The Swaminarayan Faith

The Swaminarayan sect is a monotheistic faith in Vaishnava Hinduism. The Swaminarayan sect itself is divided into many sub-sects. The two most prominent are BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha and the Shree Swaminarayan Sampradaya. The Shree Swaminarayan Sampradaya claims the “original” succession directly from Swaminarayan. They have two archaryas(leaders) and 2 Gadis(diocese) for North and South divisions.

Shree Swaminarayan Sampradaya Sites
Shri Kutch Satsang Swaminarayan Temple
Swaminarayan Temple, Wheeling, IL.
Shree Swaminarayan Gurukul, USA
Shree Swaminarayan Temple Oldham
Shree Swaminarayan Sampraday Willesden, London
Shree Swaminarayan Temple Cardiff

Acharya Succession

Acharya Shree Koshalendraprasadji Maharaj (b. October 1971) is the current Acharya of the NarNarayan Dev Gadi of Swaminarayan Sampraday (15 October 2004–present) and the 7th Spiritual Successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan in the North Diocese (Amdavad NarNarayan Dev Gadi)

Acharya Shree Rakeshprasadji Maharaj (b. July 1966) is the current Acharya of the LaxmiNarayan Dev Gadi of Swaminarayan Sampraday (30 January 2003–present) and the 9th Spiritual Successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan in the South Diocese (Vadtal LaxmiNarayan Dev Gadi)

Spiritual Guru- Pramukh Swami Maharaj of BAPS Sect

Pramukh Swami Maharaj (born December 7, 1921 in the village of Chansad in Gujarat, India) is to be the third and current spiritual leader of BAPS and is believed to be the fifth spiritual successor to Bhagwan Swaminarayan.

It is important to note that BAPS vs. Shree Swaminarayan Sampradaya divide is similar to the Protestant vs. Catholicism divide.
Video on Swaminarayan Faith

YouTube Video
Swamianrayan pt.1
Swamianrayan pt.2
Swamianrayan pt.3

Bhagwan Swaminarayan
Shri Ghanshyam Maharaj

Early Days, Leaving Home

Bharatvarsha - India has been graced since time immemorial by incarnations, rishis and sadhus. Whenever evil elements stifle Dharma - righteousness, God incarnates on earth to re-establish Dharma. Lord Ramchandra in the age of Treta and Lord Krishna, at the end of Dwapar, are the two most notable.
Five thousand years after Lord Krishna passed away, into the age of Kali - darkness, the ogre of evil defiantly arose out of its banishment, once again darkening the minds and hearts of the people, its grip suffocating eighteenth century India. Severing vital nerves and arteries, it deprived the land of life-giving moral and spiritual nourishment; hindering healthy growth of the eternal values of Dharma, Satya - truth, Ahimsa - non-violence and Brahmacharya - celibacy.
Thus He incarnated as Ghanshyam on 3rd April 1781 (Chaitra Sud 9, Samvat 1837), in the rustic village of Chhapaiya, in northern India, to a Sarvaria brahmin pundit named Hariprasad Pande. He was the second of three sons; Rampratap, the elder brother and Ichharam, the younger. His mother, Premvati was lovingly known as Bhaktimata, and father Hariprasad as Dharmadev.
When Ghanshyam was three months old, a sage astrologer named Markandeya, studied His zodiac signs. He then revealed to Dharmadev,
"Since He is born in the Kark Rashi (sign of Cancer in the zodiac), His name will be Hari. His dark complexion will also confer the name Krishna and Ghanshyam. He has the virtues of tapas (austerity), detachment, yoga, Dharma, leadership, truth and vivek (power of discrimination). Therefore people will also call Him Neelkanth.
"He will establish Dharma on earth and remove pain and misery from people. He will be famed all over the land. He will also induce people with samadhi (a state of spiritual trance). He will lead people to the path of God."
About this time, Dharmadev decided to test Ghanshyam’s innate instincts. He placed a gold coin, a scripture, and a sword on the floor. On all fours, Ghanshyam toddled towards these objects; trying to lift the scripture, avoiding the other two. Dharmadev jubilantly lifted and hugged Him, deducing that He would surely attain scriptural learning.
Ghanshyam’s first encounter of animal slaughter for food occurred during His stay in Chhapaiya.…raphy/index.htm

BAPS is well know for building elaborate mandirs(temple). They’re in Guinness Book of World Records for Neason Temple in London. And again for Chicago Mandir. But their biggest attraction is Akshardham Temple Complex. It’s a big tourist destination.

Akshardham Temple Complex
Swaminarayan Info

Chicago Mandir

Neasden Temple

Religion, Migration and Wealth Creation in the Swaminarayan Movement By Rohit Barot

                  Swaminarayan's Scripture

The Main Swaminarayan Scripture

Digital Shikshapatri Site


Swamini Vato

Main Vaishnava Hindu Scripture
Bhagavad-gītā As It Is

Srimad Bhagavatam
Srimad Bhagavatam


**Info on Hinduism in general:

Hinduism is a collection of religions, instead of one religion. Hinduism(or Sanatana Dharma, real name) has four major sects Vaishnavism, Saivism, Shaktism, and Smartism. Vaishnavism(most common), the worship of Lord Vishnu, or his avatars, being the biggest. Vaishnavas worship God in the form of Avatars i.e. Vishnu, Rama, Krishna etc…All Vaishnavas subscibe to the belief in a personal God, having form, having shape, and incarnate as a human being. Avatars descend into human form during time of unrighteousness, moral decay, violence, and famine. In Hinduism Avatars are descibed in scripture and predicted. Vaishnavas also believe in Nirguna Brahman or attributeless Brahman(God without form). And all Hindus in general believe in reincarnation, karma, vegetarianism, dharma, ahimsa(non-violence) and accept the Vedas as revealed scripture.

Vaishnavism, (Vishnu worship[or any of the nine avatars]) majority in North India. Responsible for mainstream Hinduism. Bhagavat Gita, Srimad Bhagavatam, Mahabharata, Ramayana etc… In Vaishnavism there are dozens of sects Iskcon, BAPS Swaminarayan, Sri Vaishnava, Gaudiya Vaishnava being only some of many.

***Personal God
In general Hinduism considers God not just as the Supreme All-powerful Gigantic One, Who commands the humanity to tread the way He/She/It says, but also a personal God Whom the individual can worship out of love and not necessarily out of fear ! The fear brings one only upto certain point and beyond that it repels, but love takes through to the point. Devotion or bhakti as often referred to is a very key concept in Hinduism, even for the philosophically inclined ones. While the shashtras - be it vedas, Agamas, purANas - describe the Glory of God, one finds abundance of stotras that praise the God in love.

God is Formless or with Form ?
For Hindus God, as is, is beyond any attributes of form, color, shapes … That is, God does not have any specific form or name. In this state God is referred to as nirguNa brahman (attributeless god). However God takes forms as perceived by humans and this perceived form is called saguNa brahman (god with (good) attributes). These forms could range from calm to fierce to yogic (1). Each form has its significance. For example when one is depressed and sees the form of God Strong and Powerful, the seeker feels the moral boost that God would definitely be the support for the right thing. Similarly when in an auspicious ceremony would like the God to be the calm provider of boons. In a spiritually elevated state, the choice would be the yogic form of God. The forms provide a basis for the Hindu worshipper to easily pursue the otherwise incomprehensible Supreme. So Hinduism supports both form as well as formless worship of the God. Whether one worships in saguNa or nirguNa way, it is ultimately the same God. *** (saivism)

Bhagavat Gita-Most Important Vedic Scripture
Veda Base

Hindus do not believe in Gods, in a plural sense. They believe in One Supreme God expressed in many forms. Hinduism is monotheistic! Vaishnavism, the largest Hindu denomination, subscribe to Vishnu as Supreme Brahman, and worship him alone. Also it is important to understand the difference between the Ultimate Supreme Godhead(Vishnu(in Avatar form)) or Brahman(formless God) and Devas. A Deva is the equivalent to an Angel in the Abrahamic tradition. Devas are subservient to the Supreme Lord Vishnu Brahman. Devas are gods, like Ganesha, Shiva, Durga, Indra, Hanuman etc… They are eternal servants to the Lord. But are not the Supreme Lord and Vedic scripture says that they shouldn’t be worshipped. But of course people do anyways. That’s why people view Hinduism as polytheistic. But Hinduism is purely Monotheistic at it’s core.

Devas in Classical Hinduism

History of Vaishnavism


In English, the Sanskrit word Deva is usually translated as “god” (though sometimes left as “Deva”), which certainly gives a polytheistic appearance to Hinduism. Many Hindus say that this is a poor practice, because the best word for God in Sanskrit is Ishvara (the Supreme Lord). The Devas may be better translated as angels or demigods. They are celestial beings with supernatural powers, but also weaknesses. They grant material benefits to humans upon praying and sacrificing to them, though they don’t carry the message of Ishvara to the humans as in Abrahamic religions (a category of such beings also exist, called “devaduta” or “duta”). Examples of such devas are Indra, Mitra, Ashvins, Varuna, etc. Buddhism and Jainism also use the word “deva”, but in different senses.***

The other major sects in Hinduism, besides Vaishnavism, are Smartism, Shaivism, Shaktism. Shaivism(or Saivism) is followed mainly by South Indians. They worship Lord Shiva as supreme and have their own scripture, besides the most popular Bhagavat Gita.

All Saivism

Varnas -The four classes of society/The Original Caste System

Hindu society has traditionally been divided into four classes, based on profession:

the Brāhmanas (also anglicised as Brahmins): teachers and priests;

the Kshatriyas: warriors, kings and administrators;

the Vaishyas: farmers, merchants, herdsmen and businessmen; and

the Shūdras: servants and labourers.

Each of these classes was called a varna, and the system was called Varna Vyavasthā. Some say it is debatable whether the Varna Vyavasthā system is an integral part of Hinduism or not and whether or not it is strictly sanctioned by the scriptures. The Shruti texts make very rare mentions of this system, without providing explicit definitions. But the Bhagavad Gītā (4.13) explicitly mentions that the four varna divisions are created by Bhagavān, the Supreme Lord. And the Smṛiti texts (including the Manusmriti) are more explicit in their categorisation of the classes and framing rather strict rules about this system. During its early development, the social structure was based upon the profession. The Gītā (4.13) explicitly says that one’s varna is to be understood from one’s qualities and one’s work, not one’s birth. It is noteworthy that many great sages became Brahmins. Vishvāmitra was a Kshatriya king before he became recognized as a great Brahmin sage. Vālmiki, once a robber, became a great sage while Veda Vyāsa was the son of a fisherwoman. A hymn from the Rig Veda says :

“I am a bard, my father is a physician, my mother’s job is to grind the corn…”

(Rig Veda 9.112.3).

**Though historians do not agree on the specific period, the social system later became hierarchical and based upon birth, leading to the evolution of several sub-castes (along with a class of outcastes — now known as Dalits — outside the Varṇa Vyavasthā) and the practice of social discrimination of the Shūdra and Dalit classes, eventually forming the caste system as we know of today. **…nashrama_Dharma

*The religious institution of Varna-ashrama Dharma is followed in most Vaishnava Sects of Hinduism. Varna is simply an occupational structure for society. In varna there are four tiers Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, Shudras. All are important for a functioning society. You determine your varna by your skills and ability. Not by birth or race.

Brahmins are all religious clergy, gurus, saints, sadhus and the intellectual class(anyone with a Ph.D or graduates degree) etc…Kshatriya are the politicians, officers, soldiers etc…Vaishya are the business men, farmers, artists/painters/photographers etc… Shudras are the working class people to poor people. Those are the only four stations in varna ashrama dharma, there is nothing higher or lower. Whether a society labels these position the same or not , they still exist. Every functioning society must have these positions. In hinduism being in one of these stations doesn’t carry any negative connotations. It’s just something that exist. It’s not race based or birth based, it’s based on your skill/ability. That’s not only fair it’s practical, IMO.

In Hinduism there is no Caste, but there is Varna, which is very different system. There is more mobility and evolution with varna ashrama dharma then there is with the static cultural implementation of caste system, which evolved from varna. But it’s not the same system.*

One thing to note is the four major Sects tend to draw heavily from the Vedanta school of Hindu philosophy. Also under the sub-branch of Vedanta, Swaminarayan Sampraday is VishishtAdvaita Vedanta. Vishishtadvaita was propounded by Ramanuja.

Swaminarayan Sampraday was the sect established by Bhagwan Swaminarayan (April 2, 1781 - 1830) Bhagwan Swaminarayan was handed the leadership of the Uddhav Sampraday (later known as Swaminarayan Sampraday) from his Guru Sadguru Ramanand Swami, to continue and to propagate the teachings and philosophy of Vishishtadvaita, which originates from the Ramanuja Sampraday.

Why the name Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS)?

Answer: *The first mandir of the organization was established in Bochasan, a small town near Anand in the state of Gujarat in India hence the word Bochasanwasi, which means based in Bochasan. The words Akshar Purushottam signify our basic belief in worshiping God, Purushottam, along with his ideal devotee, Akshar. Shri is an adjective used as a prefix to a name to give respect, such as Shri Mohandas Gandhi. Bhagwan Swaminarayan is the God (Purushottam) worshipped by BAPS followers, and His name is part of the organization’s name. Sanstha is the Sanskrit word for organization. Thus, the name Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS).

(29) The main beliefs of our Sanatan Vedic Hindu Dharma.
Ans: 1. Sanatan Hindu Dharma is the oldest religion in the world.
2. Sanatan Hindu Dharma is based on the Vedas.
3. Our main incarnations and deities are: Bhagwan Swaminarayan, Shri Ram, Shri Krishna, Brahma, Vishnu, Mahadev, Ganapati, Hanuman, Surya. Main goddeses: Parvati (Durga), Sarasvati and Lakshmi.
4. The main beliefs are: Avatarvad: (Incarnation of God on Earth) Karmavad: (there are consequences of all actions good or bad) Punarjanmavad: (reincarnation of soul according to karma) murti-puja: (worship of idols.)
5. Our scriptures: Four Vedas, Upanishads, Ramayan, Mahabharat, Purans, Shrimad Bhagvad Gita, Vachanamrut, etc.

What is Akshar Deri


*The symbol of Akshar Deri on the home page of is the trademark of Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Sanstha. The Akshar Deri is a holy shrine that commemorates the cremation spot of Aksharbrahma Gunatitanand Swami who was the choicest disciple and first successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. According to the Vedic principle of Bhakta and Bhagwan, Gunatitanand Swami is revered as the ideal Bhakta and Swaminarayan as Bhagwan. Akshar Deri is visited by hundreds of thousands of people from throughout the world. Devotees offer prayers, prostrations and perform circumambulations for spiritual elevation, fulfillment of mundane desires and relief from miseries. It is a divine and holy place of pilgrimage in the Swaminrayan Sampraday.

On 23-5-1934 Brahmaswarup Shastriji Maharaj, the 3rd successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, built a beautiful 3-shikhar mandir above the Akshar Deri and consecrated the murtis of Akshar and Purushottam. The history of how the Akshar Deri and the mandir was built and its glory and significance in as follows. *

**Divinity of Akshar Deri **
Holy charanarvind of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Shri Akshar Purushottam Maharaj and Guru Parampara in Akshar Deri

*A poor Patel in Gondal earned his living by selling lemons. In the afternoon he would walk one mile from the town to rest in the serenity of the riverbank by the Akshar Deri. He was aware of the sanctity of Akshar Deri. The fact that the old Swaminarayan School had given it on hire to a person of the Khoja community who grew onions on it worried him. He wondered when would the divine place be developed. Once, while he was going towards Akshar Deri he saw a radiant 16-year-old ascetic. The Patel bowed at his feet and asked, “When will this place get developed?” The ascetic, who was Shriji Maharaj himself, replied, “Patel, don’t worry. In a few years time there will be a three-shikhar mandir here. Thakorji will be offered thal and the mandir will have golden kalashas. This place will become divine and will inspire miracles.” Then the ascetic disappeared. Patel was amazed and pacified by the incident.
A couple of years later when Shastriji Maharaj had started building the mandir the Patel narrated the incident of the divine ascetic.

There was a blacksmith in Gondal who went every evening for darshan at the Ashapuri Mata mandir. On returning home he would always see three balls of light descend upon Akshar Deri. A few years later when the excavation work for the mandir pillars was going on he told Shastriji Maharaj about his experience and asked him as to what the three balls of light were. Shastriji Maharaj replied that Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh came in the form of light to have darshan of Akshar Deri.

One night, during the mandir construction project in Gondal, Yogiji Maharaj was sleeping near Shastriji Maharaj. In the middle of the night a black cobra bit Yogiji Maharaj on his left index finger. Everybody in the room got up. Shastriji Maharaj immediately instructed, “Take Jogi to the Akshar Deri and chant the dhun.” Yogiji Maharaj had become unconscious because of the powerful venom. While the dhun was being chanted Shastriji Maharaj placed his hand on Yogiji Maharaj’s head. At 4.00 a.m. Gunatitanand Swami appeared to Mohan Bhagat, who got up from his sleep, and told him that nothing would happen to Jogi. Mohan Bhagat then went to Shastriji Maharaj and narrated what Gunatitanand Swami had told him.
When Bhagvatsinhji Maharaj came to know of this he sent word to Shastriji Maharaj that he was sending a doctor. Shastriji Maharaj said that there was no need because Jogi would get well by the power of the Swaminarayan dhun. After 12 hours Yogiji Maharaj became conscious. Yogiji Maharaj was saved by the divine power of Akshar Deri and blessings of Shastriji Maharaj. *

Goodness, this is quite a bit of information for my simple mind to digest all at once! :slight_smile:

But it looks quite interesting. I take it you are a follower of this faith?

I have to admit,the paintings and buildings are simply beautiful.:thumbsup:

Thanx. Hope you find it informative. :thumbsup:

I made a hinduism thread a few weeks ago:

How about the Catholic brother who has been kidnapped by Hindus? Or the monkey problem in Delhi? Anyone care to worship a blue god who herds cattle, plays the flute, and seduces women?

Krishna isn’t blue, the paintings of him are symbolic. In vedic scriptures his skin is described as dark. I don’t worshp krishna, I worship swaminarayan. What monkey problem? Was that a racist remark? :frowning:

On a scale of 1 to young boys molested by Catholic priests, how serious a threat would you consider that to the validity of the religion itself?

They have been relocating monkeys for some time now. What would you suggest?

My guess is that they would? They probably see it as a superior choice to a jealous god that tortures people to prove points and periodically inserts itself into loaves of bread. :stuck_out_tongue:


Ooh! Ooh! Pick me! :wink:
Just playing. I’ve wanted to tease Cestus for a long time. Anyhow, back to topic… Celina, I’ve heard from some places that Hindus are polytheistic and in others that all the different gods are just manifestations of the One God that is the entire universe. What does your type of Hinduism teach?

That’s what I was taught. In Vedic scripture Hinduism is monotheistic. Especially the Vedas. Some people may be confused that the idea of Avatars, in Vaishnava Hinduism, is polytheistic. But it’s not. I’m a monotheistic Swaminarayan Hindu. :slight_smile:

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