Bhagwan Swaminarayan manifested upon this Earth with Aksharbrahma (Vachanamrut Gadhada I-71) and vowed to remain forever present through an unbroken succession of Gunatit Gurus.
A momentous day celebrating this promise is Sharad Purnima, the birth anniversary of Aksharbrahma Gunatitanand Swami, the first in line of this succession. The day fell this year on Tuesday 14 October, and was celebrated at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden, London, in the traditional manner with kirtans, katha-varta and five artis. The devotees also enjoyed a video recording of the blessings Pramukh Swami Maharaj had given in Gondal just a few hours earlier that same day.
A special day of celebrations had also been set aside on the Saturday prior (11 October 2008), with an enlightening programme, entitled ‘Aksharbrahma’, prepared and performed by the Kishore Mandal.
The programme began by retelling the life of Gunatitanand Swami through vivid sketches complete with authentic props and changing backdrops. The narrative focussed on four key episodes from the life of Gunatitanand Swami where Bhagwan Swaminarayan had personally and unequivocally revealed him as Aksharbrahma. The four episodes were: Gunatitanand Swami’s diskha, the raas at Sarangpur, applying the tilak on Gunatitanand Swami’s forehead, and the revelation to the Nawab of Junagadh.
Following the colourful performances, three kishores delivered outstanding nirupans in Gujarati further extolling the glory of Gunatitanand Swami and expounding upon the need and significance of such a Gunatit Guru as the gateway to moksha (liberation). They called upon references from accepted texts of the Swaminarayan Sampradaya to substantiate their points in a scholarly manner.
The conclusion to the festival was provided by Acharya Swami, who congratulated the Kishore Mandal on the wonderful programme and then went on to explain that the Gunatit lineage has continued uninterruptedly from Gunatitanand Swami to this present day in Swamishri.
Sharad Purnima was also celebrated on an equally grand scale by the Mahila Mandal on Saturday 18 October 2008. They presented a colourful and devotional programme describing the inspiring life and work of Aksharbrahma Gunatitanand Swami.