Bhagwan Swaminarayan's principal objective in incarnating was to establish
Ekantik Dharma, which opened an eternal path to moksha for Jivas.
Yet historians and writers have ascribed the phrase 'Social Reformer'
to Him. Not having an indepth knowledge of the Sampradaya and
won over by the revolutionary and thus socially visible work,
these writers could not help laud Him as such, albeit myopically.
One scholar after some detailed study came close, by describing
His social reforms as off-shoots of religion. In truth, it has
to be elucidated that establishing Ekantik Dharma automatically
encompassed His social services, which merely played a miniscule
One of the means of setting about His principal objective was
through the compilation and writing of His teachings, in several
important scriptures during His life. These were: the Shikshapatri,
the Vachanamritam, the Satsangijivanam and Haricharitramrut Sagar.
The teachings drew authority from the Vedic scriptures, and elaborated
the realisation of Ekantik Dharma. This is the perfect observance
of Dharma - righteousness and duty, Jnan - knowledge, Vairagya
- detachment and Bhakti - devotion with a fully fledged realisation
of the glory and grandeur of God.
Shikshapatri - The Code of
Bhagwan Swaminarayan Himself wrote this quintessence of the scriptures,
a code of conduct for the devotees, in Vadtal, in 1826.1
It contains 212 Sanskrit verses in couplets. Five verses are read
everyday by disciples; each word venerated as His personified
form. The illiterate worship it as the Lord's divine form.
In such a short treatise, Bhagwan Swaminarayan has covered an amazing
range of subjects, prescribing practical injunctions for the followers.
To those who implicitly obey them, He grants happiness and peace,
both in their mundane existence and in the life hereafter.
Some of the subjects and injunctions are classified below :
- not to kill animals for yagnas
- homicide, suicide forbidden.
- observance of rituals outlined
by Vitthalnathji, e.g., celebrating Ramnavmi, Janmashtami, Ekadashi,
- daily performance of puja, offering
- visiting a mandir everyday,
- singing kirtans extolling the
glory of God.
- to avoid the company of: thieves,
addicts, heretics, alchemists, sinful and lustful people.
- to respect people in power and
those who are armed.
- not to spit, urinate or defaecate
in gardens, rivers, lakes or public places.
- to keep a daily record of one's
expenses in one's own handwriting,
- personal expenditure should not
- to pay employees the agreed sum
- to make transactions in writing
even with friend and relations.
Health & Hygiene
- to bathe everyday, to drink filtered
- avoid alcohol, tobacco and other
- follow a vegetarian diet.
- not to commit adultery,
- avoid wearing indecent clothing.
Special observances for
- married women, widows, householders,
Acharyas and sadhus.
- The Five Deities - Vishnu, Shiva,
Ganpati, Parvati and Aditya.
- Scriptures, especially the eight
authoritative scriptures, namely: Four Vedas, Vedanta Sutras
of Vyas, Shrimad Bhagvatam, Vishnu Sahasranam, Bhagvad Gita,
Vidurniti, Vasudev Mahatmya and Yagnavalkya Smruti.
- Holy places - tirthas.
From 1819 to 1829, Bhagwan Swaminarayan's sermons to the Paramhansas
and devotees were systematically recorded in prose form. The compilers
comprised of four senior and learned Paramhansas: Gopalanand,
Muktanand, Nityanand and Shukanand.
From a collection of over two thousand dialogues, they selected
two hundred and sixty two and compiled these as the Vachanamritam
- the nectar of His words. Each dialogue includes a reference
to the place, date, time, a vivid description of Bhagwan Swaminarayan's
attire and the names of the participants.
A scholar, P.B. Vidyarthi, has observed: 'In fact, it is reckoned
as one of the most edifying sacred texts, every word of which
is packed with profound wisdom enshrined in the traditional Indian
literature, like the Upanishads, the Gita, the Mahabharat, the
Ramayan and the Pancharatra.'2
The compiled text, read and approved by Bhagwan Swaminarayan, renders
it a unique authenticity among Hinduism's many sacred texts.
Satsang signifies the Fellowship of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, and jivan
means life. This scripture contains details of the life to be
lived by a disciple in Satsang. It was written in Sanskrit, under
the guidance of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, by Swami Shatanand3.
Comprising of five volumes and 17,627 verses, it incorporates:
the constitution of the Sampradaya, the details of festivals,
rituals, vows of the disciples, and elaborates philosophical principles
and the life of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. Also included, are vows and
penances for sadhus, known as the Dharmamrut and Nishkam Shuddhi.
'The ocean of the nectarine episodes of Hari - Bhagwan Swaminarayan.'
The dazzling name echoes the sublime nature of this scripture.
Considered as the authoritative biography of Bhagwan Swaminarayan,
an eye-witness account, its staggering length of eighty thousand
sakhis (a system of poetic versification), renders this an epic
in its own right, over three times the length of the Ramayan.
On several occasions Bhagwan Swaminarayan had related to Muktanand
Swami His life, from birth till arrival in Loj.
In Samvat 1881 (C.E.1825)4, Bhagwan Swaminarayan commanded
Muktanand Swami to offer bhakti by writing His life episodes,
till his last breath. Muktanand Swami performed this task diligently,
writing details in the form of Kharda - a rough format to be systematically
He continued writing and dictating the Khardas prolifically till
Maharaj passed away in 1830. Grief-stricken by His departure,
Swami's poor health deteriorated rapidly. One and a half months
later, he joined the Lord.
In Samvat 1914 (C.E.1858), Adharanand Swami, himself an artist
and sculptor, but not a poet by any means, commenced the mammoth
versification of the Haricharitramrut Sagar from Muktanand Swami's
Khardas. Divinely inspired, he composed the sakhis, akin to that
of the Ramayan, in Vraj Hindi. The work comprises of twenty-eight
chapters, beautifully named as purs - waves, each divided into
tarangs - ripples, in consonance with the sagar's (ocean's) imagery.
A few details of Neelkanth's travels, in chapter two of this present
work, have been selected from this scripture.
Bhagwan Swaminarayan's teachings, immortalised during His own life
in these scriptures, reinforced the principles of Ekantik Dharma.
Nishkulanand Swami prominently extols this fact, at the end of
every chapter of his Bhaktachintamani. To Bhagwan Swaminarayan's
name he attaches the prefix, Shrimad Ekantik Dharma Pravartak
- Propounder of Ekantik Dharma.
1 Dave, op.cit., Vol. V., Writing of Shikshapatri, p.212.
2 Vidyarthi, P.B. Vachanamritam, A Philosophical Text,
in New Dimensions in Vedanta
Philosophy. Vol. I, Amdavad: B.A.P.S. 1981, p.35.
3 Dave, op.cit., Vol. V., Writing of Satsangijivanam, p.346.
4 Vachanamritam, op.cit., Gadhada II-58