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Swaminarayan

From Academic Kids

Swaminarayan (April 2, 1781 - 1830) was born Ghanshyam Maharaj to a brahmin family in the village of Chhapaiya, Uttar Pradesh. His father's name was Hariprasad Pande (dharmadev) and his mother's name was Premvati (Bhaktimata). He also had two brothers, Rampratapji Pande, the older brother, and Icharamji Pande, the younger brother. After serving his parents, he left home at the age of 11 to travel the whole of India on a holy pilgrimage, eventually settling in Gujarat where he founded a religious community at age 21. Maharaj later became known as Swamminarayan after the mantra he taught. Swaminarayan was known by many names such as Shreeji Maharaj, Shri Hari and Sahajanand Swami.

He established temples at; Ahmedabad, Bhuj, Muli, Vadtal, Junagadh, Dholera, Dholka, Gadhpur & Jetalpur – installing images of various manifestations of God, such as Nar Narayan Dev, Laxmi Narayan Dev, Radha Krishna, Radha Raman, Revti Baldevji, etc. Shreeji Maharaj made Gadhpur his home, in recognition of the exceptional devoted love from Dada Khachar.

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Present-day followers

Currently, there are three significant Hindu sects claiming the spiritual successorship of Sri Swaminarayan. Both hold substantially similar beliefs, except with regard to spiritual successorship.

|| Shree Swaminarayan Sampraday ||

Prior to his death, Bhagwan Swaminarayan divided his mandirs into two regions and appointed two householders, Raghuvirji Maharaj and Ayodhyaprasadji Maharaj, as acharyas to administrate them. Followers of Shree Swaminarayan Sampraday believe these acharyas to be his immediate spiritual successors. The current acharyas, by hereditary succession, are Rakeshprasadji Maharaj (Vadtal) and Koshlandraprasadji Maharaj (Ahmedabad).

The Acharyas of the Sampraday are more than mere administrative heads. They are the spiritual leaders and the Guru through whom the path to atyantik kalyan (ultimate redemption) is opened. Swaminarayan Bhagwan adopted Ayodhyaprasadji from His elder brother Rampratapji and adopted Raghuvirji from His younger brother Ichcharamji. He accepted the two as His own sons and handed the Northern- NarNarayan Dev Desh (diocese) to Ayodhyaprasadji and the Southern- LaxmiNarayan Dev Desh to Raghuvirji in Vadtal on VS 1882 (1826 AD) Kartik Sud 11 - Prabodhini Ekadashi (ironically on the very same day He was given the Acharya-pad by Ramanand Swami).

The NarNarayan Desh is based in Amdavad (Ahmedabad) and LaxmiNarayan Desh in Vadtal. Though known as NarNarayan Dev and Laxminarayan Dev Gadi, both are the Swaminarayan Gadis as they are the only authentic gadis established by Lord Swaminarayan Himself.

The Acharyas are householders and their respective wives (Gadiwala) stand as the females’ Guru. The Gadi is passed on to the most capable of the Sons from their family.

The Acharya’s role is to • initiate followers into the Sampraday with a Samanya Diksha by giving the special guru-mantra • initiate sadhus (monks, ascetics) by giving them the Maha-Bhagwadi Diksha • perform murti-pratishtha, install deities in the temples • authenticate scriptures of the Sampraday • act as the Guru and leader of the entire Sampraday.

The concept of having a householder (non-monk) as guru and that of hereditary succession are unique to Shree Swaminarayan Sampraday. It is the uniqueness of the Swaminarayan Sampraday, that the closest a tyagi (saint) comes to leadership is being appointed the Mahant Swami (head-saint) of a Shikharbandh Temple. At all times, the true saints of the Sampraday take their instructions from the Acharya, their ultimate guru and leader.

In the Shikshapatri (62), Swaminarayan Bhagwan clearly states “And the form of Shri Krishna that has been given by your Acharya for the purpose of your worship and the forms that the Acharya has installed (i.e. in the mandirs) are the only forms of God worthy of worship. The rest are worthy of respect but not worthy of worship” Therefore, the only murtis (deities) worthy of worship are those installed by the Acharyas.

The original Shree Swaminarayan Sampraday maintains and controls the first nine authantic Swaminarayan temples built by the instuctions of Lord Swaminarayan as well as 35 other temples in India and 18 centers worldwide.[1] (http://www.swaminarayan.info/mandirs/)

The LaxmiNarayan diocese of Shree Swaminarayan Sampraday has recently been troubled by internal power struggles. In 2004, four sadhus and one householder devotee were sentenced to death for the 1998 murder of another sadhu. This is now all cleared and the Vadtal Gadi is under the leadership of Acharya Shri Rakeshprasadji Maharaj.

BAPS

With over 1,000,000 members, over 800 sadhus (monks), more than 600 temples and over 9,000 centers in 45 countries, BAPS (Bochasanwasi Shree Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha) is currently by far the largest Swaminarayan sect, and indeed one of the most influential of all Hindu sects.

The group later to crystallize as BAPS split from the Vadtal temple in 1906, rejecting the householder line of succession. Followers of BAPS regard Gunatitanand Swami, a sadhu whom Swaminarayan referred to as "My divine abode" and "My ideal devotee", as his immediate spiritual successor. He is succeeded in turn by Bhagatji Maharaj, Shastriji Maharaj, Yogiji Maharaj and Pramukh Swami Maharaj.

Maninagar Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan

Currently headed by Purushottampriyadasji Maharaj, this sect maintains 13 temples worldwide.

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