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Today the Akshar Purushottam

Sanstha has expanded into an

international organisation. With

centres all over the world and

over 550 sadhus, it is a firmly

established Faith in today’s

society. Its activities range from

building a traditional seven-spired

temple in London to teaching the

backward classes of Gujarat

to read and write.

However, with the growth of any

organisation there are always a

few people who are curious

about the objectives of the new

Sanstha. For example,

“Why do you spend so much

money in celebrating big

festivals?”, “Are you not

damaging the future of the country

by initiating young graduates as

sadhus?”, “Is the Swaminarayan

Sanstha a part of Hinduism?”

Such questions are put to

Swamishri by reporters, sceptics

and even detractors of the

Sanstha and its activities.

Whatever their motives may be,

these questions give us a clear

picture of this Sanstha and its

objectives; for today’s

society and for the future.
    As The Pramukh

Swamishri as President (Pramukh) and spiritual master, is the person to answer such queries. For it is through his efforts that the Sanstha has become what it is today. In fact, it is fair to say that Pramukh Swami is the Sanstha...
    Question 3
1985. During the Aksharbrahman Gunatitanand Swami Bicentenrary Celebrations - an interview for the Sanstha’s records department...

Anandswarup Swami : People benefit in many different ways from festivals. But in your opinion what is the greatest benefit?

Swamishri : Through festivals people’s faith in dharma increases, they imbibe good qualities and receive inspiration to lead better lives.
Secondly, from the Sampradaya’s point of view, the devotees are given an opportunity to do seva through which their soul is strengthened and thus their bhakti becomes more intense too.
And thirdly, what is the greatest benefit in the eyes of the Akshar Purushottam Sanstha? Shriji Maharaj brought Gunatitanand Swami with Him from Akshardham. However, during Gunatitanand Swami’s lifetime people did not realise his true glory. However, Bhagatji Maharaj and Shastriji Maharaj revealed his greatness as Akshar - God’s eternal abode; only then did people begin to realise who he really was. It is Shriji Maharaj’s wish that this knowledge spreads throughout the whole world and that millions understand this philosophy. Through this festival, millions from here and abroad have come to know of this knowledge. This is the greatest benefit of all!

What is your message to the devotees and volunteers?

Swamishri : We are glad that we have been able to celebrate the Bicentenary Celebrations of Gunatitanand Swami successfully. Gunatitanand Swami came here to teach a principle - ‘to become Aksharrup and attach ourselves with Purushottam.’ All that remains for us to do is to make this firm in our lives and then spread this message everywhere. Happiness and joy in this life is attained by becoming Aksharrup - we should have such a firm conviction that ‘I am not the body, I am the atma.’ So now we have to imbibe this message and practice it in our daily lives. Because we believe ourselves to be the body our intentions and emotions are forever changing. But now we should keep one intention, we should keep unity and we should keep one aim.
Our work should continue. We should develop a greater feeling of love and compassion for each other and a sense of togetherness. We have to put aside our own personal ambitions and work in such a way that the Akshar Purushottam philosophy flourishes. And that Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj become pleased with us.
We are often misled by our own assumptions, but remember Swami only wants to make us Brahmarup. When can we be said to be Brahmarup? When we let go of our own preconceptions and beliefs. We should do whatever the guru says, and imbibe whatever message he gives us. We have to progress together. We have to work in such a way that everyone feels that they want to be a part of it and that no one becomes disillusioned. We should try to encourage others.
In the future, along with seva, may our enthusiasm increase but never decrease. May we never break our bonds with each other. We should in the future come together and do as much seva as possible, and spread the worship of Akshar Purushottam. In the main, our spiritual understanding and faith in Lord Swaminarayan should not lessen or change. And a life that pleases God should be built.

Today, youths are not interested in dharma and religion. However, in this Sanstha there are many youths who are giving seva here. What is the reason behind this?

Swamishri : There is only one reason. In this Sanstha there have lived such Saintly individuals as Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj. They made many sacrifices for this Sanstha. Just as people are ready to sacrifice everything for the chance to go abroad. Very few men can dedicate their lives to God. They had no selfish motives, they were ready to give everything for God. Because of them, people today are inspired to do such good deeds and give such seva.

Materialism is increasing with leaps and bounds. In light of this, what does the future hold for this Sanstha?

Swamishri : Materialism may be increasing, but what has always been the truth will remain to be the truth. At present, it seems that dharma is declining but in the end people will realise that science has not been advantageous to us; that it has only brought us closer to our destruction (referring to nuclear weapons). Then they will turn back and revert to dharma. So there is no reason for us to be disillusioned.
This Sanstha has a bright future because Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj have laid such solid foundations. Because their lives were so pure and detached from the world, young sadhus and youths have been inspired to come forward and join this mission. So the future will always be bright. Basically our foundations are morals and upasana. These are firm in our Sanstha. The guru’s life will always be a constant source of inspiration. So there will be no problems.

(28 October 1985, Amdavad)

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