Swaminarayan (IAST: Svāmīnārāyaṇa, 3 April 1781 – 1 June
1830), also known as Sahajanand Swami, was a yogi, and an ascetic
whose life and teachings brought a revival of central Hindu practices
of dharma, ahimsa and brahmacharya. He is believed by
followers as a manifestation of God.
Swaminarayan was born Ghanshyam Pande in Chhapaiya, Uttar Pradesh,
India in 1781. In 1792, he began a seven-year pilgrimage across India
at the age of 11 years, adopting the name Nilkanth Varni. During this
journey, he did welfare activities and after 9 years and 11 months of
this journey, he settled in the state of
Gujarat around 1799. In 1800,
he was initiated into the Uddhav sampradaya by his guru, Swami
Ramanand, and was given the name Sahajanand Swami. In 1802, his guru
handed over the leadership of the
Uddhav Sampraday to him before his
death. Sahajanand Swami held a gathering and taught the Swaminarayan
Mantra. From this point onwards, he was known as Swaminarayan. The
Uddhav Sampraday became known as the
Swaminarayan developed a good relationship with the British Raj.
He had followers not only from Hindu denominations but also from Islam
and Zoroastrianism. He built six temples in his lifetime and
appointed 500 paramahamsas to spread his philosophy. In 1826,
Swaminarayan wrote the Shikshapatri, a book of social principles.
He died on 1 June 1830 and was cremated according to Hindu rites in
Gadhada, Gujarat. Before his death,
Swaminarayan appointed his adopted
nephews as acharyas to head the two dioceses of Swaminarayan
Swaminarayan is also remembered within the sect for
undertaking reforms for women and the poor, and performing
yajñas (fire sacrifices) on a large scale.
1 Childhood as Ghanshyam
2 Travels as Nilkanth Varni
3 Leadership as Sahajanand Swami
4 Work and views
Caste system and the poor
4.3 Animal Sacrifices and Yagnas
4.4 Establishing Law and Order of Gujarat
5 Temples and ascetics
6.3 Satsangi Jeevan
7 Mahatma Gandhi on Swaminarayan
8 Relations with other religions and the British Government
9 Death and succession
10 Following and manifestation belief
11 Notes and references
13 External links
Childhood as Ghanshyam
Dharmadev teaching Ghanshyam from the scriptures
Swaminarayan was born on 3 April 1781 (
Chaitra Sud 9, Samvat 1837) in
Chhapaiya, Uttar Pradesh, a village near Ayodhya, in a
region in India. Born into the brahmin or priestly caste of
Swaminarayan was named Ghanshyam Pande by his parents,
Hariprasad Pande (father, also known as Dharmadev) and Premvati Pande
(mother, also known as Bhaktimata and Murtidevi). The birth of
Swaminarayan coincided with the Hindu festival of
celebrating the birth of Rama. The ninth lunar day in the fortnight of
the waxing moon in the month of
Chaitra (March–April), is celebrated
Rama Navami and
Swaminarayan Jayanti by Swaminarayan
followers. This celebration also marks the beginning of a ritual
calendar for the followers.
Swaminarayan had an elder brother,
Rampratap Pande, and a younger brother, Ichcharam Pande. He is
said to have mastered the scriptures, including the Vedas, the
Upanishads, the Puranas, the Ramayana, and the
Mahabharata by the age
Travels as Nilkanth Varni
Nilkanth Varni during his travels
After the death of his parents, Ghanshyam Pande left his home on 29
June 1792 (Ashadh Sud 10, Samvat 1849) at the age of 11. He took
the name Nilkanth Varni while on his journey. Nilkanth Varni travelled
India and parts of
Nepal in search of an ashram, or hermitage,
that practiced what he considered a correct understanding of Vedanta,
Samkhya, Yoga, and Pancaratra, the four primary schools of Hindu
philosophy. To find such an ashram, Nilkanth Varni asked the
following five questions on the basic
What is Jiva?
What is Ishvara?
What is Maya?
What is Brahman?
What is Para Brahman?
While on his journey, Nilkanth Varni mastered Astanga yoga (eightfold
yoga) in a span of 9 months under the guidance of an aged yogic master
named Gopal Yogi. In Nepal, it is said that he met King Rana
Bahadur Shah and cured him of his stomach illness. As a result, the
king freed all the ascetics he had imprisoned. Nilkanth Varni
visited the Jagannath Temple in
Puri as well as temples in Badrinath,
Dwarka and Pandharpur.
In 1799, after a seven-year journey, Nilkanth's travels as a yogi
eventually concluded in Loj, a village in the
Junagadh district of
Gujarat. In Loj, Nilkanth Varni met Muktanand Swami, a senior disciple
of Ramanand Swami. Muktanand Swami, who was twenty-two years older
than Nilkanth, answered the five questions to Nilkanth's
satisfaction. Nilkanth decided to stay for the opportunity to meet
Ramanand Swami, whom he met a few months after his arrival in
Gujarat. He later claimed in the
Vachnamrut that during this
period, he took up a severe penance to eliminate his mothers flesh and
blood from his body so that the sign of his physical attachment to
family, was completely removed.
Leadership as Sahajanand Swami
Traditional iconographical portrait of Swaminarayan
According to the sect, Nilkanth's understanding of the metaphysical
and epistemological concepts of the pancha-tattvas (five eternal
elements), together with his mental and physical discipline, inspired
senior sadhus of Ramanand Swami.
Nilkanth Varni received sannyasa initiation from
Ramanand Swami on 20
October 1800, and with it was granted the names Sahajanand Swami and
Narayan Muni to signify his new status.
At the age of 21, Sahajanand Swami was appointed successor to Ramanand
Swami as the leader of the Uddhav Sampraday by Ramanand Swami,
prior to his death. The
Uddhav Sampraday henceforth came to be known
Swaminarayan Sampraday. According to sources he proclaimed
the worship of one sole deity,
Krishna or Narayana.
considered by him his own ista devata. In contrast with the Vaishnava
sect known as the
Radha-vallabha Sampradaya, he had a more
puritanical approach, rather than the theological views of Krishna
that are strongly capricious in character and imagery. While being a
worshipper of Krishna,
Swaminarayan rejected licentious elements in
Krishnology in favor of worship in the mood of majesty, alike to
Ramanuja and Yamunacarya.
Sahajanand Swami was later known as
Swaminarayan after the mantra he
taught at a gathering, in Faneni, a fortnight after the death of
Ramanand Swami. He gave his followers a new mantra, known as the
Swaminarayan mantra, to repeat in their rituals: Swaminarayan.
When chanting this mantra, some devotees went into samadhi (a form of
meditation)[n 1] This act is also called maha-samadhi ("great
samadhi") and claimed that they could see their personal gods, even
though they had no knowledge of Astanga Yoga. Swaminarayan
also became known by the names Ghanshyam Maharaj, Shreeji Maharaj,
Krishna Maharaj and Shri Hari. As early as 1804, Swaminarayan,
who was reported to have performed miracles, was described as a
God in the first work written by a disciple and
paramhansa, Nishkulanand Swami. This work, the Yama Danda, was
the first piece of literature written within the Swaminarayan
Swaminarayan encouraged his followers to combine devotion and dharma
to lead a pious life. Using
Hindu texts and rituals to form the base
of his organisation,
Swaminarayan founded what in later centuries
would become a global organisation with strong Gujarati roots. He
was particularly strict on the separation of sexes in temples.
Swaminarayan was against the consumption of meat, alcohol or drugs,
adultery, suicide, animal sacrifices, criminal activities and the
appeasement of ghosts and tantric rituals. Alcohol
consumption was forbidden by him even for medicinal purposes. Many
of his followers took vows before becoming his disciple. He stated
that four elements need to be conquered for ultimate salvation:
dharma, bhakti (devotion), gnana (knowledge) and vairagya
Swaminarayan was close to eleventh
Ramanuja and was critical of Shankaracharya's
concept of advaita, or monistic non-dualism. Swaminarayan's ontology
maintained that the supreme being is not formless and that
has a divine form.
Work and views
Swaminarayan insisted that education was the inherent right of all
people, including women, despite considerable criticism from those in
his own contemporary society who "loathed the uplift of lower caste
women". At that time, influential and wealthy individuals educated
their girls through private and personal tuition. Male followers of
Swaminarayan made arrangements to educate their female family members.
The literacy rate among females began to increase during
Swaminarayan's time, and they were able to give discourses on
spiritual subjects. Members of the sect consider
pioneer of education of females in India.
According to the author Raymond Brady Williams, "
Swaminarayan is an
early representative of the practice of advocacy of women's rights
without personal involvement with women". To counter the practice
of sati (self-immolation by a widow on her husband’s funeral pyre),
Swaminarayan argued that, as human life was given by
God it could be
taken only by God, and that sati had no Vedic sanction. He went to the
extent to call sati nothing but suicide.
Swaminarayan offered parents
help with dowry expenses to discourage female infanticide, calling
infanticide a sin. For calling a halt to these prevailing
practices, Swaminarayan's "contemporaries naturally saw in him a
pioneer of a reformed and purified Hinduism, and
an ‘ingrazi dharma’ or British religion."
Professor David Harman observed that
Swaminarayan "criticized the
popular shakta cults and 'gosai' and 'nath' ascetics for the
contemptuous and instrumental way in which they viewed and treated
women. These cults were often responsible for gross sexual abuse of
women." Hardiman added that Swaminarayan's view towards women was
not in line with this type of misogyny and was rooted in his desire to
protect the ill treatment of women along with promoting celibacy for
Swaminarayan "forbade all sadhus and sadhvis (that is,
male and female ascetics) of his sect from having any contact
whatsoever with members of the opposite sex." This strict precept
was one he likely internalized "after travelling as an ascetic
India [when] he was reported to vomit if approached by even
the shadow of a woman". To help his male ascetic followers
maintain their vow of celibacy,
Swaminarayan taught “the woman who
attracts attention is made up of bones, blood vessels, spittle, blood,
mucus and feces; she is simply a collection of these things, and there
is nothing to be attractive.
Members of the faith are defensive of the fact that some practices
seem to restrict women and make gender equality in leadership
impossible. They are only permitted to enter special sections of
the temple reserved for women or have to go to separate women's
temples. As with practices of niddah in Orthodox Judaism, concepts
of pollution associated with the menstrual cycle lead to the exclusion
of women from the temples and daily worship during the affected
Swaminarayan also directed male devotees not to listen to
religious discourses given by women.
In case of widows,
Swaminarayan directed those who could not follow
the path of chastity to remarry. For those who could, he lay down
strict rules which included them being under the control of male
members of the family. This may seem regressive, however it gave them
"a respected and secure place in the social order" of the time.
Swaminarayan restricted widows "to live always under the control of
male members of their family and prohibited them from receiving
instruction in any science from any man excepting their nearest
Caste system and the poor
Swaminarayan distributing food among the needy
After assuming the leadership of the Sampraday,
Swaminarayan worked to
assist the poor by distributing food and drinking water. He
undertook several social service projects and opened almshouses for
Swaminarayan organized food and water relief to people
during times of drought. The faith largely had excluded the mass
of the poor, such as marginal peasants, agricultural labourers, the
informal sector working class, adivasis and dalits.
Dalits were banned
Swaminarayan temples from the beginning though in one case a
separate temple was created for their use.
Some suggest that
Swaminarayan worked towards ending the caste system,
allowing everyone into the
Swaminarayan Sampraday. However partaking
in the consumption food of lower castes and caste pollution was not
supported by him. A political officer in Gujarat, Mr. Williamson
Bishop Herber that
Swaminarayan had "destroyed the yoke of
caste." He instructed his paramhansas to collect alms from all
sections of society and appointed people from the lower strata of
society as his personal attendants. Members of the lower castes were
attracted to the movement as it improved their social status.
Swaminarayan would eat along with the lower Rajput and Khati castes
but not any lower. He established separate places of worship for
the lower caste population where they were in large numbers.
Dalits - those outside of the caste system - were formally
Swaminarayan temples. Members of a lower caste are
prohibited from wearing a full sect mark (tilak chandlo) on their
forehead. Even now, however, for the vast majority of Gujarat's
lower-caste, Untouchable and tribal population, the sect is out of
Reginald Heber, the Lord
Bishop of Calcutta, noted that disciples of
Swaminarayan cut across all castes, and even included Muslims. He
writes "they all pray to one
God with no difference of castes. They
live as if they were brothers." Furthermore, in a meeting with
Swaminarayan, he noted that "[Swaminarayan] did not regard the subject
as of much importance, but that he wished not to give offense (to
ancient Hindu system); that people might eat separately or together in
this world, but that above "oopur" pointing to heaven, those
distinctions would cease." 
Swaminarayan worked thus to dispel the
myth that moksha (salvation) was not attainable by everyone. He
taught that the soul is neither male nor female, nor yoked to any
Animal Sacrifices and Yagnas
Swaminarayan was against animal sacrifices as carried out by Brahmin
priests during Vedic rituals, such as yajnas (fire sacrifices),
influenced by the
Kaula and Vama Marg cults. The priests consumed
"sanctified" prasad in the form of meat of these animals. To solve
Swaminarayan conducted several large-scale yajnas
involving priests from Varanasi. These did not have animal sacrifices
and were conducted in strict accordance with Vedic scriptures.
Swaminarayan was successful in reinstating ahimsa through several such
Swaminarayan stressed lacto vegetarianism among
his followers and forbade meat consumption, codifying the conduct in
Establishing Law and Order of Gujarat
During the time when
Swaminarayan came to Gujarat, the law and order
Gujarat was in worst ever. Neither British government nor
local kings were able to control the robberies, killings, internal
conflicts, rapes, and other uncultured events in Kathiyawar, Kutch and
Gujarat. Upon reaching to Gujarat,
Swaminarayan by His preaching and
super natural divine power restored noted notorious criminals as
normal civilians. These criminals left their evil nature and started
living life with high moral values to the extent that they would never
rob, or kill any living being. Even they would not see the unknown
women or would not drink alcohol and be strict vegetarian.
Bombay Governor Sir Malcolm was impressed by social reforms of
Swaminarayan and so had come down to Rajkot to meet Swaminarayan
personally and to appreciate His work towards educating high moral
values to the people of
Gujarat and helping British Government in
reducing criminal graph of Gujarat.
Swaminarayan had vowed not to kill
the evil people but to kill their evil nature.
Calcutta also noted that
Swaminarayan "preached a great
degree of purity, forbidding his disciples so much as to (not) look on
any woman whom they passed. He condemned theft and bloodshed; and
those villages and districts which had received him, from being among
worst, were now among the best and most orderly in the provinces."
Temples and ascetics
Paramhansas in Gadhada
List of Swaminarayan temples
List of Swaminarayan temples and
Swaminarayan ordered the construction of several Hindu temples and he
had built six huge temples by himself and installed the idols of
various deities such as
Nara-Narayana in two temples, Laxminarayan
Dev, Gopinathji Maharaj, Radha Raman Dev and Madanmohan Lalji . The
images in the temples built by
Swaminarayan provide evidence of the
priority of Krishna.:81 Disciples of
devotional poems which are widely sung by the tradition during
Swaminarayan introduced fasting and devotion among
followers. He conducted the festivals of Vasant Panchami, Holi,
and Janmashtami with organization of the traditional folk dance
The first temple
Swaminarayan constructed was in
Ahmedabad in 1822,
with the land for construction given by the British Imperial
Government. Following a request of devotees from Bhuj,
Swaminarayan asked his follower Vaishnavananand to build a temple
there. Construction commenced in 1822, and the temple was built within
a year. A temple in
Vadtal followed in 1824, a temple in
Dholera in 1826, a temple in
Junagadh in 1828 and a temple in
Gadhada, also in 1828. By the time of his death,
also ordered construction of temples in Muli,
Dholka and Jetalpur.
From early on, ascetics have played a major role in the Swaminarayan
sect. They contribute towards growth and development of the movement,
encouraging people to follow a pious and religious life. Tradition
Swaminarayan initiated 500 ascetics as paramhansas in a
single night. Paramhansa is a title of honour sometimes applied to
Hindu spiritual teachers who are regarded as having attained
Paramhansas were the highest order of sannyasi in the
sect. Prominent paramhansas included Muktanand Swami, Gopalanand
Swami, Brahmanand Swami, Gunatitanand Swami, Premanand Swami,
Nishkulanand Swami, and Nityanand Swami.
Swaminarayan under a
Neem tree in Gadhada
Swaminarayan propagated general Hindu texts. He held the Bhagavata
Purana in high authority. However, there are many texts that were
Swaminarayan or his followers that are regarded as shastras
or scriptures within the
Swaminarayan sect. Notable scriptures
throughout the sect include the
Shikshapatri and the Vachanamrut.
Other important works and scriptures include the Satsangi Jeevan,
Swaminarayan's authorized biography, the Muktanand Kavya, the
Nishkulanand Kavya and the Bhakta Chintamani.
Main article: Shikshapatri
Swaminarayan wrote the
Shikshapatri on 11 February 1826. While the
Sanskrit manuscript is not available, it was translated into
Gujarati by Nityanand Swami under the direction of
Swaminarayan and is
revered in the sect. The Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency
summarised it as a book of social laws that his followers should
follow. A commentary on the practice and understanding of dharma,
it is a small booklet containing 212
Sanskrit verses, outlining the
basic tenets that
Swaminarayan believed his followers should uphold in
order to live a well-disciplined and moral life. The oldest copy
of this text is preserved at the
Bodleian Library of Oxford University
and it is one of the very few presented by Sahajanand Swami himself.
Acharya Tejendraprasad of
Ahmedabad has indicated in a letter that he
is not aware of any copy from the hand of Sahajanand older than this
Main article: Vachanamrut
Swaminarayan's philosophical, social and practical teachings are
contained in the Vachanamrut, a collection of dialogues recorded by
five prominent saints (Muktanand Swami, Gopalanand Swami, Nityanand
Swami, Shukanand Muni, & Brahmanand Swami) from his spoken words.
Vachanamrut is the scripture most commonly used in the
Swaminarayan sect. It contains views on dharma (moral conduct), jnana
(understanding of the nature of the self), vairagya (detachment from
material pleasure), and bhakti (pure, selfless devotion to God), the
four essentials Hindu scriptures describe as necessary for a jiva
(soul) to attain moksha (salvation).
Main article: Satsangi Jeevan
Satsangi Jeevan is the authorised biography of Swaminarayan. The
book contains information on the life and teachings of
Swaminarayan. It is written by Shatanand Swami and completed in
Vikram Samvat 1885.
Swaminarayan decided to make
permanent residence on the insistence of Dada Khachar and his
Swaminarayan instructed Shatanand Swami to write a book
on his life and pastimes.
To enable Shatanand Swami to write from His childhood, Swaminarayan
had blessed Shatanand Swami with Sanjay Drishti - special power to see
the entire past right from His childhood.
Once written by Shatanand Swami, this book was verified and
authenticated by Swaminarayan. He was much pleased to read the book.
Swaminarayan then asked his disciples to do Katha of Satsangi
Mahatma Gandhi on Swaminarayan
In relation to Swaminarayan's work and views, Gandhi remarked that
"the work accomplished by
Gujarat could not and would
never have been achieved by the law." Scholars note close
parallels between Gandhi's work and Swaminarayan's work related to
non-violence, truth-telling, hygiene, temperance, and the uplift of
masses. Commenting on Gandhi's social work, N.A. Toothi "most of
his thought, activities and even methods of most of the institutions
which he has been building up and serving, have the flavor of
Swaminarayanism, more than that of any other sect of Hindu Dharma." He
however did not feel that Swaminarayan's values aligned perfectly with
his interpretation of Vaishnavism. In a letter dated 25 July
1918, to Manganlal Gandhi, he stated, “To be sure, I have felt in
all seriousness that
Swaminarayan and Vallabhacharaya have robbed us
of our manliness. They made the people incapable of self-defense... It
was all to the good that people gave up drinking, smoking, etc., this,
however, is not an end in itself, it only is a means. The love taught
Swaminarayan and Vallabh is all sentimentalism... Do not mix up the
Vaishnava tradition with the teaching of Vallabha and Swaminarayan.”
Relations with other religions and the British Government
In 1822, The first
Swaminarayan Mandir was constructed on the land
granted by the British Imperial Government in Ahmedabad.
Swaminarayan strived to maintain good relationships with people of
other religions, sometimes meeting prominent leaders. His followers
cut across religious boundaries, including people of
Muslim and Parsi
backgrounds. Swaminarayan's personal attendants included
Khoja Muslims. In Kathiawad, many Muslims wore kanthi necklaces
given by Swaminarayan. He also had a meeting with Reginald Heber,
Calcutta and a leader of Christians in
India at the
Bishop Heber mentions in his account of the meeting that
about two hundred disciples of
Swaminarayan accompanied him as his
bodyguards mounted on horses and carrying Matchlocks and swords.
Bishop Heber himself had about a hundred horse guards accompanying him
(fifty horses and fifty muskets) and mentioned that it was humiliating
for him to see two religious leaders meeting at the head of two small
armies, his being the smaller contingent. As a result of the
meeting, both leaders gained mutual respect for one another.
Swaminarayan enjoyed a good relationship with the British Imperial
Government. The first temple he built, in Ahmedabad, was built on
5,000 acres (20 km2) of land given by the government. The British
officers gave it a 101 gun salute when it was opened. It was
in an 1825 meeting with
Reginald Heber that
Swaminarayan is said to
have intimated that he was a manifestation of
Krishna.Template:Rp=81 In 1830,
Swaminarayan had a meeting with
Sir John Malcolm,
Governor of Bombay
Governor of Bombay (1827 to 1830). According to
Swaminarayan had helped bring some stability to a lawless
region. During the meeting with Malcolm,
Swaminarayan gave him a
copy of the Shikshapatri. This copy of the
Shikshapatri is currently
housed at the
Bodleian Library at University of Oxford.
Swaminarayan also encouraged the British Governor James Walker to
implement strong measures to stop the practice of sati.
Death and succession
Madan Mohan and Radha (centre and right) with
Swaminarayan in the form
Krishna (left), installed by
Swaminarayan on the central altar
Swaminarayan gathered his followers and announced his
departure. He later died on 1 June 1830 (Jeth sud 10, Samvat
1886), and it is believed by followers that, at the time of his
Swaminarayan left Earth for Akshardham, his abode. He
was cremated according to Hindu rites at Lakshmi Wadi in Gadhada.
Prior to his death,
Swaminarayan decided to establish a line of
acharyas or preceptors, as his successors. He established two
gadis (seats of leadership). One seat was established at Ahmedabad
(Nar Narayan Dev Gadi) and the other one at
Vadtal (Laxmi Narayan Dev
Gadi) on 21 November 1825.
Swaminarayan appointed an acharya to each
of these gadis to pass on his message to others and to preserve his
Swaminarayan Sampraday. These acharyas came from his
immediate family after sending representatives to search them out in
Uttar Pradesh. He formally adopted a son from his brothers and
appointed them to the office of acharya. Ayodhyaprasad, the son of
Swaminarayan's elder brother Rampratap and Raghuvira, the son of his
younger brother Ichcharam, were appointed acharyas of the Ahmedabad
Gadi and the
Vadtal Gadi respectively.
Swaminarayan decreed that
the office should be hereditary so that acharyas would maintain a
direct line of blood descent from his family. The administrative
division of his followers into two territorial dioceses is set forth
in minute detail in a document written by
Swaminarayan called Desh
Swaminarayan stated to all the devotees and saints
to obey both the Acharyas and
Gopalanand Swami who was considered as
the main pillar and chief ascetic  for the Sampraday.
The current acharyas of the
Swaminarayan Sampraday are
Koshalendraprasad Pande, of the
Ahmedabad Gadi, and Rakeshprasadji
Pande, of the
Decades after his death, several divisions occurred with different
understandings of succession. This included the establishment of
Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha
Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS), the
founder of which left the
Vadtal Gadi in 1905, and Maninagar
Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan, the founder of which left the Ahmedabad
Gadi in the 1940s. The followers of BAPS hold
Gunatitanand Swami as
the spiritual successor to Swaminarayan, asserting that on several
Swaminarayan revealed to devotees that Gunatitanand Swami
was Aksharbrahm manifest. Followers of BAPS believe that the acharyas
were given administrative leadership of the sect while Gunatitanand
Swami was given spiritual leadership by Swaminarayan. The current
spiritual and administrative leader of BAPS is Mahant Swami Maharaj.
The followers of the Maninagar
Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan hold
Gopalanand Swami as the successor to Swaminarayan. The
current leader of this sect is Purushottampriyadasji Maharaj.
Following and manifestation belief
Nara Narayana installed by
Swaminarayan in the first Swaminarayan
According to the biographer Raymond Williams, when
he had a following of 1.8 million people. In 2001, Swaminarayan
centres existed on four continents, and the congregation was recorded
to be five million, the majority in the homeland of
Gujarat. The newspaper
Indian Express estimated members
Swaminarayan sect of
Hinduism to number over 20 million (2
crore) worldwide in 2007.
In his discourses recorded in the Vachanamrut,
that humans would not be able to withstand meeting god in his divine
God takes human form (simultaneously living in his abode)
so people can approach, understand and love him in the form of an
Avatar. While no detailed statistical information is available,
most of the followers of
Swaminarayan share a belief that Swaminarayan
is the complete manifestation of Narayana or Purushottam Narayana -
the Supreme Being and superior to other avatars. A Swaminarayan
sectarian legend tells how Narayana from the
Nara Narayana pair, was
cursed by sage
Durvasa to incarnate on the earth as Swaminarayan.
Some of Swaminarayan's followers believe he was an incarnation of Lord
Krishna. The images and stories of
coincided in the liturgy of the sect. The story of the birth of
Swaminarayan parallels that of Krishna's birth from the scripture
Swaminarayan himself is said to have intimated
that he was a manifestation of
God in a meeting with Reginald Heber,
Bishop of Calcutta, in 1825.
The belief of many followers that their founder was the incarnation of
God has also drawn criticism. According to Professor
Raymond B. Williams,
Swaminarayan was criticized because he received
large gifts from his followers and dressed and traveled as a Maharaja
even though he had taken the vows of renunciation of the world.
Swaminarayan responded that he accepts gifts for the emancipation of
Notes and references
^ The word samadhi has different meanings in Hinduism. It may refer to
a form yogic deep meditation. As a cause of death, it refers to the
act of consciously and intentionally leaving one's body at the time of
^ a b c Williams 2001, p. 13
^ a b Jones, Lindsay (2005). Encyclopedia of Religion. Farmington
Hills: Thomson Gale. p. 8889. ISBN 0-02-865984-8.
^ Williams, Raymond Brady (2001). An introduction to Swaminarayan
Hinduism. Cambridge University Press. p. 173.
^ Meller, Helen Elizabeth (1994). Patrick Geddes: social evolutionist
and city planner. Routledge. p. 159.
^ Kim, Hanna (2010-02-19). "Public Engagement and Personal Desires:
Swaminarayan Temples and their Contribution to the Discourses on
Religion". International Journal of Hindu Studies. 13 (3): 357–390.
doi:10.1007/s11407-010-9081-4. ISSN 1022-4556.
^ Jones, Lindsay (2005). Encyclopedia of religion. Detroit :
Macmillan Reference USA/Thomson Gale, c2005. p. 8890.
^ a b Paramtattvadas, Sadhu; Williams, Raymond Brady; Amrutvijaydas,
Swaminarayan and British Contacts in
Gujarat in the 1820s.
pp. 58–93. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199463749.003.0005.
^ Hatcher, Brian A. Situating the
Swaminarayan Tradition in the
Historiography of Modern Hindu Reform. pp. 6–37.
^ Vasavada, Rabindra.
Swaminarayan Temple Building.
^ Swami, Manjukeshanand (1831). Paramhansa Namamala. Vadtal, India:
^ Parikh, Vibhuti. The
Swaminarayan Ideology and Kolis in Gujarat.
^ Raval, Suresh (2012). Renunciation, Reform and Women in Swaminarayan
Hinduism. Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India: Shahibaug Swaminarayan
^ Mangalnidhidas, Sadhu. Sahajanand Swami’s Approach to Caste.
^ Williams 2001, p. 141
^ Makarand R. Paranjape (2005).
Dharma and development: the future of
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^ M. Gupta (2004). Let's Know Hindu Gods and Goddesses. Star
Publications. p. 33. ISBN 978-81-7650-091-3. Retrieved 15
^ a b "Sampradat history: Nilkanth Varni". Harrow, England: Shree
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^ a b Williams 2001, p. 15
^ a b Williams 2001, p. 36
^ a b c d e f Dinkar Joshi; Yogesh Patel (2005). Glimpses of Indian
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^ a b Williams 2001, p. 240
^ Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India. 1. Asian
Educational Services, India. 1995. p. 326.
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Alternative Krishnas: Regional And Vernacular Variations On A Hindu
Deity SUNY Press
^ Aldwinckle, Russell Foster (1976). More than man: a study in
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Caste and sect in
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^ Williams 2001, pp. 162
^ David Gordon White (2001).
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^ a b c d S Golwalkar (1997). "Swaminarayan, Pramod Mahajan, Bal
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^ a b c Carl Olson (2007). The many colors of Hinduism: a
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^ Williams 2001, p. 79
^ Rudert, A. (2004). "Inherent Faith and Negotiated Power:
Swaminarayan Women in the United States". Cornell University.
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^ a b Mallison, Françoise. Gujarati Socio-religious Context of
Swaminarayan Devotion and Doctrine. pp. 49–57.
^ a b Williams 2001, pp. 165, 167
^ a b Martha Craven Nussbaum (2007). The clash within. Boston: Harvard
University Press. pp. 322, 323. ISBN 978-0-674-02482-3.
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^ "education of females". Shree
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^ "Swaminarayan's Life - Biography: Uplift of Women".
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^ a b Williams 2001, p. 169
^ a b c d e Hardiman, David (1988-09-10). "Class Base of Swaminarayan
Sect". Economic and Political Weekly. 23 (37): 1907–1912.
^ McKean, Lisa (1996). Divine Enterprise: Gurus and the Hindu
Nationalist Movement. University Of Chicago Press; New edition.
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^ Williams 2001, p. 165
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edition. p. 102. ISBN 9780813540566.
^ Williams 2001, p. 167
^ "Times Music cassette on
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^ "Food and Water for the Needy". Shree
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Economic and Political Weekly. 23 (37): 1908.
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^ a b "Class Base of
Swaminarayan Sect". JSTOR 4379024.
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^ The Camphor Flame: Popular
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India: Routledge India. p. 103. ISBN 9780415586221.
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^ Christopher John Fuller (2004). The camphor flame. Princeton
University Press. p. 171. ISBN 978-0-691-12048-5. Retrieved
8 May 2009.
^ Williams 2001, pp. 24, 159
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development of an American Hinduism. Rutgers University Press.
p. 105. ISBN 978-0-8135-4056-6. Retrieved 8 May 2009.
^ a b c d Raymond Brady Williams (2004). Williams on South Asian
religions and immigration. Ashgate. ISBN 978-0-7546-3856-8.
OL 9414082M. Retrieved 7 May 2009.
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^ Mohan Lal (1992). Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature. Sahitya
Akademi. p. 4255. ISBN 81-260-1221-8.
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OF CHICAGO). Archived from the original on 24 May 2009. Retrieved 6
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Routledge. p. 124. ISBN 978-0-415-05182-8. Retrieved 12
^ a b Williams 2001, pp. 187–190
^ "Shikshapatri". BAPS Swamiranayan Sanstha. Retrieved 10 February
^ a b Digital
Shikshapatri Project. "The Digital Shikshapatri".
^ M. G. Chitkara (1997). Hindutva. APH. p. 230.
ISBN 978-81-7024-798-2. Retrieved 5 May 2009.
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Literature: Surveys and selections. 1. Sahitya Akademi.
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empty title= (help)
^ Chitkara, M. G. (1997). Hindutva. APH. p. 228.
^ "Six Temples". www.swaminarayan.nu. Retrieved 2016-07-27.
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^ "In Their Eyes..." Retrieved 7 September 2016.
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p. 215. ISBN 978-1-57607-905-8. Retrieved 10 May 2009.
^ Marcus J. Banks (1985). Review: A New Face of Hinduism: The
Swaminarayan Religion. By Raymond Brady Williams. Cambridge University
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Williams, Raymond (2001). Introduction to
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Reginald Heber Lord
Calcutta - Narrative of a Journey
Through the Upper Provinces of India, from
Calcutta To Bombay, Volume
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