A few days after Ramanand Swami's departure, Sahajanand Swami introduced
the 'Swaminarayan' mantra. When followers chanted it they experienced
samadhi. As cited earlier, samadhi resulted only after mastering Ashtang
Yoga. Yet through His grace, people entered samadhi, in which they experienced
divine bliss and the vision of the deity they worshipped. Henceforth
He came to be known as Swaminarayan.
The essence of His teachings emphasized worshipping the Lord Purushottam
by transcending the three bodies (gross, subtle and causal) and identifying
one's Atma with Brahman (Aksharbrahman) (Shikshapatri 116). This would
lead to moksha - ultimate salvation. He further stipulated that the
manifest form of Aksharbrahman, also known as the God-realised sadhu,
was the gateway to moksha and God-realization (Gadhada I.54), echoing
the injunction of the Shrimad Bhagvatam(3/29/20). For this the devotee
needed to develop profound love for such a sadhu (Vadtal 11). Finally,
Bhagwan Swaminarayan promised to remain manifest on earth forever, through
the lineage of Gunatit gurus. After His departure on Jeth Sud 10, Samvat
1886 (1st June 1830), He manifested through Gunatitanand Swami, His
first spiritual successor.
Little did the villagers of Loj realise that Neelkanth's silent footsteps
in the early hours of Shravan Vad 6, Samvat 1856, heralded a scintillating
overture in the spiritual realm of Bharatvarsha. Striding forth to the
four corners of the world in only two centuries, His lotus-feet would
transform the unassuming village into a sacred venue for pilgrims.
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