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Bhagwan Swaminarayan was the manifestation of Supreme God, to whom BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is dedicated and whose sacred images are enshrined in the garbh-gruh (sanctum sanctorum).
He manifested in the north Indian village of Chhapaiya, near Ayodhya, on 3 April 1781, to grant eternal liberation to countless souls, remove misguided religious practices, and dispel misinterpretations that had crept into Hinduism.
As an 11-year-old child, he renounced his home to embark on a 7-year, 8,000-mile spiritual journey across the length and breadth of India. Walking alone, barefoot, and with almost no possessions, he sanctified places of pilgrimage and inspired thousands to lead a life rooted in morality and spirituality.
Ending his trek in the state of Gujarat, he established the Swaminarayan Sampradaya in 1801, at the age of 20.
Heading a socio-spiritual awakening, he introduced social reforms, served the poor and needy, and preached against superstitions, addictions, and violence.
During his lifetime, he built six majestic mandirs, inspired the creation of scores of scriptural texts, initiated a total of 3,000 sadhus (ordained monks), and was recognised and worshipped as Bhagwan (God) by countless individuals.
To continue his work of moral and spiritual regeneration, he promised to remain ever-present on earth through an unbroken succession of enlightened, God-realised gurus.
A summary of Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s life and work is presented below:
|7||Mastered the Vedas, Ramayana, Bhagawatam, and other Hindu scriptures|
|10||Won a theological debate in Varanasi|
|11||Renounced home and began his 7-year journey around India|
|14||Mastered Ashtanga Yoga, the pinnacle of yogic endeavours|
|18||Completed his journey and settled in Gujarat, western India|
|20||Appointed as spiritual head; founded the Swaminarayan Sampradaya|
|25||Initiated 500 sadhus (ordained monks) into the holy order of Paramhansa (the highest order of monkhood)|
|29||Began social reforms for the welfare of women, children and the underprivileged|
|39||Spiritual discourses began to be compiled into what became known as the Vachanamrut|
|41||Began establishing mandirs|
|45||Gave the Shikshapatri, a code of moral discipline|
|49||Left for his divine abode, Akshardham, promising to remain present on Earth through a succession of enlightened gurus|