1819 CE and 1829 CE. The word ‘Vachanamrut’ in Sanskrit means ‘divine nectar (amrut) in the form of words (vachan).’ Bhagwan Swãminãrãyan has described the Vachanamrut as being the quintessence of all scriptures.
Bhagwan Swãminãrãyan has taken the most profound concepts of Hindu philosophy from the Prasthanatrayi and simplified them so that they can be universally understood. It is filled with sound logic, simple metaphors and analogies, and divine revelations that provide philosophical and practical answers to questions about spiritual living. Different talks in the Vachanamrut address a range of daily and philosophical topics, from removing base instincts of ego and jealousy to recognizing the true guru.
The Vachanamrut, considered as one of the most authentic scriptures in the world, was complied by four senior paramhansas of Bhagwan Swãminãrãyan: Gopalanand Swami, Muktanand Swami, Nityanand Swami and Shukanand Swami.
These four compilers truly grasped the intricate philosophical concepts elaborated upon by Bhagwan Swãminãrãyan in the Vachanamrut; it was only then that these discourses could be written accurately. They compiled the discourses of Bhagwan Swãminãrãyan verbatim.
One of the main factors confirming the authenticity of the Vachanamrut is its attention to detail with regard to its date, setting, people present, and lastly its endorsement by Bhagwan Swãminãrãyan. At the beginning of each Vachanamrut, the place, time of day, and date are given. The compilers then describe what Bhagwan Swãminãrãyan was wearing from head to toe, what He was holding in His hand, and what He was sitting on; what city and where in the building He was seated (many of these buildings can still be seen today); what direction He was facing; and who was sitting in the assembly before Him. Many of the descendants of the devotees present during the dialogues are still living in Gujarat today. The compilers also included the 18 Sanskrit aphorisms at the end of the Vachanamrut, the cities where the dialogues took place, and their numbers. The Sanskrit aphorisms are of great importance in establishing the authenticity of the Vachanamrut; their inclusion has prevented later interpolations. The details help give the reader a visualization of the Vachanamrut.
The four paramhansas then presented the collection of Vachanamruts to Bhagwan Swãminãrãyan for scrutiny. This can be seen in Loya 7, where Nityanand Swami shows the collection (as completed up to that date) to Bhagwan Swãminãrãyan, who examines it and is greatly pleased with it. Lastly, Bhagwan Swãminãrãyan also testifies to the truthfulness of His talks on several occasions. In Gadhada III-2, He says, “I swear by this assembly of sãdhus that there is not even the slightest untruth in this matter.” In Vachanamrut Gadhadã II-8, He says, “I have delivered this discourse having heard and having extracted the essence from the Vedas, the Shãstras, and the Purãnas and all other words on this earth pertaining to liberation. This is the most profound and fundamental principle; it is the essence of all essences. For all those who have previously attained liberation, for all those who will attain it in the future, and for those who are presently treading the path of liberation, this discourse is like a lifeline.” Finally, in Vachanamrut Gadhada III-39, Bhagwan Swãminãrãyan proclaims, “Whosoever understands these facts and thoroughly consolidates them has accomplished everything; indeed, he has nothing more to achieve….”


Having observed the decline in morality and social harmony, Bhagwan Swaminarayan wrote the Shikshapatri to help improve the then current state of society over 200 years ago. The Shikshapatri, personally dictated by Bhagwan Swaminarayan, is a unique code of conduct aimed at a more transparent society. Especially for His time, having a single code of conduct for all of society was both unorthodox and groundbreaking.
The Shikshapatri is one of the primary scriptures of the Swaminarayan Sampraday. Blending contemporary social mores with a strong spiritual ideal, Bhagwan Swaminarayan condensed the standards for behavior in just 212 Sanskrit shlokas. The Shikshapatri was written in Vadtal, Gujarat, on February 12, 1826 CE (Maha Sud 5, Vikram Samvat Year 1882). In the Shikshapatri, Bhagwan Swaminarayan has instructed His devotees in matters of health, hygiene, dress, diet, etiquette, diplomacy, finance, education, friendship, morality, habits, penance, religious duties, celebrations, and other areas. The codes are applicable to devotees from all stages and walks of life – young or old; man or woman; married, unmarried, or widowed; householder or sadhu. The central premise of the Shikshapatri, as mentioned in its 116th shloka, is that an aspirant should aim to identify himself as one with Brahma, separate from the (physical) bodies, and offer devotion to God. Furthermore, Bhagwan Swaminarayan has instructed all of His devotees to read the Shikshapatri daily so they constantly remain aware of their duties.
Bhagwan Swaminarayan presented a copy of the Shikshapatri to Governor Sir John Malcolm when they met on February 26, 1830. That original copy is preserved today in the Bodleian Library at Oxford University.

Swamini Vato

Aksharbrahma Gunatitanand Swami, Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s first spiritual successor, once asked Bhagwan Swaminarayan, “What do you value most: meditation, behaving as self-realized person, serving the sick, or talking about Bhagwan’s mahima?” Bhagwan Swaminarayan replied, "Talking about Bhagwan is the greatest service a devotee can perform." Taking this command as his divine duty, Gunatitanand Swami would not miss a single opportunity to speak to people about the supremacy of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. To fulfill this, Gunatitanand Swami incessantly used his speech through katha in the praise of Bhagwan. In Junagadh, Gunatitanand Swami set a schedule for sadhus to continuously do katha for 24 hours a day!
Some of Gunatitanand Swami’s closest devotees, such as Swami Jaga Bhakta, Thakkar Naran Pradhan, Harishankarbhai Raval, Sadguru Balmukunddas Swami, Sadashankar Amarji and many others who lived and traveled with Gunatitanand Swami, had taken note of all these talks with great devotion. These were then compiled and called Swamini Vato, which means ‘[Gunatitanand] Swami’s discourses.’ Afterwards, Gunatitanand Swami instructed Achintyanand Brahmachari to give discourses on these talks and recognized it as a religious text. These talks were first published by Balmukund Swami in five chapters and then in seven chapters by Krishnaji Ada.  BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha published a new edition based on the latest research and critical study of the original text.
The Swamini Vato are the essence of the spiritual teachings of Aksharbrahma Gunatitanand Swami. They are regarded as a comprehensive commentary on the Vachanamrut and offer the spiritual aspirant a lucid explanation of the Vachanamrut. In the Swamini Vato, Gunatitanand Swami has emphatically spoken about the glory, divinity, and supremacy of Bhagwan Swaminarayan; the importance of swadharma (one’s own dharma); atmagnan (knowledge of the soul); the futility of sensual pleasures; detachment; and devotion with the knowledge of the glory of Bhagwan. Gunatitanand Swami often said, "These are the revelations of Akshardham. They will grant you liberation from the cycle of birth and death. They are capable of resolving all our doubts and misgivings. These are narrations of divine episodes related to Bhagwan Purushottam. They will abolish the darkness of ignorance."
The following are a few excerpts from the Swamini Vato:
  • “God Himself has said, ‘I am not so won over by penance, sacrifices, yoga, vows, alms-giving and the like means as by satsang.’ And what is satsang? It is to be humble with and to live by the commands of the great sadhu, who has dharma, divine knowledge, detachment and devotion to God accompanied by profound knowledge of His glory and greatness.”
  • “True meditation is of a higher worth than the observance of moral codes, but spiritual knowledge excels meditation. Yet higher still is to live in accordance with the wishes of a bona fide sadhu, because this encompasses the former three.”
  • “Human birth is meant for God realization. However, death may steal this opportunity any moment. This act of 'realization' is an accomplishment to be fulfilled in a short life-span, like stringing a pearl by the light from a flash of lightening.”
  • “This body is not yours and to identify yourself with it is ignorance. You can never be freed from this ignorance save by the grace of God and His sadhu.” 

Om Tat Sat

(My humble  salutations to the great devotees  and Pilgrimage tourist guide for the collection)

(The Blog  is reverently for all the seekers of truth, lovers of wisdom and   to share the Hindu Dharma with others on the spiritual path and also this is purely  a non-commercial blog)


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