As of , BAPS has 44 shikharbaddha mandirs and more than 1, mandirs worldwide that facilitate practice of this doctrine by allowing followers to offer devotion to the murtis of Swaminarayan, Gunatitanand Swami, and their successors. Many devotees view the mandir as a place for transmission of Hindu values and their incorporation into daily routines, family life, and careers. The mandir , known as a Hindu place of worship, serves as a hub for the spiritual, cultural, and humanitarian activities of BAPS. As of , the organization has 44 shikharbaddha mandirs and more than 1, other mandirs spanning five continents. The offering of bhakti , or devotion to God, remains at the center of mandir activities. After completion of prana pratishta or life-force installation ceremonies, the deities are believed to reside in the murtis, and are thus subjects of direct worship through sacred daily rituals.
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Spiritual seekers believe that they can achieve moksha , or freedom from the cycle of birth and death, by becoming aksharrup or brahmarup , that is, by attaining qualities similar to Akshar or Aksharbrahman and worshipping Purushottam or Parabrahman; the supreme living entity; God.
The primary sources of Akshar-Purushottam Darshan are the Vachanamrut , which is a compilation of oral discourses delivered by Swaminarayan that were documented by his senior followers during his lifetime; the Vedaras, a comprehensive letter written to his monastic followers explicating his doctrine and providing moral instructions; and the Swamini Vato, a collection of oral commentaries delivered by Gunatitanand Swami , who was Swaminarayan's senior disciple and his successor as guru in the lineage of the Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Sanstha BAPS.
Swaminarayan's philosophy centres around the existence of five eternal realities, as stated in two of his sermons documented in the Vachanamrut , Gadhada 1.
He is the supreme existential reality and highest of the five eternal entities; God. The nature of Purushottam in Akshar-Purushottam Darshan is conceptualised in four distinct aspects:  : Chp.
Akshar also known as Brahman or Aksharbrahman is second only in transcendence to Purushottam; it is eternally above the influences of maya. Though a single entity ontologically, Akshar exists in four different forms: .
It is thus ontologically distinct from Purushottam also known as Parabrahman. Parabrahman, and a lower Brahman, i. Verse 5. Another clear indication of Akshar and Purushottam forming the crux of the highest spiritual truth, i. Akshar and Purushottam are also distinctly elucidated in the Bhagavad Gita. For example, verses All those bound by maya are kshar, whereas the one who is unchanging — forever beyond maya — is Akshar.
Verse I am superior to kshar and superior to even Akshar. Thus, I am known as Purushottam within the world and the Vedas. Swaminarayan also states in his sermon in Vachanamrut Gadhada 2. Maya is the only one of the five eternal realities which is insentient.
It is the base substance from which the material world is formed and is characterized by the three qualities gunas — sattvaguna , rajoguna , and tamoguna. It also forms the ignorance of the jivas and ishwars — seen as ego, i. Only Purushottam and Akshar forever transcend maya. Jivas and ishwars seeking liberation from endless transmigration can transcend it by associating with Akshar in the form of the Brahmaswarup Guru, who makes those souls brahmarup or aksharrup , i.
Ishwar refers not to God, but a finite sentient entity shrouded by maya, like a jiva, but endowed with special powers and knowledge for fulfilling various functions within a particular universe. These divinities enliven disparate forces of nature, including the sun, moon, wind, etc.
Jiva is a distinct, individual soul, i. Jivas are bound by maya, which hides their true self, which is characterized by eternal existence, consciousness, and bliss. There are an infinite number of jivas. They are extremely subtle, indivisible, impierceable, ageless, and immortal. The jiva is the performer of virtuous and immoral actions karmas and experiences the fruits of these actions.
It has been eternally bound by maya; as a result, it roams within the cycle of birth and death. Birth is when a jiva acquires a new body, and death is when it departs from its body. Just as one abandons one's old clothes and wears new ones, the jiva renounces its old body and acquires a new one. At the time of creation, Purushottam in Akshardham first looks towards the personified form of Akshar with the desire to create.
This instigates the protological process. By this glance, Akshar understands Purushottam's wish, and thereafter looks toward the countless aksharmuktas residing in Akshardham. Among them, one mukta then unites with prakruti a form of maya , thereby initiating creation. From this pair of an aksharmukta and prakruti, together called Prakruti-Purush, countless more pairs are created, each called Pradhan-Purush.
The body of each brahmand is composed of several entities which subsequently produce from one another as a part of the protological process. This includes mahat-tattva, from which are produced sattvic ahamkar, rajasic ahamkar and tamasic ahamkar, from which are produced, respectively, the cosmic mind and deities presiding over the cosmic senses; the cosmic senses, intellect and vital breaths; and the five gross elements and five subtle elements.
Together this forms the gross and subtle cosmic body of a brahmand, which has Virat Purush as its soul. With the special empowering and re-entering of Purushottam, from Virat originates Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh each metaphysically ishwar , and then from Brahma, originate the various daityas, devas, humans, animals, vegetation, and all other mobile and immobile life-forms.
The primary goal of devotees is mukti , to escape the bondage of maya and the cycle of birth and death, which is the cause of all suffering and sorrow. In contrast, Swaminarayan describes the nature of liberation as being a state where an individual has equanimity amid all dualities of life such as pleasure and pain, success and failure , the absence of desires for bodily comfort, and independence from all influences other than God.
More specifically, liberation in Akshar-Purushottam Darshan entails devotees achieving the highest and perfect spiritual state, which implies becoming like Aksharbrahman. Akshar, in turn, is always present on the earth and is the model of spiritual and ethical perfection. Mukti in Akshar-Purushottam Darshan can take two forms:  : — The perfect state of being like Brahman can also be attained in this very lifetime.
Swaminarayan elaborates in Vachanamrut Gadhada 3. The Katha Upanishad 6. Swaminarayan advised those seeking liberation to achieve mukti by constant association with and guidance from the Brahmaswarup Guru, or the human form of Akshar present on earth. Through this process, spiritual aspirants transcend influences of worldly attachments and past actions, known respectively as maya and karma, and instead acquire the qualities of Aksharbrahman.
Ekantik Dharma is the four-fold system of theological praxis that an aspirant must assume under the guidance of the Ekantik Sant, i. Brahmaswarup Guru, in order to secure spiritual liberation. Ekantik Dharma, also known as Bhagwat Dharma, comprises the following four aspects: . The highest and most direct form of revelation would be when God self-manifests in human form and reveals himself as God and the nature of Purushottam and Akshar.
Similarly, the Guru elucidates Akshar-Purushottam Darshan through his discourses and daily living. His ontological position as Akshar sets him apart as being a perfect transmitter of brahmavidya. Hence the Mundaka Upanishad instructs at 1. To realize that brahmavidya, surrender to only a guru who has realized the shastras, is the manifest form of Aksharbrahma, and is ever steadfast in Paramatma.
The teachings of God Purushottam and the Gurus Akshar are the basis upon which scriptures become sources of revelation. Because both Purushottam and Akshar are forever beyond maya, their words are the sole source of authentic theological knowledge; they cannot be perceived, articulated or conceived by ordinary senses, words or minds. The Vachanamrut holds the discourses of Swaminarayan compiled during his own lifetime between and Because Swaminarayan is worshipped as Purushottam, his teachings are the primary source of revelation.
The Vachanamrut is thus the principal theological text of the Swaminarayan Sampradaya, revealing the doctrines and praxis of Akshar-Purushottam Darshan. For example, the essence of Akshar-Purushottam Darshan is explained by Swaminarayan in his sermon at Loya It draws extensively from the Vachanamrut, and also cites other Hindu texts.
It stands as one of the most valuable and venerable sources of theological revelation for members of the BAPS Swaminarayan fellowship. As canonical Hindu texts, they are also sources of understanding Akshar-Purushottam Darshan when read according to the teachings of Swaminarayan.
Mahamahopadhyaya Bhadreshdas Swami has commentated on the Prasthanatrayi using the teachings of Swaminarayan. His five-volume Swaminarayan-Bhashya are commentaries on the Brahmasutras , the ten principal Upanishads , and the Bhagavad Gita. Akshar-Purushottam Darshan was revealed by Swaminarayan He was neither a devotee nor an acharya, but believed by his followers to be the manifest form of Parabrahman Purushottam. His sermons, many of which were compiled during his lifetime as the Vachanamrut, thus serve as a direct revelation of Akshar-Purushottam Darshan.
Swaminarayan also revealed Gunatitanand Swami on numerous occasions as the personified form of Akshar and thus his first spiritual successor. Pragji Bhakta , known as Bhagatji Maharaj, received this knowledge from Gunatitanand Swami and especially propagated him as Akshar. Bhagatji Maharaj was the second spiritual successor of Swaminarayan. Shastri Yagnapurushdas , known as Shastriji Maharaj, received this revelation from Bhagatji Maharaj, and after his own historical and theological research verifying Gunatitanand Swami as Akshar and Swaminarayan as Purushottam, installed their sacred images in five traditional stone temples.
He propagated the core doctrine of Akshar-Purushottam Darshan, i. He was the chief exponent of Akshar-Purushottam Darshan. Shastriji Maharaj, the third spiritual successor of Swaminarayan, was subsequently followed by Yogiji Maharaj — and Pramukh Swami Maharaj — , who propagated the beliefs and principles of Akshar-Purushottam Darshan throughout India and abroad. They are regarded as the fourth and fifth spiritual successors of Swaminarayan, respectively. These texts substantiate Swaminarayan's Akshar-Purushottam Darshan from a scholarly perspective.
The Shri Kashi Vidvat Parishad, a highly eminent scholarly council for adjudicating matters of Vedic studies and tradition throughout India, affirmed in a meeting in Varanasi on 31 July that Akshar-Purushottam Darshan is a distinct school of Vedanta, and acclaimed Bhadreshdas Swami as an acharya in line with Shankara , Ramanuja , Madhva and Vallabha.
After critically reviewing the Swaminarayan-Bhashyam and Swaminarayan-Siddhanta-Sudha , the council proclaimed in a written statement:. These sacred texts are in every manner the protectors of the eternal Vedic religious tradition. The declaration was later presented by members of the Kashi Vidvat Parishad as a copperplate inscription, in a public assembly at Swaminarayan Akshardham, Delhi, on 13 August This led to several public felicitations of the texts and Bhadreshdas Swami, including in Vadodara, Gujarat, by vice-chancellors and representatives of 27 universities, and in Bengaluru, Karnataka, by vice-chancellors of 35 universities and representatives of 5 others.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Set of spiritual beliefs based on the teachings of Swaminarayan. Swaminarayan's Brahmajnana as Aksarabrahma-Parabrahma-Darsanam.
Oxford University Press. An introduction to Swaminarayan Hindu theology. Multivalent Krishna-Bhakti in Premanand's Poetry. Williams, Raymond Brady; Trivedi, Yogi eds. Swaminarayan Hinduism: Tradition, Adaptation, and Identity.
Swaminarayan and British Contacts in Gujarat in the s. Hinduism Today. Bochasanvasi Shri Aksharpurushottama Sanstha.
Akshar Purushottam Upasana
Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha