Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Bhagwan Swaminarayan (Life and Work)
He was a spiritual who traveled barefooted across the length and breadth of India in seven years. Hailed as an unremitting champion of peace and purity, he crusaded against the crippling evils of society. Thousands admired him, obeyed him, ad above all, held him in high esteem and revered him.
His name was Bhagwan Swaminarayan. He was born on 2 April 1781 in the village of Chhapaiya, near Ayodhya. He was called ghanshyam in his childhood years. His birth was a blessed light that had dawned on earth. At the age of eight, Ghanshyam was given the sacred thread. Extraordinarily brilliant & Intelligent, he completed the study of Sanskrit Grammar, the Vedas Upanishads, Bhagvad Gita, Charmashastras, Purans, and shad-Darshans within three years. He left home at the tender age of 11 to redeem mankind.
His spiritual travels took him from Kailas-Mansarovar in the Himalayas in the north to rameshwar in the south; and somnath in the west to kamakshi mandir and Ganga Sagar in the east. At the time of Nilknth’s spiritual travels Sanatan Dharma was facing assaults from imposters posing as spiritual leaders. At Kamakshi in Assam, Pibek evoked all his tantric powers to destroy Nilkanth; but he failed and was transformed. At Jagannath Puri the chief of the fake sadhus very nearly killed him. Nilkanth’s intention was to inspire people to lead vortipis amd purposeful lives according to the tenets of dharma by freeing them from the clutches of these charlatans.
But what were the resources the young Brahmachari had at his command? His chief asset was his pure, supreme divinity that reflected his resplendent personality and serene face to the wide range of people he met during his pilgrimage.
Maharaja Ranjit Sinh, the doughty sikh ruler who carved a niche for himself in the annals of Punjab history, was impressed with Nilkanth and sought his refuge on meeting him at Badrinath and Haridwar. The king and queen of Butolnagar in Nepal offered their daughters in marriage and their kingdom. The mahant of shripur mandir was greatly impressed by Nilkanth’s feat when he tamed a ferocious lion, and proposed that he become the head of the mandir and manage its hefty annual income. The young Brahmachari declined all offers with a smile. His mission was not to rule kingdoms, ashrams or be honored with fame and riches.
Wherever he traveled, Nilkanth asked five question regarding the nature of jiva, ishwar, Maya, Bragnab and Parabrahman. He did not get satisfactory replies questions till be reched ramanand Swami’s ashram at Loj in Saurashtra (Gujrat). With Ramanand Swami away on tour in the kutch region, Miktanand Swami satisfactorily answered his questions. Nilkanth was pleased and decided to stay there.
Ramanand Swami knew of Nilkanth’s divinity and told his followers that he himself was merely a drum-better and the chief player was varni. He gave diksha to Nilkanth and named him as Sahajanand Swami and Narayan Muni. A year later he handed over the reins of the fellowship to Sahajanand Swami Who was only 21 years old. After Ramanand Swami Passed away Sahajanand Swami gave the Swaminarayan Mahamantra to the congregation. Thereafter he became popularly known as Bhagwan Swaminarayan.
From the age of 21 to 49, he introduced a moral, Social and Spiritual renaissance with the help of 3,000 paramhansas and sadhus that he had initiated. He exhorted people to lead a life of character and faith in God. He asked them not to kill animals, even in yagnas, and to abstain from illicit sex, eating meat, drinking alcohol and addictions.
He was against the prevailing rigidity in the caste system and opposed untouchability. He championed the welfare of women and abolished evil practices like Sati and female infanticide. He succeeded in transforming lawless people like joban pagi, Sagram Vaghri and others into great devotees. He had a following or two million devotees, and was hailed as a torchbearer of Indian culture.
Bhagwan Swaminarayan worte the Shikhapatri in Sanskrit, which is a code of conduct for renunciants and householders. The Vachanamrut is a compilation of his spiritual discourses.
The worship of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Aksharbrahman Gunatitanand Swami, His ideal disciple and first successor, is the lynchpin of the Swaminarayan philosophy. Subsequently, the gurus who have followed in the Swaminarayan Sampraday have continued the work of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. The First Guru was Aksharbrahman Gunatitanand Swami. He was succeeded by Bhagatji Maharaj, Shastriji Maharaj, Yogiji Maharaj, and the Present guru, Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
In 1907, in accordance with the Vedic preaching’s of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, Brahmaswarup Shastriji Maharaj established the Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS).
As the Sampraday believes in Ekantik Bhakti and God with a form, mandirs. Shastriji Maharaj built five mandirs and consecrated the murtis of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Aksharbrahman Gunatitanand Swami (Akshar Purushottam Maharaj). He was succeeded by yogiji Maharaj, has inspired and guided worldwide growth of the BAPS, personally inspiring and consecrating over 700 mandirs. The akshardham mandirs at New Delhi and Gandhinagar, Gujarat, epitomize the glory of Indian culture, values and principles for the uplift of mankind. The traditional shikarbaddh mandirs in London, Chicago, Houston, Atlanta and Toronto have evoked worldwide attention.