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Bhagwan Swaminarayan
Bhagwan Swaminarayan


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 role.
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 Precepts
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 or food,
  • homicide, suicide forbidden.


  • observance of rituals outlined by Vitthalnathji, e.g., celebrating Ramnavmi, Janmashtami, Ekadashi,
  • daily performance of puja, offering prasadam,
  • 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.

  Ecological Awareness

  • not to spit, urinate or defaecate in gardens, rivers, lakes or public places.


  • to set up schools.

  Finance Management

  • to keep a daily record of one's expenses in one's own handwriting,
  • personal expenditure should not exceed income,
  • to pay employees the agreed sum of wages,
  • to make transactions in writing even with friend and relations.

  Health & Hygiene

  • to bathe everyday, to drink filtered water,
  • avoid alcohol, tobacco and other intoxicants,
  • follow a vegetarian diet.


  • not to commit adultery,
  • avoid wearing indecent clothing.


  • cultivate forbearance.

  Special observances for

  • married women, widows, householders, Acharyas and sadhus.

  Veneration to :

  1. The Five Deities - Vishnu, Shiva, Ganpati, Parvati and Aditya.
  2. 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.
  3. Elders.
  4. Sadhus.
  5. 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.

Haricharitramrut Sagar
'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 restructured later.
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.

Source References

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

Gunatitanand Swami Bhagatji Maharaj Yogiji Maharaj Shastriji Maharaj Pramukh Swami Maharaj Bhagwan Swaminarayan Gunatitanand Swami Bhagatji Maharaj Yogiji Maharaj Shastriji Maharaj Pramukh Swami Maharaj Bhagwan Swaminarayan

© 1999, Bochasanwasi Shree Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha, Swaminarayan Aksharpith